Friday, February 26, 2010

Purim - Fun CHAOS

This morning, I was reflecting on how EXHAUSTING and STRESSFUL this Purim stuff is. Nope, I don't think that's what Hashem intended - but it is really stressful to make sure that everything goes right. And, as the parent, you want it all to be perfect for the kids.

The day before Purim, the kids dress up in school. Now, keep in mind, they will also dress up for the Megilla reading at night...and in a different costume on Purim day.

So, before 8:00 this morning as they got ready to go to school we needed to:
Clean up Yehuda's throw up in his bedroom from the middle of the night (don't ask); get everyone up early to get ready; make sure Peter Pan had his bow and arrow; Rocky had his eye make-up and boxing gloves;Indiana Jones had his rope, gun, sack, boots and more; Superman had his costume (and didn't pee in his new underwear); and the doctor had his scrubs on (and agreed to wear them).

Then, of course, Indiana Jones forgot his rope on the way to the bus and came back to the house crying (does Indiana Jones cry?), the doctor escaped from the house in the pouring rain and proceeded to sit in a puddle, and Superman refused to go to the bathroom.

Oy vey - what is a mother to do? Finally, all the superheroes, bad guys, good guys and medical personnel were ready for school. Of course, the hail and blizzard-like conditions made it a bit tricky to get everyone to school dry and safe - but, indeed, we finally succeeded.

Queen Ester never had it so stressful!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Let Your Nose Do the Work

I was thinking about my nose this morning. Last night, when I went to pick up the karate carpool, I brought the baby, Zeli, with me. When Matan got into the car, he said to me, "Mommy! I knew that Zeli was here before I saw him. Do you know how? I could smell him."

And then we started to discuss smells and how Zeli has a distinct smell, as do all babies, I think. I thought it was such a cute thing to say. The boys are in tune with each other enough to recognize the baby's smell, even before they see him.

I love that they notice things like that - and that they are so tied to each other.

It also made me think about my own sense of smell and the associations that I make with it. One thing that is always hard for me when I pick Zeli up from his daycare is that he smells like the Maon. Don't ask what that means, exactly, but I know the smell the second I pick him up. He smells like his nanny and like his daycare facility - and it always makes me sad when I get him because I want him to smell like me, and like home.

I always have the immediate instinct to smother him with kisses and to try to get rid of the daycare smell. Don't get me wrong - I love his daycare. But, I also love the sweet smell he has when he gets out of the bathtub, and the delicious, warm smell he has on Shabbat when he's home all day with me!

The nose is an amazing thing - and it's so interesting to see the associations that we make with it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

It's Adar Alright...

Adar cracks me up. When the month of Adar begins, I always declare that the school year is over. And I'm not that far off. They begin the month of Adar in school by having the kids dress up over and over again in preparation for....dressing up for Purim. Well, doesn't that make sense.

Then, the kids have three days off for Purim; they go back for two weeks before they have two weeks off for Pesach; then they go back to have Yom Hashoah, Yom Yerushalayim, Yom HaZicaron, Yom Haatzmaot, and, oh did I mention Shavuot? It's exhausting, yes, and definitely hard to get in any education. But, it's also fantastically fun for them (and a bit for us).

Yesterday, for Rosh Chodesh (the beginning of the month of Adar), Amichai came home from school dressed as an orange. Matan had a clown wig on; Zeli had a clown hat; and Eliav had on the cape that he seems to wear everywhere. Yehuda joined the fun today by bringing a clown hat to school, and yesterday he was entertained by a huge crowd of 8th grade boys who came to the school to create a dancing/singing good time.

It's hard not to get swept up in the energy of Adar! Purim Sameach from our crazy house that is preparing to be a boxer-Indiana Jones-Peter Pan-Superman-tiger to yours.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Yehuda's Birthday

Happy 8th Birthday to my amazing and beautiful boy, Yehuda. I was thinking today about Yehuda's birth and finding it remarkable that it's already been 8 years. There were a few things about his birth that were such great lessons about life.

I had a natural birth with my first, Matan, with no intervention at all. It was a grueling 12 hours, but I did it and it was incredible. I had planned to do the same thing with Yehuda. A few weeks before he was born, I was speaking with someone who had just had a baby. She had also wanted to have a natural, un-medicated birth, and had ended up having to have pitocin. I had always assumed that pitocin meant epidural - period. Pitocin is said to create very strong contractions and there is no way around getting the epidural. That was my understanding, and I had already told my doctor, who was also a good friend, that I didn't want intervention if it could be avoided. And I knew, should I need intervention such as pitocin, that I would have to say goodbye to my un-medicated birth.

And then, just by chance, I found myself sitting with this friend a few weeks before Yehuda arrived. She told me that she had just delivered with pitocin - and without any intervention and that it really is doable.

One conversation - a collection of words - and it changed my mindset. It's really amazing to see the power of words, and the power of the mind to work over the body. I also think that timing, or Hashem's way of working in the world, is amazing. I hadn't needed pitocin before, and I've never needed it again in my other births, but a few weeks after this conversation, there I was delivering with pitocin. I am pretty confident that I would not have gone into Yehuda's birth thinking that I could do it naturally had I not had that conversation.

And yet, of course, with her words ringing in my ears, I made up my mind that I was going to get through this without medicine. And, it was actually one of my easiest births! Amazing what the right message at the right time can do.

One of the main reasons we gave Yehuda his name is because of the Parsha where Yehuda speaks so eloquently to Yosef while trying to protect his brother, Binyamin. He is described as being confident, but modest; sure of himself and forthright. He is the perfect advocate for his brother and the perfect speaker. The power of words, again.

And after four hours of labor, there was Yehuda. When they put him in my arms, I remember feeling like he was distinctly solid and heavy. I've actually delivered heavier kids - but I've never felt that feeling again.

Finally, allow me one more memory. That night, I couldn't get Yehuda to calm down or sleep at all in his little hospital bassinet. The nurse came in, looked at me in my desperate state, took Yehuda from his bassinet, and placed him squarely in my bed. Now, in America, you actually sign a piece of paper saying that you won't sleep with the kid in your bed in the hospital, and I knew from my parenting with Matan that sleeping with them was a big no-no. And there she was, the hospital nurse, plopping him down next to me. My memory must be fuzzy - but I swear that Yehuda and I slept one of the best night sleeps I've had in my life, and awoke refreshed and cuddling 9 hours later.

And that's been Yehuda since the day he was born - cuddly, solid as a rock, strong, endearing, complicated, eloquent and full of determination.

Happy Birthday Yehuda.

Monday, February 08, 2010

A Day We Remember Each Year

My heart is crying today. Today would have been Chanan Sivan's 8th birthday, and I've been spending most of the day thinking about him. Chanan was Yehuda's first friend in Israel. We have a cute picture of them sharing their 4th birthday party together, since their birthdays were just two days apart. It was the last one that Chanan would experience.

Last week, Yehuda and I were walking together when we ran into Hadas, Chanan's sister. I smiled at Hadas as I always do, but I wanted to pass her by quickly. Was she thinking about Chanan? Was it strange for her to see this tall, beautiful boy who looks so much older and to think about what Chanan would have looked like at this age?

How do you mark the passing each year of your child's birthday, when your child is no longer here? Yehuda's birthday is two days after Chanan's and I find myself experiencing his birthday each year in such a bittersweet way. I am, of course, so grateful to have my beautiful son. At the same time, I ache for the Sivans and for everything that might have been for them.

It has been amazing to watch them go on. Not move on, but go on. They have an adorable little girl who is in the class next to Zeli's and I see her every day. They are amazing people - and an incredible example of the human spirit and of struggling through adversity as a family.

And today, as every year on Caf Daled Shvat (the Hebrew date), I think of them and remember the beautiful little boy with the fly-away hair, the big brown eyes and the ever-present bounce in his step.

You can bet that I'll be giving Yehuda an extra hug tonight and celebrating his birthday in two days with extra gratitude for the child that I have at my side.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


Anyone who has a child - or who has every known a child - knows that they say really cute things. When they say things that crack me up, or that take my breathe away, I always intend to write them down...but I usually don't. So, here are two from the last day that I'm writing down.

Yehuda is in charge of taking our recycling to the recycling bin that's up the street. An inherently lazy (soon to be) 8 year old, he usually doesn't get around to doing it until the bottles are taking over the pantry. So, before Shabbat yesterday, I told him I'd drive him over to the recycling bin along with other errands I was doing in the rain. Here was our conversation.

Me: Yehuda, you know you're in charge of the recycling.
Yehuda: I know.
Me: Well, that means that you have to check the pantry each day, see when there is a bag of bottles and take it out.
Yehuda: Yeah, I know.
Me: Ok...then why don't you?
Yehuda:(Looking at me like I am just as dense as could possibly be) Mom, I'm in charge of the recycling, but that doesn't mean that I actually DO it.

Today, Amichai and I were reading a book that was intended for early readers. While we were reading, here was our conversation:

Me: You know Amichai, sometime in the future you'll be able to read this book to me. I'm going to teach you to read English soon.
Amichai: Mommy, I already know how to read it.
Me: Um, you do?
Amichai: Sure, I know how to read it in my heart.

Gotta love the things these kids say. Hope everyone has a great week!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Small Interactions in Israel

It's been awhile since I've posted. I changed jobs recently and I spend my day writing blogs, so my own blog tends to get pushed to the back of the pile. I apologize dear blog and will try to keep up with you.

Anyway, I had two interesting interactions recently that made me get a kick out of life in Israel. Josh and I escaped to the mall for a bit of relaxation and fun last Saturday night, and I managed to tear my skirt on a display in a store. I was really annoyed, and was planning to simply leave the store and continue grumbling. Josh said that I should tell the salespeople. As I predicted, they looked at me with the expressions of "And exactly what do you want us to do about your ripped skirt, lady?" I explained that the display where I ripped it was dangerous and I showed them how it ripped. Keep in mind that I did all of this in my very poor Hebrew, and kept hoping that I was actually getting my point across.

Eventually, I asked for the store owner, and was shocked when he actually came out from the back. (Sometimes being pushy actually works!) I went through the whole explanation with him (hoping he would pay me for the 10 year old skirt, or offer me a discount in the store or something) and he came up with quite a creative solution. He told me to come back the next day with the skirt and that he would have his professional seamstress sew the rip! Now, the rip was quite large and jagged, but I did as he said, and within 4 days he had called to say it was ready to be picked up. They did a really impressive job, and I'm back to wearing my favorite skirt. I enjoyed this story for a few reasons.

1. Even when you want to give up, it's often worthwhile to keep pushing (even in bad Hebrew).
2. If you know you are right, you don't need to back down just because no one seems to be listening.
3. Customer service is actually alive and well in Israel, at least sometimes.

The second story was quite lovely. I had to get the gas balloons for our stove top filled, and they sent a technician out first to check on the gas line. He showed up promptly, did his thing and was ready to leave. I told him that I was only filling one of the balloons right now and not both, because they are quite expensive. At that point, this technician explained that we'll find the money for the second balloon and we shouldn't worry about the money. Life is so precious, he said, and money is just money. He talked about health and families, all the while making Zeli laugh in my arms. I loved it - how often do you get such a valuable reminder and message from your gas technician?