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What’s For Dinner?

z4By Phyllis J. Lubin

“What’s for lunch, Mom?” is Yosef’s favorite question. Well, actually he enjoys asking about every meal of the day. As soon as one meal is served—or even before it’s served—he needs to know what will be served next. Sunday of last week was Mother’s Day, so the meal needed to be delicious.

I woke up early that morning to a wonderful surprise: Lea had cut up my morning strawberries, topped them with a dollop of whipped cream (well, maybe more than a dollop), arranged them in a heart-shaped bowl, and had them waiting for me bright and early. What a wonderful way to start the day!


I AM HAPPY WHEN MOM gives me hugs.

I AM PROUD OF MOM WHEN SHE is a lifeguard.

MOM LOOKS THE BEST WHEN she is herself every day.

MOM SMELLS GOOD WHEN she makes Shabbos dinner.




I LOVE IT WHEN MOM makes sand.

So read the Mother’s Day card Yussie brought home from Kulanu. Obviously it was a fill-in, and it gave me pause. We all love hugs, and we all appreciate when we can be genuine and be ourselves for each other every day. We all need to laugh a lot and we should all probably read a bit more. Yussie tells it like it is, but his favorite thing I do is watch TV? I’d better improve his impression.

I guess he enjoys TV and finds it fun to watch game shows with me. We both enjoy Family Feud and rooting for both families to get the right answers. But I should branch out to get him to answer the question in a different way. So, after our guests left the house, Yussie and I played a round of baseball. I pitched, and Yussie hit and ran the bases. I need the answer to that question changed to be: My favorite think Mom does is play baseball!

And when do I make sand? I asked Yuss what that answer meant. “Did you mean that you like it when I make sandwiches?”


“But Yuss, I can’t make sand.”

“But I like the sand at the beach!”

“Ah—so you mean that you like it when I take you to the beach?”


I guess in his eyes when I take him to the beach I make the sand. In our children’s eyes, we can make almost anything!

We all need to be happy like Yussie. We all need to enjoy life and not stress about the petty things that will get in the way of having fun. So when it came to planning my Mother’s Day family meal, I needed to remember that it should be fun while also trying to be a bit healthy.

We are all trying to eat more healthy food items lately. We have grown accustomed to reading nutritional information before even purchasing an item. If an item has too much fat or way too many carbs, it is just not worth bringing it into the house. I used to be obsessed with the calories in an item. The newest Weight Watchers program has taught me (and their myriad of patrons) that the calories are almost irrelevant—the combination of fat, fiber, and carbs is what goes into the “points plus” of a product.

I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers. What that means is I reached my goal weight at one point in time, and kept it off for six weeks thereafter. I first joined WW when my eldest son was a year old, just about 25 years ago. At that time, the system was different. Calories counted, but we were told to eat a certain amount of breads, vegetables, fruits, and proteins. We were more restricted in what we ate, and at the time it worked for me. The weight practically melted off then, and within six months I became a lifetime member.

Time flies, and over the past 25 years, 6 children, and various ups and downs, I am, sadly, back to square one. But I’m back on track, and with the iPhone, it is an easier task than ever before. A record of just about everything I eat gets input into my handy WW app, and it’s not a mystery how many points I’ve eaten throughout the day. Of course, Shabbos and yom tov are always more challenging, since my tracking has to be done in advance or posted from memory afterward. That tracking is more haphazard, since I often find myself having food amnesia.

Over Pesach, the WW app remained idle. Spending the holiday away from home, I had a lot of food amnesia: How many points should I count the five pieces of sponge cake for? How many points were my myriad nibbles of matzah while waiting for our food to be served? Just how much zero-point fruit is allowed on the program for it to work? Yet with the fact that I was a WW member embedded in my psyche, I somehow came out of the week’s worth of inaccurate food eating pretty much unscathed.

Weight Watchers has taught me that watching what I eat will be a lifetime commitment that will always be a game of “is it worth it?” How many points am I willing to use on a specific item? Will I reach a winning outcome from the choices I make? Food choices are much like all our choices in life. Which life choice will lead me down the correct path? Sometimes we are offered temptations that make our minds sway off the right path, but sometimes those temptations are mere detours that don’t inhibit our ultimate goals in life.

Another portion of Yussie’s Mother’s Day card said the following:

“You are: Magnificent / Yummy chef / Makes me laugh / Octopus / Mouth”

I understood it all until the final two. I am an “octopus”? I guess sometimes I am, as all moms are. We have arms reaching out in all too many directions. As moms, we have at least eight arms and probably more when it comes to making sure our parents, in-laws, and children are all safe and secure. No matter what stage of life we find ourselves at, as mothers we never stop caring and worrying.

Every day should be Mother’s Day—this is true. But it’s good to have a day to remember just how important our mothers are. My mom is my rock. She has worried about me since the day I was born, and I have grown up knowing that both my brother and I are always in her prayers (as is she in ours).

I remember that when we were first married and decided to live in Brooklyn, my mom worried that we would be too far away. Somehow she made sure to make the trek a few times a week to visit me “on her way home” from work. Please keep in mind that she worked in Queens, and although I’m not a geographic genius, even I know that Brooklyn is not on the way home from Queens to Woodmere (yes, I grew up in the Five Towns).

My mom has been there for all of us through thick and thin. She has given me life lessons on mothering throughout my life and has given me skills that I could not have learned in any textbook. It was so nice to spend Mother’s Day with my mom and dad, husband, and almost all of my children.

Rochel was still hard at work at SUNY. I had a special delivery just before Mother’s Day—I arrived home on Wednesday to a big oblong box sitting on the front porch. I thought it might be a flower delivery, but I couldn’t be sure. I love good surprises—and this surely was a good one. Inside the box was a fig tree! My children know that it is one of my dreams to have a fig tree in my yard. They have witnessed the fig-tree failures in past years, but know that it still remains on my wish list. Rochel had remembered me this Mother’s Day and had the forethought to have this tree delivered to the house.

• • •

In the end, we opted to serve mini-bagels. Along with salad, cauliflower, tuna, two types of egg-white salads, fruit, and the requisite baked ziti, we had enough foodstuff to go around. We have determined that there can be over 100 carbs in a typical New York bagel, versus half of that in the mini. I still had to expend most of my day’s points on my mini bagel lox and cream cheese—along with Naftali and Nina’s homemade cheesecake—but it was surely worth it.

The day was complete with a walk on the boardwalk with Leib and my eldest daughter. We are committing ourselves to doing at least three days of some sort of movement a week.

As soon as Pesach ended, Yussie announced, “Shavuos is the next holiday?” Oy, yes, Yussie, Shavuos is upon us, and with it comes fat-laden cheesecake, blintzes, etc. But I can’t think about that right now, Yuss—I have to decide what’s for dinner! v

Phyllis Joy Lubin is an attorney with Maidenbaum & Sternberg, LLP, who resides in Cedarhurst with her husband, Leonard. They have six children—Naftali, Shoshana, Rivka, Rochel, Yosef, and Lea—and a daughter-in-law, Nina. The author welcomes your questions and comments at

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Posted by on May 22, 2014. Filed under In This Week's Edition. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.