Sunday, September 18, 2011

SuperIma Sunday Check-in: I Tried, Friends...

Before you read my epic (perhaps final?) check-in - go visit my friends Amanda, who is understandably mourning the end of "The Hunger Games" series, and Shannon, who's hoping to add a bit of structure to structureless afternoons this week.

Okay, supers. I tried.

It's been a really tough few weeks, housework wise.

David's working nonstop. Nonstop. He doesn't sleep.

So of course I'm doing all the housework. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, picking up. Trash removal. All of it. It's a little less since the kids aren't home all day, but there's still at least one load of laundry every day, cooking and serving for three meals a day (gotta prep lunches!) and then cleaning up, both the kitchen and the living room. If I have to look at one more pot or pan, to cook with it or to clean it up afterwards, I'm going to throw it across the kitchen.

There are three baskets of clean laundry that have been sitting in my bedroom for as long as nine days, and I can't bring myself to put them away. I just can't. I already vaccuumed the carpet twice today and I can't do it again. Cannot.

And this space right here? This sweet blog that I started so optimistically, certain that I could be good at anything if I tried hard enough, even housewifery?

I kind of hate it now.

My escape has been writing. I don't know how long it'll last, but I'm really trying to make a go of this publication thing. And I love the writing blog, and especially the writing itself, and everything that goes with it. I'm excited to blog there three times a week, and to lose sleep over a new story.

But over here? When I realize it's Sunday, this check-in feels like a chore. And that is SO not the point.

So, I think this is going to be my last check-in, if not forever, at least for now. At least till I no longer start seething when I think about having to clean the kitchen and do dishes for the second or third time in one day. As long as I don't feel like I'm suffocating when I look at any laundry, anywhere.

I love you all for following me for this long. Truly. I hate being a quitter. But this is something I just have to quit.

Want to share your plans for the week, one last time?
You're doing an incredible job. Always did. Keep on keepin' on.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

SuperIma Sunday Check-in: Things are Looking Up, Ima-Wise

Hi everyone! Before you read my first positive check-in in about a year, run over to visit my Wisconsin bestie Amanda, (no, I've never met her. So?) who remembers where she was ten years ago on September 11.  Then run over to visit Shannon, who's had a killer week. And not in the best way (but not in the worst either.) Go give her a hug.

So, I've been back in the office for six working days, and away from the full-time Ima gig (which is really much MORE than full time, even more than double full time, if you're keeping track) for THREE WEEKS now.

And things are looking up, Ima-wise.

If I'm being honest, my most urgent goal in going back to work was to keep myself from hating my children.

Yeah. I said it. It's true. When the weekend hit, whenever David wasn't working (which is like half the weekend anyway) and sometimes when he wasn't, I wanted nothing more than to get away from the children. Usually, the house too. I couldn't stand to be there, couldn't stand to look at them or it or the dishes or the laundry.

But this Shabbos morning? The weather was beautiful and the children were suddenly somehow very sweet to love and touch and hold and play with. And so I said,

"Who wants to go apple picking?"


So we went. And it ruled.


Yes, there was disobedience. Yes, there were tantrums. Yes, they smeared my kitchen with cholent and littered the carpet with challah crumbs when we got home. But I didn't really mind that much.

And that's how I know I'm doing better.

So, that's it for my check-in. Now for the week's plans.

This is our busy season at work. For a normal rabbi, September-October is insane because of High Holidays, a month literally packed full of pretty intense holiday prep and celebration, services and sermons. But I'm a CAMPUS rabbi (woot woot, Go Bucks!) and so on top of the High Holidays is also spirit week for the sororities, then Welcome Week, then the first week of classes. So I can't really take the next two weeks to concentrate exclusively on prep for services, and I actually can't even rest my voice. At all.

That means that I definitely, definitely don't have much time to write.  But I owe it to myself to do a little something I love every day, so I'm shooting for 250 words a day. That's one page.

In order to do it, I'm letting go of a few things. First, my fantasy that I'm actually going to make and send Rosh HaShanah cards this year. Let's just say it now. I'm not. I'm relaxing on dinner, like I did last week when I sinus infection tried to kill me (the Z-Pac my doctor gave me won, thanks for asking.) We ate spaghetti most nights and no one cried. Not too much, anyway.

Oh, and I'm not folding laundry either, but that's kind of normal now.

My sweet supers, how are you? What are your plans to bring some sanity into your life this week, and how are you going to make it a priority?

You're all doing an amazing job. I'm so proud of you.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

SuperIma Sunday Check-In: Gonna Be Fast

Hey my sweet supers! Before you read my short-and-sweet check in, run over to visit SuperLady Amanda who asked herself: "!?!?!?!" today. She's going through a few life changes and feeling a bit discombobulated. Then go visit Shannon, whose kid runs from fun splash pads like my kids hold their ears and scream at fun kid concerts. Yeah.

So, here at the Kopans Bayit, this was the first week of what will hopefully be the road to Reconstruction. I use this post-war term not lightly - the last year of me being a stay-at-home mom was pretty devastating. I started back at work on Thursday, and I'm just gonna say it - I feel useful for the first time in a year and a half. And I know what you're going to say: "But you fed children! Kept a peaceful house! Blogged like a MoFo! Wrote a book!" Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know.

It's irrational, this need to work, in the world. To feel indispensable. To feel like I'm filling a role most other people couldn't fill.

So, even though the house is a D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R, I already feel better.

I'm still feeling pretty wishy-washy about this blog, to be honest. I've thought of about five blog posts I really *should* do over here, about how we cope with being a two-working-parents family, organizationally, food wise, etc, but I just...haven't. Haven't written them. Haven't given enough of a you-know-what about the ultra-healthy granola bars I made for my kids' breakfasts, or how I organize their outfits for each week.

Maybe I need to give myself some time to start feeling positive IN ANY WAY about anything that has to do with keeping children and home.

 Maybe I'm momentarily super extra exhausted and it'll pass in a month or so.

Anyway. This week I've got some home goals - work on getting the house cleaner before we leave each day. I hate coming home to a messy house. I'm going to sacrifice sitting on my butt with a cup of coffee for ten minutes in the morning - ten minutes can go a long way when you're focused.

What about you, any of my dear supers still reading? How are you getting along? What are your goals for the week, and what are you doing to make them happen?

You are doing such an awesome job. Really. Hugs to all of you.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

SuperIma Sunday Check-in: A Magical Week

Before you read my extra-joyful check-in for this week, go over and visit Shannon, who is stressed, and Amanda, who's taking baby steps to make her house a home.

This week was a magical week. There's just no other way to say it.

The children all went to school. Every day. All day long. And me? I wrote. And wrote and wrote and wrote.

Every day, I woke up, worked out, showered, did the frantic let's-get-ready-for-school dance, and shuttled the children off to school. Then I went to a coffee shop and wrote. For five or six hours. Then I left when I got hungry. Then I ate lunch, then went to work on some stories for my critique partners.

Until about 3 PM every day, I didn't have to think of a single person other than myself. (After that, I cooked dinner or folded laundry or scrubbed toilets, then went and got the kids and did dinner/bedtime till I collapsed.)  But just the feeling of being able to get in and out of the car without strapping and unstrapping three other bodies and corralling them and their toys? Or being able to go to the bathroom on my own? Or being able to eat ANYTHING without mopping the floor afterwards?

Oh, my. I'm still swooning.

The fruits? I slept a full night's sleep pretty much every night and and AND? I wrote 19,000 words of my new story. That is ONE QUARTER OF ALL THE WORDS I NEED, people. In a week. It's incredible.

Now. Would I want to continue this? No no no. No. It feels like an awfully silly existence for an unpublished, unagented, un book-dealed writer to keep up. I'm SO glad I'm going back to work this week (woot woot!) But as a week of detox, it was GOLDEN. Amazing.

Oh, heck. It was like a freaking vacation.

Now. I didn't meet pretty much any of my goals from last week, house-wise. We're not more organized than we were before, and the house is a far cry from deep cleaned. But I'm so, so glad. I wouldn't change a thing.

Today, we're sort of back in the game. Before noon, I worked out, sent some emails, showered, made dinner and lunch menus, went shopping, unloaded groceries, made granola bars for the kids' breakfasts, hard-boiled eggs for lunches, did three loads of laundry, got dolled up, printed materials for, drove to, and officiated at a baby naming ceremony, then ran back home and administered lunch and naptime. BEFORE NOON.

I could go to sleep right now, but if I don't take the kids to the park after their nap, they are likely to kill me and/or each other.

And that's a normal Sunday. We're back in the game.

So, give us your check ins, Supers! How was your week, and what are you committing to change this coming week so you can take a load off?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

SuperIma Sunday Check-in: *Yawn* *DIE*

Before you read yet another ultra-boring check in with me, go over and see Shannon, who's telling us about her new attitude toward check-ins and life in general, and Amanda, who has a bug problem. Yuck. But awesome, because she has pictures.

So, it was David's birthday today. I have a picture of the incredible cake I made and his incredible birthday present, but getting to them would require me to haul my lazy butt off the couch at this juncture and I literally cannot bring myself to do it.
(Nevermind. I felt guilty. Here it is.)
233/365 - Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake

Remember how last week I said I was going to use this week to get all the stuff for the first day of school together?

Wrong. I waited till today. And it sucked. Forms, sunblock, blankets, pillows, checks, loveys, three changes of clothes, diapers, wipes, and paste....whoa. I forgot how much stuff these little buggers need.
(This is about half the stuff gathered, before I packed it up. We have four garbage bags plus backpacks full of first-day acoutrements.)

This coming wee, the kids aren't going to be in the house. Not at all. We're calling it a "transition week" so it doesn't sound so wasteful and lazy on my part. Ahem.

This week, I'm going to deep clean the whole house, a little each day, make menu plans for Sept and Oct INCLUDING all the holidays (that's four holidays total, plus Shabbats), and then? I'm going to write.

I have a 5,000 word a day goal. Wish me luck.

What about you, Supers? How was your last week, and what are your goals for the coming one? What are you going to let slide to make it possible?

Love you all. You're doing an awesome job.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

SuperIma Sunday Check-in: Migraine

Before you read my whiny check-in, run over and hang out with the incredible Renaissance-Faire-going Shannon, then go say "hi" to my Wisconsin bestie Amanda who's been busy gardening, baking, and just being fabulous.

You guys? I have one of those ridiculous migraines. You know, where everything feels kind of dizzy and maybe you're nauseous but most importantly, your temples are caught in a vice and every step you take, move you make, and child that whines tightens it a leeetle bit more?

And also, you know how Sunday is the day where I do all the cleaning and chopping of vegetables, and where I pre-cook for the whole week, and wash, sort, and fold laundry, and generally try to put my house back together from the whirlwind that is Shabbos?

Kill me now.

So, I just finished all the chopping of veggies and making of tuna salad and enchiladas and boiling of beans, and the whole time I was doing it I chanted to myself, "I cook from scratch so I can afford a babysitter. I cook from scratch so I can afford a babysitter. I cook from scratch so I can afford a babysitter."

And the migraine hurt a little less.

Because it's true. I have been hiring a babysitter, twice a week for three hours, so that I can go to Barnes and Noble to write. Or go to a doctor's appointment, or shop for clothes, or get my hair cut, or run an errand all by myself. And I would rather have one hour of a babysitter than one dinner from Chipotle. Hands down. Even with a migraine.

It's self-indulgent. It's not frugal. It's taking away from what we could be saving every month. And it's (just barely) keeping me out of the psych ward.

So, that's pretty much my update from the last week. I'm letting our savings slide so I can have a babysitter. It kept me just sane enough to go through the fall clothes, and to report that I don't think we need anything (!!!!) except maybe a couple pairs of pants for Nesyah. I'm psyched.

The new project (which rules) is coming right up on 16,000 words, not bad for a project I started a week and a half ago.

Now, here's the real news. I have the best husband in the universe.
The kids were supposed to start in full-time daycare the day I started back at work - September 1st.
He called the daycare/preschool and SIGNED THEM UP TO START A WEEK AND A HALF EARLY.

I'm going to let that sink in.

I'm going to have a week and a half to deep clean the house, get everything organized, start High Holiday prep, and STILL write for many, many hours a day. And I just know that when the kids come home, they'll be excited about what they did at school, they'll have some adjustment time, and I'll feel a LOT more positive about spending time with them when I've had some genuine time to regroup.

When I think about it, I start to cry. I am so happy.

Now I'm off to wallow in migraine self-pity land, and also try to get some stuff written. I'm an idiot.

What about you, Supers? How was your last week? What are your goals for this coming week, and what are you going to do to make sure they happen?

I love you all. You're doing an incredible job.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

SuperIma Sunday Check-In: Crash Edition

Before you read my boring and uneventful check-in, please visit my Wisconsin bestie Amanda to read all about her delicious neices' visit. One of them is delightfully ringletted. Yum. Then scoot over to Shannon, a little south in Chicago, who is coming back from BLOGHER and has a pretty new font on her blog. Kisses, ladies!

Hey, Supers! How are you this week (disclosure: I just typed that sentence, "How you are this week?" so that should give you a sense of my general state of mind.)???

Let's all take a collective sigh of relief when I say this: I feel better than I've felt in a year. I went to The Hillel Institute, which is the annual conference for Hillel (Jewish life on campus) staff and student leaders. I saw one of my bestest besties from rabbinical school (Hi, Nomi, if you're reading this, love you!) and a bunch of other rab school buddies for the first 24 hours or so, and then - the STUDENTS CAME!!!!

 You may not have known this about me, but college-aged people are pretty much the only group of people that I consistently enjoy hanging out with. It's true. And all the students were new, since I'd been gone for a year. Getting to meet our next great batch of student leaders (I think 16 attended and 7 are still to meet back home) was SO gratifying and got me so pumped for the year ahead.

Even though the conference had us scheduled for 12-14 hours a day, I also started a NEW WRITING PROJECT (get excited) since my first one is mostly complete and sitting in a drawer till I try to lure an agent with it in October. And you guys? With no kitchen to clean, meals to prep, laundry to wash, or tushies to wipe, I still got 9000 (that's NINE THOUSAND) words written on it. And I'm in love. So that's good.

Goals for this week: The kids' return to 'school' is looming about two weeks away, and we are SO not ready. I've got medical forms to have filled out by doctors, dentist appointments to take everyone to, and the dreaded Trying On of the Clothes. I need systems in place for setting out outfits for the whole week, like we used to do, and planning lunches in addition to dinners. We're hosting Shabbat dinner this week, but it's just a pasta bar, and I already baked the challot and the brownies, so that shouldn't be much trouble.  ON TOP OF ALL THAT, I need to critique a chapter a day for my sweet new critique partner, Jenny, and write 750 words a day on my new project.

Oh! What am I going to let slide? We might have pasta for dinner every night because I am still sick of cooking. Four days gone didn't help that at ALL.

Should be awesome! What are your goals for this coming week, and what are you going to let slide to make it happen?

Hugs and kisses to everyone! You're doing an awesome job.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Super Sunday Check-In: I Think the Check-in Is Gonna Stay....

....but get a lot shorter, and have lots of links.

Hey supers!

1. I love you all. Yes, even you. You know who you are. Oh! And especially you.
2. I love checking in with everyone, but typing big check-ins like I've been doing feels stressful to me, so for now I'm going to be completely wishy-washy (love that oxymoron, right?) and post shorter check-ins here, with links to elsewhere.

Here's why: On my writing blog, no one wants to read about housecleaning (I don't even want to read about housecleaning, to be honest.) Over here, no one cares more than a flying fig about how many words I typed, or the special nuances of writing....*snore.* See how that happened? No good.

Welcome to Week 3 of my ongoing confessions of burnout. (I'll understand if you leave right now.)
I'm so burnt out with housekeeping and cooking that I'm pretty much ignoring it at this point, in favor of writing. Which, in a really non-significant way, has paid off. I've been so obsessed with my manuscript and all its related documents (query letters, synopses, blog posts, etc.) that I've decided, outside of any last-minute changes that leap off the computer screen and surprise me that I am....wait for it....

Ready To Query.

(That means "Look for an agent to attempt to sell my cute little collection of words to a Big Publisher.")
This is not as big of a deal as it seems. Finding an agent is like winning the lottery, and it's highly likely that I won't. But still....normal people win the lottery all the time, and I *think* my manuscript might be a tad bit above normal.

So, that's my check-in. My bathroom hasn't been cleaned in two weeks and the kids' hasn't been done in a good four days. There are crumbs everywhere and the carpet is scuzzy (for real.) I've made no strides toward getting ANYTHING ready for my trip to the Hillel Conference this week (OhmyGodIcannotwait), but, hey. I'm feeling good about my writing-for-fun project that somehow turned into a novel.


This coming week, I'm going to go to the Hillel Conference in Saint Louis and see some of my dearest friends from rabbinical school, and to collaborate and learn and get excited about this coming year at Hillel. It's going to rule. And I'm going to sleep 6 hours a night AND write two hours every day, because you know what?

I WON'T HAVE TO COOK ANY MEALS, WIPE ANY TUSHIES, OR SCRUB ANY FLOORS! From Tuesday night till Sunday morning!!!!

Oh, you guys, I seriously just started crying when I typed this.

What about you? How was this past week? What are your goals for the future week? Wanna meet me in St. Louis for a drink?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

SuperIma Sunday Check-In: Frugal Fails and Out of the Revisions Cave

Before you read my incredibly self-indulgent check-in, visit my friends Shannon, whose house has been a-rockin' (not for the reason you think - I don't think) and Amanda (who hosted an incredible Shabbos dinner this week).

Hey, Supers.

First, I want to thank you for indulging me in my epic bloggy breakdown six days ago.

It's no secret that I'm not cut out for this stay-at-home Ima stuff. Top that off with how David works probably 18 hours a day (no exaggeration) and does about two percent of the housework (that includes preventing the children from killing each other,) and you can call me burned out.

I thought that writing this here frugal Ima blog starting about a year ago would make me feel like my stay-at-home-ness was worthwhile and fulfilling. It did for a little while, and didn't anymore. I never blog here anymore (in case you hadn't noticed) because I HATE everything to do with house and cooking, children and homemaking. Well, I don't hate it, I guess, I hate writing about it (but really I hate it a little too.)

 Some people would have started drinking or emotionally eating, but I started writing.  That's really my addiction right now. I wake up in the middle of the night to jot down or change, ignore my children, and type till my hands hurt to get just one more task done.

When I go back to work in about T-5 weeks (thank-HaShem-in-heaven-I-need-this-so-badly), I really hope the burnout evens itself out and I start blogging on our family blog and maybe here again. But right now, I just can't stand to spend one more minute thinking about house, kitchen, or children than I have to (yes, I am a horrible person.)

So, I'm thinking about moving the check-in to my writing blog, since this blog is otherwise dormant. Thoughts?

Anyway, this week's check-in. This past week I was in the revision cave, as my beta reader was finishing up reading and critiquing my 300-plus pages and I was frantically making changes and corrections according to her critiques. Whilst in the revision cave, I:

Freaked out and made David pick up Chipotle for dinner one night.
Freaked out and hired $90 worth of babysitters each week until September.

Both Frugal Fails. And I really don't care. Seriously, I will LOSE. MY. MIND if I don't start getting away from these children a few hours a week. It's the whining and the hitting, and the screaming, dear God, the screaming. And looking at cooking food or pots and pans has literally given me an anxiety attack at least twice this week. I really can't handle it anymore.

BURNOUT. What you don't want to happen to your cheery housewife. (that's a good tagline for a spa or something, huh?)

See why I think I should let this blog go? See???

Anyway, now that I'm out of the revision cave and in Official Second Draft Land (hopefully to be followed sometime this fall by Querying Adventurescape), I hope to be a little less obsessive about my writing, and actually start getting things in order for my return to Real Work.

For example, here is my professional wardrobe:

I should probably go through that and see what, if anything, still fits me, and then HANG IT UP IN THE CLOSET like a civilized person.

Oh, wait. That's still self-indulgent. Oh, well.

Supers, what's on the agenda for the week? What do you hope to accomplish, and what's going to slide to let you do it?

(Also, should I quit this blog?)

You're doing an awesome, awesome job. Keep on keepin on.

Monday, July 18, 2011

SuperIma MONDAY check-in (oy): How Does Anyone Do This?

This week, unfortunately, I'm sharing the Check-In of Despair. For motivation and inspiration to be a *healthy* human being, run over to Shannon and Amanda's blogs. They both checked in on time, and seem to be doing okay. *sigh.*

I think I have finally reached my breaking point. I am overwhelmed. SO overwhelmed. And all I do is watch the kids, keep the house, and work a little bit. But the "work" isn't work, per se, because I'm not getting paid for it. So it's a hobby, I guess.

My kids are miserable. And it's not because I don't do stuff with them. Last week we did some activity every day. We went to the farm, and the water fountains, and the North Market. We went for walks around the block. We fingerpainted. We played in the pool in the backyard.

Still, they are bored as all get out and acting up. Asher is throwing temper tantrums and hitting everyone. Rami follows me around like a lost puppy, saying the same thing over and over again until I repeat what he's saying. (This morning the phrase was "What's my butt doing?" Charming.) Nesyah is throwing a tantrum over E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G, often slamming herself into furniture, the wall, or the floor and injuring herself in the process. Asher and Rami are *constantly* crying and whining about something. No one says "please" or "thank you." Every mealtime and bedtime is an all-out battle to get the kids to stay at the table or in their beds without screaming or pounding on something, or injuring one another.

This morning,  by 9:00, I:
Worked out and showered.
Did a half hour's work on a book I'm critiquing (not that strenuous, this lady is ready to publish I think)
Made breakfast, lunch, and dinner for everyone.
Did a load of laundry
Mixed, kneaded, and baked a batch of challah
Unloaded the dishwasher and cleaned the kitchen
Fed the children and got them dressed.

But I still have to:
Find two different doctors (we're new to the area) and make  appointments for everyone
Print and fill out forms for the kids' s "school"
Find a dentist and make appointments for everyone
Prepare for a work meeting I have today during naptime
Arrange for sitters for a work conference I'm going to in a few weeks
Fold and put away three loads of laundry
Clean the bathroom
Clean the lower level for work meeting during naptime
Do *something* to entertain the children
Feed the kids lunch and get them down for a nap.

All before 1:30. Oh. And I HATE all of those jobs.

The kids have been up for three and a half hours. They are nearing the end of their second viewing of "Madagascar." If I ask them to play on their own, you guys, the screaming and the hitting and the whining is INCREDIBLE.  I cannot deal with it.

I would send the boys to day camp, but they won't take children as young as Nesi, so it doesn't help much anyway.  And that's money that we can't just throw around.

So, I ask again - HOW DOES ANYONE DO THIS??????

Yeah. I'm nearing the end of my rope with this whole stay-at-home-mother business. Can't do it. Just can't. Can. Not.

But that's not the reason I didn't post yesterday. I didn't post because I went to see the Harry Potter movie, and I wept, and when I got home I was so emotionally spent that I couldn't function. I did not expect that reaction. (Hm, do you think something else is going on?)

Anyhoo. It's been a rough week.  ( Excuse me, I have to go stop Asher from smothering Nesi with a blanket. Seriously.)

Supers, I submit to you this week. Nothing else can slide. There is trash and crumbs strewn across the dining room table and the living room. I have no idea which of the laundry the kids have pulled out of baskets and strewn across the floor is clean and which is dirty. The kids have watched a lot of TV. I sleep about 5 hours a night. Our meals are as simple as they come. I feel like I am drowning.

Hmmm. Maybe some commiseration would do the trick? Leave it in the comments, please. Thanks. :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

SuperIma Sunday Check-in: Brush with Celebrity Edition

Happy New Week, everyone! It's gonna be a good one, I can feel it. Before you read my post, run on over to regular checker-inners Amanda  (who has a challah blog, did you know?) and Shannon who is BACK TO WORK!!! *cue angels singing.*

So you know how I have a little writer's blog that I hardly ever post to because I'm so obsessed with, ya know, writing?

A couple weeks ago I read the BEST book I've read since the Hunger Games Trilogy, and that's saying A LOT.


 I mean, seriously, this book tore my heart out, made me smile, and left me thinking about it for DAYS.  Now, I don't know about you, but when I luuuurve a book I get kind of a celebrity crush on the author. Now, some authors are kind of stand-offish, internet wise. If you go to their website you see a professional headshot of them, a bio, and some information about their books, and that's pretty much it.

But Elana Johnson? She blogs all the time, and posts all kinds of ra-ra-you-can-do-it writing advice, and responds to questions in her discussion forums, and cheers on her fellow authors when their books debut.  The other day I commented on one of her posts encouraging all the writers in the trenches.

Then, yesterday, there was an email in my inbox from "Elana Johnson." I kid you not, I almost lost my breakfast I was so excited. She left a comment on my blog! MY. BLOG.

Fullscreen capture 7102011 50540 AM copy

*jaw drops to floor*

I would be keeping something from you if I didn't tell you I hyperventilated, then cried a little, then sighed and smiled a lot.

This is just one reason I say all the time - "God loves the internet." Because God knows, I needed that yesterday.

So, goals:  This past week I did NOT meet my goal of writing 1600 words a day on my new project. I know, shocker. That was kind of an insane goal, especially when you have two people reading your first draft and giving you excellent feedback and suggestions. I ended up changing a LOT of stuff on the first draft, and working on it a lot of hours, including a THREE HOUR BLOCK that David gave me yesterday morning (love you, honey.) So, I got some pretty serious revision done, plus shaved off almost 1500 words. Even though that wasn't my original goal, I'm calling last week a win.

Also we hosted a fabulous Shabbat dinner and no one complained about the food, and I got a bunch of work done for my real job which starts in September, and no one called CPS on me all week. (In all seriousness, I didn't ignore my kids that much, and they had a zoo trip and two trips to play in the water fountains, so don't worry.) So that's a win too.

This week I'm going to get back to basics and put the timer on myself. It helps me to stay focused and gives me the amazing ability to say "what I've done all week." I'm giving a solid half hour or a broken full hour to critiquing my friend Gina's project every day. That's enough time to re-read and give comments on one chapter, so hopefully she'll have seven more critiqued chapters by this time next week from me (hi, Gina!) I'm going to spend another hour each day on my own writing stuff, either generating new words or fixing ones I've already written, but NOT wasting time on reading writing blogs, as fun as it is.

What about you, supers? How was last week? What's this week shaping up to look like?
You are doing a GREAT job. Yes, you. Way to go.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

SuperIma Sunday Check-in: Birthday Weekend Extravaganza

Happy New Week, Supers! (Or as we Jews say, Shavua Tov.)

Before you read my check-in, go visit regular checker-inners Amanda, who has a BIG announcement for everyone (no, she's not pregnant, stop asking her okay?) and Shannon, who has a new nephew! Also please welcome to the blogosphere my friend Elle at her new blog about her year studying to be a rabbi in Israel, and her sister Yaffa's blog I Put Birds on Things, a tribute to Elle's year abroad. (This meidele is only 13 but she is SO funny and her writing is so good. I hope my kids are that close someday.) Okay. Here we go.

Wow. It's hot in my kitchen. We're expecting a table full of guests for next Shabbos, so I've already started the baking. I was inspired by Deb over at Smitten Kitchen (I know, what's new, right?) and made these incredible homemade oreos for Asher's birthday:

What can I say? I'm a sucker for custom colors in cookies. In anything, really. Anyway, these things were so cute and awesome that I decided to bake up a big pareve batch of 'em for Shabbos. So they're rotating in and out of the oven, along with a couple of batches of challah, and I'm schvitzing up a storm. But hey, better now than Friday, and also I have my netbook and occasionally stopping to type, so I'm happy as a clam (could be.)

Also? I finished the first draft of my little writing for fun project, which I think I am now finally brave enough to refer to as "my novel."  Huh. That makes my stomach flip. I bought myself a url to celebrate. Wheee!

That is to say, it's been a good week. I got SO much done for myself, I can hardly believe it. I even had time to read my friend Gina's work-in-progress (btw you are going to swoon when this baby gets published and hits the shelves, it's incredible.)

This week on the docket: Turns out I'm so in love with the characters and my story that even two days without them is too many. They're speaking to me, y'all. Because I know my characters by now and I have a basic story line for it, I've rationalized that I should TOTALLY write the sequel, and yes you writer types, I know that makes me an idiot, but please believe me when I say this. It really and truly is just for fun. Like, 99% of it, anyway. 

To that end, I've decided to jump on the NaNoWriMo bandwagon for July and August. In case you don't feel like clicking over, it's a bunch of insane people who try to write a novel in just one month. The goal is 50,000 words and that works out to about 1700 words a day (I AM INSANE.) But seriously, I think I can do it.

So, for the rest of the summer, before I kick back into rabbi-ing, I'm going to keep giving myself the daily gift of 1.5 hours worth of naptime to work on this stuff. The kids "rest" for 2 hours a day, so that only leaves half an hour every day dedicated to intense housework/cooking/what have you but so far no child has gone neglected according to this plan.  Yes, I cook and clean while they're awake. Yes, they are sometimes bored to tears (you should see the staring at the ceiling that goes on around here.) But I took them to the Zoo THREE TIMES this week, so they're not doing too badly.

What about you, sweet supers? How was your week? How is this coming week going to be? What are you going to do to make it happen?

You're doing an INCREDIBLE job. Also, you look fabulous, even with the humidity. Great job.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

If You Want Something Done, You've Got to Do It Yourself (Or: Replacing Heads on Family Photos)

So you know how you work hard all day long to support/love/keep up after your family? And you how you love them SO much? And then it's Mother's Day, or your birthday, or whatever, and someone asks you what you want? And instead of saying "An iPad 2" or "A freaking day to myself," i.e. the selfish things you want, you say, "Oh, I just want a family picture because I LOVE AND CHERISH YOU ALL SO MUCH." And you think that you're being an awesome Ima or Abba, because really, that's a trifling, sentimental thing,  hardly anything to ask, right?


You will hire a photographer* or go to the studio and one or more of your punk kids will decide that even though they've seen their front porch ten thousand times, today, right here and right now, during this very expensive photo session, that they MUST peer at it broodingly. And another is just going to have to glare at you, sorry Ima, there is no other option.

 I'm sorry, Ima, I absolutely cannot look into the camera right now. You see, doing so would kill me. You don't want me dead, do you? (Well, Rami, after this, maybe I do.)

Okay, so this will be fun. Because I am going to show you how to literally wipe the smirk/scowl/glare off of your precious babies' faces**. Then you can pretend that your kids are sweet and compliant, and not a collection of temperamental delinquents only you and your partner know them to be.

Ahem. Let's get started.

Find two photos that you like elements of (I've been known to do it with three or even four photos, this is just the intro.)
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(Does it ever disturb you to see how weird you look when you laugh? Ugh.)

Figure out which photo has MORE THINGS you like, and use the "move" tool (it looks like a hand) in the upper left corner to drag it on top of the photo that has the smiles you're going to plaster on the punk kids' faces. The replacement smiles go on the bottom, because you're going to erase the scowls away.
Fullscreen capture 722011 50914 AM copy
(Is this making sense? I really hope it is.)

Go over to the layers panel in the bottom right hand corner, and lower the opacity of the top layer to about 50%.
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Now, you're going to need to do some alignment work. Decide on the first head you're going to erase, and then figure out what is closest to it/running into it. Then use the move tool (the arrow with the cross of arrows next to it, the very top left in the tools menu on the lefthand side of your screen) to line up the two layers so that those overlap. You may need to blow up or shrink the top layer  and rotate it to achieve this.
Fullscreen capture 722011 51437 AM copy
(You can see that I had to enlarge the top layer a bit.)

Okay, stay with me. We're almost ready to erase, and it's SO satisfying.  Bring that top layer back to 100%.
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Choose the eraser tool and start erasing.
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Easy does it.
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Only erase enough to make the image look seamless. In this one, it was only Rami's head and hair - I could keep his shoulders the same. If you erase too much in one pass, you could end up giving someone else two heads or something.
Fullscreen capture 722011 51536 AM copy

I also ended up replacing Nesi's scowl with a slightly less scowly face.
Fullscreen capture 722011 51813 AM copy

Okay. Are you happy?  Save your picture as a PDF (in case you see you've made a mistake.) Then, so you can print this picture and all your neighbors and loved ones will think your kids are perfect, go on up to the "Layer" menu and click "Flatten Image."

Fullscreen capture 722011 51910 AM copy

You're done! Congratulations! You got what you wanted, even if you did have to artificially manipulate it yourself. Print that sucker on canvas and call it a job well done.

*We are so, so lucky to have a friend who is also an incredible photographer who did these images for us gratis. Thanks Amy, we love you! Check her out at Amy Ann Photography.

** I'm using Photoshop Elements 8, but any software with photo layering capabilities should do the trick. I think Gimp has it, and it's a free download. Google it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

SuperIma Sunday Check-In: Official First Draft Edition

Check-in time! Before you read mine, please go visit my friend Amanda, whose check-in is all about her incredible First Anniversary gift, and the lengths her sweet husband went to to make it happen for her. And also scoot over to the ever-awesome Shannon's blog, where she needs some ra-ra-sis-boom-bas for her awesome progress on Weight Watchers so far.

So, remember that little writing for pleasure project I deemed my pet project 365 this year?

I've spent about five months writing every day during naptime, then another two rewriting scenes, adding and subtracting characters, twisting in some plot twists, and filling some gigantic plot holes. I also axed almost 30,000 words contained in riduculous, pithy, sentimental, or ill-fitting scenes. (They're sacked away in another file and I still visit them occasionally, don't worry.)  

So finally, finally, it has morphed into an 80,000 word, more or less coherent novel that I had the guts to finally write "First Draft" on this weekend, beam it to my Kindle, and begin one last pass over it before I send it to my Very Important Contact in the Publishing Business.* I owe a lot to David, who made me straighten up the office into something usable, anyone who has kindly agreed to read my drivel (you know who you are, I love you,) and my personal mentor, Professor X.

Professor X sad
(Surveying my sad scatter of frantically scribbled post-it notes accusing my story of sucking.)

Professor X happy
(Each post-it addressed X-ed (har) off and neatly stuck in place for prosperity. This advice from Professor X is my new personal mantra.)

In other words? My goal from last week to get this sucker done? I totally killed it.

I don't know whether to do the happy dance or throw up. Probably I should start working out again, at least. Hmm.

Speaking of throwing up, my kids picked this Shabbat and Sunday to have a wicked stomach bug. You don't want to know more details, trust me, but things are pretty gross around here.

Also! I started reading Possession by Elana Johnson and was completely captivated by her incredible writing, remarkable characters, and the beauty of the book as a whole. I read the whole thing in, like, three days. I even woke up early to read. Here's my review on Amazon. So, yeah. Go read this book now. (I would lend it to you, but it's not lending enabled on Kindle. The only bad thing about it.)

This week's goal - run my eye over all 325 pages of this sucker one more time, attach it to an email to my friend, and send. I estimate I spend at least 24 hours staring at that email draft before I can bring myself to send it over.

It's the number 1 goal this week. I think I'm actually going to plan on a quiet Shabbat without guests this week so that I can really make sure I don't have any excuses to give myself for hyper-cleaning the house, cooking huge and/or fancy meals, etc., like I did this past week.

What about you, Supers? What are your goals for giving yourselves some sanity, fulfillment, or peace this week, and what's going to slide to make it happen?

You're doing an incredible job. Great work, and hugs to you!

*Yes, I know it's normal to send a perfectly polished manuscript over which one has labored over for years and rewritten at least twice, but my friend asked for my first draft. This is a little bit of a weird situation, and honestly I'm not expecting anything. But when someone asks for a full manuscript, with the caveat that they understand it's a first draft, you send them the manuscript.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

SuperIma Sunday Check-In: A Room of My Own Edition

You guys,  I totally killed it this week. Even though I had to fill some plot holes that would have taken you to China, correct sloppy writing, delete a lot of stuff, add another twist, and even change some names, I've got about ten chapters edited that weren't even close to presentable a week ago.

You know why? It's just like my homegirl Virginia Woolf said: "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."

Well, I don't have the money, but I do have a room of my own.


Last weekend, David really pushed me to organize our little attic "office" with sloping ceilingsand make it pretty.  My desktop computer for photo editing is sitting on our rickety computer desk in the other corner, but on a whim I bought this sweet red peanut desk from one of my college students who just graduated (Mazal, Errin!) and it fits perfectly in this other corner. I put every picture I love around it and now during naptime I spend a solid hour and a half up there, disconnected from the internet, watching the birds and pounding away on Typie (the netbook.) It's worked wonders.

And then today? Well, today was nothing short of glorious. Today was Abba's Day, and after asking David about two dozen times what he wanted to do to celebrate, I finally accepted the answer: Let him be an Abba. You see, David normally "works from home" all day Sunday, meaning I'm tasked with the extra challenge of keeping the children from jumping all over him and prying the keys off of his firm-provided laptop to use as cannonballs in their action figure battles. Also I'm supposed to do four days' worth of laundry, menu plan and grocery shop on Sunday. So basically, Sunday is like a normal day, but harder and sweatier. David "Being an Abba" meant that he would mind the children. All day long. He would even feed them lunch, and do some heavy organizational work and light cleaning around the house. And I would go away, and write. I could do the shopping at naptime, if I wanted. (I did.)

I think I got about five or six solid, uninterrupted, daytime hours of work done on my writing. I fixed SO MANY things and felt SO PRODUCTIVE AND INSPIRED. (Yes, I did mean to yell that.) Anyway. Even though David doesn't read this blog (he reads two out of four, so I figure that's fine) I want him to know how much I love him and how much more I fell for him because of his interpretation of "Abba's Day." Best. Husband. Ever.

The goal this week? Finish up the first revision/rewriting/editing/whatever on this sucker, and pick up again with posting daily on my writing blog.  I have six chapters to go, so meeting this goal by Sunday is going to be a feat. I'm hoping the blog will make me feel accountable enough to really make it happen.

What am I going to let slide?  Well, we've been picking new outfits out of the clean laundry basket all week and no one has died. I know, shocker. So we're going to do that again this week.  We're hosting some students for Shabbat and I already decided we're just having lasagna, green salad, challah, and brownie sundaes, all of which I can prep quickly and a day or more in advance, minimizing stress.  And my kids are eating meals in sandwich form, since they won't eat anything I give them anyway.

What about you, sweet Supers?  How did you do with meeting your Super goals this past week? What are they for the week ahead? And what's gotta give for you to see it happen?

Love you all. You're doing a great job.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Frugal Ima Frugal Recipe - Whole Wheat Banana Waffles

FIFrugal Recipe copy I've had a change of heart - a big one.  Get ready for this. I've found value to potchkening in the kitchen. A lot of value.

You see, when you are potchkening over something in the kitchen, there is usually heat involved.  A hot stove or appliance is dangerous for small children to be around.  They could pull a cord, yank open the oven door, drag a stool over to a hot range top. So, by kicking my children out of my potchkening presence, I am being a good mother. I don't want them running around my ankles because I want them to be safe. I'm not a bad mother at all. Not in the least! Quite the opposite, actually.

Ahhhh.  Potchkening is awesome.

I have hesitated to post this recipe because it goes against my anti-fuss mantra, but in light of this realization, I'm going to give it to you now.

My kids love waffles for breakfast.  It is one of the few foods they will consistently eat. Store-bought frozen waffles are easy, but they are neither cheap nor healthy.  When I found this recipe for whole wheat waffles, I figured I could make them and freeze them, pulling them out and putting them in the toaster oven when I needed them.  That worked perfectly, but I was still bothered by the amount of oil in the batch.  1/2 cup of oil for 8-ish waffles seemed a little excessive to me. Then, this morning, I spied these beauties on my countertop:IMG_7970

I decided to try subbing mashed bananas for 3/4 of the oil in the recipe.  And guess what?  It worked, and gave them an even greater depth of flavor and more beautiful golden brown color. These waffles being 100% whole wheat and pretty low fat, I'll even eat one myself. I like to make a double batch, so I don't have to stand over the waffle iron again for awhile.

Here's what you'll need:
6 c whole wheat flour
1 c sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp baking powder
6 c buttermilk
8 eggs
3/4 c mashed ripe banana (about 1 1/2 bananas)
1/4 c vegetable oil
4 tbsp vanilla extract

Combine dry ingredients in your mixer.

Then add banana, oil, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Mix them until combined and (reasonably) lump-free. Grease a hot waffle iron (you'll need to do this for each waffle) and drop a heaping 1/2 cup full of batter in the middle of the iron.

Cook for 4 minutes, then cool on a cookie sheet.

Nom nom.

Here's the price breakdown:
Whole Wheat Flour: $1.25
Eggs: $1.15
Buttermilk: $1.50
Bananas: $.50
Vanilla: $1.25 (being conservative)

$5.45 for 18 waffles = $.30/waffle. I figure that each of these waffles is equal in size to two frozen ones, so if you get a box of 10 frozen waffles for $1.50, (which you could find with a good sale) they would be the same cost as making these.

 These are healthier, tastier, more impressive, and give you an excuse to kick your kids out of your awesome presence for at least a good half hour.  So I'd say these win.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

SuperIma Sunday Check-in: Starting to Get Desperate

(Before you read this post: Please go visit my friend Amanda at Blessed Little Bird, read her check-in, and wish her a Happy First Anniversary!)

Hello, friends.  Today was a banner week at the Kopans Bayit. We went on at least one walk every day, and colored with a lot of sidewalk chalk. We went on a playdate (fun, but somehow really exhausting?), hung out with some Buckeyes who were fixing to graduate and leave town (mazal tov, ladies!). I also had a real, grownup, honest-to-God meeting for work, and that felt INCREDIBLE.  I wrote two blog posts on OSU Hillel's blog, and a guest post on the Challah Blog, by which I was totally star struck.  But the real kicker of the whole thing was how I set up and cooked for Shabbat services/dinner for 20-ish people. In my living room.

Oh, you guys, it as SO good. I schlepped and cooked and cleaned ALL WEEK for this sucker, and it felt so nice to be hosting a big room full of people again. People filled up their plates from a buffet and sat in overflow seating (on the porch) even when it poured, and no one batted an eye. I made so much food, including like a dozen challahs, and it ALL got eaten, which you know does a poor tired frugal Ima's heart good.

Yes, it was good, but it meant that I got NOTHING. DONE. AT. ALL. on my writing for pleasure project.  Which is now not strictly writing for pleasure, because my Important Friend in the Publishing Industry wants a full manuscript in T-two weeks.  That's two. weeks. And I'm only on the first-pass edit, and only two thirds of the way though the book. And? And?

David's out of town through Wednesday this week.

Yeah.  Yesterday I felt so frustrated about it I started crying.  Like, legit weeping over the kitchen sink, because all I want to do is sit down and WRITE instead of standing over the kitchen sink or changing diaper after diaper or mopping the floor AGAIN. I actually thought I might quit, just say, forget about it, I want to get a full night's sleep and not always be obsessing over this book when hardly anyone's seen it and it will probably never be published and I don't even have any idea whether it's good.  Then I stumbled across this incredible post and it gave me the succor to say I'd try another week.

I know I've been saying it week after week after week, but this week I HAVE to buckle down.  We're not hosting Shabbos this week (we have other plans out of town) so I don't even have a challah to bake.  I've decided I'm sacrificing nice dinners for the kids since they snub everything I make anyway.  I'm letting them choose between different types of sandwiches, or Spaghetti-O's.

Speaking of which, I should get to work.  I haven't touched this sucker all day.

What about you, my darling Supers?  How was your past week?  What's going on this week that will bring you a little, joy, contentment, or fulfillment?  How are you going to make sure you let it happen?

I'll leave you with some incredible shots Amy Tannenbaum got of me and my family from the shoot I mentioned a few weeks back.  If you live in Central Ohio, please contact her and have her come take some shots for you - she is working hard to build a portfolio for her business and her rates are VERY reasonable.

(Me and my sweetie - first shots of us together since our wedding nearly eight years ago.  Eeek!)

Kopans_0027 copyKopans_0064
(Some sweet moments with my baby girl.)

(my boys having fun.)

(The money shots.  I had to do a LOT of head swapping with the RAW files, but we finally, finally got a decent family portrait.  I'm over the moon.)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

SuperIma Sunday Check-in: Back to Work Edition

I've been waiting a long time to write this post, and now the words aren't coming so easily to me.  Isn't it weird how that happens?

Over the past year, I've made it no secret that I have not been doing well as a stay-at-home-Ima.   Don't get me wrong - I'm great at the job.  We sing songs, bake together, do crafts, and learn our alef-bet.  But while my kids have been growing and learning, I've been suffocating. In one of my check-ins, I wrote this:

"I need to get back to work.  Yesterday.  I need to wear high heels and do my hair every day.  I need to have conversations with grownups, conversations that do not include even a mention of playdates, stomach flus, preschool, or poop.  I need to use the skills that make me feel engaged and alive, because I am dying here."

Well, I'm so SO excited to let you all know that, by the grace of God and some creative thinking, I get to go back to work as Director of Religious Life at Ohio State Hillel.  The position has changed in some major respects, mostly that it is now part-time.  I was kind of upset about it at first, but now I'm kind of excited that it will offer me the flexibility many Imas dream of - one day a week out of the office, and summers and breaks completely off.  An emphasis on time management and using the absolute best of my skills to the fullest potential.

My writing for pleasure project (Yes, it's a book.  Yes, I'm still slightly embarrassed.  No, you can't read it.  Unless I said you can.) doesn't have to go on the backburner, because I have that one day a week to really dive into it.  The kids will be in daycare five full days a week (can I get a "HALLELUYAH?") meaning that I'll have even more time to work on it, plus the free hours to do some personal career development, whether that means Jewish writing, volunteering at another organization, or taking CPE classes.

My heart is full.  Things will still not be easy - I'm still responsible for running the household - but I think I'll feel so, SO much more fulfilled.  More like myself.  Able to be a better Ima because of it.  I still have the whole summer at home with the kids ahead of me, and I already feel more optimistic and energized, just because I know there's  a light at the end of the tunnel.

Thanks for your encouragement on this, Imas.  It's going to be a whole new adventure.

Oh, right!  We still have to check in.
In light of this news, I've been really enjoying summer. 

The kids are taking random mid-morning naps on the couch, and it doesn't even bother me.

Nesyah is LOVING the putzie pool.

We eat watermelon, ice cream, or cookies on the porch after dinner and wait for Abba to come home every day.
(the kids were dressed up for a shoot here, so it's an inaccurate representation.  But still cute.)

We check on our baby birds before morning walks, and ohmygoodness they are SO cute.  And getting too big for their nest. *sniff*
(No, we don't ever touch them, or get very near them at all.  Yes, we've seen their Ima bird bring them meal after meal, even after we've snuck a peek.)

I'm still working on a tight-ish deadline on my writing project, and I'm still only halfway through a first-pass edit. (The good news is that the first draft is finally finally DONE and I have some great readers giving me good critique.)  But some things will be getting stashed in closets this week, laundry will go ignored, and the children will eat whatever they can find in the fridge for breakfast. (This morning, for example, was the last of Thursday's pizza.  Eek.)

What about you, Supers?  What's doing this week?  How are you going to bring some joy, sanity, or rest into your life, and what has to slide to make it happen?

I am so, so grateful to each of you for being here, and for sharing every week with me.  You are just the best.

You are doing an incredible job.  (((HUGS))))

Sunday, May 29, 2011

SuperIma Sunday Check-in: "The End" Edition

I can feel it before I even start this post, friends - I am boring today.  B-O-R-I-N-G.  I just feel it, you know?  In my bones.  Like if we hung out I would be Debbie Downer womp-womping it all night, even though I'm not sad about anything.

 So, I'll make this short.

This was an incredible week for Super Ima-ness.  It must have been something about finally being mostly moved in our our new little home, plus the incredible twist and then twist-upon-a-twist ending sequence I dreamed up for my little writing project, but I worked SO much on it this week.  Every day.  It was AWESOME.  I did all my Ima duties well, taking walks around the block, hosting impromptu ice cream parties, reading books and teaching handwriting, but other stuff.....well...Some days, I didn't mop or vacuum.  One day, Asher wore his pajama pants all day. Another day, the kids had grilled cheese for dinner. And...wait for it...

the first draft is now officially done.  I titled a scene "The End."  What an incredible feeling.

This week, I've got to get a rough edit done through at least half the draft to send on to my sweet, incredible, talented readers.  You know who you are.  So a lot of things are going to slide, again.

Also!  I had a little vanity photo session with my good friend Amy so that we could both get some head shots.  Isn't she pretty?

If she got a headshot of me where I look reasonably thin and pretty, I will kiss her.  I haven't been happy with the way I looked in a photo for AGES.

Then I bribed my children with unweildy watermelon slices so that they would sit still for some photos.

Please hop on over to see my fellow Supers:  Amanda, who is psyched her husband is finally back in town for the sake of her waistline and wallet (and also because he's cute - her words not mine.) and Shannon, who - seriously? - had her bike stolen out of her garage IN BROAD DAYLIGHT.  Incredible.  So go give her some hugs.

What about you, fellow Supers?  What are you doing to bring yourself some sanity, peace, or contentment this week, and what are you going to scoot over to make some room for it?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

SuperIma Sunday Check-in: Unintentional Self-Deprecation Edition

Hello lovely Supers!

Before I start, I want to give mad hugs and kisses to two of my blogosphere besties, Amanda and Shannon.  They both wrote their own Super posts this week (as they do EVERY week.)  I really wish I lived closer to Amanda this week because her hubby, the Hazz, is out of town and she threw her back out, so she could probably use some dinner brought to her house.  Also Amanda made an awesome little graphic to go with her Super posts, you have to go see it!  She is so cool.

I want to give a super huge virtual squeeze to Shannon for giving me props on her blog for my meal planning post this week.  She said it was unnecessarily self-deprecating, and you know what?  I guess it was.  So thanks, Shannon, for helping me see that, in this one minuscule aspect of my life, I am awesome and successful.

It's one of those weeks, where there have been ups and downs and worries and frustrations and maybes and they're all floating around (and maybe making me cry a little) and making me exhausted, but they're not really topics for a SuperIma Sunday check-in for various reasons. Maybe (hopefully) another week.

So, a bit of a quick update on our moving-in progress.  We moved in nine days ago and have 6 out of 8 rooms unpacked and tidy.  We also didn't eat out at all, went grocery shopping three times (oy), went on approximately nine hundred walks around the block, and have kept up with laundry.  I am BEAT.

We also had a few friends over today for a Chanukat HaBayit, which is basically saying some nice words about peace and blessings in our home and putting up a mezuzah.  A bunch of our friends came over and it was SO good to see them, and, for some of them, to know that they live so close they WALKED over.  Everyone ate cheese and crackers and fruit and cookies, and drank ice water because I was too cheap to buy pop for everyone.  No one complained.  The kids played in the putzie pool and doused each other with hose water.  Nesyah ambled around the backyard naked and all the babies were squeezed and loved on about five times more than a normal Sunday.  A huge WIN all around.

About my goals.  Last week, I said I was going to work on my writing for pleasure project every day.  That happened exactly ONE day in any valuable sort of way.  It was a big fail.  Now that we are mostly moved in to the house, I've really got no excuse.  I have to buckle down on this sucker.  The first draft is soso close to done I can taste it, and I'm sort of kind of editing at the same time. (It's complicated.)  Next week, hopefully my news will be better.

What about you, Supers?  Any goals for the week?  Anything you're letting slide to make it happen?

You are doing an incredible job.  Keep up the great work.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How I Menu Plan ~or~ In Which I am Embarrassed and Everyone Feels Sorry for David

I've been outed.  Kind of.

I was smug enough to post a picture on Facebook of my menu boards finally hung in our new house.  Yeah, I just wanted to show everyone how awesome I think I am for menu planning.  Guilty, okay?

Then, this discussion happened.

What?  People want to see my actual menus?
Does that mean I have to admit how non-inventive, boring, and routine our menus are?  And maybe explain why I have no desire to change that?

Okay.  Well, here goes.

First, a disclaimer.  The overarching theme of all my cooking posts is how I hate, hate, HATE to potchke in the kitchen.  Well, I hate spending time standing and fussing over any aspect of home life, to be honest.  But if there's anything I know about myself from spending this last year as a full-time home manager, it's that I hate cooking.  Hate.  It.  So that will be reflected when I explain how I menu plan.

I like to menu plan for an entire month, using these white board calendars I picked up at Target.  They enable me to look at the whole month's meals to make sure that we don't have TOO much repetition, and also to balance the food budget over the course of the month.  More on that later.

When I have the blank menu board, the first thing I do is fill in every engagement I know we have for the month.  "Dad's birthday party" is one this month, and so is "BBQ at Kathryn's house."  This is so I don't plan a meal (and the groceries that go with it) for that night, because then I'd have extra ingredients and spend extra money.

Then, I write "Pizza" on every Thursday.  
Then, I write "Spaghetti" on every Wednesday.

Yes.  We have Pizza (homemade) and Spaghetti each and every week.  I can't plan seven unique, frugal, and and delicious meals for each week.  Just can't do it.  No way, no how.

Tuesday night is always crock pot night (a holdover from when I worked late on Tuesday nights.)  So, on each Tuesday, I write one of the following:
Black Bean Soup

Yes.  We have the same five crock pot meals over, and over, and OVER again.  

Monday night is in the "other" category.  On each Monday, I write one of the following:
Grilled Cheese
Tuna Melts
Stuffed Shells
Tuna Casserole

So now, Monday through Thursday are filled up.  So far, so boring.

Here's where I really get embarrassed.  I also have a standard rotation of Shabbat meals.

I know.

It all started when I figured out I could make schnitzel in gigantic batches and freeze it and stick it in the oven on Erev Shabbat and it would be almost as good as fresh.  Same thing with meatballs.  Now, we pretty much have schnitzel and Israeli salad every other week, and spaghetti and meatballs with green salad every other week.

Honestly, at this point in my life, stressing over original and delicious Shabbat dinners every week can reduce me to sweaty, exhausted tears.  David would rather have the same dinner every two weeks, I'm sure, than drag me into a psych ward on a Friday night because it's Shabbat, I'm smelly, the kitchen is still a mess, and I've botched a recipe that's neither inexpensive nor tried-and-true.

Shabbat lunch is always either cholent, tuna and egg salad, cold cut sandwiches, or some chicken breasts covered in jarred sauce and set on low in the morning (we're not shomer.)

On Saturday night, David is in charge.  Sometimes he comes up with something he potchkens over, because he doesn't mind doing that once in awhile.  It makes him feel like a kitchen star and he always cleans up the kitchen afterwards, so I don't mind.  Sometimes he runs out for Chipotle or Pad Thai and that's okay too.

Sundays are a disaster.  I have some huge mental block with Sundays, and I always stress about what to serve.  Usually we end up eating Shabbos leftovers or just plain pasta with sauce.  That is my one menu planning sticking point.  Any advice?

Anyway.  Now you know how I plan my boring, repetitive, menus.  It's not exciting, and we hardly ever try new things, but this keeps me out of the psych ward and our family within a $450 grocery budget every month.

Do you menu plan?  Are your meals more exciting than mine?  Any tips for an extra-frazzled Ima?
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