Life Lately

I really do think about posting more often, but when I get two seconds to breathe, I usually go to the bathroom or pour a Diet Coke instead of sitting down at my computer to put actual, sense-making thoughts together.

We’ve been so busy around here. The Goldwater Gang is growing up really fast — the babies will be 18 months and 6 months in July. I can’t quite believe it; my Miri is not even really a baby anymore. She’s pretty much a full-functioning adult. She says full words, usually tells me what she wants, and she can basically babysit her little brother. It’s a REALLY fun age. Life with her gets more hysterical by the day. My favorite word she currently says — “Oy vey!”. Yup, that’s my yiddishe mama right there. I also love when she kisses her stuffed Torah, her “Totah”. I’m schepping nachas on the daily over here.

Azi has really started to turn into a bit of a heartbreaker. His chubby everything and big smiles could even melt Scrooge’s heart. He’s so sweet and so mushy. He loves his big sister. If he’s crying, he automatically stops once Miri starts talking to him to “make him feel better” — I’m telling you, free babysitting right here!

You may have heard, but I was able to take a 36 hr trip away from both babies and husband this past week. I went to Lakewood, NJ for my dear friend’s wedding. It was SO hard to leave the kids. I had pages and pages of detailed lists and numbers and schedules written out for the three people who would wrangle the rodeo while I was away. I was away for two bedtimes and one full night. Go figure, that I woke up constantly the night I was away. I am SO glad that I was able to go because, once I was able to relax about leaving the kids, I had the best time. I was able to re-charge (even though it made me more tired than I was before!) and see friends from every seminary I’ve been to and every place I’ve ever lived. Some of the people I saw I hadn’t seen in 6 years! It was really a wonderful simcha with a radiant kallah, and I am so blessed to have been able to be a part of it. I couldn’t have done it without our #1 Tatty, #1 Martha and #1 Papa who held down the fort while I was gone. Everyone survived, and Miri only got into the dog food once! I won’t say who was watching her when that happened…;).

Here are a few pictures from our Lives Lately:
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I’m super excited about my new storage system in our living room. We don’t have a playroom so it was important for me to have a kid friendly area that fit in with our decor.

After the past whirlwind of a month, I’m looking forward to enjoying some lazy, Summer evenings at the park, staying up a bit past bedtime and watching the babies learn new things, grow and become cuter every day. Wishing you all a fabulous start to summer!

Tired as a mother 

When I was younger, I went to overnight camp for 12 summers. It was my favorite place in the world; there was no place I’d rather be. I then discovered Israel, and realized there were other places where I needed to spend my time, but I still take many friendships and carry lessons I learned at camp with me everyday.

As part of a teen leadership program that I participated in at camp, we did an exercise called “the help triangle”. Spoiler alert for those who have not done this activity yet** Basically, everyone is led blindfolded in between three trees that are roped off into the shape of a triangle. Participants are given a spot on the rope and told they have to “figure a way out”. You hold onto the rope and walk along helplessly. Most people try and look for a physical way “out”, but the catch is that you are only allowed “out” once you ask for help. Many of us were left in the triangle for almost an hour, as we were feeling around, high and low, trying to find the magical escape route, when really, all we had to do was get over our egos and ask someone to help us. This activity really made a strong impact on me, and I think of it often, even in my role as a parent.

Oftentimes, we find ourselves struggling because we are too “proud” to ask for help. We don’t want to admit that we can’t do it on our own. Well, they say it takes a village to raise a child, and I think it might take an entire city to raise two kids under two. I’m very blessed that people offer their help more often than I even need to ask for it, but I’ve learned that if you don’t ask, you can’t expect to receive, and if you don’t have help, you’re on your own.

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Being alone can be very isolating, and I don’t think it’s healthy for anyone, especially a woman 10 weeks postpartum, to feel isolated and alone. Therefore, I have put my “I can do it” mentality aside, and I ask for help. Whether it is from my husband, inviting ourselves out for Shabbat meals, or asking my 14 month old daughter to play nicely by herself so mommy can go to the bathroom, help is help, and it always makes the load a little bit lighter.

I encourage everyone, especially young mommies, to ask for help. Get a cleaning lady, a babysitter or just simply call on a friend to listen to you vent over the phone. H-shem didn’t want Adam to be alone in the world so He gave him Chava (Eve). There aren’t 7 billion people on this planet so that we can each live our own, individual lives. We are meant to be together and work as a community. And I am thankful for my village (or city) each and every day.

Helpful Hints to Save (in your wallet and your marriage)

In my marriage, we have two kinds of people. The first, is a frugal, money-saving, deal-finding, handsome person. The second is a pocket-burning, “I need everything”, “our children have no clothes”, okay-looking person. Can you guess who is who ūüėČ ?

When it comes down to the fact of the matter, my husband will tell you himself that he has¬†never,¬†in his entire life, seen someone spend money the way that his wife does. Sometimes I think it really stems from the way you were raised and how you grew up viewing money, but we won’t get into that now. When I came up with the “No Spender December” concept, I knew that Adam (hubby) would be the most excited/proud/exuberant/ecstatic/(searching Google for more synonyms here). G-d forbid my spending would ever actually get to the point of¬†shalom bayis¬†(peace in the home) issues, but it never hurts when you are working on yourself to know that your self-work is also directly affecting (in a positive way) your relationship with your spouse.

So I have accumulated some tips I have found helpful for myself, thus far, and I have compiled them below in an easy way for you to agree or completely disagree with.

1) When on Amazon and you feel that itching in your pointer finger to click “add to cart” or “buy now”, simply re-direct your pointer finger to “add to list”. I have a Wish List on Amazon where I simply add things that I think I “need” to have. Two things happen when things go to the Wish List. 1) They sit there until I realize that I don’t need it anymore, and I can, with good conscious, remove them from the list, and send them back to Amazon oblivion. 2) A birthday or Chanukah or “just because” rolls around, and a gracious family member decides to purchase something you actually want from your list! Obviously, #2 is much more exciting, but #1 feels really good when you’re trying to save.

2) When things like¬†GapCash¬†are being dangled right in front of your face saying “Spend me or the world will collapse”, I find that it is easiest to pass your GapCash along to someone else who actually¬†needs¬†to buy things for their kids. I just did this, so that there was way I could possibly be taunted by GapCash for the past 5 days, and I did a good deed! I think they call that “paying it forward”? My spending addiction is your gain, lady!

3) Return, return, return! If you waaay over-spent before deciding to implement No Spender December like some of us (cough, cough), when you receive your items in the mail, seriously go through them and decide what you really need. I’ve returned over $100 worth of things I bought in late November, simply because I decided that they are not necessary. The best part? It feels good¬†to return things and know that the money is going back into my checking account/credit card, and it will be saved and better-used for my family.

4) Purge, purge, purge! Somehow (and I can’t imagine how), “things” have accumulated in my apartment over the past year since I had my first baby. Now that I have gone through the third bedroom in order to get it cleaned up for our new arrival, I’ve been able to sell some items that we really don’t need. It’s really fun (yes, I said fun) when a sale actually goes through on OfferUp or the marketplace on Facebook. I feel good about getting back to basics and knowing that I am making room for someone that is infinitely more important than the home items section at Target.

5) Finally, if you do¬†have¬†to spend this month, because, hey, things do come up, then at least use Ebates Coupons and Cash Back. I seriously get so much cash back this way, and it literally takes no extra effort¬†on your part, after you sign up. I will admit that I get bonuses when you sign up and shop through my link, but I would not be such an advocate if I didn’t truly believe that it was worthwhile.

Well, here we are, almost one week into December, and I’ve only bought necessary groceries, sippy cups, and toiletries/laundry detergent from Target. Yes, I actually went into Target, got what I needed and got the heck out. I’ll call that a win any day! Happy not-shopping!

No Spender December – Progress Report #1

Well folks, I’m proud to say that No Spender December started early this year. I had made a large purchase of numerous items (mostly unnecessary) for my daughter at Baby Gap last week during a sale (not even Black Friday, lol). I must document the special occasion: on November 29th at approximately 12:30 PM, I went to the mall, walked directly to Baby Gap, even more directly to the counter (with blinders), returned $35 worth of items and WALKED STRAIGHT OUT and back to my car. This was the first of, hopefully, many triumphs in my efforts to alter my spending habits, and it felt really good. Huzzah!

I truly think H-shem is trying to help me out here because since I defeated the Baby Gap, I have had small, random nudges of confidence that make me really believe I can cut back on the spending! I needed to make a few returns to Amazon as well. The first just gave me a refund and told me that I didn’t need to send the item back, and the second worked with me so that I didn’t have to pay return shipping fees on the item. BH, things are looking up!¬†Bring on December!

Where have you saved and succeeded this week? xo, Frum FRUGAL mama ūüôā

No Spender December

No Spender December (I know, good rhyming, right?!). Well, it’s about to be a thing in my life. I’ve been told once or twice (or 100 times) that I’m a little OCD about things. These are two results I got from taking those Facebook quizzes, lol.
Anyway, it makes it extremely difficult for me to not completely prepare EVERYTHING for the new baby. From diapers (which I currently have sizes ranging from Newborn-6 thanks to Amazon Prime Day) to the nursery furniture, I find it really difficult to sit and wait around until baby decides to make an appearance in this world to do any sort of preparations. In the Jewish tradition, we don’t have baby showers or do much before the baby actually arrives. I, however, sought out advice from our Rabbi, and as long as I don’t go changing any wallpaper, etc before the baby comes, in order to curb my anxiety I am allowed to purchase a few things.
So we are keeping the gender of baby G #2 a secret from the world, but with my personality, I had to find out. So you all won’t know exactly how much I’m actually buying for baby, but, either way, we are having two separate rooms since big sister Miri is still really a baby herself. So if nothing else, I get to completely decorate a new nursery. I am also a firm believer that every new baby deserves his/her own white onesies to spit up and poop on. It’s so crazy to me to believe that just a year ago we were preparing for little Miri’s arrival. I hadn’t even met her yet, and now I can’t imagine a day without her!
So back to the main focus of this post — No Spender December. Based on my previous history of spending and preparing and buying Miri clothing like she is constantly naked, I have decided that I am going to take a break for the month of December. Aside from necessities (e.g. diapers, wipes, baby food, groceries, etc), I am going to do everything in my power to NOT buy things on Amazon, Gap or make unnecessary trips to Target. And when I do go to Target (for baby food, etc), I will put blinders on, go to the aisle I need and report directly to checkout. No passing go, no collecting $200. That will probably be the hardest thing.
I need to take this time to reflect inwards and really figure out why I feel like I need to buy buy buy all the time. These are not middos¬†(characteristics) I want to pass along to my children, and¬†I think it actually may reflect a lack of¬†emunah¬†(faith in G-d). He is in control, and if I take a break from spending, buying and preparing unnecessarily, it will help me remember that He has a bigger plan for me, and everything will turn out okay in the end. So here’s to forgetting about the gashmius¬†(physicality and materialistic) and returning to the ruchnius¬†(spiritual) side of things for a while. Who’s with me? I may need some serious support this month. RIP, Amazon Prime, RIP.

Not your normal Black Friday post

Well, here we are at my husband’s favorite day of the year. I’m dead serious. The man LOVES Black Friday. He has been participating in the antics since he was little with his father. Go figure, he hasn’t gone out at 3 am since we’ve been married…sorryyyyy, my bad. But we do end up doing a lot of online shopping. And you may ask, “What makes BF different from any other day because you shop online EVERYDAY!?” Well, we do our best to look at our lists of “needs” (aka obviously baby clothes because we don’t have tubs and tubs of them already ūüėČ and then actual baby items — car seat, diaper pail, rocker, etc) and try to hunt down some deals.

I normally do a post listing some of my favorite deals, but this BF I’m all about Ebates Coupons and Cash Back. A lot of my regular stores have AWESOME cash back deals, and you get cash back for simply getting to your normal sites via Ebates aka DOING NOTHING. It’s really a no brainer. I made $97 in cash back last quarter (I know — sounds like I have a problem), but it makes it sound better when you can say you’re getting 10% cash back on your order.

If you’re not already signed up for Ebates, all you do is sign up via the links in this post, then go to your favorite shopping websites through the Ebates website. You can also download a button for your Chrome browser, and it will remind you to literally click a button while you’re shopping to earn your cash back. That’s what I do, and it clearly works pretty well. I know there are a ton of other cash back sites, but I am a die hard Ebates girl. I find it the easiest and most universal site to use.

Some sites with awesome cash back today: Gap (50% off EVERYTHING with code:TGIF50) and Old Navy¬†(50% off almost everything) both have 8% back. Kohl’s, J.Crew¬†(40% off a sky-rocketing price tag — so basically almost normal price), Carter’s¬†(60% off and free shipping) and Macy’s all have a whopping 10% back. And ToysRUs has 6% back for all you parents staking out to get Hatchimals for your kids, LOLOL. Toooootally kidding about these Hatchimal things. I don’t see the obsession, but I’ve seen people selling them for $150 on the “black market” because they are so “rare” and in demand this holiday season.

So from my family to your’s, we wish you a happy day of shopping and cooking (again) for Shabbos. I hope wherever you are reading, that you are somewhere safe and warm. We are all praying for those affected by the horrible fires in Israel. Fire is a powerful element. When used correctly, it is used for heat and light. It ultimately brings brightness into the darkness and is used for good. But in situations like the current one in Israel, when something good is used for evil, it can be detrimental and very scary. I hope this Shabbos brings shalom (peace), safety and¬†nechama¬†(comfort) to all of those who are affected by these vicious acts.

When I realized the Dunkin’ Donuts ladies were my “best friends”

This morning, I travelled to the Dunkin’ Donuts (DD) drive thru, as I do every morning, on my way to work. I get my “usual”, which Shahnaz at the window already knows. So today was just a normal day, but then I pull around the corner to the window to pay, and Shahnaz says to me, “When your baby comes (surprise! Baby Goldwater #2: debuting January 2017) I want to get it a present because you’re my friend and the best customer.” I laugh out loud and think to myself, “I’m on top of the world! Life goals right here! I’m besties with the DD drive thru lady.” I told her she didn’t need to buy anything for my baby, but she was so sweet. Then I said, “You ladies are my best friends. That is really sad.” I meant no disrespect by it, but sometimes you have out-of-body moments when you come to a realization. This morning, mine was that I was only half-kidding when I told Shahnaz that she was my best friend. I mean, come on Alyssa! You can’t be serious, right? Well, unfortunately, it seems as though what used to be a very outgoing and extroverted Alyssa has turned into somewhat of a homebody and hermit. I prefer to sit at home, on my couch¬†and try to clean up Cheerios ALL DAY LONG than make the effort to get dressed and go socialize with other human beings who are not a 10 month old and my husband.

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Over the past 10 months, I’ve come to treasure the time I get with my “girlfriends” because it certainly doesn’t happen as often as it used to. I’ve also realized how important¬†the friendships you have with girlfriends truly are. Not that I don’t love having my husband as my best friend and only form of adult, social interaction most days, but even he knows how important it is for me to have other adult relationships besides the one I have with him.¬†To all my un-married, without children friends, I say, “Know how important your friendships are to me and the other mommies in this world. Sometimes we live vicariously through you, sometimes we like to talk to someone who can talk back, and we do our best to be good friends to you in return. It is SO IMPORTANT for our mental well-being that you are our friends.” For that, I thank everyone who has stuck by me these past 10 months. Having a really cute baby probably helps also :). ¬†I also now know how imperative it is to have a mommy support system, even if it’s only in a Facebook group online. G-d bless the COMmies.

When you are a new mommy and completely socially isolate yourself due to the curveballs, vomit¬†and realities of life that your little monster (I mean angel ūüėČ ) throws at you 24/7, it is only your¬†yetzer hara (evil inclination) telling you to stay at home and not pick up the phone. Speaking from experience, the more you sit alone, the harder it becomes to make and nourish those woman to woman relationships that are so very imperative. I truly believe, that it is vital for a woman’s¬†mental and mommy health to have outlets where we can gain support from other women,¬†in person, in order to be the best mommies/wives we can be. I won’t say I’m not part of the problem — aka the entire idea behind this post — but I will say, that being aware that you need support is the first step to becoming someone who puts on makeup¬†and fresh clothes at least once a week and who has other interactions with adult women aside from Shahnaz, the checkout woman at Target **edited: and the babysitter.

Some reading this may call me a hypocrite as of late. To them I say, I can only hope to practice what I preach. As babies become toddlers and more babies come along, I can only foresee this venture that is called socializing becoming more difficult. Going forward, I hope to be a better friend and a more active participant in my “circle of trust” and the community. No matter what role you play in the social circles of others, you should know how important your friendship is, even if it is not mentioned often enough. I feel like a lot of new moms fall prey to this anti-socialization, and I don’t think it’s spoken about enough. So here’s to getting out a little more often and sticking together as one MamaTribe in order to be the best we can be for ourselves and our families.

I take a hiatus every now and again, but I’m not good at that…

She’s baaaaack! Wow, it feels almost surreal to be back online and typing my thoughts here. It has been just over 10 months since my last post, but it feels like an eternity. I will say, there have been numerous times when I have been asked about The Frum Diaries, and I have thought that I will never post again or that my blogging days as I knew them were over. I tried to let the people down “easy”.

But, here I am, trying to get back in the saddle, that is clearly a bit rusty. What’s been going on with me you ask? Well, as you know, I became a mommy to the most wonderful angel on this Earth. Her name is Miriam Sheva, but we call her Miri for short. Now at 10 months old she is full of life, character and keeps us all extremely busy. Her favorite pastimes include: pulling wireless routers out of the wall, putting old Israeli SIM cards in her mouth and waving “hi” and then quickly proceeding to clap for herself.

BH, Chef Hubby is no longer working for Milt’s BBQ. He’s moved on to work in the nursing home industry as a Food Services Director. He comes home with new stories from the senior citizens daily. So far, we get to see him more often as his schedule has been slightly more normalized, so we are really cherishing that extra time.

Now you may ask, “Why now?” Why am I just now deciding that it might be time to ease back in to the life of writing down my thoughts and logging my life? Well, I’ve found that while being a mommy is the most rewarding gift in the world, I have also found that it can be extremely taxing on one’s self-identity. I remember previously blogging and feeling lighter. Writing things down has often been easier for me than speaking my mind, and I believe it to be some sort of a release. I also hope to be able to look back on these posts myself and smile at the memories, whether funny ones or tough ones. So now I am 10 months into my lifelong journey of motherhood, and I hope that by sharing my ideas, thoughts and experiences here that I can not only be a source of¬†chizzuk¬†(strength) and maybe bring a smile¬†to others, but I also think¬†that it will be a place of calm and re-energizing for myself so I can be the best mommy, wife and Jewish woman that¬†H-shem¬†can help me be.

Wishing you all a happy weekend, a wonderful Shabbos and I do hope to be back to normal here soon. I would love to post based on your interests, so please feel free to be in touch!

Frum Girl to Frum Mama

Hey y’all! I apologize for the lack of posts these past few months, but soon you’ll understand. Some of you may already know, but…surprise! Chef Hubby and I had a beautiful baby girl early Sunday AM. When I say we both had the baby, I really just mean that he was world’s best cheerleader. It was definitely more work on my part with the help of H-shem. G-d willing, when my eyes stop twitching and I can get 5 seconds to myself (maybe not again for the next 18+ years) I will start posting more regularly.

Speaking of posting, I made mention that some big changes were coming to The Frum Diaries, and you can see from the new logo, that The Frum Diaries is making a transition due to this huge life change¬†for me. This blog has always been about my journey, and this new road I’ve just begun is very real and exciting. I’ve been draft blogging during my pregnancy, and I can’t wait to share some of my thoughts and real-life experiences with you all. I have never felt H-shem in my life more strongly than I have since I had the baby, so I am also¬†excited to post about that part of my reality as well.

Thanks to everyone for their well wishes, and baby and I can’t wait to start this new journey of Frum Girl to Frum Mama with you all. Now I’m off to sleep while I can :).