I am Jewish

Growing up, I wore my religion on my sleeve. I loved being different. I loved being asked questions about my religion and answering questions.

In high school, that changed. I was called names and made to feel that my differences were bad. I was ridiculed and bullied and administration couldn't stop it. Ultimately, I left my school for a semester to allow things to calm down. 

In college I went to a Jesuit college. The Brothers encouraged my attendance and participation and nurtured my curiosity in other faiths. I was accepted. When I moved to a bigger university setting, I still felt accepted. 

After college I worked for faith based and non-faith based companies. Now I work for a public school. We have a very diverse student population, but there is a strong division between church and state. I don't overly broadcast my Judaism, but I don't try to hide it. There are other teachers who are Jewish and they make sure that we are treated fairly for religious holidays and the like.

But we are in the midst of the Days of Awe, the High Holiday Days, and my Judaism feels more special. More like a gift.

Last week, we celebrated and commemorated Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. On this day, Jews are called upon to recognize a lot about themselves; their brokenness, their position in this life, wrongs that they may have committed, and really take note of the person they are becoming.

Generally, in our faith, bringing someone to services is considered a mitzvah, a good deed. It is meant to be an invitation to share in our celebrations, not to be proselytizing, or trying to get someone to change religions. We don't usually bring "outsiders" to the High Holiday services. But, this year was different.

I have not attended or participated in High Holiday services since my mother, of blessed memory, passed away in 2011. I have been harboring some difficult feelings that I was not all-together ready to face. Frankly, I was pissed off at G-d, and frustrated with my "beautiful religion" as my friends would say and I was sick of hearing things like, "She's in a better place", or "it was her time" or, my least favorite and hardest to swallow, "It was G-d's will". Like hell it was.

So, this year, I asked my friend to come with me. She is someone I have a lot of respect for. She'll shoot you straight, tell you how she's feeling and she says no. That last one is one I'm hoping to learn from her. She will say no when she can't, won't or doesn't want to. I don't know how to do that well yet.

The service this year featured a sermon by our newest Rabbi. She shared, beautifully, how important it is to be vulnerable. To recognize our brokenness, our lack of always knowing and that sometimes it's totally fine to lay it all out there. Rabbi Wohlner is a little quirky in some really great ways. She has an insane amount of confidence, a beautiful voice for cannon and song and a great wit. But she's fiercely intelligent and very well positioned in the South, though I don't think she is a native.

this spoke to me
Her sermon, like most sermons I've heard lately it seems, spoke directly into my heart and soul. It sounded something like this... "Rachel, it's totally cool that you're livid at G-d. You have that right. It's awesome that you came to services and probably wise that you brought a friend to share the awesome parts and be there if the bad stuff gets too bad. Some days we all have great days, but it's those bad days that we push through and hold closer to our faith, whatever it is, that really define who we are. Can you recognize the bad day in someone else? Can you be responsive to that in a supportive and kind way? Are you ok with the idea that we are not all perfect?"

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So, I've decided that this is where I'll share my Judaism. There's lots of questions out shoot. Ask me. I'll share my thoughts on our holidays, how my family is participating or give my personal commentary on my synagogue's sermon or activities that week and you can ask me anything you want to know. And if I don't know the answer, maybe I can get Rabbi Wohlner do guest blog at some point. She may be cool like that...


I'm not perfect

I'm a mom. I have 5 kids, I love them fiercely and try so hard to do the things that I should for them. I posted about my youngest daughter yesterday. She is adorable and wonderful and I said that she was 3 months old yesterday. She's not. She's 4 months old.

An entire extra month of her life went by and I somehow, wasn't paying attention and I missed it.

A friend pointed it out when I shared her picture on facebook. I felt terrrible.

I'm her mother, surely I know how old my daughter is. Right?

Instead, I checked the calendar, fixed the blog post and the facebook post and laughed it off... and then the mom-guilt set in.

I felt like crap that I missed an entire month.

I shared on instagram a while back about her first time on swings. And then I wondered if it was really her first time on a swing. Did she go with her nanny while I was at work? Is this a joy she's already had that I missed?

Life is tough having kids. Doesn't matter if you have 1 or 5 or 11. We have created a society that makes it necessary for us to do all the things and with pinterest and instagram and everything else, there's this notion that not only are we capable of doing ALL THE THINGS, but that they are adorable, monogrammed and photograph worthy.

Let's be real, they're not.

This is my plan going forward, I am going to make an effort to do the best I can in that moment. And if it's not perfect, I'm letting myself off the hook. It's ok to not be perfect. Then, I'm going to start trying to spread some love and motivate a few others out there.

Who's with me? Can you let yourself off the hook?

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Georgia Waverly: Month 4

Today marks 4 months since Georgia Waverly entered our lives. She has carved out her own spot and such a fun addition to our family. It's funny to me that people ask if we notice that she is here. It's hard not to! She's a baby!!

At this point, Georgia can mostly sit up, she needs some help, but she's getting the idea. She can wiggle herself around on her back, hates being on her tummy and does this really funny crunch/sit up thing.

She likes to smile and laugh at everyone, loves her big sisters and will easily go to her swim family.

Tomorrow she'll go to the doctor for measurements and shots....I'm sure it will be so fun...

On the swing
On the slide

She enjoys swings and going to the park. Obviously, she only goes down the slides in someone's lap. Anytime she gets paid attention to, is fun. She enjoys watching Lissy and Dilly be wild and crazy, but is definitely beginning to want to be a part of the fun, as well.

I'm looking forward to Halloween! We have a week's worth of outfits ready to go!

EDIT: When I first posted this it said month 3. My bad!!! She's 4 months old today. Sorry for the mixup. I claim sleepiness...

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October is Here!!!

I don't know about you, but I really like October. Especially the start of it! It brings with it cold and chill and PERFECT running weather. For some the excitement is PSL (aka, Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks), for others it's Target's annual fall campaign, which is PLAID this year! The weather is not so cold that you can't be outside and finally cool enough that it is acceptable to get your sweater out. At our house we are working on getting things cleaned up in our backyard so that we can have our big backyard party. In the meantime, here's what we're eating this week as we welcome in the cool air and pumpkins!

Sunday: Tonite is the first night of Sukkot. This is the Jewish Holiday which celebrates the harvest. It also happens to be a SuperMoon night!! Check this link to find out more and see it! In honor of such events, we are grilling out burgers and having homemade french fries.

Monday: Happy 3 Months of life to Georgia Waverly!!! Spaghetti and Meatballs, roasted broccoli and Country Salad.

Tuesday: I have to take Georgia to the doctor today for shots and it's supposed to be raining, so I want some comfort food today! Who's with me? Tortellini, Chicken and Veggie Casserole

Wednesday: My kids will be at Temple Israel for JYG, Jewish Youth Group, so the little girls and I will probably have a Chick-fil-a Night.

Thursday: A reprise of Sausage Alfredo Pasta, from last week, and some easy spinach.

Friday: I have been wanting some Breakfast for Dinner for a while. Tonite is pancakes, bacon, eggs and fruit salad! Share below how you do breakfast for dinner!

Saturday: Today is going to be a busy day! We have a swim meet in the morning, Fall Fest and 5k for Homecoming at my school in the afternoon, where my swim team will be selling lawn signs and my daughter is running in the Zombie 5k at Shelby Farms Park! So dinner will be easy.... brauts on the grill and some roasted fall veggies.

Here's the grocery list for this week's recipes.

Since October 4, Sunday, is the end of Sukkot, I'm hoping to take the girls to a pumpkin patch.

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Time to eat!

This week feels more (and less) like normal. For more normal, we have a swim meet coming up this weekend. Which is pretty much a constant at our house. Less normal? This Monday marks 14 years being married!!!

So, here's the plan for this week!

Monday we are getting take-out from Brooklyn Bridge. It's a local Italian, family owned restaurant that we all really love. 

Tuesday: cheesy chicken and rice casserole and seasoned roasted green beans. For seasoned and roasted green beans, I get 1 lb of green beans, toss them will oil and seasonings in a large baggie, spread on a pan and cook for 20 minutes on Broil. 

Wednesday: We're trying a recipe I found in Family Fun magazine. It's a single pan recipe for meatloaf and potato wedges. It includes green beans, but since we're eating green beans tuesday, we're going to use broccoli. Here's the link

Thursday: This is a long night for us. I have an after-school meeting and later that night a band booster club meeting for the middle school kid, which means....LEFTOVERS!!

Saturday: Swim meet in the morning and a potential car ride to and from Nashville for my sister's baby shower means dinner has to be easy and something that can be put off if we go so.... Walking Taco night!! If you've never had a walking taco, it's a great fun way to do tacos! 

Best wishes to a great week!!!

Here's what you'll need when you go shopping...

Next Sunday I'm planning to make pumpkin bread pudding and homemade whipped cream with the leftover cream from Friday as a welcome to fall... Here's the link for the recipe I plan to try if things go as planned... 

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Time to get back to Normal Week 9/13 - 9/19

It's time for life to get back to normal! Now that Georgia is here and settled and school has started, and we are back to a routine, time to get back to regular blog posting and meal planning!

So, here we go with getting life back in order!!!

Sunday: Thankfully, Annie's Bat Mitzvah went well and the leftovers are almost all gone. Until then... Burgers and hot dogs on the grill, french fries in the oven (I use frozen ones...)

Monday: This particular meal is one that is so easy to cook and yet it feels so hearty.
Sausage, onions and potatoes on the stove "Southern Stir-Fry" and Country Salad with Apples and Honey for Dessert. Happy New Year!!! L'Shana Tova!!

Tuesday: Someone please explain to me why this is always such a classic in so many families?? For our french toast, we use the Better Home and Gardens recipe, and sub Challah for the bread needed. Trust me, it's awesome...
Breakfast for dinner!!! (grits, eggs, Challah french toast, bacon*)
*Double batch of bacon as a prep for tomorrow

Wednesday: By the middle of the week, I need to have some comfort food that just makes me feel better. Don't you? So tonite is Sandwich nite! Use your favorite grilled cheese and BLT recipe for these sandwiches!!! We use frozen tater tots. Grilled cheese, BLTs and tater tots

Thursday: We have parent/teacher conferences so tonite has to be quick and easy. Since the kids are off school tomorrow, roasted potatoes means that there is plenty to heat up for lunch.
Rotisserie chicken (pick up on the way home), spinach casserole and roasted potatoes
 be sure to cut up leftover chicken for tomorrow night

Friday: This is truly comfort Southern food at it's finest. It's mostly healthy and has plenty of substitutes to make it better for you, but overall is just yummy goodness. Homemade chicken pot pie and salad.

Saturday: We have a lot of yard work to do today to start getting ready for our annual fall party, for my birthday. I'm hoping that we get the patio well cleaned up and can eat outside.... Burgers, hot dogs and potatoes

Recipes are linked on each day and the grocery list can be found here.

Soon I'll do a post of how we prep for lunches and mornings! But for now, happy eating and planning.

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