Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Passover at Target

I have to say that Target is probably my favorite store right now.  Not only is it convient for me (right down the street) but it has almost everything I need on a given day.  And this is especially true for Passover.  Does it have three types of Matzo Meal?  No.  Is it as good for food shopping as the Ralphs on Sepulveda?  No.  But it is probably the only store that has a selection of Passover decor items.

Target used to re-create their Passover line each year.  In fact the seder plate that I have at my house is marked 2011.  They stopped doing that right at 2011, since the seder plate they are selling this year is the same as that one.  However, I'm still saying hats off to Target for stepping up to the plate and doing something...

Here's the food section.  Again, I wouldn't recommend that you do your shopping here.  Apparently they think we only need to eat Matzo balls, Macaroons and Matza.  Oh, and dessert.  But, never the less, it's sweet that they have the foods and are totally trying.  Good spot to stop if you forget something on the way to someone's house.

Here's why we love Target though- there selection of decor products.  That are actually cute, and totally usable.  All the plastic is BPA free, and although the blue cups were out for Chanukah, they have some truly distinct Passover items that you won't be able to walk into a typical store and find.  

They do have a seder plate (it's on the second shelf) and it's quite nice.  But since I already have it, and it's not new to the Passover line, I didn't take any specific pictures of it.

 The children's seder plate is awful cute- wonderfully colorful, and totally appropriate with both pictures and words.  I'm impressed by their use of Hebrew on the plate, they didn't shy away from including it.  Though not microwave safe, it can go in the dishwasher.

Last year I had 10 kids under the age of 4 at my house.  And I searched high and low for plates for all those kiddos.  I totally should have gotten these.  No need to remember which are the passover dishes- it says so right there!  Part of a a great kiddos set, that's dishwasher safe.

This is where I think Target really stands out.  Yes they have the traditional seder plates, but they also go out of their way to include these decor items.  I'll give you a little hint about Target.  They do a great job of labeling their items. You can see what season/promotion the item belongs to by lifting it up and looking underneath.

See the Jewish star?  That means it was designed exclusively/specifically for a Jewish holiday.  It could have been Chaunkah or Passover, but regardless, it was for the Jewish community.  And that, to me, is where Target wins points.  On the display there were at least two items not specific to the holiday (aka one had a sun since it was a summer item, and another was just a random item) but they are just about the only store that is continuously making items.

So cheers to you Target!  Thanks for including us in the spring time celebration!   Now, just because something isn't marked with a star doesn't mean it wouldn't be adorable at your Passover seder.  Here's a cute selection of items for the kiddos that fall into the Frog theme of the Passover world.  I could just imagine my little girlies in those PJ's and my tiny Ocho in these Froggie slippers!

I'm also always on the lookout for little entertainment items that will keep EG at the table.  This year target didn't disappoint with this adorable frog creation you can make yourself.  While it does involve glue (so may not be appropriate for all seder tables) it's certainly a cute and adorable project that she can do her self.

And thankfully she doesn't look at my blog- so this adorable froggie cup that I bought her for the seder will still be a pleasant surprise.

This post wasn't paid or perked in anyway (though, note to Target, I wouldn't mind getting paid!) I just want to share the goods for everyone.  And I hope that some of you go out there any buy these Target items.  That way they are inspired to continue to make them for us every year.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Passover Fun at Manhattan Village Mall

Wow- a whole new spin on fun in the mall.  I'm so excited to announce that this year the Manhattan Village Mall will be hosting a Passover gathering, rather than just it's usual Easter Bunny Tea party.

So come on down on Sunday, March 29th to join in the fun.

This might seem a bit stupid, but I'm beyond thrilled that they will be doing this project this year.  While the December dilema is published everywhere, and we do a lot to try to take care of it.  The mall has a chanukah night, and there are menorah lightings at most of the major city halls.  But come Passover and Easter, it's a different story.

Rows and rows of candy greet your children in the grocery store.  Then each and every store has out adorable white and pastel colored dresses with big Happy Easter labels.  Even good old Parents Magazine- which promises 'Spring Fun' really means Easter...

Now, to be fair, they do have a single Passover recipe in the back, but far be it from them to include that on the cover....

So, here's to you Manhattan Village Mall- thanks for making space and time for everyone this holiday season.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Passover Cooking Class

RSVP for
The Seder Made Simple
A Pre-Passover Workshop and Cooking Class
Join the Rebbetzins of the Beach Cities JCC for an enriching and entertaining evening of quick yet delicious Kosher-for Passover recipes. This workshop will give you all the skills and recipes you need to know to help bring the Passover story to life. Make this year's Seder an unforgettable experience.   
Date: Tonight
March 24, 2015

Time: 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Location: The Jewish Community Center
2108 Vail Ave. Redondo Beach 
Fee: $20  

Looking forward to seeing you!

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Passover Easter Basket

If you are anything like my family, you have some family that celebrates Easter.  And it can be a bit of a difficult holiday, since everything Easter is sort of anti-Passover.  The story of Easter is completely unconnected to Passover.  The traditional foods of Easter (candy, Ham, morning brunch) are difficult when observing Passover restrictions.

This year, however, thanks to the rise in gluten free and natural candies, we have a whole new world open to present a Passover appropriate Easter Basket:

Item #1:

Yup, this is an adorable book about bunnies celebrating Passover.  Why didn't we think of this before.  Want to give a little stuffed bunny or a chocolate one- even a few bunny eggs.  All totally approprate when they accompany this book about bunnies.  Thank you Linda Glaser!

Item #2:
By WhitA
Yup, traditional real 'Easter' eggs are totally Kosher for Passover and all year round.  No issues with Chametz, no issues with food coloring.  Have at it and make them part of the basket.  An egg is a traditional part of a Passover Seder plate, so all the more reason to have the eggs included.

Item #3:

Candy items.  You can't really give an Easter basket without candy in it.  But here's the good thing.  You don't have to try to hard to find good candy for Passover kiddos.  No, it won't likely be OU Passover certified, but I don't believe it has to be.  I don't believe that I have to have someone else certify my chocolate- I believe what's written.  So with that in mind, here are some options:

Yup- Dove Dark has no Corn-Syrup, and neither do any Surf Sweets or YumEarth Naturals.  Both of these are usually found at Sprouts and Whole foods.  So, if Jelly beans are your thing, don't be too put out.  Trader Joes has a huge selection of pops and other candies that are Corn free as well!

It can be hard to share this holiday with everyone, but then again, it can also be rewarding.  To see the smile on a little girlie when she gets to eat the sweets inside....

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Mitzvot of Passover

My family tradition is to always spend the first night of Passover with my extended family, and typically the second night of Passover with extended friends.  This year, with Passover over Shabbat I imagine that many people will be inclined to host a Seder this year.  Having all day Saturday to prep, and all day Sunday to clean it up.  It's a lot harder to make it happen when it's on a Tuesday..

While Passover has always been my thing, I've always been surprised about the misinformation out there.  We have only a few Torah driven commandments for Passover:

1. Celebrate Passover (Exodus 23:14)
2. Remove Chametz (Exodus 12:15, etc.)
3. Rest on the first day of Passover (Exodus 12:16)
4. Tell the Exodus Story (Exodus 13:8)
5. Eat Matzah (Exodus 12:18)

All the rest of them are rabbinical observances and mitzvot- leaning over, drinking four cups of wine, eating the bitter herb, finding the afikomen, etc.

This is why, if you have children in your life, I suggest that you take a note from the commandments of Torah, and KISS- keep it simple stupid.

There's no commandment to actually have a Seder.  The pieces of the Seder are Talmudic ideas that help us ensure that we tell all of the story, and that we discuss the relevant pieces.  What does this mean for you?  That you can and should tell the story, but if in doing so you are all lost in the exercise of having a Seder, and not telling the story, then you've lost the point.

Since we always meet with my extended family for Passover, it's traditional for my family to do a stricter version of the Seder.  We all have the same Haggadahs, etc.  But now that there are children in the mix, I really don't want my kids to think that all the Passover Seder is is an obligation.

Yes, a commandment is an obligation.

No, we don't have to see it as just that.

Telling the Passover story is an opportunity. To reclaim part of our heritage. To share time with family and friends.  To invest in understanding our Judaism a little bit more, in a slightly different way.

So this year, I say you let it go...gently.  Let everyone sit around the couch and the cocktail table.  Worry less about passing a piece of parsley covered in salt water, and more about whether you are connecting with the story.

Eat your Matzah

Avital Pinnick
Remove the Chametz

Tell the story.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Dear Disneyland

I think it's time that I wrote to you to express my thanks.  I've been extremely impressed with how you've handled yourselves when it comes to dealing with tiny children. As a mother of two, under two, I feel like I'm your target audience.  I've got two girlie girls who want to dress up like princesses, but still want to fight the good fight as a Jedi Knight.  And you've got me covered there.

Each time I've gone into a restroom I've been pleasantly surprised by freestanding changing tables, equipped with extra paper towels, toilet paper, and a trashcan literally inches from where my baby is.  I can throw away a dirty diaper without ever taking my hands off my kiddo, and that's aces.

We've been bringing both kiddos together, which is a lot of work.  However, despite the fact that my littlest is just a tiny tiny, you've managed to have enough for her to enjoy, even from the seat of her Lillebaby carrier.

From parades, to rides, she has a ton of fun.  Even when she's sleeping she can still go on It's a small world, and nursing in the darkness of Pirates is a truly awesome experience.

While you have candy looking at my kiddo at every turn, I've been impressed with the meal selections for the little ones.  While I generally hate on kids meals, you have them including carrots and apple slices, as well as a milk option at every restaurant we've been to, so you get some kudos there as well.  Ample high chairs means we've never been stuck waiting while everyone else is eating.

Then there's the kiddo corner at the end of Main Street.  Since discovering this spot, it's been the talk of the town for my older daughter.  She's potty training, so she loves to insist that we go to the 'her size' potty.  And since it's so centrally located we can walk over in between a ride on the carousel and waiting in line for Dumbo without much fuss.  It's such a cozy space for my nursing baby too- comfy wicker chairs, and those coat hooks for mommies- almost perfect in every way.  The staff is great, it smells nice and seems so clean.  Books and a cute movie in the A/C- perfect on those hot days.

But then we get to Disney's California Adventure- and everything takes a step back.  I'll hand it to you- you were really smart when you decided to put Frozen Fun in DCA.  It meant that a trip to D-land virtually has to include DCA if you really want to 'Let it Go'.  And when it comes to that-you  did it right.

The way you orchestrate the visits with Elsa and Anna- pure genius.  My little girls feel loved, and honored and like they are the most important people in the world in that moment.  Really, they do.

It's just such a shame that you totally screwed it up in terms of amenities.  Let's chat for a moment about the Kids support area in DCA.  It's a mockery of the Disneyland version.  You walk inside and it feels cold, and hollow.  A mishmash of inconsequential furniture, without a care to the love of kids.  No books on the tables, no cozy kids size rocking chair here...

Then we get to the changing table area.  Smell and dirty feeling.  The worst version of a cheap Craigslist changing table I can imagine.  Practically not sturdy enough for my little 7-month old, let alone how I would feel about putting my almost three-year old on it.  Then I need to nurse, and it just gets worse.  Two chairs behind a gross shower curtain.  That curtain the only thing separating me from the kids potties.  

Picture this- me, my baby, and a 3 year old screaming his head off about wanting to try to aim his pee himself.  Don't worry- he can do it!  But me, I just can't.  The smell, the noise- just horrendous.  I feel like I'm nursing in a bathroom.  I'd rather be in the heat then trying to make this work out.  The chairs are the worst version of awful too... whoever bought those must never have been a nursing mother.  Armrests in exactly the most annoying spot possible to make it uncomfortable to hold up a child to the breast.

So, Disneyland- we will keep on coming, and DCA (aka the unloved step-child), I will try hard not to hold it against you.  

Lets hope that at some point you decide that DCA matters too, and spread a little bit of the charm it's way....

Friday, March 13, 2015

Free-Range Kids? Or trip to the Pen?

I can't help but comment on the resent arrest of a mother, Danielle Meitiv, for letting her two children walk home from the park by themselves.  A 10 year old with a six year old.  Do I know the 'whole situation'?  No, I don't.  I only know what the media is sharing... but I've seen it before...  

Remember the mom arrested for letting her 9 year old be at the park alone while she worked at McDonalds.  The Florida mom who let a 7 year old walk to the neighborhood park...

It makes me so sad to think that we live in a time when our kids have to be in our sight, in our arms, all the time.

I let EG wander the park by herself.  We have a large park around the corner, and when we go to Anderson park, I sit on the bench with Ocho and let EG wander around.  I keep an eye on her, she knows she needs to check in every few minutes.  I let her climb the ladders, go on the swings, do it all without her mom right there.

Has she fallen?  Yes.  Has she gotten hurt?  Yes.  Do I think I'm doing anything wrong?  No.

I even let her play outside in the front, unfenced yard, by herself while I go in to check on dinner.  Do I think this is neglect, hell no.

I would be lying if I didn't say that some parents look at me strangely.  Some of them worry and wonder about me and my kiddos.  My favorite is when other parents try to help my kid climb something- something she is perfectly capable of doing on her own.  Honestly, if she can't do it herself, then you helping her is just setting her up for misery and a bigger fall down the line... but I digress.

Kids need to be independent.   It's a skill we find very, very important.  We've worked hard to create children who are self-motivated, independent thinkers and players.  People who can rely on themselves when they need something, and know when they need help.

I'm just so overwhelmed by the idea that there is an attack on parents.  In most of these cases, another adult called the police about the children.  The police didn't just wander over, they were called there because someone else called them.  Another parent, a concerned bystander. When did a child being alone become neglect?  It's not like these kids didn't know who they were.  They were each very reasonable children, who felt safe, who were safe, until some stranger started asking them odd questions.  

Working Dad and I have been in a disagreement about EG and Ocho.  I'm of the opinion that EG can help 'watch' Ocho, but if Ocho does something wrong, the responsibility/blame lies with the child who did the wrong doing, not the child who is doing the watching.  My opinion is that it won't really ever be possible for EG to have 'responsibility' for her sister who is only two years younger.  They are too close in age to really have that type of relationship.

He feels differently, that if EG is 'babysitting' then if Ocho writes on the walls it's EG's fault.  He believes that there will come a time when EG will watch Ocho.  Of course, it's totally irrelevant at almost 3 and almost 1.

It seems like our parents had it easier.  I remember walking to the 'park' around the corner from my house back when the park was just an empty lot frequented by high school skateboarders.  They didn't even build the park until 1991.  Which means that I was a 6 year old hanging around in a dirt lot with my 8 year old sister.  Apparently CPS should have arrested my parents.

I think the hardest part about all of this is that the rules are totally arbitrary.  Here in CA there is no law about when you can leave a child alone.  No laws about when a child is old enough to babysit.  And I'm not saying there should be.  However, sometimes it's nice to have it be black and white- then you at least know where you stand.

I wish that my Sister-in-Law, who home schools, didn't have to be so worried about sending her kiddos to the local park.  That she won't really let them out of the house during 'school' hours, despite their home school status because she worries about them being approached by a police officer and getting into trouble.  The kind of trouble it's really hard to get out of.

I believe in letting my child be independent.  Here's hoping I'm not the next tragic CPS case.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Hurry Up: Childhood is leaving

Have you ever had one of those moments when you are hurrying along your children, only to realize that there is absolutely no reason.  You probably know what I'm talking about- the grocery store, the library, all those everyday moments.

When you feel like you have to move move move.  Get it done, get to the next place, and your hurrying the world along. Or at least you are trying to.

Sometimes it's when you are trying to make dinner, and all she wants to do is help you do it.  She wants to stir, or see, or help.  And all you want is to get it done...

These moments- childhood is slipping away.  The teaching moment, the enjoyable moment.  The moments to see her for who she is, and what she's becoming.  Because she's growing up in these moments.  When you are worried about overcooking the sauce, she's learning how she should behave in the kitchen.  She's learning about why you make dinner- for the family, for her father...for an obligation?

I'm constantly amazed at how much she grasps, changes and grows each and everyday.  How she learns to communicate, share and become the girl she is growing up to be.

I want her to be strong, proud, and eager.  I want her to take life by the hands and giggle.  I don't want to tell her not to get dirty before dinner- I want her to explore the world, and not worry about the laundry.  But it's hard.

It's oh so hard....

They are moving faster than the speed of light it seems.  Just yesterday I would swear that Ocho was born, and yet here she is, moving, growing, learning, reacting.  Here they both are, becoming the sisters I've always wanted them to be.  Kind, thoughtful, imaginative.  Turning towards each other for fun, games, and frivolity.  But also when things are hard.  Caring, growing, concerned.  Helping each other through the rough times that can happen in life.

How do they learn these things?  It's those moments when I'm trying to hurry up.  When we need to get dressed to get out of the house- when I would rather be by myself than reading her another story (or the same one for the 15th time).  When it seems easiest just to cut my losses and run.  They are learning.  How to treat each other, how to deal with set-backs.  How to be who they will be.

And though it seems impossible, each moment is one we can't get back.  Each moment they get one step closer to adults and further away from children. Ocho is closer to being one than she is to being born.  And it's amazing.

It's watching her remember something for the first time.  It's seeing her light-up at the sight of her daddy or her sister. It's helping her understand that just because I'm not with her, I still love her, I'm still with her in her heart.

It's teaching them both that they can't take back these moments.  It's helping them see the beauty and the grace in everyday obligations.  Helping them see that childhood is leaving, so we better hurry up and enjoy the moment.

All photos the work of Laura Layera, Luluphoto.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Teaching Jewish stories to our children

Recently EG came home from school telling me all about the bad guys.  While I've discussed some of the things about the Purim Story before, I never really thought about how the school might explain Haman to my children.  It seems obvious- Haman is the bad guy.  And he is likely described as so by everyone running around as Batman, Superman or some other Hero.

Is there something wrong with having a bad guy?  No, nothing wrong at all.  We all have bad guys (bosses, friends, finances, etc.) in our lives.  And we all need to learn to deal with bad guys.  But what worries me....

"Mommy, why doesn't Haman like the Jewish people?"

"The Pharaoh- he doesn't like the Jewish people.  Why don't people like the Jewish people?"

That's right.  My almost 3-year old is already worrying about antisemitism.  And I can't help but wonder if it's a fundamental problem we have with not just most Jewish stories, but with my own view of my Jewish heritage.

I'm sure you've heard this one...

You are trying to explain a Jewish holiday to a gentile friend.  How do you sum it up?  They came, they tried to kill us, they didn't succeed, let's eat.

I've always thought that this was a reasonable approximation of most holidays.  There's an entire facebook group dedicated to this summary.  You start typing it into Google, and it finishes the sentence for you.  Let's not even mention the numerous versions of a YouTube video song...Passover, Purim, Chanukah, the list probably goes on.  And that's before we even start to consider the Holocaust.

But what type of message is that sending to our children?  What am I trying to teach EG, and soon Ocho, when I describe our holidays this way.  Who is they?  Why did they try to kill us?  Why should we eat...?  Okay, they probably won't ask that last one, but I can't help but think I'm spreading the wrong message.  How is it that we as a people have come to understand our heritage as a story of victimization?

I want my children to recognize the miracle of Judaism.  I want the story line to be 'they came, they tried to hurt us, G-d saved us, let's eat." I want the story line to focus more on the amazing things that G-d did for us.  That we have him in our corner.  That we are each connected to an awesome power that we might not understand, but clearly cares for us deeply.  That we have a G-dly soul and a G-dly spark.

I want to change the perspective of my own self- so I can teach EG, Ocho and anyone else that there is so much beauty in a Jewish life and a Jewish heritage. That we are much more than just victims, that we are part of G-ds larger plan, and a light of his strength in the world.

Maybe that's to much to try to teach a young child.  But I want to try to help her questions be 'how did G-d do that' or 'what happened next' not 'why didn't they like us'.  Pipe dream?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

OMG- Passover is coming!

Okay, now that we've wrapped up Purim, it's officially time to start freaking out about Passover.  Today, we did our weekly grocery shopping trip, and dear hubby reminded me that this was not the time to be stocking up on Polenta.

So, here's the beginning of what to do now that Passover is the next Jewish Holiday on the calendar.

1.  Stop buying bread products.  As Working Dad pointed out, this is not the time to stock up on chicken noodle soup, polenta, or regular coca-cola.  In fact, it's time to start looking through the cupboards to eat all that stock-up that you can.  Not only does this mean that you won't end up with Macaroni and cheese that expired in 2010, but it means that you can start to be a bit creative and inventive with that Hametz.  Noodle casserole anyone...?

2. Find the Passover Dishes.  Tales are told about children being sent to the basement to dig out the Passover dishes, but it doesn't have to be like that. Lots of people don't have Passover dishes, but maybe it's time you thought about getting some.  Maybe these adorable frog dishes will make you take the leap.  You're not supposed to use your regular dishes because, regardless of milk or meat, you likely have hametz on them.  Take the leap :-)

3. Figure out where you will be.  Okay, maybe it's to early to menu plan, but it's not to early to decide where you want to be for the holiday.  Especially this year since it's Passover and Shabbat all at the same time. Not to mention that it's also Easter the next day.  With Passover on a Friday/Saturday night it makes it easier for some families to host the meal- given that they don't have to cook on a work night.  That also might mean that a typical tradition (grandma's house) might give way to a new generation (your house...?)

4. Start telling the story.  Yes, we go over much of the story on the night of Passover with our children, but if there is one thing we know its that children need to hear something more than once to remember it.  So, bring out all those PJ Library books you've been recieving over the years.  Dig out the items of Passover a bit before the holiday begins, so when you finally get to the seder, your children are revisiting the tale, not hearing it the first time.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Purim Costumes with a Baby

Do you have your Purim costume ready?  Or do you have a tiny little baby who no longer fits into the costume you bought for Halloween, and no time/energy/desire to go out and get a new one.

Here are a few ideas I have for you...

1. Shepard and Sheep. Got anything furry/fuzzy in white for the little one?  Some PJs or a fuzzy sweater.  Even just a white onsie.  Got a bit more time... make a sheep hat or shirt for the baby.  Just sew on some cotton balls...  

Yup- Wandering Mist made this while costume in about 3 hours.  Now, since you have a baby, it won't be so bad.  I'm serious though.  Thrown on a long dress of any kind, one of those summer frocks you have.  Then grab a white sheet or something in a contrasting color.  Add a headband to your head around the sheet= shepard.  Baby in white with a cotton ball hat- you are so done.

Also, I'm totally not judging if you run to target and buy an easter bunny outfit and cut off the ears.  Seriously...

2. Heart on your sleeve.  This one is even easier.  Did you get some adorable heart onsie or PJ for Valentines day.  Ocho got an adorable sleeper at Old Navy when I went to visit my Dad but forgot any PJ's for her.  The one below is from KMart.  Just hold her in your arms (on one side) and when people ask tell her she's your heart, on your sleeve.  Yup, a total groaner, but it totally works!

3. Mac from The Neighbors.  I know, total cop-out, but put the baby in an outward facing Bjorn, and wear a blue shirt- totally good to go.  Grab some fake glasses for the effect (and totally put some gel in your hair!) It's a legit Seth Rogan film (which I don't think anyone saw) but if you own it, it's totally yours!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Mishloach Manot- The Toddler Edition with the Mishloach Manot Wars

Yesterday we talked about the Mitzvot of Purim, but I want to delve deeper into what you can do to keep your toddler involved in the Mishloach Manot.

I was reading through my daily edition of Tablet magazine, and what should be on the forefront of my pages- the Mishloach Manot Wars.  I can't even believe that someone wrote that.

Because I don't have enough to worry about, that I need to think about outdoing someone with my basket of nice treats.  Because giving the treat isn't enough, it has to be better than yours?

Maybe I'm just not the in the right circles, but the idea of anxiety related to making these baskets and gift bags seems a bit ridiculous to me.  Then again, I think about all the time I can spent on Pinterest, looking at the cute and adorable things that other people make.

There are four mitzvot of Purim, and I think that this one is probably the least of all the four.  Hearing the megillah is certainly of more importance.  So is giving charity to the poor.  

So, when I think about doing these baskets, I think about ways that I can have my children participate.  It might be a little more difficult for Ocho, but EG, she can help in so many ways.   Now, they might not turn out like Martha Stewart.  But they will be fun for us to make, and, I hope, enjoyable for our friends and neighbors to take part in.  So here's to having the family participate, and to lessening any crazy expectations we have on ourselves.  

When I think about putting together my gifts, the first thing that I think about is allowing EG to decorate the bags for me.  Some crayon, pencils, maybe even a handprint.  Want to make them even nicer after the kiddos handiwork?  Print this lovely Shalom onto them courtesy of Chai and Home.

Next I think it's a great opportunity to help your kids count.  I usually try to put in two Hamentaschen per person in the family.  This might seem like a lot (here's looking at you sister-in-law) but no one wants to be the person who only gets one cookie.  In addition to cookies I like to put in something more healthy.   

There is a tradition to put in wine or grape juice, since wine is so important to Jewish joy. However, with most of my gifts going to those with kiddos, I prefer to send raisins.  I usually throw in a few cuties, and a few apples too, so everyone can get something.  Have them count out how many cookies, cuties and apples into each bag- learning and doing!

It's traditional, and some opinions hold part of the mitzvah, to have the packages delivered by someone else.  This is a great way for your toddler to participate.  Since they have to be delivered during the day it's a great opportunity for your child to practice front door etiquette- ringing the bell or knocking on the door, giving something away, and saying goodbye.  Also a nice opportunity to loosen the reins a bit and let them walk to the neighbors house alone (observed by you from the front door)

How do you involve the kiddos in the mitzvot?  Or are you stressing about theming your baskets appropriately?  Don't even get me started on whether it's okay for me to give away cookies my toddler helps me bake...

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Mitzvot of Purim

FOr each and every holiday there are two categories of things that happen.  Those that are tradition, and those that are commandments.  When we think about Purim we usually think of hearing the book of Esther read, dressing up in costume, and going to a carnival.  However, there are four mitzvot of Purim, and none of them involve dressing up.

1. READ the megillah.  Technically speaking everyone is supposed to read the megillah.  Both men and women are obligated.  Typically we 'read' the megillah by hearing it read by someone else.  This works, so long as the person reading it to you is obligated to fulfill the commandment themselves.  In our house, technically speaking, Mommy needs to read the story, not Daddy.  You also need to hear every word.  It's not a long story, but no pee breaks are allowed.  This also means that though the event is typically filled with cheers and jeers, you still need to hear...

2. The Festive Meal.  This is typically where the carnvial comes from.  We are commanded to have a festive meal, a Seudat Purim.   We are supposed to be joyous, wear festive clothing and have a celebration.  Many people also say the costumes represent the fact that Esther hid her true self (her Jewish identity) from the King.

3. Sending Food to Friends.  Technically this is called Mishloach Manot (and I've got LOTS of easy tips for making yours memorable tomorrow), and is supposed to be sent to friends and neighbors.  It  must consist of at least two 'portions' or things that the reciever doesn't have to prepare and can eat immediately, so no adorable jars full of DIY brownie mix.  It must be food or drink, no clothing or books allowed.  This is where Hamentaschen come into play.

4. Giving to the Poor.  This is something we should do all the time, but there is a specific obligation to give on Purim.  It says that we should extend ourselves a bit, give at least two gifts to at least two people (aka one to each).  We don't really talk about this one all that much, and I certainly can't remember it being a part of my childhood Purim experiences.  I can't quite figure out how to help EG do this one.  She does like to give to charity- so I let her donate any of the money she finds on the ground.  She collects it, and into the Tzedakah box it goes.

Will you be partaking of the Mitzvot of Purim?  Did you know that Purim had these different mitzvot?
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