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Monday, December 31, 2007

A Cut Above the Rest

"What's the matter with kid's these days?"

A child, who shall remain nameless, took two, practically new, nice, thick T-shirts and cut out the necks.

The last time this child chopped up a T-shirt, cutting the neck, the sleeves and most of the bottom, I outlawed this practice. (The T-shirt was from the child's youth group, which meant that I had paid some outrageous price for it. Need I say more?)

So, I was most disturbed to see two more T-shirts, that were now unsuitable for wearing in public.

"They're pyjamas," protested the child, mistakenly thinking that would be sufficient justification.

Not in my book.

The child already has pyjamas.

And this child never complains "hey, I have nothing to sleep in."

But this child has been known to drive me crazy while packing a bag and complaining "I don't have any T-shirts for my ____________ " (fill in the blank: tiyul (hike), machaneh (camp), etc)

Of course not -- you keep cutting them up!

"Why can't they be like we were, perfect in every way? What's the matter with kids today?"

(Lyrics from "Kids", in Bye Bye Birdie. Found the complete lyrics thanks to Cat's Place)

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Coffee Klatch (read: Chemo Klatch) -- Final Chapter

I went for a CT today.

I don't get the iodine injection, since I am now allergic to iodine. And, half-way through the disgusting barium drink, I was told that it wasn't necessary to drink any more. So, the process was much easier than in the past.

My mom kept me company, which was nice.

We finished so early, we decided to go visit our friend, in the oncology ward.

We went up to her room and she wasn't there.

Her bed was empty (without sheets, even) and there did not seem to be any personal effects.

I went to the nurse's desk. "Where's S?" I asked, uncertain if she had changed rooms or if the family had decided to take her home.

"Who are you?" asked the nurse.

"Friends," I answered.

"You'd better speak with her daughters," the nurse answered.

I asked another question, and the nurse repeated: "you should speak with her daughters."

I thought to myself, she must have gotten worse, so they decided to take her home.

On our way out, I met someone else who works there, and knows me as well.

She told me directly.

S passed away this morning, a few hours earlier.

It was so fast. Her diagnosis, her deterioration, her death.

Cancer is really a horrible disease.

I am different.

I have a different type of cancer.

My cancer is responding to treatment.

I am young.

I am strong.

I have a great attitude.

Blah, blah, blah....

Cancer Sucks.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Like Father, Like Daughter II

"Do you think we should watch Star Trek tonight?" I questioned Moshe, "We won't get home until close to 9:00..."

We had a wonderful Shabbat at Moshe's parents, but we were slow to leave, and the kids still hadn't eaten supper.

"It's a powerful motivator, for the kids to get ready quickly," Moshe replied.

I couldn't argue with that.

Uncertain about what in our cupboard could be prepared & eaten quickly, I suggested we pick up a pizza on the way home.


We settled in to watch "Cold Front", which continues a major arc story.

As the episode neared its end, Y protested: "it can't end here, the story isn't over!"

But the episode was, and Moshe quickly ushered the kids to bed.

As he was about to sing them to sleep, Y thanked Moshe for the pizza and Star Trek.

"Pizza and Star Trek," Moshe repeated, "what can be better than that?"

To which, A suggested: "What about coke and air conditioning?"

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Friday, December 28, 2007

Faith in Humanity -- Restored

Just over a week ago, my son's winter coat (still in great condition) was taken from the locker room at the pool. (Read about it here)

I contacted the pool, every other day for a week, to see if someone returned the coat. No luck.

My faith, that the coat was taken by mistake, was beginning to wane. I felt compelled to accept the sad fact that the coat might really have been stolen. (kapparat avonot -- it's all for the best, some sort of atonement for our sins)

Then, exactly one week later, as I was leaving the pool, I stopped by the Health Club desk to say hello. In passing, I asked the woman if, by any chance, someone had turned in a boy's winter coat. Just as she responded in the negative, I noticed a thick blue coat hanging on some hooks.

I asked her about the coat. She didn't recognize it, but said it could belong to one of the many people who work there.

She got up, lifted the coat off the hook, and showed it to me. I wasn't certain that I recognized the coat. (What can I say? I remembered that his coat was blue, and had a hood; but I didn't remember specific details about the coat. It’s the chemo....)

As she returned the coat to the hook, I suddenly remembered that I had labeled my son's coat. If it was his coat, then I would be able to find our name somewhere (though I didn't remember where, exactly, I wrote it).

I asked to see the coat up close.

The woman was skeptical (our name was nowhere obvious), but she brought me the coat.

Sure enough, though it was difficult to read the black marker on the dark blue lining, our family name was clearly written. Once one knows what to look for, anyone can see it.

Thus my faith in humanity was restored. The person who took my son's winter coat really did take it by mistake.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Chemo Day

LONG chemo day today. LONG story....

I called early, so that my medication would be ready when I arrived. I got there early, so that there would be plenty of time.

Life is not in my control.

The prescription wasn't ready. The medication wasn't ordered. I would have to wait.

Meanwhile, I needed to see a doctor. My doctor, who is still "out of office", said that I have to see another doctor about the pain in my hip, which has returned.

I was pleased to see a doctor with whom we already have a relationship. He is a gentle doctor and answered many questions (not just about my hip).

Unfortunately, on Tuesdays, this doctor works in a different section of the hospital. Had I been waiting in the day ward, then I would have been hooked up to the IV as soon as it was ready. But the different location meant that I "lost" about an hour (we waited almost 45 minutes, then spent at least 15 minutes consulting the doctor).

By the time I returned to the day ward, it was relatively late.

In addition to the stress of beginning treatment late, I was disappointed to return to the ward after the volunteer massage therapists had finished for the day.

I missed my massage.

Thankfully, I had really great company: a very entertaining friend.

We laughed a lot.

We also shared some of the frustrations of living with a long term illness. We laughed about that too.

She had many good insights and some really good lines. (wish I could remember them)

I finished just before four, when the day ward closes. (did I mention that I received all three medications today?)

Before going home, I crossed over to the oncology ward to visited a friend I met during treatments. She has a different kind of cancer, and she is not doing well. That's a euphemism for: not responding to treatments. She's a very special woman. And she's dying.

I hadn't seen her for almost a month. I wasn't prepared for the change. This strong, powerful woman was lying in bed, tired, worn out, and in pain. During my visit, she was alert and dynamic. She still has spunk. When she smiles, her eyes sparkle. But the visit was bittersweet.

My mother, who picked me up from the hospital, visited with her as well. We met her charming daughter, who recently got married. We reminisced about younger, better times. I learned that my friend played special "clean-up" music on Fridays. The way she and her daughter described it, I could almost see them dancing to Bob Marley, while cleaning their home. Cool.

When I left the hospital, I was glad my mom was with me.

At home, I spent a few hours with my kids.

Then Moshe and I left for an engagement party of a friend of ours.

Even though I was very tired, I didn't want to miss her simcha (celebration). (I really wanted to meet her chatan (fiancé) )

I am so glad we went.

It was good to end the day with a celebration of new beginnings.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Monday, December 24, 2007

Parent-Teacher Conferences, cont.

We definitely left with big smiles.

When my eldest daughter was in first grade, we just met with her teacher. We hadn't even realized that there were other teachers there.

Eventually we learned.

It's not always necessary to meet those other teachers, but it is often good "politics."

This way, the teachers knows who you are. This can be important in the future. If you have to call them, they can match a face to the voice.

It is also good for the teacher to know that someone is looking out for your child. This encourages accountability.

Believe it or not, there are many disinterested parents out there (a nicer way to describe their attitude would be "laissez faire"). Many Israeli parents "let their kids take care of themselves". This is seen as fostering independence. Being the American that I am, I am much more involved.

A child in elementary school does not have the tools, nor the skills, to take care of themselves.

Independence comes eventually, whether we are ready or not. I already see the early stages of independence in all three of my kids. Meanwhile, until they are self-sufficient, it is my job to make sure that they get the attention and care that they need.

My eldest was very quiet. We were able to draw the teachers' attention and enlist their assistance in helping her to participate more. Our "intervention" really helped.

Don't be scared. You know your child -- there aren't usually too many surprises at these meetings.

In general, teachers notice the louder kids and the "challenging" kids. It is often easy to overlook the quiet, well-behaved kids. I have two children who are inclined to be quiet and well-behaved (at least at school). They often need help advocating for themselves.

Together, we are trying to navigate the Israeli school system.

All in all, I'd say we are doing OK.

We haven't gotten too lost, yet.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Parent-Teacher Conferences

Tonight we had parent-teacher conferences at my two younger kids' school.

This is a quintessential Israeli experience.

All semester, you know it's coming, you just don't know when....

Then, with just a few days notice -- here it is.

On the notice, is the time that each parent is scheduled to meet with the teacher.

If you have more that one child in the school, you might have to do some serious juggling. (I once had two appointments scheduled for the same time). Not to worry, the scheduled times have very little to do with reality.

But wait, there's more. The evening is far more complicated. In addition to meeting with the mechanechet (main teacher), it is also important to meet with the morot miktzoiot ("professional" teachers). And, if you are really ambitious, you also try to meet with the yoetzet (guidance councellor) and/or the principal.

There is no homeroom teacher here. The kids go to school and whoever teachers them their first class, also greets them when they get to school, and supervises morning t'fillot (prayers). The mechanechet (main teacher), teaches them the most subjects, including basic subjects, such as Torah (Bible). The morot miktzoiot ("professional" teachers) teach them specialized subjects: math, science, English, Arabic, Art, and Jerusalem studies (a special course of study, unique to our school).

There is no schedule for those specialized teachers, who are seated all over the school. So, it's "first come, first served". Though sometimes there is a sign up chart -- so you don't have to just stand around and wait.

So.... parents begin this unique process of running around, trying to fit everyone in, without missing your main appointments(s), and without missing a teacher, who is leaving early.

Basically, you rush to a teacher, sit down, discuss your child/children, get up, then rush to another teacher and start again.

Of course, there are parents who skip the "extras". They just meet with the main teacher and go home.

That's not us.

We meet with EVERYONE.

And tonight, it was worth it!

Both kids are doing well. Of course, there is room for improvement. But, overall, each has improved significantly and continues to improve.

Now we have our homework: to help our kids continue in the right direction!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Die Fledermaus

Motza"sh is Opera Night. (and you thought it was just Star Trek night!)

My mother, who loves opera, watches the opera on TV every Motza"sh.

I will admit that I do enjoy certain operas. However, some of them just sound like a lot of noise.

I kept waiting for one of the operas I like to be on TV. It finally happened this motza"sh.

Some background: When I was growing up, every New Year's Eve, our family would watch Kiss Me Kate and Die Fledermaus on TV. Even when I got older, and would babysit on New Year's Eve, I always watched these two classics.

Until I moved to Israel, where January first is just another day on the calendar, I missed watching those shows on New Year's Eve.

So, I was very excited about the prospect of watching Die Fledermaus now. It brings back my childhood....

But this opera, on Israeli TV, was produced in France and performed in German... no English, not even subtitles. Bummer!

I am going to have to get a copy either with the dialogue/singing in English, or a version that at least has English subtitles. Anyone out there have this opera on DVD? (didn't think so)

Clearly, I am not serious enough to watch it in a foreing language.

It's such a fun opera -- I dont' want to work hard to understand it, I just want to sit back and enjoy.

If I ever do get a copy, you are all invited to come watch.

When? New Year's Eve, of course!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Like Father, Like Daughter

We started a new family tradition this year.

Motza"sh (Saturday night) is Star Trek night.

We started at the beginning (chronologically), and will watch an episode of Star Trek every Motza"sh until we've finished.

When Moshe first proposed this "project", I pointed out that it will take years to watch every episode. "That's right," was Moshe's simple response. "OK," I acquiesced.

Along the way, we've come up with the ground rules:
Whoever is home, watches.
Whoever is not home, can watch it on their own during the week.
If we are all not home, we will watch it together during the week.

It can be difficult to schedule Star Trek during the week, but it can be done.

Last Motza"sh we were all out, so we scheduled Star Trek night for Wednesday night (tonight).

At 8:00 pm, just before we began watching tonight's episode, A started crying in pain. She had severe pain in her ear. The doctor said that we needed to bring her in.

"I don't want to go to the doctor," A protested.

For a moment I thought she was afraid, or maybe just too tired. She quickly dispelled that thought.

With tears in her eyes, A looked at me and implored: "What about Star Trek?"

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Lost & Found -- Like Mother, Like Child

This morning, it was cold & rainy.

I went to grab my jacket on my way out.... and discovered that it wasn't there.

After a brief search of strange places where I might have deposited my jacket in a moment of confusion, I realized that it was not to be found.

I grabbed a thick sweater, prayed not to get soaked, and started mentally retracing yesterday's steps.

I figured out where I must have left it.

Indeed, my jacket was there, and I was able to pick it up with no problem.

All the way there and back, I couldn't help thinking:
"I am just like my kids.....
No wonder they keep forgetting their coats/bags/sweaters/you-name-it.....
They are just like their mother."

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Crockpots -- not just for Shabbos anymore

Thanks to Robin, for inspiring this post. Check out her blog Around the Island

My childhood memories of dinner were not always pleasant. I hated most vegetables, and my mom made me eat them because "they are good for you." The thing is, I have these memories because my mom made a proper dinner every night, complete with protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables. My kids will not have these memories.

Dinner is the bane of my existence.
(as are sandwiches for aruchat esser (10:00 am snack) -- more on that in another post)

The thing is, I am tired when dinner time arrives. And I don’t really like cooking to begin with. And the only way I can consistently get my kids to eat vegetables is in soup. So, I am always struggling to put something nutritious onto our dinner table.

One of my most difficult dinner days is Mondays. I teach swimming on Mondays, and we don’t get home until late.

Last year, I decided I needed a better solution for Monday night dinners.

Then, I had an epiphany: The Crock-Pot (slow cooker)

We received our slow cooker as a wedding gift from a good friend and I used it for making pareve (no meat/dairy) chullent (unique traditional Shabbat stew).

I wanted to keep the cooker pareve, but I had a radical idea: I could use it for cooking pareve meals during the week.

This might seem pretty straight forward to you, but it took me over ten years to come up with this idea.

The first time I used the slow cooker for something other than chullent, I wasn’t sure what I was doing.

My theory was: if you throw a bunch of vegetables in a pot with a lot of water, and slow cook them all day, the net result has to be good.

So that’s what I did. I took all the vegetables we had in the house, cut them up small, added water and set the slow cooker on low.

When we returned from the pool that evening, and entered the main stairwell, there was a wonderful smell coming from someone’s apartment.

Imagine our delight when we entered our apartment and realized that the delicious smell was coming from our home!

It was amazing!!

I started making stews every week. I experimented with different combinations of legumes. I often added TVP (textured vegetable protein) to add protein. I "mixed and matched".

Everything I made was delicious! I couldn’t go wrong!

All I needed was a half hour or so to cut up vegetables and sort legumes.

As I cut and sorted, I dumped everything into the pot. Then, when the pot was ¾ of the way full, I filled up the rest of the pot with pre-boiled water from the kum-kum (electric kettle that all Israelis have).

That’s it.


I learned a few things along the way:

If there are legumes, the stew needs longer to cook (I don’t pre-soak them). Beans and peas take the longest to get soft. Lentils take less time. Red lentils take the least amount of time. If I get home and the legumes are a little too crunchy, I cheat. I take out my zapper and blend the soup.

Once, I left the leftovers in the pot, added more vegetables, and kept it cooking. The stew was even better the next day.

I have this idea that in the "olden days" people used to do that -- keep a pot over the hearth and just keep adding more vegetables.

The constant cooking heats the house as well.

Warm stew in a warm home -- what could be better on a cold winter day?

I haven’t made my Monday stew in a while.

Since my recent diagnosis, getting a nutritious dinner together became even more of a challenge. As tired as I was before, there is no comparison with the tiredness I feel from the chemo.

Then, it got easier -- thanks to friends who help out by making dinner for my family. Now I know that at least once or twice a week, the kids have a proper dinner, including vegetables.

We also hired someone, who helps us out with cleaning and a bit of cooking. She makes really good soup, with plenty of vegetables. And fresh salad too.

Recently, in addition to trying to provide balanced meals, I’ve made more of an effort to sit with my kids and have a “sit-down meal” together (rather than “catch as catch can” meals with everyone fending for themselves). I don’t talk on the phone and I sit with them, even when I’m tired, even when I'm not hungry. It makes a difference.

Yesterday my son actually thanked me for serving “real dinners” lately.

It made me feel good.

I don’t succeed every day. But it’s nice to know that there are some successes along the way, and that someone notices the difference.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

What a Day!

Today started off with great promise!

I managed to get up and get out this morning. I went to a 9:00 art class at Ma'agan. I was running late, and arrived at 9:30.

Lucky for me: the class only begins at 9:30. I wasn't even late!

I wondered if my friend, who had her last chemo session yesterday, would make it to class. She did. That made me happy too! We spent the next 2 1/2 hourse working on our next art project. Fun!

Then I met a cousin, who is in Israel for a visit. We went to lunch and had a GREAT time! She is such an interesting woman!! I really enjoy spending time with her.

I had such a good time, that I lost track of the time, and had to run to pick up my kids and get to the pool.

I should have known that the tide was turning when I ran into three different traffic jams on the way to the pool. Needless to say, I was late. This time, for real.

It wouldn't have been so bad (I was only a few minutes late), had there not been a few more surprises along the way....

My discovery:

A had left her favorite purple fleece sweatshirt in school.

Lucky for A: she remembered and ran back to school to get the sweatshirt.

Unlucky for A: she left the sweatshirt on the sidewalk when she got into my car.

Next discovery:

MD had found the library book he had left at Ofek (gifted & talented program, where he is learning all sorts of cool things), turned that book in, and took out a new book from the library.

Unlucky for MD: he left the new book on a stone wall when he got into my car.
(he doesn't remember the name of the book, but it did have rats on the cover)

My dilemma: do I ignore all this and dash into the water?


I went straight to the office to call Moshe for help.

Unlucky for me: the office was locked!

Did I mention that the battery in my mobile phone had died?

So I went searching for another phone. Found one. Then spent over five minutes trying to describe to Moshe where the kids left their belongings so that he could call someone else (some friend or family living in the Rova) and describe to them where to search for our kids missing items.

By the time I made it to the pool, I was a full 15 minutes late! (which might have been worth it, had the friend actually found the sweatshirt or the book. However, despite her valiant efforts, she did not find either). Meanwhile, I am grateful to the very understanding mom, whose child only had half her lesson! (although it was an EXCELLENT 15 minute lesson)

Maybe things were looking up? Not.

Despite having GREAT classes, there was more "fun" in store.

Next discovery:

When we arrived at the pool, I noticed that MD was about to leave his winter coat in the car.

Lucky for me: I reminded him to bring his coat to the pool (so he would not be cold later in the evening).

Unlucky for me: Someone took his coat (by mistake?).

Did I mention that it was a really nice coat, in good condition, with a hood still attached?

Please note: the hood was detachable and it was still attached!
(If you have kids, you know what a miracle that is!)

We searched for an hour! Nothing.

Then I insisted on driving to the Rova to see if the kids could find their other stuff (even though my friend had searched very thoroughly). Nothing.

We arrived home tired, hungry and discouraged.

I called my cousin, to let her know that I had discovered her nice hand-bag in my car.

(nice to know that we are not the only ones who leave things behind....)

"The only thing I need from the bag is my book," she told me, "my husband and I are reading it for our book club."

Did I mention that, on the way to meet her, I picked up a copy of the book my book club is reading? (how cool is that?)

"If you could mail me the book," she continued, "I would appreciate it. Keep the bag."

What a day!
Net Gain: 1 hand-bag
Net Loss: 1 sweatshirt, 1 library book, 1 winter coat

And the day started out with so well....

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Positive Parenting Moments

In the middle of an interesting conversation, I excused myself from our Shabbat table. I was so tired; I felt that I couldn't sit up any longer. I just wanted to lie down on the couch and participate from there. That lasted a few minutes. Inevitably, the need to sleep prevailed.

I slept soundly for a while, waking occasionally to settle backgammon disputes between my two youngest children. (The eldest was away this Shabbat)

Eventually, the heavy weight of exhaustion lifted. By now, my two kids were playing nicely by my side. I realized that I had the opportunity for some precious “quality time” with my kids.

I had already played backgammon with them earlier in the day, so I called out: “who wants to read to me?”

My youngest jumped at the opportunity. She read one of her short, 8 page English booklets that she received from school. She even read it the full three times, which meant that by the last reading, she read smoothly, with expression. Great!

Now for the real challenge: could I get my son to read to me too?

I went to the bookshelf and picked out one of the books that I had borrowed from friends who somehow managed to get their sons to read in English. Meanwhile, my son brought another book – one of my Bloom County collections.

I started to question his choice, but then thought better of it. If he chose that to read, then go ahead. (why squash his enthusiasm?) He read the first comic strip. He smiled a bit, but didn’t laugh (not surprising, the humor is way over his head). I turned to him and asked: “did you think that was funny?” He answered: “not really.” Gently, I suggested that the humor in that book was for grown-ups and that he might enjoy a kid’s book more….

I picked up the book that I had chosen and, wonder-of-wonders, he read two and a half pages before requesting that I read as well. Wow! I read the remaining two pages of the chapter. And we both felt great! (and curious about what happens next)


Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Advantages to Cancer: #1 Family Comes to Visit

Towards the end of his last visit, my father announced that he intended to visit again, during Chanukah.

I wasn't certain what triggered his desire to come again, so soon. Was it because of the frustration he felt about not having had enough "quality time"? Or was it because he realized how important these visits are for my kids (and me)?

When my kids were born, my mom came to visit every year, but my dad only came once every two years. As Y neared four, my dad determined that he had to visit more often, in order to build a close relationship with the kids.

For a short while, he came to visit, with my mom, twice a year. But then the visits dwindled to once a year, and occasionally once every year and a half.

Maintaining these long distance relationships is tough!

Of course, email helps. And now the kids are old enough for real phone conversations. But nothing is like being there in person.

So I just assumed that my dad was now returning to his previous decision that more frequent visits are good for maintaining long distance relationships.

And then…. it occurred to me that maybe he was coming because I have cancer.

So I asked him.

Well, what do you know?

He decided to come because I have cancer.

I wasn’t really happy about that reason… but I was still happy for him to visit.

I get the bad stuff no matter what. I might as well enjoy the good stuff.

Advantages to Cancer:
#1 family comes to visit

(one day I’m going to make an actual list)

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Computer Problems

I couldn't post for a while.

First, something mysterious was wrong.

Then, when that was solved, some virtual "spam-prevention robot" blocked my blog.

Finally, a "real person" checked out my blog and "cleared" me.

So, there you have it.

Hope to get back to posting more regularly (2-3 times a week).

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Sunday, December 9, 2007

First Time for Everything

This Friday, for the first time EVER, my Shabbat Table was actually set (thanks to my kids) before candle lighting!

Even more amazing, all the food was cooked and on the plata (hot plate) with time to spare!

OK, so I had help.

But still, everything was ready when we lit candles for Hanukah and Shabbat.

When my family (Moshe, the kids, my parents and my sister) gathered around our Shabbat Table, the atmosphere was calm and relaxed.

I wasn't feeling so well, so I lay down on the couch and listened to my family singing Shalom Aleichem (special song welcoming the Shabbat angels) and the other special Shabbat songs that we sing before our Shabbat meal. (it was so relaxing, I even fell asleep for a few minutes)

I awoke as my eldest daughter leaned over to receive her bracha (blessing). I gave brachot (blessings) to all of our children. Then, I (reluctantly) started the process of really getting up.

I was still lying down, wrapped warmly in my blanket, when the words "the plata isn't hot" penetrated my haze.

Oh, no!

I could hear myself informing everyone: "We forgot to plug it in."

I could not believe it, even though I was the one stating the fact.

We had done everything.... except plug in the plata.

This was another "first" -- I never forgot that step before. (Usually, I am neurotic and check the "on-light" on the plata, after I plug it in, just to "make sure")

A few seconds of panic seemed to seize all the grown-ups.

Then, in my quiet haze, the solution was simple; no one would starve.

The food for the evening was piping hot; we would have plenty of hot food for dinner. And, for lunch, we would eat cold food. It would be fine.

It wasn't ideal, but no one complained.

Moshe made kiddush (the blessing over the wine); we washed (our hands); and I made hamotzi (the blessing over the bread).

As we were munching on the delicious whole wheat challot (special Shabbat loaves) that my sister brought, I had an epiphany: we could put the chullent (unique traditional stew that remains on the plata all night and is served for Shabbat lunch) on our neighbor's plata.

Moshe went down to make the request and our neighbor's graciously agreed.

We would have hot food for lunch, after all.

But it really didn't matter.

With my father, mother, sister, husband, son and daughters all around me, I didn't need hot food to feel warm inside.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,