Monday, March 23, 2009

Facing hardship

I have been writing and re-writing this post for 5 days. I just can't seem to get it written the way I want it.

In our lives we face many different kinds of hardship. Right now I have a sinus infection and a strained shoulder muscle (which is basically the whole left side of my back). Just in time for Pesach. So I am pushing through and working through the pain (drugs-I mean prescription medicine does help).

But what about other hardship? The kind that medicine can't help. I've been meaning to post about this for awhile and just have not had the emotional space to do it. But on another blog I read,
she just posted about her 5 month old baby who is sick. Really sick. With a heart problem.

When I read about situations like this it makes me want to cry. Because I just want to take away the other person's pain. No parent should ever have to see their child in pain. Having gone through many losses at various stages of pregnancy, I wish that no one would ever have to experience something so devastating.

It is a hard topic to write about but something inside me needs to write/share about loss and grief. We all go through it. For many of us our grief is so personal that we don't want to share it, we don't want to tell others, we just want to get over it. Stop thinking about it. In my experience that doesn't happen. We don't get over it. We carry it with us even when we move on and go on about our lives.

But I think moving on and getting over something are two different things. Life keeps going even when you feel like falling apart. But getting over "it" means to me that you no longer have those feelings. Which I don't think that any person who has gone through a crisis or trauma does-stop feeling? Not possible.

Sharing all my intimate details with cyberspace makes me a little nervous but in the interest of helping, I will. Because suffering alone and in silence is worse than suffering with others. And there are many others out there who have stories similar to mine. Unfortunately, my story is not unique.

I have been pregnant 7 times and have 4 children. Two pregnancies were lost relatively early (9 weeks and 11 weeks). My second pregnancy ended at 21 weeks. All were life-changing events. And here in lies the craziness of trauma, pain, grief or whatever you want to call it. I would never, ever want to go through these experiences but they have made me who I am and helped me acquire wisdom that I otherwise would not have gotten.

And Rach-this is for you-these experiences brought me closer to G-d. My relationship to HaShem is stronger and more intense because of the pain that I went through. I learned deep in my bones that Hashem is the one in control. Of course, I knew that before but I didn't know it. Knowing that whatever Hashem does is for the best even if it doesn't seem that way is a hard lesson to learn. But I am stronger in my emunah (faith) for it.

For reasons unknown to me, those neshomas (souls) had a purpose for being here even for the short time that they were here. And I had to be the one to bring that about. And that has brought me some comfort.

Life is messy. But I am grateful for all the brachos (blessings) that Hashem has given me!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I'm not sure I can count that high

Today 37 years ago my parents got married!


I hope you continue to celebrate many more happy years together!

We love you!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I was tagged today by my lovely sister and as part of the game-playing process, I must find: 1 picture, 1 poem, 1 song, 1 quote, 1 item of clothing, 1 place and 1 disney princess. And then I must tag 6 more bloggers-in-crime. So here goes:

1. The picture(s) of my kids( I didn't have a pic of just one of all of them on the computer so you'll have to look at 3).
Here are the two oldest Big T and L enjoying posing for the camera.

Here is the baby M, the most laid back baby on the planet.

This is Little T, my red haired angel/devil.

2. A poem? This was a hard one but I chose to go down memory lane and pick a poem that I remembered from childhood. This is one of my favorite poems ever. In fact, anything by Shel Silverstein makes me smile.

3. I am really into Metallica right now. I would have to say that Hero of the Day is a fav. I never knew that their songs actually had such deep meaning.

4. Ok-I'm not sure if this a real quote but I have a poster saying it so someone said it sometime-"LISTEN and SILENT are spelled with the same letters." We don't listen enough!

5. Oh, I have a clothes problem-how can I choose just one item? Right now I would really like to wear sandals, flip flops or anything you can put on your feet in warm weather. I can't find a specific pair and the baby is crying so I'll leave you to imagine a pair.

6. The place? San Diego all the way! Lots of fun things to do, the greatest weather ever. Loooove it!

7. If I had to choose a Disney princess and I guess I have to or my sis might kill me, I would choose Sleeping Beauty. I can always use more sleep and she seems to have extra to go around. I also always liked her extra fairy helpers.

Monday, March 16, 2009


I'm sort of scrounging around in my brain for topics to write about today. I actually have a few ideas but I don't really have the brainpower to write about anything deep. I don't want to write about Passover yet-there's plenty of time and horror stories left for that.

I spent the entire day yesterday focused on the children's clothes for the upcoming seasons and holidays. Managing the clothes of 4 children is a job unto itself. I could probably make up a name for it: child stylist manager? personal unpaid shopper? We seriously have mountains of clothes in our house even after giving some away and throwing away the stained, yucky ones. I know I am a clothes horse ( I think that means I really like clothes) but it's not just that. Spring requires a whole different wardrobe than summer and holidays require a whole different wardrobe than weekday clothes. There's also the uniforms. Don't forget about the tights and the socks-they are also essential. Then we have the hair accessories and other such paraphernalia all over the place.

Then if they grow during the season and not between seasons, it's back to the stores for more and more clothes. Now, don't get me wrong-I am truly happy my kids are growing ( we do have growing issues so I really am happy). But girls are different than boys in the religious Jewish world. They wear skirts all the time and the skirts need to cover their knees. If they grow even just a little bit, their skirts might be just that little bit toooo short. And then it needs to be replaced. Now, in a way I am lucky, I have many other girls in the family to pass the clothes onto so it will get worn. But it is not so easy to find the clothes in the first place. Regular stores at the mall don't often carry skirts that are modest enough. And the religious stores charge an arm and a leg for children's clothes. I refuse to pay a lot unless I absolutely have to. Partly because I am cheap ( I fully admit it) and partly because my kids are hard on their clothes and they often get ruined easily.

I guess dressing my kids has become a hobby. I should just embrace that fact and take comfort that my kids usually look cute and do me proud!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mazel Tov!

It's a boy!

My husband's brother and his wife had a baby boy yesterday evening. A 9 pound baby boy!

Everyone in the family is super excited, this is the first boy in about 4 years-the last 3 grandkids on my husband's side have been girls. So it's a pretty big deal.

It's also a big deal because it's their first child. I can barely remember what that feels like-when everything is so new and scary-AND you're the one in charge.

Did the baby get enough to eat?

Is the baby's poop supposed to look that color?

Why is the baby crying?

Should I make people wash their hands before they touch the baby?

All thoughts I had when my oldest was born. When M was born a few months ago (the 4th) I didn't really have any of those worries. Caring for a newborn wasn't new. Even though it had been almost 5 years since Little T was born, how to care for a newborn came rushing back. I knew what to do.

I have found that I enjoy the newborn stage (and yes, I HAVE had a difficult/crying all the time baby so I know what that is like) and it goes by so fast. It is hard to be fully present and enjoy that time; when you are worried about how to care for the baby and recovering from childbirth things can be completely overwhelming! But now that my kids are bigger I realize that they are only babies for such a short time. It is so important to savor it and relish it. They get more and more independent and their needs constantly change.

So enjoy your first baby D and E! He is truly a blessing!
Mazel Tov!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Because I'm at Work

Because I am at work today this Purim is a little different than normal. Usually the husband and I bundle up the kids and go around delivering shaloch manos to everyone in the world that we know (at least it seems that way)! But this year I am teaching (couldn't take off because Pesach is coming up and used up most of my days for maternity leave earlier this year) and so we are taking it easy.

The kids are giving to a few of their friends and their teachers and we will give to whoever comes to our house. Which leads me to the theme of this year's shaloch manos. My original idea didn't work out because it correlated to the kid's costumes which they refused to wear. So scratched that idea. I couldn't face the thought of baking, sooooo the healthy Purim was born. On a paper plate we put an apple, cut up veggies, dip, and a small water bottle. That's it. No cute poems either-just a label that says "Have a happy and HEALTHY Purim" which I convinced/forced my 8 year old to write. And that's it. If I was talented I would have a picture but I don't. I'm at work anyway so I guess it doesn't really matter. I think everyone can picture what it looks like.

I know I have done a lot of joking around about how much I don't like this holiday. It's true it's not my fav, but I would still like to be inspired and feel connected to the spirituality of the day. I feel like that is always the challenge; as a mom I am pulled in so many directions there is not always enough left for my own spiritual needs. Not sure how I am going to manage the inspiration part but I am sure I will hear a nice D'var Torah (word of Torah) at the Seudah (meal).

I hope everyone has a super Purim filled with food and inspiration!

Monday, March 9, 2009

The weekend in a nutshell and Happy Purim!

This weekend was soooooo busy. It's not usually how I like to spend my weekends since it's my only time to get anything done. But sometimes I have to be busy and this was one of those times.

It started on Shabbos (Saturday) when I went to synagogue for the first time in a long while. The weather was yucky and I didn't really want to go out in it but I had no choice. Parshas Zachor awaited (when they read a certain part of the Torah out loud and everyone over bar mitzvah has to listen to it being read). Anyway, I experienced two interesting/funny things there. The first was watching a small child carry a plate of cholent (stew) and drop some on the floor. Even though he had a whole plateful left, he sat down on the floor and scooped it up and ate it from the floor. I guess he couldn't let a drop go to waste!

Also, at the synagogue this week was a get-together for a group of special needs teenagers. My bro-in-law was one of them. It was nice to see him and some of his friends. During kiddush (after prayers, blessing over wine-we eat food) one of his friends (who shall remain nameless) saw us and came over to us. He doesn't really know us but he saw me holding baby M and tried to take her from me. He refused to give me his name (we had to ask B, my bro-in-law) and then he wanted to sit right next to me. He kept trying to grab the baby and when my husband and I let him hold the baby he wasn't exactly gentle. I had to let my husband handle it because this was a big boy and he wasn't listening to a word I was saying. It was such an interesting experience. A few minutes later a counselor came over and distracted the boy by helping him get some more food. I have such respect for these counselors who give up their time to work with these kids. I know my bro-in-law gets so much out of these social gatherings-it really helps him establish and maintain relationships. Also, watching my husband interact with this boy reminded me what a great guy he is. Everyone in a family is affected by a special needs sibling and I think my husband has learned so much from B. He'll be upset that I am saying this, but he has a certain sensitivity to people with differences that most people don't have. It was nice to see him in action.

Then yesterday when running errands, I got caught in a thunderstorm. A monster thunderstorm! I really looked ridiculous! My wig was ruined, my clothes were dripping wet, all the food I bought at Sam's Club soaking! I was crying and totally felt defeated-I had to go home and change instead of finishing all the other errands I had to do. Not the best moment of the weekend.

Finally, last night I went to a dinner for my children's school. It was downtown in a fancy hotel. I very much did not want to go. But it actually was nice. I got to sit next to a great friend and we had tons to talk about. My kids were in the video they showed-they looked cute (and like they were behaving)! The food was ok and they gave out chocolate which is always a good thing.

Today, I have seen Big T put on a Purim play at her school and am getting ready for the big P-day! Still gotta put the Mishloach Manos together but it should be pretty easy-we are taking the easy approach this year.

Happy Purim to everyone!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Overwhelmingly overwhelmed!

I wasn't going to post anything today but I think maybe if I get these thoughts out I will feel better.

I am overwhelmed. Here is my list of why:

1. Purim-shaloch manos. I have the idea of what to give out and it is simple but just actually implementing it makes me want to crawl in bed under the covers and not come out.

2. I think my kids don't have school next Wednesday and I just realized it last night. What am I going to do with them? Who is going to watch them?

3. I need to find a babysitter for baby M and Little T when my regular babysitter has a baby which is probably happening in 2 weeks.

4. Pesach is rapidly approaching and my house is a disaster area! How will I ever get it ready in time? I can barely cook, do laundry, and wash dishes on a regular basis. I will probably have to call in some reinforcements.

I know there are more items for this list but these are the biggies. I have been living in denial about the babysitter situation and it is not pleasant to leave that comfy fantasy place (in my head) where everything in my life always goes smoothly!

Other factors contributing to my overwhelmed state of being:

Lately, I have been feeling anxious about things I have said or done. One of the things contributing to my anxiety is leaving comments on other people's blogs. I worry that I haven't said the "right" thing. Or that it can be misconstrued. The computer is such an impersonal and imperfect way to communicate-I find difficult to convey tone and meaning. Part of the reason I worry is that I don't want to offend anyone, in real life I usually only share strong opinions with people who know me well. And I am new to this and worry that sometimes people don't understand what I mean. Does anyone else ever feel this?

Or am I crazy?

It's ok, you can tell me. I can take it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I will survive!

No, that song was not sung. But many other songs were sung, dances danced and acting acted.

I'll give you 3 guesses-where was I?

Ok, I'll just tell you, I went to Erev Shira last night. Sara has a great post about this (and hopefully the link works-I'm still a beginner). I couldn't not write all my thoughts about this evening of song (that's what erev shira means).

First, and foremost it is always wonderful to see kids perform-they work so hard and feel so proud. It is also amazing to see what the teachers are able to accomplish with kids of all varying talents, levels, and abilities. That being said I feel like I truly understand the meaning of the word sacrifice because I really and truly did not want to go! I kept trying to find excuses not to go; I have a cough, it's too late for the kids, etc. But my second grader begged me and begged me and I finally said yes. I wanted her to see her friends from school perform and I also wanted her to be able to talk about the performance with the other girls that went to see it. ( I am trying to be a better mom-but that's probably a post for another day). I also took L who is in first grade because I couldn't leave her out.

The message of the show was important and actually something that I would like to incorporate more into our family. Seeing the good in things that don't always appear that way. Making lemonade out of lemons. That sort of thing. I got it, but I'm not sure my girls did. Because after every scene they had at least 2 minutes of transition time when the stage was black and nothing was happening and then a loooooong song or dance. Could someone tell me why it has to be that way? My girls could not follow the story line with all the interruptions. And we were a terrible audience-everyone including adults talked all the time. What's up with that-aren't we trying to teach our children how to be respectful?

We didn't even stay the entire time, by 9:oo I just had to get my kids home and in bed. Especially considering L had lost all interest by that time and was waiting outside the auditorium because she was so bored. But that meant that Big T was upset because she wanted to stay until the end. There's just no pleasing more than one child at a time.

I would like to give a compliment to Big T. She gave lots of compliments to relatives of the girls who were performing. She was very sweet and she paid attention the whole time. Even L who had a hard time sitting didn't disrupt the performance.

So, I guess I could say it was $28 well spent. Time spent with my daughters watching something wholesome and relatively entertaining. Of course, this morning neither wanted to go to school because they were tiiiiiiiired (said in super whiny voices). Well, I wonder why?

P.S. The amount of balloons people brought to give to the performers could have carried me right up out of there-they filled the whole entryway. It's not Broadway people!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Book review #2

So while my students are testing (the dreaded ISAT for those of you in the know) I thought I would use this time to write another post.

I recently finished reading a fascinating book called The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. People who know me in real life know that I am intensely curious about different cultures and lifestyles that many would label weird or even freaky. I then like to talk about them so much (to anyone that will listen-my husband has LOTS of patience).

So this book was right up my alley. And when I checked it out from the library I didn't even realize it! But enough, on to the story.

This book is about 2 parallel lives both centering around polygamy. One viewpoint is told historically from the eyes of Ann Eliza Young, Brigham Young's supposed 19th wife ( I say supposed because there is a dispute about how many wives he really had). The other viewpoint is from a boy who was kicked out of the "fold" and his mom was the 19th wife of his dad. She did something really awful to the dad and the story follows that plot line as well.

I am truly fascinated by polygamy and the controversy that ensues because of it. Joseph Smith (the founder and prophet of the Mormon religion) and Brigham Young (his successor) told their followers that in order to get into heaven they had to marry more than one wife. The women needed to follow this dictate as well or they wouldn't get into heaven either. They were told it was their spiritual duty. Ann Eliza eventually spoke out against plural marriage and had a hand in getting the government and the Mormon religion to ban it. Women in this community were/are brought up to believe in polygamy. It just seems like exploitation to me. It really amazes me how so many people will follow blindly without thinking for themselves. Of course, that can happen in any religion, it just seems quite apparent here.

The other interesting aspect of this book involves the differences between the Mormons today and the fundamentalists that believe in polygamy. The Mormons are quick to distance themselves and say that they are not the same religion but they both share the same roots.

Side note: I know that Judaism used to allow this but I would venture to say that it looked and felt a lot different than the way it is practiced today.

This book is engaging and extremely well-written. I had a hard time putting it down. It is long-I think around 500 pages but it kept my interest for almost all of them. There are a few parts where the history lags a bit but it is definitely worth reading if you are interested in this topic.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Appreciated and Appreciation

This past week was hard. One of those nothing ever goes right, can't get enough sleep, yelling at my kids, stress filled weeks. I just couldn't seem to handle stress and normal everyday problems that I normally can.

But there was a bright spot to the week.

On Wednesday, the kids had a carnival celebrating the upcoming holiday of Purim. It was super exciting for the kids and it is something they look forward to for many weeks. Well, Little T came home from school that day full of happiness and stories about the games she played and the prizes she won. As we were talking she mentioned that 3 kids in her class were absent because they were sick. She asked me very nicely if she could call them and wish them a Refuah Shelaimah (Feel Better Soon). I agreed and dialed the numbers for her.

The calls went a little something like this:

Little T: "Hello, this is Little T and I want to wish so-and-so a refuah shelaimah.

(Of course, I only heard her side of the conversations).

Little T: "What? No, Hello, this is Little T and I want to wish so-and-so a refuah shelaimah.

(I guess they didn't understand the first time).

Anyway, she had great phone manners and told her friends she missed them in school and she hoped she would see them the next day. She had to repeat that message a few times to her friends but they eventually got the point. I told her she did a big mitzva (nice thing) and I was very proud of her. Hours pass and we finish our night, Little T goes to bed.

About an hour after that the phone rings. And on the caller id is the name of one of the families that Little T called. It was the mom of the little boy that Little T called. She called to tell me how much she appreciated what Little T did. It meant a lot to her and her son and she felt like she needed to tell me. Not only she did speak highly of my daughter regarding the phone call but she also shared with me times she had been in Little T's classroom and she saw how special Little T was. This mom told me she felt that Little T is so caring and generous and truly cares about her friends. She said Little T is spunky and independent and her goodness shines through.

Whoa, are we talking about my child?

I said thank you, hung up the phone, turned to my husband and almost burst into tears. Because no one has ever done that before. I have the kind of kids that everyone notices and not always for reasons that are good. My kids aren't bad, they aren't mean (except to each other), but they are high maintenance and full of energy. Oh, and they are smart and perceptive so you can't trick/manipulate them easily.

But that phone call really made me think. And I realized a few things.

1. In today's society we are so concerned with boundaries (and often we should be). I am especially conscious of not wanting to overstep that sometimes I forget that sometimes overstepping is the right thing and might make someone feel good. That phone call couldn't have come at a better time. It was wonderful to see my daughter through someone else's eyes.

2. I need to stop labeling my children. I often talk about my kids and label them or give them a role in the family. Little T is the stubborn one, Big T hoards toys, L is the nurturer. All of these labels are true but they aren't the only ways to define my children. I need to remember to talk about my children in a more positive manner. I forgot that Little T is a giving, caring child that makes friends easily. What a strength! Hopefully one that will follow her throughout life.

A little appreciation goes a long way in this world where we don't often stop to say a simple "thanks." So I am saying thanks to this mom for seeing the good in my child. Thanks for taking the time to tell me. And most of all, thanks for reminding me how wonderful my kids are.