I am a writer and a Mommy. I am a devout Jew. These are the most important books I have read: The Tao te Ching by Lao Tzu, Stephen Mitchell translation. Spiritual Divorce by Debbie Ford. Living Inspired by Akiva Tatz. My kitchen would suggest I'm a closet carny, as would my love of Branson.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Japan - the beginning of blogging

8 and 1/2 years ago I went to Japan and blogged about it here.  Since then I have sometimes blogged a lot and lately blogged very little.  I will be hones; there are things I want to blog about but I just can't.

However, I'm going to try do some serious sharing over the next couple of weeks.  Let's see if I can do it!

Here we go!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Nachas

I'm so proud today.  My 6th grader worked really hard and made principal's honor roll. And it's not just that.  My 8th grader has done this more quarters than not since he started middle school but honestly it's hard to really understand this until you go to an assembly and realize that not every kid manages this.

I was so proud of my little girl that I cried because these kids are so motivated to excel in school and they do this all on their own.

Yes, I have helped them study for tests when they ask me to quiz them but that is very rare.  Since they started school at 5 years old I have barely asked them if they had homework.  School is theirs and they own it like champs.

These children want to succeed, they are willing to work hard and I haven't pushed that on them.  I hope it's something I modeled but their will to do well is internal.

I am proud of them and in awe.  I remember getting pretty unremarkable grades in middle school.  In fact, if I reflect on life when I was that age it's like I grew up in Olden Times compared to my children.

They know more about everything, have been all over the world and are just all around incredible people.  I am in awe of them and what they do in life.

Last spring Marshal and I were staying in a hotel with all five kids and I remember there was a moment when we checked in kind of late in the evening and the kids were all being wild and we herded them into the elevator.  We looked exhausted and stressed to the hilt.  The kids were all being their individual versions of weird and Jacob was screeching.  We felt terrible for the man on the elevator with us.  But he looked at us and said, 'you are wealthy.'

It was a little bit upsetting to hear just then.  We felt overwhelmed and unhappy and then ungrateful and ashamed but lately I really understand his comment.

I am wealthy because of these five kids I get to raise.  They are gems.  They are riches.  They are vast and untold wealth. I am counting the days until I get all five of them again.  I really can't wait and I will enjoy, savor every moment.  I will give my full attention to each one and hear them and see them.  For seven days, with nothing to interrupt, I'll enjoy my real wealth!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Brownies

can't understand why these are new.  I'm totally baffled as to how this isn't something I grew up with.  Why I never saw these at a baking contest or on a cooking show.

These are the best thing you could bring somewhere as a guest or serve to guests.  I do not get why this is a new thing!

You put cookie dough on the bottom, layer Oreos on top and then pour brownie batter on that.  Bake it and eat it.

I used toll house cookie dough, double stuff Oreos, ghirradeli brownie mix and poured sea salt caramel on top.

This is a divine dessert.

I'm thinking of all the fun stuff you could layer in like peppermint chocolates or snickers bars.

Anyway, make it immediately.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

For Atheists and Similar

I have heard Atheists talking about proving that Gd doesn't exist or that there is no proof of Gd's existence.

I'll explain how to know Gd exists and why prayer is effective.

There are two ways I think about this.  One is rooted in science and reality so it should appeal to people who aren't interested in mystery - facts only.

The second is pretty Jewish.

Contemplate the existence of the world.  You know that our world exists in space and that space is vast.  When I took Astronomy in college we learned that there might be something outside of the three dimensional existence we all know and understand.

But think about everything in existence.  Everything.  All of it.  What we know about and what we don't know about.  The complete all of it.

That's hard to think about but let's say that's what Gd is.  Gd is everything all put together.

How to make sense of this?

Think about your own self.  You might think of yourself in various ways but we all know that we exist in our bodies.  That's the limit that we know of our existence.  We can't step out of our bodies or lose our bodies.  Our body is all of us.

What I'm trying to explain is the idea that we each are an infinitesimally small part of the whole.  The whole is Gd.

Why does that matter?

Think about your own body again.  You might say that it's different because you have consciousness and your own mind and thoughts.   But you can easily come to realize that the various parts of your body have their own minds as well.  How do you find out about what the various parts of your body want?  They let you know in various ways, don't they?

They absolutely do.

And my belief in Gd is that even though I am tiny, I am a part of Gd and the louder I scream out about what I want or need (through prayer) the better the chances are I'm going to get it.

And of course as a human I'm not much like Gd.  I can't understand all of everything.  I can't comprehend the complete totality of the sum of all that exists.

But if I can understand that when my stomach growls I know to put something in it and when I'm tired I rest and when something hurts I give it attention then surely Gd, who is total perfection, can perceive and respond to my prayers.

To take this toward Judaism,  I believe that Gd is a step beyond all of everything.  Gd is the creator of everything.  This part is hard to explain but imagine total nothingness.

If you go back in time far enough at some point there was nothing.  Absolute nothingness is probably the most perfect thing you can try to imagine.  At some point that nothingness created everything and sustains everything to this day.

Again, if you want to understand this think of being a parent and having a child.

You love your child unconditionally.  No matter what they do, no matter how many times they screw up.  You always love them.  You always want to help them.  And what do you want from your child when they need your help?  You want them to come and ask.  You want them to recognize that they need help and ask you for it.  You want them to be sorry about what they did wrong but you always want them to be happy.  You want to see your kids succeed and shine and be their best selves.

And that's just between a human parent and child.  Not this perfection that is everything from which everything springs forth.  Imagine how Gd responds when we pray and say that we need help, that we feel sorry for doing something wrong and ask for assistance.

I know there are so many people who think Gd and religion are just garbage.  Made up stuff.  But I believe that when we ask earnestly in prayer Gd answers us.

I don't mean that we are given the things we ask for, but I do believe that when people pray to Gd in humility they are given an answer.  And one that will lead us to happiness (so if you hear Gd tell you to hurt someone - it isn't Gd!!!!)




Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Feeding a Very Small Human

Dora is telling my child that there might be a way to earn a popcorn party at school.  He just started school so this might be very exciting news to him but I don't let him eat popcorn.

I once heard a comedian say that raising kids is easy, way easier than taking care of a plant, for example.  Why?  According to him, when you get hungry, give the kid some food.  When you get thirsty, give the kid something to drink.  It's pretty good advice.

When Noah and Chaya were born it was a fact that you should not give a kid under 7 popcorn because they could easily choke.

You don't give kids hot dogs, grapes or popcorn because they might choke.  Right?

I am an interesting person in that, on the one hand I really want to do what is right and on the other hand I really don't want to think too much about what I'm doing either way.

This means that if I know that I'm definitely not supposed to feed my kids something then I definitely will not.  But, if some Mom tells me she did it then I will do it.

When Jacob was about 8 months old one of my friends mentioned she found a walnut in her baby's mouth.  Her kid was fine so I decided to give mine peanut butter.

Last month a Mom with a three-year-old told me her daughter loves popcorn.  You guessed it; Jacob had his first few pieces that very day.

I'm so proud of this little guy.  He is potty trained and he has great manners.  If you sneeze he will say bless you and if you give him something he will say thank you.  I understand these qualities come from his Norwegian heritage.

I am enjoying the emergence of his personality as his early Frozen obsession has morphed into a love of anything remotely princess-like.  This somehow includes and even features My Little Pony.  Jacob has loved horses for a long time and even told me today that he is a horse.  I am happy that being a Brony is a thing because he is definitely that.   This adorable boy looks up in the sky when we go out and says to me earnestly, "look at the unicorn on the rainbow in the clouds."  I can almost see it.

But what I can't do is get him My Little Pony boys underwear.  Why not?  Why do I have to buy "girls" underwear for him if I want him to have some that he will be happy to put on the morning?  The other ones he would love are Ana and Elsa or Sophia the First but they strangely don't make those underwear for boys.  And it works both ways apparently.  I take for granted that I can get him Mickey Mouse "boys" underwear but this Dad just decided to buy his daughter boy's underwear.

Should I do that?  He might not act like it's illegal torture when I try to get him dressed in the morning if I were trying to put an Elsa shirt on him but the sleeves on every Elsa shirt have ruffles. What is the difference between toddler underwear for boys and girls?  Why on earth is there a difference?

There is no reason that clothes for little boys and clothes for little girls look so different. I have to say that I am completely done with this.  I even bought Jacob an Elsa dress.

I realize that some people might be raising their eyebrow at the fact that my toddler knows about all these characters and might advise me to just buy him some basic clothes and not worry about whose face is plastered on them.

People talk and talk and talk about men and women in the workplace and subconscious attitudes and wage differential.  Guess what?  It starts right here.

Why are we dressing our children this differently?  Do you know the only reason I don't dress him in Elsa shirts?  Because I know that some kid will tease him.  That's it.

But no other kids are going to see his underwear.  So should I do it?  I think I will.




Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Losing 20 Pounds

Last year I struggled with my weight.  I lost all my Jacob pregnancy weight within six months of having him but when I left him to go back to work I was very unhappy and I slowly gained weight and kept gaining until June this year.

Somehow the excess weight had become so much that I finally admitted to myself I needed to buy all new clothes, but with a beach vacation coming up my husband asked if I would do a Beachbody program with him and I agreed.

This wasn't the first time he asked but I'd shot him down before because I hate exercise and I love food too much. 
 
This was a three week program so I agreed to do it because I figured I could do anything for 21 days. That first week was agony.  Every day I felt terrible.  I was breaking my bad habits of snacking on chips and Chex mix and eating anything and everything I wanted to.  That first week really felt like torture.  Doing the half hour workouts felt impossible.  I could barely keep up with the videos and I was in pain and exhausted.

Every time I wanted to eat something that was outside of my diet I reminded myself why I was doing this, that it was only three weeks, that I should remember how hard this is if I ever lose all the weight so I never get back here again.

The amazing thing was that it got easier. I actually learned how to eat to be healthy.  It seems obvious but I'd never done it before.  I learned how to eat to fuel my body instead of eating to calm my emotions.

In two months I lost twenty pounds.

I not only had to abandon eating for comfort, which is seriously like losing a friend or breaking up with someone.  I also had to face the question of why I valued a thin body so much.  Why did I feel so bad about myself at a size 8?  Why was a size 10 unbearable? What size would make me happy?

Would I ever be satisfied with my body?  What weight would I stop at and how would I maintain that?

It's been a month since I stopped dieting and started trying to maintain my new weight.  I feel more comfortable in my body at this size.  I don't feel compelled to get smaller and smaller.

I am happy that I can sometimes eat whatever I want as long as other times I make healthy choices.

I see that I still struggle with comfort-eating but when I decide I'm going to make good choices all day I do it and the next day I feel proud of myself and I like that.

I like the way all of this forces me to sometimes be strict and sometimes be relaxed, always being kind to myself because that's the real goal.  I feel like myself again.

It's hard to know what was upsetting me about being heavier but it might have simply been that my body didn't feel good.  Carrying around 20 extra pounds every day made me tired and clumsy. 

I still don't like to exercise but it's easier, I have strong muscles now that want to be used and like to be worked.

I often eat food that doesn't taste great but is just what my body wants in it.  It's a funny thing to say but I notice how true it is.  (Think raw spinach for breakfast every day)

I've been sitting on this post for a long time because it's such a personal topic and I am afraid that people will judge me for it but I decided to share today.  So there you go.

Prayer for Divorced Parents

Most people with ex-spouses don't have a good relationship with them.

I don't actually understand this though.  At one point in time you loved that person.  You loved them enough to stand up in front of a hundred people and swear that you would take care of them and love them until you died. 

Maybe you even had children with them.  That means you thought your spouse would be a good Mom or Dad.  It means you believed in a future together where you would watch your progeny grow up and you might enjoy grandchildren together.  That means you will always be family with your ex-spouse.

Many things can end a marriage but the truth is that every divorce is equally two people's faults. 

And once the dust has settled, certainly most people can see that being kind to your ex-spouse is the most important thing you can do for your children.

Maybe your kids can't have their parents under one roof, maybe they can't live in one place where they get to go to bed in the same room every night, but if they can at least have parents who treat each other with respect and support each other, then they certainly have enough.

How can anyone forget the love they had for their ex-spouse?  The hopeful months they spent together planning a wedding, buying a house, preparing to meet their children, learning to be parents. 

How can anyone forget how much their children love both their parents?

Let it be our goal to see our ex-spouse through our children's eyes and hearts.