Thursday, December 31, 2015

My how the time flies

Wow- I can't believe it's already December 31st.  That 2015 has been coming to an end.  And it's been moving so quickly.

2015 has been a complicated year for us.  Though Ocho was born in 2014 and my mom also died in 2014 it seems like 2015 has really been the year of change.

  • We've moved out of our first home, and still not into our new one.
The home that made us a family.  The place we brought home our two baby girls and enjoyed all the things that being a family had to offer.  Where I discovered my love (and modicum of talent) for designing and decorating, and EG learned to walk, run and jump.  Where Ocho had her first night of sleep, and the last place my Mother saw my whole family together...

  • We both changed jobs, me twice and Working Dad once.
I left my job at UCLA formally in April, and became a Searching-For-Work mom.  Then I decided to become a freelancer, taking contract positions as they've come to me.  Working Dad left the job he got after his brief spell of unemployment.  He's started at the new company and is loving it.
  • We've dealt with huge family upsets and changes, from my Dad and cousins, to his brother.  Both positive and negative... (here's one of the great moments!)

  • EG went from being a toddler to being a full fledged preschooler.  My adorable little girl, growing up so quickly.
  • And Susanna from a baby to a toddler... What a wonderful child she is becoming.
  • We moved our entire family into two different temporary homes. 
We moved in initially with my Dad, but then found space with Working Dad's Grandfather.  It's been wonderful to live with him, and we're blessed that we've been so so so welcome here.  Nothing beats sharing a Popsicle with your Great-Grandfather.  He even does babysitting duty!

  • We moved our lovely cat into two different temporary homes.  (on another note, anyone looking for a lovely, sweet cat?)
  • We took our first whole family vacation- internationally to Mexico with Club Med. 
  • We had my Sister-in-Law for dinner for the first time.  See above about moving the cat out of the house, hence her able to visit!
  • We lost my cousin, one of the most amazing people I know, Brett Tashman.
He fought for 5 years to be better, and fought hard.  We spent many days at the hospital with him before he passed, and confirmed the love we've had for these forever friends.  His death was a resounding blow to our whole world.

2015 was a complicated and wonderful year.  I'm glad it's over, and am hopeful for the future.  Despite my mother's passing being in 2014, it seemed like so much of 2015 was living the first of many things without her.  I know that much of 2016 will feel like the world without Brett, but I'm hopeful that maybe the pain of their loss will be able to slowly dissipate.

Becoming a family of four has included a lot of growing pains, and I'm especially glad that those are finished.  We've melded and blended together in 2015.  We've created the Millers, family of four.  We've accomplished a lot, and had a LOT of challenges.  But we've faced them all. 

Here's to 2016.... ready or not, here it comes.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Toldot, a Mother's perspective

I've been reading the Torah portions again.  I'm so happy when I do that.  It's not always easy, and I definitely don't do it as much as I like.  With everything else going on it's hard sometimes to give myself the space and time I need to commit to reading and enjoying and exploring the Torah portion.

This week's portion is Toldot.  When most people read Toldot they focus on the relationship between Esau and Jacob.  Of course I understand why, the bulk of the Torah portion is about them and there is much to learn about the differences between Esau and Jacob, as well as how their parents respond to them.

But this week what struck me more than anything else were the first few sentences:

"And Isaac prayed to the Lord opposite his wife because she was barren, and the Lord accepted his prayer, and Rebecca his wife conceived."

My interest is in the many different views of this sentence.

The New International Version:
Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.

The JPS Tanak Version:
Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord responded to his plea, and his wife Rebekah conceived

In my mind the ideas behind these different version can be quite stark.  The idea that Isaac prayed opposite his wife shows a firm and true commitment.  An understanding of the joint anguish a couple can feel at not becoming pregnant.

It took my mother over seven years to become pregnant.  It wasn't an easy journey for her, or for my family.  In that time, however, I think that my father viewed it as more of my mother's problem.  I might be wrong, but that's my intuition based upon the conversations I had with my mother before she passed.

I have several friends who are currently pregnant and it's often difficult to see the transition from wife to mother in the girl, and yet a lack of transition from husband to father in the man.  He's not quite but sort of a father.  But the moment that she knows there is another life inside of her the wife and woman has become a mother.  Her choices aren't her own- from lunch to dinner to sleep and emotions.

So when I saw it Toldot that Isaac prayed opposite Rebecca it seemed amazing.  That together they took the mantle of becoming a family upon them both.  Then, unfortunately, it gets sad. 

the Lord accepted his prayer and Rebecca his wife conceived.

It seems incredible that G-d would accept his prayer and not hers.  I choose to believe in the positive side of the discussion.  That for many years Rebecca had been anguished and wanting a child.  Then when two became one and prayed opposite each other to G-d, declaring seperately and together that they wanted to make a family, then G-d answered.

I know to many women, to many families struggling to make the family they always envisioned.  If this is a testament to them at all, read inside the story that standing together as a couple, as future parents might make all things possible.

How do you read Toldot this week?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Hugging or Not?

I've blogged about this before, that a child has a right to decide if they want to physically interact with another person, be they child, adult or grandparent, but reading this article about a what a hug did inside of a church brought a whole additional piece to the puzzle.

In the story a child complained about an adult volunteer hugging her.  She told her mother, who spoke with the pastor and then the pastor spoke to the volunteer.  The next time the child encountered the volunteer, however, the adult forced another hug and a 'pinky-swear' not to tell mommy.  Luckily this child told her mother.  The church moved forward with an official notice to the Department of Social Services and all heck broke loose.

I am a firm believer that my child does not have to physically interact with another person she does not want to.  I am also a firm believer in being polite.  Not touching someone does not mean we don't say hello, make eye contact or otherwise engage in meaningful interchange.  But there is a line we cross when we engage with another person physically.

There are lots of arguments for and against the hugging controversy.  Yup, that's right, I called it a controversy.  Like we don't have enough on our plates that we are judging other people for whether their child shows the 'right' kind of affection the 'right way'?

From a Jewish perspective it's all a matter of Leviticus 18:6 through 18:19.  This torah portion is the direct start of the idea of Negiah or not touching between men and women.  Specifically Leviticus says:

"No man shall come near to any of his close relatives, to uncover [their] nakedness. I am the Lord."

It's interesting to note that it says 'come near' not just nakedness.  This shows us that there is, in fact, a proper level of removal between family members of a certain age. We do not follow Negiah, but it's interesting that the idea of not coming in close contact is very readily written and codified in Jewish law for us to fall back on.  This separation is even true during birth and labor, and interestingly enough when one of the partners in a marriage is observing Shiva.  One of these days I'm going to enlighten the world as to the gift of shiva to a grieving person...

Back to the topic at hand.  If you read those articles, you might have noticed some people complaining about how this is ruining their apologies too.  We already know how I feel about forced apologies.  The idea that you are ending your forced apology with a forced 'hug it out' scenario is just so incredible to me that I don't even know where to start. 

Now don't get me wrong.  I'm not raising your children.  If you have a policy inside your home that your children hug it out when they apologize, good for you.  That's just not for me or my children.  So don't try to force your ideals onto my children either at the park of the classroom or the synagogue.

Of course the thing that I think is most startling about the article is that they seemed to entirely skip over the part where the volunteer adult told the child to 'pinky-swear' that they wouldn't tell their parents.  Red flag anyone?  Let's not even get started on secrets...this post is already getting to long.

Here's a cute hug to leave you with...because despite this post, I really do love Hugging!

All photos by Laura Layera, LuluPhoto

Monday, October 12, 2015

Attending a Bris

I often get questions about what to do when you attend a bris at someone's house.  For a lot of parents who may be interfaith or not overly religious the idea of a bris can be a bit scary- a medical procedure inside someone's home.  To cover the highlights a bris is when a Jewish son is circumcised, or when the foreskin of the penis is removed.  It is usually customary to formally name the child at this time, which can be the very first time the child is named, or the giving of a Hebrew name in addition to a secular one.  So here are a few tips to make your first bris the celebration it's meant to be.

1.  Bring along a gift of some kind.  No this isn't a requirement, but just like a birthday party or another event at someoen's home it's customary to bring a small gift to the baby boy.  This could be something as simple as  card with a check for $18 (chai) or a small stuffed animal.  I'm a huge fan of this onesie, which celebrates the naming of the child, rather than focusing on the religious aspect of the circumcision.


2. Be prepared to stay for a while.   The process for a bris can range from 15 minutes to several hours.  A lot depends on the arrival of the Mohel and how the baby is doing.  There's usually some nosh, so grab a plate and plan to stick around for quite a bit. And on that note, be prepared to pitch in to help.  These people just had a baby, and they are hosting something akin to a party.  Help them out by taking care of something like the trash, the dishes, or just hiding their dirty socks under the couch.

3.  Don't expect to hold the baby.  This is not only a religious ritual, but it's also the first 8 days of baby's life.  Do use hand sanitizer whenever it seems you might get a chance, but don't be upset if mamma wants to keep the baby near her.  It can be traumatic for moms to hear their baby boys crying, so don't be concerned if she holds him close, and then when it's over usher's him back to his room for some quite time and/or nursing.

4. CELEBRATE.  It can seem a bit weird to shout Mazel Tov over the cries of a baby, or seeing the tears staining the new moms' eyes, but people who hold brises and invite people to share this moment are doing so because this is a great simcha.  It's a moment when they are declaring their dedication to Judaism, welcoming their son into the community of Jews and celebrating that he's come into this world.  So remember to raise a toast, speak kind and exciting words, and celebrate the joyous occasion.  

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Learning a True Apology for Yom Kippur

One of my goals for EG right now is to start understanding the thoughts and processes behind an apology.  It's been an interesting road to travel down, not just within our family, but within the preschool system, the mommy wars, and the Jewish culture.

It all started a long time ago when I read "It's okay not to share, Renegade Rules for Parenting" and learned a little more about saying "I'm Sorry."  If I'm honest I hadn't given it much thought, but I had vivid memories of fights between my parents about those words.  In my mothers world, the fact that I issued the words I'm sorry meant that all was well and good.  In my fathers, those words meant nothing, and did nothing to change what ill I'd done.  With that in mind, I agreed with Heather Shumaker and decided not to force EG to say she was sorry until it meant something and she could understand what the thoughts were behind the words.

Fast forward to EG being in school for a while and she comes home and issues 'sorry's' left and right.  Just a quick little blip on the map, then moving on with her activity and day.  And that's when I really began to feel like Ms.Shumaker was right.  I don't want empty words to placate me.  However, EG had been learning this at school and it's hard to start to undo what was already done there.

So I redoubled my efforts to get EG to offer something other than empty words.  Ice or a hug when she hurt someone, help and a hand when she knocked something over.  But that didn't go over very well on the local playground.  I remember a vivid confrontation with one mother over my daughters lack of an apology.  Mind you, EG helped the boy up, offered him a turn on the swing, and otherwise was a perfect lady when it came to sorting out the problem.  But this mom only answered back with "Aren't you going to say you're sorry?"

Of course, I now realize the problem with that exchange wasn't just about saying it.  It's with a fundamental misunderstanding in our culture today between the words "I'm Sorry" and "I apologize."  These two things are fundamentally different, and this Yom Kippur I'm trying to set the record straight.

The definition of Sorry:

adjective: sorry; comparative adjective: sorrier; superlative adjective: sorriest

feeling distress, especially through sympathy with someone else's misfortune.


The definition of Apology:

noun: apology; plural noun: apologies
a regretful acknowledgment of an offense or failure.

Notice the big difference?  Sorry doesn't acknowledge any wrong doing on the part of the person involved.  It makes no one take responsibility for their actions and acknowledge a failure.  This could be a failure of communication, an accident, or an intentional infraction, but no matter what you caused it, and you should own up to it.

I've vowed this Yom Kippur to go beyond the surface and really get to the root of apologizing.  To teach my children that there is no shame, fear or embarrasment about acknowledging you did something wrong.  And as our children grow up one of the best things they can do as an adult is to accept their own failures, learn from them and move on. The new buzz word of the world is grit, and you can't have grit if you can't own up to your own mistakes.

So we'll be teaching EG a new way to apologize.  Starting with word choice. From now on I say the words 'I apologize' when I mean it, and 'I'm sorry' when it's appropriate. I'm helping EG to correct her word choice to.  And I'm offering up this model for her apologies:

1. I apologize for...
2. It was wrong because....
3. In the future I will...
4. Will you forgive me?
Of course, just because you apologize doesn't mean you get forgiveness.  It can sometimes take more than just a heartfelt apology to rid your heart of the anger or hurt you feel.  And EG has to learn that too.  It's all about the argument between my parents.  My mom was right that when someone truly apologizes that we should accept their apology.  My dad was right that just because you say some words it doesn't mean that my plate isn't broken anymore... Jewish talmud teaches us that you have to apologize three times to someone, to truly mean it before you can consider yourself having apologized properly and moving on without forgiveness.

If we truly see Yom Kippur as an opportunity for apologies and forgiveness then we can all take a step in the right direction this year.  I'm tired of the blanket 'if i did anything wrong, i'm sorry' approach, and I want to teach EG that she's better than that. I also believe that the heart of Yom Kippur honestly isn't about making apoligies, but rather learning to forgive.

I'm hoping that given time she will learn how to take responsibilities for her own actions, own up to the hurt she can cause others with her words and deeds, and then truly take the time to reflect and apologize.  We all know how untempered resentment can build up inside when you feel hurt or taken advantage of.  Hopefully when EG understands the steps to make amends she can make good friendships, be successful in school and work, and have lasting caring relationships.  But that may be too much to put onto one little apology....?



Monday, August 31, 2015

GeltFiend: Because it's really not to early for Chanukah...

I realize that I haven't even talked about where to go for rosh hashana, but when I got my email from geltfiend, I couldn't help but share.

For those of you out of the loop, geltfiend is a great online store that specializes in chanukah wear, specifically kitsch and sweaters.  I talked about then last year when I got the awesome sweaters for EG and me.

This year they've come out with their line even earlier, so you can have your sweater ready the moment the season hits.  My favorite piece...

Candledrip Sweater.

Isn't it awesome!  The colors, the style.  I'm totally in love.  Anyone want to buy me my first chanukah gift?

They also have everything left over from the first two years still available.  The kiddo items are so cute, and I can testify to the quality myself.

Check out the rest of the line, and their new video here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Gone, but not forgotten

Hello Friends,

I'm so sorry that I've been out of touch lately.  Between trips and traveling and packing and unpacking, it's been a heck of a month out there.  It's been so hard to settle myself and the family into the new routine here in Orange County, and we're already moving out of one temporary house into another.

I'd hoped to have the launch of something wonderful with you all.  I had a plan. A few weeks of vacation, a nice transition down to the OC, then the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT.

But things don't always go as I plan them, do they?

So here we are, the week of my Mother's death one year later.  Here I am, strangely living in her house without her.  Watching my lovely EG get her learning to walk bumps and bruises.

Here's a note to say that I haven't forgotten about you, my internet friends, and I hope to be back to daily and weekly updates very soon.

With love,

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Five tips I'm taking from staging

When we got our house ready to sell we had to get things in order.  That meant clearing out the clutter and really trying to scale back.  In some ways it was bad (I really miss the kids playspace) but in lots of other ways it's been really good.

Here are 5 things I'll continue to do when we finally find our next house...

1. Keep cooking things off the counter. 

This isn't my counter top, (thanks gcmenezes) but it might as well have been.  We kept olive oil, salt, pepper, random spices, vinegar, etc. all on the countertop right next to the stove.  So when we were getting ready to sell all those things had to move up to to the shelf above.

This is my kitchen:

Enter the bright and sparkly, and not cluttered, countertop.  See those hanging shelves down from the upper cabinet?  Those were where my spices are.  Despite these clever storage units there was still a TON of stuff where those flowers are.  Needless to say, my realtor was not a fan- she made me clean it up.  I thought it would really drive me nuts, but it dosen't.  I just put everything in that cabinet above the countertop and put it away when I'm done.  It means a nicer workspace for all of us.

2. Put it away, immediately

I know we've heard this before, but living in a house where at any moment you could get a call from your realtor about someone wanting to stop by really drives the message home.  I wouldn't wish that stress on anyone, but it really puts it in perspective about how the little things (like really finishing a project, or only doing the things you really have time for) can impact your feelings about the house.  With things neat and tidy I had more time to spend scrapbooking, and making messes that I knew

3. Get rid of it.

A huge piece to staging is clearing out the clutter.  From piles of papers to anything else.  It's totally liberating to realize how little stuff you need.  Yes, there are things that I was missing in my life, but honestly, those things are fewer than I thought they might be.  There are tons of things that we just don't need but we own anyways.  And no, I'm not talking about Halloween decor or Maternity clothes, I'm talking about the 6 different random coffee mugs, or the cards from college that you really don't need to be hanging on to.  When you are packing, and prepping the house for sale you realize all the things you just don't need.

4. Toy Rotation/Less Toys

I've always been a fan of this idea, but it wasn't until my kiddos were living with less than a quarter of their toys, both at home most days, and still doing totally fine that I realized my kids are inundated with toys.  We had a whole playspace full of them, in addition to whats here in these photos, and they don't really miss a them almost ever.  Sure there are items they do miss (guitar anyone...?) but over the long haul it's been totally fine.  Paper, a few crayons, playdough and bubbles have kept us happy since EG stopped school in mid-June.

5. Mementos and photos make a house a home

This has been the easiest lesson to learn.  Without the things that make us who we are, it's a sad place to be in.  A house is more than a house- it's a home to you and your stuff.They moved a lot of our photos, and living without touching anything makes it a really stressful way to live.  So bake that bread, hang up that photo, and enjoy living in your home.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Jewish Tooth Fairy

I can't believe that I'm writing this, I can't believe that I have a need to figure this out right now.  But I do...

This past weekend while EG was in the loving care of my happy sister-in-law she had an incident.  She jumped off the slide and, in doing so, hit her chin with her knee.  Out popped one of her front teeth.  Thank goodness my SIL & BIL are kind and patient people, who took good care of EG.  She got ice cream, tylenol and a good old fashioned helping of Elsa and Anna. The girl couldn't have been happier.  Mommy however, absolutely devastated.

It's so so so so so hard to have something bad happen to your child.  Add to that the angst of not being there to do something about it. Nothing could be worse for a mother.

And so, here I find myself, debating the merits of the Tooth Fairy.  I took the time to poll just about everyone at Comic-Con what to say.  A few of my favorite responses:

"We got letters telling us our teeth were going to needy babies.  If we didn't brush well enough then she couldn't use our teeth.  I remember once giving a tooth, but not getting any money because she told me my teeth weren't clean enough"

"We had a tooth fairy, but I'm pretty sure I knew a day after she was introduced that she wasn't real."

Of course there were lots of people who didn't have that many memories, or really just didn't care one way or the other.

In my family we each had a different tooth fairy.  While there weren't any letters, etc, my Dad did spin great stories about our tooth fairies.  They were real people, and I honestly don't ever remember being upset about knowing they were fictional.  I don't remember that moment when I found out it was all a lie.

Since EG is so young, it's not like she's inundated at school with inquiries about the tooth fairy. Unlike Santa it's not like there is an army of Tooth Fairies coming out at the same time each year.  I asked my SIL if her kiddos mentioned it, just so I could see if the die had been cast.  She said her kids did mention it, but there has been no mention of it from EG at all.

I'm not sure about having a ceremony for the whole thing, but I did want to mark the occasion somehow.  EG, she wanted me to throw the tooth in the trash.  I wonder if she will remember that thought when I show her the album that has the tooth in later years..?

Turns out that Jewish kids are a step ahead in not believing the fantasies of childhood.  (I didn't access the whole article) Or maybe a step behind if you think about it that way.  There is something magical about having these characters as part of childhood- the idea behind them.  But there is also something sad about telling our children such lies.

I think I like this take on it best, which shows that sometimes even when you've answered your child directly, they don't really take these thoughts to heart as much as we think they do.  How often does EG forget what she's had for dinner, let alone the million of things I say in a day.

I did really like the idea of having a tooth fairy to help teach and learn about flossing, brushing, etc.  The girl at the Convention (yes you phone stealer and photo snapper!) whos parents told her the teeth are used for babies certainly had good motivation for keeping her teeth clean.  And for EG getting her to brush was a nightmare.   If I can have years of good teeth maintenance for the price of $.25 a tooth then I think I'm totally up for that....

This Rabbi is convinced that it doesn't really matter, and I think I agree with him.  He's kind in saying that it's not a lie, really, it's the same thing as running away from the dinosaur under the bed.  But his insistence on not paying kids for doing nothing...?  That one dosen't sit well with me.  As a commenter points out, there is a lot of work towards keeping your teeth healthy.

I think the ending news is that we've done nothing.  She didn't see the dentist until today, and for some reason I wanted to show her the tooth.  And EG isn't interested in putting it under her pillow- as I mentioned, she wants it in the trash.

We did say the Shehecyanu prayer, which we've been saying a lot lately.  I thought it was a good way to mark the occasion.  And it was so funny when we were going to my Dad's house (Grambe) that she told us that no one was supposed to tell him.  "No one.  Shhh"

For now I'll just have my holey grin cutie.  We'll really worry about the Tooth Fairy if/when she looses another tooth and asks about it.

Do you have the tooth fairy?  Any advice?

Friday, July 10, 2015

G-d Bless In-laws

I'm witing this post on the amtrak train to San Diego's comic con.  Yup, I go to comic-con.  But the reason behind the post is because my children aren't with me.  They are with my in laws.

For the first time in forever my baby Ocho is spending the night without me.  I'm overwhelmed with nerves.  But this isn't really about Ocho, it's about EG and the fact that she wants to celebrate shabbat with her cousins...her Christian cousins.  And my wonderful sister in law are going to do it for her.

When EG first asked about shabbat I was a bit out of sorts because this was the first time I've had to tell her that her cousins don't celebrate shabbat like we do.  I never really hid this fact, but we are celebrating people who do Easter and Christmas with them and yet it doesn't really come up that they are different.  Until now.

So I talked with my sister in law and she said she was happy to share shabbat
with EG.   Next I googled 'jewish child celebrating shabbat with non-jewish inlaws'.  And least nothing good.

I'm amazed at how apparently infrequently families move beyond their comfort zones to make others happy.  There were some scary things that people talked about using that search criteria...

So here's to inclusive families. And the fact that shabbat is easy to do at home without much fuss.  

Is your child staying somewhere and wants to do shabbat?  Here are the easy directions and prayers to send along.

1.  Send along at least two candles, though in families with kids I prefer to do one candle per person.  That way everyone feels represented and included.

2. Send some challah.  This is likely the only thing that someone wouldn't have that they would need.  Plus it's nice to send bread anyways... just a lovely hand-made hostess gift.

3. Remove the stress and prep your child.  It's so important to have a conversation with the hosts about how the essence of the holiday is enjoyment, relaxation and rest.  It shouldn't be something that's hard, it should be fun.  By the same token, prep your child.  It's likely that you lead shabbat at home and here it will be up to your child to take a larger role.  Afditionally it won't be like shabbat at home is, it will be different.

4.  Send these easy instructions:

Shabbat at home:
Candle Prayer:
Transliteration: Baruch a-ta Adonoi Elo-hei-nu  me-lech. ha-o-lam.  a-sher  ki-di-sha-nu. bi-mitz-vo-tav. vi-tzi-va-noo. li-had-leek. ner shel Shabbat.

*light candles first then say prayers.  It's typical to cover your eyes as well.

Prayer over children
May God Bless you and guard you. May the light of God shine upon you, and be gracious to you. May the presence of God be with you and give you peace.

*this is usually said while holding your hands on the heads of your children.

Prayer over wine.  Baruch Ata Adonoi Elo-hei-nu me-lech ha-o-lam borei porei hagafen. 

*Any wine, or grape juice, will do.  

Prayer over challah:  Baruch Ata Adonoi Elo-hei-nu me-lech ha olam hamotzi lechem  min ha aretz.  

*It's tradition to put some salt to remember the temple, and honey for a good sweet shabbat.

Here's to a good shabbat, and a restful one for you and everyone.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Women Power Parsha

Have you read this weeks Parsha?    As a mother of daughter's this is one of those parsha's that don't seem to be discussed very much, but has a profound impact upon the rights of women everywhere.  Chapter 27 is when the four righteous daughters of  Zelophehad stand up for their rights of inheritance and it's shown that sons and daughters have equal rights to what was their fathers.

Chapter 27

1The daughters of Zelophehad the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph, came forward, and his daughters' names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. אוַתִּקְרַבְנָה בְּנוֹת צְלָפְחָד בֶּן חֵפֶר בֶּן גִּלְעָד בֶּן מָכִיר בֶּן מְנַשֶּׁה לְמִשְׁפְּחֹת מְנַשֶּׁה בֶן יוֹסֵף וְאֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת בְּנֹתָיו מַחְלָה נֹעָה וְחָגְלָה וּמִלְכָּה וְתִרְצָה:
2They stood before Moses and before Eleazar the kohen and before the chieftains and the entire congregation at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, saying, בוַתַּעֲמֹדְנָה לִפְנֵי משֶׁה וְלִפְנֵי אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן וְלִפְנֵי הַנְּשִׂיאִם וְכָל הָעֵדָה פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לֵאמֹר:
3"Our father died in the desert, but he was not in the assembly that banded together against the Lord in Korah's assembly, but he died for his own sin, and he had no sons. גאָבִינוּ מֵת בַּמִּדְבָּר וְהוּא לֹא הָיָה בְּתוֹךְ הָעֵדָה הַנּוֹעָדִים עַל יְהֹוָה בַּעֲדַת קֹרַח כִּי בְחֶטְאוֹ מֵת וּבָנִים לֹא הָיוּ לוֹ:
4Why should our father's name be eliminated from his family because he had no son? Give us a portion along with our father's brothers. " דלָמָּה יִגָּרַע שֵׁם אָבִינוּ מִתּוֹךְ מִשְׁפַּחְתּוֹ כִּי אֵין לוֹ בֵּן תְּנָה לָּנוּ אֲחֻזָּה בְּתוֹךְ אֲחֵי אָבִינוּ:
5So Moses brought their case before the Lord. הוַיַּקְרֵב משֶׁה אֶת מִשְׁפָּטָן לִפְנֵי יְהֹוָה:

Now I'm not saying that everything is roses here.  The text goes on to say that if a man has no sons then his daughters inherit, but if he has no daughters than his brothers (not sisters) get it.  If not a brother than his uncles (not Aunts) and so on.  But I'm still going to chalk this up to a victory for women everywhere.  

This is big news.  That these five sisters banded together to come to Moses and Eleazar (not to mention the entire congregation of the meeting) and say before all that they believed they were entitled to something.  Not just something, but everything.  They didn't want to share the inheritance with their Uncles, they stood up for themselves, and women and daughters everywhere, to get what was their due.

Now I'm not going to go into the legalistic quibbles about whether these women had to marry their cousins in order to inherit (which is probably true, since we talk about that a few pages later.)  It's a moralistic quandry to be sure, but not the message I'm trying to relate.

All to often I'm talking with EG about speaking up, getting across her point and using her words.  Here five women stood amongst men to claim what was theirs.  And rightfully so.

Additionally these are five sisters (shout out to H5!) who have eachother's backs.  Imagine what would have happened if four had stood together.  That means they are really all standing apart. 

There is a special bond between sisters (love you Becca!) and I want EG to embrace that bond with Ocho.  There will be many moments of difficulty, but this torah story illustrates that it's possible to stand-up to speak up and to stand together as one.  

Now EG and Ocho aren't quite ready for this story, but I think this YouTube video sums the parsha up fairly well, and puts the focus where I think it should be- the victory of women's rights and the idea of speaking up for your self.

Monday, July 6, 2015

5 things your 3-year old can (and should) do

Now that EG is three I've really ramped up my expectations for her.  Yup, yesterday she could skate on by in life, but today is the start of all the doldrums of life.  Like chores and responsibility... hehe...

1. Setting the table.  All children can help to set the table.  At the beginning it might be something as easy as napkins- no one can break a napkin!  But I'd throw the idea out there that a three year old is capable of doing napkins, silverware (yes, even butter knives for mommy and daddy) as well as their own plate.  It's possible that your three year old could handle bringing the nice plates to the table too!

2. Cleaning up after a meal.  At the very very least your three-year-old can clean up their own place.  That means taking their plate into the sink or the counter, getting their silverware where it needs to go, etc.  Throwing their napkin or yogurt cup into the trash can.  I would go so far as to add that most three-year-olds can help clear a baby sisters plate too.

3. Clean-up after themselves.  This is a wide range of things.  From putting their laundry in the laundry basket, hanging up their own backpack and coat, and cleaning up that milk they spill all over the floor. They are way more capable than we sometimes give them credit for.  Of course, using chemicals is still out of the game (aka, you still need to get out the cleaner when they pee on the floor yet again) but they can get the paper towels just the same.

4. Carrying their own things.  This applies to their backpack and lunch to/from school or daycare.  Their own jacket out to the car.  There is no reason for you to be a pack mule to your preschooler anymore.  If you get in the habit now by the time they hit regular school you can only worry about your own latte (and their younger siblings!)

5.  Packing their own things.  This one is a bit tricky.  It's not like your three-year-old can really guage what the right amount of underwear is for a 3 day trip (I'm going with at least 6 pairs), but they can help make sure that they have everything they need.  Their lovey- make sure they grab it.  Their special blanket- again on them.  Of course you have to pack the essentials like toothpaste and sunscreen, but they can certainly help pick things out and remember them too.  When EG tells me that we forgot something or asks me where something she thinks she needs is I'm fond of saying "well did you bring/remember/pack it?"  This one helps drive that message home that they can be responsible too!

Not all three-year-olds are ready for all these items at once.  Or maybe you are totally ahead of the curve and doing all of these things since your tiny baby was just 2 years old.  If so, then here are a few bonus things for you...

6. Helping cook food.  Most preschoolers can crack eggs, mix and dump things, and many are ready to help stir on the stove top.  Invest in a good stool  (I love the solid wood one from Ikea) and let them get to it. It's so great to have help at dinner time, rather than someone just constantly complaining about when dinner will be ready.   EG loves to help spread sauce, and cut things with her own Ikea plastic knife.  We've even been known to let her use a more dull metal knife on occasion.

7. Make the bed.  This might seem a bit irrelevant, but I think it's an important thing to be doing.  It really changes the make-up of a room and puts everyone on the right step from the beginning.  I help EG make her bed in the mornings, and if I'm honest we don't always get to it after naptime...  Of course, you could think like Eloise and have them make your bed...

Friday, June 26, 2015

Judaism on Turning Three

There is a little known celebration in Judaism for when a child turns three.  No, let me correct that, for when a boy turns three. (yes, there is more to that, yes I'll get to it.) 

There is a statement in the Talmud that compares men to trees, and according to the Torah (commandment 'orlah') you aren't supposed to take fruit or cut a tree until it's third season.  So, since boys are like trees, we don't cut a boys hair until he turns three.

Seems simple, at least when you look up the term Upershin, it seems like a simple little haircut. 

But the reality is so much more...

I went to my first Upershin this past week.  It was absolutely stunning.  The decor, the atmosphere, the celebration.  I love the people who's son we were celebrating.  I have nothing but goodwill and heart-felt congratulations for them.  But I have a lot of problems with an upershin.  And no, none of them have to do with the hair.

The thing they don't really convey with all of their definitions of haircutting is the underlying premise of the whole exercise.  A child's change from being an observer of mitzvot to beginning to learn mitzvot and be responsible for creating good in the world.

Go back and read that again.  Yup.  That's the ticket.  This is what we're really celebrating at an upershin.  It goes way beyond a boy wearing a kippah and tzitzit.  This boy is going to start his formal education in Judaism and start to learn what he needs to know to be a Jewish adult.  Because remember, we only have until he's 13 to teach him everything he needs to know on that score.  We are taking him education in hand today, and starting to impress upon him the gloriousness that is Judaism and Torah.

So let's get back to the real issue.  Why is this only for boys?

It just so happens that an Upershin would be perfect for EG.  My darling daughter hasn't had her hair cut since she's been born.  We have been telling her since she's started asking that she gets her hair cut at three.  Why three you ask- Working Dad just picked that number  at random.  Coincidence?

There is another theory out there about why we wait until three to cut a boys hair.  Again starting at commandment 'orlah' but branching out in a totally different direction.  The Torah is the Tree of Life, and since we are commanded not to partake of the fruits of a tree for the first three years of growth, so it would go that in the first three years of our lives the lessons of the Torah, or the 'fruits of the Tree of Life', is off limits to us.  Torah isn't always easy.  It's not like reading Spot.  At age three, the theory is, our understanding has developed enough to begin learning Torah.  We finally get a taste of the fruit from the 'Tree of Life.'

At the upershin it's customary to have the child start his Torah study right there- usually with a Hebrew alphabet covered in honey.  It's a celebration of the start of an obligation.  That's right, a celebration of an obligation.  On Sunday he didn't need to wear tzitzit, but on Monday he does.  And by celebrating it in this way it makes it something joyous to do, not a negative association.

Now I would be amiss if I didn't point out that there's a tradition that a girl starts lighting candles when she turns three, but somehow the impact of lighting candles and what happens at an upsherin are vastly different.  It's also cloaked in halachic confusion, and also intensely clear that even if you support her lighting the candle her candle cannot count for the obligation to perform the mitzvot.

It all comes down to how we teach our girls what it means to be Jewish at our earliest opportunities.   Singing songs about Ama lighting candles and Abba going to shul; Challah-making for girls, Torah study for boys.

I don't want EG or Ocho to think that Torah isn't sweet.  I want them to have the fruits of the Torah as well.  I want both of my girls to delight in baking challah, learning Talmud, questioning tradition and talking to G-d.  I want all the opportunities of a Jewish life to come easily to them both.  

I could only find one other account of a Jewish girls Upsherin.  While we won't be having her haircut be part of this ritual, I'm determined to celebrate my daughter's transition from babyhood to childhood.  I'm determined to find the spirit in the Upershin and bring it out in EG. 

Here's to a haircut!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

One Smart Cookie

I'm constantly amazed by EG.  Yesterday she was desperate to watch Frozen.  But Mommy kept telling her that it was such a nice day outside that it wasn't time for a movie.  So what did EG diecde to do....?

Around 4pm I put Ocho down for her second nap.  Both EG and I ran into my room to look at Ocho on her baby monitor.  Eg spotted my teddy bear on the bed, and immediately started getting excited that our teddies could be friends. 

"Mommy- our teddies are sisters.  No, yours is the mommy, look it's bigger than mine.  Hold your teddy Mommy."

Fast forward five minutes to...

"Mommy, you don't feel well.  That's why you need your teddy.  I'll get my doctoring stuff."

Eg runs around the house gathering assorted doctoring materials from her bedroom. 

"Mommy- I check your ears.  It takes a long time.  Then we check your temperature.  You have a fever.  You need to stay in bed.  I'll call the doctor"

"But EG, I thought you were the doctor."

"No Mommy, I'm the nurse, I take care of you."

She runs away, then comes back about 3 minutes later.  I'm thinking I've got it made- naptime for Mommy too?!

"Mommy, the doctor is coming.  But we need to make you feel better.  I'll brush your hair."

She brings two dolly hairbrushes and my de-tangling spray from the bathroom.

"Here Mommy.  This will make you better.  I'll go get your bottle."

Oh, I'm thinking, I'm a baby now.  That's okay, babies get to sleep too.

"Mommy, you need to get your bear and come to the couch.  We have to put on Ana and Elsa, they will make you feel better.  The doctor told me it would make you feel better while we wait for him.  HeThe boy doctor and the girl doctor are coming after dinner.  I'm the nurse, I'll take care of you."

Wow- what just happened?  Is this what she thinks makes her feel better when she's sick.  How are we know watching Elsa and Ana?  OMG- I just got PLAYED!

I'm trying so hard to figure out why she thinks she's not the doctor (cue nervous mom who thinks that her daughter dosen't have high enough ambitions, or enough science, etc.) but what's really going on here- a ploy for Frozen.

But don't worry, when we were watching it she made sure to tell me that the doctor was on the way, and that I shouldn't be scared because she was here for me.

Wow EG- you are one smart girlie!

Monday, June 22, 2015

5 best gifts for a three year old. least my three year old.  Yup- My darling EG is turning three this weekend.  I can't believe it's been that long since I gave birth to her, and that she's growing up so fast.  It seems like only yesterday I was getting married, and that just before that I was pregnant for the first time.

In honor of my darling EG, I would like to present her hearts desires:

1. Chapstick.

 Specifically the EOS brand of adorable ball chapstick that she's seen Mommy carrying around.  She's been asking me for a while for her own, and somehow I said, when you are three.  And she's turning three, so I guess I'll have to get her some.  It's not cheap as far as chapstick goes, and lord knows that she ends up eating at least half of it since she's decided that it needs to cover her chin too, but this Lemon version has SPF 15, so at least that's something...

2.  Pillow.

EG has been wanting a pillow forever.  I didn't realize that she needed a special one, so the first one I bought at Bed Bath and Beyond was a total bust.  She hated it, I hated it.  What a diaster.  So, I snuck that one away and out came the now famous words "not until you are three."  Which is this week.  So I've decided to buy this Kinder Fluff pillow. Reviews are great, it's not that expensive, and I think she'll like it.  And it will also stop her from using the decorative owl pillow I bought her, which can't be good for her or the pillow anymore.

3. Flip Flops

This is the only thing that she desperately wants that I am taking great pains to buy nice for her.  While the pillow is also a practical thing, I'm not sure it's really practical for her, but flip flops- a necessity at this point.  Everyone else in the family has rainbows, so EG isn't any exception.  I debated buying them online, but with the store so close to Great Grandpa in San Clemente, I think we'll get them in person for her.  She's totally psyched about having them.  Just a little backstory- we've been avoiding getting them because she hated things between her toes, but I think she'll be okay now.

4. A Haircut

EG has been wanting to get a haircut for at least a year now.  It all started when Janie and Joe's haircutting moved into the neighborhood.  We go to that park, and when we go she would see all the toys and really want to go in there.  Then Jacob (her cousin) gets haircuts all the time- she wants to be like him.  But Working Dad is so against haircuts.  And luckily for me there is a tradition in Judaism to get your haircut at three years old.  Yes, I know what you are thinking- that tradition only applies to boys.  Well, it's a tradition, not a law.  And anyways if we're not supposed to cut trees for three years, then I'll associate my daughter with a tree if I want to.  So here's to next Saturday's haircut!  Let's hope she likes it when it's all said and done.

5. Strawberry Cake
PetitPlat - Stephanie Kilgast
Yup my girlie is specifying the cake she wants already.  Of course, it was really the only thing I've let her specify about this party.  So I guess I'll do my best to beg, borrow, or bake one for her.  It will be a bit hard to do the baking, since I've packed up most of my packing pans.  I think Suzy Cakes will have to do for this year...  But doesn't this look yummy?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Rambam on Marraige

When we think about parenting, we don't always think about marriage.  But I believe that at the core of every new human being are the two people who created that life.  Does it always have to be that way, absolutely not.  Sometimes it's just not to be that the people who created life will raise up that child.  But I still think that one of the most important things that we can do for our children is prioritize our marriages.

It's interesting to me, because one of the core beliefs in Judaism is that it's critical to have children (the first of the 613 mitzvot: Be fruitful and multiply) but, as we all know, first comes love then comes marriage then comes the baby in the baby carriage.

After I shared last week about how difficult it's been to be a solo parent I don't think I gave enough voice to how hard it is to be without your spouse.  I got married because I wanted to be with my husband.  To form a bond with him of the highest sense- to fuse our souls together as one.  But it's not always easy.

Rambam gives us some interesting thoughts on marriage:

Our Sages commanded that a man honor his wife more than his own person, and love her as he loves his own person. If he has financial resources, he should offer her benefits in accordance with his resources. He should not cast a superfluous measure of fear over her. He should talk with her gently, being neither sad nor angry.
And similarly, they commanded a woman to honor her husband exceedingly and to be in awe of him. She should carry out all her deeds according to his directives, considering him to be an officer or a king. She should follow the desires of his heart and shun everything that he disdains.

This is the custom of holy and pure Jewish women and men in their marriages. And these ways will make their marriage pleasant and praiseworthy.

Now, these phrases are caught up in  a lot of text about having babies, getting divorced, and letting your husband have his way with you, but I think these portions have a place in everyone's life. 

It can often seem a burden to relate to your spouse in the best way possible. To give them the respect you know they deserve, because you also know that their job is to love you anyways. That you have been nice to the gardener, the mail man, the grocer, the co-worker and your boss today and you don't have any niceness in you left for your kids let alone for your husband. 

But then we remember Shalom Bayit (peace in the home) and we remember that we alone can change our fate.  We are in charge of our own actions and our own happiness.  I can choose to see the glass half empty or half full.  Heck, I can just add more water!

It's giving our spouses respect that can add water to the well. 

My mom used to tell me about the Well of Goodwill that each person has for another.  Ironically your well of goodwill is most full with an absolute stranger you see on the street.  You've just drilled a new hole in the ground for them and they've yet to do anything to take the water out.  With your spouses, however, your well is a constantly shifting experience. 

Today he brought you flowers and added some water.  But later he left his dirty socks on the clean laundry and dropped that bucket of water all over the floor. 

If we think of filling our well by showing respect to our spouses we need not worry about love.  Through our respectful actions, thoughts and care we will inherently add both water in our well and love in our hearts.

Rambam gives us a foundation for understanding that love is not the end all be all of a relationship.  We all know that there are moments in our lives when we don't feel love at all- we feel disappointment, anger, resentment and a whole host of other feelings.  But honor and respect are more than just feelings- they are actions.  They are the way we honestly and truly love our spouse for them self.

What is love at it's base?  A feeling that I have for you.  It has nothing to do with you.  How often have we seen people in love with someone who doesn't feel the same for them?  My classic example right now is Sheldon and Amy from the Big Bang Theory.  She loves him, but he barely thinks about his emotions at all.  When I love you I'm feeling something inside of me, not really something about you.

But honor and respect are ways that I interact with valuing you.  They show you that I care about you on a deeper and more fundamental level than my self-love. 

Beyond respect and honor Rambam gives us some truth about me being from Mars and Women from Venus.  He clearly tells us that a woman wants to be shown her love through actions (accordance to his means) and words (talk with her gently).  She wants to think that she is the most important thing in the world (honor her more, love him as himself)

While a man needs to be shown his respect by being seen as competent and capable of making decisions (according to his directives) and that he needs to be validated in her world (shun everything he disdains). 

While Working Dad and are in this separation and in this melting pot of stress and trouble I can see only to clearly how much Rambam knows.  I am constantly telling him that I want him to prioritize us over the weekends, that I want to see his love and hear his thoughts.  He is constantly feeling like he has to make all these decisions and be on top of everything for fear that it might all fall apart.

But if we can find a way to come back to the beginning.  Back to the respect we all deserve then our marriage's foundation will go from fragile sand to hard cement.  If we can think with our minds not that the well is full or empty, but that we can constantly be adding water to it then I know we will all be alright.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Review: Childcare at 24 Hour Fitness

I've been trying to get back into shape for doing triathalons, etc.  It's been rough, since I don't feel like I've ever gotten back my strength since having EG, let alone feeling like I've got it since having Ocho.

So, I did something a bit crazy.  I signed myself up for personal training sessions at 24 hour fitness.  I'm thrilled with my trainer, but I'd be lying if I said it was going as well as I thought it would.  It's not.  It's so hard with Ocho's unpredictable sleep schedule to feel good, arrive at a pre-determined time with Ocho happy, etc.  But, I have been very happy with my trainer, and with the childcare facilities at the Hermosa Beach 24 hour fitness.

The facility is actually very nice.  They have a huge indoor play gym, sort of like McDonalds.  Then they have a great floor space.  They have a nice are set-up for the babies/crawlers so they can make sure that they aren't getting trampled by the older kiddos. 

They have a flexible rotation of people, and they have a limit of 24 kiddos that they can have with two staff members.  The interesting thing is that my child (any baby under 24months older than 6 months) is considered three children.  A child under 36 months counts as two children.  So they can call additional staff if needed to add more children.

It's $5 for two hours per child for drop in care.  Or you can sign-up for a month of care for $25, where you can drop off your child as much as you want. I signed Ocho up for the full month, but I don't think I've gotten my money worth yet.  They won't change diapers, and they won't keep your kiddo if they are crying inconsolably.  I totally understand both of those things, but it makes it a bit tricky and expensive if you have to leave your training session to come get your baby.

In  order to check in they have you put in your pin, your fingerprint and they attach a sticker to your baby.  You have to be the same person who picks up the kiddo, so it's not like you and hubbie could switch off.  They won't be responsible for giving kiddo to someone else.

However, they do allow you to store baby stuff there in a set of cubicles, and as you can see behind her, they are happy to keep your carseat too, so if baby is still sleeping it's totally fine.

They have a large selection of toys, and they also do some themes and crafts depending upon the holiday. Can you tell I took this picture in February and it's taken me this long to write up this post?!?  They almost always have a movie playing, which I don't love, but it's totally appropriate for the age range.

Overall I'm happy with the care provided. And here in the beach cities I didn't even tell you the best part.  Right across the way is a My Gym, so if you have an older kiddo who might be too old for this daycare space, you can register them in a drop-off class at My Gym while baby brother or sister plays at the fitness center.  Both kiddos taken care of.

The hours are 8-1pm, then again from 4-6pm.  I've never been turned away, but it is a first come first served place. The only other odd thing is that they only allow one adult dropping off a child in their space at a time for safety reasons, but of course they don't have that posted anywhere....

Friday, June 12, 2015

An Ode to Military Mamas

These past few months have been some of the hardest of my life.  I didn't think that things could get much more difficult after having a newborn and having my Mom die out of the blue.  But I was wrong.  While all of that was happening at least I had Working Dad at home to cry to and fight with.  Now it's just me and the kiddos.

I've talked about this solo parenting thing before, but I just can't believe how hard it is. 

For me the hardest part is that I'm not a single parent.  I know that seems strange, it's not that I want to be a single parent, but having him flit in and out of our lives like this makes it just so so hard.  Now, Working Dad, please don't read/read to much into this, it's not that you are doing something wrong, it's just the way life is.

Which brings me to some of my new heroes.  The mamas (and some Daddys) who stay at home while their counterpart is off in the military.  Case in point- my wonderful cousin with her hubbie and two kiddos. 

She did the whole after birth thing/raising her daughter without Daddy for months after she was born.  But she wasn't actually alone.  Her wonderful husband has always been a part of their daughter life.  Phone calls, e-mails, etc. Breaks and time away to be at home, etc.  But while he's a parent (and a damn good one at that) he's not there everyday.  Everyday it's mommy and babies and Daddy as a far off figure.

This is what makes it so hard and amazing.  That these women are constantly helping their children understand that Daddy loves them, and is doing his job somewhere else.  That he's not with them, but that's not what matters.  They deal with the emotions of Dad's to short visits, and phone calls. They deal with breakfast and bed time and everything in between.  And I am in awe of them.

They are sacrificing for me.  For my children.  For our family and all the families in America.  They are taking on the burden of solo parenting for the sake of our safety.  They guide their children through life and battle those difficult moments for the safety of America.

Even when Daddy comes home they are at the whim of something bigger than them.  Transfers and orders and things they just can't pick and choose about.  At least I made this choice all on my own. And I can change it in an instant.

We're doing it for Working Dad's new job.  Had I known exactly what I was getting into, I might have chosen differently.

But my cousin- she is truly the hero.  Everyday raising her wonderful and gorgeous babies.  Thank you to you and your Husband for making us safe in our beds at night.  For giving me vision to see that I can do this.  That I get to talk to my hubbie each night and that the few times I was in tears and overwhelmed he just got in his car and showed up on my doorstep an hour later.  She didn't have that option.  She, and they, are amazing.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Five Year's Past

Five years ago I married the love of my life.  Five years ago we stood under the chuppah promising to make a home together and a family.  We took vows, signed paperwork, and made a commitment.

I can't believe how much has changed in these five years.  For the good, the bad, the in-between.

For dinner on Sunday night I made Anne Burrell's braised lamb (make the gremolata- it really takes the flavors up a notch!)  I took the lamb out of the freezer at about 10am, and at about 2pm I realized I had better get cooking or those lamb shanks wouldn't be good eating for anyone.  And then I pureed my veggies, realized I didn't have carrots so made a substitution, browned my lamb, added my wine.   I just did it all and threw it in the oven.

As Working Dad and I took our first bites he asked me if I would have been able to do that five years ago.  And I couldn't help but think back to the dinners I was making then.

I've always been a decent cook, but throwing together braised lamb without a care in the world and a tiny human holding on to my pants legs- that was a different experience altogether.  There's no way that I would have been doing a recipe like that without tons of stress and worry.  I didn't even know what I was going to do with the lamb until about 2:30pm when I decided to look up a few recipes.  But that's not quite the point...

It wasn't until he said anything that I realized that I've changed so much too.

1. I've grown happy in my mothering.  It's not scary, or overwhelming.  Each day has it's ups and downs, but as Samantha from Sex in the City says "I'm happy everyday.  Not all day everyday, but everyday."  Sometimes EG and Ocho are just making me want to scream.  But honestly, I love it all.  It feels good have a day when everything clicks into place with the dishes, the laundry, games and fun with the kiddos and love with my husband.  But even on those days when nothing falls into place I value being a mother every day.

2. I've grown happy in being a wife.  It makes me happy to work towards Shalom Bayit in my household.  To focus my thoughts and attentions on him and his world.  To do my best to make our home a lovely place to come home to, a place he wants to be and enjoy.  Sometimes we aren't on the same page, but the flowers he brings me help me know that we're all in it together.

3. I've grown contented in my beliefs.  Being Jewish has always been a core part of who I am, but as I've had children, become a wife I've reached deeper and deeper into my faith to find answers.  The Torah has so many lessons for us, and the commandments are wonderful guidelines to help us find answers.  Whenever I've reached a tremendous cross-road in my life I've come to realize that Torah has the answer.

4. I need my extended family more than ever.  Being without my mom has been so very difficult.  It's still a challenge every day to miss her, not talk to her, and not be able to hear her laughter.  The hugs one gets from a mom aren't found anywhere else.  It's not something that's been five year's in the making, but I'm hoping that as we cross over the one year mark here in a few months that I'll be able to learn to live with her, without her a bit better.  It's taught me just how valuable and important my family is.  To truly enjoy the sisters and brothers and aunts and uncles and cousins that I have.  I only wish that some of them didn't make it so difficult to love them.
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