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Thank You, Everyone

Thank You, Everyone

This is my brother and his family.

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This is their house.

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Yep. It burned down yesterday. They went out shopping in the morning, and got a call from the fire department that their house was up in flames. They are all safe, but they lost all of their possessions and are going to be displaced for quite a while.

He lives in Oregon. I live in Pennsylvania. It’s hard to do much from thousands of miles away. But I went online and asked friends and family to help them out. I put together an Amazon Wish List for them. Where do you even start when someone loses everything? So I just went in and put in whatever I could think of. Baby supplies. Clothes. Housewares. Anything. (If you’d like to help them out, you can click here for the wish list. It ships directly to my dad’s house, where they are staying for right now.)

And you know what, people responded. They helped in droves. Every little tiny donation helped immensely, and meant so much to my brother and his family, because it shows how much people care. It’s so strange to think of how much social media has changed the way we communicate– ten years ago, I just wouldn’t be able to reach out to so many people so quickly and easily. And there would be no way that my brother’s family would be blessed with the tremendous outpouring of help they have received.

So the family is all safe. They are staying with my dad and stepmom right now. The insurance company is being fairly cooperative. They are beginning the long and tough journey of putting it all back together.

Thank you, everyone, for helping them and for caring.

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First Night Seder, Crazy Busy Working Parent Style

I wish I had a full day to spend cooking for the Passover seder, I really do.  In the past, when I was in school and had more time to burn, I would spend a whole day making brisket and potato kugel and noodle kugel and all kinds of delicious things.  Sad to say, I don’t have a whole day to spend on cooking.  And I know, there’s no such thing as not enough time, it’s all how you prioritize it.  I can prioritize having making a Passover meal, and having a Passover Seder, but I just can’t prioritize spending an entire day on cooking when everything else is so busy right now.

I’m really proud that I was able to effectively work with what I had this year.  My total cooking time was less than 2 hours.  I tossed a brisket with onions, carrots and potatoes in the crock pot before I left for work in the morning.  I skipped out of work a little early and prepped salad, charoset, balsalmic butter green beans + mushrooms, and mashed potatoes.  I took some shortcuts with pre-made hardboiled eggs and Kosher for Passover chocolate bon bons from Costco for dessert (Costco also had pre-made Kosher for Passover broccoli kugel, noodle kugel and potato kugel, but I’m the only one who eats any of those, so I didn’t bother).

Passover can be confusing for an Interfaith family like ours.  We’ve made the holiday our own by making our own Haggadot online (the site we originally used is no longer available, but you can make your own at Haggadot.com)  This was a nice way to balance the Passover story and traditions I hold dear, against the need for the Seder to be introductory and accessible.

Baby Beez is to young to make a real go at finding the afikomen, but we made do, and she had fun.

(Please don’t mind the extremely cluttered pet supply corner in our dining room…)

Happy Pesach to all! Hoping your Seder was special and full of friends, family, and delicious food!

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Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri (2008)

UnaccustomedEarth Unaccustomed Earth is such a lovely little book. It’s a collection of 8 short stories, each of them a glimpse into someone’s life. Lahiri stays within her comfort zone– most of the stories concern an adult child of Bengali parents, living in (or with connections to) Massachusetts, who is involved in a relationship with a non-Bengali. The stories are heavy with the themes of culture, family, guilt, trust, and independence, but balance those broader themes with an incredibly personal focus on the stories.

Although Lahiri’s characters have very specific characteristics, their decisions and struggles have many universal qualities. There was one story in particular that rang incredibly true to me. Without getting into the details (the story hit home on an incredibly personal and painful issue), reading that story provided me with kinship, feeling like there was someone else who has really been there and really knows how I felt.

This was my first Lahiri book, but I did see the movie based on her novel The Namesake. I’m typically not much of a crier with movies. OH BOY DID I CRY. Did I EVER cry. That movie will make turnips cry. They aren’t tears of sadness, it’s not an incredibly sad story. The struggles were just so personal and intricate and there was not one clear answer on how to sort through them and make everything better. And I cried and I cried and I cried.

Unaccustomed Earth is a perfect book for curling up in the cold winter, drinking tea, and feeling a little sad. Pick this one up for sure, just don’t take it to the beach with you. I’m really glad that my book club picked this book for January. It’s a book I ordinarily would not have chosen on my own, and I really loved it.

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HBD to Lilly and Happy Ninth Blogaversary to Me!

carrot babyYou guys, I got so wrapped up in all the excitement of yesterday, that I forgot to share that excitement with the internets! Yesterday was a very exciting day in the Beez household. First off, my brother became a dad to little Lillian Mara! They live across the country, so it will be a couple months before we will get to meet the little one. But soon enough, Baby Beez and Little Lilly will begin their shenanigans! Happy Birthday Little Lilly! And happy sleepless nights, Little Lilly’s parents!

The other excitement of yesterday was that it was my NINTH BLOGAVERSARY!! I started blogging on January 24, 2004, and have now blogged almost daily for nine whole years! At the time I started I was using LiveJournal, and that blog is now under a password because it was so ridiculous and immature. I considered re-posting my very first post to commemorate the event, but I looked back at my first post and it was so ridiculous and immature and embarassing that I could not bear to subject the internet to it.

Blogging has seen me through:
-Whining about work and homework and other silly college things
-My college graduation
-The tumultous and heartbreaking dating life of a grad student
-My inability to be a functional, mature roommate
-Getting crazy about exercise and running two marathons
-Law school, start to finish
-My inability to say “no” to an opportunity, and spending a summer working three simultaneous law-related jobs
-My first publications of articles
-Mr. Beez’ sweet proposal
-Buying a house
-Getting incredibly frustrated because the house we bought is old and needs lots of work
-Marriage to my best pal Mr. Beez
-Lots o’ awesome vacations
-Introducing Baby Beez to this world, and all the awesome adventures we’ve had together
and of COURSE
-Adventures, adventures, adventures in Pittsburgh!!

Wow, nine whole years. It’s crazy. I’m going to have toget something BIG together when next year comes around!

PS- Celebratory cupcakes accepted.