Friday, September 30, 2016

A Day in the Life: I'm Now 33

It's 11:36 p.m. on a Thursday night and my house is quiet (save the very loudly bubbling fish tank that has desperately needed a water topoff for probably three weeks now). Little T will wake up in probably 4 hours for her mid-sleep nosh, and in 7 hours everyone will be awake to start the day. The living room light (on a timer) just popped off, and I'm pretty sure Mr. T has been asleep for at least 1.5 hours at this point. And me? Well, I'm just 22 minutes out now from turning 33, and I thought I'd share a little "day in the life" post. If I could, I'd call this "Adulting Sucks."

5 a.m.: Little T decides on a 5 a.m. feeding instead of a 3:30 a.m. feeding. After she finishes eating and is back asleep, I consider staying up to get things done, but doze off instead.
6:38 Alarm goes off. Snooze.
6:52 Frantically wake up thinking I've slept much later than I have. Baby is rustling, and I'm zipping through work emails, Slack updates, Facebook notifications, and Timehop updates.
7:02 I attempt to wake Mr. T up because Asher's chatting away. (He's still in his crib after refusing a "big boy" bed, but he cannot or will not crawl out of his crib on his own.)
7:07 Little T starts to rustle away, but falls back asleep.
7:12 Me to Mr. T: "It's almost 7:15, we need to get up."
7:15 I get out of bed, get dressed quickly, inform Mr. T he's on baby duty for the morning and I go upstairs to get Asher.
7:24 After getting Asher out of bed and changed and mostly dressed, I'm in the kitchen organizing his lunch. I put Mr. T's tea on to infuse in our Teforia beta testing machine, get Little T's bottles into her backpack, finish up Asher's lunch and make him breakfast (which he doesn't eat), and get everything out into the living room to go.
7:36 Mr. T is upstairs with the baby getting her changed. Asher doesn't want his hair in ponytails so he's got a headband on. I put some "ponies" in a baggie with his name on it and stuff it in the front of his backpack.
7:45 I'm trying to get my computer, my breast pump, my water bottle, and everything else I need for a day working remotely outside the home ready while Mr. T attempts to get Asher to pick out shoes to wear.
7:54 We're slowly moving out of the house to the car to get the kids off to school. I say outlaid to no one: "I'm super mommy and did all the things this morning."
8:00 We're in the car and trying to leave, but the car won't start. "Where are the keys?" I ask. "You didn't grab them?" Mr. T asks. He runs back into the house to get the car keys.
8:05 We drop off Little T first. While Mr. T takes her inside, I get setup to pump milk on the go in the car while Asher jams out to the 90s tunes on the radio.
8:15 Asher has been dropped off, I remember that theres a room parent meeting at 9 a.m., and I'm now taking Mr. T to work.

8:20 Finally, at last, with both kids at daycare and the husband at work, I think about what to do with the next 40 minutes. So I go to the post office to get some priority shipping boxes that it turns out I already had at home and pick up a coffee before heading back to Asher's school for the parent meeting.
9:00 I'm waiting for the meeting to start, working on the shul's wifi.
10:00 Meeting over, I hop in the car and zip off to a coffee shop to hunker down and work until my noon call with my boss.

Noon I get set up in the car to pump milk while on a call with my boss, with the A/C blasting and using the wifi from the coffee shop I was just at, only to discover that the meeting has been bumped. I ask Mr. T if he'd like to have a lunch date, but he's covering for someone until 1.
12:20 I zip home to drop off my pumped milk and package up a few things to mail while holding down the fort on my phone and swap out computers.

2:00 After a fun gap in my day, I'm anticipating a call with my boss, but I need to get a few things at Target before the school day ends, so I grab my computer and headphones and head into Target to take a call before grabbing a few groceries. We can't connect, again, so I push the cart around Target with my laptop open, stopping intermittently to work and answer emails. I must look insane.
2:45 We finally connect, so I rush over to the Starbucks at Target and chat with my boss.

3:20 I'm back in my car, once again hooked up to the breast pump. I drop off something to Mr. T at work, warn him he might have to Lyft home, and head back to the house.
3:45 After having dropped off the groceries and the newly pumped milk, I'm back in the car to drop something at a friend's place, but find out she isn't there, so I opt to go pick up Little T instead.
4:10 Having picked up the princess, I text Mr. T to see if he wants me to get him before getting Asher, so I do. We then go get Asher, and Little T is really upset, so Mr. T walks them both home and I drive home and empty the car.

5-ish I'm trying to get dinner ready while Mr. T entertains the kids. I make vegetarian kefta with pita, Israeli salad, homemade hummus, and tahini. We sit down at the table to attempt a meal like a normal family, except that I'm answering work messages about pressing issues. Sorry, family.

6:30 I'm thinking about bedtime for munchkins, and Little T fell asleep while nursing, so I'm in the kitchen emptying the dishwasher and trying to get the house ready for the cleaners in the morning (they know not to do the dishes). I decide that it's a good idea to make challah (my gluten-free version and the regular, huge batch for the boys), so I get started on that.
7:15 I'm trying to nurse Little T to sleep so I can get back to the challah.
7:45 I remember that I don't have rubber gloves to braid the challah (I seriously put a ziplock bag on my hand and taped it around so it would stay in order to hand knead the dough, which worked for kneading but won't work for braiding). I text Mr. T to go out and get gloves so I can finish the challah, and he does.
8:00 I'm in the kitchen, doing dishes, braiding challah, cleaning.

10:00 The challah is done, the kitchen and living room are tidied, and I realize that I have a time-sensitive work issue to deal with. I start fiddling with a spreadsheet in order to make a pie chart.
10:33 I send Mr. T a text letting him know what I'm doing, but get no response, so he's passed out for the night.
10:55 I fall down the rabbit hole of doing some other things before I get back to the work at hand.
11:13 I think back to my day and realize that it's been a bit ridiculous and maybe I should blog about it.
11:36 I finally get around to blogging about it ...

And now, just now, the clock has struck midnight here in Denver, Colorado. I'm 33, folks. Of course, on the Hebrew calendar I was born on Simchat Torah (23rd of Tishrei, 5744), so maybe I'll have the energy to celebrate in several weeks.

Five years ago: Freshly divorced.
Four years ago: A few weeks from going to Israel, to making aliyah.
Three years ago: Severely glutened while pregnant at my birthday dinner, which landed me in the "ER" for 3+ hours on fluids. 
Two years ago: Downsized at my job and unbeknownst to me Tuvia was about to leave for nine months.
One year ago: On the eve of my birthday and the holidays, I discovered I was pregnant with Little T.

As for this year, I'm just praying for a calm, cool, collected, uneventful birthday. So, with that, friends, I'm going to bed. Goodnight moon. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tis the Season: The Best-Ever Gluten-Free Honey Cake Recipe!

I love this time of year. The seasons are changing, the weather is cooling, and layers, ankle boots, and scarves are starting to pop up here, there, and everywhere. It also means it's time for the Jewish High Holidays of Rosh HaSHanah and Yom Kippur!

The latter is filled with fasting and deep reflection and prayer, while the former features joyous celebrations complete with a classic: apples and honey.

Asher wanted to shoot some photos of the delicious honey. Great shot, kiddo!

Luckily, I received a boatload of L.R. Rice Raw & Unfiltered Honey and Rice Family Raw & Unfiltered Honey for review, which means it's time for honey cake!

Now, one of my greatest gripes around any of the Jewish holidays (except maybe Passover, because gluten disappears from everyone's tables for the most part) is that I can't enjoy any of the awesome baked goods out there. Lucky me, I recently discovered Cup4Cup Flour, which, honestly folks, really does work like the real thing. I've made muffins, we've made beer-battered fish (which my British husband wholly approves of), and even challah. Yes, I'm trying to perfect a simpler gluten-free challah recipe using Cup4Cup, too. 

In the meantime, I've made this amazingly delicious, non-dairy, gluten-free honey cake for your enjoyment! Are you ready?

Chaviva's Best-Ever Gluten-Free Honey Cake

3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup strong black coffee (I used tea)
2 tsp baking powder
3 Tbls Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks (or margarine), softened
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease two 8x8 baking pans or one 9x13-inch cake pan.
  2. In your Kitchenmaid or other mixer, beat the eggs and honey together. 
  3. Add sugar and mix again. 
  4. Mix baking powder with the coffee and "butter," and then add it to the egg mixture.
  5. Add baking soda, flour, and cinnamon. 
  6. Beat until well combined. 
  7. Pour into the prepared pan(s) and bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
Enjoy! Let me know if you make this and what you think. It's rich, sweet, dense, and the ultimate snack. You know what, I'm going to make another cake now ... 


Friday, September 16, 2016

On Elul and Being Present on Shabbat

Ah, Elul. That big, beautiful month full of reflection on the Jewish (Hebrew) calendar. It's the month leading up to the High Holidays of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur and Simchat Torah and Sukkot. It's one of my most favorite times of year because it means that fall is coming, my birthday is coming, and that winter is right around the corner and that boots, scarves, and jackets are soon a necessity.

It also means October is going to be a mess of time off from work, multiple days in a row without the ability to use technology, no daycare, and general chaos. But, you know what, that's okay.

For the first time in what feels like forever, I've really, truly, honestly embraced Shabbat and days of rest.

You see, I'm a highly anxious workaholic (no, who, me!?). Shabbat was one of the hardest things to accept as I became religious all those years ago, because I've always been a hyper plugged in person. It's what I do professionally, and it's how I connect with friends near and far, not to mention family, too.

But recently, I've started going to shul (synagogue) on Shabbat again, after a good probably nine months of skipping Saturdays at home so I could sleep while Mr. T and Asher were out of the house. Once baby showed up, I slept in, woke up, fed the baby, read trashy magazines, and so on. But when Mr. T was out of town a few weeks in Israel for iBoy's bar mitzvah, I knew I couldn't have Asher in the house for hours on end lest we both go bananas. So I hauled myself out of the house and we went to synagogue.

Now, wearing a sort-of sleeping newborn and trying to daven (pray) with focus is next to impossible. So I spent most of the morning (roughly 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.) in the baby group, where you can drop your little ones off starting at the age of six months (they have programming up through the age of teenagers). They sing songs and there are toys and the other babies like to see my baby, so it's a win-win because I get to talk to the adults in the room and we're out of the house.

When Mr. T came back, I kept going. The baby doesn't sleep so late in the morning anymore, and it's good to get out and see people, right?

During those few weeks where it was just me and the kids, I found myself doing a lot of observing. I watched people coming and going from shul, I watched the kids outside playing with their teenage teachers in groups, I watched the entire theater of Shabbat happening around me. And it was beautiful.

The thing about Shabbat is that, when you're really inside it, when you're really present and experiencing it, the anxiety of the rest of the week really does disappear. Recently I've found myself just enjoying being present from sundown to sundown. I'm not rushed to turn my phone back on, and that moment when I do turn my phone back on I feel a huge pang of regret and sadness. Because I've noticed that when Shabbat ends, after we make havdalah to separate the sacred from the profane, my fingers and face are glued to the damnable little device.

Yes, it's my job to be digital 24/6, but what does that mean? What is it costing me?

As Asher gets older, he's noticing how connected I am more. He'll often say my name repeatedly to get my attention, and even when I respond, it's the device he wants me to put down. Like, literally set down. He needs my attention. And if he's doing something cute, he often isn't interested in it being filmed or captured in a picture. He just wants me to be present.

On Shabbat, last week, we all stayed home because we had a hand-foot-mouth scare (which turned out to be not what he had, but rather just teething and a cold). We played, we engaged, we were present. We went to the playground, we enjoyed the sunshine and make believe. We sang and danced. We enjoyed each other.

I was so present and completely wrapped up in my family that I said to Mr. T: "Days like this make me think I could have a third, easily, without any second thoughts." (Or something to that affect.) It was just such a blissful day.

Then, of course, the next day, Mr. T was tired, the baby was half awake next to me in bed, and Asher was calling, "Mommy. Tatty. Mommy. Tatty." I zipped upstairs to mute the monkey only to find out he'd really, really, really wet the bed hardcore. As I pulled off all the sheets and pulled out the stuffed animals and toys and books I realized that I was good with where I was.

Shabbat really does something beautiful for me. I don't know how people function without a single day to be disconnected from the rest of the world and to really be present with those closest to you. No TV, no phones, no devices, no distractions.

All of this is to say, I guess, that I'm glad that I'm at this point in my life. It took having two kids to really learn to appreciate Shabbat, and now, every week, I long for Shabbat and lament its leaving. I've even started not looking at my phone on Saturday night to prolong a sense of peace and presence just a little bit longer. It makes all the difference in the world.

So, I'm curious: How do you do it? How do you connect, how do you really connect and be present in your own life? 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

LuLaRoe: My Why

Well, things are amazingly busy and wonderful and mostly busy over here. And here's a video to explain why.

Feel free to join the fun on Facebook!