Wednesday, March 30, 2011

When Mommy is sick...

I picked a good week to get sick...NOT. With pessach cleaning and flying solo, my sore throat, eye infection and congested nose could have found a better time. But the truth is, there is never a good time to be sick.
I don't even realize how lucky I am to be functioning normally, until suddenly I don't. It throws off my schedule, my ability to be patient and any interest in cleaning up the mess my kids make at an alarming speed. Somehow, though, the show must go on. My kids are being fed clothed and sent off to school. I am making meals, doing errands and the never-ending laundry. AND I am making my way through the kid's room. Throwing out art projects (don't tell them) and stray pieces of toys. Then I clean and organize what is left. How's that for superwoman? Well, not really, considering that I have been napping while Meir sleeps in the morning so I have energy for the rest of the day...and my pessach activities.
My friend and I often joke how men retreat to bed when they are sick but women usually do not get a day off. I am not really that ill so definitely no need to crawl into bed for a whole day although the thought sounds nice....But I am also not feeling quite like myself, so I am trying to be kind to myself and not to expect too much. Hence the  short nap in the morning and the hour and a half of Caillou and Sesame street my kids watched this afternoon :) And I am meeting my friend for dinner tonight, and best of all we are going to a dairy place...I am never too sick for chocolate.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Solo Parenting

This week I am holding down the fort on my own again. My husband is in Israel for work until Friday.  This has become a yearly trip that I am used to already and know to expect. But being alone always evokes all kinds of feelings for me, not all of them positive. I have posted about them in the past.It's not that I feel like I cannot take care of the kids on my own, because I do so for most of the week anyway. I do appreciate my husband's help when he is around but I don't rely on it, so being a one-woman show doesn't usually throw me that much (unless there are 2 feet of snow on the ground but that is a different story!) The difficulty is  mostly about feeling isolated and disconnected. Hanging out with my kids all day is fun and chaotic but it doesn't fulfill my need for interaction with adults. In general, I try to be extra kind to myself at these times- ordering take-out for dinner one night or taking a babysitter for a morning or an evening, so I can have some space, do errands or meet friends.Sunday is really the hardest day and now that I have successfully navigated today, I am hoping the rest of the week will be smooth as well. Being that G'd has a good sense of humor, though, I should not be too confident.A is finally going back to school tomorrow and I am planning on doing lots of cleaning this week. I am hoping to tackle the kids' bedroom/playroom and am a little frightened of what I may find...this is a room that needs some serious Pessach-work so I have a allotted myself a whole week to deal with it. I read an interesting (yet obvious) idea this week in Mishpacha magazine about common misconceptions about Pessach. The author wrote that many women feel that cleaning properly is impossible. They think it is overwhelming, that they cannot rise to the challenge and they will surely make mistakes. The author reminds us that G'd gave Pessach to human beings. He knows we are not perfect. We all try to do the best we can and even if we do mess up, there are competent rabbis who can help us rectify the situation. Something to think about when I find whole pieces of bagels and other goodies hidden amongst my children's toys.How is it going with your Pessach cleaning? Any inspiring thoughts?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Good Shabbos

Just a quick note to say good shabbos. Things have been busy around here recovering from Purim, starting my Pessach cleaning, celebrating my anniversary and having A home from school for the whole week.
She was off for Shushan Purim. Not sure why. Then Tuesday at 12 her teacher called to say that she has fever. She has had fever since then, having certain bursts of energy when she feels better and then other times when she collapses on the couch in a heap. I feel bad because she is unhappy to be home, bored at times and others she just feels miserable. I have been trying to stay patient and happy and be a nurturing Mommy but at times it gets hard. Today we finally went to the doctor. He told us it's a virus and she has pink-eye. Going to school for shabbos-party was out of the question so I compensated by having some girl-time with her. We went shopping for a yomtov dress and I took her to get her nails done. Now she is knocked out on the couch again as I am trying to get the last-minute things ready for shabbos. Not sure if blogging qualifies as shabbos for another time.
I am thinking about Israel of course, and the horrible bus bombing this week. I just read Chana Jenny Weisberg's blog that brings home how personal and real the threat is. Her daughter is on that exact bus every other Wednesday on the way home from school. This happened to be the Wednesday she stayed late at school. Others were not as lucky. Wishing everyone a wonderful and peaceful shabbos and may Hashem keep all our brothers and sisters safe.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Call vs Don't Call

This past Sunday, with all the Purim craziness going on, I still managed to read an interesting article in the NY Times whose headline caught my eye.In  Don't Call Me, I Won't Call You, the writer posits that telephones are slowly becoming obsolete.
While everyone has a cell phone, they are mostly used for texting and emails. Nowadays we make plans, catch up and communicate via facebook, twitter or email, but rarely over the phone. People interviewed in  the article claim that phones are obtrusive, a person calls and expects to be responded to right away, whether or not you are busy. Email, on the other hand, can be answered at your leisure.
I will definitely agree that often, a quick email can be a lot more efficient than playing phone tag with someone or finding a time that works for everyone. But that is only true for business issues or other areas that require lots of planning and hammering out details.
If you really want to have a relationship with someone, you need to speak. Ideally, face to face, but if not then definitely over the phone.
 Living far away from family, the phone is a great way to keep up with my them.  I speak to some of them on a weekly basis, while others sometimes forget to call for months on end ( know who you are), but the bottom line is that in order to maintain a relationship, you need to talk!
One of my closest friends lives an hour drive away. Sometimes it feels like she might as well be living in a different country because we never see each other. We do make a point of checking in with each other by phone almost daily, to have serious talks or just vent about our childrens' newest shenanigans. It's our way of connecting and sharing.
Most importantly, though, I use the phone to speak with my husband. When we first met, we lived in different countries, actually on different continents. We dated long distance and tried to see each other as often as possible, but the phone was really what kept our relationship going. This was in the pre-historic days before skype, when you actually still had to buy phone cards and punch in access codes. We spoke for hours on end, minimally for two hours every other day. We also set some records, like the night we spent over five hours speaking. Do not ask me, what we discussed for so long, but it was just one of the many conversations that brought us closer.
Now that we have been married for seven years (Happy Anniversary to us by the way) and live in the same house, communication is obviously a lot easier :) But I still like to speak on the phone at least once, because he is often out for a large part of the day and especially when he is traveling. A quick "Hello/ I am thinking about you/ how was your day so far?" What some psychologists like to call "mindfulness".
That is really what speaking to someone on the phone is about on some level. I am thinking about you and wondering how you are, so I pick up the phone to reach out and connect with you. And last I checked, genuine connection is not becoming obsolete, hopefully not for a long time.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Purim 5771

Some highlights of our day:
-Y looked great in his Chassid-costume. He also broke our Ipod-Speakers with his over-enthusiasm for the Maccabeats' Purim song
-A was a bride and got lots of compliments on her dress. The only issue was that she refused to be photographed. Not sure what that was about. Her best comment of the day came at 8pm when I was finally trying to get everyone to sleep. After a whole day of nosh, junk and candy, she asked "Mom, can I have dessert now?"
-M refused to wear a costume. So he went as himself...a very cute version of himself I might add. Ironically, one of our guests' children somehow got him to put on his Elmo-costume around 7 30 when they day was over...I did snap some pictures though. Cause we all know that if we did not take pictures and post them on facebook, the event did not really occur :)
Now I am just unwinding from a busy day and resting so I can be ready to get started on Pessach bright and early tomorrow morning!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Purim is coming

Whether I am ready or not, Purim is coming and it's coming soon! Thankfully, I feel pretty prepared. Most of my seuda has been cooked. I tried some new recipes which is always a risk when entertaining. I hope the food tastes as good as it smells and looks. I also spent a whole day making over 100 hamentashen because I doubled an already large recipe. It felt like the dough was never-ending.
All the ingredients for the rest of the food are in the house. Tomorrow I need to run some last minute errands, finish and label my mishloach manos and prepare for shabbos. The kids' costumes are hanging in the closet. I am sure I forgot something..
The only thing that has not gotten done is the pessach cleaning I had scheduled to start this week. I guess that was a little overambitious. To those who commented and asked for my spreadsheet- I realized after the fact that for Pessach, I dont have a spreadsheet, I actually have a whole notebook, containing recipes, shopping lists, cleaning lists, schedules from past years of how I structured my prep, lists of where my pessach boxes are and what is in them, etc. I am not sure if I will have time to type all of it up, but if I do, I will share it as a google document.
The kids are very excited about Purim. Y asks me every day if today is Purim yet. I went to his school on Wednesday to do a little presentation on Purim. We read a book, did some coloring and had Hamantashen.
A is super excited about going to school all dressed up tomorrow. Last week she did facepaint at school and then facepaint at a Purim event on Sunday (you can see it in the picture of the previous post) and absolutely LOVED it. I let her keep it on for one night so she could show her friends at school but then made her wash it off because I figured it is not great for her skin.
Aside from the physical prep for Purim, I would like to do some spiritual preparation as well. I listen to Rebbetzen Yemima Mizrachi every week. This weel she spoke about how Purim is a tremendous zman tfilla. It starts on Taanis Esther but also motzei shabbos and then on Purim itself, most importantly during the seuda. I would like to find some time to daven and focus on that part. I know that I will not FIND the time, I will have to MAKE the time if I want it to happen, set aside a specific time for myself. That is my goal along with remaining beSIMCHA even with all the business, stress, noise and mess. 
What are your plans- physical and spiritual for Purim?

Monday, March 14, 2011


I am finding it hard to post my general updates/complaints/stories in light of the events in Israel. This is by no means a political blog but I find myself thinking about the Fogels and their family many, many times a day.
I think about that sweet little baby, about the trauma and loss to the surviving children, that the family will be getting up from shiva right before Purim. What kind of Purim will it be for them I wonder.
I am also heartened by the outpouring of support and prayers. I have gotten so many emails and facebook invitations- to donate money, to do an extra mitzvah in the Fogel's merit, to add light to the darkness, like we Jews always do.
Because that is the truth. As a nation we are unbelievably strong and united and somehow we find a way to get up again and carry on. I wanted to share something I got in an email today. The author of this article was at the funeral on Sunday and was sharing his or her thoughts. I do not know who wrote this but am hoping he or she would want their words circulated widely.

I went to a funeral today.

I have been at many funerals before.

Some funerals for people who lived long lives.

Some for people that died too young from sickness.

Some even for soldiers that died serving their country.

All of these people I knew

The funeral I went to today was different.

Today I went to the funeral of people that I had never met or even heard of.

Today I went to a funeral that was really five funerals.

Today I went to a funeral of an infant, her young brothers and their


I had not been at such a funeral for years.

It brought back memories of other funerals I had been at before- the Chatuel

family funeral, the Shabu family funeral, the Gavish family funeral and many

other funerals of people and families that I didn't know.

In my 32 years I think I have been at over 200 funerals. This surpasses the

number of weddings, brits and bar\bat mitzvahs I have been at.

Have you ever been at a funeral of someone you had never met or heard of? Is

it normal to be at a funeral of five members of the same family? Or at a

funeral of a baby that had her throat slit?

If you are Jewish and live in Israel chances are that you probably have been

at such a funeral.


I went to a funeral today.

A funeral I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies. Not even on the enemies that

perpetuated this monstrosity. That is the difference between us and them.

This difference is why we can not win by force even though we are much


I wish the Fogel family had remained unknown to me.

I wish that they were still alive and their funerals would be in the very

distant future.

I don't want to attend any more funerals.
In the spirit of adding light and simcha to the darkness, I also wanted to share a picture of my beautiful children, getting excited for Purim
May we only share good news!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

In shock

I am completely in shock tonight, still reeling from the news of the terrible pigua in Itamar on Friday night. I cannot stop thinking about the senselessness of all this violence, of a young twelve-year old girl coming home from a Bnei Akiva event only to find her parents and 3 of her siblings murdered. What kind of cold-hearted person kills young innocent children, the youngest of whom was just a few months old....There really are no words. Hashem yinkom damam

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How far do you push

Yesterday, Y had another school trip, which I agreed to chaperone. I have to admit that even though I agree to go on most of these trips, I really do not like them at all. Part of the reason is the logistics- get a babysitter for M, give up on a morning of errands, etc. But mostly it is just because I know Y will not enjoy himself.
You see, Y absolutely hates and detests large crowds and noises. He does not like performances of any kind and will only make an exception for Uncle Moishy. The last two trips the school took involved the circus and a 3-D presentation of the planets at the Museum of Natural History.
So the trips went something like this: Enter the auditorium/circus- Y freaks out and yells "no", trying to run out. Bring him back and tell him it's okay, that it's not scary and I am with him. Put him on my lap and put on my fake-enthusiastic voice: "Look it's the horse/magician/moon. Isn't that exciting? Isn't it fun?" Sit for five minutes. Loud noise on stage. Y freaks out again and makes a run for it. Go outside, take him for a walk. After 10 minutes, force him to go back inside. Repeat until he has had it and refuses to go back. At which point we wander aimlessly outside for the next 30 to 45 minutes till the performance is done. Then we rejoin his class, having gained absolutely nothing from this trip except for frazzling my nerves.
So I did not have high hopes going into this trip. We went to Hunter College to see a performance by the Paperbag Players, or something like that. My apologies if I got the name wrong. Of course, he was very excited to go on the bus. The trouble started when we got to the theater. He took one look at the seats and stage and walked out. After some coaching and encouragement, we settled into the back row, close to the exit. When the lights went out, Y had another freak out. For 20 minutes I was able to convince him to stay inside. It was a pretty low-key show so it wasn't too loud and there weren't any bright lights. Then the scary octopus came on stage. That was the end of us. I felt a little better, that when we walked out, another little girl was outside crying about the octopus...not that I was happy that she was crying, just that my kid is not the only one.
So off we went for a walk. We found a corner store and bought cookies and snapple. We enjoyed our snack and then I convinced Y to go back in for the last 10 minutes. So I guess, 30 minutes out of a one hour performance is not too bad.
I still end up feeling crummy by the end of it. And I wonder what the right thing to do is? Should I keep going on these trips and push him to participate, to sit, to stay in just a bit longer. Or should I just accept that my child does not like performances and really will not be too damaged educationally if he does not go on these trips anymore. Maybe, we should just take a mental health day and stay home on trip days. Both he and I will probably enjoy that more. Always the balance of figuring out how much we can challenge and prod our children, and what is too much.
In any case, I have decided, that for the next trip, whether Y is participating or not, I am definitely not going. If he will be outside anyway, then let it be his teachers taking him for a walk around the premises. I am officially done :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Getting in the Purim Spirit

I am pretty amazed by the creativity of the lyrics and the visuals of these videos. Something to get us in the mood for Purim
First off: The Maccabeats. Not quite "Candelight" but fun nonetheless

This one was made by a shul in Atlanta- even if rap is not your thing (and I dont really go for it), it is pretty shticky

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lists, Lists and Lists

Sorry for the silence. My "real life" interfered with my virtual life, hence the long break. Yesterday I realized that Purim is less than 2 weeks away and I need to get moving. So I finally ordered the kids the costumes they wanted online (more than I wanted to spend but I did not have to leave the house and it's DONE) and am now starting to plan our Purim seuda and Mishloach Manot.
 Last year we had close to 30 adults and numerous children and it was fun but also a bit crazy. We love having large seudas but I think we may tone it down a little this year. I have to admit that I am an OCD-planner which means I am starting my excel spreadsheets- menus, shopping lists and a cooking schedule.
I am not, however, one of the Mishloach Manos-themes people. Well actually, my theme this year is wine. We have about 50 bottles of wine we have accumulated from hosting guests over the course of the year. It's really great and considerate when people bring gifts to our home for meals but sometime we end up getting 4-5 bottles for one meal. There is no way we can drink all of that! I mean we could, but it probably would not be such a great idea... so I am thinking wine and chocolate. Seems like a good combination to me.
Next up- Pessach cleaning. Which means more spread sheets and lists. It seems kind of overkill, but I feel more prepared when I have a plan. Trust me I know that I am not in control. G'd has taught me that lesson many times (4 stitches in my thumb, anyone?). But I still need to do my hishtadlus and if making lists and cooking ahead and freezing makes me feel more prepared , then that is what I will do.
If anyone wants to see my crazy spread sheets, feel free to comment and I will email them to you :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spread the Word to End the Word

What word you may wonder. That lovely R-word people like to use. Retard/Retarded, we have all heard it used and maybe even have used it ourself.
Spread the Word has made itself a mission to raise awareness about the hurtfulness in using this word and is collecting pledges from people who promise to stop using it. So far they have collected 173 119 online pledges.
Ellen at Love that Max, one of my favorite special needs bloggers, posted about a little experiment on Twitter that she tried. She signed up to be notified anytime someone sends a Tweet containing the word "retard". What she found was disturbing. Over the course of a day she received close to 1500 notifications. That is a lot of  inapropriate language. To each person, she replied courteously, telling them that the word "retarded" is deragatory to people with disabilities and asking them to reconsider using that word. You should definitelty go read her post, but most of the time she was ignored or told to mind her own business, or that it's not important because it is "just a word". She does write of some people who took her seriously and told her her perspective makes a difference.
It made me think about how I think of this word. It is not one I have in my vocabulary, nor one we use in our home except for my son's IEP which actually has the classification MR on it- mentally retarded. But that is actually the correct use of the word. My son, who is amazing and cute and wonderful is mentally retarded. You can call him developmentally delayed but that is not going to change the reality.
However, losing your wallet does not make you retarded, the cashier at the supermarket is not retarded either, or your teachers/ bus drivers or other people who may annoy you. It is demeaning to people with disabilities for this clinical term to be used inapropriately. To quote Rabbi Liebling in the fabulous documentary "Praying With Lior". When he speaks about his son with Down Syndrome he says: "He's retarded, not stupid. It's not the same thing!"
But do I feel the need to go on a crusade, to correct people and make them feel uncomfortable? I am  not sure. There have been times people have used the term around me and I did not say anything or make a fuss. Other times I did speak up or at least wished I had said something. I guess it all depends on the situation and who the person is.
But since this is my blog and I can say what I want, I am asking you my dear readers to consider if you have ever used that word and to try and remove it from your vocabulary. Spread the Word to End the person at a time.
What do you think?
As an aside- I will be away for the weekend so I will not be posting till Sunday night or Monday. Wishing you a wonderful shabbos.