Sunday, November 27, 2011

Jake's big day

Right now, we have only one special nephew in our life and his name is Jacob, better known as Jake.

For the past several years, he's been studying Hebrew, attending sunday school, and preparing for his bar mitzvah. Technically, this is the day when he is called to read and interpret a portion of the Torah. The serious, nerve-wracking service is then followed by a fun party full of 13-year-olds and pre-teens.

You think Catholic weddings with complete two-hour full masses are long? Try a four hour service spoken almost completely in another language. That's long.

I carried my camera inside to snap some pictures, but found out that's against the rules because it could be interpreted as working on the Sabbath. So, I respectfully didn't take any pictures. However, someone did snap a picture and posted it to facebook before the service was out. A sign of the times, right?

By all accounts, Jake did a fantastic job and nailed his haftorah portion. His Hebrew was impeccable and he was comfortable in front of the big crowd.

His mother, Jen, did a fabulous job planning and designing the party.

Since this life cycle event is generally a big deal, some had new clothes, some had new shoes, others had shoes polished, suits pressed, and everything in order for an event where the family would be on full display.
Since we stayed at a hotel, Dave and I were up extra early to get our kids to Temple on time. Evie got a bath in the sink and Jack in the big walk-in shower. We arrived on time and Jack was ready to go until we had to walk by a playground to go in the door. We wound up picking him up while he was flopping and crying "play" to get inside the building.

Once on the FRONT ROW of the event, Dave and I were on our toes to keep the kids occupied. We used everything in our bag of tricks, reading and playing with trucks while Jack rolled and played in between the front row and the bimah (stage up front, basically the same as the altar/pulpit area in church). We fed him raisins and snacks and essentially had a picnic in the front row. But after a bit, Jack was tired and looking for new fun. He took a car and ran it up and down the air conditioning/heating vent, making a loud sound. When he ran across the building and tried to go up on the bimah, Dave took him out of the sanctuary kicking and screaming. We switched roles keeping him outside.

But Dave had a Torah portion to read. I was *supposed* to read a prayer. But, Jack and I found a nursery area and didn't come out. I left the baby with family and my phone on mute in the front row. No amount of texting or calling let me know it was my turn to read, which was okay. But I am very disappointed that I missed Jake's entire event. When Evie started making noise and we were all outside, we decided to just leave.

We weren't the only ones who did that. We caught up with a few sets of friends and family members at the Dunkin' Donuts next door. Several family members assured us that we thought we were a bigger distraction than we really were. I certainly hope so.

But at the reception, it was time to "par-tee" as Jack says. We drove around in the car until Jack finished his nap, and he was ready to keep the dance floor hopping.

Jack ran back and forth in-between the line dancers. The man of honor, Jake, was also out there...always surrounded by girls. He might be a head shorter than all of them, but that doesn't seem to matter in the least.

Besides the dancing, the reception was full of traditions. The meal started with Dave's father leading prayer and cutting the challah, which Sheila baked for the occasion. Dave led the prayer over the wine.

You either loved the reception theme or you hated it--New York Yankees. Reception attendees signed a big poster of Derek Jeter. Each table was numbered a Yankee player, complete with confetti of the player.

The cake was a replica of Yankee Stadium.

After the dinner, Jake lit 13 candles on his cake and used each candle to represent a friend or family member who is special to Jake. Dave, Evie, Jack and I got to light a candle with Jake.

The event had a few small bumps like any big event, but overall everyone had fun. I'm sure the party will be the talk of eighth grade this week and generate a bit of facebook chatter. We were happy to be a part of the fun and support a nephew that we love. Jack and Evie will most likely remember the event only in photos... but it was an experience Jack will hear about in the years to come.

Yummy birthday

This is what I look like most days while trying to keep up with my little live wire. He likes to try absolutely everything and you never know what he will do next.

On the night before my birthday, he wanted to stay up, play, and then watch Thomas the train around two a.m.

He got up later and threw his breakfast across the room. And later ate part of it off the floor. When he decided to take a bath, he pooped in the bathtub.

And that was before 10 a.m. Happy Birthday to me. I spent the day packing, keeping kids, baking for the trip, and fielding happy birthday phone calls and texts, which I really enjoyed. Dave gave me something off my kitchen wish list. At some point in the middle of laundry, I reminded myself it was my birthday.

I got a fabulous birthday cake--which I don't get every year--when I got to New York. (and presents too :) Jack tested out the candles and then helped blow them out. Perhaps as you age the small things like phone calls and cakes mean the most.

Jack wouldn't slow down to eat cake, but he did coined a new phrase on my birthday which I love. "Yum-my Mom-ee"

the "Hallmark" thanksgiving

What makes up a Hallmark thanksgiving?

For the Schwartz family, it requires a ridiculous amount of food and family members flying in from around the country. The travel was mandatory for another reason too....Jake's bar mitzvah would take place on Saturday.

Traveling with two children under two on the busiest traveling day of the year could definitely be fodder for a sitcom. When we left our house at 4:45 in the morning, we had one of those last minute crisis when the last things to go in our suitcases just wouldn't fit. So, we left the house with four suitcases, a backpack carrier, a stroller, a carseat, and three carry-ons. Packed in the middle of casual clothes, dressy clothes, diapers, and christmas gifts, I stashed homemade cranberry relish, cranberry bars, and cookies. We were most worried about Jack being a docile lap-child on a packed flight, which seemed like a recipe for disaster, but thankfully he fell asleep. The fact that the first leg of the trip was only sparsely seated helped too. The worst moment definitely came waiting through the long lines at security which tested Jack's patience. We made a game out of looking at other people's clothes. See that shirt, Jack? What color is that? "Lel-low" Yes, that's right yellow. What about the dinosaurs on the little boy's pants? "Pur-pel" Good. Those are purple. But the game wore out as we neared the security checkpoint. He melted down right as we were trying to speedily move through the x-ray line. He did not want his stuff to go through the x-ray machine, and as the guard waved him through the walk-through x-ray machine, he flopped on the floor with his high-pitched scream. Interestingly, we weren't detained and questioned. But they did take his sippy cup for extra testing, which meant we had to wait and try to pacify the screaming.

But we made it and the family brought two rides to the airport to pick us and all of our junk up.
Cousin Jesse flew in from Florida at the same time too.

That night, Dad Bill made his signature hot wings and Mom Sheila made her "garbage bread" (stromboli).

The family met Evelyn. Dave's friend Johnny came down to visit. The next day, we enjoyed a nice, traditional Thanksgiving meal with friends and family...which made the hassle very worthwhile.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

OTG: Off the Grid

I've been off the grid for the past few weeks.... I've learned how to adjust to life with two under two, I've made a 16-plus hour drive with the two under two to Arkansas, visited family, drove back, and am currently preparing for another trip.

We're settling into our new normal and I have a few blog posts planned to document our eventful internet absence.

The kiddos were lucky enough to trick-or-treat in both Arkansas and Minnesota.

In Minnesota, we went out to the Landing where Jack was much more interested in the rocks in the road than he was the candy. I enjoy going back out to the park and seeing friends.

In Arkansas, we had plans to go to a local trunk-or-treat event with family and friends. I came down with a ferocious headache on Halloween, so Jack went with my Aunt and a friend. From what I was told, he wound up being carried kicking and screaming through the event because he wouldn't hold anyone's hand. He does like his freedom.

Evie slept through both events.