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))))
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