Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Gratitude Challenge Day 15

Another post from bed on my phone after another very long day, so bear with me again please!

Today I'm very grateful to a friend who, although I haven't known her all that long, has alteady taught me many invaluable lessons--the most important one? To always take care of #1! It seems like it wouldn't be so hard, but with a houseful of kids and a crazy life, I always seem to put myself last. She's reminded me (and often needs to insist!) that I do things for myself, even if only occasionally.

I wish I knew why I find this so challenging. Why for other people this is a healthy part of living, but why whenever I do something for myself I feel overwhelmingly guilty! Don't make judgements-it has nothing to do with how I was raised or how my husband treats me. No one had ever treated me even a little bit badly, it's

But with the help of this friend I'm starting to figure it out. I'm starting to realize that stopping for coffee   for JUST ME, or buying MYSELF an overpriced, bad, not-even-American-novel is ok! So, my friend, thank you for helping me be me, and for helping me find myself again. Thank you for mall trips and lunches, coffee and pedicures.

And even though they might not know it yet, my family thanks you too. Cuz' if Momma ain't happy, ain't NOBODY happy!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Gratitude Challenge Day 14

Today I'm grateful for a lot of things: That Hurricane Sandy is slowing down. That everyone I know in it's path is safe and sound.

But today I'm especially thankful for my Nachman. In the past, I've shied away from giving my kids' names, but here it's fitting to mention him and his name.

My husband has Breslov roots. Back before it was a fad, or the thing to do, him and his father and brothers made the yearly trip to Uman in the Ukraine for Rosh Hashana to pray at the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. Recently, it's been harder for him to get there every year and harder for me to send him every year, but our strong Breslov connection remains.

Nachman is our youngest of six, and he has 4 older brothers. Every time I was expecting (and I usually knew what I was having in advance), TPH would gently put in a vote for the name "Nachman". Almost always I veto'ed it immediately. Too Talmudic. Too outdated. Too 'Jewish' (Awkward in an American Park Setting). Too much of a mouthful. It never appealed to me, and being the smart man that he is, TPH did not push it.

Cut to: Time #6 in the labor and delivery room. Unlike with our other children, this time we really did not have a name picked out. We spent most of the hours in the hospital discussing possible names, not coming to any that we could agree on. I knew it was a boy, but TPH wanted to be kept in suspense (yes, that is hard, but that's for another time). He kept saying throughout the pregnancy, "All we need now is a red headed boy or a blond girl."

And a red headed boy it was. A perfect, beautiful red-fuzzed baby boy -- with seemingly no name in the near future. We were stumped. TPH went home, took care of the other kids, brought them to ooh and ahh over our newest addition, and then left me and the Little Guy alone for the night. How I stared at him wondering what we could call him.

That night, our dog (a puppy actually, he was only a few months old) ran away. I still like to tell myself he was looking for me, his favorite owner whom he last saw in much distress. TPH was besides himself with exhaustion (physical and emotional) after spending all day with me in the hospital, then all night juggling the kids and looking for the dog. Around midnight he gave up. We cried to each other on the phone in the hospital, both feeling terribly guilty that we let such a thing happen, and helpless that there was nothing else we could do but hope that he was safe and call the pound in the morning. I hung up with TPH and lifted that perfect little sleeping baby out of his bassinet to hug. To comfort me.

And holding him and smelling that sweet newborn smell, suddenly all my troubles seemed to leave me. All my worries were gone. It was ok here and now because I had this little guy. And like a bolt of lightening, it hit me. He was going to be my Nachman, my "comforter". I called TPH first thing the next morning (woke him up actually!) to tell him my decision and make sure he was ok with it. The rest is history.

A story about a lost dog (who was brought to the local pound after being spotted a block away from our house, and returned to us early the next morning) may seem silly. But as always, Hashem knows what He's doing, and when they say there's Ruach Hakodesh (a Divine Inspiration) that comes along with the naming of a Jewish baby, it's not just some goose bump hokey pokey.

Hashem knew that in a few short years I'd be miles away from my family, a community that I love, and that in the midst of some pretty rough stuff, I'd need a comfort. And here he is. Oh boy, here he is! Always there with a hug or a smile, a joke or a very, very large temper tantrum,  he's there. He seems to know innately when I could really use that extra hug, and lately he's reverted a bit to sleeping in my bed every night. I don't move him. He comforts me like no one else. True to his name, he is my real Nachman, and I am grateful for him.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

My Gratitude Challenge Day 13

Oish! Missed another day! I did promise a 30 day challenge, but who said anything about consecutive days, huh? Ok, ok, I'm trying!

Is it in bad taste today, as Hurricane Sandy is a'brewin' to be thankful today for the beautiful weather we have here in Israel in October? Each day is clear and crisp, warm but not hot, and there has to be something said for the fact that my kids are still in shorts and tees. I'll admit, the summer clothes here wear a lot harder, and after 7-8 months of heavy duty use, we more often "give away" than "put away".

But we spend afternoons at the park, on the "block" or in the yard, and although we're starting to need rain here, and I'm sure it's just around the corner, I have to be thankful for the most gorgeous days that we've had this past week. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

My Gratitude Challenge Day 12

Today I'm grateful for Erev Shabbos. The only real day "off" beside Shabbos, here in Israel, we really start to appreciate Fridays. Much more so than in America, Friday here is actually a day to get out and do things; go out to breakfast, hikes/walks with the kids or just general family time. We've learned to cook most of Shabbos on Thursday night (ideally, not always :), and Friday is a family day. It's nice to work with the kids in the kitchen, or take a group to the grocery store, or just hang out with them. 

TPH and I enjoy our quiet Friday mornings together and usually try and get out in the morning for breakfast, or even just coffee and browsing and the bookstore. In a funny way, it has an almost Shabbos-like quality to it. I still miss my Sundays off, but am starting to really appreciate these Fridays as well. 

Have a great Shabbos!!

One of my (and the kids!) favorites: This must be at least the 3rd or 4th time posting this one here :)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Gratitude Challenge Day 11

Today I'm grateful for my car. Yeah, yeah, I know it's just a rental, it doesn't even fit my whole family in it at once, it's covered in heavy Israeli dust, and it smells like something had a really nice but short life in it. However, after being without one for a year and a half, I am very, very grateful. It's all about recognizing and being thankful for the small things. Cuz when we stop and think about it, sometimes those small things aren't that small at all.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Gratitude Challenge Day 10

Oish! I missed a day! I've been working lots of hours and trying to keep everything together, so I often fall into bed well after 1am lately...

Last night was a "catch-up" night, and I was gently snoring by 9:30--so I forgot to post!

Today I'm thankful for my Sisters in law. Let's face it, when you marry into a family, you never know quite what you're gonna get! Being married to the second brother (of 4 boys) in the family, I was daughter-in-law number 2 to enter the fold, and I was so lucky to hit it off with my older SIL right away.

Over the next couple of years I became very close with my younger brothers-in-law, and like a protective older sister I was nervous about who they'd bring home. Those prospective girls had better be worthy of such great guys! 

One, and then the last, youngest brother-in-law got married, and with each time we were so lucky to have added another wonderful SIL to the family. We also hit it off right away, and have gotten only closer over the years. We don't speak often enough, but texting abounds. And sometimes that's even better. I know that they're always there for me, to kvetch to, to cry to, or to joke around with. Lately these three tremendous SISTERS have been a huge support to me, and I couldn't be more grateful for each of them in their own way.

It's a true gift to be able to say that not only are these my sisters in law, but some of my best friends as well. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Gratitude Challenge Day 9

You'll have to forgive my typos and whatnots, I almost forgot tonight! wth the help of some pretty amazing technology I'm posting on my iPhone from my bed.

Tonight I'm extremely thankful for my BED! Affectionately named The BBBs over time (Big Blue Beds) our two full sized beds cannot be beat. So, while I fall into bed and push over the slightly snoring small redhead, and gently push him away from my so his breath doesn't kill me in the night, I bid you a sweet farewell! Wherever this bed is, is home!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My Gratitude Challenge Day 8

Today I'm tired and cranky and overworked, but won't go to bed without being thankful.

Today I'm thankful for healthy babies! And happy first time parents. Happy grandparents, happy aunts and uncles and happy cousins. I'm also very grateful for Skype and FaceTime. 

It's hard to be far away when the family celebrates a simcha on the other side of the Great Blue, but we all have so much to be grateful for, that it's hard to be grumpy for long. 

Good night!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My Gratitude Challenge Day 7

Today I am grateful for the 10 years of teaching I got to do while in the States.

I'm often sad that I'll no longer be able to teach Limudei Kodesh (Judaic studies) here since a) my Hebrew is not good enough, b) even if it were, I'm just culturally not Israeli enough and c) I can barely keep my life together as it is, imagine having to leave the house every day for an actual honest to goodness $6 an hour. No thanks.

If you know me personally, you know how much I loved teaching. And it's hard to not be able to do something you love. Yes, I could teach in a seminary or other English venue, but it wouldn't be the same. I love Kodesh subjects, and I have a certain affinity for 3rd graders, and I miss them. But this post is about being thankful.

Today I'm thankful for those years because I really got to get up every morning and do what I enjoy doing. Lately, I'm starting to see other benefits. I'm grateful because I can actually sit and do homework with my kids. I can shock and surprise them while they are struggling over a Rashi and I can yell it out by heart from the kitchen. I can make them smile as I explain something in a clear and easy way, and they suddenly "get" it. They love that when we do Parsha questions at the table I can share the most obscure midrashim (we had fun with the Pheonix today during Parshas Noach).  

So, while I miss being in the classroom, I'm so, SO grateful for my years there and for having a dream job from which I'm still reaping the benefits. Besides, I'm pretty sure I have a cute 3rd grader around here somewhere...

Friday, October 19, 2012

My Gratitude Challenge Day 6

Today is a no-brainer.

Today I'm grateful for Shabbos. I seriously don't know what I'd do without it. After crazy day after crazy day, by the end of the week we need to relax and recharge. Especially here in Israel where Sunday is a regular work and school day, by the end of the week we're feeling the burn.

For those of you who've never experienced a Shabbos, it may seem boring. What? No driving? No computers? No TV? No going out?

But the beauty of Shabbos is that it allows us one day a week to sit back and do...nothing. Nothing but rest, connect with our families and with G-d. It's not only a beautiful thing, but a necessary one!

So, put away your hammer, your iPhone, your Android, your Blackberry, your iPad and your Galaxy, there's nothing left to do, but chill with your kids and your Creator.

Shabbat Shalom from the Holy Land!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My Gratitude Challenge Day 5

I'm always thankful for my health, but today I'm thankful specifically for being able to move.

Here's why:

When I was younger I broke my leg in a sledding accident (don't laugh! tobbogan + dark + Cobb's Hill at night=not a great combo), and was in traction in the hospital for 6? 8? weeks. After that, I was bedridden at home for another 8 weeks with a double cast on both legs. Since I was only 7 at the time, I essentially had to learn to walk again with many months of extensive physical therapy. 

Although that was many, many years ago, I clearly remember sitting in my room crying and thinking, "Please Hashem, just let me be able to WALK again!"

He did, but 6 months is a really long time, especially if you're 7.

In high school, my knee locked up again and I needed more surgery, which once again put me on my back for  a few weeks. Again, I remember thinking, "Please let this get better so I can move again! If you do, I'll never again take moving for granted!"

And...He did.

Over the years I've had back trouble, knee trouble, a mysterious inflammation in my leg one year, and every time I beg and plead to please get me back on my feet again so I can function! And I always make the same promise in my head: "Make this go away so that I can move, and I'll thank You every day again for the gift of mobility!"

And I always get it back, BH, and for a few days I remember my promise and I'm super thankful. And then most of the time when I say "Zokef K'fufim" I remember, and I'm thankful. But then I fall into the same old, same old every day, and I start to forget. I start to take for granted the most basic of gifts every day; the fact that I can get up in the morning and run to gan, do Yoga, or take a brisk 45 min walk, run to the store, work, wash the floors, and bend down and kiss boo-boos. Some people can't. But I can. And today, when I'm feeling good (and have been for many years now!) I'm going to keep my promise and be thankful for that.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Gratitude Challenge: Day 4

Today I'm grateful for Facebook. Don't laugh!

If you know me, you know I've been a fan since day one, but besides the entertainment value, there's a lot of good that goes on there. First and foremost, it helps me stay connected with my loved ones. All 265 of them. No, really! Remember, I've made aliyah before, and this is my second time trying to bridge a gap that goes much further than halfway around the globe, and much deeper than the Atlantic ocean. I have to say that although it's still hard, if I didn't have Facebook, I might've very well had a(nother) failed aliyah. For reals. 

For those of you who don't have family overseas, it's hard to know just how hard it is to make those crucial phone calls. The time difference makes it a lot harder than you'd guess. Even if I wait until the kids are in bed so I can steal a few quiet minutes on the phone, I'm usually too tired to make the effort or it's a bad time for my loved ones who are still in the middle of their busy days. But FB lets me see those hourly updates of my nieces and nephews whom I miss terribly. Because of FB, I can chat with, keep up with, and generally stalk my loves. 

So thank you Facebook for bridging the gap. 

I'm also grateful for the positive impact that FB often has. Yes, there is plenty of negative junk too, but if you're mature enough (I always tell my kids they can get a FB account when they're 31-that's when I did!) it can be a great tool for connecting with others on many levels. Take for example my good friend Wendy B. I was so touched that Wendy decided to follow suit and start her own 30 Days of Gratitude after reading about my new challenge. 

Or how about the charity organizations, tehillim groups, and prayer requests? The neighborhood association groups? The "frugal" groups? Or my all time favorite user: "Hashem"? ("So and So shared Hashem's photo" still gets me every time...)

I know that FB still has it's haters. But you've got to admit there's a lot of good to be gained here. And for that I'm grateful.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Gratitude Challenge: Day 3

Ok, I've got one: 

Today I'm grateful for my work at home job(s)! I would never be able to work out of the house at this point in my life and there are almost too many perks to count. It's not an easy thing, and one really has to be an excellent multitasker or it won't work (and doesn't for many). But today I'm ignoring the difficult aspects and focusing on the positive:

Sending emails from bed. 
Grabbing (quiet!)kisses from my kids while I sit through meetings. 
Setting up appointments from a park bench while my kids play at the playground nearby.
Making my own hours more or less.
Doing conference calls in my jammies.
Pretending like I'm my own boss. 
Washing the floor while I QA.
Running to the store in between meetings.
Being available for drop off and pick up, or bringing lunches or other forgotten items to school.


Monday, October 15, 2012

My Gratitude Challenge: Day 2

Let's face it. The first few days of this "Challenge" aren't going to be too challenging...

Today I'm truly thankful for 6 beautiful people who give me my favorite title in life! They are messy (ok, they are downright slovenly), loud, needing to be fed every single darn minute, and are always in my space. But they are also the lights of my life. 

As they get older, and are becoming "real" people with mature thoughts and feelings, I am constantly amazed at how much we can laugh (or cry) together. I might not always be the best mother: was it tonight at dinner that I yelled, "If you don't stop fighting I'm going to run away, and find another Abba and marry him and have NEW babies!!"? Or how about right before dinner, when BAW came home with N in tow whom he found outside a block away "Just walking the dog, Imma!"? But I digress...

What was I saying? Oh yes. I might not always be the best mother, but we've had some pretty good times, me and my 6 shining stars. I'm hoping this is just the beginning of those times.

And I know it's only Day 2, but out of everything in my life, I have to say that they are the best things that ever happened to me, and for them I am eternally grateful.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Gratitude Challenge

It's time to bring this blog back from the dead. 

I've had a rough couple of months. I'm not sure the hardest parts have past yet, but I figure there's no time like the present to get back on the blog wagon. Hardy har. 

With the struggles of the past few months (you may know some of them, but trust me, you really don't know all of them), my relationship with the Big Guy Upstairs has become strained, to say the least. I often start my days angry or sad, and it's hard to have a relationship when you feel sad or angry with someone (or Someone) most of the time. It's harder still to pray, or to feel a real connection. I'm only sharing these very personal details with you because I want your help with my next step. 

I've heard that one way to brighten one's spirits, while at the same time feel connected again is to show gratitude; to feel real gratitude from the heart. I'm going to pledge here to sign in every day for the next month and post one thing that I'm grateful for. It won't be easy. With 2 jobs, a bunch 'o kids and the craziness of every day life, it will be downright difficult. But I'm hoping that by posting one thing I'm thankful for every day, I'll become a happier, re-connected person. 

Here's where you come in: Either be a loyal reader and stand by the sidelines and just tune in to let me know that someone out there is keeping me to my promise. Or, join me, and post one thing a day that you're thankful for too. It might me feel like less of a nerd. 

So thanks. And that's my first thank you; Thank you for friends I can count on. If you have allowed me to lean on you over the past few months (and you know who you are!) I thank you, and I am truly thankful for you.