Friday, September 29

The Impossible Bream

Does anyone besides me think it’s bizarre that for every minyan in any metropolitan Jewish community there is at least one sushi restaurant? Even here in London, with all the new places opening up; we have sushi coming out of our ears.
Don’t get me wrong- I love sushi as much as the next Yankel or Shprintze, but somehow I can’t picture Yoko or Ichiro partaking from a jellified piece of gefilte fish.
Jackie Mason once joked that sushi was created by a Jew who wanted to open a restaurant without having to cook anything in the kitchen.

I remember vividly when sushi came into fashion and it was served at the first Heimishe simcha. It was considered so avant-guard. I recall coming home, having tried my first piece of raw salmon just to have my sons hide their goldfish from me.

You might ask why am I talking about fish, now, today???
Because it is at this time of year that we’re busy with fish:
We use it’s head as a Siman on Rosh Hashana so the kids can have creepy dreams.
*We go to river and chuck bread to try to choke the little critters right in midstream.
*We stuff ourselves with it on Erev Yom Kippur so we won’t ever want to eat again.
*We read about Yona, who was swallowed by Big Mouth Billy Bass and then by Nemo.
*And we’re supposed to break our fasts on bony ones so we don’t inhale all the food at once, like Lucianno Pavarotti.

I read an article by Rabbi Yaakov Sinclair, who says that we’re so enamoured with fish on these Yomim Noraim because of what the fish symbolise.
Fish start off in water and die in water; they never diverge from their source. In the same way at this time of year, especially Yom Kippur we try to be as one with our source. By eating fish we express our instinctive desire to return to Hashem, our ultimate source.

And my Chiddush is this; the same way that fish have short term memories is the same way we should deal with other people. When it comes to grudges, we should have a short term memory as well.

I don’t mean to carp, but maybe this way, we can tip the scales and be let off the hook! Well, they don’t call it Yom Kipper for nothing.

G’mar Chasima tova to all of you and have an easy fast!!
(And remember, I’m from Monsey and our fish speaks for itself.)


Monday, September 25

Tequila in Tishrei

I bet you we had the most fun at our shul this Rosh Hashana.
Because, according to my four year old, we had
‘Tequila Gedola’.
(Then again, she makes me sing her, ‘HaMohel Hagoel’ every night.)

It’s amazing how I’ve adapted to this tiny British shtiebel.
The shul I grew up in was nusach Ashkenaz and the women’s section had a clear birds eye view of the men’s section. In my adopted shul, the nusach is Sefard and the men’s section is completely cosseted from view.
The first time I davened there as a newlywed, I recall almost having a coronary when they blew shofar in the middle of Shmonei Esrei.

Now, after eighteen years I’m well prepared and I even know all the chassideshe nigunim they sing. It’s bizarre that after all these years there is always the same little boy’s voice that repeats everything the Kehillah says, always four seconds after everyone has finished. He has never aged and his voice never broke. But then again, how would I know? I’ve never actually seen the mens section in action.

And while we’re on that subject, I used to know when to stand up and sit down from watching the men. But in the shtiebel, that doesn’t work, so for years I would watch the Rebbetzin. She sat, I sat. She stood, I stood. She adjusted her skirt, I adjusted my skirt. It was like ‘simon says’ or ‘monkey see, monkey do’.

Nowadays, since I’ve been a shtiebel regular for years; I set the standard for the newcomers to the shul.
It’s always fun to add in some extra moves, just to keep them on their toes.

Every year on the High Holy Days someone faints.
Boruch Hashem, they are always fine but it always serves to fuel ‘The Great Air-Con Debate’.
Since the shul air conditioning was purchased, the old guard fight against the younger generation about whether or not to turn on the air-con or not. Each and every year.

Most visitors to the shul prepare themselves by wearing removable layers in case the more mature members insist on fresh air and open all the windows and have the air-con turned off. In these instances the ladies section has been known to simulate a sauna.

It is then that all the younger women end up with free facials, every pore pried open by the pseudo-Sahara heat. Last year, the oldies won and the air conditioning was turned off plus all the windows were shut. So when the annual fainting spell occurred, the stuffy conditions and lack of cool air were blamed.

As a result, this year we revelled in the comfortable conditions of modern air conditioning until once again, someone fainted. So the air-con was again made redundant as the seasonably warm air was welcomed into the shul by the window flinging older ladies.
It’s always a lose/lose situation.

Initially, in the first few years I davened Rosh Hashana in this shul, I used to hem and haw as the shofar was blown. Instead of the great bellow I was used to from the shofar in my old shul, in this one I was greeted by a veritable squeak. When I asked my husband who blew the shofar, he told me it was the Rav of the shtiebel. I couldn’t believe it, and pined for the good old days.

It was only over the years, as I came to appreciate the the Rav as the Tzaddik he is, did I come to understand that as old and frail as he is, he puts all his Koach into blowing that shofar.

And it’s only as I got older that I came to realise that a squeak from his shofar is worth a hundred bellows from a stronger man.

So, whether you had Tekiya or tequila, here’s hoping that all our Tefillos were answered!
G'mar Chasima Tova!

Thursday, September 21

Don’t Judge This Post by This Title

The American Indians have a saying, Never judge a man until you walk a mile in his moccasins. According to my friend Uri (who really does know everything) this is because Indians moccasins are made from very thin leather soles and provide almost no protection from the road. When moccasins wear out, you might as well be shoeless because you can feel every pebble and grit that’s on the ground. Therefore, unless you walk in another person’s moccasins and feel how worn they are, you won’t know what that person is feeling at that space in time.

Hillel said in Mishna Avos, “Don’t judge your neighbour until you’ve been in his place.” So, unless you can honestly say that you were in exactly the same situation and had the same frame of mind as that other person, can you judge him/her.
We’re supposed to give everyone the benefit of the doubt even when circumstances dictate otherwise.
We must try to be ‘Dan Lekaf Zcuss’.

Why am I writing this, you might ask?
I will tell you.

I am having a hard time at the moment with giving certain people the benefit of the doubt and I have one more day before Rosh Hashana to work it out so there you go.
Now I, Kasmaba, will try to walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins, loafers, high heels, platforms, flip-flops, crocs or whatever.
(Drum roll please….)
Hey, wait a second, I seem to be the only one wearing my sparkly, sequin encrusted, spandex tightrope bodysuit ensemble!!! I’m not doing this on my own, you know!
You better go and get yours -tout suite- because we’re going out on a wire here!!!!
Go on!!!
Sheesh, how long does it take you to get dressed?
Okay, that’s better, you look great, now we can get started.
(Drum roll again, please….)
The aim of the following exercise is to help you and me to open up to an entirely new way of looking at people. We will try to change our perspective. We will train ourselves to look at the flip side of every person’s situation and not to take everything at face value.
Here’s the key- think “What’s their Story?
Every time we will think of someone who is annoying, hurtful or just plain wicked, we will think “What’s their story?”

We’re going to have to be very creative. It’s going to take a very heartbreaking story in order for our feelings of anger and annoyance to turn to pity. Keeping that sad scenario in the front of our thoughts every time that person begins to drive us up the wall, will hopefully help us to excuse them and not judge them.

Example #1:
A relative of your next door neighbour always parks in front of your drive, causing you to have to manoeuvre for seven point three seconds to get out of your own driveway.

Sad story:
This man has been abandoned by his parents and was raised by wolves. The poor blighter never received human love until he was rescued at age nine, whence it was already too late to teach him manners.

Example 2:
Every time you see this person they always manage to smile and say something to you in front of others, which is highly insulting and embarrassing. If you dare to take offence and complain to them, they then claim that you are too sensitive.

Sad story:
When this person was but a mere child, he had a huge mole on the end of his nose. His peers (and his Mum and Dad) teased him and tormented him mercilessly, calling him, “Holey Moley”. When he was in fifth grade his mole sprouted hair. Once, when he fell asleep in Biology he awoke to find the entire class (and the teacher) crowded around him laughing because someone had braided his mole hair and stuck a bead on the end. He had the mole removed at 17, but he’s been bitter ever since.

Example 3:
Nosy friend wants to know what you’ve been up to, who’ve you’ve been with and what you bought. Whenever she calls you, you feel as if you are being interrogated (and your eyes hurt you from the bright lights she shines on them to see if you are telling the truth). She wants to know everything so much that you end up hiding things from her, which in turn makes her hungrier to know what you’re hiding.

Sad story:
She grew up in house where everyone kept secrets from her. Even her siblings spoke ‘Ubby Dubby’ language that she could not possibly understand. She only found out her own name when she was five. Her parents told her she was getting married but they didn’t tell her to whom. Since no one told her anything, she made it her life’s work to find out everything about everyone else.
Poor dear.

Example #4:
He never stops talking about how much money he has, the car he drives or the vacations he goes on. And he does. Go on and on and on.

Sad story:
He was forced to live under the stairs in his Aunt and Uncles house. Two wizards came to save him and shlepped him to wizarding school. Then his father figure went behind a curtain and died and then his headmaster was killed by his teacher.

Heartbreaking, isn’t it???
Well done my kasambuddies!
I think you got the gist so you can change out of your sparkly bodysuits now!
A lot of people walk around with so much residual childhood pain, that it affects their characters and their interpersonal relationships. The same way I don’t want the Almighty to judge me harshly is the same way I have to work on myself STAT to accept people warts, moles et all and hopefully I won’t judge or G-d forbid condemn them.

I wish you all a K’asiva Vechasima Tova and a Gut Genbenshed Yur.
May this New Year bring us only Nachas, happiness, good health and peace!!!

Sunday, September 17

Kasamba’s Papa and Moshiach’s Yarmulke

My Dad is an equal opportunity Jew lover.
To him a Jew is a Jew in the same way as Shakespeare’s rose is still a rose by any other name. No matter what you wear on your head, or if you wear nothing on your head; if you are Jewish, he loves you.

My Dad will wear whatever yarmulke he finds in his drawer.
Soup bowl velvet, or penny crotched, it’s all the same to him.
On the odd occasion he has been known to wear a satin yarmulke with a gold inscription proclaiming it to be from ‘Lisa and Stanley’s wedding’.
Like I said, it’s all the same to him.

My Dad also likes to wear hats.
Being that my Dad is, shall we say, ‘folliclely challenged’ (okay, he’s bald) he likes hats because they keep his head warm in the winter, and on those sunny days, hats keep his forehead from turning lobster red. (My Dad gets a lot of mileage from baldness: ie. he says G-d made only so many perfect heads and the rest he covered with hair.)

Anyhoo, one day, my mother sent my father to the hat store to buy a new standard yeshivish black hat to wear to a very heimish wedding he was to attend. My Dad, being my Dad, comes back with a Hamberg. For those of you who do not know what a Hamberg is, suffice it to say that it is a black hat similar to the regular Borselino hats but taller…. and worn by certain Chassidim.
Well, my dad sets off to this Chasuna and he looks like the Real Deal.
(Oh, didn’t I mention that my father has a beard?
Yeah, he has a beard because:
1- It makes him look distinguished and
2- He wants to have hair on one side of his head.)

The entire night he wondered why everyone talked to him in Yiddish and called him ‘Reb this’ and ‘Reb that’. It was only after he got the most mechubadik mitzvah tanse that my Mom explained to him what kind of a hat he had bought.
The next morning my Dad returned the Hamberg and came home with a new hat…. a white straw one.

So, when I saw my friend’s father wearing an amazing Yalmulke, I knew that my dad would just love it. It was a like a pizza pie with each slice representing a different type of Yarmulke worn by different sects of Jews. One segment was velvet, the other was crotched, another one was suede etc...

I was so impressed with what that Yarmulke represented that I told my friend about my Dad and how he would appreciate the message more than anyone. The next thing I know, my friend called me round her house and told me that her father had only three of those Yarmulkes made but he wanted to send one to my Dad. She then presented me one of them and I in turn sent it on to my father in the US.

My Dad was overawed and immediately wrote to my friend’s father to thank him for this most special gift.
To my Dad it has always been about what is inside your soul that’s important and not what’s on your head.
Achdus is what it’s all about.

And that’s why when Moshiach will come tomorrow, you’ll see he is wearing my Dad’s Yarmulke.

Wednesday, September 13


My Dad.
My Dad is a born and bred New Yorker. He was a captain in the US army and is a Korean War veteran. The two things the army gave him are health benefits and the voice of Drill Sargeant. My Dad has the best stories about what it was like to be a frum Jew in the secular army. After he was honourably discharged, he married my Mom and before retired, he worked as an engineer and architect.

Everything in my Dads world requires plans.
Even the plans need plans.
If you want to get from point A to point B, you’re gonna need a map, a plan for how to get there. If you want to build something or fix something you’re gonna need a plan for that as well.
This means in my parent’s home not much ever gets done.

I would say my Dad’s hobbies are woodworking, painting, photography, talking about me and hoarding.
My Dad believes that his home is his castle and all he owns are his subjects.
I guess he figures that he’d be less a king with less of an empire if he would throw anything away- so he just doesn’t. He also thinks that anything that’s sitting around could be used for alternate purposes. (Ie. A broken toaster can be used to cut Lucite) My mother, being his Ezer Kenegdo, tries to throw most of his stuff away when he’s not home, only to find him later, rummaging around in the garbage for his precious goods.

My Dad loves Costco.
Costco was made for him. Not only does he buy everything in bulk, each item he purchases looks like it was created for the Land of the Giants.
Yes, it is cheaper to buy ten lb cans of tuna, but once you open a can you have to finish the entire ten pounds in three days to avoid salmonella. Not that my Dad believes in all that at all. He thinks that if food turns green, you can just scrape it off and eat what’s left.
Waste not, want not.

My father is also the creator of the innovative ‘Papa Kasamba Anti Theft Program’ which is a scheme involving theft deterrent. His patented method involves leaving a vehicle, in his case a car, in the driveway, thereby screaming out to the would-be-burglar, ‘caution, do not enter; this house is occupied’! The sheer genius of this method means that he can leave all the windows and doors of his home open 24/7 without fear. And the best part about it is that the vehicle in question does not even need to work!
It just needs to BE THERE.

Lately, because my father feels the world has become a more dangerous place to live he has added a new component to his antitheft scheme. This involves closing all the lights in front of the house plunging it into a satanic darkness and rendering the steps out in front a veritable obstacle course. The icing on the top of this cake is the garden hose that is placed like a snake strategically on the aforementioned darkened front steps. Any intruder that dares to enter my Dads home has great odds of tripping and breaking his neck, cuz if the stairs don’t get him, the hose surely will.
Unfortunately this also includes family and friends who decide to visit Chez Kasamba Papa after nightfall.

My Dad has always been inordinately and disproportionately delighted with me and everything I do. He has always encouraged me and made me believe that I was capable of anything. Whenever I would do a project for school he would notice whatever I did well and that compliment would stay with me always. I always loved my reflection as seen through my father’s eyes and have always strived to be as wonderful as my father thinks I am.

As a child I always imagined that my father was some sort of superhero and was secretly working for the CIA or the FBI on top secret projects. In my mind he has always been supremely capable and wise above all others.
Now that I’m much older I realise that he couldn’t have worked as hard as he did, spend so much time with me and have had time to save the world afterwards.
Besides, if my Dad would have set his mind to saving the world, the plans would surely have been ready by now.

Sunday, September 10

TRAVELLING with the Yanks

When it comes to air travel, the only thing I share with my fellow Americans is my passport.
I do not share their attitude and I certainly do not share their dress sense.

But before any of you get all bent out of shape, I not referring to YOU, my brothers and sisters of the chosen tribe, I am referring instead to the run of the mill, shop at sears, Budweiser guzzling, toolbox in the trunk, WASP American.
And that’s just the women.

Anyhoo, let’s start with the menfolk.
The average American guy who travels during the summer months looks completely out of proportion. He wears baggy shorts until his knees and his belt is secured around his hips just to accommodate his protruding gut, so he ends up looking like, ‘Torso Man’.
If aliens (interplanetary, not Mexicans- they’re here already) would land on our planet and take a gander at these guys, they would assume it was their physiology. But then, they’d look at the women and be confounded completely.

The average American woman travelling in the summer months, also wears shorts however hers are cinched in at the waist, begging the question ‘is she pregnant?’
9 times out of 10, when the woman in question is either 8 or 80 the question itself becomes moot.

What does matter, though, is that these people look strange in their shorts with their white socks (or worse- no socks) and they are just screaming for someone to photograph them for the ‘what not to wear’ section of a fashion rag.

You’re going to have to trust me on this guys, I really did a lot of research.

Then there is their attitude to air travel.
Once the average Joe or Jo-Ann gets their boarding pass with their seat number on it, the seat is officially THEIRS. They OWN that seat. When the flight ends, they would actually rip it out of the floor and shlep it with them if they could.

The reason why this is so bizarre is because in their everyday non-travelling lives , these people are NICE people!

They bake cakes for their church cake sales, they lobby congress to give equal rights to Schnauzers, and they sew wheelchairs slipcovers for the handicapped.
And that’s just the men.

But all that changes when they step on a plane.
It’s almost as if the cabin pressure goes straight to their heads.

Suddenly they become possessive. It is their seat and their overhead locker space and heaven forbid if you request them to shift or move.

*They don’t care if you are separated from your four year old.
*They don’t care if your kid needs to use the facilities every five minutes.
*They don’t care if you have had two replacement knee surgeries due to gangster related gunshot wounds which are turning sceptic and therefore need an aisle seat.
They ain’t movin’.

As far as their attitude to travelling with kids, it’s very simple:
The very same people who would ordinarily rip out their own kidneys with their bare hands and give it to you should you need it (Chas Vesholom) would sooner have your guts for garters if they hear one tiny ‘peep’ from your kids on an airplane.

Then there is the armrest issue.
Armrest is appropriately named because it is etymologically derived from the words; arm and wrest. This is because arm-wresting is what you end up doing whenever you travel economy or cargo class with the rest of the sardines in the back of the plane. If your seatmate is a guy with sweaty arms and arm hair like an afghan you will relinquish control of the armrest, albeit grudgingly. Unfortunately, that seems never to be enough for these guys and they slowly try to spread and spread with each breath (cue theme tune to Jaws; ta dum, ta dum, ta dum dum dum ) until they are halfway in your seat as well.

I have a tried and true method in dealing with this.
I look backwards at my experience as a Monsey Jew and think,” “Travelling, Monsey….. Monsey Bus!!!” That’s right- I recall my experiences on the infamous Monsey Bus and I erect a Mechitza!
I take the in-flight magazine and I put it upright by my armrest and push on it until the evil invading arm recedes with its thumb between its fingers.

If that doesn’t work, I resort to plan ‘B’: Sharp objects.

My dear, fabulous, lovely Americans- hear me loud and hear me clear:
You want your seat, that's fine.
You’re just not getting’ mine too.

Tuesday, September 5

The Empire Strikes Back

My husband and I sat down one fine day
To tell our son we had something to say
We braced ourselves and as gently as we could
Explained his summer plans until he understood
We could see he got the gist when his eyes turned damp
“Oh, so you are abandoning me to sleep away camp?”
We thought we had clarified it well enough- when
He asked us, “Why can’t I go to day camp- again?”

And so the summer came quicker than we thought
It was time to see the fruits of the battle we fought
“I’m going to HATE it” he said as we dropped him off
“Oh, come on- give it a chance!” I answered with a scoff
And so I left my son in camp with a long backwards wave
My stomach dropped with the sorrowful look that he gave
Actually I really thought he’d be fine as soon as I left
I tried as hard as I could not to think of him bereft

But then the phone calls started the very next morn
With every word he said my soul felt absolutely torn
“I HATE IT HERE!” my son said in utmost haste
“What a stupid camp, so expensive- what a waste!”
To which I responded, “You didn’t even give it a whole day!”
“What’s the use”, he said, “tomorrow I’ll feel the same way!”
And so he did, everyday pleading to come back home
He had a long list of complaints on that he’d moan:

The food was so bad -my son said with a flourish
All junk food- so he was becoming malnourished
The portions of this bad food were so big and large
That he said he was now roughly the size of a barge
There’s no security so my son’s scared for his very life
Anyone can come into the bunkhouse with an axe or a knife
They do the laundry so bad that everything shrinks
And they don’t use detergent so everything stinks
The sports are so dangerous- balls flying everywhere
But his counsellor hates him, he doesn’t even care
The learning groups were boring my son to tears
What was one hour of learning to him felt like years
The worst was how they kept him up late every night
Now he has black under his eyes-it just wasn’t right!

Every single day when I would hang up the phone
I’d picture my poor baby abandoned and all alone
I felt horribly guilty and wretched like no other
And felt I must be the worlds worst mother
I sent him packages and everyday would hope
Would he finally enjoy being at camp? ...nope
Because the phone calls- they kept on coming
Reminding me of how my son was slumming
With all his talk about days left ‘til liberation day’
I felt like I had sent him to Guantanamo Bay
I walked around everyday feeling like dreck
I couldn’t even smile because I was such a wreck

Then camp visiting day had finally arrived
And we were to visit the son we had deprived
We arrived at visiting day- my Hubby and I
And then our beloved son I tried hard to spy
But as hard as we tried neither of us just could find
A fat tired kid with shrunken clothes or his kind
Instead I saw my boy- healthy, tan, well rested and lean
And his clothes looked like they fit and they were clean!
I tried to take this all in but it took me a while
When I recalled what he had told- to reconcile

But the most puzzling was what his counsellor said
And this is the bit that really messed up my head
He said, “I’m telling you Mrs. Kasamba, this is all true
He’s smiling and happy when he gets off the phone with you!
I don’t know exactly what your son told you last
But your son is having AN ABSOLUTE BLAST!”
And then I saw him laughing with his new friends- my son
The boy who made me feel like dirt- was HAVING FUN!!!

I could not believe I could have been THAT wrong
I may be blonde but I’m not dumb- at least not for long
In this crazy world there are just so many fools
I didn’t want to one of them so I changed the rules
Now that I had this new information- this new fact
I decided to try a different more challenging tact
So for the second part of camp when I answered his call
I only said, “Miss you, love you, no time to talk at all!”

Soon it was over- my son had stuck it out!
He said he wouldn’t return he had no doubt
But I didn’t start to beg nor did I start to plead
Instead I turned to him and wholeheartedly agreed
No”, I said, “that camp you went to is no good”
And he looked at me in shock- as I knew he would
Don’t worry!” I elucidated, “That camp is history!”
(By now he looked as thrilled as thrilled could be)
“I found all your complaints so utterly reprehensible
So I found you a camp that is much more sensible!

It’s called Camp Shrecklach and it offers so much
It exactly suited for you with just the right touch
Since your stomach is sensitive- junk food makes you sick
There they only serve whole grain foods – all organic!
And where your other camps security was so very dire
This camp is surrounded by armed guards and barbed wire
There about the laundry you don’t have to quiver
There you do your own laundry down by the river!
In this camp there are no dangerous sports- nothing taxing
Instead they have therapy groups which are far more relaxing!
Your counsellor won’t hate you- they’re trained in Pai-Wan
This is a form of brotherly bonding created in Taiwan
But the best part is the learning, it’s not boring in any way
In fact Uncle Moishe sings the lessons for four hours a day!
And since to go to sleep every night you can’t wait
Don’t worry- at Camp Shrecklach its lights out at eight!
For this perfect camp I had to search high and low
You’ll be so happy at this new camp- I just know!”

Well by now all the colour had drained from his face
Actually” he said “my camp wasn’t such a bad place…”
He then told me the camps good points and explained
That he didn’t really mean it when he had complained!
“Are you sure?” I asked him “Because you were so sad”
He answered “No I promise Ma, it wasn’t even so bad!”

That whole sorry long saga happened only last year
This summer he shipped off to camp with nary a tear
So to all mothers and fathers out there I say ‘stay strong!’
Your kids will put you through hoops to prove you wrong
Always remember there is absolutely nothing to discuss
It has always been and will always be ‘them against us’

But just let me leave you readers with the final score
My son might have won the battle- but I won the war!

Saturday, September 2

Summer of Katie

Oh boy did I miss all you Maidlach and Menschen these past few weeks!
Thank you for all your comments and e-mails!

Well now that summer is but all but a distant memory with sunburns all healed and the kids camp laundry fumigated, as we speak my parents are recovering from our five week descent onto parental terra firma. My mother always says that I make her happy twice: once when I come and once when I go. She enjoys us but as she is also wont to say, “Chocolate cake is great eaten slice by slice, but you don’t want the whole darn thing rammed down your throat at once.” Thanks Mom.

It’s a shame really, because I really would like to have stayed for the party she threw when we left.

But if you ask me about my summer there is just one image in my head and it belongs to the cutest most magnificent baby on earth, my new niece Katie, my baby brother’s first baby.

There is something very special about having a new baby from my side of family, where I can recognise family traits and characteristics. (And I have heard it said that we have very strong DNA) When I saw her for the first time I just about fell in love! At six and a half pounds her perfectly round head had not a squash mark to be seen, suffice it to say that wholesome roundness didn’t come free: ahem, ouch.

And Baby Katie even has cheekies!!!!! She has my brother’s big blue eyes and my gorgeous sister in laws full pouty lips and when she’s wrapped in a receiving blanket she looks like the most adorable, delicious burrito in the world. Yum.

She is just so perfect Beli Ayin Hara that I just want to wrap her in red string and spit all over her.

I think the scene that gave me the biggest lump in my throat and clumps in my mascara was seeing my brother, who is six foot and built like a lumberjack (he pumps iron) cuddle his new dainty, petite. feminine daughter. He’s already changed her diapers and I think it’s a hoot that this tiny pink bundle has her strapping daddy wrapped around her itty bitty finger. (You go girl!)

I was so thrilled to have been there for this birth story.
My brother and his fabulous wife came for Shabbos to my parents house in Monsey where I was staying with three of my kids- two having gone to sleep away camp and hubby languishing in London (he joined us the next week). Anyhoo, we spent the entire Shabbos examining my sister in law’s bump. She carried like a movie star with who swallowed a beach ball where her washboard stomach had been. We stared and stared at her very high bump and were convinced that her doctor was correct in saying that she’d probably go another two to three weeks. My youngest kiddies, Tomato and Cucumber used this time to bond with their future cousin by shouting at the unborn baby to make sure it heard them. They found the whole baby incubating thing just fascinating.

They were even more fascinated to learn that my sister in law’s waters broke on Motzai Shabbos and that my brother had to drive her to the hospital STAT. Putting them in the car to the hospital was like the farewell scene from the Love Boat sans all the confetti. We all spent the entire Sunday on shplikes waiting for the good news which came in at seven in the evening. In the meantime, every time the phone rang both of my nachases told everyone (my uncle, the Shul Gabbai, the insurance salesman) about their aunt’s waters breaking and her trip to the hospital.

The new parents named her Chaya and they called her Katie Faye.
(I was quite partial to the name ‘Conseula’ but for some odd reason, no one asked me. Go figure.)

I looooove the name Katie.
Katie was the name of my best friend when I was a little girl. My friend Katie was a year older than I was and she always made me feel special because she would only talk to her family…. and me. So if Katie’s teacher would want to know something urgently they would pull me out of class so she could whisper in my ear and I could say what she wanted. I thought it was a great arrangement. I never thought it was weird, until much later.
I really liked Katie.

Now about the Faye part; did I ever mention that my brother and sister in law live in Dayton, Ohio? Wha? I know, I know. If my brother oversleeps, there’s no minyin. Now I’ve never had the good fortune of going to Dayton but my guess is they called her Katie Faye to stop people calling her ‘Katie-Jo’ or ‘Katie- Bob’.
But I could be wrong.

I am absolutely doo-laaly over my new niecy-pie and I couldn’t love her more than if I gave birth to her myself. (And I’m quite happy I didn’t have to!)
Hey! This must be what having grandkids feels like!!!!!
OOOHHH I can’t wait!
But I’ll just have to until my kids outgrow their teens.
Oh well.
But it doesn’t matter because I’m just obsessed with my new marvellous, magnificent, miracle of a niece; the one, the only- KATIE.

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