Sunday, November 30, 2008

Here's Thursday's supper... and my boring body battles

Squash soup (based on Monday's, but much, much better - less stringy and richer with the addition of a jar of babyfood squash!)
Fish (breaded and baked, some whitish kind)
Corn puff - basically an eggish puff with lots of corn in it...
Ace Bakery Bread

I waited 'till after aerobics and I was starving before digging in. Stuck with one piece of bread and butter and really felt like I'd earned it!

Bleary Boddy Battles
(ok, I know it's a typo, but I like the way it looks somehow)

I feel like I am fighting my body one slow battle at a time... belly button first and then I can worry about other things.
Teeth, maybe, since I have a couple of wisdom teeth that need to come out. Or - let's be really gross here - stress incontinence (which has gotten a bit better anyway).
Right now, when I feel a sneeze coming, I stand very, very still and cross my legs tight. Because I know one of several things could happen.
~ I could bite my tongue - and I mean chomp. Like, not being able to taste food on that side of it for a week. My tongue seems to get in the way more now than it used to, but it could be because of all my dental work lately and the unfamiliar proportions and alignment of things in my mouth. Is that a real thing?
~ I could pee. There it is, the super-gross one. It really is better - I've been practicing. But it's not 100%. Will it ever be? Who knows...
~ My belly button could explode. That's what it feels like - literal evisceration. Even if my belly button starts out perfectly tucked-in, neat and tidy, it could fling itself through my abdominal wall at any moment. I have literally gone from standing in the shower admiring how well it's behaving, to bent over in belly pain in five seconds, over the course of a single sneeze. (I suspect I sneeze more in the shower - in the bathroom in general - due to mold / mildew, and am working hard to stop its spread with a merciless campaign of opening the window after every shower and wiping down the tiles and walls as well).

These three choices, of course, are not even counting the normal options, like snot coming out your nose, or spraying the people or objects around you with saliva. Or both! Or any combination... because honestly, I never know whether I'm going to get none of the Big Three options, or one, or two, or even all three. It has happened before.

But now, with only a week to go until I check in for the belly button surgery of my dreams, there is a potentially real chance that it may, just may, never ever happen again... at least one of the things.


Mommy-made spaghetti with meat sauce
Dempster's bread

Everything was yummy, but Abigail complained a small bit when she heard it was meat sauce, and Peter, her boyfriend, couldn't understand why. Partly because of not "getting" the connection between meat sauce and no cheese on top, plus no ice cream ... and partly because, I suppose, in the trayfe world almost every spaghetti sauce has meat in it, unless it's explicitly a vegetarian one. I hadn't thought about that, but I suppose it's true. Most people have meat in their sauce.

My mother did offer Tofutti cheese slices to melt on top of the meat sauce. Elisheva took one then decided it was gross - YM had it for her. Ted sat snacking on the thing. I didn't notice if Peter took one to melt on top of his.

Oh, and Elisheva and I volunteered at the UJA telethon all afternoon, so we stopped at Fortino's on the way and picked up a couple of desserty things so Abigail couldn't complain too loudly in front of my mother. They didn't have Tofutti Cuties, so bought another brand and they were, apparently, yucky. I passed on those and had another of the desserts instead.

With only two pounds to go, I can afford a little dessert, right?

Oh - the telethon! It went great. I was only slightly nervous, jumping in. Elisheva sat refusing to call and refusing to call and then finally, after about an hour, decided she wanted to get a pastry and drink. I said, "make one call first - they're for the people who are calling." So she did, then left to get a snack. When she came back, whether invigorated by the tin of coke or emboldened by the success of her first call, she started picking up some of my sheets and calling them... and eventually ended up with a stack of her own. I was so proud of her - my little girl who is still afraid to speak to shopkeepers!!! Love.

Ted's waiting for the computer, so...


<3 J
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Cranky Complaints-Lady Visits the R.O.M. - and other weekend expotitions!

Email feedback sent to the Royal Ontario Museum (complaints department link here) today.  Boy, do I continue to be Not Impressed at the quality of this museum (especially for what you pay - $22! - though we got in on a free pass)...
"We visited the museum today and I wanted to offer feedback to indicate how disappointed I continue to be by the new dinosaur exhibit area.  This was our second visit since the dinosaurs "returned" to the ROM.
Besides the annoying fact of life that it's housed in a "pointy" part of the crystal (which I admit I don't like), causing a couple of dead-ends and areas where exhibit flow is compromised due to the awkward architecture, the exhibits themselves now seem dull & uninspiring to the most crucial visitors - kids. 
In the old setting, the dinosaur skeletons were displayed against realistic "diorama" backdrops, as they are in other museums (like the Tyrrell museum, which we enjoyed immensely).
That kind of display is vivid and makes the dinosaurs come to life, especially for the youngest visitors.  As seen in the new ROM, they're just bones, bones, and more bones.  There are helpful videos showing the settings in which they may have lived, what their skin might have looked like, etc., but the dinos themselves are just dead, dry bones. 
This was particularly true of the marine reptiles, especially one "turtle-saur" creature (sorry, I didn't catch its name) that appears to just float within the point of the crystal. 
I honestly didn't believe it was possible for a Tyrannosaurus Rex to be boring to kids... but, as evidenced by the number of them walking past with glazed eyes today, it appears (if that was your goal) that you have succeeded.
If you venture into the Natural History section of the museum (not an easy thing to do if you're coming from the dinos and pushing a stroller, by the way) and stand in the bat cave for a few minutes listening to children and adults talking excitedly and learning together, perhaps you'll regain some sense of what it takes to put together a fascinating exhibit that combines science and entertainment.
I hope we will be rewarded at some point in the future by a revitalized dinosaur exhibit that will truly showcase the latest thinking about dinosaurs and how they lived in a way that engages all your visitors, especially kids. 
The Diamonds exhibit wasn't thrilling, either.  I didn't realize it was so totally sponsored by De Beers... nothing much about the treatment of black workers in South Africa covered in the exhibit; I wonder, not knowing much about it, if there was much history there... I'm thinking probably.
Went downtown to "see the lights" with the Littles last night... didn't realize it was the official "lighting of the tree" ceremony and concert.  I figured we'd just go, watch the skaters for a bit, see the shop windows, come home.  Well, when I saw the thousands of other people at Nathan Phillips Square, I realized something was up.  A helpful policeman clued me in when I asked.  Naomi was very impressed, Gavriel Zev not so much, so I had to keep walking around. 
After the tree lit up, the concert ended (I thought), so I figured we'd look at the Bay windows and then walk up Yonge to Dundas and back down again to catch the skaters on the way home.  Well... the Bay windows were so Xmassy... no longer the excellent Narnia windows they had a couple of years ago, they're back to the Xmas theme of elves and toy shops and Santa and whatnot.  Last year, we told Naomi they were having Shabbos dinner.  Maybe this year she's a little more clued in and wondered why they were all wearing red... and why they were all elves...
Actually, she just referred to all the figures in the windows as "dollies."  She asked me if they sell them inside the store (The Bay) and I had to tell her that while, usually when you see something in a store window, you can buy it inside, in this case, they do not sell the "dollies" inside.  Good thing, or else she'd probably want a bunch to take home.
Yonge Street was nothing much, a bit lit up - and I thought for a split second of stopping in at St Mike's, half a block away, to visit my father, but he's supposed to come home tomorrow, so decided not to bother.  We walked up to Dundas, where nothing much was happening, and then back down through the Eaton Centre.  As we were coming out the Eaton Centre into Trinity Square, I heard fireworks high up above City Hall.  Couldn't see them, because they were apparently being set off inside the bloody oyster-shell design of the City Hall towers.  So I quickly ran with the carriage around to the front where we had a good view of the stunning finale.
As lousy and disappointing as the fireworks were that we waited and struggled and elbowed our way in to see for Canada Day, these were about fifteen times better.  I think we will try Nathan Phillips for fireworks next time, as they seem to have the knack.
As a bonus, the subway home with now-tired kiddies was super-fast and easy (why is always twice as quick to come home by subway?), and by the time I was pushing the carriage up our street, somewhat exhausted myself after a Shabbos of not feeling well anyway, I spotted our car in the driveway:  Ted was home, already, from work!!
Anyway, so it was nice, nice, nice to be greeted by him outside as we pushed the rest of the way home and super-amazing-nice to have help putting everybody to bed.  I guess it's the one good thing about his having to work motzaei Shabbos:  in the winter, there's a bit of a chance that he can have an almost-normal evening at home.
MEANWHILE, the big kiddies... YM slept over at his friend Elijah's, on the condition that he go to night seder (a classmate's parents picked him up from Elijah's house and brought him back there when they were done) and daven at the Village Shul in the morning (Sunday).  The only catch was he still had on his black dress shirt from Shabbos, instead of the regulation white one he's supposed to wear to school.  What a rebel.  Meanwhile, Elisheva had a surprise party for her friend Shula and then a melava malka at her teacher's house.  I picked her up at 10, just after we got the littles to bed.
Belly button continues to be anguish, this seems like almost the worst it has ever been... as if it wants to go out with a bang.  And going out it IS... I am now only 2 lbs away from my weight goal - enough that, as Abigail pointed out, it could count as just normal fluctuation, as your weight does tend to go up and down a bit during the course of a normal day/week etc.  Currently, 131:  goal, 129.  I don't think I have weighed this little since I was a teenager... amazing. 
I don't feel smaller, but Ted says it shows.
More about my body later - it's for a different post.
<3 J

Not going to push... sigh...

Going to the museum today and Elisheva won't be coming along.  I was going back and forth on it, but I figure it's not worth the struggle, and she'll just complain the entire time we're there...
I love going places with them and it makes me feel like a good parent (bonus!).
But I am already forcing her to go to one thing (UJA phone-a-thon) this afternoon, so I cannot push my luck, I suppose.
Abigail's joining us there - we're going to see the Diamonds exhibit.  Fun, fun, fun!
I feel like a bad Jew for knowing nothing about Mumbai.  :-(

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Robeez OBSESSION...

It looks like a million, but this is actually only 14 pairs. And I'm selling the four girlie pairs at the top middle, or trying to, because we really don't need them anymore...

There is also one non-Robeez pair (Tendertoes, which I actually almost like more, as the leather is soft and the design - elephants - is very cute!) and one lone shoe (the bow-tied teddy bear peeking out of the bottom-middle package) for which I'm hoping we will someday find the mate.

I guess we'll be retiring that entire bottom-middle package soon, since those are the 6-12 month size, and I feel we're already pushing it to squish his feet into them.

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LAST night's supper! And the belly button story...

I have been making wonderful suppers, but keep forgetting to take pictures and / or to post here, so here, to make up for it, is last night's wonderful supper...OK, it doesn't look so wonderful. First, in the pan and then, on the plate.

Tuesday Supper:

Shepherd's Pie - turkey / apple / squash (I toss in a jar of babyfood squash)... I also added a tin of white kidney beans to "stretch" the meat and make it more fibrous and filling. The topping is organic red potatoes, mashed with the skins and with roasted garlic because with the skins is my new favourite way to do it. And, of course, now that I'm so hyper-aware of potato issues, the only way I will eat the skin is if it's organic. Though thinking about the range of potato products that we buy ready-made (like instant mash and the low-fat "puffed" chips I'm so fond of these days!) and with Chanukah coming up, well, we'll see... One day at a time for that particular resolution.
I checked the fridge (this is still yesterday, stay with me) and saw that there were "no" veggies, so I took one sad-looking red pepper and fried it in a pan with a couple of celery sticks (why haven't we eaten celery as a veg course before now? - it's yummy!) and a getting-sad-looking package of mushrooms... well, the "no" veggies situation turned out to be quite veggie-rich, especially if you count the corn in the shepherd's pie (most of which was left over from Shabbos). I added some balsamic vinegar and chicken soup mix to the veggies.So there it is. Delicious.
Oh, I have started to worry, though, about the quantity of soup mix I use in cooking... I mean, it's in almost everything - the base of most of my dairy soups, etc. If only I had the energy to prep and boil the ton of veg it would take to craft a meatless broth... but then it would only last one meal and wouldn't be nearly as handy as the powdered stuff. Sheesh.
These weeks are going by so fast. Tonight's Naomi & Gavriel's last swimming lesson. Not that that is any indication of how fast things are going, because they missed the first four classes out of 9 due to yamim tovim.
Everybody is reacting in horror to news of my impending surgery - December 8th, so a week and a half away. I haven't found a nice way to break it to people - "minor procedure" is fine, but then they want details and I'm like "well, the muscles tore open..." I wish there was some less gory way to say it.
Basically, my bellybutton never went in after Elisheva, and then when I was pregnant with Naomi Rivka, my abdomen started to hurt, all over the place, all the time. Sharp, sharp pain. I was worried about the pregnancy, but when the pain didn't change or get worse, and she continued to do okay, I stopped worrying and figured it would go away. But it never did, and when I was pregnant with Gavriel Zev it got so bad that I couldn't even stand up and fold laundry or do around-the-house type things... basically, I had to stay lying down or it would hurt.
Over those three or four years, I went to my family Dr a few times, like maybe 3 times, asking what it could be. But because a) the pain was intermittent - it could stick around for four days and then totally vanish - and b) it was not constantly in the same place but was "referring" all over my abdomen, there were several red herrings. In fact, when I suspected it was an ovary problem at one point very early in my pregnancy after Naomi Rivka, it was that ultrasound - checking out my ovaries - that found that the baby had died.
SO it was all on my lonesome that one day I put two and two together - massively protruding bellybutton, massive pain - to discover it was a hernia. Which kills me, because duh... by that point, you could make out loops of intestine sticking out. But because it was referred, and because I was pregnant, I guess nobody looked at my belly button.
My doctor confirmed it and said she could refer me, but I had just finished reading about the Shouldice Hospital and wanted to have it done there - it's the best in the world, apparently. And they said they couldn't do it until at least one year postpartum. So in August, I headed up there (Bayview and John) and waited, and waited and waited... finally, after having only some preparatory stuff done, I had to leave because Ted had to go to work and go back the next day when he was off. At which point, I waited and waited and waited some more, but FINALLY got in to see a Dr.
He checked me over and said I could come in December 8th... but also that I had to lose 15 pounds, of which I've lost ten, with five to go...
The good bit about having confirmed that it's a hernia is that I've been able to wear a "binder" - basically a massive strip of white bandage-looking velcro that you wrap around your middle. That wouldn't do much good except that my family Dr also showed me how I can push in the loop of intestines when it "pops" out through the hernia, which she estimated to be about 3cm (but feels much bigger now, if you ask me).
So that's the state of my guts. Most days, they don't hurt, and in fact, as I'm doing more ab exercises, things really have gotten better. But some days - exacerbated by coughing, sneezing, laughing or the alignment of the planets - something "pops" and then I'll stand up to find I'm in pain. Anywhere from mild ache to sharp can't-stand-up-straight pain. As if I've been eviscerated. Ha ha.
If it's bad enough, and there's time and the kids aren't running around bugging me (ha!), I go to the bedroom and lie down, find the "stuck" loop poking out of my belly button (it's not really stuck, as that is a grave medical condition called incarcerated bowel - in case you REALLY wanted to know), gently, gently (and yes, squeamishly), push it back through the hole. At first, it feels like it's not going to go... it's a big thick, slippery loop and the hole really is pretty small. Eventually, part of it literally slithers through, and then the rest usually follows quickly. There is kind of a "slurp" feeling that always makes me shudder and feel ill.
Once I've done that, it's a simple matter to pull the velcro binder around my middle and do it up (still lying down, the the kishkes can't fall out again), and then I can stand up and take care of the many many things that have gone wrong while I was having my little "lie down."
And I am SO looking forward to putting that whole chapter behind me. Hopefully permanently, though hernias have been known to recur. Shouldice apparently has the best recurrence rate in the world, though.
Elisheva has gone completely mad. A month and a half early if it's her teenage years hitting. I got a phone call from her French teacher that she wasn't paying attention in class and wasn't doing well on tests. Well, trying to discuss that prompted a full-on screaming fit... needless to say, I'm on top of her agenda and stuff now, which only makes her more angry. Last night wasn't bad, so I hope this won't be an every day thing. Oy.
Had a nice outing last week motzaei Shabbos, I took YM & the littles to Yorkdale because YM had a gift certificate from Sears. Oh - bloody cheesy! He got an iTunes gift card from my sister for his birthday and we all figured he could buy stuff for his iPod with it, but stupid apple - I hate apple! - decided otherwise.
Apparently, the credit can only be used for movies and music... not for the applications (games and stuff) that he wants to download for it. And we don't let him listen to the music or watch the movies. In other words, it's completely bloody useless. Makes me so angry... did I mention, I hate apple? I hate iTunes, too, and anything apple has had a hand in.
Anyway, he had a Sears gift card from Ted's parents and planned to use it on dress shirts. It went very well. He found a "value" package with two white shirts, but also a spiffy black shirt. He couldn't decide, so I said since the white were for school, I'd buy them, along with some mitts. It turned out the value pack was on sale for $12-something, so I got away cheap - that's basically what I'd pay for them used at Value Village, if I could find them... boy's dress shirts in white, size 14, with no Catholic-school logo, can be extremely hard to come by. It was a pleasure going with him; he's usually the one that stays home, but of course, he was getting something out of this trip, so he came along.
I got a ROM pass last week, so this weekend we're planning on heading down on Sunday to see the diamonds exhibit. Ted has to work, so I hope Abigail can come with (she said she would; we'll see).
Must run and make supper or take care of my home or something...

Oh - tonight's supper!

BBQ wings (yes, this week's theme is meat, meat, MEAT!)
Hmm... something with broccoli, haven't quite decided how to stretch a single head just yet...
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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sleeping Beauties

Here's something I haven't done in a while... photographed any of my children in their sleep. Look how peaceful; look how innocent!

I am sitting here eating a grapefruit that Elisheva cut for me... ah, luxury. Makes up a bit for the fact that I called my mother to invite her for Shabbos and she made me cry by demanding that I pay the water bill and pay Daddy and get the budget under control... she says to pay the bills first, then the schools. Not so easy when the schools have postdated cheques and the bank won't even let me hide the money in Ted's account.

That's right - we noticed a mysterious $210 withdrawal from his account yesterday, with a $4.50 service charge... called up Scotiabank all indignant about where they were taking our money... and it turns out - I noticed while he was on the phone probing the customer service rep - that it was automatically taken from his account to cover one of the school cheques going through mine. Drat, drat, drat.

All of which only came to light because he mentioned his account was empty... well, sure it was, because the money had gone into mine, which was then also empty. Luckily, today was child tax benefit day. Thank goodness for the kids; if only they weren't eating us out of house and home.

Oh, I hear Ted outside hauling the garbage bin back into place.


Frozen Fish sticks - yes, it's what we have every Thursday when we run out of everything else
Macaroni casserole
Something with carrots, probably boil them in something to help them taste good.

Last night was Superstore chicken, but I cut up my organic russet potatoes and we had them on the side. And what else? There was something yummy... oh, baby carrots and red peppers fried. I guess that's a lot of carrots, especially if I make carrots tonight. But there are so few veggies in the house at the moment... sigh.

Aerobics class tonight!

<3 J
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The SIGG saga - SIGG-tisfaction! at last!

Here's what arrived from SIGG USA today... yay! Not one, but THREE lids. SIGG Canada also had a turnaround - I guess pangs of conscience - and emailed asking for my address so they can send me a new cap. But we don't need more... we only have the one SIGG bottle in the house, and if we buy more, they'll come with caps! :-)

(but we do have two Klean Kanteens now with the one-piece PP#5 loop cap lids... not the simplest to operate, but super-easy to keep clean and no suspicion of gunk building up inside like with the stainless cap I originally bought)

<3 J
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As of today, we owe the boy... [and my father...]

...$362. I transferred $200 in last night even though we can't afford it. And paid back Elisheva the $90 that was supposed to be in her account.

I figure, only scum of the earth borrow from their children to buy groceries. Well, okay, and tuition. And school supplies.

If we can't afford those things, well, it's not the children's fault, and I really want to be able to sit down and show them their balances. And have them plan and dream about doing whatever with the money.

So now, where will the rent come from? Who knows?

See, what's scummier, owing tons of money to your kids' savings accounts, or owing tons of money to your dying father for the house, car, insurance?

This situation disgusts me completely. I am thoroughly disgusted with us, with myself. How could we be SO in debt to him in the first place? And then, now that we've gotten ourselves in so deep, and everything else that's going on... well, how can I look him in the eye?

The answer is, I can't. I am utterly, utterly ashamed. There it is. I can't be a good daughter to my father who has cancer and this thing is going to hang over our last few decent months together and we will never be able to have a conversation because I'm constantly avoiding him because... well, because he's my landlord.

I even found myself not answering the phone today, because I know he'll be calling ... he already has, but Ted got it; I was out.

Who visits their landlord in the hospital? Especially if their rent is late?
Who calls up their creditors and draws them pictures to help them feel better?
Says tehillim with the utmost sincerity, even though I want nothing more than to just get him off my back. There, I said it. :-(

I feel like the only thing I can give him right now is my kids. I hope they'll turn out to be better people than I am.

And, YES...

... that IS a vintage original 1970-whatever choking-hazard-type Fisher-Price Little People mentshie on her thumb!


Well, I have a salmon fillet defrosting in the fridge. And I was thinking of making this creamy broccoli and kind of tucking the salmon in the pan underneath the broccoli. Would that be too weird, do you think?

Last night's supper was actually wonderful:

Spaghetti with pan-fried veggies sauce (red peppers, mushrooms, big purple onion)
Garlic bread
Creamy Cauliflower soup

So I suppose I ought to go more "lite" for the rest of the week... not serve salmon drenched in creamy ricotta sauce. Well, you can be sure (someday) I'll keep you posted!

<3 J
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THE SHIRT: Hora with the Torah!

Originally a gift from our university friend Dr. Mike, THE SHIRT has now
been granted official "uppercase" status because over the last 14 years,
it's proven itself
completely indestructible.

It has been shlepped from Toronto to Calgary and vice versa - more than
once - worn, washed, dried, etc., 8,000 times, and now, after
however-many years in storage, it's BAaaaack. Completely unfaded, unpilled,

A little big for Naomi Rivka at the moment, but she'll grow. Definitely her
favourite thing to sleep in... and the perfect nightware for a little girl
who is big into the Torah.

Thank you, Dr. Mike!

Monday, November 17, 2008

As of today, we owe the boy...


Foodie Resolution #1 & #2: Garlic & Potatoes

Although, I suppose, eating KOSHER food is a bit of a resolution in itself, that's a whole nother story... so let's call that Resolution #0. And here are resolutions #1 and #2:

GARLIC: Only North American garlic. No Chinese garlic. It grows so readily here, from what I can tell, preserves well, so it's available locally pretty much year-round. I have no idea what they're doing to it in China. Maybe nothing, but that's not the point. It is a false economy to say it is cheaper and more efficient to grow garlic for me in China, then ship it all the way around the world.

So... garlic, as local as possible. "Local" being this huge continent. Ontario if possible, farmer's market fresh hardneck if possible.

The "neck" of garlic, by the way, is the core bit in the middle that you might not even have noticed if you've been buying non-Ontario, non-organic garlic. Most commercial garlic is softneck, and I'm not sure what the flavour differences are between the two types. But I do know, or believe, that hardneck grows best here. Maybe next year, I'll even plant some for myself... again. (tried it the first year and failed).

And then, there's POTATOES.
Inspired by Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire and other discussions of pesticide use in commercial potato growing, I think we'll try cutting out the pesticide 'tatoes altogether.

I was a little daunted by this when I asked if they had organic potatoes at Sobey's (Clark & Hilda store) and the produce guy said they used to but at $8 a bag, they didn't sell very many.

But today they had Canadian-grown organic President's Choice organic potatoes, both russet and red, at Fortino's for $2.99 (maybe $3.99?), so I bought a bag of each.

This may be harder than the garlic to keep up all winter long, but we shall see.

The real conundrum with insisting on organic may not be buying the potatoes themselves, but the products that contain potatoes that aren't organic: tinned veggie soups, heck, the tinned teeny-weeny potatoes that we all love so much with our superstore roast chicken.

Apparently many consumers who buy organic don't really think through all the sources of their inorganic veggies, at least according to another book I read recently, Organic, Inc. (forget the author's name). Convenience foods, especially, are often accepted at face value even though they're made of the very same non-organic produce the person would ordinarily turn up his or her nose at.

So, like I said, we'll see. :-)
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Ahh, the strollers I have owned...

Here's the MacLaren when I first found it, back in April.
and here it is now!

I think the wheels look WAY more worn-down now, in the second picture. Also, the canopy is a little more bent & broken-looking than back then. But I've offered it to Freecycle anyway; I hope somebody claims it, maybe as a secondary or car stroller ...

I was certainly thrilled to find it and have definitely gotten my money's worth out of it the last seven months. Here's Gavriel Zev looking pretty proud of himself in it, back when it was "new". :-)

(new to us)

What was it Dr Larch used to say in Cider House Rules...? "The MacLaren has found a family. Good night, MacLaren." Well, not yet, but I hope before the weekend, so Ted doesn't kill me that there's another stroller sitting around here.

Supper last night was awesome!

Ted had the idea of roast-beef sandwiches, so I bought them from Toronto Kosher. Then, we had French Fries, pea soup, fresh from the freezer rye bread, even leftover pie from Shabbos... Sara, Abigail and my mother came over... and then Judy dropped by, so it was a little crowded around the table, but fun nevertheless. (she called ahead and asked if it was a good time - what was I supposed to say, "no?" It was a FINE time, as long as she didn't mind being a bit crowded and shouting over the din if she wanted more meat. :-)

Plus, I wanted to be nice to her because I had the idea that maybe she could take the kids on Tuesday mornings when I go to my a.m. aerobics class, so GZ won't scream at the daycare ladies the whole time. :-(

Tonight, we'll have spaghetti and red-pepper-tomato sauce, garlic bread, uh-oh - cauliflower soup that I'd better get cooking. Gack. The afternoons go so quickly.

<3 J
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Latest curbside find: The Pliko!

OK, I think I am a magnet. I think they FIND me.
But this one really is the carriage to end all carriages: lovely late-model Peg Perego pliko in a delightful, CLEAN, navy-check fabric. Well, okay, it was soaking wet and disgusting when I found it after two days of rain and snow... but a quick wash of the fabric was enough to take care of that. And, yes, it's missing the front bar. Oh, well. (though I wonder if Peg Perego could supply a replacement at a reasonable cost, because it's nice for the baby to be able to lean forward)

I really, really wonder what's on people's minds when they abandon a carriage like this. OK, I guess technically it's a stroller.

One reason this find is such a relief is that the MacLaren is on its last legs. Wheels, actually; the two rear wheels are almost completely worn down. Which is fine, given that I found it by the curb a number of months ago - no idea when! - and that it replaced the older-model Pliko (sherpa) we were given free when the Zooper was stolen.

These have been our "secondary", in-car carriages since the baby (and Naomi Rivka before him) got too big for the Snap n' Go type carseat carrier. But secondary that they are, they end up seeing a LOT of use what with trips to Riverdale Farm. They are also often our TTC carriages of choice because they are compact and less of a nuisance than a full-size on escalators, in stores, etc.

And there are none that I'd rather have than a Peg Perego or MacLaren. Well, okay, if I found a Bugaboo, Uppababy, Firstwheels, etc., I probably wouldn't complain... but I don't think it's likely I'll see one of those anytime soon, with resale values so high.

Still - I looked on Craigslist last night and this Pliko would probably sell for $75-100. And once again, I really wonder what's on people's minds when they just leave it at the curb. Freecycling, I understand - if you really feel you've gotten your money's worth out of a baby item and you can't be bothered selling it, for sure, give it away. But leaving it at the curb means it's going to get rained on and yucky and you just have to hope somebody finds it who can get some use out of it... and won't just clean it up and resell it, although I guess someone could do that on Freecycle as well.

Anyway, I'm happy.
Also got handed down a bunch of beautiful 3-year-old boy outfits; frum stuff, nice quality. And a ton of shoes for him to wear someday as well. Which made up for a rather poopy trip to Value Village yesterday, in which my entire goal was turtlenecks (for me, Naomi Rivka and Gavriel Zev) and I ended up finding a grand total of ONE... and no dress shirts for YM, which is what he urgently needs. Ugh.

So today I'm happy.

Oh, but my uncle is in the hospital... he flew in from BC last week to see (aka Say Goodbye) to my father, but now he's having neurological problems and isn't in any condition to fly back, so he's at the Western. I thought they could have at least stuck him in St Mike's so he could see my father, but my mother says in an ambulance you have no choice.

So I guess I'm not too happy, if that makes sense.

Anshel ben Chana Rivka (my uncle)
Yechiel Pinchas ben Chana Rivka (my father)

Those are their names... tehillim are welcome.

<3 J
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

And the NOT HELPFUL sigg reply from Northern Spirit in Canada, plus my reply

Oh, and I've included my reply to her, because it was fun to write due to her message being so not helpful and annoying!
----- Original Message -----
From: [me]
To: [her]
Sent: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 10:26 AM
Subject: Re: your sigg bottle

Hi.  The "child" in question is a very cautious 12-year-old girl, and I was with her when it basically fell off.  But thank you anyway.  Sigg has offered a replacement cap, so I guess their feeling is that they'd rather have a happy repeat customer than tell me my daughter is a brute or an idiot who can't open a water bottle.
Again, thank you anyway... for not very much help, beyond offering to sell me a new lid.
----- Original Message -----
From: [customer service drone]
To: [me]
Sent: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 10:19 AM
Subject: your sigg bottle

Good morning Jen! [gaaaack... I  never asked her to call me JEN!  I hate when people are so presumptuous!!!]


It is very odd that you’ve had no response, it could be possible that the message was sent to the junk e-mail folder by the server and then deleted automatically. We are very sorry about that. I understand that you have a problem with your bottle, that the lid is damaged. We recommend that you remove the mud cap part of the top, because it has a higher chance of breaking when being handled by a child. If you would like a replacement (since we do not consider this to be a manufacturing defect), please contact the store that you purchased the bottle, or you can buy a different lid of your choice online. I hope this helps!




[her perky name]

Sales and Invoicing
Northern Spirit International ∙ Sigg Canada

Tel: 204-694-1988 | Fax: 204-772-7020
1169 Sherwin Road | Winnipeg, MB Canada | R3H 0V1


Yay! Reply from SIGG! Bottle tops (plural) on their way!

----- Original Message -----
From: Sigg corporate person in Switzerland/Connecticut
To: [me]
Sent: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 9:11 AM
Subject: FW: WG: Broken Sigg Bottle Top - repeated emails sent and no reply :-(

Hi Jennifer,

I do apologize for someone NOT getting back to you. I have your address and am sending you a few tops, at our cost, to your address below:  

[snail addy blanked out]


These are going out in the mail today.


If you should have any other questions, please feel free to 'e' mail me.


Thanks !

[his/her name]


Keep Rockin' with SIGG !


Director of Operations/Manager of Customer Service

SIGG Switzerland

1177 High Ridge Rd

Stamford, CT 06905

ph)  203-321-1218

fax) 203-321-1286

SIGG: Simply ECO-Logical

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

At the fair - Giant Vegetables!

For once, one of my fantasy plans came true!

Yesterday - after all the aliyah / shul nonsense (see below) - was Royal Winter Fair day! My plan was to go with Ted & the littles first thing in the morning and then, when they got crabby, send him home with the littles and stay with Elisheva to do the grown-up bits (ie see giant veggies & buy stuff). I bought the passes from a homeschooling connection for only $4, instead of the $18 full price (they were school chaperone passes). Oh - plus we had to pay $12 (coins only because it was a meter) for parking.

Anyway, it worked! The little kids basically came for the superdog show in the morning, plus some petting-farm fun, and then they left. Oh, Judy, our neighbour / friend tagged along as well. Ted drove her home around 2-ish, when he left with the kids.

Then, Elisheva and I exhausted ourselvesfinding the giant vegetables, but find them we did (photo evidencehere of her with Giant Sunflowers and Giant Kohlrabi)! I did spend money, but only about $6 altogether - $3 on 2 bars of goat-milk soap, and $3 on microwave egg cookers.

Oh, and $8 on the lemonade seen here - $4 each, eek!

The microwave egg cookers (brought to you by, the egg marketing board) are kind of a scam, but they're cute. You could probably accomplish the same thing with a teacup and a piece of saran wrap, but anyway. You still have to crack the egg and pour it in. Then you pierce it a few times so it won't blow up (pierce the yolk and the white) and cook for either 35 or 45 seconds, depending on if you want it hard or soft.

I tried it for a soft-boiled egg today, for a snack... it was SO yummy. Needed a couple of slices of toast to mop it up, or at least some hollandaise sauce, but it was okay plain, too. The problem is, you have to be right on it or it goes quickly from soft-boiled to soft-hard-boiled, which is Not Acceptable, with a non-gooey yolk. If you get distracted (story of my life), your egg is no longer prime. But that's not the egg cooker's fault, I guess.

So that was the Royal Winter Fair.

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Before the Fair

Here's a sweet shot of Gavriel Zev in shul yesterday morning. Why were we in shul at 7 a.m. on a random Monday morning in November???

YM lained the first bit of parshas Vayeira because my father wanted to "treat" his brother to an aliyah... maybe his first since his bar mitzvah. My mother took Ted at ten to six to spring my father from the hospital for a few hours. Why Ted? Because she needed somebody to sit in the car at St Mike's and make sure she didn't get a ticket. He took it very gracefully even though it meant he only got about 5 hours' sleep.

Oh, and then I went down to wake up YM and told him we were leaving for shul in 20 minutes and that I'd drive him. He promptly went back to sleep - even though I'd switched his room light on - and Ted arrived five minutes later to tell him Bubby and Zeidy (my parents) were taking him straight to shul - ten minutes ahead of schedule.

It's convoluted, and luckily, he didn't yell and scream. He knows my father is becoming ever more intensely HIMSELF... whatever that means. Uber-punctual. And like a toddler, too, in that the things that are important to him will not wait.

The laining part was actually supposed to be a surprise for my father. YM is planning to lain Chayei Sarah in shul next week, because that's his bar mitzvah parsha. But my uncle won't be in town next week, and my dad wanted to have this aliyah and make a l'chaim at shul with him (my uncle - sorry about the pronouns!). So YM decided to surprise him (my father) by doing the laining this week as well.

And then, not knowing it was a surprise, I spilled the beans by telling my father how hard YM was practicing. Well, YM screamed and screamed when he found out I'd told him. But I said I was only saying it because I was proud of him, and he KNEW darn well if I knew it was a surprise I wouldn't have told Zeidy. So he settled down in only an hour or so... :-)

He did a great job and they had a little l'chaim in the bais midrash afterwards. Here is my father and his brother... my dad leaning over to give his brother a hug, at which point I figured I should back away with the camera and give them some privacy.

This was a spontaneous visit, probably brought on by the news that they will never see each other again in this life. They haven't been geographically close (he lives in central B.C.), and have often seemed as dissimilar as it's possible for two siblings to be. I wonder if I'll ever see my uncle again? Maybe... their sister still lives here in Toronto.

It is probably hard for him to travel, though; he walks very slowly... I think because of his arthritis, but I never ask.
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Mango optimism and new snowsuits!

No, the two topics don't really go together, but there you have it. Here are some shots of a rotton old mango seed that I'm trying to sprout. The last one sprouted just fine but then got dug up and carted off by wildlife outside. So I'm keeping this one indoors; okay, also because the weather has gotten cold.

Isn't this seed just about the ugliest thing you can imagine? It lives inside the "husk" at the core of a mango... the bit you chew on, scrape the fruit off, etc., isn't the seed but contains the seed. You have to pry it open like an oyster.

This seed got a little mungled up - you can see at the bottom it's a little black and chewed-looking - from my knife-prying attempts... if it hasn't sprouted in a couple of weeks, I will have to start over with a new mango. But like the title says, I'm optimistic. :-)

I'm sprouting it in a sealed container like I did last time because we are all trying to overcome our baggie addiction. There are few things better than a baggie for sprouting, but a container like this does almost as good a job at maintaining the required humidity levels.

New snowsuits from Granny! Pink for Naomi Rivka, Blue (Columbia!) for Gavriel Zev.

I am so grateful for this bounty of snowsuits, though I sometimes feel ungrateful because they take up so much space when it's NOT snowy. I am making up for it by Freecycling at least 3 snowsuits we don't need.

We still actually have the one she sent for Naomi last year - it's Size 3 and blue; this newest one is Size 4 in pink. And Naomi also still has the hot pink one she wore last winter (Size 3), which used to be Elisheva's. But I will hold onto the Size 3 blue because it will still be basically brand-new when Gavriel Zev needs it.

I hope you can see what I mean by bounty of snowsuits.

Supper tonight:

Salmon / spinach pie of some sort.
Formerly frozen peas
I dunno what else... I wish we had pea soup mix but I don't think we do. Feeling lazy.

We are having a lazy day today after a busy yesterday at the Royal Winter Fair, which completely knocked me out... I slept from 11 to 8 and could have slept for three more hours, easily...

<3 J
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Fw: Broken Sigg Bottle Top - repeated emails sent and no reply :-(

Here are two emails I sent back in April hoping to receive a replacement for the bottle cap that my daughter bought which broke right away on its second use.  I am dismayed by the lack of response we have received.  This is just a child who doesn't have a lot of money to burn - she chose a Sigg bottle as a gift and was almost immediately disappointed. 
Six months have gone by, and the bottle is still sitting gathering dust on a shelf.  What a waste, for a company that's made its reputation on its "green" products.
I would appreciate a reply - a replacement bottle top would be even better.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2008 11:02 PM
Subject: Fw: Broken Bottle Top

I am forwarding this (see email, below) to you in the hope that you can help us, as I haven't heard back from the Sigg contact within Canada.
Thanks in advance!
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2008 11:34 PM
Subject: Broken Bottle Top

After months of trying to decide whether we wanted Sigg or Kleen Kanteen bottles, my daughter received a lovely cobalt-blue Sigg bottle with an Active Bottle Top.  Unfortunately, the second time she used it, the "flap cap" on the bottle top just snapped off.  To my knowledge, it wasn't subjected to any unusual stress; it just broke off as she opened it (maybe opening it too far?  but if that's the case, the cap is just plain flimsy).
I'd like to request a replacement bottle top, and would be happy to return this one wherever necessary.  The store where it was purchased (Li'l Niblets & Baby Sprouts on Avenue Road in Toronto, approximately in November, but there hasn't been much call for cold-water bottles in the last few months... :-)) didn't have any exchange information.
Yours truly,

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

OK, I know it's a bad cliché...

... but what the HECK do they do with all that time in the bathroom???
She's been in there for over 15 minutes, and sounds very close to the door when I knock.
Is it just mirror-gazing???
Will we ever know?
<3 J

Monday, November 03, 2008

Last Thursday's supper

That supper picture was from last Thursday's supper, by the way... casarecce in creamy tomato sauce, sweet potatoes and a yummy multi-veggie barley soup. Everything turned out perfectly, thus ending some BAaaaad suppertime karma.

Last night, I made a soft-meat stew - it was originally going to be for my father, who can only eat soft food - in the new pressure cooker. Everything turned out fantastically, and I even made two loaves of olive-oil pepper bread to dip in, but unfortunately, neither of the parents were there, which turned out to be a good thing because even with two loaves of bread, two pounds of meat, four potatoes, two carrots, two parsnips, etc., there was BARELY enough for us plus Abigail.
When did we become such big eaters?

Oh, yeah, when YM hit his teenage years.

Ran into Baila, an old friend from U of T, when I was at Sobey's yesterday shopping for the supper fixins. She had her first four months after YM was born... and went on to have 6 (six!) altogether. She says it so casually, "just the six..." Ha. Anyway, her youngest is 6, she's back in school, studying psychology. I'm mostly just writing it here in case I forget because I really was super-happy that she went back.

She was thinking of doing a Master's way back when I knew her. I'm glad it's almost happening for her. Which reminds me, I really ought to think about getting started on what I'm going to do for the rest of my life... once I'm done with these kiddies!

<3 J
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Slobbery Webcam Hijinks with Elisheva!

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