Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Head Banging

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, and I survived....


I used to fast rather well. In fact, I used to fast REALLY well, until a few years ago. I suspect the change might have to do with the recent caffeine fix I developed. I actually do not feel the need for coffee every day if I can eat, but if I do not have food in me, I apparently at least need the coffee. And my caffeine fix only comes from that one cup in the morning. I do NOT drink soda or any other caffeinated drinks. I only eat chocolate from time to time, and I only have just that ONE cup of coffee a day. But when I have no food in my system, AND lack my coffee fix, I am like a druggie on her first day in rehab.

I get the shakes, and I think I might actually be sweating. And the migraine, oh LORD, the migraine...

Yom Kippur is our day of atonement. We have a hearty meal before the fast begins, this year - sundown Sunday night. And we may not eat ANYTHING or drink ANYTHING until sundown Monday night.

I was at Synagogue Monday morning until 2 pm and I felt the headache coming on. It did not help that the baby was having one of his off nights the night before and was not sleeping well. I had a babysitter at home watching four kids who were probably bored out of their minds. How many books could they read and how many board games could they play before they turned on each other? Well, I was not there, and what I did not know, could not hurt me.

On Yom Kippur the kids may eat, but they may not utilize electric objects, so no TV and no music. They could not take an outing to any child friendly activity center. They must have been going stir-crazy.

When I came home, my babysitter was still in our house sitting by as the kids were strangling each other watching with earnest as the kids played very LOUDLY. I crashed in my bed, but could not really sleep because the noise was unbearable. I felt throbbing in my head like a sledgehammer slamming into my frontal lobe over and over again. And the waves of nausea came on. I wanted to vomit, but there was nothing IN ME, TO throw up.

Hun, who was also napping, relieved the babysitter at 4:20 and then I had to (very reluctantly) relieve Hun at 4:50 so he could go back to Synagogue for the final evening prayers.

Bam woke up at 5 pm, and the earliest I could coerce my other 3 children into bed would be 6:30.

An hour and a half of pure joy with all 4 overtired, stir crazy and hyped up on G-d knows what amounts of sugar via babysitter that I was unaware of, children all with an ax just buried in my forehead and the feeling of being in a small dingy knocked over again and again by waves of nausea - terrific.

I had my 5 year old give her baby brother a bottle, which he did not really want, as I tried to lay on the couch and ignore the children. I could not ignore the fact that Ate was doing the "poo poo" dance. I grabbed him and put him on the toilet, that he very much let me know he did not want to be on. I left him there to do his biness, and I retreated to the couch while my baby lay on the floor with no toys just flailing his arms.

Now it felt as if someone had a clamp around my entire head just getting tighter and tighter over my temples, and someone could have been doing a lobotomy on me and I would be none the wiser.

Ate was finished and I had to clean him up. And the kids needed supper.

Supper? The girls had cookie crisp cereal and milk. Ate chose the slightly more nutritious, cheerios and milk, followed by cottage cheese. I was fortunate that Bam sat quietly in his chair while I fed the older three. Well, quietly besides the grunting noises he was making, because he was FINALLY unloading whatever it was that kept him up the night before.

I got the older three to bed by 6:30 and once the noise level in the house dropped, I was already feeling slightly better.

And by slightly, I mean, the clamp was removed but the ax was still embedded, and I got off the dingy but I was still standing on a floating, bobbing dock.

On my way down stairs from putting the older three to bed, I could smell the stench of what Bam had done still sitting in his chair, which was not beneficial to my state of nausea. And then I opened his stretchy - holy mother of sh#$ (which was NOT the word I was thinking at the time, because IT WAS Yom Kippur after all).

It was probably his biggest load since he was born (not the most perfect time). I will spare you most details, but it was down his left leg.

After he emptied out, he then decided to fill up again, but thankfully he fell asleep just before 7 pm.

I still had at least a half hour until the end of Yom Kippur, so I went back to sleep as well. At about 7:30, I broke my fast (in bed) on two rapid release Tylenol capsules, a glass of ginger ale (it was decaffeinated, it was for the ginger, not caffeine), and a couple of pretzel rods. I went back to sleep until the baby woke up just before 8 pm, and Hun was not yet home.

Hun arrived home shortly after 8 pm and he was so helpful. Hun gave himself to eat and gave the baby to eat as well. I had no appetite (ironic, considering I had not eaten for 24 hours). I was feeling much better, but terribly tired. Hun took care of Bam for the duration of the evening and I high tailed it off to bed.

I seriously think that intravenous coffee drips should be allowed during Yom Kippur, it would have saved me a lot of problems.

And now, just one more year until we have to do this again.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Doctor Of WHAT?

Watch out - Ranting and Raving ahead:

When I was in nursing school, I remember a few comments from people along the lines of,

"Why don't you already become a Doctor?"
"And then do you follow that with Medical School?"

I wanted to strangle these people.

Nursing is NOT a pre-requisite to becoming a Doctor. They are two very different jobs, with two very different functions.

ONE of the reasons I became a nurse, is because I hate Doctors. Doesn't make sense to you? You may be thinking, don't you have to work pleasantly alongside Doctor's as a nurse?

Here is the thing -

Nurses are patient advocates, Doctors are NOT.

Of course there are exceptions to this rule. There are some amazing Doctors out there. But try to find them, it's like trying to find that toe nail that flung away with the cut of the scissor and is wedged into tiny carpet fibers.

The good ones are highly sought and getting an appointment with them takes months. By the time you reach your appointment date, you might be dead.

There are also many nurse "Ratcheds" out there as well. They are nurses who are just mean and nasty and have forgotten what it means to be a nurse.

But in general, I stand by my previous statement. Nurses look out for the well being of the patient and most Doctors just look out for the well being of their bank account.

I have come to this conclusion, both as a patient and a nurse.

There are even specialty hierarchies of crappiness amongst Doctors.

In the nursing world, it is a known fact that Surgeons, specifically are the most arrogant of Doctors.

I once told my mother that ALL surgeons are arrogant, they have to be. Her reply was that they are confident, not arrogant.

My response was,
"NO! ALL surgeons are arrogant." They have to be arrogant to do what they do. A human being has to have arrogance in order to cut deep into the flesh of another human being. It is essential to being a good surgeon. They must think that they are impervious to ever making a mistake when cutting a chest cavity open (or other areas) and slicing through vessels and arteries and then reattaching minuscule blood vessels, etc...

Could you do that?
I could not.
I have no problem jamming a needle into your vein, but I could never take a scalpel in my hand and slice across your abdomen.

And, within this specialty hierarchy of arrogant Doctors, the most arrogant is the

How arrogant must one be, to saw off the skull and actually manipulate the human brain.

But there is one even higher on the arrogant totem pole,

the Pediatric Neurosurgeon.

Oh, wait - there is actually one even worse -

the NEONATAL Neurosurgeon.

When I was working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, years back, there was one such Neonatal Neurosurgeon.
Sure, when he was in the OR, performing his surgeries on the tiniest of brains, he was GOOD at what he was doing. He was the best, in fact.
But outside of the OR, well there is no other way to say this -

He was an ASSHOLE.

Arrogant surgeons do not leave their arrogance in the Operating Room.

Each surgery he performed made him anywhere from 100, 000 - 250,000 dollars. Yes - EACH SURGERY.

Thankfully, I worked in a hospital and a unit where "Naughty" Doctors were reprimanded. If a Doctor was out of line with the nurses, he would lose OR privileges. Losing OR privileges = losing loads of money. This kept the pompous sons of b$@*&#* on their best behavior.

When, I moved to New Jersey, I had an interview in a very prominent hospital.

I remember specifically being asked,

"What was the Nurse/Doctor relationship in the hospital you previously worked at?"

"What do you mean?"

"Did you get along?"

"For the most part, I guess."

(I still was not sure what she was asking. Did she want to know if the Doctors and Nurses ware cavorting? Was she asking if our hospital was all "ER" and "Grey's Anatomy"? I mean, it might have been if we had a Clooney and McSteamy and McDreamy or any McHotties, but we were a real hospital, not a fictional one.)

"What I mean is, how do the nurses deal with Doctors who are not so nice?"

"Oh, the Doctors faced consequences for ill behavior (no pun intended)."

"Well, over here, if a Doctor is nasty, the nurse has to just grin and bear it. Bite your tongue. Deal with it... Can you handle that?"


wait... no. You mean to tell me, that in the year 2000, you feel the need to be subservient to asinine Doctors? You allow Doctors to get away with bad behavior? You force the nurses to deal with a hostile work environment? Why? How do frustrated nurses make for great health care providers. This stupid policy of yours seems quite counterproductive, don't you think?"

Well, needless to say, I did not get that job.

I guess that it was a good thing, I couldn't really say I was surprised. This was "New Jersey" after all.

But it was eye - opening to me.

As a patient, I had my share of doozies when it came to Doctors.

Remember when I took
Erythromicin ?

My stomach could not handle this sort of anti-biotic and I ended up in the hospital hooked up to an IV.

So years later, when I was having my employee physical in the New Jersey hospital that I actually did get a job at, I was asked a question,

"Do you have any allergies?"

"Well, I am highly allergic to fish and "INTOLERANT" to Erythromicin."
(notice my specific choice of words.)

"What happens when you have those things?"

"Well fish causes anaphylaxis and Erythromicin caused chronic vomiting and dehydration."

"Well vomiting is not an allergy."

(uh, Doctor - grow some ears, I said, I was "INTOLERANT" to Erythromicin).

"Anyway, nowadays we would give you Zythromax."

"Well my husband took that and it was highly concentrated and he had a reaction, so I would not take it as well."

"Well, that was your husband, not you."

"Yes, but it IS from the same family as Erythromicin, so I would think that my body would find it too concentrated as well."

"Well you should just do what your Doctor tells you."


You should do what your Doctor tells you to do???????????

See, that sentence actually came out of her mouth, at which point I realized a number of things,

1. I should not be surprised, she is from New Jersey.

2. What the hell did she do wrong that she is relegated to only practicing as a Doctor in an employee health clinic.

3. She is from New Jersey

4. She may be deaf and DUMB.

5. That sentence is the reason so many patients NEVER question their Doctors and take medications that are awful and undergo needless treatments, or do not take medications they need and do not get treatments that are helpful.

I can not stress this enough...


That is the arrogance of Doctors. They do not like when you come in and diagnose yourself. They want to be the one to prescribe the next course of action and when they can not figure out what is wrong with you, they will either tell you it is all in your head, or you are depressed, rather than tell you,

"I have exhausted all I can do, maybe you should find another Doctor who might benefit you more than I can."

When I moved back to Chicago, I needed a Doctor at some point. I had no time to search, so I just went to the Doctor my parents used. He was fine when it came to diagnosing strep or virus, but beyond that, an actual MORON.

I went to him one summer twelve times. I kept getting sinus infections, I was having many migraines.... and chronic fatigue. I also had chronic neck and upper back pain for years.

He kept telling me it was allergies, even though the allergy medicine did nothing but antibiotics finally did. He made no further suggestions when I kept coming back to him, at which time I asked,
"Shouldn't I go see an ENT at this point?"

to which he replied,

"You know what, you should probably see an ENT at this point."

Thanks, great SUGGESTION.

(The ENT, was a whole other story, won't get into.)

I was back at my general Practitioner with more head aches at which point he said, angrily, might I add,

"Well what do you want, a Cat Scan? Those things are expensive."

That was the last straw for me.

I now searched for a really GREAT doctor. I found her, and guess what - I waited 4 months for my first appointment. But she IS GREAT. And I still see her.

The first appointment, she asked,

"Have you ever had an MRI?"

"Uh, no..."

"Well, why not? It seems like the next logical step."

Yes, I like the way you think Doctor Greatness, "LOGICAL".

So I had an MRI, and guess what we found...

A cyst in my maxillary sinus cavity (NOT ALLERGIES ASSHOLE)
Stenosis of my spine
Some bulging discs in my neck
And muscle spasms in my upper back.

So apparently, my previous Doctor was ALMOST right, some of it
And the rest in my neck and upper back, and no I was not depressed, but how ironic that crappy Doctors probably cause depression in patients who feel helpless.

I have learned to question Doctors and the health care industry (not in Obama sort of way).

The health care industry HAS unfortunately become money making ventures, and they have lost sight of patients needs.

Hospitals - are businesses
Insurance companies - are businesses
Pharmaceutical companies, are BIG businesses.

First one out with a drug or vaccine makes the big bucks. So I don't trust that their drugs and vaccines are tested responsibly. Case and point, drugs like Vioxx which killed people because it was determined later that the amount of study was exaggerated leading to the removal of Vioxx from the market. This happened with other drugs as well.
Pfizer has been fined over and over again, among other reasons, for offering perks to Doctors for pushing their drugs. So your Doctor might prescribe something for you (like Zythromax which may cause you to wretch uncontrollably) because of the perks they get, and not because it is the best drug for you.

I am not one who is anti-vaccines, in general - but I do question the new ones and weigh the benefits against the risks. I am in NO way telling other parents what to do.

I do not give my kids the Chicken Pox vaccine, it was studied in Japan for 30 years before it came out, not in America. My DNA is not the same as that of a Japanese (trust me, it makes a difference).

When it first came out, only one shot was intended to be enough. Then it was realized they were wrong, and they added booster shots. I was supposed to give my oldest daughter her Varicella Vaccine when I just had my third child. The Vaccine CAN cause a mild contagious case to break out. Why would I give the vaccine to my daughter and then possibly expose my newborn (who can not get the vaccine) to a disease that would be more dangerous for him.

I do NOT give my children Flu vaccines. I am pretty sure that a new strain will pop up anyway. I teach my kids all the precautionary measures to take. My oldest daughter did get swine flu, that was verified. I am pretty sure my second daughter may have had it as well, that was not verified.

Yes - it is true, the flu CAN be deadly, especially for small children, elderly and infirmed. Getting in a car can be deadly as well. I will not keep pumping my kids full of EVERY chemically concocted vaccine that comes out one week and is on the market 3 weeks later. I just DO NOT trust the greedy money making Pharmaceutical companies enough to do so.

I have conversations with my Pediatrician about this all the time. We have a lot of mutual respect for one another. Although he CAN NOT tell me that it is ever okay to NOT get the vaccines, I can easily tell which vaccines he thinks are superfluous and which he thinks are imperative. And I will repeat, I DO give my kids many of the vaccines.

The problem I have, are the Doctors who do not let educated patients and parents question what is going into their or their child's body. It is surely okay to read about the medications, treatments and vaccines and ask questions before we.

The reason this post is written today, because this "Doctors are educated and must know what they are doing" concept, keeps coming to the surface.

A friend of mine told me last night that she keeps getting migraines and her medicines are not working anymore.

I told her to get an MRI.

She said,
"Well, the Doctor did not suggest that, I don't want to ASK for it."


This morning, I saw my SIL attempting to drop my niece off at the same school that Ate attends. My niece was really acting up and crying. I inquired from my SIL, if she was okay. My SIL then informed me that yesterday morning she took her to "walk in" at the Doctor and was told that she had a "minor ear infection", no need to do anything AND it was okay for her to go swimming yesterday.

So, as I noticed her acting up and touching her ear that my SIL confirmed was the ear in question, I asked,

"And, is this my lovely, adorable, good natured nieces temperament on a regular basis?"

"No, she is definitely not herself."

"I get why Doctor's are against antibiotics, it is definitely overused by overly anxious parents of kids with viruses, but I am against pain in children. Go back to the Doctor and get her antibiotics so her ear can heal."

My kids have seen the Doctor she had seen the day before. He is not our kids regular Doctor, but was the one on call for "walk ins".

I can not stand him. He is one of those, text book Doctor's who ONLY pays attention to the objective facts, ie. the throat is red, it is not red, the ear looks bad, it only slightly looks bad, it looks fine, as opposed to listening to the parent.

He likes to look in the throat and announce,
"It doesn't look like strep, she does not even have fever, just a virus probably - drink plenty of fluids."


Humor me, I know when her throat hurts, and I know when HER THROAT HURTS.
Take the culture.

What's that? It's strep you say?

I could go on and on with this topic. The bottom line is this -

As patients, each one of us has to take responsibility for our own care and health. We can not solely rely on a Doctor or his knowledge. I don't care how many years of schooling a Doctor has had, or how long he has been practicing - Doctor's DO make mistakes and do not always make the right choices for our benefit.

Do not feel guilty questioning a Doctor.
And if a Doctor ever makes you feel uncomfortable, stupid or guilty for questioning him,
and go find a new Doctor.

Friday, September 18, 2009

New Years








Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Great Plague Of '09

Remember when I posted a video of "Cousins Gone Wild" ? We were hanging in our quaint cabin on the Kibbutz, and the kiddies were rolling around together. I asked you to pay attention to their close proximity.

This moment may or may not, have contributed to the "Great Plague of '09".

I did not want to talk about this before the Plague became contained and the "all clear" could be sounded, but it made the last couple of weeks this past summer, just a JOY. (DO NOTE SARCASM)

The day after we returned to the USA, my kids returned to camp. They were a bit jet lagged, but they were excited to see their friends. That day, I went to camp at 1:00 to pick up Ate, and there was a note in his cubby, that a case of head lice was making its way through camp. I pretty much ignored the note.

My brother and sister-in-law returned to the USA a few days after we did, because they decided to spend a few extra days in Israel.

They returned on a Thursday and my SIL called me on a Sunday.

SIL "Uh, do you know what nits look like?"

"Yes, I am pretty sure I do."

"Well, I think Y (her daughter) may have nits, and now I am kinda itchy as well."

(I was getting itchy while talking to her)

"Would you like me to come over and confirm?"

"Would you be so kind?"

So I went over, and long story, short -


I only found a few though, so this was probably a pretty recent case. At this time, my SIL who was staying in my sister's apartment in Israel, and furthermore, whose girls were sleeping with my sister's six year old daughter, informed me, that at some point she heard my sister talk about T. (my sister's daughter) and "eggs" in the same sentence, and she somehow did not think she was referring to the, full of protein, chicken laying kind of eggs. But she ignored it, sort of like I ignored the note from camp.

So while I was standing there, and subsequently finding myself scratching my own head, it finally occurred to me, that if her kids caught lice from my sister's lice infested kids (because all kids in Israel, pretty much are always lice infested), then my kids could very possibly be infested as well. And this did not sit well with me.

So I went home and did a little lookie look, and there was nothing. NADA!

But I know, that it was still possible that they had lice, and that the life cycle had only just begun. So I continued checking for two weeks, and still, I did not find anything.

And at this time, I figured,

And Summer went on...

The children continued camp as any liceless children would do.

They had dress up days -

This was "CLUE" day at camp. So decided to be Miss. Peacock.
She also dressed up as Dorothy from "The Wizard Of Oz" at which time I gave her two lovely French braids.

We had movie in the park...

At which time there was plenty of rolling around on the blanket.

We had plenty of carnivals that yielded plenty of painted faces....

Which required someone to lean in very close.

We even had our first ever sleepover -

And even though E. did bring her own sleeping bag, they HAD to share So's bed.

I washed all my kids hair every night.

I combed all their hair every morning.

I hated that the chlorine and sun was turning their hair to straw and it was getting hard to comb through it.

And yes, you may have noticed that the previous pictures were concentrated on So, specifically.

Her hair was just unmanageable and I planned to give her a good hair cut,


Summer was not over, we still had my nieces combined birthday. At this time, my niece and her husband were in town from Israel and the kids were all over him...

I even made So's usual "get your gross hair out of your face" ponytail, that morning.

As I did as well, the next day, after the birthday party, when I noticed ....


It was now, the two weeks of time between the end of camp and the beginning of school, and my first thought,

"Yay, now I KNOW how I will be spending these two campless, schoolless, weeks with my kids."

My second thought,

"Holy Mother of blood sucking parasites, all the kids at the birthday party, the kids on the carnival rides, the kids rolling around on the blanket, the kids at camp .....

OH MY G-D, E.! Why did you have to share a bed???

I decided, the only people to call at the time, were the people who most RECENTLY came in contact with So, and the mother of the child who came in CLOSEST contact with So.

I called my SIL to let her know, and I was nice enough to leave the job of phone calls to her birthday attendees up to her.

I called E.'s Mom, and she was kind enough to not kill me.

Everyone else - well, I figured it can't really be proven that they got it from my daughter.

At this point, there was no way to even know if So did indeed catch the generous egg laying louse in Israel or right when she returned to camp. For all I know, some other child in camp is the generous donor.

But it doesn't really matter.

Lice is a right of passage for any child, right?

I scrupulously checked and rechecked my other kids, but I did not see anything. I combed through with a lice comb, and still, there was nothing to be found on anyone elses head.

And then I did what any other lazy desperate responsible mother would do.

I called "Hair Fairies".

I had two weeks, before lice check day to get this infestation under control, and I went to the specialists.

"Hair Fairies" is a salon like atmosphere that was created for one purpose and one purpose only - getting rid of lice.

And, because I was scratching, I was checked as well. But I had nothing. So I guess it was sympathetic scratching.

And let me tell you, going almost every 3 days for treatment and nit removal, it took exactly that - TWO WEEKS to get rid of ALL her lice.

Her last check was the day before lice check at school, and that is when she got the "all clear", just in the nit nick of time. (I know, corny, but I had to.)

Oh, but it was not just treatments at "Hair Fairies". No. Of all the possible weeks my washing machine could break down, you guessed it...

I needed to wash sheets every night. I had to wash all the clothing and objects So came into contact with. I refused to let her sleep with her stuffed "Fiona" doll or anything else because I wanted nothing extra to wash. I already had to drag 4 kids, baby paraphernalia, and mounds of linen and towels and dirty clothing to my Mom's house to be washed. I was so adamant about her not sleeping with any sort of object that required use of washing machines, that when she kept waking up, telling me she needed a doll to hold onto, I gave her a hot water bottle instead, because at least I could wash that in the sink.

I was so sick of washing sheets and blankets, that I went out and bought a whole new bed set, just to have some relief.

I have no idea why she was the ONLY one in the household to get the plague. I even had my housekeeper go to "Hair Fairies" to be checked.

I never realized how thick So's hair actually was, until the great plague of '09 was upon us.

She actually has beautiful hair.

The plague has passed. My washing machine is in working order again. I did not find many heads of nits when I did lice check in So's school. (which means, either this was not a huge summer of infestation, or I am a really crappy lice check lady)











Sunday, September 13, 2009

My Happy Meal!

What makes me so happy about this picture?

Well, I DID say my posts about our time in Israel were done. Which is true. But I never said I would not post about our return flight home.

This is actually not so much about our return flight home as it is about -


I mentioned in one of my posts that it was a treat for us "kosher" eating people to eat at Pizza Hut. This is because, there is no kosher Pizza Hut any where in the world, EXCEPT Israel.

The same can be said for McDonalds and many other franchise eateries.

Sbarro, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger Ki
ng... I don't think Israel has a Taco Bell. Israel is still behind on importing the Mexican food.

There are many facets to what "kosher" actually implies. I can tell you straight out what it does NOT imply. It has nothing to do with food being "blessed" by a Rabbi.

All the meat that kosher eaters consume are from specific animals and were slaughtered in very specific ways by someone who is learned in the area of slaughtering for kosher purposes.

The meat carried by any of the aforementioned establishments do not come from the kosher slaughter houses.

We also do not have eateries that serve both meat
and dairy as the above establishments surely do.

We are limited to the number of Kosher eateries we have in our community. And we have to choose a restaurant by first deciding if we are in the mood for dairy or meat. Do we want pizza or burgers? Do we want cheesy pasta or steak. We can't have both.

So, that being said, when we are in Israel, the world is our oyster (so to speak - oysters and other shellfish are never kosher). We can go practically anywhere and find a kosher eatery near by. And more fun, we can eat at those recognizable American franchises (some, not all of them are kosher).

So I got me a BIG MAC and French Fries and my kids got Happy Meals.

HAPPY MEALS!!! They were so HAPPY!

Hun - happy
Ate - happy

LOOK - A happy meal toy. My kids never get little toys in our kosher eateries.
(note to self - if I ever open a restaurant, offer happy meals with toys in it. But call it "Simcha Meals" so I don't get sued for copyright infringement. {"simcha" means happy}).

Ro may be all the way in the back, but I can see her smile.
Ro - happy.

Uh, Bam's "Happy Meal" came a bit indirectly, but now he sleeps happily in his little bassinet.
Bam - happy.

Mommy and So very very happy.
Even after eating my McDonalds at 12:30 in the morning. (I figured it was 4:30 in the afternoon Chicago time.)

And we arrived Happily in the USA, Mommy and her little ducks - all in a happy row.

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 Where Was I?

I just came out of an elevator and thought I was going to die. It was as if the man who stepped off the elevator just before I entered, actually sprayed his cologne on IN the elevator. I am not allergic to perfumes and colognes, but I think the amount of cologne sucked up all available oxygen in than non-ventilated elevator and if I would have had to go higher than five floors, I certainly would have blacked out or possibly died from lack of O2.

The previous paragraph has absolutely nothing to do with my post today, but between that episode and the toxic smell of fresh roof tar in my child's school, I may have lost some brain cells today, and it could very well affect my writing.

So, today is the 8th anniversary of 9/11. Since I started my blog in October of last year, I may as well write my 9/11 story, now that I have reached my first September of blogging.

We all have a story - the "Where Were You?" story. It does not matter if you lived in New York at the time, or elsewhe
re. It is a day that has us remembering what we were doing when we heard of this horrific attack on the U.S. Like those who can recall where they were when JFK was shot, or what they were doing when Apollo landed on the moon, we can suddenly pull from our human data base, exactly what we were experiencing as planes were crashing and buildings were imploding and valuable lives were being stolen.

I was living in Teaneck, New Jersey. I was right across the Hudson River from two towering buildings that my husband and I
would pass so many times on our drives into Manhattan.

It was my first day of orientation at Holy Name Hospital. Orientation started early in the morning, and I was expected to be there all day. In the meantime, three of my close relatives were to be flying this day.

Hun said goodbye to me as he waited for the taxi that was to take him down the New Jersey Turnpike to Newark airport. He was on his way to Atlanta for a food show. His father was also to be leaving from Newark to Atlanta, on a separate flight. My father was to be le
aving early that morning from Chicago towards Newark.

I was in a conference room with no windows, orienting to some general hospital information. The orientation was to be three days long, and was to cover information about the ins and outs of this hospital as well as more specific information for my department in "Special Infant Care". We would have many department managers coming all day to inform us about such things as, hospital security, staff rules and regulations, computer reporting, human resources, etc... After each sp
ecific department orientation, we would have about a fifteen minute break. We would have the option of leaving the conference room to seek out cafeterias and vending machines, as well as washrooms... I was also scheduled to have my Employee Physical that morning.

After about the first hour of orientation, it was already after 8:00 am when we were allowed to have a break. I knew my husband was already at the airport because his plane was scheduled to take off just about now. As I left the conference room to find a washroom, I passed a patient waiting area of a some hospital department. It may hav
e been x-ray, or blood lab, I do not remember. What I do remember is the TV in the waiting room that was displaying some odd images.

It first looked like the patients were really engrossed in some Hollywood blockbuster, but I could not imagine what movie would be on so early in the morning. And why were the patients all huddled so close to the TV? And what was so exciting that hospital staff in lab coats, Residents and therapists, also stopped in middle of their days work to watch?

I saw a tall building that looked familiar and the
re was a lot of smoke billowing out the windows, but I would not have known exactly what was taking place if I did not hear the chatter amongst the viewers. Although, it was too soon to have appropriate information.

"A small Cessna went into a window of the World Trade Center"

"It must have been having trouble"

"Do you think it could have jeopardized some people who work near those windows?"

And as I was standing there, watching the smoke billowing out of the first tower, as we were ALL standing there and speculating, along came another plane and in a moments time, the othe
r building was on fire. Right before our eyes, and it was NO Cessna. And all the chatter stopped. And all I could speculate at that point, was that every one else in the room who suddenly became silent had the same dreadful feeling in the pit of their stomach that I had.

But I had to return to orientation. I did not know the others who were having orientation that day, I did not know if
they saw what I saw. But I guessed that no one did at that point, because they just carried on in the same jovial spirits that we ALL had earlier that morning. And our latest department head just carried on as if she was unaware also. I could not think straight, and I could not speak up. So for another 45 minutes, I just sat there, trying to make sense of what I saw. Could two planes have had an accident in the same exact spot? I don't believe so, but how could I wrap my brain around the OTHER possibility.

After that segment of training was finished, I was expected at the Employee Health office for my Employee physical
. When I walked in, this waiting room had the TV on as well, both buildings were still standing. Both buildings were infernos. The nurses and office staff were chattering about it as they tried to work, but I was sent immediately into the room to see the Doctor.

After my physical, I stepped back out into the waiting room, I heard the nurses talking about how they were commercial flights ... they left from Newark .... one was American and one was Con
tinental ... more planes were missing and unaccounted for ... hijacking.

The fact that some of their information was later learned to be wrong, did not help at THAT moment, because all I heard was,
"Missing Plane

Oh My G-d,


I ran out of the office, did not even know the first tower was in the midst of crumbling to the ground. I got on my cell phone and tried his number, over and over and over again .... no answer ... what is going on ... OH MY G-D..... my Dad .... my father-in-law.

I called, again and again.

I called my Mom in Chicag

"Where's Dad?"

"He's flying, I dropped him off at the airport this morning, he should actually be landing soon."

"Mom! Do you know what is goi
ng on?"

"What is going on?"

"Do you have the TV on?"

"No, actually I am in the kitchen reading the newspaper, haven't turned the TV on."

"Mom, the Twin Towers are on fire."

I could not bring myself to tell her that the fires were due to impact by two commercial jets. But she turned the TV on, just as I reached the TV in the original waiting room, where I now saw, ONLY one tower, where there used to be two. And then the second one came down.

My mother still had no idea that what she was seeing was due to airplanes that were used as missiles.

"I can't reach Hun, he is supposed to
be flying to Atlanta."

"I am sure he is fine."

"Mom, what are you hearing on the news?"

"They were planes... (pause) ... I am sure Hun is fin
e, I am sure dad is fine. We will hear from them."

"Ma, I gotta go back to orientation. If you hear from dad, please let me know."

At this point, I returned to orientation and everyone was now aware of what was unfolding just across the river. The head of orientation actually came from the roof of the hospital and could see the plume of smoke and debris from New Jersey caused by the collapse in New York

But she was intending to continue with the orientation. So I called her over and she could see that I was pale as a ghost, when I informed her that my husband was on a plane and I was waiting to hear from him, and I might step out to try again. She told me that would be fine.

I stepped out to try again and that is when I finally reached him.

"Oh, thank G-d, I was so worried."

"What exactly is going on?"

"You mean you don't know."

"We were on the runway, about to leave the gat
e when all of a sudden we were told we were grounded. They did not tell us what was going on, but said that all air traffic was stopped and all planes were grounded."

"The Twin Towers were attacked."

"I saw something when I returned back to the terminal. People were huddled around the TV screens watching something on fire, but I did not get the whole story."

"Hun, two planes went into the towers, where is Aba?"

"He also did not take off yet."

"Thank G-d, now I need to find out where my dad is."

At this point, the Pentagon was attacked as well and planes were still unaccounted for. I was very worried about my
father, and the people I knew who worked in or near the twin towers were not yet in my thoughts.

I returned to the conference room and the orientation head asked me if I was able to get in touch with my husband. I thanked her for asking and said, yes and took my seat. But we only sat for a few more moments.




This is a code that does not get called frequently
. It was also information we just received in our orientation.

Code Blue - someone is in cardiac arrest, get a crash cart...

Code Red - Hospital Fire, close fire doors, evacuate...

Code Pink - newborn baby is unaccounted for, lock down Mother/Baby units...

CODE BLACK - mass casualties, expect patient overload...

It gives one chills.

Yet, the first thing that came to mind ...... unfortunately, there will not be enough living to carry over into hospit
als in New Jersey.

But when the code was called, the head of orientation decided to pull the plug on the rest of that days lessons. We were al
l dismissed, back to our homes.

My apartment was just a short drive from the hospital, where I spent the next minutes, hours and days watching CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Local News. Just flipping and flipping from channel to channel, trying to understand.

I still had not heard about my father, until an hour after I returned home. His plane was actually only 30 minutes from landing at Newark airport when the first attacks took place. His plane was put into a holding pattern for a while, and was then diverted to Philadelphia. He ended up being stuck in Philadelphia for a few days befo
re they re-opened the air space. He could not even find a car to rent, to drive home. And the highways became filled, not just with those like my father, but with Fire Stations from all over the country trying to get into New York to help with the relief effort.

I was never so happy to see my husband walk in the door of our apartment as I was that day. I needed him there. The images, the day, the knowledge of those from my community who did not return home, the stories from family who worked in the financial buildings right across about watching bodies jump and fall to their deaths right in front of their eyes was just too overwhelming to experience alone.

The Battery Park Tunnel was closed for m
onths. Other main thorough fares in between New York an New Jersey were shut down for a small time, including the upper level of the George Washington Bridge.

It seemed like the entirety of New York and New Jersey was a crime scene. And to drive the New Jersey Turnpike was terribly disheartening, as it was impossible not to notice the gaping hole where the Towers once stood.

But it was not just September 11 2001 that is so fresh in my mind. I remember September 11 2002 just as well.

I was due with my first child. Her
due date was September 8th. I remember thinking that so many first pregnancies become overdue, and I hoped that I would not deliver her on September 11th. I did not want to have that darkness hanging over her birthday every single year to come. September 8th, came and went. Because I was now officially overdue, I was supposed to have Non-stress-tests, every three days at my Doctor's office. His office was on 65th and Park Avenue in Manhattan.

It was Wednesday and I stepped outside to take the ride into Manhattan. Unlike the year before which started out a m
ost beautiful day, this day was noticeably different.

It was not cold, but there was a chill in the air. But more noticeable, was the wind. It was so immensely windy. It would not be an exaggeration to say that one could easily get knocked over in the wind. But it was not a constant wind. There was a second of calm, an
d then thrusts of wind. It almost felt as if thousands of spirits were swooping up and down, left and right. There was no consistent direction to this wind. And American Flags were blowing so ferociously, you could hear that flapping sound that material makes in tremendous wind.It was eerie to say the least.

My baby came 10 days after her due date. But I remember driving down the FDR on Wednesday September 11 2002, for my appointment and looking across the Hudson to see emptiness. But it was not just empty of the two buildings that sto
od there, it was empty of the lives that filled that space. And I felt a kick at that moment. I was bringing a life back into this world only a year later.

I am not one who is really into these sorts of souvenirs. This is NOT a 9/11 remembrance plate. My husband bought this for me the day after 9/11. It is what was sold to depict New York, BEFORE the skyline changed and innocent lives were stolen. It sits on my buffet as a reminder. I am fortunate to only have a measly "Where Was I" story to tell. Other people have more tragic stories to tell, and furthermore, there are those whose story can never be told.

Where were you on September 11th 2001?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Orah G. And The Wizards of Daas

Okay, this is JUST for Julie, because she was the only one who asked nicely for it. Apparently no one else is interested.
(Seriously, where is the love people? Orah G. could use some comments...)

(For those of you just tuning in, you may want to read my last post before going any further.)

The Story of
Orah G. And The Wizards Of Daas

When Orah G. came into this world, in the great month of “Emeralds”, she was a blank slate. Yes, she had a working brain. And she certainly had a healthy, beating heart. But it would take two wizards to guide her down the “yellow brick road” of life. And all along the way, provide her with the tools necessary to fill that brain with a plethora of knowledge and expose that heart to a myriad of emotions.

Through the many “twist -ers” and turns of life, Orah G. was able to apply the tools she inherited from these two great wizards, to make, hopefully, many appropriate decisions as dictated by the deep emotions that swelled in her heart.

This “yellow brick road” has and continues to have, points that are effortlessly passable and some areas that seem insurmountable. Either way, Orah G. continues traveling this road with the assurance and the security that she has inherited from these great wizards all the tools she needs to manage any obstacles the road may present.

These two great wizards, known as “Maa Wizard” and “Paa Wizard”, have shared their wisdom with Orah, increasing her vast knowledge, and stroking her intelligence, as well as opening her heart to measures of kindness and charity. And they have done so, many times standing far away, even behind a curtain, to allow Orah G. the space and breadth necessary for her to come to her own life’s conclusions.

After stopping along the path of this golden road to pick up a passenger called the “cheese man”, and somehow finding four more passengers (because as the Maa Wizard once told her, “Every time one passenger asks for a TOTO, Orah G. will realize she rather pick up after a cute little bundle of baby rather than a dog.” And Orah G. agrees,) Orah G. looks back along with her traveling mates.

Besides for the very familiar Maa Wizard words that escape from Orah G.’s mouth, such as, “If I have to turn around and stop this journey and let you off on the side of the yellow brick road … I will”, she also reflects and ponders some of the wonderful lessons she has inherited and learned from Maa and Paa Wizard.

Orah G. reflects on the many times that Maa Wizard emphasized and encouraged the greatness of individual thinking, by reiterating the importance of taking the initiative and being a leader and speaking up for oneself in a respectful manner.

Orah G. enlightened herself with the wonderful lesson she attained from Paa Wizard cajoling the messages of charity and selfless warmth.

She remembers specifically, when Maa Wizard took the time to relay a message to her childhood mates about being kind to one another in youth, for the future will bring surprise relationships. And as the childhood mates grew older, they did indeed find themselves becoming related through marriage and intertwined amongst family. Maa Wizard is indeed, wise.

Paa Wizard gave over to Orah G. the appreciation and understanding of what it means to work hard in life. To not take monetary gain for granted. To use it wisely and productively. That you do have a requirement to responsibly take care of the basic needs of your family.

And Maa Wizard taught Orah G. the important lesson of making a distinction between that which you need and that which you want.

Paa Wizard opened Orah G.’s mind to words of Torah - in “Biblical Proportion” at the Shabbat table and opened her heart to the warm feelings that come from a home filled with such enlightening words. So much so, that when Orah G. picked up the cheese man during her journey along the yellow brick road of life, she did so because she perceived that together with him, the same warmth would fill their home.

Maa Wizard has gifted Orah G. with knowledge, highlighting the significance of family and the importance of keeping contact through the fine examples set by Maa Wizard herself as she would make time to visit elderly aunts and uncles, and would encourage Orah G. to do the same.

And this lesson of “devotion to family” allowed Orah G. to EASILY, host, Maa and Paa Wizard in her home, where, from time to time, she received some beautiful words of praise from Maa Wizard, and certainly did not take that for granted.

One of Orah G.’s stops on her journey down the yellow brick road of life, was a stop in Israel, for what was supposed to be a year of learning and growth in a seminary school. Only, Orah G. found herself one of the biggest obstacles she ever encountered. She was, unfortunately, faced with an unhealthy environment, and chose to leave the school. But she found herself lost now and was at a dangerous fork in the road. Her brain was telling her to continue down the righteous path, because that was all she knew. Yet her heart was sending a conflicting message, because she felt pain, and let down by those she had put all her trust in from her same religious background. Orah G. could have easily taken a very dangerous turn off the path. She had her brain, she had her heart, but she yearned for courage. And then it came. Courage slapped her in the face, as she thought of Paa Wizard, who faced the most blatant adversity in his life, and never strayed from his beliefs and religion when probably no one would have judged him harshly if he had. And it was only the thought of HIS courage that gave Orah G. the courage she needed to fill her heart with joy again and direct her brain to make the right decision. And she courageously took the bright and gleaming path, and never looked back.

Orah G. always had a brain and always had her heart, and even her courage was truly there all along. It was the all important Daas that she inherited from the Great Wizards that has her skipping down the yellow brick road of life. And wherever this road takes her, Orah G. will always have the certainty, that whether in front of the curtain, or behind it, Maa and Paa Wizard have been and continue to be an awesome contributing force in her life.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Deliver The Eulogy While They Are Alive And Healthy...

I realize the title of this post is a bit macabre, but so are my feelings right now.

This post, however, is indeed ,my last post about our trip to Israel, which was anything but macabre. And yet, even about our last day or so in Israel, this title is befitting.

Let me back track for a moment.

In the beginning of the summer, friends of mine, a young couple, tragically lost there one year old son to a virus with wrath.

Since then, I was made aware of several other incidents, within my community, revolving around serious health issues related to young children.

Just two days ago, the summer ended with another horrific event. A 5, almost 6 year old girl from my community was riding her bike right in front of her mother and fell off the bicycle as she reached an alley. In less than a moment's time, she was hit, dragged and killed by a car that failed to slow down when exiting the alley. All this happened right in front of the mother's eyes - IN A FLASH.

this mother's life is significantly altered.

The mother of this child happened to be Ate's teacher last year in school. Without getting into detail of her life, that would not be my place to do, I will just say that she has already been the victim of indecencies toward her, causing her needless suffering in life. And yet, she always had a smile on her face, and a kind word to say, and regularly talked very lovingly about her children.

These incidents, DO make me question G-d.

No, not about whether G-d exists or not, I will always believe in a JUST G-d. But I question, what is the value of this incident. What is the mother to learn from it? What are we, as a community to learn from it? What am I to learn from it?

And I know ........

............. there will never be a sufficient answer. In fact, there will never be an answer at all.

Maybe, one day, in the way distant future, when I am standing before my Maker, I will finally receive all the answers to my latent questions.

But for now, I have to create my own answer. I need to do this, so I can justify, even a little bit, why such things can possibly occur over and over again.


I had already been garnering this thought while in Israel, which I will get to soon. It was reiterated for me Sunday night, as well, when I went to visit a friend who was sitting Shiva for the loss of her father. (Shiva is a 7 day period of mourning that a Jew observes for an immediate family member who has passed. They do not leave their house. Family, friends and community members come over to offer an ear and support and comfort in any way possible.)

At the house, one of her brothers was mentioning how so many people come out of the wood works to praise his father's good deeds and character. Then he said something along the lines of,
"It would be really nice if people could hear these things before they pass..."


All of us who are fortunate and blessed to have kids, go through our moments with them. They drive us nuts from time to time. We secretly (or not so secretly) loathe when they have too much time off of school, and we yearn for every day that someone else, or something else offers them enough structure to keep them busy and out of our hair.


We must not take them for granted, and must ....


Of course, we don't really need to refer to it as a Eulogy.

"Do you know how much I love you and will always love you? Do you know how proud you make me? Do you know how honored I am to be your Mother? I love the way you draw that nose in all your portraits. I love how nurturing you act towards your doll, and your little brother. I love your squeal like giggle. I love how you want the crust trimmed just right on your toast. Your smile is my sunshine in the morning. Your off tune singing is sweet music to my ears. It makes my heart flutter when every spring you present me with a plastic cup of water holding freshly picked "weeds", because you knew I would enjoy some flowers. I enjoy watching you turn play dough time into ceramics class. Your eyes dance when you smile and I love you. I love you.
I love you, I love you, I love you..."

And don't forget the bombardment of kisses on those rosy cheeks.

My parents (mostly my mother) got upset at one of my siblings (shall remain nameless) when they made a remark that pretty much went like this...

"I am who I am IN SPITE of you"

See, not all my siblings are exactly the same when it comes to how they choose to practice our religion. And some may have a "holier than thou" attitude. This does not go over well with my mother. And she made it clear to that sibling,

"You are who you are BECAUSE of me.
I gave you the freedom to go to the schools you wanted and to dress yourself in the religious attire you wanted. I allowed you opportunities and experiences that contributed to your growth and the spirituality you were looking for...."

Bottom line, this shut my sibling right up.

But we all heard about it and that is when another sibling came up with a fancy shmancy idea.

Besides for the fact that we were celebrating a Bar Mitzvah and a significant birthday for my Dad (which he adamantly expressed, should not be officially celebrated) it also happened to just pass, my parents Fifty Second Wedding Anniversary.

Oh we celebrated there 50th Wedding anniversary in a really big way two years ago when we were also then, all together in Israel. But who is to let another opportunity go by.

So a sister of mine started e-mailing all the family about her idea.

She termed it, "The Inheritance Project".

The object was, to let my parents know, exactly what we "inherited" from them that inspired us, or guided us or made us who we are.

We were to write a page or two in any format we wanted. It was all going into a compiled scrap book with a title on the front,
"Sefer Hatodaah"
(Book of Thanks)

(THE BOOK - held by my sister who thought up the project)

And, on Saturday night, we would each read out loud our words of thanks, appreciation and gratitude.

(Saturday night in the Dining Room)

This included, seven immediate children and a couple of spouses who have tremendous appreciation for their in-laws.

We all had very different formats and included different material, but the end result was the same. We all came from the same parents, and as far as I know, they did a hell of a great job raising ALL of us.

I wrote mine with reference to "Dorothy and The Wizard of OZ" by titling my offering "Orah G. and The Wizards of Daas."

(My turn)

G. is the initial of my second name, so that worked out well. And "Daas" sounded, Dah Os - means "knowledge". I may post it in my next post, if anyone tells me they are actually interested in hearing my words to my parents. But the point is, at some point, what we were all thinking in that room that Saturday night, my father actually said out loud,

"This is like hearing my eulogy while I am alive."

Poignant words, and so true. It has a macabre feeling to it in any other context, but anyone who was there, could see the pride in my parents faces.

We also gave them a gift. The reason we did this Saturday night, is because that is when the Sabbath ends. At the end of every Sabbath we have a ceremonial blessing with a candle and wine and strong smelling cloves that officially ends the Sabbath and starts the week. It is called "Havdalah".

We compared the flame of a candle or a torch, to what it is we receive from our parents. Just like a flame can be passed from torch to torch, so to is that which we receive from our parents, passed to us and our children and their children and on and on...

So we gave them a Havdalah set. But not just any Havdalah set. We gave them one that looks like cars on a train. Because like a train, we are all connected and although each car looks a bit different and carries different loads, we are STILL all connected and being pulled by the same "engineers".

That is pride on my Dad's face

I know, my family is just chock full of deep thinkers and metaphors. What can I say?

It does not matter if to a parent, or both, siblings or children. We should all take the time - IN LIFE, to share our appreciation and gratitude toward those we love, because, unfortunately things DO happen IN A FLASH.

It was a very moving night, and well worth the effort we put into it.

Speaking of "moving",

Moving on...

Sunday, the bus was not coming for us until 12:00 pm (it came later than that). We had to check out of our room/cabin at 10:00. We had the option to spend those two hours at the soundly structured decrepid water park, once again, but of course I "FORGOT" to tell my kids about this option.

So we all just hung out at the park, until we felt the sweltering heat. Then we all hung out in the lobby. I mean, ALL OF US. About 60 of us sat in the hotel lobby. It was our last moments all together during this trip to Israel. Because after we returned to Jerusalem, my parents, my sister and my family had to unpack from the weekend, repack for our return flight home, have supper, and leave for the airport.

While we were still in our cabin, packing ourselves up for check out, it seems the cousins from the cabin next door and my kids decided to spend some quality time together. Just pay attention to the close proximity of the cousins on our last day in Israel. It will be important for a future post. I entitle this video, "Cousins Gone Wild".

Those two on the left, are just trouble, I tell ya.

Hanging in the lobby.

And, some more hanging in the lobby.

Wow! What a trip. When people ask what I brought back with me, from Israel, besides for some really great lotions from "The Dead Sea", I tell them what I really brought back...

...amazing memories, thrilling experiences and great lessons that I will have, long after the lotions are all used up.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Getting On The Bus!

Since it is officially my girls second day of school, what excuse do I still have to not finish my posts about a trip I took in July.


Well, it's Friday in Israel and this means another Sabbath is around the corner. This weekend my entire family, approximately 65 people that included;

my immediate family
36 Grandchildren
two of my mom's siblings and their spouses
my husband's Israel residing brother, his wife and four kids
My mother - in - law, who happened to be in Israel,

all chartered a bus and went to a Kibbutz (a collective farm or land revolved around some work which is run communally by its members, in Israel), Kibbutz Chafetz Chayim.

It is set up as an "outdoor" hotel. We had a quaint little family cabin.

Is it just me, or is this the van from Scooby Doo? What is with the 70's daisies on the front bumper? Either way, this bus was mighty perty.

The Bus pulled up right in front of my parent's Israel apartment building, how convenient.

That would be my Dad - in his iconic fishing cap, getting on the bus. We had no plans to fish, but I love my Dad in his fishing cap.

Just a bunch of family milling around the entrance of the apartment building as all the luggage was being loaded onto the bus...

Hun's brother's wife and kiddies.

This is actually just SOME of the weekend attendees on the Bus. Some family members live elsewhere and found their own way up to the hotel.

I must explain this picture, because it has an incredible amount of meaning to our family that one would not see, immediately.

That is one of my nephews and he is strapped into his seat with a Torah scroll on his lap. (Torah - Old Testament Scroll). The Torah is covered in a Taalis (prayer shawl). Underneath the Taalis the Torah has a beautiful velvet covering with Hebrew lettering engraved in gold that refers to the remembrance of many family members on both my father's side and my mother's side of the family.

Exactly 10 years ago, for my father's 70th birthday, my mother had a Torah Scroll written on his behalf and we all got together in Israel making him a surprise party, with his surprise gift. A Torah Scroll has to be written according to very specific rules. It is written by a professional called a "Sofer" (scribe) and is written with a quill pen dipped in special ink. It is written on parchment made from animal skin. The entire Torah takes, roughly one year to write. So this entire event was planned a year prior.

We got him to his surprise party by telling him it was my nieces Bat Mitzvah (she was turning 12 at the time, but they don't make parties like this for Bat Mitzvah's). When he got there, he was a bit surprised by all his friends who my brother "invited" to the fake Bat Mitzvah. But it was not until he saw the Torah on the table, still with letters being filled in by the Sofer that he realized something odd was going on.

He inquired about the Torah, and that is when my Mother and all of us surrounding him told him that this was his Torah and this party was for him. At that point, he collapsed into a chair and began to weep.

For one to truly realize the significance of this event for him, you must understand a few things about the Jewish religion and faith..., as well as a previous event in my Dad's life.

1. A Torah is practically the most sacred item any Jew could own. It is our history written by Moses as dictated by G-d. It is so sacred, that is why my nephew was strapped in with it and it was covered - a Torah may not fall to the floor or be exposed to immodesty... The words of the Torah NEVER EVER CHANGE, AND ARE NEVER EVER REVISED!

2. Every Jew who can, should write a Torah in his or her lifetime. (Since we are not all trained Sofers, this means you either pay for a Torah to be written, or fill in some ink on a letter the Sofer has outlined. It is extremely costly and not everyone has this fortune in life...)

3. When my father was just Bar Mitzvah'd himself - 13 years old, the SS came to his town in Czechoslovakia and placed everyone in it into a Brick factory, until it was the day they were to be shipped off to Auscwhitz. When that day came, everyone was asked to line up in the courtyard of the Brick Factory. My father, his two sisters and his Father were all huddled together when my Grandfather realized his wife was not there. He asked my father to go find her. My father did find her. She was in the Synagogue standing in front of the open Aron (cabinet that holds all the Torah scrolls) praying intently. As soon as she noticed my Dad standing next to her, she turned to him and said,
"I prayed that G-d should have mercy on my children, and G-d answered me and said, the children will be saved."

My Dad and his two sisters survived the atrocities, my Grandparents were not as fortunate.

Ever since then, my Father could never relinquish the image of my Grandmother standing before the Torah Scrolls, and he always wanted to write a Torah in her memory, as well as others.

This Torah that was written on his behalf, is currently being used by a Synagogue in Israel. It is read from every Sabbath as well as other days of the week. It has been used by a few of my nephews to be read from for their Bar Mitzvah, and this particular Sabbath, it would be read by another nephew who was celebrating his Bar Mitzvah. In addition to the Bar Mitzvah we are celebrating, it is now ten years later and we are also celebrating (with tremendous gratitude to G-d) my Father's 80th birthday (he should be healthy through 120...).

But I digress...

We arrived in Chafetz Chayim before 1 pm. Chafetz Chayim has a decrepit amusement park that probably has been inactive for decades and looks like a ghost town. It also has a well known water park which is terribly decrepit and should be inactive, but it is not.

I had to take my girls to the water park, on a day there was a whole school or camp of girls there. I have no pictures of this most annoying and offending to my olfactory senses wonderful event because it would be inappropriate. In Israel, many pools and water parks run with strict modesty rules in place. This park only operates with separate men's and women's hours. Hun was lucky that Ate had no idea there was a water park, and was spared his extremely "fun" experience at this decrepit water park. I could not pull the wool over my daughter's eyes, however.

I had to wait in lines in enclosed stair cases that smelled like urine, and had to walk on cracked surfaces where muddy water lay, eeeewwwwww, I still want to vomit just thinking about it.

After our wonderful water park experience, it was time to bathe and nap (oh yeah, we had more picture taking to be ready for before the Sabbath began). I just love having to be dressed and ready at a very specific time with four unpredictable children.

But, it was actually worth it. The pictures came out pretty nicely, and might I add - we did not hire a professional. All the Aunts and Uncles worked on getting 36 Grandchildren to cooperate and the pictures were taken, utilizing 3 separate cameras by people (such as my mother - in - law) who were not required to be IN the photos.

Notice the progression of the photos...

Just waiting around for some organization...

Just immediate Grandchildren (no spouses)

Grandparents and two spouses added to the mix...

All the parents and aunts and uncles of said, Grandchildren...

Just us...

The grounds at this hotel were beautiful. There was a lovely playground in the center of it all. My family had a private dining room for the weekend. There was a zoo that Hun took the kids to on Saturday afternoon while I napped kept Bam out of the scorching 1000 degree temperatures in our air conditioned cabin.

(For intense effect - raise your volume as high as possible)
Ever wonder what it sounds like when bombs are falling on parts of Israel (which has been way too often), this will give you some idea. Fortunately though, this air raid siren was not sounded due to falling artillery, this is a sound that one hears every Friday 15 minutes before the Sabbath begins, to remind us to finish our preparations...

And so, the kids run off back to our cabin to finish up any last minute Sabbath preparations.

Sabbath with the whole family in one place was so lovely. All the cousins played so well together. I hung with one or two of my all of my siblings. The Bar Mitzvah boy made his Grandfather proud, reading from his personal Torah Scroll. And it was HOTTER than hell.

And that leaves, pretty much one more day in Israel - and then I can move on with my life and actually blog about 40 other things I had planned to blog about all summer.

Saturday night was a very meaningful night complete with a very special event, so stay tuned.