Thursday, April 30, 2009

Murphy's Law Can Suck It!!!

Here is the obvious definition of "Murphy's Law" -

Anything that can go wrong, WILL go wrong.

Here is MY definition of "Murphy's Law" -

If Hun goes out of town on business, all hell breaks loose...

Remember this

It seems like the little stress I encounter on any average day is just not enough. I did not mention yesterday that Hun was out of town, because I am trying to avoid meeting the few insane people who read my blog, uninvited at 2 in the morning, in my bedroom. But of course he was out of town, for the first time since before Passover (and most certainly the last for quite some time), leaving me to tend to quite an ill child, another child who got some major tongue lashing from her Mama when I heard the words "I wish I was sick too" come out of her six and a half year old pie hole and a one month shy of turning three years old boy who just decided now to enter his terrible twos.

Shall I explain?

At 3 in the morning Wednesday (after getting to bed late because of the unexpected necessary vomit clean up in aisle - Ro) I was woken up by shower, shaver and rattling belt as Hun prepared to leave to the airport. Just when I thought it was safe to fall back asleep, Ate decided it was time to wake up crying for his father (who I could not nudge out of bed to take care of said crying child - because he was now on his way to a childless and wifeless vacation business trip). So after needing five minutes and a small crane to roll over and get myself out of bed, I made it to Ate's room where he was sitting up on his crib mattress which is not in the crib, but on the floor, crying and speaking incoherently.

This is where I digress to mention that this past Sunday, Ate officially decided it was time to escape from his crib when he was put in for a nap. When Ate went from singing "The Wheels On The Bus Go Round And Round" to complete quiet just after hearing the loudest "THUD" one could imagine, I just knew what we would encounter. And there he was - in the hallway, with his green blanket, half giggling. I suspect he was only HALF giggling because it was maybe not his intention to actually get out of the crib and may not have been the most pleasant experience for him. We put him back in the crib and asked him to show us what he did to escape, but he adamantly refused. I suspect he lifted his waist above the railing and just flipped right over... Either way, I can no longer keep him in his crib. But I was hoping for a few more months of Ate containment, because I am just not ready to make all the bedroom shifts I need to make amongst the kids and prospective child.

So back to 4 am Wednesday - he was sitting there on his floored crib mattress and would not give me any specific reason why he suddenly was crying for his father. I suspect he has some really incredible instincts and intuition like his mother, and this is also why he has become a terror lately and is testing more boundaries - because he knows something is coming and his family placement is in jeopardy. So he probably knew his father just left the State and he needs to cause me more lack of sleep. He ended up in Hun's bed, tossing and turning for another hour. It was not until after 5 am that he fell asleep, and so I could not fall asleep until he was out.

Now if you backtrack to my day yesterday, taking care of Ro, and add to it some lost hours of sleep and keep in mind my practically fully grown load that I can not yet put down in a crib or a baby swing... And you imagine Ate spending the day emptying buckets of blocks and cartons of 100 piece puzzles and bins full of toys for no other reason than to make a mess and wait for my response so he can laugh at me as I clean it up for the eighth time... This is obviously still not enough stress to complete my day.

No, I need more. Pile on the stress, and keep in mind that Hun is not coming home tonight. Hun will not be returning until Thursday. So I still have bewitching hour and supper and bedtime, and I am just certain that will all go smoothly.


So is home and needs some attention, obviously she says, "I wish I was sick too" because she is not getting attention. No - she says it because she is not getting cups of ginger ale and freeze pops like her semi-conscious, roasting, tummy-clutching sister. I gather this because, the time I spent with her sitting on my non-existent lap listening to her about celebrating "Israel Independence Day" in school with falafel for lunch and blue and white cupcakes and games that won prizes and camel rides, was not enough attention. After she made her little, wanna be sick too, comment - I sent her to the other room with a book - "The Secret Garden" to be more specific, about a boy who can not walk and really would like to.... hmmmmm!!! I needed to finish making supper and was none too happy with her antics.

Well Ate decided to go off to the next room and hang with So. And about five minutes later, more fun for the Pregnant, thinly spread Mommy...

Ate was crying a nasty shriek and I figured So maybe, had a role in his latest outburst, but when I looked back into the living room, So had her nose buried in her book and Ate looked like he was clutching his hand.

I ran in there and asked So what happened, at which point she looked over towards the wall and said,

"I don't know, he was standing over there, and then he started crying."

I looked towards the wall and saw an outlet that had a light timer (that was not attached to the light) hanging halfway out of a socket, and then looked towards my shrieking child who kept rubbing at his right fingers, and almost went into labor right there.

I knew he must have gotten quite a shock, to be crying like that, but he was not letting me get a good look at his fingers. And frankly, his hair always looks like he stuck his finger in a socket, so that was not telling me anything either.

But I was worried. Because, even though he did not get enough voltage to be completely electrocuted, was not knocked unconscious, and from the little I could see, did not have singe marks on his finger, he was still inconsolable and grabbing at his fingers. One can not be too passive when a two year old gets shocked at an outlet, because it is possible that the electrical current has caused changes in the heart rhythm or has traveled enough to cause other damage. So I thought, I can not believe I now might have to take him to the ER, on top of everything else, and Hun is not around... AAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!

I called the Doctor's office first, it was now 6:45 pm. I thought it was after hours and a message service would page the Doctor and have him call me. But I think the office answered. After giving some information to, the secretary (maybe) she put me on hold and came back to tell me that the nurse said, I should bring him to the ER and have him evaluated because of his young age. If I had my mind at the time, I would have insisted on speaking to the Doctor, or at least to the nurse directly. But I just hung up and burst out crying. This is not what I wanted to hear. She said, take him to the ER, and I heard -

find someone to come over and watch your other kids, including an extremely sensitive fevered child, at the worse time of night, while you sit in an ER waiting room for 2 hours with a crap load of sneezing, coughing, dripping people who all think they have the swine flu, thus exposing your healthy child to worse problems when most probably he is fine and will want to watch the fishies swimming in the waiting room aquarium even when they finally call him to listen to his heart beat with the same stethoscope I have in my own house, just to say he is fine. (Whew, RUN ON like never before.)

So I called my Mom and I have no idea how she understood me through my sobbing, but she told me she would come over in ten minutes.

But then, I collected myself a bit and decided to call the ER. I asked the person who answered if she was a nurse or Doctor,


"Can I please speak to a nurse or Doctor"?

"To be honest, I don't think I can get a nurse or Doctor to the phone because we are so swamped tonight".

SEE - Damn swines - swamping the ER tonight with coughing, sneezing, drippy people.

"Well I need to know if I should bring my 2 year old in... blah.. blah... blah".

"Does he have a pre-existing heart condition"?


"You should probably, actually, NOT bring him in".

Yeah, I could hear it in her definitive tone - don't bring him here amongst the swine people...

Anyway, I don't even know who I was speaking to. Secretary? Maybe I was accidentally transferred to a patient in the Psych ward when I called the Hospital, and she was "playing" authority figure, but my gut told me to go with her advice.

At this point, Ate stopped crying with an offering of ginger ale and was still rubbing at his fingers a bit, but seemed fine enough to appease me. So I called off my Mom and just tried to polish off my evening with the little sanity I had left.

I had just put So into bed (after another short lived, "why am I going if Ro is still up" tantrum) at about 7:20 when I got a huge pick me up. My parents showed up unexpected to check up on me and see that I was okay. This is not completely typical of my parents - so I immediately felt somewhat taken care of. Especially after I tried to call Hun to vent to him and he did not answer his friggin' crackberry. I could be in labor, on my kitchen floor and he would not even know...

My parents left at close to 8 pm, and Ro, although no vomit all day, still had fever of 101.8. I gave her the Tylenol and Motrin, and off to bed she went.

I tried to put Ate to bed at 8:30, but he was not having it - probably because he needs to make a business trip drop in his diaper, but has not. So he came back out and did not yield any goods, but went back into bed at 10:00, only to chat with himself until 11:00.

I can not sleep until all my kids are asleep, because... well....because I am a mother. So after 11 something I dragged my tired self to bed, but did not fall asleep until checking repeatedly on all my kids - ascertaining that they were all breathing and not vomiting and were no where near outlets...

I am seriously banning Hun from business trips, until "Murphy" decides to move onto someone else's house. And please G-d, I hope Hun does not return with any signs of sneezing, coughing, drippiness.

Here is to good health, and safe and well behaving children!!!


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Very Ro Update

(Definitely not Ro - but pathetic puppy dog look none the less)

There is one stubborn little bug invading Ro's tiny little body. She spent all day yesterday throwing up whatever we tried to get down, which was not much, including two separate tries at Tylenol. Her temperature was stagnant at pretty much 101./101.+. She kept her water down, so I felt she was not in danger of total dehydration, but when I added in the occasional freeze pop to offer her some sugar, up came the colorful liquid no more than ten minutes later.

She napped well and when she woke at 4:30 pm, she still kept asking about food, which let me know that she does have some sort of appetite. However, the foods she would ask about, no mother in their right mind would let anywhere near such a sensitive belly that was not keeping anything other than water down.

After picking So up from gymnastics class at 6:45, I went off to my local grocer to purchase some ginger ale and all sorts of crackers as well as, those very well received, fever reducing suppositories.

When I returned at 7:20, I insisted that So go to bed at which point I had to deal with So's jealous nature and total melt down due to the fact that Ro gets to stay up and watch "Angelina Ballerina" and So has to get to bed.

Well So, if you want everything the same as Ro, you need to accept the whole package...

Including, but not limited to-

Profuse vomiting

Stomach pains similar to taking boxing blows to the abdomen

Fever causing watery eyes that can hardly see the TV

Oh and..... taking a suppository up the bum.

And with that So said,

"Never mind",

and was off to bed.

When I returned to Ro, I offered her some crackers, which she refused, however, she did drink about a half a can of ginger ale, 1/8 cup at a time and kept it down well. But her fever was climbing - 101.2, so I sat down next to her and started a little conversation.

"Ro, I have a different medicine to help with your fever, because the other one was not staying in your doesn't go down your mouth."

"Well, where does it go Mommy?"

" goes in the tushie Ro."

(Yes, I just need to be matter of fact about it and she will be just fine with it.)

"Will it hurt?"

"I don't think it will hurt, but it might feel a bit funny for a quick second or two."


FINE???? Who are you and where is my Ro? Wait, I am not complaining - how much easier with a compliant child.

It was quick....and seemed painless. I still believe that part of the body is always an exit and never an entrance. But as a caring Mommy and a nurse, I knew it needed to be done.


I put her to bed shortly after and came to check on her an hour later and she was still burning up. She was asleep though, so I just hoped her fever would break as she slept and she would wake up a less miserable child.


She woke up with 101.4 fever.

However, there was no vomit all night, and as I write this, she seems to be holding down more ginger ale and a few slices of apple and has just made me chuckle inside when she asked for a cupcake. Ummmm - no to the cupcake my dear.

My experience with Ro is that Tylenol never works alone without the Motrin. But since, Motrin is Ibuprofen and tougher on the belly, I have been delaying that attempt.

I just gave her the Motrin and I am hoping for some better results, and this is pretty much where we stand right now.

And no, I am not worried about "Swine Flu". She only has symptoms of a stomach virus, no cough, no cold, and frankly, up until now I felt very fortunate that my kids were keeping healthy and flu, virus and strep free. There has definitely been "stuff" going around and I was praying all Passover that my kids don't get it. But I think it was slowly incubating within this whole time...

And I have not taken her to the Doctor yet. Today her fever is higher, even in the morning, and in my experience the sequence of fever and the fact that she seems to be holding some food in now tells me that she is probably at the pinnacle of this unfortunate virus and will probably break free by tomorrow.

In general, I am not someone who runs to the Doctor at the first sign of illness (although if any of my kids start fever with a cough and cold like symptoms - you better believe I will be running to the Doctor, damn Swine.)

If I can not control the virus or she seems like she is dehydrating or lacking proper electrolyte balance, or the fever is not coming down after three days - then we will visit our Doctor.

I never know if this is the nurse in me, or I am just not typically an overly concerned parent ... but it has all turned out fine in the past without exposing my child to more crap at the Doctor's office, just to be told,

"It's a virus - it will run its course."

I actually had some other stuff to blog about, but I see I have some concerned followers, so thank you for your concerns and well wishes.

Here is to HAPPIER posting tomorrow!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Unexpected:

Will I be able to post today?

I don't know, guess that all depends on whether or not Ro stops vomiting profusely.

She looks so sad and pathetic, like a little puppy dog.

Oh poor Ro, get better.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Colorful World

So, even after my snack of two mini Haagen Dasz bars last night, for the second Doctor's appointment in a row, it seems I lost weight. Not complaining, my measurements are still on track, so I guess The child has tapped into my reserves.

Take it! Take all of it, child! Take the reserves, and you know what, I am feeling generous - so take a bit more as well.

There is just no more room at the inn...

Even though I have been eating, it seems I only have so much space for food left, and I have been pretty active. After my appointment today, I took advantage of Chicago's short lived lovely weather and walked an outdoor mall for an hour, at which point the sky started to cloud up and 76 degrees of bliss was disappearing.

As the old joke in Chicago goes:

If you don't like the weather in Chicago - wait a minute.

Although you may like it even less a minute later.

The other thing I tend to take advantage of on the way home from my Doctor's appointment, one of the many local eateries.

And today felt like Bar-B-Q. And here is what I learned about walking into your favorite grease joint with protruding belly in an orange maternity shirt - the owner will feel free to tell you that you look like a pumpkin. In fact, he will go so far as to draw an image of a pumpkin stem on a piece of paper and hold it up to your rotund, orange clothed belly to complete this image of you he has created in his mind. If only I wasn't out of season...

But, I know him, he is not all that bad.

The same time I came in to pick up my burger and french fries, a group of lovely young adults with special needs, came in with some caretakers from an amazing organization here in Chicago. It was obvious that they seem to come in to this establishment on a somewhat regular basis. I figured this out when the owner knew EXACTLY what each of them wanted to order.

"A. will it be the Slammin Sammy for you today, hold the onions?"

"D. You gonna have your usual - oriental chicken salad, cut the chicken in smaller pieces?"

"F. How about you sweety, still want the popcorn chicken with the tangy sauce?"

And he went on like this with about ten different people...

"I know... I know, no french fries for anyone and only Mr. N. likes diet soft drinks..."

So he called me a pumpkin, he means well.

And as I watched this scenario unfold, I could not help but think about the child I hope to meet soon. I still hold my breath with anticipation. I am so grateful to G-d that all has seemed to be going well thus far, and I still pray that there are no sudden surprises, no mistakes at birth, and that I am fortunate to hold a healthy child in my arms. This is just not so for everyone. And I do not take that for granted.

But I was suddenly distracted when an obviously healthy, able bodied, mentally well man came into the establishment to place an order. I guess one might argue all the aforementioned, including the owner who immediately yelled out to him,

"Whoa, talk about stopping traffic."

I mean, the guy did look, head to toe, like a lime. He was wearing a lime green linen suit with a lime green cotton button down shirt and a lime green linen tie as well as, a lime green baseball cap. Other than that, he came across as a completely well individual.

I just wanted to tell him to at least mix it up with one other color -

ORANGE, maybe.

Suddenly, I did not feel so awful looking like a pumpkin in only my mid-section. I'll take partial pumpkin over complete lime any day of the week.

Friday, April 24, 2009

My Last Passover Post - I Promise...

I could offer you another whole post on the remaining days of Passover, but I will spare you much of it, because frankly, it is time to move on.

However, just a quick summary of the last bit -

On Monday (second intermediary day) it was pouring so it was a good day to be indoors. We went to the Museum of Science and Industry, a great science Museum here in Chi town. (It was so much better when I was younger, before it was commercialized and went all high tech.)

My sis and the family came and another sis too, but try walking around as a group of 18 people, ranging vastly in age... So my sister from NJ took my other sister's two year old and hung with my three kids and me and every so often we would bump into other members of the family.

The Museum, like the zoo, was also lacking enou
gh seating apparatus for me to unload my hefty load here and there, and my feet and back were already shot from the day before, so I literally found myself sitting on the floor here and there. Which is a feat unto it's own when trying to get back up.

But there was one exhibit where I stood for about 40 m
inutes and refused to move.

This Museum has had a "chick hatche
ry" exhibit for as long as I can remember and it is one of their more sought after exhibits. It consists of a partitioned glass dome that has very particular temperatures set inside. On one side of the dome are eggs waiting to hatch and some pathetic looking, freshly hatched chicks. On the other side of the dome, are the chicks that are already a few days old, all fluffy and yellow.

I have been fortunate when I was younger to "catch a hatch" which is actually amazing to watch. But as many eggs that there are sitting in the incubator with very "telling" cracks in it, one may have no idea how long it can take and how hard those little chicks work to get out, and how exhausted they are when they finally break free. And most of the time, one does not want to forgo catching other exhibits in order to stick around for lengthy amounts of time to "catch a hatch".

On this particular day, not only did I catch one, but I saw another within 20 minutes. Seriously, I had to stand there so long I was certain I would hatch before any of those eggs would. And for the first time, I video taped it. And to top it off, the Museum has become politically correct and now offers an incubator full of racial harmony, as indicated by the brown egg and white egg I witnessed hatching. For those of you who have always been curious about whether there is in fact a difference in the "product" of each egg, I can now tell you first hand - there is indeed. The chick from the brown egg actually had dark brown hairs down it's back while the white egg produced strictly yellow down on the chick.


My sis from NJ with Ate and a nephew taking a peek at the chickies

The Museum was delightful as always, and way tiring. My kids were hardly interested in the chick hatchery but loved the chi
ldren water play area, and watching balls get sucked up by a vacuum tube and disappear, especially Ate. And speaking of Ate and water play......

He was getting soaked...

...until I found the "Sears" sponsored slickers.

I mentioned in my first Passover post that Ate kept us on our toes quite a bit this Holiday. This mostly happened at my par
ents house where he got "lost" amongst the myriad of bodies in the house. This especially happened when his favorite cousin L. would approach him in her very seductive way while batting her long eyelashes and sweetly ask,

"Ate - wanna pay wit me?"

Those two are dangerous together, at one point locking themselves into my parent's bedroom - doing G-d knows what. They reeked terror wherever they went. They were caught opening
the front door, ready to step out and take a stroll together. But the highlight - water play.

When my brother D. who went upstairs to use the washroom yelled my name so loud, EVERYONE went running. They were pretty much upstairs already while I was still trying to pull my expanded self out of the chair. By the time I was on my way up, passing through the kitchen, there was water raining pouring down through a brand new light fixture in the brand spankin' new kitchen. I tried to run (HA) and when I made it upstairs, Ate and L were found soaking wet with the evidence of a hand held bathtub spray still wet in their chubby little hands. Water was everywhere.

Aaaahhhhhh - never a dull moment...

A few more Museum pictures:

At a Circus exhibit.

This is actually Ate looking through a mirror through a small hole that I somehow found room to stick the camera through as well.

A farm tech exhibit... As soon as Ate spotted the GINORMOUS "John Deere" tractors, he was in heaven.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

His Name Was David

I may have mentioned this, but in case you didn't catch it, a sister with ten kids and a daughter-in-law came in for Passover from Israel. The last time I saw them was summer 2007 when we were there in Israel. The last time they were in Chicago (with less children, of course) was summer 2002, when my brother got married.

In addition, a sister from New Jersey and a broth
er from Israel also came in for Passover. On Hun's side of the family, his brother and Grandparents came in from New York.

So there was a lot of family to spend time with, which is just the way I like to spend the Holidays.

There is no tone of sarcasm to be derived, I really do appreciate that family can be around for Passover, because that is what I am used to.

My entire childhood, this one particular family of cousins would come every year to us for Passover. The Patriarch was my Mom's first cousin. He married a divorcee with two daughters and they had three more daughters together. I loved the fact that there were many girls my age to hang out with. Except for about two years that we went to celebrate Passover with them in New Jersey and once somewhere else with them (which is it's own story that I will get to soon), they were with us in Chicago every single year. To this day, they are probably the relatives I am closest with.

We had many laughs with them. We all saw each other grow up and move onto marriage and jobs... We had very specific traditions together as well.

During the intermediary days, we would go on excursions together - to the zoo, the museums, the aquarium, a baseball ga
me, enjoying each others company immensely. And at night we had a very particular tradition....

Between the 60's and the start of the 80's, my parents had a movie camera and spent much time recording family, even
ts and trips and all of us going through some very awkward stages of life. When I say movie camera, I mean, 8mm film and silent picture. So we were also the proud owners of a portable movie screen and a projector. And when I say projector, I mean.... load the 8mm film roll.... feed it into projector ..... watch it go round and round and make that, phtttt ....phtttt... phttt... noise, and repeat this process every five minutes when one roll finishes and you want to see another film.

We used to spend the intermediary nights watchin
g these old movies. And spent much time laughing at Great aunts and Uncles groping one another, pointing out the amazing clothing and hair styles through the ages, getting glimpses at Grandparents and other relatives many of us never met, and realizing that at one time, our parents actually loved us and thought we were cute and kissable.

At some point the bulb on the projector burnt out and we were forced to come to terms with the fact that projector bulbs were no longer easy to find. In fact, projectors and 8mm film were loo
ooong gone and replaced with video cameras that captured more detail on VHS...

The film sat in my Parent's house untouched.........until my brother took them all and had them transferred over to DVD. And he completed this task before this years Passover Holiday began. And it just so happens, my husband has a projector at work, the modern projectors that people use with lap tops for presentations. And my parents h
ave some lovely wall to display movies on... So we were back in business.

Watching some movies -
From left to right:
My nephew's wife, my sister with the 10 kids, my sister from NJ, my bro from Chicago, a niece

My hubby on the left and my bro from Israel on the right.
Watching one of the many birthdays my Mom made in the 60's and 70's.

And I love this shot, because that is the back of my Hun's head while he is introduced for the first time to this Passover tradition of ours, actually watching his wife at the age of one being fed in a high chair that was probably a baby death trap at the time.

I wish there was a better way you could really capture the essence of what was going on.

I need to backtrack for a moment, so you can understand why this tradition and Passover in general has additional meaning to my family, over the fact that it is just another Holiday.

If you scroll up and re-read a bit, you may notice that I wrote "the patriarch WAS my Mom's first cousin". This was deliberate on my part. His name was David and he was an exceptional human being, and his life was cut short in February of 1996, when along with two train engineers, he was THE ONLY passenger to die in a two train collision from Hoboken New Jersey. I will insert two links
Here and Here ... that refers to the accident, although one article touches on the accident itself, the other is about the after effects of the accident. Although there were many articles at the time, all the links I find are related to what went wrong, who is to blame, etc... and David seems to have been forgotten.

David was in his mid 40's, a lawyer who did a lot of pro-bono work to help Jewish women get the proper religious document needed to religiously be considered divorced and free to marry again. (Jewish women can go through a civil divorce, but in order to re-marry, they need something called a "Get" from their husbands. There are too many unfortunate stories of husbands withholding the Get or using it to make the terms of custody and alimony benefit themselves, leaving Jewish women unable to ever re-marry, because without the "Get" they can not be considered divorced and therefore any new relationship would cause them to be considered adulterers). David was a father of five and a devoted and loyal husband. He loved baseball and took beautiful photographs as a hobby. He was an exceptional human being and a HUGE part of our Passover Holiday.

I remember clear as day how I found out what happened. The train accident occurred on a Friday in February of 1996. Sabbath began and I had three friends over for dinner Friday night. My parent's seemed to me to be acting their usual selves. Little did I know, that they already were informed before the Sabbath began. But my parents did not want to ruin the kids Sabbath and waited until the moment the Sabbath ended with a blessing we say over a lit candle.

My mother handed me a piece of paper that I could see was copied from a newspaper. I remember spending a few moments reading about how two morning commuter trains collided outside Secaucus New Jersey, immediately killing both conductors and just one passenger. However, it did not mention the passenger's name. I looked up at my mother who had tears in her eyes and not wanting to hear the answer, I reluctantly asked,
"Ma, who is it"?

"It's David".

And with just that, we both wept together.

We flew into NJ the next morning for the funeral - it was packed. People were outside and could not get in. He was an exceptional man.

Being that this was February, and Passover was soon to come, we already had that years plans in place, and it was going to be a whole new experience.

One of David's daughters was married to a Rabbi and he was a pulpit Rabbi at a Synagogue in Palm Springs California. This daughter was due to have a baby, just before Passover. My cousins were going to Palm Springs to help her make Passover, and they had asked us to come. We were set to rent a house in a gated community with it's own pool. We were planning excursions to places I had never been, such as Universal Studios. It was supposed to be an exciting, new way to spend Passover together.

Sometime after the funeral and the shiva (seven days of mourning), my mother asked David's wife what she wanted to do? My Mother wanted to make it her decision. Her family was of course, still going to Palm Springs, because her daughter was still having a baby, but did she want us there with her? She absolutely did. She could not imagine celebrating passover without her Husband and on top of it, without us as well. So we all went - but it was the most bitter sweet Passover ever. My Father began crying at the start of the Seder, which then caused the tears to flow around the table.

On one hand, we were in a beautiful new environment. There were orange and grapefruit trees right out our window that we picked fresh citrus from. We had a private pool that we utilized. We went on amazing excursions - hiking, to see endless energy making windmills, all the way to LA and Universal Studios. And yet, David was not there, and we all felt the loss incredibly.

And we still do to this day.

There is a part of the Seder when we dip a vegetable into salt water. The salt water is symbolic of the tears that Jewish slaves shed. My family always only used boiled potatoes for this part of the Seder. But cousin David also used a stalk of parsley. Since his death, every Passover, we have included the stalk of parsley along with the potato for this part of the Seder in his memory. He is constantly on our minds - especially at Passover. He will always be missed.

Passover is about a lot of tradition - some is all about the joys of celebrating salvation, but some is about the bitterness of loss. My family feels this in more ways than one.

Now when we watch old movies of many relatives who are no longer with us, David is amongst them. And we smile as we watch, he had a way about him. He was an exceptional person.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Reliving More Passover

Let's just get straight to it...

Yesterday, I mentioned the "intermediary" da
ys of Passover. While Passover is eight days long, the first two days and the last two days are set aside for very specifically commemorating the Holiday with the "Seders" and Prayer Services and big meals with family. Like our Sabbath, which comes every weekend, these days come with some restrictions, so we are not distracted by our usual weekday lives.

We do not operate vehicles - so no driving or taking public transportation. We walk wherever we need to go (this encourages a
feeling of community wide celebrating, because we obviously do not go so far).

We do not use anything which requires batteries or e
lectricity in order to operate. All our lights are either set to go off and on with timers or we leave lights on, and they remain on during this time. We do not watch TV or listen to radios. We do not utilize our phones and computers (thus - no bloggity blog).

We also have to find a way to take off of work (those of us who have a job). Many of us have to apply personal and vacation days in order to do this, but these days, religious practice can not be discriminated against (this was not the case 30-50 years ago an
d Jews would actually be terminated from jobs for taking off for Sabbath and Holidays, and had to find new jobs regularly).

The benefit of all these "restrictions" allows us to really focus on the spirit of our holiday without the distraction of .... well .... life.

However, the mid-section of Passover are referred to as "intermediary" days, and while these days still come with
the general Passover applications, such as, only eating unleavened foods and keeping our household and kitchen in accordance with this "specialized food" concept, we do not have the other aforementioned restrictions.

Those who work can go to work. We can utilize our electricity and electrical devices. We can operate our vehicles, etc...

Our kids are still off of school at this time
. Those parents who do not have to work or do not work in general, typically spend these days taking the kids on excursions of some sort.

This year, Sunday, Monday and most of Tuesday were the "intermediary" days. (Tuesday night began the second, more restricted days of the Holiday.)

It was nice that at least one of these day
s was a weekend, because Hun was around to spend time with the family. Sunday was supposed to be a somewhat nicer day - weather wise, so we decided to take advantage and patron our local zoo.

Ummm - can you say FREAKIN' FREEZIN'???

The sun was out, but the wind was blowing such
a chill. And we were closer to the lake, so we had that exceptional lake effect wind.

I am a good mother, so my kids were dressed appropriately in their winter coats, however, I lack that same forethought for myself.

We arrived at 12:30 and stayed until 4:30 and for some reason, there were a lot less benches available than I
previously remember. I apparently should not be walking around for four hours straight carrying a LOAD in my mid-section, without enough sitting apparatus at least every 40 steps or so. My feet and back were not happy with me. But my kids were just loooooooooovin' the zoo. Well, not so much Ate, cuz he was going through his - "I will hold my poop back and make myself suffer for no productive reason" phase.

Frankly, I think we were all still tired from the prev
ious days of the holiday and the weather was not conducive to the most pleasant stroll through the zoo. In the summertime, I love the zoo, but this particular day it was a bit of a hassle.

So here is where I post pics from the zoo, except, I have no pictures that would actually have anyone believing we were in fact at a ZOO. We have been to this zoo so many times before and I am sure I have plenty of images of kids standing in front of animal display, lion in frightening pose, or close-up of cow nostrils, but taking those p
ictures again would have been redundant.

And, while at the zoo, the girls kept whining about how they wanted to go to the children area, where there is a lovely climbing structure for them to play on.

So this is what I got............

These are the only pictures of caged animals that I have.......................... JUST KIDDING!!!

This was the highlight of the zoo for them. I had to warn Ro, that once she went in, she had to figure out how to climb through and get out because I was certainly not coming in after her when she got scared (and I knew she would). There were some spots for Ro that had her giving that "Help Me" look - but her kind-hearted older sister helped her through the rough spots. In fact So was helping complete strangers through some rough spots. Of course, not pictured - my smallest monkey - Ate. He was off with Hun looking at beavers or something.

Well I think that should hold you all over until tomorrow. I have another excursion and some very specific family Passover traditions that we re-visited this year to tell you about.

It actually feels much nicer to relive the past couple of weeks than it did to actually experience it at the time. That sentiment might be wrong ........ but it feels so right.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Little Recap And Rehash


Whew, Passover has finally passed over. (corny, I know)

It was actually only an eight day long holiday. However, because it began on a Wednesday night and ended the following week on a Thursday night, of course the intense preparations going on the weekend before it began and the clean up going on the weekend after it ended made it feel like two whole weeks of Passover "delight".

But my children have officially returned to school today after two weeks off and today marks the first Monday in two weeks that will be followed by a complete week of routine and order (like my household ever follows routine and order...).

So now I can focus on mundane life and some more nesting and hopefully this child that is resting very noticeably between my liver and my spleen will begin to migrate south very very soon.

And now I give you some Passover Recap -

(which may go on the next few posts)

Wednesday was hectic in my house. Hun took the girls out early in the morning to say a special blessing on the sun, because once every 28 years the sun is in the exact location it was at creation, and Wednesday this year just before the arrival of Passover was that day.

He also took them to a local school where there was a community burning of "Chametz" overseen by the local fire department.

(Chametz is the leavened bread and many foods included in the category of leavened bread that is not permitted in our home over Passover)

The night before Passover is to begin, after spending weeks doing a more intense search of Chametz throughout our home, and getting rid of it, we actually have a custom to deliberately place ten pieces of bread around the home, say a special blessing and then search and collect them to be burned the following day. This signifies that the "searching" and "ridding" aspect of Chametz from our home has been completed.

Confusing - I know. Why would you spend weeks getting rid of leavened bread from your home only to deliberately place it around the house the night before Passover is to begin??? But that is what we Jews do. We follow very specific customs (as bizarre as they may seem) year after year after year.

So the girls got to watch the burning of the Chametz and I finished up some last minute Chametz clean up before 10:18 am to be exact on Wednesday morning. And then when the girls came home, I put them along with Ate in front of the TV with a DVD playing because, pretty much the rest of my day dictated that I ignore and neglect them. (Don't call Children's Services, they were fed here and there and no one got hurt).

After making my homemade applesauce the night before, I spent the day baking some other goodies to have around for snacking, I had to break up some "fights" here and there, I was doing some cleaning and clothing preparations for the kids, there were showers and baths to be had... and my feet and back were in pain by the time sundown beckoned the start of passover.

Passover does not even begin until after 7 pm and we do not even sit down to start our "Seder" until after 8 pm. I had my kids nap, so they would be sane, but I knew that So, while in her room for a couple of hours, never actually fell asleep.

The first "Seder" (the meal that consists of telling over the story of Exodus from Egypt after enslavement, including four cups of wine, Matzah {unleavened bread} and other symbolic foods) was at my parents home with about 30 people total. It did not end until after 2 in the morning and we did not get home until 3 am.

Because we do not operate vehicles on Passover, we walked home (about 10-15 minute walk). Ate and Ro got stroller privileges because of the late hour, but So is way too big for strollers and had to walk. Might I remind you that she was the only one who did not nap. She began to have a melt-down and cried that she was tired and could not walk.

So I told her that the cool air would wake her a bit and that crying was pointless because it would not get her home any quicker.

She cried until we got to about three blocks from our home and then made this observation -

"Mommy, we are almost home!! That didn't even feel like such a long walk. See Mommy, the crying did help because it made me feel like I got home quicker."

Apparently six and 1/2 year olds do know better than Mommies.

We all woke rather late that morning and only Hun made it to Synagogue. Now we were trekking back to my parents for lunch. Lunch ended about 4 pm and we returned home at which point, EVERYONE took a nap (even So). By the time we awoke, it was time to get ready for the second Seder at MIL's house. (Yes - we do it twice, it's almost Barbaric.)

She lives a bit closer to us, and there were much less people at this Seder, however, we still did not get home until close to 3 am.

And the following morning we all awoke late - it was off to lunch at MIL's house and we came home and napped because Passover was going right into Sabbath (which is like a mini-holiday every weekend anyway).

We ate Sabbath dinner at MIL's house, which does not drag on like a Seder, so we actually made it home by 12 am.

Sleep - wake late, off to my mom's house for lunch with over 30 people again.

I feel like I should just say -

wash... rinse... repeat... wash ... rinse... repeat...

only it is -

eat... sleep... repeat... eat... sleep... repeat...

It seems like it's vacation, but it is actually exhausting.

After lunch Saturday, we stayed late at my Mom's house so the cousins and siblings could hang. We played "apples to apples" and... well... hung.

Saturday night ended the Sabbath and the first days of Passover and brought us into the intermediary days of Passover which I will explain tomorrow.

It was so nice to spend that time with family. And as exhausting as it was, my stress level was so diminished because we were hosted at the meals rather than hosting the meals. There were so many able bodied nieces and nephews and relatives around that I did not need to get up and do a thing, and that is really what I needed at this point in time. Even So and Ro were big helps, setting tables for 30 people and playing nicely with hardly seen cousins. However, Ate did keep me on my toes a bit, but I will include all that in the next post.

I hope to G-d all this talk about Passover is not boring my readers to death. I know I have some readers who know all about Passover and celebrate it themselves, but I also know that I have some readers who may not be familiar with the holiday. However the next post or two will include other aspects of the holiday, such as trips we took and my own personal family tradition that includes a sad family story.

So I do hope y'all come back.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

There Is Calm Now....

Aaaaaaaaaaaaah, it feels good to be back!!! (For a little while anyway).

I am exhausted from Passover preparations and schedules completely thrown off the past few days, yet I am calm, because there is nothing left to prepare for.

Passover is not over by any means. It is an eight day long Holiday that for some reason requires about eight weeks of preparation.

Passover commemorates when the Jews were enslaved in Egypt and Moses beseeches the Pharaoh to release the Jews from captivity. The Pharaoh was unwilling and G-d struck Egypt with ten plagues, finally culminating in the Pharaoh's willing release of the Jewish People. In their haste to leave Egypt, the Jewish People did not have time to pack up and they also did not have time to let the dough rise for their bread, so they left with "unleavened" bread for sustenance and began their journey out of Egypt. Of course, the Pharaoh had second thoughts after he released them and he sent his Egyptians to chase after the Jewish People and return them to his ruling. The Egyptians came upon the Jewish People as they were standing at the Red Sea, and it seemed the Jews were trapped. However, G-d performed a miracle and split the Sea so the Jews could cross. When the Egyptians ran after them, the parted Sea began to fill the sea bed and the Egyptians were immediately drowned.

Because the Jewish Nation left in haste and did not have time to wait for their dough to rise, a big component of the Passover (Pesach) Holiday is to remove all leavened bread from our home. Leavened bread includes, but is not limited to, many processed foods made with any flour and water combination. We refer to all of this as "Chametz". We spend weeks making sure that there can not possibly be any Chametz in any area of our home. We go through drawers, pockets, cabinets, toy bins, couch cushions (you have no idea what sickness I found deep in the crevices of my couch - I mean ewwwwwwwwww) and many other locations that one would never assume has accumulated these food items, and yet - it has.

Ultimately - this turns into a very focused "spring cleaning", however, decluttering and organization is not supposed to be the purpose or the goal. But I always feel, how can you spot the "Chametz", if you do not remove the clutter.

Many people are in fact, able to accomplish the removal of the forbidden "chametz" in much less time than the eight weeks I previously mentioned. I actually started after the Purim Holiday (remember our Mexican theme), which gave me about five weeks.

But here is the time consuming, energy sucking, monstrous Mommy creating thing:

1. I am extremely pregnant and slow moving. I have lost my nimble, flexible self, and can not easily access all the areas I typically have no problem accessing in a non-pregnant state of being. I burn out quickly and during my cleaning madness, found myself resting every hour for about 20 minutes at a time before I could resume. I also have nesting instincts which make me focus more on the organization and decluttering in addition to the "Chametz" seeking, and this just prolongs the ultimate goal of being "Chametz" free.

2. Because, until December, my parents had been living by me for 16 months while they were remodelling their home, they basically moved their HOUSE into my house. I had to rearrange my possessions to make room for theirs, and was left with a crap load of things that were out of place and cluttering other areas they would not normally be. I had extra work on my hands this year, returning my items to their proper location.

And in general, there are other preparations for the Holiday that takes time and energy and sucks more life out of me and many other women. We get hair cuts for everyone. We may feel the need to purchase new, seasonal Holiday shoes for growing children. We may need new seasonal Holiday clothing for growing children. I pretty much skipped the new shoes and clothing purchases. Instead I kept checking the weather forecast for the Holiday, and realized that 40 degrees would not require an immediate purchase of new Spring attire. I guess that would be one advantage of the suckle weather we have been experiencing thus far.

There were many other things I let go of this year, they were just not pertinent as preparation for Passover, and I have to focus on the task at hand.

I did purchase some appropriate Passover food and change my kitchen over to Passover mode, which includes a major overhaul cleaning of ovens, stoves and microwaves. A whole set of different appliances, pots and dishes to be utilized for only eight days needed to be brought up to the kitchen. My counters were covered with heavy duty liner. My stove top was covered with heavy duty aluminum foil and my Passover set of stove grates were put in place.

Oh, but I don't want to go without mentioning that I changed over my entire kitchen even though we are eating out, pretty much every meal this Holiday. And I still felt compelled to make homemade apple sauce, strawberry ice cream, a potato kugel (quiche), and two cakes, because it is in the Holiday spirit. I would have made more, but ran out of time.

And originally, the plan was to just close off my entire house for eight days and bring my Husband, children and my big, fat pregnant self to live in my Parents' freshly remodeled, full of empty bedrooms, home for Passover. But that plan changed quickly when my sister decided to bring her husband, ten children and a daughter-in-law and her lovely self all the way from Israel to live in my Parents' freshly remodeled home. In addition to two other siblings from out of town, seven bedrooms have quickly filled up.

So yes, I also let go of my blog. I had to. I did have down time, because I do not think I need to "ENSLAVE" myself to get into the spirit of the Passover Holiday. But every time I sat at my computer to do the bloggity blog thing, my mind went blank. No I lie. My mind was not blank, it was consumed by what "Chametz" might be in the video console, or under the refrigerator, or behind the bookcase in my husband's study where he left a bag of dum-dum lollipops that seemed to be hanging open over the edge, probably dumping some non-passover permitted lollipops where I could not possibly get to them...

But now, I am just enjoying what is left of the Holiday. I get to focus solely on family - Hun and the children. I can give them my undivided attention now because I do not have to run off and clean something. I do not turn into a flaming, green ogre - yelling at them for bringing chips and pretzels where I have spent precious and valuable time removing aforementioned items. My stress level did not put me into premature labor, and my stress level is now in check.

I am exhausted, yet I am calm.