Posted by Mihal Levy
It is 5 A.M. and I am wide awake, which is a first for me.
Although I would like to take credit for being an early riser and so on top of my day that I woke up early to start it, I can’t. I still have not gone to bed since last night. Let me rephrase that, I have gone to bed, numerous times, in fact, just not able to actually fall asleep. I did fall asleep for a half hour and then up again. After staring at the ceiling for what seemed like hours and thinking about anything and everything, I decided that maybe sleep wasn’t having me tonight.
Ironically, I have an early birthday party to take my son to today. In four hours to be exact. Yes, a 9 A.M. second birthday party at the park. How that is going to happen, I am not quite sure this moment. Who does that? Have a birthday party so early? Ok, a mom who has five other children to get to school on time and is already up and making her rounds. But, what about moms who don’t have an early A.M. drop off (like me, for instance) or moms that have been up all night (like me again)?
Why is it that when we have to be somewhere early the next day, our bodies choose to simple stay awake the night before? An adrenaline rush? And although I am happy to attend the birthday party, I highly doubt that the anticipation is what actually kept me up. Sometimes my mind wanders (ok, often) at bedtime and I can’t help but recap the day, and find myself thinking about the next day’s to-do list (or next week’s, or next month’s). Tonight, last night, rather, my mind was on overdrive. I would calmly fall asleep somewhere between dreamland and wakefulness and dreams would start firing, images of crowded shopping malls, stories to edit, roller coasters and giant purple pancakes (OK, everything but the latter). I would wake up and look at the clock and a mere fifteen minutes had gone by, setting a world record for most dreams in fifteen minutes.
All the while I kept looking at the clock, counting the hours left to sleep and making excuses. “Ok, maybe I will get a good five hours of sleep. Three? Two?”
When I found myself spending more time focusing on the mathematics of how many hours were left to sleep, I decided to call it quits for tonight. I was hoping Googling “rapid fire dreams” and “racing thoughts” would help me get back to sleep, but instead just instilled a fear in me of how many disorders and diseases I may actually have. Something else to ruminate about? Great, not the outcome I was hoping for.
So, now what? And I can’t stop thinking about the darn birthday party. Do I just skip out on it after promising to attend? My son is looking forward to it and it is probably the only thing that finally got him to sleep. Do I still make my way there on no sleep? In my college years, yes, but now in my mommy years…I don’t think that is a good idea. In my college years pulling an all-nighter was nothing that three shots of espresso couldn’t solve the next day.
I thought I got over not sleeping all night when my son stopped nursing years ago, but I guess I was wrong. Sleeplessness finds its way into mommyhood every now and again. Now if I can just make it through the birthday party, the day and an afternoon nap perhaps? Who knows, with some luck, maybe I can still fall asleep before my family gets up.
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November 27, 2009 | 9:00 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
Black Friday shoppers, I salute you. No, really, I do. While you were out getting those great deals at midnight or three o’clock in the morning, I was tossing and turning in bed thinking about you, all of you. Probably because of the sugar high I was on from the pies, cranberry sauce and chocolate I ate throughout the day (I’m a vegetarian—I replace turkey with chocolate, and stuffing with chocolate and…you get the point). How does one leave the comfort of their bed to fight the crowds in the early a.m. for a deal? And how can you really be sure that you will be one of the first fifty shoppers in line?
Black Friday shoppers, I could never be you, but wish I was…I am sure you came home with lots of gifts for your friends, loved ones and yourself, of course. (If you braved the stores today, drop me a line…I really want to hear your story. Really.) I am a person that avoids shopping like it’s swine flu (if that is avoidable). Don’t get me wrong - I love gift-giving more than I do receiving gifts (seriously), and enjoy getting new things, but not if I have to fight through crowds or search racks and racks of clothes or piles of strewn boxes everywhere. What is it about Black Friday shopping that is so appealing? Is it the adrenaline rush, winning the race to get there first, great deals, an adventure? You must all be morning people to begin with, right? I could never get up at the crack of dawn to be the first in line at a sale. In fact, it never worked for me when I tried.
When I was a teen, there was a special early concert giveaway. The first ten people would receive an upgrade in concert seating or a backstage wristband, and there I was - number eleven.
Of course this was before the days of online ticket-purchasing and shopping. Maybe being number eleven has haunted me for life. No matter how hard I tried, I never won a raffle or got a free gift with a purchase; there was always a catch (that I missed, of course). I recently subscribed to a magazine because I liked the handbag they were giving away with the subscription (and I enjoy the writing in the magazine as well, but the handbag sealed the deal). Six weeks later, my first issue arrived sans handbag. I was livid. I had already purchased a matching wallet elsewhere to go with it. So, I called customer service to take care of this urgent matter, immediately. Surely it was on its way or lost in the mail.
After the phone tree from hell, I finally got a representative. I could barely hear her over the shuffling of papers, phones ringing, and people muttering, “Hello, how may I provide you with excellent service today?” echoing behind her. I explained the obvious mishandling of my handbag and asked her if there was a package tracking number or a replacement that could be issued. She apologized and read ever so seriously from the obvious script in front of her, “Ma’am, we apologize, but the handbag we featured in our ad was of limited supply. Unfortunately, we no longer have this promotional item in stock. Thank you for understanding.” Thank you for understanding? Understanding that I thought when it read “while supplies last,” they were sure to have enough supplies for the people that sent it off the same day? Did they only have five in stock? So, now I was stuck with a magazine I was on the fence about subscribing to in the first place, and a mailed monthly reminder of yet another deal I fell for, making me feel like number eleven once again.
With all this, how could I ever face a mall, shop, or department store on Black Friday? Certainly I would be the one person who forgot to bring the coupon code with her or was standing in the wrong line for a free gift with purchase. I am always the one who spends fifty dollars at a clothing store (Naartjie gets me every time, as I love their clothes for my son). They always have “spend $50 now and receive 25% off your next purchase of $50 or more”-type deals. Naturally, I fall for them every time and head over to Naartjie with mailer in hand to get the deal. I finally narrow down my $50 of clothing (which is more like $75) and expect to get twenty five percent off on the spot. Then I realize it’s another one of those “Save Later” deals ( I don’t know if the excitement overwhelms me so much that I read what I want to read, or that I should really lower my caffeine intake). In any case, I am already at the register, ready to pay. What do I do now? Turn around and leave? Of course not. So, I purchase my clothes (my son’s clothes, I hate shopping for myself - would like to be able to have a personal shopper for that one day). I place the coupon in my wallet, so I would have it for my next purchase of fifty dollars.
Two weeks later, I decide it is time to put the twenty five percent off coupon to good use and head back to Nartjie. While my son’s patience wears thin, I collect my $50 worth of clothes (Another $75, it’s 25% off, though this time…so it works out). The cashier rings up and totals my items. I proudly hand her my coupon while grinning, as she kindly says “Oh, I’m sorry this was only good for three days last week. Sorry, you missed it.” Again? What is it with the fine print? What is it with me? Me and fine print? I hand her my credit card and take the clothes anyway. I am already here and he needs them. Another failed attempt…
...until today. I have been waiting for a pair of boots to go on sale, so that I could purchase them eventually, hopefully some time before Spring. It has been a few months since I first laid eyes on them (because I am never in the mall, really, except twice for Nartjie). And lo and behold I receive an email this morning that goes into my junk mail folder (that I happened to check). “Today and today only - Black Friday sale 40% off all items online.” I don’ t know if I was more excited to hear they were forty percent off or that I could purchase them online. Regardless, I purchased them. With shipping/handling and tax included, the forty percent off almost didn’t count, but I didn’t care. I avoided the mall, the lines, the mess and still shopped on Black Friday. Maybe next year I will attempt to face my fears and head out to shop…just to see what it is all about. (And I’ll be sure to read the fine print.)
November 25, 2009 | 4:40 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
Thanksgiving is here, but are you prepared? And I don’t mean, “have you prepared the cranberry sauce in advance and hauled home the fifty pound turkey?” But are you really ready? To reconnect with family members you have not seen since last Thanksgiving? To give Aunt Sarah the run down on your love life? To explain why you only get together with family once or twice a year?
Here are some Thanksgiving day survival tips:
-Keep a topic of conversation on hand for those uncomfortable moments with family and time-to-change-the-subject moments.
-If you are a guest on Thanksgiving, instead of a bottle of wine or flowers as a host/ess gift, bring a dish you have prepared for the holiday, in case there is nothing you care to eat at the home you have gone to, or they completely have overlooked the fact that you are a vegetarian (again). (“You can eat the stuffing. There is no meat in the stuffing, just chicken broth, not a whole chicken. Sheesh.”)
-If you are invited to family, there is always a way out (to leave early, anyway). “We promised (fill in the names of your choice), we would stop by their place for dessert. We would love to stay, but unfortunately, they are waiting.”
-If you are preparing the holiday, make sure you have prearranged seating arrangements. Group your guests according to categories; Chatty Cathies, Self-Promoters, Nosey Yentas…you get the point. (Note those that are enemies. Seat at separate ends of the table or separate rooms, better yet.)
-Have plenty of food on hand so there is no need for much conversation.
-Don’t have expectations about the holiday. Accept that it won’t be perfect; then if it is, you will be pleasantly surprised.
-Avoid topics on politics, how you are managing your home, work and children and reminiscing (not always a good thing) when family reminisces about just how many family functions you have missed in the first place. “Speaking of cousin Lisa’s wedding. You haven’t seen them since then and met their three children, have you?”
-Make sure buffer guests are included. These guests should be cheerful friends, not involved with your family drama, who always know how to keep the party going.
-Make sure you have a separate kids table so the kids don’t have to endure the topics of conversation and you can always retreat to that table when the going gets tough. (It’s always more fun with the kids. And they are honest - “I don’t want to sit by Michael. I don’t like him.”)
Whatever you do, enjoy it. The food, the family, the drama and the tryptophan effect and bloating of this holiday. And be thankful…it only comes once a year.
November 20, 2009 | 3:30 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
Tinsel is hung earlier and earlier each year. Now, even before Thanksgiving we prepare for “the holidays.” Eventually, people will be stringing lights and frying up latkes in June to prepare. But, not everyone is frolicking in the holiday fun or mass conspiracy to shop-shop-shop-‘til-you-drop.
This time of year is anything but “fa la las” for me, or a time of miracles. Ten years ago at this time, while shoppers scurried frantically through malls to find the perfect wooly socks or kitschy gift, my mind was somewhere else and it has stayed that way for the past ten years. During this oh so joyful time, I lost my father.
Just like a Pavlovian response, when I hear holiday songs on the radio (including ONE Hanukkah song by Adam Sandler), I am reminded. “Sleighbells ring are you listening?” No, I am not. “Grab your harmonica, it’s time for…” No! Maybe if they just stopped playing those songs, it wouldn’t trigger memories. And could the malls please go easy on the display of in-your-face holiday decorations? These things would probably help…a little. And why must they start all the hoopla so early in the season? I know it sells more. But won’t everyone be sick of the holidays by the time they come around? Besides, it gets me all worked up for much longer.
Hanukkah is almost here, my father is still dead, ten years later. Sometimes I feel as though he will come back. Not in an eerie, resurrection, wake-from-the-dead kind of way, but simply because he has been “away” for some time and will just show up at my door. We would take off where we left off. Then reality kicks in (or a proposed notion of schizophrenia), so I stop myself from thinking this and snap out of it. He’s gone. Still gone, forever.
This time of year only makes it that much more difficult. You would think after ten years, it would get easier, but it seems to grow more difficult. Especially after having a child and being aware of the fact that my father will never get the chance to meet his grandson (and granddaughter; my brother’s daughter). My son will never know what it is like to have a special grandfather, who was genuine, gave without taking, who loved unconditionally and dreamt of meeting his grandson while I was hitting puberty, pulling my puffy socks over my stirrupped leggings and following the latest 80’s rock band, thinking of anything and everything but marriage and children. My father was already dreaming of becoming a grandfather, but never had the chance.
‘Tis definitely the season. The season of sadness, remembrance and sorrow…for me anyway.
November 18, 2009 | 3:00 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
The Twilight saga has gained a huge following among tweens, teens and even moms. But after drudging through the first book, half of the second book, and a press screening of Twilight (for a review, not pleasure), I can now officially proclaim that I am NOT a Twilight mom (ducking to avoid stones being thrown at me). Apparently, I am one of the few.
Recently (Nov. 15), an article was written in New York Magazine: “‘Twilight,’ Take Me Away!” (By Em & Lo). It discusses the obsession of countless moms that have become fans of the saga and mentions a fansite devoted to these moms - www.twilightmoms.com - with 34,000 registered members, or approximately the population of a small country or West Hollywood. These moms must have a lot of spare time on their hands. And if so, please tell me what your secret is.
The article states that TwilightMoms.com members have even suggested that the books “have strengthened their marriages.” And further explained that “more than a handful of those confided that Twilight had improved their sex lives.” Maybe it is just me, but I am not sure how the passion between a vampire and a human can improve one’s sex life. Role playing? Perhaps if they had healthy sex lives to begin with, they wouldn’t need to become obsessed with teen stars half their age.
This all struck me as quite interesting when I watched The Jay Leno Show a few nights ago with guest Taylor Lautner (who plays werewolf Jacob Black). Lautner spoke of one of his most shocking encounters with a fan, who happened to be a mom (of course). He explained that the mom was there with her daughter waiting for his autograph. She grabbed him by the wrist and said, “I’m wearing the Team Taylor panties right now. Is there anyway I can take them off for you and have you sign them quick?” Mind you, Lautner is only seventeen years old. Probably the age of her own daughter, I’m guessing. Thanks, Mom, for giving the rest of us moms a bad rap.
What is it about these moms that draw them to this film? Apparently, sexless marriages and perhaps experiences they themselves didn’t have when they were teens. Twilight Moms, did you miss the whole Corey Haim/Corey Feldman era? I get the basic themes: “Love is blind,” “You want what you can’t have,” “Vampires make great boyfriends” (I don’t get the latter, but thought I would throw it in anyway.) Who wouldn’t want to be Bella Swan, a human that falls in love with a vampire? Me, for one.
So, Twilight Moms, please do us non-Twilight moms a favor: chill out in public and stop swooning over adolescent stars. It gives us non-T moms a bad rap.
November 17, 2009 | 3:30 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
Isa Chandra Moskowitz makes brunch a fun and delicious part of the day, even for vegans, in her new book Vegan Brunch: Homestyle Recipes Worth Waking Up For-from Asparagus Omelets to Pumpkin Pancakes.
Now you don’t have to have chicken embryos for breakfast, or any time of day for that matter. (Can you tell I’m not a fan of eggs?)
Moskowitz is the creator of her own vegan show titled “Post Punk Kitchen” (www.theppk.com) and is a bestselling cookbook author. She has become one of the most popular vegan chefs. Her recipes are simple and easy to prepare, without fancy, what-the-heck-is-she-talking-about vegan ingredients that are usually found in specialty stores a city or two away.
In Vegan Brunch, Moskowitz covers scrambles (tofu), suasages, different breads and scones, pancakes, waffles, endless toppings, sides and even drink mixes.
I am working my way through the book, but have tried three recipes thus far: Pumpkin Pancakes, Perfect Pancakes and Tomato Rosemary Scones. They were all simple to whip up with household ingredients that I usually have on hand anyway, and were a big hit with my family.
The votes were in - they loved the Perfect Pancakes, even though they liked the Pumpkin Pancakes (my favorite, great for this time of year). The scones were great as well, or as my son said, “yummy tomato cake.”
Her recipes are delicious and simple. Even if you are not a vegan but need to whip up pancakes without eggs on hand, you’ll love her “Perfect Pancakes” and most likely already have the ingredients you need.
Pancakes are popular in my home (see one of my earlier posts: “Blast Your Breakfast”). I have always avoided pancakes from scratch…until now. The recipe is simple and does not come out runny like regular pancakes, but airy. They end up light and fluffy and easier to flip than non-vegan runny recipes.
If you want great recipes that look fancy, but are simple and go with everything (both meat and dairy meals), then pick up a copy of Vegan Brunch. You’ll find yourself brunching any time of day. (Or maybe that’s just me?) The directions and ingredient lists are simple, with great photos to go along with the recipes. I cannot wait to figure out what to make next.
Perfect Pancakes (taken from Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)
11/4 cups all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 t. ground cinnamon (optional)
2 T canola oil.
1/3 cup water
1 to 1 1/4 cups rice/soy milk
2 T pure maple syrup
1 t. pure vanilla extract
In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Make a well in the center and add oil, water, milk, maple syrup and vanilla.
Mix until the ingredients are combined. A few lumps in the batter are fine.
Spray pan with cooking spray or a light coat of oil.
Pour pancakes one at a time and fry until bubbles form and the top looks somewhat dry (about 3 minutes). Flip over (about 1 minute).
Enjoy the Perfect Pancakes. They really are.
Happy Vegan Brunching!
November 16, 2009 | 3:30 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
My son and I headed to the parking lot after hours and hours at the mall. I finally had to make an excuse to get away.
“Mommy ran out of money” was the perfect excuse, and true. We dropped about fifty dollars with nothing tangible to show for it except for an ice cream cone, a few pairs of socks and a souvenir bouncy ball (yes, souvenir…for me going to the mall is like traveling to some foreign destination; I rarely go and hate going, so we have to mark this occasion with a souvenir, of course). The balance of the money was left in the form of quarters on a race car arcade game.
You would think that growing up in the San Fernando Valley I would have more tolerance for the mall, but I don’t…go figure. My tolerance finally wore thin, and being that we had done everything there is to do at the mall (besides shop), I called it quits.
My son is way too smart for excuses like “running out of money,” so he suggested we simply go to the bank and get more. (It’s just that simple.) “Unfortunately, the banks are already closed, so without any more money we can’t buy anything else. We have to go back home,” I tried again.
Ok, it worked…for a while. As we got in the car and headed out of the parking lot, he noticed an El Pollo Loco across the street.
“Mommy, let’s go there.” There? El Pollo Loco? He has never been to an El Pollo Loco, by one or even heard of one. Why on Earth would he want to go there?
What could he possibly want with crazy chicken? After all, his mother is a vegetarian.
So, I dared ask, “Why do you want to go there?” He explained that since we ran out of money, we could go there. He said, “See the sign on the window? It says ‘free cake.’ We don’t need any money to get it.”
I didn’t even know where to begin. How do I explain to a three-and-a-half year old that there is no such thing as a free cake?
November 13, 2009 | 3:30 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
It was love at first tweet for Emmy Rossum and Adam Duritz. Well, almost.
On Thursday, Rossum explained on the radio show Valentine in the Morning that she was invited via Twitter to tour with the band Counting Crows this past summer on a dare. “They dared me to come sing with them a song that I’d never sung before …” So she accepted, of course (who would reject a dare?), and joined the band on tour; from then on, it was history.
Rossum recently separated from her husband (music executive Justin Siegel) in August. Now, she is going public with her relationship with Adam Duritz. Duritz seems to wind up with the good looking women of Hollywood, having dated Courtney Cox, Mary-Louise Parker and Jennifer Aniston. From Counting Crows to counting his blessings or his Hollywood women. “I get why chicks dig him,” Emmy told People. Maybe it’s his hair?
Twitter apparently is not just for updates anymore; now dares are included, and maybe even finding one’s beshert. So if you are single, you never know. Maybe you too can be tweeted from a dreadlocked rock star. Phew, I’m safe…I’m married. But then again, so was she.