Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Ever hear the term "free writing"? Sometimes it is referred to as "free form writing". Pretty much it is when you just put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and one thought just randomly leads into the next. The results can have tremendous meaning but it may in no way resemble a story with a plot.

I find that when I am bored (or sick, as is the case today) I do something similar to free form writing. Except that I will coin it as "free form GOOGLING". FFG!

FFG can take you to great places. Although, I would not allow children to FFG as it will also take you to some very inappropriate, albeit, quite intriguing sites as well.

Today I was FFG blogs under the initial entrance of "Orthodox Jewish Blogs". One thing lead to the next and I eventually came across a post written by a woman named Lynne Meredith Schreiber. You can read the initial post here :

For those of you who may read my blog and are not Jewish or not an Orthodox Jew - it is an interesting post on the concept of "family purity laws" written by a woman who was not originally an "Orthodox" Jew, but came back to the fold, so to speak. To summarize - she writes about what she finds beneficial in the "family purity laws" and how it relates to those who do not subscribe to it within Judaism or those who are not Jewish altogether.

For those of you unfamiliar with "family purity laws" in the first place, you may educate yourself with her post or I implore you to FFG yourself :)

Anyway, what I found interesting actually had not much to do with her specific post, but rather, what came next.

I read comments on her post and a few commentators mentioned the fact that while she was touting her Orthodox Jewish way of life as it relates to her relationship as wife to her husband in the most complimentary way, in fact she ultimately divorced the husband she refers to.

The post I was reading today was actually written in 2006 and some comments were written almost 2 years later at which time they felt her article was a moot point since the marriage she spoke of crumbled anyway.

Now in my mind, a divorce did not take away from the positive spin she put on Orthodox Jewish intimacy between husband and wife, but it had me wondering if she was not only divorced, but if she also was no longer practicing as an Orthodox Jew.

The truth is, I still do not know what "level" of religious practice she is at within Judaism, but I did investigate further .... you know .... because of FFG and I found her and her ex husband and then .... something else.

My FFG did however result in some FFF (Free Form Facebooking) and I love when people have no privacy settings in place. (PEOPLE, WHY DO YOU STILL DO THAT? SET YOUR PRIVACY!!!!)

I first did a search on Lynne Meredith Schreiber, only the first name that came up was Lynne Meredith Golodner. I checked out some of her pictures but realized that I never saw any reference to what she looked like in the initial post. So I went back to googling her original name and retained some information.

She is from Southfield Michigan. Her first husband's name was Avy Schreiber. He was a musician. She had 3 kids with him. She mentioned their names.

So I returned to this Lynne Meredith Golodner and checked out her location - Southfield MI and her pictures - of cute children that she refers to with familiar names.

She is in fact re-married to this Golodner guy. He has a daughter from a previous marriage. They live in Southfield. I feel like I know them. I am not a stalker. I am curious.

And then I FFF Avy Schreiber. He also has no privacy settings. He lives in Oak Park MI. I do not think he is currently married. He has many pictures of the same familiar kids with the same familiar names. AND THEN>>>>>

I decided to check out the album titled "my niece's wedding in Israel".

First I saw a picture of a lovely room in a small hall or synagogue in Israel set up as I have seen weddings set up there. It looked familiar, like I had been there before. In fact, I have been to many various celebrations in Israel, including weddings and I just assumed either I had been there for something or it looks like every other hall I was at.

Then he had some pictures of his niece at various stages of the wedding. I could deduce that this was his sister's daughter getting married. He had captions under all the pictures explaining to people, I assume people who are not familiar with Orthodox Jewish weddings, exactly what was taking place.

"Bedekin - the bride sits in a chair and receives guest...."

I was not really paying attention to the guests, but his niece looked as beautiful as most brides.

"Kabalas Panim - the groom comes and covers her face with a veil....."

Shoot - groom is blocked, can't see him. Who cares, I don't know these people.

"Now the bride's father, my brother in law, is giving her a blessing atop her head....."

Yes - that happens at every wedding.

"Now the groom is walked down the aisle by both father of the groom and father of the bride."

Ok - I was now distracted as I was thinking, well many Orthodox Jews follow the custom of having their own parents, mother and father walk them down as opposed to the same gender parent per groom and bride respectively.

"Now bride is being walked in by both mothers...."

So grainy and dark. They carry the candles just like my parents do. Wow, the mother of the groom looks like my aunt.


I go back a picture and check out the father of the groom.


And the groom - well that is my cousin.

And then I recheck every picture looking for more relatives. I find a sister or two. Some more cousins and
HOLY F%$# - it really is a small world.

You start with some FFG - move onto a little FFF and some guy named Avy Schreiber who was once married to Lynne Meredith who wrote a blog about renewing intimacy with her now divorced husband every month, is actually the uncle of ... well .... my cousin by marriage.

I was not at that particular wedding, but I realized why it was so familiar. My parents were there. As were my siblings and many other cousins, aunts and uncles and we call that MISHPACHA!

Yes - Avy Schreiber is practically mishpacha (family) to me. Who knew???

I wonder what else I can possibly discover via GOOGLE and FACEBOOK freeforming!!!!

I implore you all to do a little freesearching of your own. You never know what treasures you will happen upon.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Yes, I know I said I would come back and write but I kinda felt fluish these past couple of days. But you know what happens when you wait?

Your two year old ends up "screwing up" (no pun intended) big time and now you have something to write about.

Like most Cities across this great nation we call the United States, Chi town was suffering a heat wave of gross magnitude (because it felt gross).

In general, I am a big summer person. I need my vitamin D. I need to be outdoors. I love the sun and the water and taking walks all over my neighborhood. But the idea of that was unconscionable this past week.

My little Bam is also an outdoor baby. he takes after me and his maternal Grandfather. He also loves water and if he can not get in it outdoors, he will find a way to get in it indoors, which never turns out well.

Yesterday, poor Bam was bored out of his mind. I spent my minimal energy chasing after him most of the day. There was not enough he could do or get his hands on to make being inside enough entertainment for him.

He started with his typical - pull the kitchen chair to the sink and pour water from cup to cup and act surprisingly amazed when most of the water ends up on the counter, the chair, his clothing and the floor as opposed to actually ending up in the other cup. After a few minutes of pulling him away and cleaning up and repeating the scenario, I try distraction techniques and find him something that does in fact keep his attention for about five minutes.

Then he discovers that bottle of "disappearing ink" that his sister So won after exchanging arcade tickets for it. He climbs on a brand new case of bottled water that is conveniently located below the island ledge where the ink bottle sits and retrieves it. He manages to twist the top off and shake the contents out all over the floor and the pantry door and the cabinet doors and the walls until there are numerous puddles and splatters of blue liquid everywhere. And then Mommy finally comes out of whatever stupor she is in an notices and says, "oh my".

The one concession was that I felt slightly relieved when I discovered that it was the disappearing ink and would not leave navy blue stains everywhere. It did occur to me that So would be none to happy when she discovers the bottle is completely empty. And then after I took the lead and found a towel to begin the clean up, Bam followed my lead and retrieved his own towel and "helped" me in his own special way.

And then we attempted more distraction technique and other baby friendly toys, which lasted MAYBE another five minutes.

My ears then perked up to the sound of contents shaking, such as sand or ...........SALT!!!

And so I ran again to my kitchen floor and stepped on gritty spot after gritty spot and discovered an entire shaker has salted the floor. I went to retrieve the broom and Bam followed, looking for his little minny "escoba" as he calls it. I grabbed a dust pan, he grabbed a paper plate. I swept up the salt, he spread the salt around. We were working together, as a team. And finally weI was done cleaning and could continue with whatever it was I had been doing before. First, making sure the salt shaker was pushed farther back onto the kitchen counter.

And then, again "shake, shake, shake" rinse, repeat....

Not sure how he got that salt shaker the second time.

He hardly napped yesterday, not sure why.

He was acting very tired by 8pm (as was I) and Hun and I put him to bed, but he wasn't having it.

I would think his very BUSY day had wiped him out as it did me, but he was waging war in his crib and he won.

He came out on the condition that Hun would spend some time with him. And there they were together. In the front of the house, in Hun's study having some male bonding time while I was very busily facebooking of course. (Yes, "facebooking" is a word.)

I was just reading about a friend's current ordeal with her 5 year old son who came downstairs to disclaim "I have a penny in me" and how that would result in some shiny poop the next morning, when Hun came to me carrying the little monster.

"He stuck a screw up his nose!"

"Huh? How's that now???"

"There is currently a screw up is nose."

"Were you watching him?"


"So you WATCHED him stick a screw up his nose?"

"Well .... no, I must have missed that particular moment..."

So we call my mom, she comes over and we are off to the ER.

It was EXACTLY how I planned to spend my night.

A bunch of summer accidents and heat stroke victims were clogging up the waiting room and Bam apparently thought he was there to be everyone's entertainment as he danced and sang like a well trained monkey. In fact, one lovely woman there with her own, slightly older son asked, "what's wrong with him?"

Well nothing really ..... thank G-d ..... except the sharp foreign object up his left nostril.

And then we were finally in an ER room, waiting for the Doctor and my lovely little Bam could be heard yelling,

"Dockor , Noose, I ready!!!!"

He makes me so proud!

And after the Doctor first suggested we occlude the empty nostril while I blow into Bam's mouth, (which slightly stunned my child but did not release the screw) we resorted to the nose forceps which were magic. The screw came out and Bam remarked,

"I feel better,"

as if he just passed a stool.

He was a pretty happy camper the entire time, even through the extraction of the screw, but funny enough, was ready to go and did not like having to wait for the discharge papers.

He fell asleep as soon as his tiny little head with cute, screwless nose hit the car seat.

So he is officially "unscrewed" and we can go on with our lives.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What To Do?

I miss blogging!

It's 12 am. I can sleep on the idea and maybe I'll do a little bloggity blog tomorrow. Or is it TODAY?

Is anyone even remotely interested anymore?


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I'm Really Trying To Be A Consistent Blogger , but.............

I miss blogging on a consistent basis. I also realize, based on my last few posts, that the "funny" has left me. I have no idea where it has gone. It probably went wherever my readers and commentators went. I realize that I actually had more consistent blogging with a newborn than I do with a toddler. As I am currently writing he is no doubt, dumping the smallest and crumbliest food items onto my floor. He may be placing random playing cards into the slots of the floor vents. He is removing condiments from the door of the fridge and giving them new locations throughout the house. (I kid you not, my 4 year old son found a CAN of bear buried under a couch cushion the other day.) He is dumping toys out of the bins so he can use the bin to climb up onto a stove to open a cabinet to get himself a lollipop. He is very self sufficient.

You ever hear those stories where some single mother keeled over and died and ten days later the body was found with a toddler sitting idly by?

I told Hun that if he went out of town and I was left with just Bam, and I suddenly keeled over, he need not worry.

And my Bam would not even need to depend on toilet water as his source of fluids. His advanced fine motor skills have him twisting open anything from apple juice to beer as I have recently learned. He also can easily choose to eat a chunk of cheese as is or cut slices of it with the sharpest knife he can find - I have learned this as well.

He will remove his dirty diapers on his own and will mark MANY territories over the house, but then he will get a broom, dust pan, towel, hand vac and other cleaning devices and go to town on his shmearing cleaning expertise.

He will probably, when bored, pick up the phone and dial Guam or the Philippines or El Salvador. He likes to chat with random people. he is very friendly that way. He does better with people from Spanish speaking countries as he would like to "count" to them in that preferred language.

He will also turn the "mookik" on for himself and invite some other babies over for dancing and ...... well, beer ....... (do NOT call DCFS on me).

He must know when he is dirty and unfresh based on all the times I found him sitting in the bathtub, sans water rubbing his aromatic lavender shampoo onto his dry hair and clothing. I mean, for a smart baby he should at least know to undress before he gets in that bathtub.

He does his own laundry!

Yes he does, I kid you not.

Someone should let him know, though, that the toilet does not work as well as a washing machine.

He also ......wait ..... my garage door just opened .... my car just started up ...... where's Bam?


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Parenting So...... So

Sometimes kids make it so easy when it comes to finding blog material. This one is in honor of So.

So and I had a discussion one day about parenting. She decided she was not enamored with my choice of parenting. Mostly she did not like the fact that after I had asked her something five times, and received no response ...... five times, I yelled at her.

Truth is, she has a point. I hate yelling. It hurts my throat.

So then said that she would NEVER yell or get ANGRY at her kids. I informed her that this was an excellent idea. I give her my full support. And then I asked her to put that in writing and give it to me.

"Why?" she asked.

"So G-d willing when you have kids, I can laugh at you."

And wouldn't you know it, So ran off and put it in writing ...... with some additional points.

Titled: House Plans

1) No tv, ds, dsi, ipod/touch or mp3

only wii

and computer only one hour each day...

Interesting, since I have so far not allowed any of my children to own any ipods, mp3 players or gaming devices and additionally we do NOT own a wii. However, I do allow one hour of TV a day and educational computer play and interaction from time to time so long as I am aware of what they are watching or "computing".

2) love your siblings as wanted to be loved

Very good So. Nice demand. If only we could enforce this law. I do think my kids are actually pretty nice to one another, but they have their moments - including So.

3) No physical contact

Again, would love to see her practice what she plans on preaching, but good point.

4) No insults.

See my above comments an apply to rule number 4.

I will not yell at children.
3 trips a year.
Sunday = Fun day.
Live in California.

Disneyland once a year.
Oh So - this one is so lame. If you live in California you can get a season pass for bubkis and go all the time. Don't deprive your kids.

Always be together.
This one I am already laughing about.

Soda during any occasion.
Can you tell we are not soda drinkers in my house...

4 candies a day.
1 of everyone's favorite course.
Always dessert.

So plans on giving her kids sugar before dinner - at least 4 times a day. Her kitchen will be a restaurant with each family member choosing their own dinner and she will also have time to make dessert. Quite a life for this family, it seems.

Signed for a promise,
So F.

In addition to all of her above declarations, she also constructed a weekly schedule for her kids which spells out the specific homework they will have each day. (I guess she is homeschooling.) It includes one hour of wii after homework each day as she promised. She made Tuesday, family night. She did include some mandatory reading - very forward thinking on her part. And Sunday and Saturday include family game time.

I am sooooooo saving this paper. I can not wait to laugh as I watch my first born daughter parent as the children dictate nowhere near her parenting predictions.

For now, I will just enjoy the thrill of parenting So :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Irony Of Living Life!

I am pretty sure I had a few years of my life shaved off last night. That, along with the handful of new grey hairs that sprouted on my head (which is a moot point since I pulled those handfuls of hair out) are courtesy of the New Zealand earthquake.

Of course, while I am always empathetic and worrisome over random natural disasters, this one had my panties in a bunch for a few hours because my worries were specific to one person in particular.

Yes, my brother picked a fine time to take a 6 week trip to New Zealand.

He left from Israel, weeks ago, via Hong Kong to Australia. Of course he was midair when I discovered that Cyclone Yasi was headed to Australia. That, of course was a concern only remedied when my brother D. finally contacted me a day later to tell me the Cyclone was in an area, away from him that is similar to the distance between Chicago and LA. Like I know Australia's layout and geographical lines.....

He also reassured his family and friends that we should not be concerned about Cyclones, Brush fires and sharks...

He saw his kangaroos and koalas and spent a week in Australia and then headed to new Zealand.

I have been following up on his whereabouts and earth-shattering touristy events for weeks as he posts pictures to his facebook account. No different than his siblings, each picture has to have a witty caption or an unusual pose. No one in my family can be straight forward about anything.

His arm cascaded over the shoulder of a kangaroo, his "Lady and the Tramp" pose, feeding a leaf to a Koala mouth to mouth, his carefully crafted pose as he lays face down in an open field with the caption "next time I should make sure there is a parachute" after a tandem jump from a plane are all expected examples of the lack of candor in my family.

He has been traveling to all corners of New Zealand, after starting in his "base camp" of Christchurch, New Zealand.

Before he left, in addition to his email address and facebook account which I already access, I was given a phone number of a phone equipped with an international sim card. He informed us that it would be pretty expensive if we were to call him on it and unless it's an emergency, we should text.


So I called, AND texted, AND facebooked, AND e-mailed....

We had not heard from him for a few days and did not know what he was doing from one moment to the next.

Had he returned to Christchurch or was he under water somewhere swimming with sharks?

I guess now that I know he is okay I can laugh at the absurdity. Was he in danger under rubble via the destructive earthquake, or was he slipping off a mountain ridge somewhere, at least enjoying himself.

It turned out to be the latter.

After hours of worry. After an eternity of concern over the fact that I was the only family member with all his contact info, causing me to spend hours trying all avenues to contact him while also calling back and forth between a sister in NJ and my parents as well as the US Consulate in Aukland and Chabad (Jewish organization) in Christchurch ...... I finally received an email from him. Actually I received 2 emails from him.

His first email wanted to know why I was asking if he was ok? He wanted to know if something happened that he was unaware of? He had been on a mountain in the Southern Alps for 3 days and just returned to his hostel.

His second email clearly implied that he was now aware why I was asking?
"oh... the earthquake? I did not even know about it. I was 8 hours away. But I am supposed to fly out of Christchurch on Friday..."


And of course, after my nerves were shot and the only way I could fix them was with some carefully spiked ice cream, we could begin to laugh (sort of), I do not want to forget those who were in fact in Christchurch.

He let us know of the irony ... Just as I suspected, the only other scenario included my brother, 1400 m up a mountain trying to pass a narrow ridge while 90 mile per hour winds and rain pelted him from both sides.

So we were worried he was buried beneath rubble or G-d forbid crushed under destruction and instead he was trying not to get blown off a narrow mountain ridge.

While I am grateful that he is well, and have requested of him that he spend the rest of his trip visiting museums and zoos (as if....) I still do have the citizens of Christchurch in my thoughts and prayers. I am saddened that there are those who did lose their lives in just a matter of minutes and those who are now wandering, aimlessly, dazed - I hope that they have the strength to get through this tragedy.

I hope my brother stays safe and returns to his home well, but I am happy that he is truly an example of someone who knows how to LIVE LIFE.

Because the irony is, just miles from where he is, in a place where he just was and intends to return to later this week, there are those who no longer can LIVE theirs.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

To Never Have Had, To Always Have

I went to LA for a week and I did NOT get fondled by TSA so I am grateful for that. I am also appreciative of the fact that my kids were not molested by complete strangers. I was able to get my yogurts past security without much of a fight but I did have to mourn the loss of a full jar of peanut butter.

But I will revisit my recent trip to LA in a later post.

In the meantime.....

I have been internalizing and evaluating my place in my family and my very existence.

We all have a "placement" within our family and I truly believe that our family placement contributes to the essence of who we are to become as people.

Most notably, there are three easily described placements known as -


But, of course, not every family exists of three family members. And possibly, the difference in gender would effect the essence of who you are as well.

Is it
Girl, Girl, Girl?
Girl, Girl, Boy?
Girl, Boy, Boy?
Boy, Boy, Boy?

You get the point....

And additionally, the years that separate each child would also have a profound affect.

None of this really matters, because no one can possibly know if they would have been "nurtured" into a different person if any of the above variables were different then they actually were. We only know the people we actually ARE and the contributions to our nurturing that were directly related to the above variables.

But I tend to overthink these things and wonder how much of me is directly related to my family placement and what of me would be altered if my placement - therefore my environment were substantially different.

Many people who have become friends in only recent years tend to "assume" that I only have one brother. This assumption may be related to the fact that only one brother and I currently reside in Chicago, our birthplace, also where our parents reside.

Some people in my life are aware that I have at least a couple more siblings, but most are clueless to the fact that I am one of seven ..... actually ..... eight.

Since only seven of us are living in this world, I will refer to that number at this time.

I am in reality, number six of seven.

But in my EARLY life of actual day to day living and breathing, I could easier relate to being a middle child of three and an only girl.

I mostly grew up with a brother, four years younger, and another brother, four years older. My next sibling on the ladder was ten years older than me. By the time I was seven, she was living in Israel and would pretty much, never return. She went for a year post highschool and never looked back, as she met and married her husband in Israel (actually the wedding was in Chicago) and made Israel her home ever since.

So the three siblings of mine who are older than her, were attending College and working in other cities as well and my feelings of "siblingship" were mostly in theory.

In fact, when I was born, my eldest brother, who is not the oldest in the family was already 15 and was studying in a highschool in Philadelphia and post highschool in Lakewood NJ. He would return home from time to time for holidays. I do remember liking "that guy" who would take me on errands and throw me up in the air a few times here and there. But I also distinctly remember that it took years for me to actually realize he was a "brother" as far as that word is legally defined. I guess parents take for granted that the kid who is 15 years younger actually needs it spelled out for her or else he may be considered no different than the friendly UPS guy who shows up from time to time.

So I was sandwiched in between two stinky, tormenting brothers who could do no wrong in my Mommy's eyes because we all know how little boys charm their Mommy's, and I would imagine having a sister.

Yes, I realized I had three sisters, but I wanted one that was close to my age. I wanted that sisterly camaraderie that I saw from time to time between my older sisters. I wanted someone to have "girlie" talk with. I was sick and tired of sneaking into my brothers' rooms to check out their stuff only to find NOTHING that could possibly peak my interest (or so I thought at the time. I mean, how many girls love Mad magazine and become sports fanatics.) I really needed a sister.

Most girls in my class did not live directly in my neighborhood, but I was quite friendly with 3 girls who were all 2 years older than me, who lived near me and attended the same Synagogue as me. We would play on the Sabbath - Chinese jump rope and some other stupid games and I always felt like some strange void was being filled.

I always imagined that one of these girls could easily be my sister. I imagined attending school and seeing my sister, only 2 years older me, walking through the halls. I would say hi to her and wondered if she would say hi back, or ignore me and pretend she has no idea who this annoying younger girl is. I wouldn't want her to be "uncool" in front of her friends...

This is when I supply a link to a post that you must read so I do not have to repeat myself. This link is important to the rest of this current post.

"FUN" Facts About Orah

If you have indeed read the above post, you now know that I was nine when I found out, accidentally, that I had another sister. This was the missing link. I guess parents also take for granted that those who came after said sister would automatically know that said sister ever existed. She never truly had a chance to be the older sister I was always imagining, but I still knew, that something in me was always attached to her. There was always a connection, and I just did not know it.

I minored in Psychology when in Nursing school and worked in the areas of "Labor and Delivery", "Mother/Baby" and "Neonatal Intensive Care". Anyone who has ever worked in those areas of Nursing or Medicine, will tell you that the affect of the mother, any negative situations that Mom is currently experiencing, and post-partum depression, and just a psychologically unhealthy state of mind can and most probably will directly affect the bond between Mom and baby. And those who work in this area of medicine will also tell you that the moments and few hours and few days following birth are THE MOST pivotal in terms of the bond created , that will affect Mom/Child relationship way into the future.

I will also go so far as to say, that the psychological state of mom while pregnant and while nursing, will pass to the child.

I would also say, that while a specific tone for the mother/child relationship can easily be set under these circumstances, it does not mean that it is written in stone that an entire lifetime of Mom/child relationship will be tainted. One can analyze the source of a challenging relationship and rectify it.

After that whole aforementioned diatribe, I will just say, that it was only after learning of my sister's existence that I had a better understanding of my own mother, and our specific relationship.

I will never know if my Mother was a different person with my four oldest siblings, than she was years later after birthing, and losing a child. But I imagine that experience changes a person. My mother does not express her emotions on the surface. She is not a mushy, demonstrative mother, and she freely admits this. When she told me about Ruchama, it was very "matter of fact". She was only relaying info. But I wanted to ask her, how it made her FEEL? I never did. I still sometimes think I should ask her that specific question. But while my mother will probably give me some sort of cerebral answer, I do not think she will ever really answer that question on an emotional level. I do not even think she can completely understand what it is I am asking FROM her, when I would word the question that exact way. Maybe she protects herself that way ..... if she doesn't have to "FEEL" it.

But I feel it. I don't know why. I have no memory of my sister. But I always felt something. Maybe it was the fact that my mother carried me in utero while Ruchama was alive, sick, being cared for by someone else. Maybe I picked up on something at birth, when my mother looked me over, found my deformed finger nail and felt that bittersweet moment of "blessings" from G-d while another child was still suffering with illness. Maybe I grabbed hold of emotions when my mother hugged me close after she was informed of one child's passing, while another was crawling happily across the floor.

I have always thought about this sister. I thought of her before I even knew she had existed and I think of her ever since.

My mother was at my house this past weekend, for lunch. She was sitting on my couch and picked up a copy of "People" magazine. My mother always jokes with me that she will know I have matured when I stop reading that magazine. I always remind her that there are many women my age and older that apparently need to "mature".

She picked up the magazine and said, "see I have to come to your house to read, empty, vacuous, things...."


John Travolta and Kelly Preston were on the cover introducing their newborn son, Benjamin.

My mom said, "see Kelly Preston had a baby at the age of 48 ... so you can keep going."


So I said, "but I think that baby is just a "replacement" baby. (Travoltas lost a son a year ago or so....)

My mom got upset and said, "No - just because she had another baby, does not make him a replacement baby..."

She seemed annoyed by my statement.

I then told her I just read about another couple from Australia (not read in People, because I do read things that are NOT vacuous). Apparently they aborted healthy twin boys because she specifically wants a baby girl after recently losing her daughter. In Australia, it is illegal to do "gender selection" in In Vitro, unless a gender specific disease runs in your family. So this couple has to just get pregnant and take their chances on the gender. I don't want to judge a woman who lost a child and her psychological state, but the idea of aborting healthy babies just because they were the wrong gender, does sicken me.

In any case, my mother went on to say that although she is unaware of this Australia story, not every person who has a baby after a loss or a "sick" child is "replacing" the child....

And then I said it .....

"But, Ma, I do remember you saying once, that after Ruchama .... you "needed to know you could have another healthy child..."

My mother than said, "I never said {Needed} ... I may have wanted more healthy child...."

I did not want to belabor the point, but I was 99.9% certain I remembered her wording, because it always bothered me. Semantics - maybe she never meant to say "needed", but part of me always felt like she needed the "solace" of a healthy child. Although I do believe a healthy boy would have been just as fine.

I vaguely remember that she once said her arms ached, an empty ache ... when she had no baby to hold after Ruchama was not present in her vicinity. I think I understand that feeling of NEEDING to hold a baby in your arms. I think most women who have had, or have a strong desire to have a baby, know that feeling of arms waning because they need to be filled with baby.

I do not know if I can ever have a long drawn out discussion about all the feelings she had and what affect it had on our relationship or who I am today, with my Mother, but I myself will never stop thinking about it.

Waaay before I was married, I always knew that if I had a girl, she would somehow be named after my sister. My oldest, So was not the one meant to be named after her. So was literally created when Hun lost his Grandmother and I just knew if that conception was a girl, she would need to be named after Hun's Grandmother. And so she was.

But then my second baby was a girl. It was like the sister I always wanted for me, but for So. They were less than 2 years apart and I knew she was my Ruchama. That name (meaning mercy) was significant for many reasons, some I won't get into now. But even though I would use that name, when a young child dies we tend to add a name instead of just using their name alone. So Ro (short for her nickname) has three names. One is placed before Ruchama and one is placed after. When all her HEBREW names are loosely translated .... it creates a significant sentence ... "G-d answered us with Mercy and Life ".

Besides for her 3 Hebrew names, I gave her a nickname for "Ruchama" that is the name I actually call her by. We always joke that with all her names she would have an identity crisis. But the nickname is important to me, because "Ro" (not the full nickname) is how I can keep Ruchama in my memories all the time, without painfully calling out her actual name on a regular basis.

I did not inform my Mother ahead of time what I would be naming her. I was worried if I should ask my Mother's permission, if it would be painful for her, if she would be upset with the fact that I used that name, or if she would in fact appreciate it. So I took my chances. She was pleased and told me that all those names together were a beautiful sentence. I literally breathed a sigh of relief.

In a week I will run a half marathon (again) for an organization that provides services to families that are facing life with a sick child. Some of these families are similar to the one my Mother was Matriarch to in 1973, but the services were not available to her at the time. She had to make very serious decisions for her Ruchama and for her other children without the support of organizations like "Chai Lifeline".

I am running in the memory of my sister Ruchama.

In November, something happened that made me feel this run was actually being orchestrated and condoned by Ruchama herself.

I used to go to Ruchama's grave, practically every year on the anniversary of her death. I went with my parents. I know I went with them a couple of times while I was married as well, which means that I was only reminded to go when they made me aware since I was no longer living in their home. The past few years, the anniversary of her death would pass and I would think about it only in February ... that I did not go to her grave. I realized I kept mixing up her date of death in November with her birthdate in February and by the time I would think about it in February, I missed another visit. I guess my parents just stopped calling me to ask if I wanted to come, and I would forget. So for years I did not go.

This past November, my phone rang just the Sunday after Thanksgiving. My brother D. was calling me all the way from Israel. He specifically called me because he had just gotten off the phone with my parents, and my dad had mentioned, totally in passing, that they were about to go to Ruchama's grave.

D said, "I'm not sure if you care or not, but I know how Ma and Dad just take for granted that anybody would want to know .... but dad just said, they are going to the cemetery, so I don't know if you want to go or not ... maybe you can still catch them."

Years had passed that I would miss the opportunity and of all years that it should come to my attention .... this was important.

I quickly called my parents and they had not left yet .... so I went with them.

I stood at her tiny headstone, and I said some psalms as the wind blew and sleet fell. My mother and father stood beside me doing the same. When they were done, they went off to look for stones. We have a custom to place a stone on top of the grave. I'm not completely sure, but I believe it has something to do with the roundness resembling the "circle" of life, and that life goes on and on... My mother made a comment about how there were just not as many stones to be found as there used to be and she returned with tiny pieces, more typical of pebbles. She handed me one and placed hers on the grave and then she and my father were walking off and pointing out graves of past friends and other members of the community. I said a few more prayers .... some more personal and then looked over to the right and my eye quickly caught something. It was a perfectly round ROCK! It was really the only one around. And I picked it up and placed it on her headstone.

I had not been there in years and knew I was only there this year because of channels that crossed an Ocean and phone wires from Chicago to Israel back to Chicago. It was purely by chance ... or was it?

I know that Ruchama's short existence had quite an impact on the person I am today. However which way I was affected by her presence in this world and in another, for good and not so good, I know that my placement in the family just after her was meant to be. There are no accidents. And I will always have her with me. The sister I never had. The sister I will always have.