When Rosh Hashanah and Anniversary Collide

Many moons ago, when I started planning my wedding in the month of September, I had a lot to consider.  The weather, the fullness of the moon for our outdoor area, the theme, the dress, and of course, the High Holy Days.  We were semi-observant Jews, having a Jewish wedding, so we needed to have a Rabbi available and of course, wouldn’t want our guests to have to choose between temple and our special day.

Fast forward seven years later.  We have a billion things to be grateful for, as g-d has bestowed many blessings upon us; a fabulous house in a great neighborhood, 2 healthy sons, 2 spunky dogs and relatively enjoyable jobs that make ends meet.  Our marriage has been good, but the honeymoon is definitely over.

We still love each other very much, but have less patience for each other in day to day things.  He brings fewer flowers, I make less time to couch cuddle and we are less easygoing.  We are shorter and terser with each other.  Our intentions are good, but our years of marriage have given us history and annoyances that get recalled in our minds when the other says certain things.  Even if it was not intended as such, it’s easy to ask an innocent question that carries an emotional weight and leads to a charged conversation.

Luckily, my husband and I are good communicators and we have been successful at talking our way through challenging times and difficult feelings.  We have a strong marriage that we both want to be good, but how can it be great? How can we be better? How can we renew ourselves and our relationship? How about our 7th anniversary falling on Rosh Hashanah?  A day when we are already asking these questions anyway.

Rosh Hashanah is not just another Jewish holiday.  Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of humankind.  We believe we are all born again on this day.  We ask g-d how we can be better servants, parents, children, lovers and people.  How can we leave behind the old, undesirable habits and remake ourselves into people that would make hashem proud?  How do we head in the right direction?  How committed are we to the journey?  How do my husband and I take this opportunity to be the best partners possible in 5776?  How can I use the inspiration of the holiday intersecting with my anniversary to bring meaning and change to my marriage? We will need g-d’s help to make it happen and I’ll turn to the symbols and traditions of the holiday for inspiration.

The shofar: The shofar is sounded in three different patterns. The first is tekiah, one long note that is a call to turn away from our day-to-day routine and refocus on who we want to be. The next is teruah, a rapid series of short notes.  Its sound leads us to integrate the thoughts and reflections that come up at the New Year. Finally, shevarim, an anxious sound of three short calls. It’s the sound of our yearning to start again.

Tashlikh (“casting off”): We walk to water, preferably flowing, on the afternoon of the first day and throw small pieces of bread into the water, symbolically casting off our sins. What do I want to let go of and what will I hold onto?  I make the intention to let go of resentment, judgment and cynicism and hold onto love, compassion and tenderness.

The food:  We enjoy round sweet foods to reinforce our desire for a sweet whole, full year.  We dip apples in honey, eat round challah and pomegranates.  May this coming year, we be filled with as many mitzvahs as there are seeds in a pomegranate.

The point of it all, the prayers by the water, the shofar, the day of reflection, is that if we are on the right path and are committed to it, everything will be sweet.  God, the universe, our higher power will see to it.

Maybe the blessing of my anniversary falling on this holiday is simply a gentle reminder 7 years after the flames of our wedding, that as long as we are committed to being our best selves, to being the best parents and partners we can be (with our faults and all), we have a lot to celebrate.  Maybe we’ll have to have apples and honey more often throughout 5776, to remind us that each day of the year is an opportunity to be born anew.

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May the Schwartz be with you

9 Signs Your Husband Will be Tolerable

Lately, I’m really loving the “list” articles you find online.  They are usually a quick and fun read.  So, of course, I had to click on one that was titled “9 Signs You’ve Found The Man You Should Make Your Husband“.  As I read through the list, I couldn’t help but notice it was most likely written by someone who was either single, a newlywed or childless.  The “signs” felt so naive and ridiculous to expect long term.

The longer I’m married, the more I realize that “the one” in the sense of “he’s always going to be a perfect fit for you forever and there will never be any hard times ahead” just doesn’t exist.  Marriage is a partnership and requires work, compromise and a ton of patience.  So here’s my altered list (working off the original) of  9 Signs Your Husband Will be Tolerable.

Elite Daily List  9 Signs You’ve Found The Man You Should Make Your Husband

Mommellah’s list 9 Signs Your Husband Will be Tolerable

1. You don’t need to be “on” in front of him. Good days and bad days, he understands who you are and doesn’t expect you to be anyone but yourself. In his eyes, you’re special by just being you.

1. You can be “on” the toilet in front of him.  He’s going to see you there anyways.  Just get it over with…

2. Your happiness is his happiness, and vice versa. The man you marry gives selflessly, as your interests are now his interests.

2. If mommellah ain’t happy, then NOBODY is happy.  You don’t have to care about each other’s interests, you just have to make sure mama is happy.

3. Even at the end of a really bad day, all you want is to be with him

3. Even at the end of a really bad day, all you want is to be with him (maybe) and a cocktail (definitely).

4. The attraction is palpable. Even doing the littlest things together, such as running to the grocery store, feel more special because he’s around.

4. The attraction grows directly in proportion to the amount of chores he helps you with, including the grocery shopping.

5. You want to share every experience with him. From what he ate for lunch to what he’s currently watching on television, you’re interested in all that he does.

5. You want to share certain things with him.  He can eat whatever he wants for lunch, but he better not watch Game of Thrones without you.

6. You have the same idea of romance. Sometimes you feel like you’re in a “Twilight” movie with all this inexplicable magic and love buzzing around.

6. As long as you’re still shtooping in the twilight, you’re good.

7. You love more than you fight. It never feels good to fight because you care too much about him to hurt him. (insert gagging sound here)

7. You fight until he sees the error of his ways and apologizes.  You care too much for you to both be wrong.

8. He not only listens to you, but he also hears what you’re saying

8. He listens enough to follow directions and not screw up.

9. He accepts you as you are. He knows everything about you — good and bad — and appreciates both because it’s all part of who you are.

9. He accepts you as you are. You’re messier, louder and maybe less funny, but he loves you for it.  This last one, I’m totally agreeing with.

Because at the end of the day, nobody is perfect.  Not you, or your husband and everyone is a little bit crazy.  You just have to find the right crazy for you.

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May the Schwartz be with you

One costume to rule them all

So I’ve come to an abrupt and permanent decision. I truly want to only wear one costume for the rest of my adult life. Luckily for me, it is perfectly appropriate for both Purim and Halloween! I am forevermore going to be the queen, Queen Esther.

Now besides the fact that I can easily slap on a elaborate tiara and continue to go about my business with my normal clothes on is only part of the reason this is my new decision. Don’t get me wrong, not having to worry about what you’re going to wear or how long you’re going to wear for holidays when you have multiple kids is most definitely an awesome bonus. I want to be Queen Esther (and a queen in general) for every holiday because of how heroic and smart she is.

For those of you that know Esther as a Jew who won a beauty contest and was forced into being a queen, all of that may be true.  But more importantly, she is the hero of the Purim story, she is the one who saves the Jewish people! She was the one who decided to throw the feast and gain the kings favor. The wisdom and strategic action along with her cunning rhetoric saved our people!  She is the hero and frankly, the world needs more female heroes. I will be proud to make it my one and only for years to come.

So the only thing left to do is for me to find an appropriate crown!

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May the Schwartz be with you!

My “Dear John” letter to Target

As a Jew in Long Beach, I have always been proud that you can find menorah lighting ceremonies in Belmont Shore, Bixby Knolls and even City Hall.  It shows that although Jews make up a relatively small percentage of the population, that our culture and religion are honored and included in some way during the holiday season.  You can usually find some assortment of Hanukkah merchandise at the bigger chain stores starting in November, which is nice.  I can pick up dreidels or chocolate coins for a party, or candles for my menorah.

I was shocked when I found out Target, “Long Beach Bellflower” in Los Altos, did not only NOT have a small selection of goods, but the manager refused to stock even one small shelf or end cap of Hanukkah merchandise this year.  Signal Hill has an end cap, Seal Beach has an end cap.  Obviously managers CAN order these items and other managers in the same region felt is was pertinent and applicable to have a small selection available to their customers.

I personally haven’t been shopping at this specific location very long, but other Jewish women I know have been shopping at the Los Altos Target for 20 years and have always felt like the Hanukkah selection has been adequate based on the local Jewish population and its needs.  So why this year?  Why now?  Some say that the merchandise must not have been selling well.  Then why not see the influx of complaints (I know I am not the only one who has complained) and choose to stock some merchandise in time for the holiday?  If people are complaining that they WANT to spend money at your store, but can’t, isn’t that a great reason to expand your selection of merchandise?

Target has allowed each manager to decide if it will be stocking Hanukkah merchandise this year, regardless of demand, or demographics in the region.  In essence, they are allowing each manager to exercise their own prejudice and discriminate.  Now, I get it, this isn’t Eric Garner levels of discrimination.  We are Jewish women who can easily get to Seal Beach or Signal Hill stores if we are dead set on getting Hanukkah merchandise from Target.

Is it the end of the world?  No.  But you can bet it’s the end of me ever shopping at Target again.  If my Jewish money isn’t green enough for them, I’ll spend it where it’s appreciated.  I’m not even going to ask you to stop shopping at Target.  I loved Target.  I even miss shopping there.  If you told me 6 months ago I wouldn’t step foot in a Target again, I would have laughed in your face.

What will I ask you to do?  Represent Long Beach.  The most diverse beach city in SoCal.  The city that has a beautiful waterfront downtown, at least 3 synagogues, countless churches and a mosque.  A city that has a gay, Latino mayor.  A city that celebrates with their neighbors in the streets with beautiful parades and local, Long Beach pride.

I will ask you to take a moment the next time you’re in the Los Altos Target and let the manager know you think it’s wrong they are not stocking Hanukkah merchandise.  Support the Jewish community and do what all of Long Beach seems to do so well; Find a way to make everyone feel like they matter during the holiday season.

Happy Holidays!  May the Schwartz be with you!

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Time to Turkey Trot

I’ve always had a hate love relationship with exercise. I hate doing it, but love how it makes me feel. I’ve been chubby all my life and my slow metabolism has not improved any with age and 2 kids. The last time I would consider myself to have been in shape was 4 years ago, before I got pregnant with my oldest. So, instead of setting a weight goal, or size goal, I set a post 2nd baby fitness goal so I would focus on getting heart healthy, instead of thin.

I’ve never been a runner and dear g-d, now I know why. I really don’t like it, but started in March at whatever I could physically do and set my goal from there. So, I ponied up and clocked my 1st mile at 18 minutes. I injured my back in July, which created some significant setbacks, then realized by September that if I didn’t set a firm time frame in which to achieve my goal, it would just fizzle away. So, I started a Facebook group to keep myself accountable and told myself I’d hit my goal by Thanksgiving.

So my goal? The Turkey Trot. 5k, 39 minutes (appx 12 minute mile). Right now I’m running a mile in about 13 minutes, which would be great if the race wasn’t the day after tomorrow. I’m seriously scared and wondering why in the world I would announce my goal to Facebook land. What if I fail? I have amassed a group of women who are stronger runners to run “with me” to keep me motivated. I don’t want to let them down. I don’t want to have to report back to Facebook tomorrow that I set my goal to just miss the mark. I hope I make it, but am not confident I will.
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So?! I did it!!! I didn’t think I would, but I did. I started out of the gate strong and then had to walk portions of the race. I thought for sure I wasn’t going to make it. I even thought at one point I was going to hurl in the sand. “Focus on your breathing, your legs, your feet. Anything but your stomach”. Then I started noticing the people around me. Some wearing knee braces, some limping through, some in wheelchairs. WTF Mary?!?!?! If you have 2 working legs and feet and can put one in front of the other, then just do it!!!

I eventually found (or realized I was pacing with) someone who was running with her trainer. Towards the finish line, the trainer was talking about finishing strong. So I started sprinting towards the finish line. By the time I could see the clock it was at 38:40! Seeing the seconds fly by propelled me at an even greater speed and I hit the finish line at 38:50.

I cried. Cried. I couldn’t believe it. It was as if all the hard work and hours behind the treadmill and on the street were all of a sudden worth it. After the turn around I thought for sure I was doing too much walking to make it under 40 minutes. But I did. Technically I hit the starting line at 1:50 because of the crowd, so it’s truly a 37 minute 5k.

Am I still chubby? Do I still dislike running? Did I decide to suck it up, dig in and do it anyway? Yes yes and yes. It was SO rewarding and a fabulous reminder of all I have to be thankful for.

I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving!

5 life hacks for Mommellahs

Thanks to MinuteforMom.com for picking up this article! I wanted to share it here as well.

People tell you how becoming a parent will change your life.  They tell you about the abundant love and the extreme exhaustion.  They’ll tell you how they did it, or how they think you should do it.  What they don’t tell you is how to survive YOUR child.  No one can.  Each is different from the next.  So, I’m not about to give you all the answers, but I am happy to give you 5 life hacks and survival strategies that helped me, in the hopes they may help you.

1. Drink Caffeine.  Not a big coffee drinker?  Well say hello to your new best friend.  The pick me up will help you wake up in the morning and pull you through the sluggish afternoon.  Need to pick up toys?  Tackle that pile of laundry?  Coffee won’t do it for you, but it will help you do it.

2. Bathroom Breaks.  Sometimes you just need 5 minutes.  Now, this only works well when someone is around to make sure your kids don’t poke their eyes out, but when you can sneak away and actually close the door while you use the bathroom, lock it.  Lock it and savor the solitude.  Sit on the toilet and take some time to breathe.  As long as the person watching the kids thinks you’re in the middle of a #2, depending on their level of competency, you’re probably safe to take a few extra minutes and meditate.  Serious sanity saver.

3.  TV as a tool.  Now, I’m not suggesting you leave the TV on all day.  Every child needs play.  Whether at the park, in the yard, indoors with toys or pots and pans.  TV can be a distraction from play and life lessons and too much of it just isn’t healthy.  With that said, TV can be a great tool!  Need 15 minutes to do the dishes without a toddler pulling at your leg crying from being splashed by the steaming hot water?  TV.  Need 30 minutes to run through the house to pick up all the junk that’s been tossed everywhere before you have company over?  TV.  Need 50 minutes to get yourself ready to leave the house?  Sounds like a great Sesame Street opportunity to me!  Get videos or DVR shows you want your kids to watch and make sure they are watching quality programming for limited amounts of time, while you use your time wisely.  Even if that means running a Super Why while you relax on the couch to save your sanity.  Because, sometimes, that’s just necessary.

4.  Cry It Out (CIO).  Sometimes your kid just cries that tired cry.  You know the one.  Not hungry or in pain, but a dead tired cry.  Perfect time to try it out.  You have a list of to dos and nothing is getting done if your kid is holding your body hostage with a lap nap.  Put the baby in their crib and close the door.  The crying will get worse before it gets better.  So before running for the baby monitor, go do a chore, the louder the better, like dishes or vacuuming.  Wait 15 minutes before getting the monitor and 20 minutes before going back to collect your crying child.  If it’s the middle of the night, it’s even harder.  I remember thinking how horrible the first 10 minutes were (for me) and how I didn’t think I could survive the remaining 10 minutes, only to find by minute 18, the crying completely stopped and everyone enjoyed the rest of the night, sleeping comfortably in their own beds.  20 minutes of crying never killed a kid and it won’t kill you.  At the very worst, your kid cried for 20 minutes while you got a chore done.

5.  Stop judging and stop caring about others who do.  Guess what?  You’re always doing something “wrong”.  Everyone has strong opinions on sleeping, feeding, diapers, manners and screen time on BOTH sides, so you’ll never impress every mom out there.  I’ve always said that each parent gets to screw up their own kid in their own special way.  All mommellahs are different, each child is different and you may say, “I would never…”, but you don’t live in that person’s home and you are not raising that child.  So stop judging others and stop caring about what those mommies are saying behind your back.  The ones who are talking, will talk about you no matter what you do or say.  So do what’s right for you and your family to increase maximum happiness for everyone in your household.

May the Schwartz be with you

 

 

My Halloween Baby

So I gave birth to a baby yesterday and I’m not talking about my Jack O’ Lantern. Someone I’ve never met face to face reached out to me this week. I’m Jewish, she’s Jewish and she wants to meet more Jewish women in our community and needs me to lead the way. It’s a humbling and overwhelming task.

As a busy mom of 2, another project or havurah seems like one more “thing” on my plate I don’t really have time for. How does this woman even know she’s going to like me when we do get face to face? It’s all overwhelming at first, so I offer to do what I am comfortable with and feels easy. A Facebook group.

Jewish Women of Long Beach. In the last 30 hours, it has grown to 200 women. Another wave of excitement and fear. What have I done? What will this create? Who will be touched and changed by this one simple act that has already affected so many (albeit in a most superficial way) so quickly?

So far the feedback is the same. What a great idea! I can’t believe this group didn’t already exist, etc… The potential is limitless. Which brings on a whole new wave of worries. How will I make it meaningful and inclusive? How will I make it fun? What if it becomes polluted with unwanted postings or rude comments? So what do I do? Carve a pumpkin.

Take a blank slate and give it life. Get ready to celebrate Shabbatween. Know that if my intentions are pure and my mind is open, anything is possible.

May the Schwartz be with you

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Marvel-ous Mothers

Marvel-ous Mothers

Some may say that mothers have the hardest job in the world or are super human, but I say it’s more than that.  Mothers are like a whole team of superheroes!  Much like the Avengers, mothers are heroes for many different reasons.  Don’t believe me?  Let me show you how…

Tony Stark / Ironman:

Tony Stark, billionaire genius who has an iron suit that he can pretty much do anything with.  Sound like a mommellah?  I didn’t think so.  But you know what Tony Stark’s real super power is?  Always knowing the best possible course of action and executing it swiftly.  Now that sounds familiar, right?  All moms know their kids signals and know if it’s time to play, eat, sleep or pull off some Harry Houdini roadside diaper change and how best to make it happen.  Mommellah’s are super powered CEOs for sure!

Steve Rogers / Captain America:

Captain America, the “physically perfect human”.  Although most moms have something they dislike about their bodies, it’s only because we are harder on ourselves than we should be.  We MADE A HUMAN.  That’s a big frickin’ deal and our bodies are perfect.  Perfect baby making machines!

Dr. Bruce Banner / Hulk:

So, maybe our kids are more likely to Hulk smash things than we are, but ALL moms have had their Dr Banner to Hulk moments.  A good example of one of those moments; a friend’s kid was trying to be helpful by washing mommy’s car… With rocks!!!  Let’s just say a Hulk moment for a mom can occur anytime, over anything.  It all depends on her hours of sleep, depth of patience and how much money it will set the family back.  Mommy *smash*

Thor:

Did you know that along with thunder and lightning, Thor is also the g-d associated with the protection of mankind, healing and fertility?  Mothers are all about fertility, healing and protection (and occasionally thunder and lightning).  Whether you have a crazy family member (like Loki) or are just protecting your bubbellahs from everyday hazards, everyone fears the wrath of Mommellah’s hammer.

Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow:

Super sexy fighting machine with gifted tactical abilities?!  Sounds like mothers all over the world to me.  She can mask her emotions and has an “uncanny affinity for psychological manipulation”.  No one does this as well as a Mommellah.  We all have to train our kids not to embarrass themselves in public with a straight face, using the most effective strategy.  And guilt trips?  The Black Widow ain’t got nothing on us.

Clint Barton / Hawkeye:

Hawkeye.  The last of our Avengers team.  Alas, he has no superpowers, but being raised in a circus gave him ample time to perfect his aim and combat skills.  I’m sure many mommellahs out there can commiserate with being raised in a circus and how that level of some constant chaos prepares us for motherhood.  Because ladies, life is a circus, and we are the ring leaders.

 

It goes to show, mothers are the Avengers: Saving the world, one baby at a time!

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Measuring Mommy Mitzvahs

5775 is upon us.  A new year and the 1st anniversary of Mommellah.  It’s been really helpful in keeping me focused on Judaism and how it can fit practically into my life.  It’s also taking me into a new realm of having a school aged child.  I’m thrilled that my oldest is going to a Jewish preschool!  I’m not so thrilled about all of the ways that our lives will start to change.  Mostly, I want to try and keep not only my religion in focus, but motherhood as well.  These High Holidays, I will reflect on how I will measure my mommellah mitzvahs and how can I keep from getting caught up in being the “perfect” mom (FYI, she doesn’t exist anyway).

Let’s start with my fears. Mostly because I’m a crazy Jewish mother and want to get them off my chest.

Kids Birthday parties every weekend.  Usually multiple ones in a weekend!  Can you see my eyes rolling (into the back of my head kind of way, not in a “whatever” way) from wherever you are reading this?!?!  Ugh.  I have a hard enough time getting my husband to agree to ANY idea I have for a weekend.  He hates filling up our weekends with “busy” stuff and I don’t blame him!  These parties seem to me to be just another nail in the parenting coffin.  If you have any suggestions on how to set limits on how many parties you choose to attend, PLEASE share.  I’m begging.  Really.

The “one up” mom.  Now I can appreciate mothers who take the extra time to look nice, because we all want to feel good about what we present to the world.  Heck, if given the chance I love to take the time to get ready and look like the mom who has it all together.  But I’m sure there will be at least one (or more) moms who will make me feel inadequate in at least one way that I never even considered would be a “thing” you could be better at than someone else.  Examples include, but are not limited to: Bento Boxes, party favors and Pinterest fanatics.  Really?!  If you have the time to commit to these things, more power to you!  I have an infant and 2 puppies and see more butts in a day than an ashtray does, so, um, yeah…  I’m gonna just ignore all of the above for as long as possible.

Buying stuff we don’t need so my son can “fit in”.  I know this is coming.  I don’t know when or what form it will take, but I’m not excited for that day.  We have a TON of hand me downs, which I am eternally grateful for and spoiled by.  I do not want to buy clothes for my kids.  But someday, because of school, it’s gonna happen and I’m gonna be sh*t out of luck.

So, if I’m not measuring my success as a mother with any of the above, what will I strive for this year?  How can I keep myself grounded?  What is important to me?  I will strive for the following this year:

More cuddles. Because one day these guys won’t even want me around.

More books. Thank you PJ library!

More firsts. We recently followed up a first dentist appointment with a first pony ride. Success!

More vegetables. Boray pree ha adama! Lord, please let them eat their frickin vegetables.

More fun. Because you can be an Eeyore, or a Tigger. Be a Tigger people. Life’s too short. (Thanks Febach)

It’s so easy to get caught up in new ventures and swallowed in the rat race.  These 5 benchmarks are my guide to 5775.  What are yours?

May the Schwartz be with you!

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