Monthly Archives: April 2016

All of our boys together!  Ds22, ds8, ds6, ds3, ds17, ds10, ds13

A fun day out with almost all of our children

What a busy day!  We’ve enjoyed spending time with our family but other than a trip to a local park for a family game of baseball, we hadn’t done much in the way of outings this  vacation.  I think today we made up for it by being out all day long!

This morning I learned that the National Police Academy is open to the public and has demonstrations during chol hamoed.  Since dd21 had made plans in advance to be in Jerusalem today she couldn’t join us but I told everyone who wanted to come to quickly get themselves ready for a trip – and I was delighted when all of the other kids decided to come!

Dd19 and ds3 with the toy police car he was given

Dd19 and ds3 with the toy police car he was given

We enjoyed the special demonstrations (krav magav and trained police dogs) and afterwards we went through the exhibits at the academy – it was interesting and now that we know where it is and how to get there,  we can go back when it’s quieter and we can take more time.  It was really, really crowded!

Dd15, me, ds6, ds8, ds10

Dd15, me, ds6, ds8, ds10

Ds8 on police motorcyle

Ds8 on police motorcyle

The bus to the police academy only comes every two hours, so we made very sure to be at the bus stop on time!  The ride there and back was scenic and since we’ve never been there before was part of the fun of the trip.

Ds3 hanging while bus was waiting to depart

Ds3 hanging while bus was waiting to depart

Afterwards dh needed to get back to work and since he was the only one at the office, we were able to visit his work space for the first time.  It’s really nicely set up and the comfortable furniture and pool table made it a fun place to visit!

Ds10 and ds17 playing pool

Ds10 and ds17 playing pool

Ds13 relaxing

Ds13 relaxing

After being out for hours, everyone was still smiling and enjoying being together!

Ds3 and ds6

Ds3 and ds6

The following is a very rare picture – I can’t think of when we last had all our boys – just the boys –  in a photo together.

All of our boys together! Ds22, ds8, ds6, ds3, ds17, ds10, ds13

All of our boys together! Ds22, ds8, ds6, ds3, ds17, ds10, ds13

For those of you who have been celebrating Pesach, I hope you’ve all been enjoying your time with your family, too!

Avivah

coconut macaroons

Easy as 1-2-3 Macaroons

This is a super easy and really yummy recipe for coconut macaroons that we’re all enjoying this year. It’s moist and I think it tastes pretty close to the store-bought macaroons that I grew up with in the US (think Maneshewitz brand).   It has just four ingredients and doesn’t require beating any egg whites.

Easy As 1-2-3 Macaroons

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 c. coconut
  • 1 pkg vanilla sugar (can leave this out if you don’t have it)

Mix all ingredients thoroughly.  Form into balls and bake on an ungreased pan at 350 degrees until the tops are just hardly browned.  Take out of oven and let cool to solidify.

coconut macaroons

For our family I quadruple this recipe to make one batch.  It’s a good thing I bought a 50 lb bag of shredded coconut before Pesach because these are so good, so easy and thanks to being gluten free, something all the kids can enjoy – we’ve made a bunch!

Enjoy!

Avivah

Dandelion of faith

Staying centered in the midst of my pre-Pesach baking fiasco

My goal for the late afternoon today was to get a significant chunk of the Pesach cooking and baking done.  But sometimes, you can do your best and things just don’t seem to cooperate!

I started with a new marble cake recipe.  I cooked up a chocolate syrup to use for the marbling, made the entire cake and put it in the oven.  I thought it looked like a small recipe.  Maybe it would rise once it was baking? I wondered.  Well, on to the brownies.

As I made the brownies, I noticed the package of potato starch was still closed. I looked around, knowing I had just used it for the marble cake. Oh, no, it seems I must have forgotten that. That’s why the recipe looked so small.  I pulled the pan out of the oven (fortunately I hadn’t yet started to bake it), mixed in the potato starch and then my marble cake became a pale chocolate cake.  But it will still taste good, right?

I finished mixing the brownies and after pouring it into the baking pan, asked ds17 to taste it just to make sure it was okay and jokingly said, “Just to make sure I didn’t forget the sugar or something!”  He tasted it and said, “It needs more sugar”.  No, that’s not what he was supposed to say!

I looked at the recipe, and then saw that when I copied it, I didn’t write in the sugar!  Instead of writing 1 3/4 c. cup sugar, 3/4 c. potato starch, I wrote – 1 3/4 c. potato starch.  Yes, I followed the recipe perfectly but the recipe was imperfectly written so it didn’t matter!

I was able to add the missing sugar but had already added more than double the amount of potato starch.  That didn’t bode well for a good consistency, but hopefully it would still taste good.

Next I put a large pan of coconut macaroons in the oven – it was a new recipe that I slightly adapted, much easier than ones that I’ve made in the past and they have a really nice taste and moistness.  I’ll try to post it for you before Pesach begins.

Then the power blew.  Months ago when time this happened it was because there was a malfunction with the stove thermostat.  But we had the malfunctioning part replaced so why was it happening now?  Then the power went back on and the stove did, too, so I was reassured that there was nothing to worry about.

I took out the perfectly browned macaroons and put in a large pan of Pesach granola. Right after that we started bedikas chametz (search for leavened bread), which is done the night before Pesach.  Ds6, ds8 and ds10 had a great time hiding the well-wrapped pieces of chametz with the supervision of an older sibling – this time ds22.

Dh is great at making mitzvos enjoyable for the kids and he really gets them into it.  They were laughing and giving him clues (“warmer, warmer, no colder – very cold”) when he got close to where they hid the pieces for him to find.  I went to stir the granola so it wouldn’t burn but it didn’t seem to be cooking very quickly.  After another couple of times when I checked it, I started to think it wasn’t cooking at all.  And then I noticed that the oven was just warm and the delicious smells that had been emanating from my oven were no longer present.

Well.  My oven wasn’t working and I still had the bulk of my cooking to do!  Ds17 said, ‘Isn’t this a big problem for you right now?  Why aren’t you worried?”  I told him not to think that my lack of emotional reaction was because I wasn’t going to do something about it.  I would, when we finished bedikas chametz, but we could take care of it without getting uptight about it.

Even if you put effort into personal development, it’s hard to be aware of how you’ve grown since real change takes place slowly and over a long period of time.  When ds made this comment, my lack of anxiety about the broken stove in the middle of my baking marathon juxtaposed with the comparison to how I would have reacted to this years ago.  That flash of clarity as to how far I’ve come was really a gift to me.

We finished bedikas chametz and dh called the electrician who had come in the past.  It’s so nice when you have someone competent and reliable and responsible who you already have a relationship with and trust, who can help you out in a situation like this!

I was anticipating the oven being speedily repaired – maybe he would even come within an hour or so!

Um, not quite. Actually, he notified us that he isn’t working anymore before Pesach.  No, not for anyone.  No, not even for us.  :)  And he’s not working until after Pesach.  Dh asked him if he knew electricians who would be working.  No, he didn’t.  That definitely changes my plans for Pesach baking!

It was right after this I received my delivery of 20 dozen eggs.   Usually I use half of that for a week but because of my plans to do a lot of Pesach baking, I didn’t want to run short.  But by the time they arrived, I already had to adjust my plans for what I would be making.  Good thing my family likes eggs!

I was so grateful to have made what I did before my oven broke:

  • The marble-cake- turned- chocolate cake turned out great.
  • Rather than being dry and overly dense due to my mistake with the potato starch, the brownies were gooey – probably because the heating element blew before they were completely finished baking.  I think once they cool off and set they’ll be perfect but if they’re still loose, we’ll freeze them and serve them as a frozen dessert.
  • The macaroons baked completely and well.
  • The granola was easily completed by toasting it in a frying pan.

Since I’m now ovenless, I’m going to be doing the rest of my Pesach cooking on my stovetop this year.  This week I invested in several new pots which I bought for a marvelously discounted price, to supplement the two Pesach pots that I had.  I already felt very abundant about this addition to my Pesach kitchen, but how amazingly timely and helpful it is that with the help of these pots I’ll now be able to more easily compensate for the lack of an oven!

thats-ok

Often life doesn’t go according to my plan (and I bet often it doesn’t go according to yours, either!), but when I adjust myself to life instead of fighting it or fuming about why things don’t go my way, life is so much more enjoyable.

Happy Pesach to you all!

Avivah

 

 

This is not the mother you want to be!

Pesach is coming – are you taking care of yourself?

As soon as Purim ended, there was a palpable sense in the air that Pesach was on its way.  Going into a major supermarket just a few days later, one could already sense the atmosphere shift and as Pesach gets closer, you can feel the tension and stress and anxiety building.

A couple of weeks ago I co-led a workshop on how to go into Pesach without stressing yourself out.  The point about planning ahead won’t be of much value now, a few days before Pesach. But the other ideas are still applicable.

1) Perspective – what does Pesach mean to you? What kind of atmosphere do you want to have in your house? A person can get so busy doing the preparatory work that they don’t even think about why they’re doing it all!

My goal is to go into Pesach calmly and pleasantly. I want my family members to have positive associations for this time of year.  I want to be awake and fully able to enjoy the seder along with every other person in my family. I want to remember the spiritual messages of this time of year and feel inspired and connected to myself and to G-d.

2) Know what is chometz – Differentiate between spring cleaning and Pesach cleaning. Dirt is not chometz.  I’ll repeat that. Dirt is not chometz.  Here in Israel it’s beautiful to see families everywhere getting ready for Pesach but seeing others doing things you don’t do can easily lead you to feel inadequate if you’re not doing the same things on the same schedule.  Remember your goals and choose what to do accordingly.

3) Sleep – don’t think that you’re getting ahead by sleeping less to get more cleaning done.  No, no, no.  At the most potentially stressful times it’s more important than ever to get enough sleep. Everything in life looks better and more manageable with adequate sleep.  When I start to feel negative, it’s almost always related to being overtired and I need to get myself into bed, pronto!

I’m trying to drum this into my older kids in their late teens and early twenties, who are all very busy right now with work and school.  I remind them that when they’re rested they can get much more done the next day.  Do they take my advice?  Well, they tell me theoretically they agree with it! :)  And they also tell me they appreciate my encouragement to take it easy, do less and sleep more.

It’s so much easier to be a nice person to live with when you’re rested.  My priority for this week is to get to sleep at a regular time every day, take a nap daily, and to eat well.  I schedule it into my planner at the beginning of each day and make these things a priority before anything else. Really.

4) Nutrition – if you’re keeping yourself going on caffeine and grabbing whatever quick carbs you can to get through the day, your blood sugar is going to be all over the place and you’re not going to feel emotionally stable.  You’re going to crash. Make time to physically refuel with good quality foods.  I know, you don’t have time for this, right?  You deserve to make time for this because you are worthy of being taken care of lovingly.  And it doesn’t have to take a long time.  An egg with butter and vegetables  will keep your keep you full and your blood sugar stable.

For kids, too, make sure they’re getting protein at every meal and at snack time.  So much misbehavior is because kids get too hungry and out of sorts.  Don’t fall prey to the Pesach snacks that are everywhere – this will almost guarantee that your kids will be more reactive and less responsive to your requests.  Sandwiches with sweet spreads, cookies and chips won’t give your child’s brain the building blocks they need to stay calm and positive.

Keep it simple – hard boiled eggs, some carrot sticks and hummus makes an easy lunch.  Peanut butter on celery sticks, cheese or nuts make easy snacks.  I keep lots of vegetables and some fruits on hand for the kids to snack on as well.

5) Music – music is your ally in creating a cheerful and upbeat atmosphere!  There is so much great Pesach music that will enhance your home environment while getting your kids prepared for the seder by knowing the songs that are sung that night.

6) Connect – Take time to connect with your kids before they misbehave. Being proactive on this front will make a big difference.  Again, I know it seems like there’s not enough time but believe me, your children will make themselves heard and you will need to take time to deal with whatever behavior and conflicts come up.  Investing the time upfront to preempt the issues is a very wise use of your time.

Most of all – be kind to yourself.  Don’t set high standards that will lead you to feel inadequate.  Keep it simple.  If your house doesn’t sparkle, your home can still be ready for Pesach.  If your menus are simple, your family can still enjoy.  When you treat yourself kindly, it transfers to how you treat everyone around you.

This is not the mother you want to be!

This is not the mother you want to be!

Taking care of yourself is the absolute highest priority at this time. Give yourself the emotional and physical support that you need to feel good. A happy mother is a gift to the entire family!

Avivah