Monday, December 28, 2009

Sometimes, Food Really Is the Same as Love

My great-great Grandmother Schneider emigrated from Germany to America
over one hundred years ago.

Like all immigrants, she didn't carry much with her
but the clothes on her back
and the information in her head.

In the Schneider family, winter meant sugar cookies.
The recipe traveled from Germany with my great-great Grandmother.

Family legend holds that my great-Grandmother discovered
that the children ate more of these sugar cookies when she frosted and decorated them.
(And being German, we very much want the children to EAT.)

My Nana learned that children will help bake and decorate the cookies
if doing so was a condition for getting to eat them
(Or, famously, "If you don't help, you don't eat.")

My father learned that if one disregards the called-for amount of vanilla
and instead just pours in a whole darn bottle,
the cookies are much richer and tastier.

I learned that if one replaces the called-for margarine with
(probably the originally called-for) real butter, the result is richer and tastier still.

In 2009, are these cookies different from the day they made the trip over from Germany?

Are they that much more delicious?
For all their changes and embellishments,
these are, more than ever,
the Schneider family cookies.

Very much different from the original
for the frosting, vanilla, and real butter, yes,
but they are ten times that rich
for the generations of love and care that was poured into making them.

Personally, I can't imagine any way to make these cookies any more delectable.

But I'll guarantee you that my boys will -
and this is only the beginning.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sometimes You Just Need a Little Recharge

Rami is our snuggler.

He plays along with the best of them -
rough-and-tumbling his way all through the house
right along with his big brother -
but every few minutes,
he'll head over to Abba or Ima
and lay his head on a shoulder
for a little recharge of love.
Tired boy

There's no particular reason that,
at that moment,
he's in need of a snuggle.
But it fixes him right up
and off he goes again
to make some more mischief.
(That is, until the next recharge.)

Even though it doesn't happen as often as every few minutes for grownups,
I think we are all in need of a recharge sometimes.
Winter break has been a chance for me to spend more quality time with the boys.
I've also been suffering through an acute bout of writer's block.
(And photographer's...something-or-other.)

But we've still been taking photos
and making magic.

So stay tuned for stories from all our December adventures...
as soon as we're all finished recharging.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Baby Shoes

On Friday,

after a beautiful morning
of rough-and-tumble playing with Rami,
I noticed that
his shoes have holes in the toes.
We need some new shoes.

These shoes do not belong to him alone,
they first belonged to his brother.

We first put them on each of the boys
in order to ensure that their socks stayed on.
As my grandmother, Gram, cradled a two-month-old Asher,
she taught me,
"If you keep their feet warm, honey,
that'll go a long way."
(That is the wisest piece of parenting advice I've ever received.)

So on the shoes went, keeping two sets of toes (my absolute favorite baby part, hands down) toasty warm.
Later, their tops were mercilessly dragged along the ground
by not one, but two, expert crawlers.
The soles were the next to be worn out by two sets of first steps,
not much farther than a year apart.

And now, as Rami becomes an expert walker,
gaining speed daily,
learning to stop, pivot, restart,
relying less and less on couches, tables, and our legs to anchor him,
these soft-soled baby shoes have walked their last steps.

I can't really explain
why I've devoted an entire blog post to these well-worn scraps of leather.

It's just that...
They kept those precious toes warm and safe
for the better part of two years.
A daily part of the boys' babyhood has now left us.
And I didn't even see it coming.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Does Asher Have a Future in Coaching?

A recent walking training session with Rami:

Saturday, November 28, 2009

"Are You Hoping for a Girl?"

We have two beautiful, happy, delicious little boys.
So, when my belly started to swell
and the news of this new little one started to get around,
right after the "B'sha'ah Tovah!" often came inquiries like:

"Are you hoping for a girl?"
"Were you trying for a girl?"
"Don't you want just one baby girl?"

"It really doesn't matter," I'd reply, grinning.
I love my boys.
A girl would be wonderful, to be sure.
But my world would be complete if I had a dozen children
and all turned out to be boys.

Truthfully, at the heart of the matter, is this:
we have learned (fortunately and unfortunately) to consider every healthy pregnancy
a miracle from G-d.

So, there are a lot of things I hoped for this child.
I hoped for health.
I hoped for contentment.
I hoped for loving family and friends.
I hoped for a peaceful life.
But never once - not once - did I honestly hope for a specific gender.

(But! This does not preclude my obsession with ultrasounds,
and catching a glimpse of babies-on-the-way as much as possible.
Or my desire to know every little detail about baby.)

Yesterday, my parents, Auntie Amanda and Uncle Steve, and Gram
volunteered to take the boys out for a day of fun
so that David and I could spend some time together.

My thoughtful and generous husband booked us a mini 3-D scan.
As we watched a tiny heart pumping, legs flexing, fingers grasping,
we marveled.

As we looked at this new little one's tiny face,
every hope we've had for each of our children
was fervently renewed.

So, as things progress (G-d willing,)
we'll continue to marvel and to give thanks,
to hope and to pray
for health, contentment, love and peace,
for this baby,
this daughter,
this sister,
this girl.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.

~George Herbert

Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday around here.
It is a day in which our hearts,
are given a chance to rest,
enjoy the full company of those we most love,
and reflect on a full year
of such abundant pleasures and happinesses
that we almost cannot believe it.

This year we spent our day being especially thankful for:

Family gathered together from near and far

to celebrate with food in abundance.

Two beautiful, healthy, thriving boys,

and a miracle that is at once so small and so great
that my heart skips a beat every time I consider my gratitude
for it in particular:
someone new
who, G-d willing, we're expecting to meet (in person) in April.

This year, we're not only giving thanks for the miracles in our lives,
but for our ability and our propensity
to lift up our hearts in thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

One Year Old


Dear Rami,
Today you are one year old.

A year ago today, you arrived into this world as a person in your own rite.
My arms were the first to hold you. Abba's face was the first you saw.
Your eyes were wide as you took in the outside world
that held the echo of familiarity but was still wholly alien.

After we snuggled for a moment, you were taken away for silly things
like weighing, measuring, checking-over.
You protested, screaming and kicking, outraged to be removed from my arms,
and loudly discontent until you returned there.
(I really appreciated that.)

Within a few days of knowing you in person,
We were referring to you as an intense child.
When you were happy, you were very happy.
When you were upset, you were very upset.
That is still true.
Most of the time, the whole world is your delight.
New foods and tastes,
The simplest toy,
The briefest game of hide-and-seek or tickle-attack,
And your gigantic, gorgeous, infectious belly laugh fills the room.
(And when you are angry, there is no mistaking it.)

As easily as you are pleased by just about everything,
there is nothing – NOTHING – you love more than your family.

Your earliest and strongest attachment was to me – Ima.
Nothing brought you more happiness than snuggling up close,
sleeping away those cold first winter months of your life on my chest.
Even now, just a glance from me can cause the most beautiful,
rapturous smile to spread across your face.

As you grew a bit more aware, you realized that Abba,
whose features your face mirrors so closely,
is the best entertainer, and prepares the best dinners of all.
(He is also a sucker for prolonged cuddling, of which you are particularly fond.)

But neither of these compares to your complete and total adoration of Asher.
Your big brother can do no wrong.
Even when he is pushing you to the ground or stealing your dinner,
You are infatuated with him.
You long to play with his toys alongside him,
to walk like him, talk like him, eat like him.
In the last month, you two have become playmates, copying one another, and creating
the most beautiful sounds of little-boy conversational laughter
that so happily fill our whole house.
When he congratulates you, “Good walking, Rami!”
your face lights up as though you had just been awarded the Nobel Prize.

I often call you “my heart.”
Because of you Asher has a brother.
Because of you I understand the joy of having a child that so resembles my beloved.
Because of you I have experienced the ability to love one child
just as fiercely as, yet totally differently fromanother.
Because of you I came back to life.
Because of you I believe in miracles.

Happy first birthday, my sweet boy.
I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store.

Love, Ima

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pumpkin Challah


1/2 c water, 3/4 c pumpkin puree, 3 lg eggs, 3 tbsp light brown sugar, 3 tbsp canola oil, 4 2/3 c flour, 2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tbsp bread machine yeast.
Pumpkin Challah 2

Bread machine dough cycle (See? I'm not superwoman.)
Pumpkin Challah 2



Pumpkin Challah 4

(You're welcome.)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Failed Chanukah Cards*

there is no worse thing
I could ask of the boys
in the entire universe
than to sit together,
hug one another,
and smile.

Kopans Chanukah 09 joke 2 copy
Kopans Chanukah 09 joke 1

*No, this isn't our "real" Chanukah card - I'll post that one next month. But these *are* the cards that will go in the boys' keepsake boxes, for sure.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Survival Mode

David was sick all weekend.
By Saturday night, after a full day of taking care of the boys all by myself,
I hit that familiar parenting zone:

Survival Mode.

Here is an example of "survival mode" in the Kopans household:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Last Zoo Trip of 2009

Of all things that are totally, 100% worth the cash,
I'd say that, hands-down, a zoo membership is in the top ten.

I've lost count of how many weekend days we've spent at the Columbus Zoo,
of how many sweet memories we've gathered from our time there.

The weather on this early November day

was gorgeous.

A balmy 68 degrees and sunny.

I got The Message.

Get those boys to the zoo now!

(Because next weekend it will probably be freezing. Until April.)

Since Auntie Al was up for the challenge,
she drove up for lunch
and our last big Zoo trip of 2009.

Luckily "fun Auntie Al" has no problem paying 51 cents for yet another souvenir penny
(already long lost, I might add.)

We saw ALL the monkeys at the zoo
Which allowed for some close encounters
(that left Asher terrified and Rami nonplussed)

and some helpful reminders
(for me and for the boys, respectively.)

But, after visiting monkeys, kangaroos, okapi, and even hearing a lion roar,
the best part of being at the zoo was, well,
being at the zoo.

Rami tested his walking skills
(yeah, yeah, I'm posting a video soon)
with the help of his brother

and on his own.

We got lucky and saw our friends Tovah and Avital
and Asher shared his raisins.

Asher entertained Rami with some surprisingly realistic lion roars.


All in all, a really good day.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New Diet

Rami's on a SeeFood diet:


He eats food,

and you see it.

(gross, huh? It's a good thing he's so delicious himself.)

Monday, November 2, 2009

"Daylight Savings Time"

Daylight Savings Time -
is it
an unfortunate oxymoron?
or a cruel joke on parents of young children?

Let me explain this line of questioning
(which is dripping with annoyed sarcasm, in case you couldn't tell:)

This past Sunday morning
happened to be that blessed morning when, once a year,
all of our clocks "fell back,"
bestowing upon the bedraggled legions of working Americans
one. priceless. extra. HOUR. of sleep.

I was allowed to enjoy about 2 minutes of that hour.

I was awoken at 4:30
to some particularly exuberant
boy-noises floating down the hall.

"Rami, Rami!" Asher cried.

"Eeeeeeeeeeahhhhhhhhhuuu!" Rami gleefully responded.

The sound of one small body bouncing on mattress springs, echoed by that of another.

My head pounded.
I tossed and turned, buried my head under the covers.
Why 4:30? I wondered. What did I do to deserve this?

In a split second, realization came crashing down.
Our clocks had been set back,
but our boys' brains hadn't.
They thought it was 5:30 - their normal wakeup time.

And, finally,
because Rami's pajamas struck me
as unfortunately appropriate,

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Things Kids Universally Love #63

Whether it's a rocket ship or hot air balloon,
tugboat or dumptruck,
fighter jet or submarine,
beauty shop chair or bathtub,
decked-out castle,
or deep, dark, scary cave,
2009 or 1985,

Moving Boxes.

(So, why do we buy them all those other junky toys?)


Thursday, October 22, 2009

On Daddies and Abbas

A while ago, after collecting the boys from school,

Asher demanded, "Go see Daddy!"

(Now, we have never been "Mommy" and "Daddy" to the boys -
our names are "Ima" and "Abba" around here.)

So, I bent down and asked him,
"Asher, what is your Daddy's name?"

With earnest, he looked into my eyes and replied, "David."

Surprised by that common parental feeling of combined shock, amusement, and pride,
I attempted to hold in my laughter and tried again.
"Asher, what do we call the daddy in our family?"

I saw a small spark of recognition flicker across his eyes. Smiling proudly, Asher exclaimed, "David KOPANS!"
Fast forward to 3:00 this morning.
A small boy cried out for rescue
from the throes of a nightmare,

He was retrieved from the dark scariness
and deposited in the big bed.
As he snuggled next to me,
I whispered,
"Asher, what's your daddy's name?"

He snuggled back and sleepily replied,

Probably that's why I let him sleep like this for the rest of the night,
leaving me about 6 inches of mattress and a horrible backache.

It's a good thing he's worth it.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sukkot, or "That Holiday with the Huts" (5770)

Sukkot is one of those holidays that, at face value, it doesn't make much sense for Jews to have.

For a week every autumn,
we are commanded to build and "dwell in" temporary structures called sukkot.
(Lev. 23:42-43)

Which probably made lots of sense for a bunch of Israelites who had been building pyramids their whole lives.
A little hut? No sweat.
For us? Let's just say it's a bit more of a challenge.

But the Ancient Israelites also didn't have power drills, staple guns, folding tables, or LED twinkle lights.
So it pretty much evens out, I'd say.

Happily, our family sukkah is both fab and pre-fab (by Sabba.) We just drag it out, put up the cornstalk roof, decorate, sit, and eat. Mmmm.

Challah from the Source

Gorgeous Cholent (if I do say so myself)

Post-lunch Adventure (read: hole digging) with Rivky

A Quick Photo Shoot for Posterity
A good smile

And, just like last year, an exhausted Asher crashed at 5:30 PM.

Chag Sukkot Sameach - Happy Sukkot!

*Also, just so you know, the High Holidays (AKA the most insane time of my year) are now coming to an end. You should be hearing from us much more regularly from this point.

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