This House of Love


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Get in my Belly

I hate meal prep, and rarely do it, but last night found me an abundance of unused, sliced veggies. Thus, the most amazing, easiest, accidental meal prep ever:

 

1 organic zucchini (sliced into coins)

2 tbsps of bacon bits (or a couple strips cut up)

A handful of baby spinach (whole leaves)

 

Toss with olive oil, white whine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Finally, sprinkle it with Parmesan cheese and throw it in the oven for about 40 minutes (or less for less char) at 425. The whole plate has about 200 calories, and it’s as easy and painless as the recipe makes it seem. Not to mention I threw what I couldn’t finish into some TJ’s pizsa sauce so my veggie-phobic children wouldn’t know they were – gasp – eating something healthy. Enjoy!

 


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These Are the Days of our Lives (Spring Break Edition)

 

It’s Day #2 of Spring Break and we’re already a little stir crazy.

Charlotte found the afikomen at the seder yesterday (considering she was the only one of age to look) and had her winnings burning a hole in her pocket. This morning she begs me to drive sixty miles (to Carpinteria) so we could buy some bouncy balls. Gotta love four year-old logic. Instead, I offer her a trip to Toys ‘r’ Us. She blows through her money at the quarter machines. When all is said and done, I look at my clock, and it reads only 10:30 AM. At least two more hours until nap time. What now?

We arrive home right when the mailperson walks up with today’s haul. A few bills, and two large, rigid envelopes from PJ Library (a free service that offers monthly books to Jewish children) – one for Charlotte, one for Adam. I allow them to tear them open with no regard for their packaging. I want their love for literature to be as wild and unbridled as mine.

The moment the paper is off, I can see this book is one we will connect with. It is a funny, informative book about a Sesame Street vacation in Israel. I am not particularly religious, but I am connected to the culture that has enriched my family for generations. My mom was born in Israel, and came to the U.S. as a child. However, her twenties found her back and experiencing young adulthood there. I also visited it right after high school and fell in love with the tiny powerhouse of a country.

I am thrilled to share the book with Charlotte, educating her on the beautiful culture that is so different than America’s. But, I also enjoy linking it to our family customs and holidays (which are often different than the majority of America’s, too). But, as we read the pages, and she gasps and says, “Mommy! I want to float in the Dead Sea and wipe mud on me! I want to climb the Masada!” In this moment I feel even closer to her, and also my mother, who passed away nine and a half years ago.

I grab my photo album from my Birthright trip, one of only a handful of times that I’ve left my own little spot on the map. My daughter and I relive the cartoon moments from Grover’s travels, but this time it is in real life. I am in the photos, and she can picture herself there, too.

She then grabs her globe, and we point out the tiny spot on it that represents the rich country we just discussed. Yes, Charlotte – it has deserts, seas, mountains, and cities, all within a few miles. And yes, there are other countries to visit, too. And even states here in our own country that will expose us to new and different experiences. “Oh, Mommy, I want to go to ALL the countries!” Me too, Charlotte, me too.

We may not have actually traveled very far today, but our hearts have now seen and felt things that we never have before. We were reconnected with family members passed, and took an adventure halfway across the world. All because of a book.

I’ve always said a book is the cheapest vacation.

israel


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Why I Gambled the Car Away (And You Should, Too)

letsmakeadeal

It’s a funny thing, being a winner. Even saying it – the act alone leaves me with a heavy pit in my stomach. I spent such a large portion of my life honoring a very opposing schema, and to promote any other image of myself seems like a big, fat life.

Yet, five years ago (less a few weeks) I experienced one of my all-time favorite life experiences in which I was (momentarily) the ultimate winner. I had the chance to appear on CBS’s “Let’s Make a Deal.” And I won. I won big. Within a few seconds of the show beginning, I had been selected from the audience and – shockingly – presented with a brand, new car to take home with me! So, why is it that when the final showcase began (the segment when the biggest winners are given a chance to gamble away their prizes for potentially bigger prizes) did I eagerly give away the CAR that I had just won? I think that might be one of the most common questions I’ve ever received.

As I alluded before, if someone had asked me if I was a winner during my childhood, I would have likely responded, “Oh no, not at all.” Then my cheeks would have feverishly burned with embarrassment. My brother would have piped up and said, “I’m the winner. I win everything.” And he did. He always won any contest he entered. I often hid myself in his shadow so as not to face my fear of rejection. Now, as an adult, it’s undeniable to me that I am in fact a winner. I mean, who else can say they’ve won a car, concert tickets, writing contests, an in-home sauna, a high-resolution camera, household items, a high-end car seat, tons of baby paraphernalia, etc? Not many. And it makes the small portion of younger Amy that still exists blush even more, admitting that I’ve experienced all this good fortune in my adult life. But the question remains – what is the difference between adult me and child me?

Simple: as a child, I was a loser in the truest sense because I never even allowed myself to enter the race. I psyched myself out long before any attempt at success was made.

So, that day on “Let’s Make a Deal” I had hoped that I would win more – I mean, how often do you find yourself on the receiving end of a brand new car? For FREE? And if life is THAT crazy, why couldn’t I walk away with more? I mean, how often would I find myself in that same position? Probably never. So, I seized the opportunity while I had it. I put myself out there. And that, my friends and readers, is the reason I am a winner now. Walking away with a sauna, despite a massive drop in prize worth, was still amazing to me. I don’t think, “Shit, I could have had a car.” I think, “Wow. What an experience! I won a sauna.”

And life has a funny way of proving this to be true. Call it statistics, call it luck – its simply this: the more you put yourself out there, the higher the chance that you’ll win. “I never win anything.” I’ve heard that a million times. I’ve said it far more times than I can count. But I bet right after you proclaimed those self-defeating words, you decided not to enter the race/raffle/audience/whatever. Thus, the secret to winning, is simply allowing yourself to face the possibility of failure.


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20 Things Every Mother Does (but Doesn’t Want to Admit) – as seen on elephantjournal.com

kate-middleton(published by ElephantJournal.com on February 25, 2017)

by Amy Chesler

Hi, I’m Amy, and I’m a regular mom.

I don’t Pinterest, my house is generally pretty messy, and my kids’ outfits and hair are often not on point. Most days I’m just keeping it together.

Let’s just say that if motherhood were a sporting event, I’d be the one still tailgating (aka making sure the diaper bag and stroller are properly equipped) in the parking lot twenty-five minutes after the game began.
Oftentimes, I feel like I’m the only one. But then I’ll find myself surfing the “Mommy boards,” and I’ll come across a post that makes me stop and think, “They don’t all have it together like their Instagram makes it seem.”

This inspired me to compile a list of things (in no particular order) that every mom surely has done—but maybe doesn’t always want to admit.

Things that undoubtedly level the playing field of motherhood:

1. Fed your kids a “meal” that wasn’t really a meal at all. I like to call it “child’s charcuterie,” but really it’s just the remnants of what’s left from the last grocery run. Generally it consists of random fruit that escaped getting moldy, a string cheese, and some Goldfish. Voilà, breakfast! I’m not proud of it either, ladies. It is what it is.

2. Forgotten some sort of important event at school. My mom forgot to pick up my brother his first day of third grade. This year, my daughter’s school actually planned her class picture around her attendance (as she was only attending on certain days), and we missed it. Granted, she was sick, but I also totally freaking forgot. We all do it. I’ve heard of forgotten winter pageants, missed parent-teacher conferences and more. It’s a law of parenting: Plan and you shall forget.

3. Cleaned up all kinds of bodily secretions from any number of surfaces, oftentimes all on the same day. ‘Nough said.

4. Reluctantly sat out on an event that you really wanted to go to because you didn’t have, or couldn’t find, or lost your sitter. Que sera, sera.

5. Excitedly sat out on an event that you really didn’t want to go to, and were so glad you had kids as an excuse to escape the doldrums that would have impended. Phew.

6. Lied about your child’s age in order to get free admission to an amusement park. Your grandparents did it, your parents did it, now you’ll do it. It’s part of the circle of life. Also? Why at The Happiest Place on Earth would someone pay $100 to push their heavy ass kid around in a stroller all day? They’re not going to be able to get on half the rides their admission includes anyway. For f*ck’s sake.

7. Not ordered or not cooked yourself your own meal because the ingrates won’t finish all the food they order or you cook anyway. Having kids is expensive, and at times it’s prudent to save money in any way you can. So, vulture away.

8. Made a promise to your child that is emptier than a Ben and Jerry’s carton after a night of binge-eating. You know when your kid says to you, “I don’t wanna put on my shoes! I’m not going to Starbucks!” and the caffeine withdrawal makes you say, “Fine. Then you can stay home by yourself.” Obviously, this is untrue, but sometimes, you have to.

This will only last until she’s five, I know—then she’ll figure me out. I’m enjoying the next year and a half of unquestioned irrationality.

9. Arranged the background of a photo to be more presentable for its online viewers. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I just don’t give a f*ck, but on occasion I see the scattered puzzle pieces and spilled juice and think, “I should pick that up before I take the photo that may end up cute enough to put on holiday cards because I’ll be too lazy to have photos taken when it comes time.” Double phew.

10. Been too lazy to take family photos.

11. Not showered for days at a time. Or if you do, it’s an essentials sort of three-minutes-and-thirty-seven-seconds thing; some bits definitely get neglected. Also, what’s shaving?

12. Posted (or thought about posting) an “Is it too early to drink?” thread. The answer is no, it’s not. Let’s be real: If you’re not driving anywhere, and you know your own healthy limit, have your damn mimosa and enjoy it, too. Earlier, you had to ask on Mommy2Mommy how to wash beet-colored poop off of Himalayan suede, so you’ve earned yourself some bubbly.

13. You’ve had a movie day. And by day, I mean a whole, entire day. Like from wake-up to bedtime. Don’t worry, we all need a break some times.

14. Flipped your wig (or extensions). Rightfully so. Ask anyone who’s mommed before. This sh*t is no effing joke.

15. Relatedly, you’ve daydreamed of ditching it all for warm white sand and cocktails. No laundry, no whining, no cleaning, no preparing lunches, no folding, no family, nothing. Just you, warm water, drinks, food, and maybe your husband when you want some loving. Otherwise, a large, fluffy bed with a down duvet and no human alarm clocks. Le sigh.

16. Written a social media caption that wasn’t entirely truthful. Social media is great for one thing—connecting us. But with that, we often feel the responsibility of keeping things positive 100 percent of the time; no one likes a Negative Nancy. But, can we make room for a Realistic Rachel? Next time you post a photo of your kid eating fish and green beans with the caption, “He just hates junk food, I couldn’t pay him to eat it,” I dare you to be real. I know if I was keeping it a hundred, I’d be sharing something like, “This fool is eating his first vegetable in a week, and I feel like I deserve a standing ovation. Thank you, thank you!”

17. Ignored household duties to Facebook or blog or Instagram or eff off on the internet—because motherhood can be a bit isolating and lonely, and at times the only connection to the outside world is your phone or computer. Sorry, not sorry.

18. Properly diagnosed your child the day his or her symptoms appeared, totally knocking it out of the park as a mom (because, who else knows your child like you do?). Now, you’re thinking, why wouldn’t I want to admit that? Duh. No one likes a braggart.

19. Improperly diagnosed your child with a life-threatening illness (because WebMD).

20. Witnessed one of your own worst habits in your children. Like, when the teacher says, “I see her getting frustrated easily. Let’s work on taking deep breaths and focusing on the task at hand, rather than letting our emotions run away with us?” Yes, Miss Katie.

It’s true—some days we may feel like we’ve knocked it out of the park, and on others like we’ve struck out entirely. But that’s the point: We’re all doing it, so if you’re under the impression that you’re the only one not knocking it out of the park every day, think again.