Easy Peasy Resolutions (To Make Me The #1 Most Hated Mom)

Resolution #1: More patience.

Even if it’s the 15th time I’ve asked them to do something (get dressed, flush the toilet, turn off the TV), I would just feel so much better about myself if I did not turn into a witch in the process. Instead I could, for example, gently unplug the Wii and throw it in the black bin, gracefully smiling with a glowing peaceful aura surrounding me through it all.

Resolution #2: Less worrying.

Even though worry is in my DNA, I am always happier when I let it go. Let it go…

Resolution #3: More dinner parties.

By which I mean more time with friends. Even if that means ordering pizza on the spur of the moment. I resolve this every year, but routinely let it slip away. I’m getting too old for that.

Resolution #4: Less video games.

Imagine: If I had the nerve I would throw out the Wii, melt down the cell phones, short circuit the computers. In their place I would provide stacks of jigsaw puzzles, a chess board, Scrabble and Rummy Cube, with music playing (any kind, I’m not a total control freak) and lots of crafty things to glue and build. In short, I would be the world’s most hated mom.

I’m not brave enough to go there yet, so I’d better really work on Resolution #1.

Happy new year, one and all.Image

Steal This Idea: Share Good Stuff

My family got addicted to The Voice this season. (Well, everyone except Grandma Lilli, who says that Cee Lo in that white silk outfit  ruined marshmallows for her forever.) One thing that bugged me, though, is how they called it “Stealing” a singer, when they were really saving someone from being eliminated from the competition. But if that’s what stealing means, in that vein, I’m going to start “stealing” stuff, too. Which is to say, keeping it around and spreading the news far and wide. Here goes.

My sister-in-law Jessica started a food blog. It’s gorgeous. She’s pretty gorgeous, too.

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She’s “The Copycake Cook” — sort of a bandit chef. What makes the blog so great is how it combines her talents for cooking, teaching and photography (she does all three professionally. Hate her, right?)

She recently revealed to me her new plan for her blog, which I in turn plan to steal. It’s okay — I told her. Her plan: on the First Friday of each month, she’ll feature a different artist and a chocolate recipe. What’s better than that? Tintoretto and Truffles? Renoir and Rocky Road? Katie O’Neill and Kahlua Krispies? What a fun idea.

As I said, good ideas are prime for stealing.

I won’t offer you artists and chocolate. I’ll offer you my favorite writers, be they new-fangled bloggers or old-school, long-hand, quill-and-papyrus authors. I’ll try it weekly — there are too many to do just 12 a year. And since I’m too excited to wait for Friday, I’m doing it right now. Let’s call it Thieving Thursdays. I’ll work on the title.

In any case, here’s my first installment: You guessed it — Jessica’s blog, Copycake Cook, and one her her most popular entries: Red Velvet Southern Comfort Whoopie Pies.

Red Velvet cupcake

You don’t have to be a cook to enjoy it. You simply need eyes, taste buds and a sense of fun. Please go “Like” her blog, get it in your inbox, and let the drooling begin.

Hanukah Games — Yiddish Password Rules!

And on the 6th night of Hanukah, the Jews played Yiddish Password.

When I was a little girl, my grandmother tried to teach me Yiddish. Do not be fooled. Although she was a first generation American born in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn to eastern European Jewish immigrants (known to me as “Big Grandma” and “her husband”), she was a thoroughly modern Lilli. Our first lesson took place in the leather seats of her Porsche 911. “Vus es dus?” she intoned, pointing. “Dus es a stickshift.” That’s as far as the formal training got. I suspected her qualifications at that point.

Fast forward thirty years to Hanukah 2012. My extended family, including the still fabulous Grandma Lilli, gathered in the living room of cousins Liz and Mitch. You’ve heard about my extended clan of cousins – like our camp song-filled Thanksgivings. You’ve heard about my grandmother, too, and the trip we took to Brooklyn to visit her birth city and her younger sister Shirley. Shirley taught her grandchildren the wisdom, “Just because you can leave Brooklyn, doesn’t mean you ought to.”

Our Hanukah parties have a flair all their own. We used to spend hours playing football or softball on the field just outside their home. But calmer heads prevailed, and now a certain gang spends hours around Liz and Mitch’s poker table, betting and bluffing like schizophrenic Martians. Pair of 2s? All in!

Mitch has become the entertainment maven for these events. For many years he printed out lyrics for Adam Sandler’s The Hanukah Song, until the children protested that it was embarrassing to hear their parents singing “and smoke your marijuanica!” After a couple years more, we heeded their complaint and switched to singing the Maccabeats’ Hanukah versions of pop songs like Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” (“I throw my latkes in the air sometimes”) and Fun’s “Some Nights” (“StandFour”).

One exceptional year we got to crawl through an elaborate maze built by Mitch and their son Nathan. What had begun as a haunted Halloween maze crafted from cardboard boxes and duct tape in the garage, became the “in search of the first temple” maze for Hanukah, complete with a narrative about Alexander the Great conquering Jerusalem, a battle scene (using skeletons from Halloween), and a Temple Wall the kids could draw on. It was epic, until my niece got left inside and Great uncle Larry had to crawl in to rescue her. Mitch reports that he would have kept the maze but the boxes attracted termites, so that First Temple was also lost forever.

Which brings us to Yiddish Password, this year’s invention, which required far less physical labor than the maze. You may recall the old game show: in teams of two, one person sees a word that their teammate has to guess, and gives their teammate clues to help them guess. The shtick? All the words were Yiddish.

Mitch has generously put his game on YouTube, so do yourself a favor and try it. You will be surprised at how many Yiddish words you know, and how many words you never realized were Yiddish (“stick shift” was not among them). Schlemiel. Putz. Schlock. Schmuck. We’ve got all the best put downs. It’s a great language teacher, better even than Grandma Lilli could have concocted, but best of all is the laughter you’ll generate. Watching my father act out “schlemiel” was one of the funniest things I’ve seen. Meshugenah mishepuchim. Happy playing, and happy Hanukah.