Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Love, love, love

Bear with me on this blog.  I’m not sure where I’m going with it, but I do know that I want to write it.  I just got back from a week-long family vacation.  I won’t pretend that I haven’t been totally spoiled by my in-laws.  They are more generous than I could type, and I don’t feel I deserve what they give.  But I happily accept it, nonetheless. 

So that said, I am tired and having a hard time adjusting back to real life.  And I’m not the only one.  My son didn’t want to go back to school today.  I think he has a hard time transitioning.  He gets anxiety, but doesn’t have the awareness or language to express it.  So it comes out as defiance.  (Remember I told you he was diagnosed with ODD, oppositional defiance disorder.)  So instead of being sympathetic, understanding and all around mature, I got right into it with him and addressed that behavior, not the feeling.  We yelled, we fought, and honestly, we both cried.  I texted my husband in frustration, telling him I had just about had it.  He called me and started giving me suggestions on what I could do.  Well, now I was fighting with him too.  He tells me that I always do this, I call him when I’m having a hard time and just want him to listen.  But he can’t just listen.  He needs to try and help.  But I don’t want his help.  So what do I want?

I am reading a book with a female protagonist.  She is amazing.  She is strong and willful and everything I want to be.  She doesn’t give a crap what others think of her.  But not in a ‘F%&* you’ sort of way.  More in a, I am doing what needs to be done, sort of way.  In one paragraph the author describes her through her boyfriend’s eyes.  He said he tried kissing his knees one time, the way the girl unconsciously does, to see what it’s like to love yourself that much. 

Man did that strike me.  What do I want?  What is it I am doing when I call my husband, knowing he can’t give me what I want?  I am trying to feel loved.  I want to feel that even in my ugly moments, my immature, ugly moments, I can still be loved.  I am still loved.  So, can I kiss my own knees?  Love myself?

I’m a bit scatter brained, so try and stay with me here.  Two things come to mind.  One is a conversation my father oft reminds me of.  I was five and he asked me, Tovah, why are you so happy all the time?  I gave him a straight answer.  Well dad, when you love yourself so much, you can’t help but love everyone around you.  And when you love everyone around you, you can’t help but be happy.

I would like to think I’ve grown wiser with age, but I think I had it at age five.  At age five there was no one telling you it is uncool to love yourself. There is no one saying that you look stupid kissing your own knees.  Imagine that you see a person hugging themselves, smiling at themselves in the mirror.  What would think? Honestly.  Maybe that they’re narcissistic?  Or maybe that they are slow?  Or maybe they are just plain weird.  But would you stop and think, that there is a person who has a healthy amount of self love.  An abundant amount.  An amount we should all try for. 

The second thing that I was thinking about was the show Ally McBeal.  I loved that show.  I think I have seen every episode.  I didn’t know what it was about the show that I loved, but I think I have a clue now.  Each character was ridiculous in their own way.  Very eccentric.  The main character hallucinated, stuttered, and did other wacky things.  Her boss was shallow and seemed to care for nothing more than money and women.  (And yet somehow you really liked him).  A friend hears Barry White in his head when he needs a boost of courage.  And we often see everyone dancing to the tune inside his head. 

And for all of their weirdness and eccentricities, they all fully accept each other.  It was the acceptance that I found so alluring.  Does anyone in this world know all of me and still accept me?  If someone I love found me kissing my knees, would they admire it or admonish it?  Sometimes I find myself tickling my arms or feet because I love the feeling.  But I get very embarrassed if someone catches me doing so.  It’s like I was caught masturbating.  But I wasn’t, I was just loving myself.  (And on a side note, why is it so embarrassing to be caught masturbating? Well, I think that’s another, more private, conversation.)

There is another type of acceptance that comes to mind now.  When I was about thirteen I had this weird thing.  I’ll try to explain it.  It was that if I touched somewhere on the right side of my body, I HAD to do the same to my left.  It was a compulsion.  And no, I don’t think it was autism.  It just was what it was.  Like if I touched my right pinky on the table I had to do the same to my left.  I was on a bus trip when a girl I knew mentioned something about it and somehow we realized that we both had this same compulsion.  And it was like a world opened.  I was not alone.  Someone understood me.  I had never once voiced this compulsion out loud, and now I had someone who not only accepted it, she fully understood and shared it! 

So is that what I am looking for? An end to my loneliness.  Because that’s what it felt like.  I had been alone, and then someone came and entered my world.  I was no longer alone.  But ask me about my best friend.  We are almost opposites.  We don’t understand each other’s eccentricities, but we do accept them.  Without judgment.  No, that’s not true, we judge each other all the time.  We tell each other how stupid this or that is.  We laugh at it.  So maybe that’s it; we know exactly what the other thinks about this or that and so we have nothing to hide or fear. 

Probably the people who understand me, and get me the most, are my sisters.  Its not with out judgment, I’m sure that they often think I’m crazy, stupid, or both.  (Come on stinkies, don’t deny that we all think that about each other now then.) But at least they do seem to understand me.  And there is a little bit less loneliness in that.

I think what I’m saying is that I want to feel accepted, understood, not alone, and loved.  What I can do is love myself.  Kiss my knees, or tickle my feet, and stop feeling to ashamed of the fact that I enjoy my own self.  I can call my sisters when I want to feel less lonely and understood.  I can call my best friend when I want to feel accepted. Or just understand that I will never be truly understood by anyone.  That even if I’m not accepted by all, that doesn’t mean I can’t accept myself.  And pass as much of that as possible to my children. 

1.   Vacation
2.   Swimming in the ocean
3.   Drinking fresh coconut water every morning
4.   Wild horses
5.   Well behaved children on long flights
6.   Not getting sick
7.   Bio-luminescent bays
8.   The lack of shark attacks
9.   Hammocks
10. Self love

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

80% Excited 20% Scared

Okay people, it is on. It is so on. We are signing in January and selling our house. We'll move up there as soon as this place is sold. Aaaaaaaaaaah!

Breathe. Breathe. Okay, that's a little better.

So how do I feel about all this? Well, have you ever seen the movie Armageddon? There's a seen where they are in the rockets, about to shoot up to space, and Owen Wilson says something like, "I'm like 80% excited and 20% scared. Or maybe I'm 80% scared and 20% excited. I don't know, but that's what makes this so great!"

Yeah, I feel like that. But right now I'm thinking about my children. (When am I not?) Yesterday my daughter knocks over the fish bowl. Wakes the baby by flashing a bright light in his eyes. Poops in the bath. My eldest son comes home from school and play date super excited. Says he loves school and his friends. My baby wakes me up all night so I'm a zombie the next day. All of this is life and it's great.

Now take this picture and move it to the country. Instead of a little fish bowl, there's an actual fish pond. Imagine the trouble (and danger) my daughter can get into. My son is just starting to really enjoy his social interactions and learning. Can I suddenly be his best friend, teacher and playmate? All while trying to keep up with a baby? And then add to this picture daily chores of tending gardens and animals.

What I believe it will come down to is this: If we build it, will they come? I can't do this alone. Maybe for a while. Maybe to get things started. But what I want, what I crave, is community. I want to know that when I'm not enough, others are there. I want my children growing with a multitude of adults they can trust and turn to. I want women who are different from me to expand my world with who they are and what they bring into this world.

My Rabbi once told me this: He said that there was I a reason I felt I didn't belong in any community I've ever lived in. He said most likely I never would. Unless, of course, you build your own community. I think he meant that last bit to be funny.

Well, that's the punchline. I'm building my own community so I can finally fit in. And I hope this becomes, not a selfish act, but the greatest gift I ever give my children... Besides life, of course. Because that's a pretty big gift too.

1. My daughter's retelling of how she pooped in the bath
2. That it's bedtime
3. The fact that no one will ever care what haircuts anyone in my family may or may not get
4. Yup. It's bedtime

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Okay. So I'm slightly freaking out. It appears that I have the opportunity to actually go for my dream. And so I stop and wonder, did I really think this dream through? Did I analyze it enough? Did I get enough outsiders opinions to validate that this indeed is the correct dream for me and I should not alter it?

Still sounds dreamy, eh? The reality of going for your dream is so much less romantic than the dream itself. It's panic filled and scary. It's full of second guessing, and crunching numbers, and leaping so far out of your comfort zone you have no idea if your falling or flying.

And yet, if I don't go for it, how could I ever look back at my ten year old self and say, yeah, this is what you become later... A coward, too afraid to go for it.

Of course there is a middle, safer route: I could spend the next five years planning, saving, educating myself and go into this with a firmer step. Yes, that is probably the smart option. And yet, somehow I know that if I don't take this opportunity now, it may never come again. Or I may not grab it the next time it comes around.

But really, I feel that if I am to uproot my children and start a whole new lifestyle with them, it should be as soon as possible. My son is almost six. He has lost two teeth and is starting to form lasting memories. It will never get easier, only harder.

My dear friend who works with clay gave me this beautiful analogy: She said that our souls, neshamas, are like clay in this world. Death is the kiln. We are ever forming through our speech, thought and action.

This feels so true. But I think there is more. I believe that as we age we lose moisture and the clay gets more and more stiff. My children are more pliable now than they will ever be. I want to use that to their advantage. I want to offer them a different kind of life. And the sooner I start, the more they will be formed to see the world in a wholly different way. Hopefully a more holistic, organic and simple way than conventional city life offers.

Sometimes I am shocked to see that any lessons I try to instill in them actually get through. As my mother (known simply as nana) turned to my son and said, "Let us thank Hashem for this great thing that happened," my son replied, "The best way to thank Hashem is by being the best Nana you can be."

I mean, wow.

And yet, I am scared. So scared that my making a mistake will cost them their childhoods. Scared that I won't be able to provide for them what an established community can. I am scared I am not enough.

Maybe it's true. Maybe I'm not. If so, I hope that, as I have the courage to take this leap in life now, Hashem will also give me the courage to admit that to myself later. Until then I say...


1. I made it another day alone with three sick kids in the house
2. An opportunity to give of myself to the world
3. Hot running water
4. The ability to talk to loved ones on the phone
5. The way my baby opens his mouth desperately wide anytime something comes even remotely near
6. How I feel every time I stop and make a gratitude list

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word pamper? I know, it's the diaper. That's where our dirty minds go, us mothers. You know, in the non-parent world, words like spa, wine, or new shoes are associated with pampering. But not for us. No we hear the word pamper and think, 'why buy pampers or huggies when you can get generic for so much cheaper!' (And those seventh generation all natural brown super expensive diapers? Guess what- they're dyed to look more natural! So keep your $11, and get generic!)

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, pampering. This morning it worked out that my mother-in-law was in Pittsburgh and could bring my eldest to school. Oh, and did I want a coffee since she was stopping anyway? Yes, thank you!

It was such a different morning from the usual bundling of the two babes into the hard to push double stroller, walking up hill in two directions, too tired to do anything by the time I get home, morning. I felt pampered! And it felt good!

And so I wonder... Is there a way to replicate this feeling without being dependent on other people to step into my life? Well, I think of the other times I've felt similar... When I wake up and my downstairs is swept. A clean floor free of toys... I can wake up and not feel immediate pressure to start putting things away. Yeah, that makes me feel pampered. And I can give that to myself each night.

Or having breakfast made for the kids all ready to go (remember the breakfast cake I mentioned in an earlier post?). Or putting a Shalom Sesame Street DVD on so that I can have 22 minutes to type this blog. That feels like pampering.

So here I open the blog... As well as your Good, I would like to hear how you pamper yourself. And please, no vacation talk, only real, everyday options we can all share and use. Wouldn't it be nice to have a bunch of pampered mommies tending their kids with a relaxed love? I think so!

1. Children's DVDs
2. My daughter pooped in the potty again!
3. My swept floor
4. My baby sucking his thumb (it's so freakin cute!)

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I am overwhelmed.  I am confused.  I am scared.  I am excited.  So many things are happening all at once.  Or maybe it’s just a few things.  But really big things. 

My husband and I are making what will probably come to be one of the biggest decisions we have made as a family.  Should we buy land in the country and start our dreamed of community?  The property is there, the price is right.  It will go fast if we don’t make an offer soon. We could do it.  But should we?  After years of fantasizing, I feel I am so unprepared for this question.  My biggest fear?  Isolation.  If we build it, will they come? 

I thought sure, if we get one or two other families to join up from the start, at least we wouldn’t be alone.  But in my heart I always knew that I needed the courage to make this decision without a safety net.  I always looked like a brave kid.  Sure I could jump in the cold water first.  I could go on that rollercoaster.  I could stand on stage and sing.  But I could do it if I knew others would right after me.  If I knew others would be around.  I didn’t go to the lake myself and jump off the docks. 

And now, now that I so badly want the security of knowing other people will make this leap right after me, I need to make the leap alone.  And I’m scared.  But a decision needs to be made.  And it needs to be made soon.

So while I am obsessing over the future, the here and now are happening and I’m not present.  I am not on top of dinners, laundry, clean up, discipline.  And so yesterday morning things spiraled out of control.  Instead of sticking with the 1,2,3, Magic system, which has really been working so well, I reverted back to being a frustrated, angry mom. 

At one point it got bad.  It got ugly.  Instead of trying to discipline my needy son (of course he was needy, I was out to lunch), I tried to just ignore him and read to his sister.  That really ticked him off. So he starts with annoying noises.  They get louder.  And then the poking.  Oh the poking.  My G-d that is annoying.  So without even turning to look at him I reach out and grab his PJ’s and pull him to me so I can yell at him.

Since I didn’t turn my head, I didn’t see that instead of a handful of clothes, I got a handful of hair.  And I yanked.  Yup, some of his hairs came out in my hand.  Did I suddenly break down and apologize for my unbelievably immature and unthinking action? Inwardly.  But outwardly I just told him to leave me alone.

All I can think is, I am the worst mother.  When you read about parents with difficult children, you never hear about the parent who lost it and back handed the kid, or pulled their hair out.  No one ever admits to that.  But it happens to me.  I do lose it every now and then.  And I get so ashamed for how I screamed directly into his ear, or pushed him away a little too hard and he fell back.  Or some other unintentional, or slightly intentional but not really, action.

But no one ever talks about it.  And I am left to feel that I am the only mother who does this. 

My father comforted and reassured me that I simply fell off my supermom throne and joined the rest of humanity.  And hopefully I will work my way back to being supermom again.  I am trying.  And I suppose that’s all I can do, try.

And the truth is, the more I can forgive myself for not being perfect, the more I can forgive my son for not being perfect.  And my husband.  And my extended family.  And the mean sales clerk.  And the guy who cut me off.  We can’t be perfect.  I know I can’t be perfect.  And it’s a good lesson to teach my children too.

As for my dream of building an organic, eco-sustainable, orthodox Jewish farm community?  Well, if you’re interested, let me know!

1.    The chance to live my dream
2.    Fresh air
3.    Learning opportunities
4.    The librarians (I mean really, they’re awesome!)

Thursday, October 27, 2011


While I don't have time for a long post, I thought I could just insert a little help and laughter into your day.

Here's the help part:
I get very angry and resentful towards my family when I feel I'm taking care of everybody and not getting my owns needs met. I get truly cranky when I'm hungry, especially when I don't even realize that I am hungry. So I now always carry a not so little bag full of a combination of raw nuts (usually almonds and walnuts), dried fruit (just a little if it has added sugar), and some carob chips. This way I feel my needs have been attended to and I even feel I am treating myself. A little self love never hurt no one!

And sometimes you just need to laugh. These brought tears to my eyes when I read them to my father. Enjoy and share!

William Shakespeare wrote "My love is like a red, red rose." Alas, high school students often aren't as articulate as ol' Willie, as these samples from a "Washington Post" article demonstrate:

He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.-Joseph Romm, Washington

She caught your eye like one of those pointy hook latches that used to dangle from screen doors and would fly up whenever you banged the door open again.-Rich Murphy, Fairfax Station

The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.-Russell Beland, Springfield

McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.-Paul Sabourin, Silver Spring

From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and "Jeopardy" comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.-Roy Ashley, Washington

Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze.-Chuck Smith, Woodbridge

Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center.-Russell Beland, Springfield

Bob was as perplexed as a hacker who means to access T:flw.quid55328.com\aaakk/ch@ung but gets T:\flw.quidaaakk/ch@ung by mistake.-Ken Krattenmaker, Landover Hills

Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.-Unknown

He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.-Jack Bross, Chevy Chase

The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.-Gary F. Hevel, Silver Spring

Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.-Jennifer Hart, Arlington

The politician was gone but unnoticed, like the period after the Dr. on a Dr Pepper can.-Wayne Goode, Madison, AL

They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.-Paul Kocak, Syracuse NY

John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.-Russell Beland, Springfield

The thunder was ominous sounding, much like the sound of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in a play.-Barbara Fetherolf, Alexandria

His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.-Chuck Smith, Woodbridge

The red brick wall was the color of a brick-red Crayola crayon. -Unknown

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wake Up!

This morning was anawakening. In every sense of the word. Waking up to get my son ready forschool, waking up to realize we are incredibly off schedule. Waking up to thetruth of my son’s mood. Waking upto the true potential of my motherhood.
Waking up when the childrenare asleep is a challenge. Part ofme is saying, ‘Why on earth am I getting up if all my children aresleeping?’ Then there’s the partof me that says, ‘This is your last chance to be alone today!’ So I gotup. But then there’s the fact thatit’s already late and I really should wake my son up for school. Bummer.
I put a big, fake smile on myface, walked in the door and… “Wake up dear children of mine! It’s a beautifulday! Let’s get up and have a great day together!” Yeah, that’s how you doit. All smiles, how can they beanything but cheerful when I start their day like that?
Sometimes I can be sonaïve. My son pulls the cover overhis head. My daughter escapes pastmy legs and runs into my room so she can smother my sleeping baby withkisses. Cute, but not really. “Okay, buddy,” I say in anunderstanding tone. “I know it’s hard to get up, especially since we’ve been sooff schedule with the chagim, but let’s try to do the best we can.” What’s the response for my amazing showof empathy? A groan and the covers get pulled tighter.
At this point I have a myriadof insults I’d like to hurl his way. The least of which is, ‘Come on. I’m trying my best to be positive here, even though I’m dead tired andonly getting up to get your skinny butt to school.’ But in my head they’re growing to, ‘Listen you little twirp,I used to have a skinny butt too, but you ruined that just like you’re ruiningtoday, just like you ruin EVERYTHING!’
Okay mama, cool it. The kid is five years old. Just leave. Just turn and walk away before anything in your mind comesout your mouth. And I do. Score one for mama! I come downstairsand eat breakfast with my daughter. While I’m making my coffee, my son slinks into the kitchen in hispajamas. I calmly tell him to getdressed. “No,” he says equallycalm. Ooh, that’s annoying. Heat rising, blood pressure rising,anger rising. “No breakfast foryou bud, and you’re going to school in your pj’s.” “No I’m not, and I’ll make myself breakfast. And I’m not going to school.”
I’m at a very dangeroustipping point here. Quick, whatare my options? Remember thatshow, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?I’d like to call a friend, Regis. And so I do. I call afriend whom I know also has a difficult son. She tells me some of her frustrations and tactics. I vent about mine. I’m ignoring my son in hispajamas. Blood pressure dropping,core temp cooling. I say goodbyeand face my son.
“Here’s what’s going tohappen. I am setting my phonealarm for ten minutes. When thealarm goes off, I’m packing the little ones in the stroller and leaving. I hope by then you are dressed and willcome with us.” After a panicked protest I add the best part. “Would you like to pick the alarmsound?” And let us take a moment hereto thank Steve Jobs for the iphone. Bless your soul. “Really?Any sound I want?”
So, after going through allthe sounds on my phone, at least twice, he picks robot. And just like that, sets off running tobeat the clock. Look at that, he’strying to beat a clock and not me! And after comes the best part…
“Mama, can we set the alarmfor our walk to school?” Oh My G-d. The walk to school is usually grounds for the biggest fight of the day.He hates walking. He wants todrive like all his friends. His legsare tired. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. It’s too sunny. It’s too rainy. On and on and on. But not today. Today we were racing the clock!
Do I consider myself arockstar after this magnificent morning? Yes, yes I do. And I hope to aspire to this level ofbadass-rock-magnificence every day!
1. This rockin’ morning
2. The goodbye kiss I got at school
3. My baby’s enormous poop didn’t leak up his back
4. The sunlight on the leaves with the dark cloudy skybehind
5. My garlic got planted before winter (Thanks Cindi!)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Moment of Gratitude

1. The sweetness of my son
2. Getting back to laundry
3. A break from eating chicken and kugel
4. Getting back to routine
5. Surviving the Chagim
6. Missing my sisters (it's a good ache)
7. The sunshine today
8. Scarves
9. Having so many things to be grateful for
10. Growth
11. Meaning in my life

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Nature of Travelling

I am spending Sukkot, at least the first half, with my sister in Ithaca, NY.  First let me tell you, it is so beautiful here! Open her door and you can hear the roar of a waterfall.  A huge waterfall.  It's gorgeous.  And that's only up the block.  We've driven along a beautiful river that comes off a 60 mile lake.  I mean come on.  And it's fall.  So chalk it up to G-d for the amazing display of foliage yet again.

At night, when the kids are asleep, and we're playing Boggle, laughing about intimate things only sister's share, I am so glad we came.  During the six hour car ride, every night that I've gotten a little less than four hours of sleep (which is every night since we've been here) all the times my son asks me, "what am I supposed to do here?", my husband's incessant complaining about the temperature of the house, I ask myself, "why did I choose to travel with children?"

But today I had a good day.  Despite the fact that it started well before the sun came up.  I'm sharing a room with my daughter and baby.  They are the two worst sleepers in the family.  My son wakes up to nurse.  This wakes my daughter.  I get my son back to sleep and then my daughter thinks it's time to say hello to him.  She sits there so innocently, stroking his hand and head, cooing his name.  It's hard to get mad at her, but somehow I manage.  But soon I gave up on sleep and came downstairs instead.

One thing I have learned about traveling with young children... if you are invited, then your hosts put themselves at risk of loosing sleep.  I used to drive myself crazy when my first son was a toddler.  He would wake up at the crack of dawn, and play very loudly.  If I tried to hush him, he wailed so loud I cowered in shame.  I thought it was my responsibility to make sure his presence didn't intrude on anyone's lives.  But you know what?  Children are intrusions! So, now I hold by the fact that if you invite me, you invite my children, and my children are loud.  Especially in the morning.

It took me years to learn that.  But back to today.  Once we finally got going, you know around 1pm, we went to a nature reserve.  As well as live caged animals, we also saw wild deer, some kind of ferret or something, and a six story tree house.  There were woods and streams, waterfalls and meadows.  A truly fall overcast day with enough wind to make you pull your scarf a little tighter around your neck. There was an almost magical moment when my husband and son were opening milkweed buds and releasing the soft, flying seeds into the wind above the meadow.  I live for those moments.

But there are harder aspects of being in someone else's home.  I cannot chase my children around picking up after them.  I need to be able to feed them and not wash up immediately after.  I need to let them cry and not have everyone look at me wondering if it's because I want them to cry, or because I'm waiting for someone to give me a break.  I need to just mother.  And it's really hard to mother away from home.  No time out rooms.  Not many toys.  No friends.  No sleep schedule.  Yeah, it's hard.

But the attitude I try to keep it this: It's not ideal for any of us.  The guests or the hosts.  So let's all suck it up with grace and just enjoy each other's company while we can.  But I guess that opinion isn't shared by all.  And to some degree I understand.  Guests think, we're out of our comfort zone, came all this way, you should bend for us.  Hosts think, we put you up, discomfort ourselves, give you our food, you should at least keep the place clean and quiet.

Well, thinking that way only makes space for unattainable expectations, disappointments, resentments and bad moods.  So I say, suck it up people! At least we're all together.  And since I'm the one up at 4am, washing tooshies and dishes, all y'all should just smile and say thanks!

Okay, that's my high horse.  Here's what's behind the arrogance... My sister asked me to please pick up after my kids before her guests arrive.  Simple request, totally reasonable.  Here's my inward reaction... Are you ashamed that there are kids here? Are you ashamed of my kids? Is there a reason you can have a chumash on the table but not Good Night Moon? Do you want to erase all evidence of their existence? Why must you apologize for their stuff? Instead of saying, 'Sorry about this stuff, my niece and nephews are here,' I want you to say, 'Yeah, isn't it great, my niece and nephews are here!'  Totally irrational.  Totally unfounded.  Totally baseless.  And yet I am so triggered.  Why?

Honestly I don't have an answer.  I think partly it's the extreme lack of sleep that contributes to my taking everything so personally. Also, I think I want everyone to recognize what an amazing job I am doing, traveling with three little ones.  Instead I'm feeling that, to some degree, my family is just an intrusion on an otherwise quiet and calm atmosphere.  I know my sister likes having me around.  But now I come in a package.  My family.  And I guess I want us all to be liked.  And that's easy when my daughter is talking to herself in her room as she falls asleep, saying things like, "I love you," over and over.  It's a little harder when my baby is spitting up on their couch, or my son is shouting and slamming doors.

But, that's us.  And to a certain extent, that's me.  I am my family.  Their accomplishments are mine.  Their sweetness, giggles, nagging and cries, I lay claim to it all.  And it's not that I get embarrassed by their actions.  Really.  I've done a lot of work on myself to get over that.  But I will stand with them if ever there is a side to stand on.

I don't regret the choice to travel. I knew it would be uncomfortable.  I knew it would be hard.  And it is.  But it's also a change of pace, something new.  It's time to be with the ones I love.  Time to be a creative mother, while also being a loving and caring sister, wife and daughter.  That's a big challenge and I say, Bring It On! 

Did I mention that 3 minutes into our 6 1/2 hour drive, my son pooped up his back and I forgot to leave out a change of clothes? After all, it's not really my blog if I don't mention poop, right?

1. My sister
2. Foliage
3. The ability to be happy when uncomfortable
4. Large cups of coffee 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I know that three blogs in one day is quite excessive. But I can't seem to still my mind long enough to fall asleep. It is 3:30 in the morning. In about two hours my son will wake up, crying to nurse. An hour and a half after that my other son and daughter will wake up and my day will begin. But knowing all that somehow makes it only harder to rest now.

I am thinking about my dream to live in the country. I am imagining what my house will look like. I am picturing the little community of houses we will build. I am decorating the school room for the children. I am putting a swing on the beautiful maple in the courtyard.

Now I am awkwardly choosing who can live there. No, I don't want to do that. Just let the right people come. 'Please G-d, send us the right people.'

It's been a while since a thought (or stream of thoughts) has so completely overtaken me that it has kept exhaustion from overtaking me. By the end of the day I often can hardly stand long enough for a shower. But not tonight.

I want to think about the myriad of things I still have to do tomorrow before our long drive. And about how tired I will be for that drive. But I try to stay present. Tonight there is just me, my son squirming in his bed, my husband's snores, and the train's horn in the distance.

Every moment is an opportunity to grow, connect, live. And I wonder, where is the potential in this moment? It is gravid with anticipation. But I want to lighten it and fill it with emunah, acceptance. I start to call out to G-d and give Him my ideas, my plans. Instead I will try to quiet enough to perhaps hear what His plans are for me. And if that doesn't happen, maybe I could just let myself be in a state of listening.

In order to listen I guess I need to stop talking. So good night everyone.

1. Crickets
2. Potential
3. Earplugs

Monday, October 10, 2011


So I realize that lately my posts haven't been funny, and I think it's important to laugh. So I'm going to post some jokes just to make sure everyone who follows my blog (all 8 of you) will get a chance to smile. Enjoy!

A guy walks into a doctor's office and says, "Doc, I can't stop singing the 'Green, Green Grass of Home.'"

The doctor hears this, thinks for a moment, then says, "Sounds like you have Tom Jones Syndrome."
"Is it common?"
"Well, it's not unusual."

I was in the restaurant yesterday when I suddenly realized I desperately needed to pass gas. The music was really, really loud, so I timed my gas with the beat of the music.

After a couple of songs, I started to feel better. I finished my coffee, and noticed that everybody was staring at me.

Then I suddenly remembered that I was listening to my iPod.

The CIA had an opening for an assassin. After all the background checks, interviews and testing were done there were three finalists: two men and a woman.

For the final test, the CIA agents took one of the men to a large metal door and handed him a .45 revolver. "We must know that you will follow your instructions, no matter what the circumstances. Inside this room, you will find your wife sitting in a chair. Kill her!"

The man said, "You can't be serious. I could never shoot my wife." The agent said, "Then you're not the right man for this job."

The second man was given the same instructions. He took the gun and went into the room. All was quiet for about five minutes. Then the man came out with tears in his eyes. "I tried, but I can't kill my wife," the man said. "You don't have what it takes. Take your wife and go home."

Finally, it was the woman's turn. She was given the same instructions to kill her husband. She took the gun and went into the room. Six shots were heard, one shot after another. The agents heard screaming, crashing and banging on the walls. After a few minutes, all was quiet. The door opened slowly and there stood the woman. She wiped the sweat from her brow, and said, "This gun is loaded with blanks. I had to beat him to death with the chair."

(okay, it's dark, but it's funny!)


Those who know me know that it has long been my dream to live in rural country land. Yesterday my husband and I took the first step towards making that dream a reality.

Now I'm not sure If the butterflies in my belly are excitement, anticipation or just anxiety. I have so many hopes and so many fears. What if no one comes and we're all alone without community? What if people come and we don't mesh? What if my son doesn't have any close friends? What if I get too excited and then it doesn't work? What if it does?

What if I sit back and slowly, intentionally, embrace my future?

What would that look like? I'll tell you when these butterflies fly away. In an old children's book there's a line I love: if you have butterflies in your stomach, invite them into your heart.

This Sukkot, as I dwell in a structure as temporary and fleeting as life truly is, I will try to let go of what I believe my dream should look like. And instead open myself up to the infiniteness that is the true matter of dreams.
I invite you to dream with me...

1. A possible dream manifesting
2. An upcoming visit with my sister
3. A productive day
4. The smell of brisket in my oven
5. No fights with my son!!!
6. Butterflies

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Eating Again

The fast is over. And thank G-d, it wasn't hard this year. What was hard was the bedtime fight I had with my son. And so I wonder... In the spirit of Yom Kippur was I to let my son stay up and therefor avoid all possible tension? Or is that me taking the easy way out? Maybe consistency, though unpleasant, is the responsible thing to do.

I don't know if there is a 'right' answer. What I do know is that during Neilah, when the gates of shamayim were closing, I wish the words loudly pouring from my mouth weren't "Go to sleep now! And I don't want to see your face again for the rest of this night!"

If the person I loved most in this world yelled that at me I would be crushed.

So my prayer today is this:
Hashem, please keep your gates open just a little bit longer. Please help me guard what comes out of my mouth with all the vehemence I apply to what goes in. Help me have as much patience with my family as You show me each and every minute. Please don't close Your heavenly gates just yet. And if You do, please close them with me inside!

1. Food
2. A calm morning
3. A forgiving family
4. A forgiving G-d

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Yom Kippur War

 The Yom Kippur war that I am referring to is the one that happens within me.  It is the struggle between the notion that today I should be like an angel AND I should wipe butts, feed hungry, kvetchy children, and become the day’s entertainment (since sticking my kids in front of a movie is out).  Oh, and I should do all this while fasting and nursing! Show me an angel that can do all that.  Maybe the angels should strive more to be like mothers.  We have free will and this is how we choose to use it. 

Somewhere in there I also feel the need to daven.  So, rather then let the battle play out on Yom Kippur when I will inevitably be starving, cranky and not on my game, I have decided to do some pre-war preparation.  Come up with a battle plan.  So here is some of it, and maybe it can help you too.

One of the main battles I face each year is one between my husband and me.  The truth is he never really gets a chance to participate.  The battle is all inside me.  I tell him to go to Shul, daven, be a good Jew on this important day.  And inside I’m thinking, ‘G-d doesn’t need him to pray in Shul. G-d knows what’s in his heart.  I need him to help me out while I try to fast, nurse and care for three kids!  That’s what a good Jew should do.’ And still the words coming out of my mouth are, “Go honey, go to Shul.  It’s what you should do.”  Then I resent him for going.  He never stood a chance. 

This year I am getting outside help for part of the day to help with the kids.  Find someone, anyone who’s not fasting.  An eleven year old girl, a non-Jewish neighbor, a secular sister-in-law.  Anyone. 

Next is the kids.  Have food ready!  Last year when my kids said they were hungry I mumbled something to effect of, “Whaddaya want me to so about it?  I’m hungry too!”  So this year I will be cooking food that is ready to eat and needs no prep from me.  I want to throw it on a plate and walk away from it as fast as possible.  In more detail, I plan to have cold cuts, peanut butter and jellies, and something I make called quinoa pudding.  I’ll post the recipe at the bottom of this page.  Please add your own ideas for easy meals to feed our kids.

Also, I plan to go to the store and buy a few small things that are new so that they will hopefully be entertained for a little while without me. 

The biggest battle is within myself.  I want to be spiritual, holy, like an angel and all that.  And when I was young and davening at Carlebach minyans in small, intimate shuls, I really felt all that.  Now?  Well, now it’s a different story.  So before Yom Kippur begins I am going to work on accepting that.  My life is different now.  And I truly believe that there isn’t anything out there more holy than raising my children. 

Next is to take care of my physical needs.  I will try to pump milk this week so that perhaps my body can take a little break for a feeding or two.  Also, all day Friday I will drink about two liters of coconut water.  I can’t even tell you how much easier this makes the fast.  It is filled with electrolytes that help keep the thirst at bay.

Finally, I plan to set aside one half hour at some point to have a good talk with G-d.  It isn’t a formal Amidah, but in the past I have had some very profound moments doing this.  One year I found that I was holding so much resentment, and I had no clue I had felt that way.  I found that in my heart I needed to forgive my son, a toddler at the time, for coming into my life and changing it so drastically and making it so much harder.  I needed to forgive myself for failing to become the adult I had envisioned myself to be as a child.  Mostly I realized that I needed to forgive G-d for giving me the life I had.  I life I didn’t remember asking for.  The life I wasn’t sure I wanted. 

This year I feel most of the work will be on forgiving myself.  I have failed to live up to my own aspirations and goals.  I am not the mother I would like to be.  I lose my patience all the time.  I get cranky and mean to children who deserve so much more.  I haven’t found creative ways to instill the self-confidence my son so badly needs.  I have failed myself and my family in so many ways. 

And yet Yom Kippur is a day where we dress up like angels.  Because all year round we know that we are only human.  I am only human.  And so this year I hope to forgive myself for this.  And continue to aspire to be the best human, mother, wife, Jew, person, I can be.

An easy and meaningful fast to all.

Quinoa Pudding:

Overcook the quinoa by about 5 min.
Add milk (soy, almond, rice, cow) until it’s creamy.
Add cinnamon and raisins or craisins.
Add agave nectar or honey.
Mix and refrigerate.  It’s great served cold.

1.   My baby giggled for the first time.
2.   I got this out before Yom Kippur.
3.   I got to sleep a little extra this morning.

This Morning

I’m typing this one-handed while nursing my son at a café on Forbes.  It’s ten o’clock and I just dropped my son off at school. He’s supposed to start at 8:15.  

But today’s story really started last night.  I went to bed at 8:30 with a migraine.
Those that know me know that I am not an organized person.  At all.  I used to thrive on impulsivity, and freedom.  I realized in my motherhood that all that freedom and impulsiveness just leads to chaos and unhappy children and parents.  I am much more happy when following a routine.  That being said, the holidays totally throw me for a loop.  I have to work hard to have any organization in my home and, when a three day yontif comes, oh man, I really have to work hard to get back on track. 

So yesterday, Tuesday, I was still not on track and then I got above mentioned migraine.  I’m not complaining, just explaining that without my night routine my mornings are INSANE!  I never cleared the table from last night’s dinner.  I never made my son’s lunch for school.  I didn’t even have a breakfast cake baked. (Breakfast cake is a wholegrain, nut filled, agave nectar sweetened cake that can be eaten for breakfast at home or on the go.  I can’t stand trying to come up with a healthy breakfast before I’ve had coffee.)

For this reason I let the kids sleep in a little this morning.  I mean come on, would you wake them up after a migraine night?  And as I lay in bed I planned how I was going to make this morning a little easier.  I wouldn’t dress the two little ones.  They can go in the stroller in their PJs.  In fact, they’ll probably be warmer that way.  I’ll give them cereal for breakfast, it’s quick and easy.  And finally, we’ll just all stay in a good mood to keep the day running smoothly.


Here’s what actually happened.  My son wouldn’t get out from under the covers.  My daughter pooped in her PJs.  Literally, it was in her PJs, then she slid down the stairs on her tush, further smooshing the mess.  After I changed her diaper I called up to my son and told him to Get Dressed Now!  In a nice voice, of course.  Then I nursed my screaming baby.  While nursing he pooped.  Not a little baby squirt, poop.  No, this was an up the back and all over poop.  Okay, still not in a bad mood.

Next is breakfast.  My son doesn't want cereal. "Eat is anyway." My daughter wants more then pours the extra serving all over her newly dressed self.  My baby is still screaming. I text my husband, ‘please tell me something good to focus on so that I don’t drown in this bad mood coming.’  I think he’ll text me back something like, ‘you’re beautiful.’ ‘you’re the best mother ever.’ ‘I love you infinitely.’  Nah.  He texted me back a picture of himself with a goofy grin, giving me a thumbs up. 

At this point I see three paths ahead of me.  One is me laying down and crying.  The next is me getting angry.  At everyone.  And finally I see myself laughing.  Just laughing.  My friends, it was a great gift of G-d to show me these paths, because once you can see them, the choice is clear.  I laughed.  I really laughed.  And it felt GOOD! 

Now I had written a blog on how to stay sane on Yom Kippur.  But I think this was the right blog for today.  But I do want to stress the fact that taking care of our children, when we’re really trying our best, is so holy.  In fact, I would say on the day when we’re supposed to fast and pray all day and dress up like angels, well, I believe the angels should wipe butts, feed screaming mouths and dress up like mommies.  Our work is holy and there is nothing I could do with my life that would bring me more pride and satisfaction. 

1.   This piping hot cup of earl grey I’m sipping.
2.   My daughter saying “thank you” when I gave her some juice.
3.   That my blog is helping others notice the good in their lives.
4.   The ability to laugh.
5.   My husband’s wonderful and needed thumbs up.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A First

This is my first blog. Ever.  I feel like it should be big, bold, and exciting.  It should be so fascinating that it makes you, the reader, want more.  But my life, as you will soon read, is not big, bold or exciting.  I am not fascinating.  I am, however, a Jewish mother.  And I’m a homemaker.  And as such, I like to talk and I spend a lot of time at home.  Some have even told me I’m funny.  So I have that going for me too.  While I will not be chronicling adventures in Africa where I single handedly feed all the orphans and end the violence, establishing globally conscious, environmentally friendly governments, I will share with you my life and what I’ve learned to so far.

Are you hooked yet?  Then I’ll keep trying.  I have three beautiful and absolutely maddening children.  My son is 5½.  He is smart, energetic, and creative.  In practical application this becomes, ‘Hey mom, check out what I made! It’s a long plastic pcb pipe with a bullet made of screws sealed together with playdough.  When I blow on the end I can shoot it.  Watch me hit my sister!’ I applaud his design, his enthusiasm, his brilliance.  Then I scream at him to put that thing down before it becomes my Behavior Modification Tool.  This gets him more excited… He loves learning new words.  Did I mention his diagnosis of Oppositional Defiance Disorder?  It’s just a label, and I don’t put too much credence in it.  But I do believe it represents a truth of sorts.

Next is my daughter.  She is 22 months old.  She is oozing with personality.  Seriously.  It pours out of her and onto the carpet. And it’s quite a mess to clean up.  She is funnier than any movie I’ve ever seen and more exhausting than a marathon.  So while she terrorizes the house, she does it with such flare I can’t help but laugh.  Not hehe laugh.  More like laugh so hard I pee a little, laugh.

These two are followed by their twelve-week-old brother.  His name is in Hebrew means ‘G-d’s gift.’ I wanted to name him G-d’s surprise gift, but thought that that may bring up too many uncomfortable questions when he got old enough to ask them.  He’s cute.  I mean what else is there to say about a twelve-week-old?

Other things to note about me: I am often labeled a hippie due to my tendency to cook healthy, organic food, garden, raise chickens in my backyard, and enjoy outdoor activities.  However, the little I understand about this label does not really fit me at all. I don’t believe that ‘all we need is love.’  I happily ate the rooster in my backyard when we realized he wasn’t an egg-laying hen, and I enjoyed him thoroughly.  I believe owning guns is a responsible thing to do.  I am undecided politically.  I believe it is a good thing to be environmentally conscious, but much more important to be people conscious.  I’m sure there is more I could say about myself, but then I would feed into my naturally narcissistic tendencies. 

So here’s the true beginning to my blog.
Last night I was taking a bath with my son.  He was floating in the warm water while I supported his head.  As we were smiling at each other he had a startle reflex.  His arms went flying, his body rigid, and his expression turned to fright.  Every parent is well acquainted with this.  I smiled down at him and said, ‘Don’t worry little one.  I’ve got you.’ And it was at this point that I realized how often my own startle reflex kicks in.  Everytime I go to bed and can’t fall asleep because I am worried about the next day.  Each time I get scared I’m not a good enough mother.  Each time I think I will drown by the overwhelming feeling that I am not in control.  The trick is to remember, in those moments, that it’s true.  I am not in control.  I am floating in water, ready to go under.  But G-d is holding my head, smiling down at me and saying, ‘Don’t worry little one.  I’ve got you.’

For my own benefit I am going to end each blog with a ‘good list.’ It is a list of anything I perceive as good in my life.  What I love about it is how much it reminds of how much I truly have, how incredibly lucky I am.  And what I love even more is when people share their ‘good’ in my list.  So please, add to my list! I want to read about your good too.

1.   My baby just stopped crying as I’m typing this.
2.   I got to where a cozy sweater today.
3.   My older kids are sleeping right now.
4.   I get a chance to do better tomorrow.
5.   I figured out how to start a blog.
Okay, now it's your turn.  Add to my good list with your comments!
Also, coming soon: recipes and tips I have learned that have helped me not go insane as a mother. Stay tuned.