Sunday, November 30, 2008

Just One Tear

My heart goes out to the families of all those who lost their lives and all those who were victims of senseless terrorism in Mumbai. I do not discriminate. A life is a life, no matter the race, nationality or religion. And I am certain that what all the victims had in common was the senselessness of this act.

This was nothing but, a blood lust. There was no real agenda on the part of the terrorists. They never planned on a barter for life. There was only the state of fear and submission, that is what terrorism is. And it does not end with the immediate victims. When we watch it or hear about it, we all become terrorized. We realize, even with the compassion and sadness that we feel, we need to go on with our lives, and then it happens again, somewhere, to someone. This is a new world we are living in, because terrorism has and continues to deconstruct the evolving civilization we have become over thousands of years.

Although my thoughts and prayers are with ALL victims of this horrific act of calculated violence, the fact that a Jewish Center was a chosen target, hits closer to home for me. I am devastated by the loss of five people there, including one person who apparently is a first cousin to someone in my community, and a young couple, the Holtzbergs, who have been mentioned repeatedly in the news.

I was deliberately avoiding all the news as the hostage crisis was unfolding, because it causes me to be in a very unhealthy state of being. Like many others, when 911 was unfolding, I was glued to the news. I was also living in NY at the time and 3 family members were on 3 separate planes as the tragic events were taking place. I was depressed for months. Since 911, I try to curb the amount of time I am drawn to these stories, but Friday, early afternoon, I could do nothing to avoid the heinous news of lives lost in the Jewish Center.

I tossed and turned all Saturday night, mostly with the thoughts of a small boy who will never know his parents. He is celebrating his second birthday, just this weekend, but not with the kisses and hugs from the parents he so deserves, because their bodies are laying cold. He and his older brother, in a matter of moments, became orphans. While they certainly will be looked after by family who will show nothing less than unconditional love to them, there are no replacements for the mother and father, who should be alive for years to watch them grow and thrive. All they will ever know of their parents, is what they will be told of them.

Last night, I had a birthday to go to. Part of me felt way to down to be celebratory, but then I felt I needed to go out and remove myself from these miserable thoughts. I am happy I went. The company of women was great and although talk of Mumbai did come up for a moment, most of the talk was warm and light and laughter inducing. If we don't go on and live our lives, the terrorists will have won. If they are able to instill the fear and trepidation in us, we will forever be a civilization of terrorized people.

I am by nature, as most of us are, a compassionate, caring, sensitive person, and although I want to believe we will never hear of these stories again, I am also not naive. We have always had monsters arise in our world and it will happen again.

So the irony of my night, when I returned from the party, came in the form of a letter my father handed to me. It was a sealed envelope. Written on it was the senders name and address and a note that said, "give to Orah please". There was no stamp, so it was placed in my parents' mailbox by hand. It was sent by the former manager of a restaurant I worked at over ten years ago. Inside were two sheets. One was a letter from the sender J. She wrote that she was going through some of her parents' items and found the enclosed sheet and thought I would want it. Her parents were apparently founders of the Holocaust Memorial Society (I never knew this) and the enclosed sheet was actually a poem I had written in high school.

Although I do have a copy of this poem in my possession already, I have not seen it in years. Why do her parents have it? I started a newspaper in my H.S. and this was one of the many contributions I had written for the paper. Although, years later, when I was in college, my father (a Holocaust survivor) decided, without informing me, to enter the poem into the foundation's Holocaust Essay/Poetry contest in the College category. I only found out about this when I received a letter congratulating me on my first place win in the college division for a poem I wrote in H.S. I went to NY for an award ceremony, it was all very surreal, because I never meant for the poem to become that public. But I realized, my father submitted it as his way of letting me know how proud he was of it. He never told me in words. My father did not share much directly with his children about his experiences in the concentration camps. But I remember writing the poem after I saw him watching a graphic PBS program related to the Holocaust, and his eyes seemed teary to me.

As I re-read the poem last night, I realized more than that. We are all compassionate people, or we should be. We can easily see someones pain and their journeys through their eyes. With advanced technology, we can even watch it unfold right before our eyes. While, disheartening and painful, it is normal for us to feel for the victims. In fact, it is most probably abnormal for one to educate himself with the tragic news and not feel any empathy. Moving on from tragic news and living our lives can co-exist with "Never Forgetting". Moving on tells the terrorists and the monsters they have not won, and never forgetting reminds us to live our lives for those who can no longer live it for themselves.

Just One Tear

Just one tear,
Disclosed a tale,
When it emanated,
From my father's eye.

A tale,
So ghastly.
So baneful, it pained me.
So pernicious, I ached.

In just one tear,
I envisioned a picture.
But the shocking image,
Appeared unclear.

For I was looking,
Through a barbed-wire fence,
When I saw a skeletal form,
Being dumped into a pit.

In just one tear,
I smelled the stench,
Of reeking, torrid, fires,
Consuming Jewish flesh.

In just one tear,
I heard piercing shrieks,
From mouths just about,
To take their last breath.

In just one tear,
I felt the brutal blows,
Of clubs and whips,
By dirty, Nazi hands.

I saw all this torture and dread,
In just one tear.
My father,
He saw it in thousands.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Don't Fall For IT

Black Friday is a ploy and a sham. It gets you in the door for that thing or two that is greatly reduced (which will be greatly reduced again), and then most people keep buying what they THINK they need, when 8 times out of 10 they did not.

Last year my sister went to Radio Shack and got herself an MP3 player. It was a good one and it was reduced in price. She went there at 5:30 in the morning. Although this sister of mine is extremely disciplined and went with a plan for that one item and stuck to it, I can assure you, this item was further reduced five months later.

Five months later, I was looking for an MP3 player because the weather was much more desirable and I wanted to distract myself with music while jogging and biking. I saw the same MP3 player at Radio Shack for the same reduced price, however, I also saw that Best Buy was having a sale on Zunes and ended up buying one of those. Only I bought it at Target, where it was even cheaper. If you have patience and do your research, you can find great deals all year long and the best part, you don't have to wake up at 4 AM and wait in line with 70 really gassy people (on account of the big meal).

The reason "BLACK" Friday starts after Thanksgiving has to do with the gift buying season and the market and not ending up in the "RED" after the gift buying season ends with a "WHITE" Christmas. All these colors are very confusing.

All I know is this past summer, Target had their really huge toy sale, and I bought all my kids birthday and Chanukah gifts for this upcoming year. I got Ate an electric baseball shooting toy which was originally marked over 40.00 for just under 10.00 and I got V-tech systems, board games, dolls, (my Mom got Ate a HUGE train table and train set for no money) - with coupon use, it was great savings and I did not have to wait in lines out in frigid weather.

Not all, but most people who take advantage of "Black" Friday, wait for it, not realizing they can find great savings all year if they look online either for that item at a reduced price or for the coupons. They can also apply to receive promotions and coupons from individual stores and spend time comparing the stores that carry the item/items they are looking for for the best price.

I recently purchased an obscure item online to use in the centerpieces I am putting together for an organizational fundraising dinner. I needed about 35 of this one item. When I first saw this object online, I saw prices between 14.00 and 22.00, but I kept looking. I ended up purchasing each one for five dollars. After all, this is a fundraising dinner. We are trying to make money, not spend it.

So to all those who just came home with aching feet and empty pockets (and a black eye because you got elbowed by five other people), I sincerely hope the purchases you made are worth it . Enjoy all the loot you came home with. But I am going to wait until I no longer have to compete for a parking space, or for elbow space. I will wait until there is enough space between bodies that I am assured I will not contract whatever it is that person has that is causing a drippy nose and an obscene rash. I will wait, because I am content with all I have currently. And I continue to recognize that patience is a virtue.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful The Stench Is Gone (Amongst Other Things)

Amongst the Jewish people, there are those who do not subscribe to the celebration of Thanksgiving because it does not fall into the category that is shared by the multitude of "religious" holidays they celebrate. However, there are others who subscribe to the idea that Thanksgiving, a secular holiday, can be celebrated universally by any religion. I am one of those.

Thanksgiving, besides being about Pilgrims and Native Americans (I am so PC) and turkey, is just simply about setting aside a day to be thankful. And for all those who feel, "we should be thankful every day, who needs just one day set aside", this is true, but how many are consciously thankful everyday.

I was thankful yesterday, while I was blogging about blessings and compassion, I was feeling thankful. I can not say I am consciously thankful everyday, but I make an effort many days of my life to sit back, breathe and focus on the positive.

Although, while doing three loads of laundry yesterday, and blogging in my basement, two feet away from the laundry room, my olfactory senses began to give me reason to be, how shall I say it, LESS than thankful. And then I followed my nose and saw this -

What is this? This is,
uhhhh, ground sludge, crud, crap, poop, no matter how PC I try to be, I just want to say Sh#!!!!

This is already after it has been cleaned up a bit. My ejector pump is supposed to EJECT this "stuff" away from my house into the sewer line, not into my house. This is the fifth time it has happened and it seems to be worse every time.

This is Gloria, lovely, lovely, most wonderful woman who cleans my house and watches my kids from time to time. She has, THANKFULLY, been in my house for every one of these occasional toilet waste back ups and Gloria is Glorious. She gets right to it , even bare handed (please G-d I hope you washed them) and cleans the stinky, awful sludgy mess.

So I am thankful:

For Gloria.

For the plumber who answered his phone the first time I called and was at my house 2 hours later with a new pump (because I can not keep going through this).

For Hun, because he agreed we should spend the "unfortunate and unexpected" amount of money to replace the pump.

For Ate who DID NOT walk right into the excrement, even whilst curious.

(Not really thankful for the stench this mess and the plumber left behind that emanated in my house, BUT)

For my mother-in-law who took all three kids late afternoon to her house and then kept the girls for an

For Ate, who does not yet have the
adequate olfactory senses to know he should be sick to his stomach like Mommy.

For Hun who took me away from the
wretched smell, to a much more pleasant smelling theater for a few hours.

Oh, and for the sweet smelling aroma of Starbucks.

In addition to, of course, the usual:

My husband

My kids

My family



Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Don't Ask Don't Tell

I have a policy and I will explain it here, although it won't help me when it comes to all the people who don't read my blog, at which point I will have to explain this policy all over again. I am sure some people reading this, at the end, will still feel like, Why is this concept such a big deal. And by having this policy, doesn't it generate more unwanted conversation then you might have if you didn't have this "stupid" policy in the first place.

First of all, what is not a big deal to you, may still be a big deal to someone else and secondly, my policy may just make someone consider some new ideas and sensitivities, he/she has never considered before.

So now that I have left you confused, because I have yet to mention what it is I am referring to, you will have to wait a moment longer. I first need to explain, that I am not one for being chatty about pregnancy, and considered not mentioning that I was pregnant at all on this blog. However, I also feel it is a blessing and it certainly has a profound effect on what is taking place in my day to day life and my family's life. So I knew that it would come up from time to time in my blog, as it relates to whatever it is I am blogging about at the moment. And it would also be weird to only share the news of a birth (G-d willing) after blogging for months and failing to mention any aspect of a pregnancy.

So what is the policy? I have a don't ask, don't tell policy when it comes to pregnancy. I don't ask people if they are pregnant when I suspect they are. The truth will come out in 9 months give or take. I don't initiate conversation about someone else's pregnancy, however, if they approach the subject, I will gladly converse about this wonderful blessing. I certainly don't ask someone what their due date is, and this is the information that I do not share as well.

When someone asks me straight out if I am pregnant,( be damn sure that I am before you ask) I am so tempted to say, no it must be the keg of beer I had last night, or I was just diagnosed with "Hypergut Syndrome" because I gained 10 pounds overnight and all in my mid-section. But, that would be as rude as the question. There is always someone we know who gets to that point in pregnancy where we wonder from afar, could they be... or did they gain some weight, but at some point, it becomes clearly obvious and there is no need to ask. That is when I see some polite people constantly glancing downward while we are in middle of having some mundane conversation about chocolate chip cookies, crispy vs. chewy. And to relieve them of their curiosity, I will at that point throw the conversation by saying something like, "I can bake chocolate chip cookies all day, but my aversion to raw chicken and meat is back". That would be the opening they are looking for to say, "Oh, I thought so, congratulations, blah, blah, blah. But the other people who don't wait for the opening and come and put their hand on my belly, uninvited and say, "Good for you",( what does that mean anyway), this is a no - no.

Why do I have this "dumb" policy? Yes, even I think it is a dumb policy, but for me personally, it is a requisite for being a sensitive, compassionate, considerate person.

First, there are the quasi-reasons for this policy, which really take care of my intolerance of the annoying conversation that follows the first and ultimate question of, "when are you due"? If I answer that question, it is usually followed by comments such as
Oh you carry so big, are you sure it's not twins

Oh you carry so small, are you eating ok, have you had profuse vomiting

Oh you are due the same time my dog Fifi will be having her litter...

And then of course, when your due date rolls around, all those who were privy to the information are on your tail. The phone calls begin -
Just checking if you were still around

Can't believe this thing hasn't fallen out of you

My mom would eat pastrami sandwiches and do squats to get the labor going, you should try that...

I am not embarrassed by pregnancy, don't laugh, a friend of mine is too mortified to go out in public when she is pregnant. Gone are the days of the sack dresses, women are showing off their bellies (ok, sometimes a bit too much). We are all adults, we all know what it took to get this way. I have no problem sharing pertinent information if it can be helpful to you. I will share info about my Doctor if you are looking for one. I will have conversation with you about things you can do to curb the morning sickness, or share with you some great exercises to control back pain. But, I will not have too much general chatty conversation about pregnancy, especially if there are many other women within earshot, and here is why.

I know too much. When it comes to everything that can prevent pregnancy from happening in the first place, all that can go wrong in a pregnancy and what women go through when they deliver a child who will either have challenges in life, or G-d forbid, not make it altogether, I am chock full of too much information. This is in part because I am a nurse, and even more so, because I am a nurse who worked in the areas of mother/baby, labor and delivery and Neonatal Intensive Care Units. But, furthermore, this is due to my personal knowledge (read into that what you may, I will not go further at this point) as well as what women close to me have experienced and my general hypervigillance and sensitivity to people who suffer many different plights in life. And I am sensitive to the fact, that some of these women are standing five feet from me when I am having my happy conversation, whether I know they are THAT woman or not.

You think everyone is sensitive? Wrong, thank G-d we have reason to be desensitised. Many women have no idea how fortunate they are to get pregnant exactly when they want to. The timing has to be just right. The environment has to be just right. Do you know how far sperm need to swim? Even if an egg is fertilized, it has to split properly, it has to implant, it has to have the correct amount of chromosomes and healthy genetics. Many of you reading this will say, "I am knowledgeable in the basics of biology", and you may be. But trust me, many women have NO idea, everything that exists that could possibly prevent pregnancy, and challenge the maintaining of a pregnancy. And of course, there are many undesirable outcomes to a pregnancy. I don't take for granted for one second the blessings I have been given, my children. But there are women who forget, and they may belong to social circles, that, thank G-d, don't give them a reason to think differently. If you believe in a Creator, then you know just how "creative" He can be when it comes to the challenges women experience when attempting to grow a family.

I once went down to a c-section birth for a mom who knew she was delivering a baby who was not developing properly. I don't even remember the name of the syndrome or disease this new born had, because it was so rare. Nurses and doctors from other units in the hospital came to see the baby, because they would probably never see this again. It was "Hydro" something, the baby was filled with fluid. There is no other way to say this, but the baby looked like a water balloon. The skin was so stretched with fluid, it was transparent and the abundance of fluid was causing the skin to separate at the joints of the baby. This child did not look human, and yet he/she was. And this baby was someone's child. They could not resuscitate the baby due to the enormous amount of swelling and the mother asked to see her child. I watched her hold the wrapped baby in her arms, while she was still on the table having her c-section stitched, and she wept. I will never ever forget this site. That was not a rare condition to ogle over, it was her child, her flesh and blood, and it was gone to her.

My sister - in - law (husband's brother's wife) was happily pregnant with her second child. She lives in Israel and belongs to a social circle of women who do not get early ultrasounds because they rather not know of any problems, since they would never abort anyway. She had an ultrasound in her 7th month and discovered then, that her baby had anencephaly, the most severe of the neural tube defects. It means there is no real brain developing and this baby has 0 % chance of survival. The baby may have a few hours to a couple of days, and that is all. They sought multiple opinions from Doctors and then referred to many Rabbis for help with decisions. All the Rabbis were in agreement, that due to the incessant testing and accepted diagnoses of anencephaly, she was permitted to have an abortion, even that late in the pregnancy. She did not. She chose, knowing her baby would never survive, to continue with her pregnancy. I can not imagine the pain she was experiencing, quietly, while unsuspecting friends and relatives would make the usual comments. Oh, we are so happy for you, the day is approaching, we can't wait, do you know what you are having... All the while, she knew the true fate, and kept a smile on her face. The baby did not live more than two days, and they decided to anonymously donate the baby's organs.

I was once at my OB office when I was pregnant with Ate. The office is on the smaller side and the phone bank is right outside the examining rooms. I was in a room waiting for the Doctor, when I happened to overhear a conversation she was having on the phone. I was not trying to listen, but in this office, it can not be helped. I overheard her refer to a friend of mine who was also pregnant and scheduling a c-section for this friend. She then must have answered a question that came from the other end about why the c-section was being scheduled. "Baby has a heart defect," was her answer.

I could not believe it. This was a good friend of mine. And all this time she was going through this ordeal silently. I did not know if I should let her know that I knew or stay silent. I stayed silent, if she wanted me to know, she would have told me. Years and many surgeries later, her son is doing well, thank G-d. I did tell her after the fact, that I had known and I did not know what to do. She assured me, that I would not have been able to do anything for her anyway. It was a "wait and see" game for them, and they were only "preparing" for possibilities.

I could go on with many stories, unfortunately, but the point has been made. While I seriously do appreciate someone asking me how I am feeling, and the general, "congratulations", "B'shaa Tova", and "feel good", I personally can not bring myself to become so engrossed in the topic of pregnancy, that I let my guard down and forget those who might be silently suffering. I can not get so chatty about this wonderful blessing that I forget the woman who is carrying a sick child, or the woman who just suffered a miscarriage, or the one who just gave birth and came home empty handed, or the woman who is desperately trying to get pregnant in the first place. I am reminded of how blessed I am, everytime someone asks when I am due, and I consciously reply, "I just don't share that information". If nothing else, it is just a reminder to myself to never forget that someone next to me, or someone across the Ocean is or has not yet been blessed the same way. And I don't want to ever lose my compassion for them.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Trouble, I call Ate

It is really bad when my house is quiet and Ate is not in the immediate vicinity of me. Yesterday, I yelled out, "Ate, what are you doing?"

A voice that sounded suspiciously like it was on helium responded, "I NOT DOING NUFFEENG."

When Ate yells back that he is "not doing nuffeeng" you can be certain he is up to something, and it is typically no good. I first ran to the toilet, because frankly, I do not want to spend another $75.00 to fix a toilet that was destroyed by a two year old. But he was not there. I called again, and I think I heard some shuffling upstairs. I finally found him -

Did you catch it?

I spent five minutes looking for him, two times to his room, but he must have been completely under his crib. He frequents this spot to either
hoard toys or retrieve them. I have no idea what is under there, because I can no longer fit comfortably under the crib to search.

I was happy to discover that all was well, as opposed to last time he went missing. I thought he was in my bedroom while I was in my bathroom, when I came out he was gone and the house was eerily quiet -

He was hiding, literally, in the corner of the kitchen, very proud of the fact that he found some M&M's. By the way, M&M's
DO melt in the hands, and all over the face.

I think Ate is an early morning troublemaker as he seems to be in pajamas every time I catch him up to something. Either that, or I never get the kid dressed.

I had some other stuff to blog today, but I decided to continue with the theme of recognizing my blessings. Being that today is Tuesday (carpool day for me), and I just
loooooooooove Tuesdays on account of the six car trips I make and dealing with kids every morning who need a small crane and five strong men to get them into the car for carpool, I decided to ignore all that and focus on the positives. Ate makes me smile and I hope he could put a smile on your face as well. I would put up with this kind of trouble any day of the week. Trouble I call Ate.

Oh, and today was the first day I attempted to include images in my blog, and it was not fun for me. Took me like an hour. But so worth it.

Let me know what kind of no good your kids are up to...

Not Me! Monday, In All It's Glory

I do not first have a story about So because she is so cute.

I do not let my kids drink soda except for special occasions and on weekends IF and only IF we have company for one of our extravagant meals. This rule has not gone out the window over the past year and three months because my soda obsessed mother gives out this chemically concocted drug to the kids while she is living at my house like it is going out of style. My six year old daughter So has not already made arrangements for multiple sleepovers at Bobbie and Zeidy's house (Grandma and Grandpa) when they finally move back into their home. So did not say she is doing this because Bobbie gives her Soda and she has to go where the goods are. Bobbie did not then tell So that she thought for a minute that So really wanted the sleepovers because she would miss her and because she loves her. So did not then respond that she does love Bobbie, but she loves soda more.

And now for some real Not Me! Monday.

It did not take me over a week to unpack the suitcase from my trip to NJ which had only three days of clothes in it and one pair of shoes. I would never procrastinate that much.

I did not decide on my own volition to further decorate the glass votive candle holders for an organizational dinner I am working on by hot glue gun gluing sheer bronze and gold ribbon around it.

I did not do this for one of the following reasons:
1. To further procrastinate from everything I really did have to do (including not unpacking my suitcase).
2. Because plain glass just does not do it for me.
3. Because I had to relieve some crafty energy.
4. So my children will have an answer to their question, "What do you do when you are not being a Mommy."
5. Certainly, not for ALL aforementioned reasons.

I did not then burn each one of my finger tips at least once with scolding glue. I am not one, to not learn my lesson the first time.

I did not contemplate having my daughter tell the librarian at school that the reason she did not have her book to return is because she loved it so much she wanted to spend another week reading it. The reason she did not have it to return has nothing to do with the fact that I have absolutely no idea where it went in the garbage no idea.

I did not put my girls in the most stunning virginal white knit dresses on Saturday for Synagogue and then tell a four year old and a six year old, "Now don't get dirty".

I did not tell Ate every time he approached me with the same "Ducks Swimming" book that his father REALLY REALLY loves ducks and swimming and wants to read it to him, and then watch Ate waddle off to find his more obliging parent.

I did not stay up until three in the morning Saturday night watching shows that I have missed on That would be a stupid thing to do when children need to be taken care of in the morning.

I did not then kick Hun out of bed in the morning when the kids were requesting breakfast for the fifth time, that would be terribly selfish of me.

I did not berate my husband for leering at Beyonce just a bit too long while she was doing her "Single Ladies" dance. Beyonce has nothing on me.

I did not point out this weeks "Peoples Sexiest Man Alive" issue to my husband and then ask him why he did not make the cover, yet again. That would make me a terrible wife.

I do not totally and pitifully feel sad when I see no comments after spilling my guts for three days straight.

I am not loving "Not Me! Monday"

Saturday, November 22, 2008


My parents, who are still living by me while they finish construction on their house, went away this Sabbath to my brother's house. Frankly, I'm surprised it took my brother a year and three months to invite my parents to spend the weekend while they have been living at my home. But at least he got it in there before they move back to their house.

So with my parents out for the weekend and no other guests invited to our two Thanksgiving size meals we tend to have every weekend, and a third meal that consists of pretty much, yo crunch yogurt, I was able to reflect on the joys and blessings in my life, my family. It couldn't have come at a better time, after three days spent blogging about bitter moments in my life, I was able to focus on everything that brings me calm and happiness, my husband and three little ones. So I will share four stories/thoughts that made my weekend so simply, WONDERFUL.

My daughter So, who has a tremendous thirst for learning and can not seem to get enough, brought home a sheet of questions, as she does every week, pertaining to this weeks Torah/Bible portion that is read in Synagogue on Saturday. This weeks segment is called "Chayah Sarah" - "The Life of Sarah" (Abraham's wife).

1. I was so proud when my husband BEGAN to ask the first question and she interrupted by stating the question exactly as it was written on the sheet, before he could get out the second word. "How old was Sarah when she died?"

Hun joked with her at that point and said, "No, I was going to ask you how old Sarah was when she was born."

To which So replied, without missing a beat, "She was zero, now ask me the real question please."

Hun also decided to ask her one question that was not on the sheet, "What does "Chayah Sarah" mean?"

She thought for a second and said, "I don't know, I don't think Mrs. S. told us that."

Well my Hun, who forgets that So is extremely comfortable with all adults including her first grade Hebrew teacher, tested So by telling her she should go over to said teacher's house and kindly inform Mrs. S. that she forgot to teach the meaning of these words and should ask what the meaning is.

I should probably mention here, that it just so happens, So's first grade Hebrew teacher, Mrs. S. lives only two doors away from us. Great for school loving, teacher obsessed So, not so great for Mrs. S.

So had her coat on and was by the door before you could say "lickity split", at which point I saw this scene unfolding and suggested to So that she not bother Mrs. S. at home, and reminded my husband that testing So in this way was probably not the greatest idea he ever had. At which point So was back at the table about to take a bite into her chicken when she yelled out, "THE LIFE OF SARAH."

So makes me so proud.

2.Ro was being her usual, I need to grow up real quick and be a Mommy, self. She had the balls in the shirt, which I have to say, were evenly matched this time. She had a hat of mine on her head, and she was casually wandering around with a stroller full of a litter of children. (To tell you the truth, between the balls and the kids, she looked more like Angelina Jolie than me.)

She stopped where I was sitting and asked, "Mommy, when I grow up, will I look the same or different?"

I didn't quite get what she was asking. Was she somehow referring to the balls? "What do you mean Ro, the same or different as what?"

"The same or different as my face now?"

"Oh, I think you will look the same."

She pondered my answer for a minute and then said, "I don't think my daughters will like my face then."

"Awwww, Ro, your daughters will love your face because it is the most beautiful face ever."

I think we will need to work on some self-esteem issues.

3.Saturday morning, with Hun and the girls out of the house, I was having quality time with my two year old son Ate. At one point he thought it would be fun to jump on me and more specifically on my belly. I had to remind him that Mommy has a baby in her belly and he has to be nice and gentle and this means, no jumping on Mommy's belly. He looked a little confused, but then began to "make nice" to my belly by stroking it with his hand and repeatedly saying "nice, nice, nice."

I then continued with our conversation by asking, "Ate, are you going to be a big brother?"

He looked up at me with those big brown eyes and simply replied, "No thanks."

He then got off the couch and used his sister's barbie doll to wack a ball across the room.

4. Finally, my very caring, loving, considerate (had no choice, because I made him) husband, let me take a long nap on Saturday afternoon. When I woke, I came downstairs to find him sitting with the three kids on the family room floor. There was a plate of cut up apples and oranges sitting in the middle and they were all playing "Hello Kittie Bingo". Unfortunately I could not take a picture at the time, but I think I captured this image in my mind for future reference. Because when old crap comes creeping up on you, and begins to haunt you, these are the images you want to prevail, to remind you that life is ok. No, life is more than ok, it's So and Ro and Ate and Hunalicious.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Non-year Long Year In Israel - Part III

(This blog continues from where I left off yesterday.)

I went past the House Mother upstairs to my dorm room to collect myself, and sort through my racing thoughts. It was still rather early in the morning in America, so I first called my sister in Jerusalem. I am not sure she could catch what I was trying to say (I left out specific details at this time), but she caught enough to know I was in great distress and she was in my dorm room about twenty minutes later, with her newborn baby. I told her the basics, and what I felt most, which was, this incident was the straw that broke the camels back. And I could no longer, comfortably remain in this school, and probably not in Israel altogether. She let me know she was hearing me, but felt strongly that Israel was where a girl my age should be, and if I returned home, I would not find myself happier.

In all the time my sister was visiting, no one in the administration came around to see if I was alright, but a few friends did. My sister was 28 at the time and she has a "Mother Teresa" quality about her. Always trying to bring peace to a situation, while focusing on our strong religious background and faith. I can not be certain, she would have felt differently if I told her ALL the fine details of what occurred with the Taxi driver, but she was adamant that I would be making a grave mistake if I left.

It was much later when I was finally able to get in touch with my Mom. I also could not bring myself to share the fine details with my Mom. We had a lengthy conversation that seemed to go nowhere. She would mention a lot what my sister thought was the best option for me. And then I realized, all this time, for weeks, after previous mentioned disconcerting incidents, I would tell my Mom, I want out of this school and she was having her own conversations telling my Mom, she thought the "healthiest" thing for me was to stay. My Mother was never really hearing me, because my older, wiser sister who went to Israel when she was 18 and never came back home, thought Israel was the place for me. Hell, she thought Israel was the place for EVERYONE. So for the first time in my life, I told my mother how I never felt heard by her, and never felt supported by her, and all this time, what I really wanted to hear from her is - "Get on the next plane honey, we are here for you, we just want you to be happy..." But those words never came. She thought I should at least consider staying in Israel and switch schools. We left it at that.

I left the school the next day, but I remained in Israel for five more weeks, lost. I did find out that the University-like school, the one I originally wanted to attend, had vacancies and was willing to accept me. But I was emotionally spent by then, I was utterly drained and had nothing else to give of myself. I stayed at my sister's house, which further drained me, due to her incessant uninvited advice about what will help me to grow as a person...

Don't ask me what I did for five weeks. I was supposed to be making a decision about whether I would stay or return home, but I think I spent five weeks doing what everyone else spends their whole year in Israel doing. I was reflecting, finding myself, searching for who I was and what I want to become, and this was dangerous territory. In the midst of visiting friends, taking my own tours, having spiritual conversation with neighbors and strangers, I was questioning what my self worth was. I was hanging out with people I would never have before and I was going in to shady clubs and acting out. I was NOT drinking, I NEVER EVER did drugs, I was NOT cavorting with strange men, but for me, acting out was nothing more than dancing publicly in a shady night club, where I became vulnerable and all those other temptations were there all along, almost beckoning me. But it was never a question in my mind. My father was persecuted for his very religion in the most heinous way possible. He lost his parents to the most awful HATE and yet, when no one could have judged him for cursing out G-d, he not only didn't, he held onto his faith, his morals and values and everything he believed in and started a whole new life. If I tested my faith, it would be the biggest slap in my father's face. And I quickly realized, for me, right now at this time of my life, Israel was actually the UNhealthiest place for me to be. And I made the final decision to return home.

Of course, the night before I left for Chicago, I had to see all my friends. Frankly, if it wasn't for the amazing group of girls I met, I would have lost my marbles quite some time ago. So I went back to my favorite school for one last visit and a sad goodbye. While I was there, my friends were trying to convince me to stay the night. I felt that I would be sleeping in the "lion's den" if I did that, and I pretty much made up my mind that I wouldn't stay the night. That is, until I somehow lost track of time and was still there when my favorite House Mother showed up to do her count.

We met eye to eye, and I kid you not, it was as if one of us was going to draw a gun. And then she spoke.

"Orah, why are you here?"

"My friends invited me for a visit before I return home to the states."

"Well I am locking the door now so you have to go."

And this is when I changed my mind and very calmly, in a soft tone, continued this awkward conversation.

"But Mrs. G. it is so late at night. Surely you would not want to send me out so late at night, lest something G-d forbid happen to me. Because I know that you care so much for my safety, as you have shown me in the past."

Her mouth agape. As I mentioned, things in me were changing. I was beginning to share what was on my mind. I probably would have considered myself somewhat disrespectful if this was a whole other scenario, but dare I say it, I felt a bit vindicated.

"Ahhh, okay Orah, you can stay."
And she turned and left the room. I mean, what could she say after that.

I left to Chicago the next night, and when I walked off the plane into O'hare airport, I felt the biggest release I have ever felt in my entire life. A burden just lifted, and I was able to breathe again.

I missed the deadline for any college I was really considering, but I did apply to a local college in the meantime. When I went to my former high school to pick up transcripts for my application, my former principal asked if he could speak to me. At this point I had already heard of every rumor one could possibly imagine as to why I returned earlier than expected from Israel. Everything from, I was terribly homesick (right, me, the girl who escaped every summer to NY for camp and one summer, six weeks in Israel for camp) to, I came back to steal a guy away from a girl, what? If they only knew. But when my former principal called me in, I realized my time in school in Israel would haunt me forever. Rabbi B. asked me straight out, if it was true that I returned because I needed to seek psychological treatment. WHAT?? He then told me that the administration at the school in Israel actually called him to tell him this. Wow, were they worried about their reputation or what. I informed my principal that this is not why I returned, although after what I went through there, I may be needing some psychological help after all.

I went to college, went on with my life. I joined a Jewish youth group as an advisor, where I probably learned more from the kids about myself and not taking for granted my faith and belief and values, than I could have taught any one of those kids I was supposed to be mentoring.

I became the person who will tell you what is on my mind, good or bad, whether you are my Mom or the guy I was dating. ( I assume some of these guys appreciated this more than others, but I only needed one good one.) I became the girl who wears her heart on her sleeve, the Mom who can not go more than five minutes without telling one of my kids "I love you". I am the Mom who can not stop smothering my kids with love, support and affirmation. I am sensitive to everyone who is going through hardships in life, whether I just met you or I know you for years. This experience in Israel could have broken me into nothing, and instead I used it to bring out everything that is great in me. Ironically, my short time in Israel did what a whole year was supposed to do. I wish it did not have to happen that way, but now I had the choice to dwell on it or let it go. I let it go.

Finally, what became of the school, the predatory doctor, my relationship with my sister? After I left the school, I found out later from friends, as the year went on, nine other girls left after me for various reasons. The following year, it had half the enrollment, from 40 to 20. The year after that was it's last. It is no more.

About six years or so after my year in Israel, my friend, the one who I set up with her husband told me an interesting story. When she was in the school (after I had left already) she had an accident and cut her finger very seriously. She had absolutely no family in Israel and asked the administration what Doctor to go to. They told her of a Doctor and then followed with a caution. They told my friend, when she goes to see this Doctor, no matter what, if he asks her to undress, she should not. She was, as you can imagine, a bit daunted by this specific caution, but felt she had no choice. (At least she got a warning.) After the Doc manipulated her finger and snipped away at skin and what she believes today was nerves (because she lost all feeling in her finger tip) he then asked her to remove her shirt so he could get a better look at her hand. She did not, and left his office/kitchen immediately. Yes, this was the same Doctor they sent me to. I was now older and married when she told me this story, and it made my stomach turn. This experience still haunts me. The fact that I can blog about it (and I could have turned this into a month long soap opera) as if it is fresh on my mind, weighs heavily on my heart.

And finally, it was only a year ago when my sister called me out of the blue for a very specific purpose. She started the conversation casually, like every other call. How are the kids, what are you up to, what are your holiday plans... But then she paused and said, "I want to tell you how sorry I am. I realize now, that years ago, I may have thought I knew enough about life to interfere in your decision making. I may have felt that I knew what was best for you, when most probably, you knew what was best for you. And I am so sorry, if I added to your trauma and if I caused you any more pain than you were already feeling."

I don't know what set this off all of a sudden. Maybe it was the fact that she now had 19, 18 and 17 year olds who were all different and required different needs to be met. There is no one size fits all when it comes to what is right for each person, and she finally realized that. I accepted her apology. I needed her apology. I did not realize that this was the last piece of the puzzle that would help me let go of this pain until I hung up the phone and began to cry. I blog about this, because I know that other people are going through painful experiences, and they may not feel heard. I can hear you. Even if you don't speak directly to me, know that I can hear you.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Non-year Long Year In Israel - Part II

(This blog continues from where I left off yesterday)

Besides for the fact that the Doctor's office was in the kitchen of his family's apartment, where a full size table/bed thing sat across from the refrigerator right next to pots and pans that hung from the wall, the visit was, thankfully, uneventful.

I shared the information regarding my school's lack of helpfulness with my Mom and my sister, but my disgust and disdain for the school I was in did not yet reach the level causing me to cry "panic" to my mother.

I drudged on, trying to enjoy my new found friendships and focus on the exquisite tours we would take of this majestic country. G-d knows the schooling itself was lackluster. It seemed all the teachers and administration were hired by "protexia" (a word used often in Israel to describe the intertwined business and family/friend relationships), and not hired because they had any qualifying characteristics. I called home from time to time and sometimes threw out the "I don't deserve this, I should transfer to another school".

A couple weeks after the doctor episode, my sister gave birth to a baby boy. When a baby boy is born, the first Friday after his birth, a small evening party called a "Shalom Zachor" is thrown to welcome him into his Jewish community. The school would let us go off on our own for weekends to celebrate the Sabbath, but although in Israel there is no school on Fridays, we were not allowed to leave for the weekend on Thursday night, we still had to wait until Friday. I asked for permission to leave Thursday after classes so I could help my sister prepare for this special Sabbath and the school actually did grant me permission. However, things went a little haywire and this incident threw me for a loop once again.

After my last class Thursday, I packed my bag and went to leave for the weekend. It was not curfew yet and the door was unlocked, but the "Madricha" (dorm counselor with the key around her neck) caught me at the door and made a special request of me. She was throwing a surprise birthday party for girl S. and asked if I would stay to help celebrate. I told her I was concerned if I did not get out before curfew, the door would be locked and I would miss my opportunity. She let me know if that was the case, she WOULD unlock the door for me, and she was sincere about this. She couldn't know what was to happen anymore than I did.

After the party, I was on my way to the still unlocked door yet again, when in walks the House Mother. I said a casual hello and goodbye to this woman that I "love" and approached the door.

"Orah, where are you going? It is curfew now."

"Mrs. G. don't you remember? You gave me permission to leave tonight so I can help my sister."

"Yes, but that was hours ago, I can't let you leave now."

"Uhhh, and why is that?"

"Because it is dark and late and if something happened to you it would be our responsibility."

"Well my mom knows I am going, so you don't have to be concerned about that."

"Well I still can't let you go."

(at this point, a crowd of 20 girls have formed to hear this conversation go down)

"Well, if I call my sister and she relieves you of your responsibilities (which they seemed fine with when it came to the doctor situation), then can I go."

"No, because if something happens to you, she will deny that she was responsible."

"HUH?? Okay, if I call my Mom and she says I can go, will you then let me out?"

"No, because if something happens to you, she will deny it and will sue us."

"Wait, if I call my Mom right now, and these 20 witnesses hear her tell you to let me out of this school, you still would not?"

"That is right, because we will be sued."

Holy mother of crap!!! I am officially a hostage.

I could have left anyway after the House Mother did her count. I could have left with the key that every girl in the school already had a copy of. I could have left through the door in the basement we secretly left unlocked. I could have gone out onto an upstairs overhang and climbed fifteen feet down a downspout and left that way, but I didn't. Because I am actually either too compliant of a child, or too stupid. I called my Mom and sister and cried "Get me out of this place". And I continued to call from then on, but my mother would convince me to stay put and focus on the positive aspects. And so I put up with the torture another few weeks, until the S&!@ hit the fan.

From about 12 - 3 every day, we get free time. We can go out for lunch, run errands, visit with friends in other schools or relatives that we may have in Israel, whatever we want to use the time for, we can. But come 3 pm, we have to be back in school for our next class.

On this particular day, I was running errands in a location where I had to take two buses to get back to school. I had plenty of time to take the first bus to the main bus terminal in Jerusalem and then transfer buses to my school's neighborhood, with time to spare. However, when I arrived at the main bus terminal, something chaotic was unfolding causing the buses to "take a break". In Israel, this is nothing new. Could be a bomb scare or something else, it was just not good timing for me. I noticed the taxis were moving, so I decided to hail a taxi for the rest of the ride to school.

My school was less than ten minutes from the area and is a well known neighborhood. It is not remotely possible, that a taxi driver in Israel would not know how to get to this area. When I got into the taxi, I specifically requested that the taxi driver put on the meter. In Israel you need to make this request, or the taxi driver will overcharge you at your destination. He argued, mumbled and then reluctantly turned on his meter, and drove off. After only a minute of driving, I noticed he was going the wrong way, so I reminded him where it was I was going. It got creepy then, because he started asking me where to go and claiming he didn't know how to get there and he was obviously circling blocks... I don't know if he thought I was some dumb American student he could take advantage of, but even as I spoke to him in fluent Hebrew, he pretended he was lost and continued to drive whichever direction he so chose. I even asked him at one point to let me out and I would find another taxi. He would not stop. I could not believe I was now being held hostage by a taxi driver.

About five minutes after three, he finally arrived right in front of my school. Class was already underway, as I could see the back of the classroom's window that looks directly out onto the street where the taxi had arrived. Before the taxi driver pulled to a complete stop, I looked towards the meter to see the price of a twenty minute ride that should have taken less than ten minutes. But as I looked towards the meter, the taxi driver was already ripping the receipt paper out of the meter and crushing it within his palms. He then quoted me an exorbitant price for a ride I had taken on many occasions, across its usual path, and now I was steamed. I pulled out the money I felt I owed him and not a shekel more. I argued that he took me hostage on a wild car ride and erased the meter before I could get the receipt, and I began to exit the car.

At this point he exited the car as well, and his voice captured the attention of my classmates through the open classroom window. What is about to unfold, took me years to reveal to anyone, even my parents. It is probably the most traumatic experience I ever had and it resulted in a reaction from the school that opened a Pandora's box, for both, everything great and everything bad in my life.

He grabbed me by the throat, threw the money at me and pushed me up against the car. I was in shock. He continued to yell at me and spit at me. And then, in broad daylight, while people were walking the street, while my friends were watching (they could only see the passenger side of the car, I was on the driver's side, in the street) he assaulted me. He pulled my skirt up, his hands went where they should not, and he assaulted me. I don't know why he did this. Was it to humiliate me? Was it out of anger? Was this his sick plan all along? This moment seemed to pass so slowly. Everything was in slow motion and the sounds I heard, it was as if I was under water. I couldn't make out at the time what I was hearing (my friends were yelling "Orah needs help, Orah needs help") but somehow I got out of his hold and ran for the door of my school. (No, I was not raped, thank The Good Lord) but I was traumatized none the less.

If that trauma was not bad enough, as I reached to open the door to my school, it was already being opened on the other side. And there stood the House Mother. The House Mother who was called to the front door by my concerned friends who knew something awful was going on. And her first words to me...


And finally, the shocked look on my face was gone, and replaced by a rush of tears and sobs. How could she berate me at a time like this. For weeks, I have felt no love, no support, no care from this school and it's administration. And I can not subject myself to this treatment any longer.

(And even right now, I am emotionally spent. This is the first time I am sharing this so publicly. And while therapeutic, I need a break. So it looks like this will roll over into a third blog.)

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Non-year Long Year In Israel - Part I

There is something I have shared with close friends and family. Although, until now I have never had a public forum to discuss it. But it was an experience that began to define me as a person. In fact, I will go so far as to say, I have been two people. The Orah before this experience and the Orah after. I do not know if this story will need more than one blog, but I will begin here. This is the story about my non-year long year in Israel.

In order to appreciate this defining year of my life, you must first understand a little about my parents and our relationship.

I am number six out of seven kids. There is 21 years between my oldest sister and my younger brother. I would say, my parents probably related a little less to me and my generation, than with my older siblings.

My dad is a businessman and he is also a Holocaust survivor who lost his parents when he was 14 to the atrocities, so he did not have parents around during his most critical years. My dad is very warm, but shows love more by handing us a dollar, rather than an "I love you". My dad would turn over most important decisions to my mother and maybe put in his "two cents" for half a minute.

My mom is extremely smart, witty and bright. She is NOT demonstrative. We say she is not a "chicken soup" mother. She hands out criticism more than I love yous. She shows love in her own special way, but tends not to share emotions and can be very private and guarded most of the time.

I would say, before my year in Israel, I shared a lot of traits with my mother. I put up walls around me. I did not easily share what I was feeling. I certainly, did not wear my heart on my sleeve and would never in a million years be blogging to complete strangers. But all this changed in just a matter of months after embarking on what was supposed to be an experience of a lifetime.

In my religious and cultural background, it is common for young girls and boys to spend a year abroad in school in Israel after completing high school. The school allows them to spend another year growing and studying Hebrew and religious topics, while exploring the beautiful country of their ancestry. The girls and boys go to separate schools and live in dorm-like buildings. Just like colleges, there are a plethora of schools to choose from (although, much less so when it was my year to go).

I only applied to two schools, one of which I knew I would not get into because I did not really fit in with their specific ideology, but a lot of my friends were going there and it was in a neighborhood where some siblings lived. The other school, where I really wanted to go, is more university - like and usually accepted all the girls who applied from Chicago, because of it's long time connections to Chicago. I don't know if it was the fact that the Principal of my high school was an outspoken opponent of this particular school because it did not meet his personal ideology, or something else, but that year only one out of six girls who applied, was accepted there and it wasn't me.

So I somehow found another school to go to, which I knew nothing about. But, I took a leap of faith. As soon as I got there, I sized it up, and I knew. I knew (because I mentioned in previous blogs that I have great instinct and intuition) that this school was probably going to give me an "interesting" ride, but I had no idea what actually was in store for me.

I loved the girls. It turned out I already knew half of them from camps I attended. My roommate was great, we are still friends today. One of the girls there, I later set up with the guy who became her husband and we are good friends. But the school and it's administration, is a whole other story.

I first noticed the bars on all the windows and doors. We get locked in at night and only one hired hand has the key around her neck at night. So in case of fire, I don't know, PRAY. Couldn't call for help if there was a fire for at least four weeks after I arrived, because the only outgoing phone was dead and hanging by a wire off the wall. And this is before cell phones became popular for students and tourists in that country. If you wanted to call home and let them know you were alive, had to walk three blocks to the next pay-phone. Actually the next pay-phone was only a block away, but we weren't allowed to use it because it was in front of an all boys school and they didn't want us cavorting with the men. However, while using the pay-phone three blocks away, some of those men would come "loiter" around us. A day later we would get lectured about "hanging out" with boys at that pay-phone. Ummm, can you say spies? They actually had people watching (and deciphering all wrong by the way).

But even though this stuff concerned me, it would never have been enough to obliterate my year in Israel. The beginning of the end came two weeks after I began school and only got worse from there. So I will share the first story and you will have to tune in tomorrow for the rest.

About two weeks after school began, I got really, really sick. Me getting the kind of sick that requires a doctor, is really bad because I have had previous traumatizing experiences with doctors and now hated doctors (which is why I later became a nurse). Me getting sick in a foreign country and requiring a doctor is even worse. I have learned from previous experiences , that a young girl should never go to a doctor on her own. So I approached the administration with a friend and asked them who I should go see and that my friend be permitted to come with me. They directed me to a doctor in the community (which you need to remember, because you will hear something in tomorrows blog and then refer back to this doctor). However, they would not let me take my friend along.

They did not want another girl to miss class on my behalf. Okay, I am a reasonable young lady, but I still refuse to go to some strange doctor in a foreign country alone, so I asked that they provide me with someone, a teacher, administrator, just someone to come with me. At which point they made a remark that was very telling and made my blood boil.

"Why don't you have your sister come with you, you have family here, you are their responsibility."


First, must I remind you of the speech you gave at orientation the first day of school. You know, the one where you said, "We are far from our families and we should feel like this is our home away from home blah blah blah." Second, although I do have some siblings living in Israel, what will you do for the 30 or so other girls in this school who have absolutely no family here? I am asking, because unlike you, I care about other people and not just the hefty tuition their "American" parents are paying. And do you really think my sister who is nine and a half months pregnant with her fourth child really needs another "child' to take care of right now?

Thank G-d for my good friend who decided to ditch class and come with me anyway. I believe undoubtedly, that by her being with me, I was saved from what could have been another very traumatizing experience. I believe this now, because over five years later, my friend, the one I set up with her husband shared a story with me that happened to her in school (tomorrow's blog) which gave me the chills. Because it let me know that the school I trusted to keep me safe, not only refused to be helpful, but actually sent me to a Doctor who was a known SEXUAL PREDATOR!!!

And this, as I said, was only the beginning.

To be continued...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I am a non-conformist. I never feel the need to keep up with the Joneses. Whatever becomes a trend, I try to avoid like a mutant flu. I do not want to dress myself or my kids like every other person. I do not want to go on vacation to the same places my friends just did (which is nowhere by the way). I do not feel left out if I choose to read some obscure book rather than the latest overrated series. I will buy a stroller that meets my needs, and not because it is the stroller that every self-absorbed celebrity is using at the moment. I am basically comfortable with who I am, and I have no need to try to be, well, that other person.

I once had a friend ask me when I would purchase a "Louis Vuitton" handbag? I did not quite understand the question. First, she was assuming I could afford this very recognizable handbag. Second, she was assuming I want this very recognizable handbag. Even if I were ever to buy a designer handbag, "Lois Vuitton" would be last on my list, because it is so recognizable.

I explained to my friend, instead of buying this overpriced piece of cow hide that probably 8 out of 10 women own (6 of whom probably spent way beyond their means) I would use my money in a more creative way and come out with a one of a kind handbag and a vacation. I would take the money and purchase tickets to Guatemala. While there I would visit a village and meet interesting people who spend their time weaving baskets and making pottery, and I would ask them to point me to the woman who makes beautiful, handmade, one of a kind handbags. I would meet a woman named Jualiah (pronounced Walia) who is sitting barefoot in the dirt surrounded by five children who look slightly undernourished, putting the last touches on an exquisite leather and straw combined over the shoulder carrier of some sort. I would remark on it's beauty and she would offer it to me for one dollar (because that will feed her five children for a week). I offer her ten dollars and she feels rich because she can now feed her kids for ten weeks. She goes home with food and I go home with the most unique purse and an experience of a lifetime.

I do not own Crocs, I will not buy Uggs. When I had to wear a uniform in high school, I added my green and blue checkered tie, and when everyone else was wearing penny loafers, I chose black patent leather shoes with silver metal studs and a sheer black ribbon as laces (it was the early 90's, it was cool then, trust me).

Before all you "Ugg" wearing, "Louis Vuitton" carrying "Croc" walkers get more steamed at me, I am in no way trying to insinuate that EVERYONE who purchases what happens to be the latest trend, is just an unoriginal wannabe. I know that y'all love your comfy Crocs, and your warm Uggs and your, well your, really works the same as every other purse - Louis Vuitton. But, if you think about it, aren't there other REALLY REALLY comfy shoes that are not Crocs and don't other brands of boots keep your feet just as warm, if not warmer than Uggs? And if you are being honest with yourself, won't you discover that some of the choices you make when purchasing clothing and plane tickets and music and books and even your shampoo, is based on what is fed to you by friends and the media?

We are probably all guilty of this (including myself) to some degree. But it seems some people can not live their life unless they live it like the next person. I am not saying that someone who earns enough money, is not entitled to treat themselves to something that has a designer label attached to it, or reward themselves with something that five of their friends also own. Of course that person has the right to make the luxury purchase, but what are the motives behind it? Even though I have no interest in buying Crocs for myself, I did buy them for my kids the past two summers. But, they have replaced the leather sandals I used to buy because Crocs can also be used in the various sprinklers and water play areas that my kids frequent in the summer.

In the 80's when "Keds" canvas shoes were very popular, I had one friend who wanted them so badly, but her mother would only purchase canvas shoes from "Payless". When another friend was ready to dispose of her "Keds" this first friend asked for the shoes. She then removed the recognizable blue "Keds" label from the back of the shoes and glued them onto the back of her "Payless" canvas shoes. Why? It did not change the comfort of the shoe she was wearing. It was her motive that was all wrong. She needs to grow some self esteem and become a leader not a follower.

Off the top of my head, I can think of 40 - 50 stores that sell down coats made of pretty much the same fill of down, made from the same quality of materials, and yet it seems that most people will only get the one that says "Northface" on it. There is nothing wrong with that. But be honest - are you making the "Northface" purchase because of the 10 different brands you tried on, it has the best fit and is the most comfortable, or did you make a beeline straight for the "Northface" coat because six of your cool friends or neighbors are wearing it? Most people don't realize that companies such as "Northface" which make various styles of coats under their brand name, also make the same coats (maybe, varying styles) for other stores. This is called "private label" and it happens with clothing, medications, toiletries, food, etc...

Personally, I am a non-conformist because I like to retain my sense of individuality. I do not want to become a "Stepford Wife" or a "Stepford Person" for that matter. So the next time you are about to make a decision about where to go, what to do, what to eat, what to buy, ask yourself - am I making this decision because a magazine told me to, a commercial, a friend? Or am I making this decision because it truly captures the essence of who I am and what I like. You might be surprised at your answer.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Not Me Monday (Finally)

(My first "Not Me Monday")

I did not return from my four day trip away from my kids at 12 am and wake the girls up for mucho kisso.

I did not avoid waking Ate up because I knew if I did he would not request 12 am play time.

I did not pick Ate's crusty nose with my pinkie , that would be gross. And if I did, I certainly did not grab the first thing I could find to dispose of the gross nose waste on, which was Ro's sock because it was going in the laundry anyway.

I am not, right now, announcing that I am pregnant. I don't make pregnancy announcements.

I did not make such announcement because a non-maternity skirt that fit me in the morning, no longer fit me in the afternoon after my workout and shower.

I did not make my husband leave work an HOUR before my Doctor appointment because he always meets me there late, and he did not get ticked at me when he ended up there a half hour before the appointment.

I did not make my husband go out Saturday night to buy mesquite crunchers and bar-b-q tortilla chips, because I NEEDED to sample both. And I did not then RELUCTANTLY share some chips with my two year old.

I did not ask my very lovely sister-in-law if she would bring my daughter home from school because my Doctor's office is at the mall and I wanted to make my trip there worth it.

I did not just spend an expletive amount of money on new maternity clothes, when I have a closet full of maternity clothes for every season. I did not do this because the oh so comfortable new "belly fit" waist on every skirt did not exist the last time I was pregnant.

I did not get into a fight with a lady in our cars because she would not let me get around her to exit the lot. I did not bring out the foul language in me for this "stand" off, that would be inappropriate and out of character for me. Then again, the raging hormones - also out of character for me.


What did y'all not do?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Oh The Fun We Can Have At Airports

My husband informed me two mornings ago, before his food show began that he was having a hard time finding his box cutter in his checked luggage. He needed it to open his slew of boxes. You know those box cutters, those deathly sharp razor blades that shoot up from their plastic holder. After searching his checked suitcase over and over again, he finally found it.....IN HIS CARRY ON!!!

Thank you TSA, I feel extremely secure knowing my husband's carry on was screened so well. This happens after countless trips with our children where you wanted me to give up my yogurts. I might yogurt someone to death if you don't let me keep my yogurts. Mamma's babies gotta eat, so you are going to have to pry those yogurts out of my cold dead hands. I never did give up the yogurts.

I used to think TSA stood for Transportation Security Administration, but I realize it stands for Teenagers Screening Adults, since the average age of a TSA agent is probably 18. This was not the first time my husband got through with objectable objects. He once forgot to empty his pants pockets and the alarms did not go off, even though there were keys and various other objects in his pockets.

They used to make new mothers take a sip of bottles that contained breast milk in it. I guess if Mom doesn't drop dead after she takes a sip , all is well. Thank G-d they let her take her actual breasts through.

If you have powdered formula in one container, and bottled water in another, the water is confiscated. But if you actually turn the powder and water into formula, the bottle of made formula is allowed through.

More than three ounces of lotion, and you might SMEAR someone to death. But I can take my two foot long laptop cord through (even though airplanes have no electrical outlets) because I would NEVER consider strangling someone to death. We have to take our shoes off and place them in a tray to be x-rayed, but we can then put our five inch stilettos back on, because the thought of utilizing them as stabbing devices has NEVER EVER crossed my mind.

I love traveling, my favorite part is sitting at the gate and waiting for the plane to board. I love airports because I am such a people person. I love to observe people and an airport is one of those places where everyone seems to let their guard down. I make up stories in my mind, all based on the way they walk, the clothes they wear, their hairstyles, what they are eating, the expressions on their face, the sort of carry on they hold, the company they keep, etc...

That woman with the gym bag as a carry on, who has her hair in a loose ponytail and is dressed in juicy couture sweat pants with a t-shirt that says "I Love the Real Houswives of OC", just left her husband and she is going back home to live with her parents for a while.

The guy in the blue suit with the brown shoes, wearing a long wool coat and a dorky crew cut, carrying a messenger bag made out of nylon is a walking contradiction. He is a business man, but not a good one. He just blew a HUGE account for his company and is on his way back to reveal this information. He is about to get laid off.

I could go on all day with my character studies. It's a good thing that total strangers at the airport are occupying my time. Until I wonder if that guy with the shaven head wearing camouflage, carrying a backpack covered in confederate flag stickers also got through security with a box cutter, or a stick of dynamite, or a semi-automatic. That is when I read my O magazine and just stop looking at the people. Here is to safe flying!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tell It Like It Is Tuesday

I was actually planning on taking a stab at this "Not Me Monday" thing yesterday, but I was travelling and would not pay 6.95 to access the airport Internet for the hour and a half I waited to board my flight. Instead I am just going to lay it all out straight, tell it like it is

It's "Tell It Like It Is Tuesday"

On Saturday I took my girls to a pre - wedding shindig for a bride, and I DID ignore them while they ate five Frisbee size cookies and cup fulls of sour bears. They DID this just after we finished eating lunch at a friend who served practically the same thing for dessert.

On Sunday I DID finally put away all the summer clothes, after all it is November 9th

Also on Sunday, I DID run to Target at the last minute to get another six year old birthday present, because I still have not gotten myself organized enough to stock up on gifts during one Target trip. While there, I DID purchase 7 other things I did not come for. When pulling out 2 "sterilite" storage bins from the shelf at Target (for storing the summer clothes) it suddenly became clear to me that, this particular stack of bins was holding up the shelf above it, which had obviously now collapsed. I DID just glance at the spilled storage bins and tops and then walk away without notifying anyone.

Furthermore, on Sunday, besides getting ready for my trip, which included
-writing out five pages of notes and directions for the babysitter
-making nine lunches for the kids for the next 4 days
-placing 4 days worth of clothes for three kids each in organized rows on the dining room table.
-making up the guest room for the babysitter
-having the babysitter come for an hour so I could go over the notes with her (during the hour Desperate Housewives was on no less)
-and packing my own suitcase

I DID have to give the kids a second bath (they already had one after swimming) because So came home from her "spa" themed birthday party with a face that looked like colored whip cream exploded on it, and hair that was sprayed red and purple. And since So was getting a bath, that meant Ro and Ate had to have one too. Bath lovers!!!

I DID switch my carpool day from Tuesday to Monday, so I could get a carpool in this week before my trip and not have to do two next week, (great forward thinking on my part if I do say so myself). I DID then completely space out drive past one of my stops causing me an extra 8 minutes because I now had to wait in line to circle the block since I was driving past a school where kids were being unloaded from a bus.

In addition, when taking Ro to her school, I DID make it all the way there and park only to then discover, I left Ro's backpack with her lunch in it back at home. After going back home and retrieving the backpack, returning Ro back to school and finally returning home I then had only twenty minutes until my cab was coming.

I DID have to spank Ate on the wrist after I found him trying to stick a microphone cord into an electrical outlet. (Let me insert here, I am not a mother who hits, EXCEPT, when my kids are doing something that is extremely dangerous and would hurt them a thousand times more than the slap I gave them on the hand) This DID occur two hours after I saw Ro doing the same thing and I explained to her how dangerous it was and that Ate would copy her, at which point she told me that So was the one who taught her to stick the microphone cord in the outlet.

This episode left Ate crying which caused me tremendous guilt, especially since I was leaving him for 4 days in a matter of minutes. I DID refuse to leave the house until Ate said he loved me and gave me a kiss.

I DID buy a second coffee in the airport and guess what, I also paid a dollar for one lousy banana because I was too lazy busy to grab one of the eight I had at home, which will all be brown when I return.

I DID get really lucky and end up the only passenger on the plane with a whole row of seats. And when the guy in the aisle across from me pointed to the window seat in my row and ask if someone is sitting there, I DID immediately let him know of my intentions to take advantage of my good luck (and my family less travel) and sleep across all three seats just as soon as the plane that was delayed on the tarmac for no good reason would take off.

And I DID thank The Good Lord that my plane did not fall out of the sky and landed safely , so my father-in-law (and a few other people) have one less thing to worry about. And the day DID continue with a trip to Hun"s grandparents and some great steak in Manhattan. And that, my friends, brings me to Tuesday.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

My Mouse, My Company

Mice are attracted to me. In fact, I will go so far as to say that animals are attracted to me, being that there was this one time my husband literally had to fight a goat over me at my friend's ranch. But that is another story for another time. I want to clarify once more - mice are attracted to ME, I however, am not easily returning the sentiment.

The first memory I have of mice finding some sort of way to intrude into my life was when I went to sleep away camp for the very first time, at the age of nine, in Wildrose, Wisconsin. A couple of weeks into my stay at bunk 1B, my cubbie full of clothes became home to a mother mouse and her brand new brood of micelings. Out of 14 kids, 14 possible cubbies, it had to be mine. Have you ever seen new born baby mice? They look like tiny naked piglets. They are less than an inch big, a transparent pink, and blind. And a mama mouse never has just one baby, nooooooo, she had to lay a load of about 20 or so on my clothes. Some of them, uh, how shall we say, were not really moving, or breathing for that matter.

We had a mouse problem, on and off, for years in our home. First we find the droppings and then the quest begins. Well, many houses at some point find themselves playing the "cat" and mouse game. Usually the problem is confined to the kitchen area, or the main floor. Well wouldn't you know it, in my parents' home, there are five bedrooms and that damn mouse is gonna find its way into one of them. Whose do you think it was?

My parents' have a bedroom on the main floor not too far from the kitchen, but the mouse wouldn't dare enter there. Yes, this mouse found MY bedroom, but that is just the beginning of this story.

I had no idea there was a mouse in my bedroom when I returned home from a trip to Israel. One of the many things American Jews, who only eat kosher food took advantage of while visiting Israel in the early 90's, was bringing back to America the bountiful collection of candy, chocolate and gum that somehow was deemed kosher in Israel, while the same brand in the U.S. was not. I was no exception to this practice. I brought home a new supply of Wrigley's gum and Mars bars to add to my dwindling collection which I kept stashed in my closet.

When I walked into my bedroom closet after being in Israel for three weeks, I was terribly jet lagged and non - functional. I went to put the bag of candy away before hitting the sack and noticed some old gum and candy wrappers looked a bit shredded on the floor. I just figured the candy had fallen and they were run over by a vacuum or something. I shut the lights and got into bed, and I was out like a light.

The next morning afternoon, I awoke and threw back my covers with gusto and thought I had been sleeping with raisins in my bed. What were those black pebble looking things around my legs? Oh SH$#, no literally SH$# . I had been sleeping in rodent SH$#. The shredded wrappers??? There is a mouse in my room and it has been in my bed. Holy mother of crap, to the shower, to the shower!!!

I immediately did what any young girl would do in this pesty situation. I went to Daddy. He put a trap in my closet before bed the next night. After changing sheets and doing my own home fumigation, I did get back into my bed, (I was so jet - lagged). It took no more than two minutes when I heard it - the SNAP!!! Of course, I was not venturing over to my closet, that is also what Daddy's are for. And the next morning, there it was, in it's fat, Israeli candy eating, dead glory. And mice have continued to haunt me ever since, on and off, for years.

Every day I hear the tapping in the wall behind the refrigerator. It has kind of become family. The only reason I don't mind so much, is because they are not actually in my house. That wall is connected to the garage, and the garage is where they are caught and disposed of. (uhh, my apologies to animal lovers and PETA supporters, yada yada yada, I really don't feel that bad).

I would like to officially seal the hole outside my house that they are entering from, but you know, life gets in the way, something more important comes up, we forget about it, we move on. And the tapping sound becomes my only company when my husband is away on business and the kids are sound asleep. When we get rid of one mouse, there are like 7 more waiting in its place. They will all somehow find there way into my house and into my life. What can I say, mice like me.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Parent Withdrawal

If you become my 100th visitor, you win a prize!!!

Well, I really would send you a prize, although it seems I wouldn't know who to send it to, being that I don't know who is reading my blog (except for two people).

I mentioned briefly in one of my blogs that my parents have been living with me for over a year while they do construction on their house. Which makes me a rockin' daughter.

People have approached me at various times, my friends, my parents' friends, expressing their amazement and awe that I would be so receiving of my parents. Frankly, it amazes me as to how many people are so in awe of something any child who has a reasonable relationship with his/her parents should do.

The idea of them moving into my home was never even a discussion. My parents never asked me or informed me that this was their intention, and I never officially invited them. In my mind, it was just a given. My Mom had been wanting to undertake construction for years, and I knew, that when she finally would begin, they would live by me. They had me in their home for 25 years (+ the 3 months we lived by them when we moved from NJ to Chicago), so I could certainly manage to have them.

I should have started blogging over a year ago, boy, would I have stories. The stories are not particularly bad, just the revelation of what it means for your parents to live by you. Like, my Mom is obsessed with HGTV, which is interesting, since she was only introduced to it at my house. My parents never even had cable at their home. I say had, because you can imagine, after living in my house and being exposed to the myriad of home construction and handy crafty shows, Mom let the Contractor know she needs some cable lines installed.

While I watch and appreciate HGTV from time to time, it is not my favorite form of entertainment, in fact it causes some moments of "freak out" for me, when it reminds me of everything I need and want to get done in my home. And after my Mom turned down the offer for me to put a second cable box in the basement where they "live", she expects me to have HGTV on at all times on my family room TV. Well she would like that, in an ideal world, but this is the F. house and it is not an ideal world.

The best part of my parents living in my home this past year or so, how much pride I get watching my children and parents interact with one another. I was not fortunate to grow up with any Grandparents, so I am so happy that my children will always have such special memories of the time Bobby and Zeidy (Grandma and Grandpa) lived with them.

And the ultimate moment for me, when my Mom told me that I have really great kids and I am doing a really great job raising them. Of course then my Mom threw in "I don't know how that happened". People who know my Mom know her to be a little less forthcoming with the compliments. I don't want to go so far as to say she is typically more critical of a person, but she is. So I don't take lightly when my Mom gives me such a compliment.

I will totally digress here, because this is where I was typing when a friend of mine called to tell me that my daughter So missed her bus stop and was at her house. Didn't I mention that my beautiful So who is extremely bright is also completely oblivious. Which makes her a perfect candidate for the absentminded professor. This is not the best day, as I am preparing, like every Friday for the Sabbath which comes in in two hours. (can't you tell how busy I am, because I can't even find time to blog). Thank G-d my babysitter is still in the house as my other two are napping and I obviously need to run an errand which I was not expecting to run. (I can not believe I just referred to So as an errand.)

Where was I with the parents in my house thing, oh yeah. I guess the reason this all came up today is because my parents have actually been out of the country for the past week at a nephew's wedding. While I am waiting with bated breath for the day my parents move back into their home, I actually do miss them. My house is quiet without them and my kids have no distraction, and I feel lonely all of a sudden. I am having parent withdrawal.

I am so fortunate to have them with me. We have a saying in hebrew - Ad Meyah V'esrim Shana, which means until 120 years. Although my family likes to say THROUGH 120 years. They should be healthy and live a long life. I really think I would have them here forever. I never thought I would say those words in a million years. Come "home" soon Mom and Dad!!!