Oh November

Most people, at least before the era of the BlackBerry, had the dictum to avoid bringing their work home with them.  That’s never really worked for me: not when I ran a tutoring program out of my apartment in Cambridge, not when I taught 3rd grade and worked late into the night preparing for the next day, and certainly not as the director of the Grad Network, when part of my job is specifically centered around having students in my home.

And though that part of my job has waned a bit in recent months, coinciding, oddly enough, with Aliza’s arrival in our lives, it was with that part of my job in mind that Marc and I spent much of the day on Friday cooking, cleaning, and making our dining room look as though a candy-colored tornado hadn’t recently come through.  (Have I mentioned I’m starting to hate the color pink?)

I (sort of) fondly remember the days in our previous house when we’d have twenty+ grad students over for dinner, and people would end up eating on the stairs, sharing chairs, and taking over the bottom two floors of our teeny tiny trinity-style house.  This Friday, we had a total of ten people all sitting around one table, and we could even all be part of the same conversation.  And while it’s always risky to invite over eight people who I know, none of whom know each other, by the point in the evening where Marc and I had retired to the couches and everyone else stayed at the table talking, it seemed like the dinner had been a success.

The menu was fairly straightforward, culled right from those big Rodman Street dinners, but it’s an incredibly different experience to prep everything with a baby around.  Thursday night, I felt especially ambitious and decided it would be easy to bake challah while Aliza was awake.  Halfway through trying to knead the dough while putting her pacifier back in her mouth, I discovered how wrong I was, but at that point, there was nothing to do but press on.  Literally.  Miraculously, the challah turned out quite well, but it was a harrowing experience and made me quite nervous for Friday’s cooking.

Which also turned out fine, and forced Marc to remind me that things usually work out.  I made a green salad, two lasagnas, roasted butternut squash (which always takes longer to cook and makes a smaller amount than I expect), and the beet recipe from last week, which I’ve been advised to call “Quick Buttery Beets.”  I advocate serving them at room temperature, possibly a day after making them, since I liked them even more on Saturday than I did on Friday night.  I also made tzatziki, black bean hummus, and red pepper dip to go with the challah, and brownies (out of a box) for dessert, which we served with a super quick vanilla ice cream, courtesy of Marc.

Everyone left, we patted ourselves on the back for still managing to be gracious hosts in this new baby era, did a little clean up, and talked about the calm we were looking forward to in the coming week.

Then we woke up Saturday morning, and Marc couldn’t move his neck or get out of bed.  After the very un-Shabbos-like experience of calling the doctor, determining that it’s probably “just” a sore muscle, and going to the drugstore for a muscle relaxant, we set about changing our lunch plans.  Since it was just going to be us, Beverly, Naomi, and Sara, it was pretty easy to change location to our house.  I mean, they did bring over a thermos full of hot water for make-your-own miso soup (!), but they also provided me with yet another opportunity to remark on how lucky we are to have such great friends.  Plus they got to help eat the leftover beets!

And here’s where it really gets crazy: Aliza ate some food, too!  Just as Shabbat was ending, we thought it was the right time for her first taste of solid food, so we said a shehechianu, Naomi held her on her lap and kept her hands out of her mouth, we put her in her Scrabble letter A-L-I-Z-A bib (thank you, Suzy!), and fed her half a tablespoon of rice cereal.  The verdict: she loves the spoon.  So, you can look forward in the next seven weeks to finding out what new solids we’re serving Aliza, in addition to what the rest of us are eating.

(I know I usually end with a baby picture, but there’s more below.  More!  Below!)

Which brings me to my last topic, which I know I’ve written about before, but hey, I’m writing about it again: what to do with the blog when 2011 ends.  Here are the possibilities on the table so far, but I really am interested in what you, dear reader, think about my options.

1.  Keep going as I’ve been doing, writing about my Shabbat meals each week.  Yeah, I said it would only be for 2011, but it’s fun, and people read it, so, onward.

2.  Stop at the end of the year. Because, seriously, I’m kind of busy right now.  And when a year-long project reaches the end of a year, it’s best to stick to the terms.

3.  Thanks to Joline for this idea: Allot another year to blogging, but this time, have a different person write about their Shabbat experience each week, with me “curating” the guest bloggers and still providing a creative outlet for people to think about Shabbat in new ways.

4.  Come up with some new writing project.  Possibilities include a Jewish-themed advice column, some sort of recipe challenge a la Julie and Julia, or writing about non-Shabbat goings-on in the Philadelphia young adult Jewish community.

5.  I love Aliza very much, but there are enough Mommy blogs out there, so no, it’s not going to turn into that (though maybe some of you think it already has).

I would actually really love feedback on this, and I will take your silence to mean that choice number two is your preference.  I will not be insulted.  I might even be relieved.



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10 responses to “Oh November

  1. Mom

    I really enjoy reading the blog each week and knowing what you’re eating and cooking and of course, seeing another picture of adorable Aliza, but I think following through on the idea of it being a year long project makes sense. Any of the other possibilities work for me as long as they include pictures of Aliza.

  2. I would enjoy # 3–or #1 (and perhaps you’d like to make it 12 x 25–write only once a month?)

  3. Jan Ski

    If you’re open to other options…. I love reading about your thoughts/feelings/memories concerning Judaism, celebrating/being with others, meaningfulness of words/actions beyond surface. Perhaps do yourself the favor of writing once a month, rather than every week – perhaps even less than that if that would be better for you. Or….. I’ll just wait until you publish a book of your reflections.

  4. Suzy

    I vote #4 or #1, with plenty of Aliza pictures of course

  5. Mattea

    Can I vote for a combination? I love Joline’s idea, so what about doing mostly guest posts with the occasional post from you?

  6. Susan

    I vote for 3 or 4… But if you do 4, something fun for you that is not directly related to your work (in other words, not a blog about young adult things going on.) Something that might occasionally relate to work, but not that is so close that it seems like part of the job. I like the Julie and Julia-esque idea!

  7. Naomi

    I’m voting 2 or 3.

    And I still think it looks a bit like I’m holding Aliza in a straight jacket. I was just trying to let/help her stand while simultaneously keeping her hands out of her mouth. She was so excited!

  8. Naomi

    Wait, I meant 3 or 4! Though i guess 2 if you want. I got the numbers confused.

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