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Monday, June 30, 2008

Not Much Better

Well, the doctor was wrong. I did not feel better this morning.

So I called said doctor, who suggested that I should feel better by tomorrow morning...

So, I am, again, just waiting for this day to be over, in the hope that by tomorrow I really will be feeling better.

It seems kind of minor, what with cancer, and all that, but my ear really hurts!!

The pain radiates all over the right side of my face and neck -- it hurts my jaw! So, it hurts to talk and to chew. Not that I'm all that hungry. The pain made me lose my appetite. Ironically, I have to eat food with the antibiotics. I hope chocolate counts as food.

I also have constant ringing in my ear. It is SO ANNOYING!!


I totally understand why a kid would stick something in their ear. It feels like you want to pop the bubble and let out the pressure. It's like there is a watermellon trying to pop out of your ear!

Last night, I missed my support group and the play put on by the sixth graders (which I have seen every year for years!). This morning I thought I missed the last meeting of my art class, but it was postponed (I felt slightly better when I found that out). And I cancelled swimming lessons (and you know I have to be feeling really bad to cancel that!).

All in all, I am feeling pretty miserable and sorry for myself!!

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

With love and optimism,

Sunday, June 29, 2008

PAIN in my EAR


And it has nothing to do with cancer!

I feel like my ear is going to explode!!

I was in pain all Shabbat. As soon as Shabbat ended, I called the doctor (GP) on duty, who recommended ear drops and ibuprofen. Moshe was worried that that was not enough. So, I called a friend of mine, who is a doctor and lives close by. We went to her home, she looked in my ears, and concurred.

So, I used the ear drops and hoped that I would feel better by the morning.

What a miserable night.

By morning, the pain was radiating all over the right side of my face and neck.

I went to the Medical Center for their walk-in-clinic at 7:30! I never am up that early. But the pain is so bad, I can't sleep. My doctor (GP) was on duty and he prescribed stronger pain medication (CodAcamol) and antibiotics.

I took the medication right away, and managed to sleep for a few hours until the pain woke me up again.

It is mid-day and I can't take another dose of the CodAcamol until this evening.

I am still in agony.

The doctor says I should be feeling better tomorrow.

Meanwhile the pain is unbearable.

I am just waiting for this day to end....

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

With love and optimism,

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I Found It!

Today I spent some time shifting boxes with my daughter. It was not fun, but it was necessary. We did not have much time, and Y did not want me wasting time opening any of the boxes.

When I saw a box labelled "games," I could not resist!

I was hoping to find Boggle and Pente, which I knew were burried somewhere in those boxes (some of which have not been opened in over three years).

As I mentioned before, I haven't seen either of those games since we moved!

Well, I found a bunch of cool games, including.... Pente!

I am so excited!!

The great thing about Pente is that it is an intellectually stimulating game, like chess, but much quicker. Some games last only a few minutes!

I can't wait to play with my kids!

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

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Circus is in Town!

A few days ago, we drove by Teddy Stadium, and I saw a big, giant, PURPLE, circus tent!

Today, I finally contacted Bimot* and found out that there were only two days left!!

(Unless we want to go see the circus in another city.... NOT)


Tonight was my book club meeting and tomorrow night we have a Bar Mitzvah.

What to do??

Now, you regular readers know how much I love my book club. But what could I do?

I briefly debated sending my family without me.... then I rejected that option.

After all.... it's the CIRCUS!!

So, I blew off my book club and went to the MOSCOW WATER CIRCUS with my kids!

Definitely the right choice!

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

With love and optimism,

* Bimot is a local ticketing agency. I organize groups discounts to local shows and performances. If you are interested, you are welcome to join our group.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bar/Bat Mitvah Season

Last Thursday.

Yesterday (Monday).

Today (Tuesday).

And this Thursday.

Thank God, there are a LOT of smachot!!

Keyn Yirbu!! (Let there be more!)

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

With love and optimism,

Thursday, June 19, 2008

So Much Fun!!

We went to such a fun party tonight!!

Seven years ago, our friends, G&SA, moved to the US to get the right (special) education for their kids need. It was the right move for them, though their hearts are still in Israel.

So, they decided to celebrate their son's Bar Mitzvah and their daughter's Bat Mitzvah (which fall out on the same year) in Israel, with family and friends.

Tonight was the "fun get together for friends!"

It was a Rock N' Roll Karaoke Party and it was FUN!!

They invited all their chevra (group of friends) and their chevra's kids. The party was at SA's sister's home, and it was so warm and happy! And there were a ton of kids!!

They had FUN food! The main dish was pizza!! (Did I ever tell you that I originally wanted to get married on a mountain top and serve pizza and ice cream?) There were also baked potatoes, with toppings (sour cream, butter, etc) -- yummm! There was salad and cut up vegetables, so we could pretend the food was healthy.....but not too healthy..... There were cupcakes, funky chocolate candies, jelly beans, watermellon, summer fruits and, of course, yummy birthday cake!

We knew everyone there! (though I needed some help identifying everyone's kids -- they grow so fast!) Our kids didn't know everyone, but they each knew some of the kids.

There were several different karaoke programs and the kids had a blast! Not just the kids. The "grown-ups" weren't about to let the kids have all the fun!!

There were all sorts of funky and fun prizes, to encourage the kids to participate. Of course, the "grown-ups" didn't want to miss out on those either. So you had a house full of people, old and young, in leis, and funky heart/star/cool sunglasses, with flower clips and noisemakers, singing all sorts of songs loudly (and not always on key).

I always tell my kids that it is a parent's job to embarrass his/her children. Well, we certainly did a good job tonight!!

On our way home, my kids made some comments about how I behaved at the party. I teased them back, challnging "I bet I had more fun at the party than you did!" But my kids put me in my place. My eldest retorted, with good humore: "You acted wierd; but they all know you are wierd anyway." "Yeah," piped in my second child, "you already knew everyone!" They all agreed: I acted wierd, with my wierd friends.

So then we got into a not-at-all-serious conversation about being yourself, and being different.

Then, wanting to emphasize going against the grain, Y started telling the joke about the woman who calls her husband on his mobile to warn him that there is a crazy person driving the wrong way on the highway. "What are you talking about?" the man asks his wife. -- At that point, Y and I finished the joke together: "there isn't just one crazy person; they are ALL driving the wrong way!"

As we finished the joke, I got the giggles. "It's not that funny," said my husband. (what a stick-in-the-mud!). Truth is, the joke is not that funny. It doesn't matter. When something tickles my funny bone, I can't stop laughing. The kids think it's very funny. Especially Y. It took me several minutes to stop laughing. I did not mind.

Laughing makes me feel great!

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

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Chasing the Pain

When I remember, I take pain killers before I feel the pain. When I forget, my back reminds me. When I am tired, I forget more often.

It is truly amazing how much pain influences our daily lives. I have a fairly high tolerance for pain. That just means that I can manage without pain killers. But I have less patience and less energy.

As my friend SM, an oncology nurse, explained to me:
"Chasing pain" means that people wait too long to take medication and then it takes longer and higher doses to be effective. If you are able to anticipate the need (prior to increased activity or change in routine) and medicate before you find yourself in trouble, you avoid chasing the pain. It's one of those delicate balancing acts.

Recently, I have been waiting too long.

Yesterday my oncologist asked how many pain killers I take. I told him 6-8 a day. Usually 6.

If I stay on top of things, I take at least 6.

If I take less, it does not indicate that I am in less pain. It just means that I forgot and suffered in silence. (sometimes I am not so silent in my suffering)

My kids know where my pain killers are. I often have my kids bring me my pills, because I do not want to move.

I have boxes scattered all over the house. That way, if I am in pain, I don't have to walk far to get my pills. I have pills by my bedside, by my computer, in the medicine drawer, on the medicine drawer, and in my handbag. I even have a box in my overnight bag, so I don't go away by mistake without any pain medication.

When I take my pain medication on time, I am much more active. I feel great.

Since my activities are limited to begin with, it is important for me to be as active as possible.

This means that I have to remember to take my pain medication BEFORE my back starts hurting.

I have got to develop a system to remember!

Not surprisingly, when I am in the pool, my back pain goes away. I do not know if the pain goes away because I am having such a good time, or if the water alleviates the pressure. Probably both.

Yet another reason to live in the water!

(those childhood fantasies of becoming a mermaid never did quite fade away...)

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

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Shortest Chemo Day Ever!

Finished before noon! (11:45, to be exact)

There really is a God.

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

With love and optimism,

Monday, June 16, 2008

Quiet Times

For the past few days, I have been checking out the blogs that I frequent and not finding any new posts.

I was feeling frustrated, thinking "What is with you guys? Why aren't you writing anything??"

When I realized "Hey, I haven't written anything in a few days either."

I have been so busy, and tired, that I just have not finished any of the g'zillion blog posts that I have started.

Hope to get with it soon.

Thanks for being patient.

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

With love and optimism,

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Shoe Shopping with Teenage Daughters

Hat Tip: This post was inspired by Mother in Israel's recent post about Shoe Shopping with her teenage daughter.

A year and a half ago, we searched all over the place for Shabbat sandals for my eldest daughter. We found... NOTHING. In my frustration, I must have said something like "maybe we'll look for shoes when we go to America (next month)." For, lo and behold, when we got to America (to visit family, not go shopping), she immediately began repeating "You promised me that we would go shoe shopping in America."

I really hate shopping. I would not promise to go shopping for anything... ever. But my sweet daughter repeated that sentance so often, and with such intensity, that I believed her. So, we went shoe shopping.

We went to the first store, which happens to be my all-time-favorite shoe store: Payless. Y did not find any shoes that she liked. I found 3 pairs, for me!

Then we went next door, to a more expensive shoe store. Y did not find any shoes that she liked. I found 2 pairs, for me, on sale!

We went to several more shoe stores. Y did not find any shoes that she liked.

Finally, we went to Target (not just for shoes). Y still did not find any shoes that she liked. I spotted a pair of nice sandals, for $10, that I thought would look nice on her. They did. Y did not like them (surprise!) and declared that she would not wear them. Tired of looking endlessly for the elusive "perfect pair," I persisted.

Eventually, after all other arguments failed, I asked my daughter: "If you have nothing else, will you wear them?" Grudgingly, Y said that she would.

"I'm getting them for you," I announced.

"I'm not going to wear them," she protested.

For $10, I was willing to risk it.

At the checkout line, we had a rerun of the entire conversation.

As I was about to place the shoes on the counter, Y repeated, loudly, "I am not going to wear them."

Once again, I asked, "If you have nothing else, will you wear them?"

"Yes," she repeated, "but you can't make me wear them."

"Please ring them up," I told the cashier, who was holding the sandals, unsure of what to do.

"The sandals are $5," the cashier informed me.

"Great!" I said, turning to Y, "If you don't wear them, we'll save them for A."

Of course, we never did find a pair that Y liked. And, true to her word, since there was nothing else, Y did wear those sandals.

In fact, she wore them until they were falling apart!

Ask me how I felt, when I realized that we needed to go shopping for a new pair of sandals?!

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

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

And Miles to Go Before I Sleep....

I have been so busy with end of year activities and normal life activities, that I have not had a chance to nap.

The exhaustion has finally caught up with me!

I cannot push myself the way I used to.

I am just too tired!

I looked at these naps as a beneficial, but not necessary. I felt they were a luxury.

I was wrong.

I cannot function without the extra sleep.

Sleeping late in the morning is not an adequate substitute.

I need to sleep for an hour or two, mid-day, every day.

When I do that, I have more energy for everything, especially my kids.

I was in an emotional slump today, and I am convinced that it was because I was so tired.

I intended to go to sleep early, but, once again, the kids needed me!

The house is finally quiet. The kids are all asleep.

So, without further ado...

Good night!

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

With love and optimism,

Chemo Day -- Today was a Good Day

Today almost did not happen.

Through a bureaucratic oversight, I had not scheduled chemo for today. When I realized this, two weeks ago, today was already booked up -- not so surprising, since the ward was closed Sunday and Monday for Shavuot. (Translation: everyone who usually gets chemo on Sunday or Monday rescheduled for this Tuesday).

I have everything in order for chemo on Tuesdays: someone regularly picks up my kids from school and brings them home, I have no "extracurricular" activities on my schedule, my kids do not need me to bring them anywhere or pick them up, and someone cooks dinner for us (I do not do anything. My friend coordinates the "dinner project" and makes sure that someone magically turns up on our doorstep with a nutritious meal for my family).

The secretary at the chemo ward did not know the back story. To her, the solution was simple: just come in on Wednesday or Thursday. But, for me, Thursday was impossible and Wednesday was near impossible. I teach swimming on Thursdays. Even if you disregard the fact that I am exhausted after chemo, I could not be certain that I would finish chemo before I needed to be at the pool, teaching my first class. (In fact, I was almost certain that I would NOT be at the pool in time to teach my first class). Wednesday was almost as difficult. Again, disregarding the fact that I would be extra tired on Thursday, and have to push myself that much harder to get to the pool, there was no way I could get to school in time to pick up my kids. When I rescheduled chemo for the Wednesday after my retreat, I went straight from chemo to pick up my kids. That was a short chemo day and, even so, I was late. This was going to be a long chemo day.... Not to mention that I would definitely have to cancel my OT appointment.

As if this would not be bad enough on one day, since I have to wait a week between treatments, I would have to repeat this nightmare the following week!

Ironically, I would have liked to be home on Tuesday, since it was Isru Chag (the day after a pilgrimage holiday in Israel) and the kids have off from school. Isru Chag is like an extra gift day with the kids. But the nightmare of chemo on TWO Wednesdays was enough to motivate me to keep chemo on Tuesday.

The secretary directed me to the head nurse, who would have to approve the addition of any more patients to the day's roster. I explained my entire scenario to the head nurse, who listened patiently and then added me to the list. (God bless her!)

So, I turned up today (Tuesday), with about a thousand other chemo patients.

I was prepared for the worst.

All the nurses, though harrowed, harried, and somewhat harassed, were kind to me.

I finished LATE, around 5:00, and no one, not even once, made any sort of joke or comment about how long it took.

I cannot express how much I appreciate that. It made all the difference in the world to me.

It was a LONG day. I got all three drugs. And no massage! (Due to the extra patients, there was no room available). But the nurses were patient and pleasant and I was happy.

My doctor was even able to squeeze us in (despite the aforementioned bureaucratic oversight), and answered a few of my more urgent questions (the regular exam will wait until next week).

My "coffee and chemo date" was a bit late, due to a combination of his going to the wrong hospital (not again!), my having his old cellphone number, and my cellphone's battery not working. But, all's well that ends well. We still had plenty of time to hang out, and ES brought great food for lunch and BOGGLE, which is one of my all time favorite games! (I am quite competitive at games, and pretty good at Boggle, but ES had an impressive vocabulary (better than mine) and was better at spelling. We were fairly evenly matched.)

I forgot how much I like Boggle. I used to have the game, but have not seen it since we moved, almost four years ago. It must be in the same not-yet-unpacked box as my Pente game-- the best birthday present I ever received until last year, and probably my most favorite game, also missing since we moved....

Anyway, the day passed pleasantly, and soon enough I was home with my kids. I had figured that my kids would be so tired after Shavuot, that they would sleep at least until noon. If I was home, they probably would have. But, instead, they woke up fairly early... for them. A ended up going with her friend, AV, to Keiftzuba (a kids' fun park). When I got home, I spent a bit of time with Y and MD, then Y went off to run a peulah (activity) for her snif (youth group branch). Her madricha (counselor) could not come today, and asked Y to organize a peulah in her stead. MD made pasta for dinner. I just enjoyed the activity and my kids' good moods.

Then, I got a ride to a leil limmud (learning evening) organized for the mothers of my son's class. I was so tired, but I was impressed that one of the mother's initiated such an evening, and I wanted to be supportive. I am glad I went. It was a very nice evening.

When I got home, everyone was in bed.

Y was not quite asleep yet. I asked her how her peulah went. She reported that only three girls came, not enough for the activity. I realized how disappointed she must be. I told her that I would have come....

Then I had an epiphany.

I told her about tonight's leil limmud -- how, out of a class of 24 kids, only four mothers came (not including our hostess). Still, we had a good time, talking and learning. The evening was a success, even though most mothers did not show up.

"But you went," my daughter looked up at me, with a smile.

"Yes," I told her, "I went to be supportive. I would have come to your activity as well...."

She smiled.

Then, she closed her eyes and went to sleep.

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

With love and optimism,

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Neitz? No, Not.

(Hat Tip to Dov Bear, who is valiantly trying to correct generations of improper Hebrew usage....)

When we daven (pray) at sunrise, we are NOT davening "neitz".

נץ = either 1. hawk or 2. bud; blossom (Alcalay, The Complete Hebrew-English Dictionary, p. 1674)

הנץ = shining, glittering, rising (of the sun) (Ibid, p.430)

הנץ החמה = sunrise (Ibid.)

הנץ is pronounced either HAneitz (with a kamatz) or HEneitz (with a segol).

For more details read Dov Bear's posts:
Shavuos is Coming (2005)
Hanetz not Netz (2006)

In his second, more detailed post, he directs curious folk, who want to see proof with their own eyes, to the Kaufmann Codex, at the National Library of Jerusalem. Here is a direct link to the Mishna ברכות א:ז

Moshe found another source: Shir HaShirim 6:11 (here you see the etemological link between rising and budding)

Pronounce it as you will, if you are praying with the rising of the sun, you are either davening "haneitz" or "heneitz."

See you at the crack of dawn!

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

With love and optimism,
"I like to celebrate Shavuot the way my father does," Moshe informed me, that first Shavuot after we married.

I intended to learn all night, then walk to the Kotel (Western Wall) and daven (pray) "haneitz" (at sunrise).

"What does your father do on Shavuot?" I asked Moshe, innocently.

"He goes to shul (synagogue), davens, comes home and eats a seudah (festive meal)," Moshe answered simply.

"And then....?" I prompted.

"And then he goes to sleep." Moshe finished the sentance.

Clearly, Moshe and I had different ideas about celebrating Shavuot.

After dinner, Moshe went to sleep. I met up with my good friend, TS. Together, we went to shiurim, then walked to the Kotel, and, after davening, back home again. Eventually, when my kids were still quite little, I would stop at home, wake them up, and they would join us on our walk to the Kotel.

Before heading back home, we would stop by Moshe's cousins, who live in the Old City. We would hear kiddush (special blessing on wine), have some cheesecake, and catch up on what is new. We would often speak about other issue as well. (One year, they spent the morning trying to convince us to send our kids to a different school)

The husband of another cousin also stops by, and we usually leave together. One year, he carried A, who was really tired, half the way home.

A few years ago, my friend stopped going to the Kotel for morning davening. By then, my kids were enthusiastic about the journey, and old enough to provide company and converstation along the way.

For years, that's how we spent Shavuot.

Then we moved to Homat Shmuel. Though there are families who walk the 1 1/2 hours to and from the Old City, I have initiated a new family tradition. Our family returns to Katamon for Shavuot. This way, not only can I continue to attend a multitude of shiurim in English, I also enjoy the shorter 1/2 hour walk to the Old City. For the past three years, our friends, J & NS, have graciously opened their home to us. This year, it as already a hazakah (established precedent). We were pleased to discover that we were expected, even before we officially made the arrangements. :-)

Two years ago, for the first time, Moshe joined me for the first shiur, before heading back to our hosts to go to sleep.

Last year, for the first time, Moshe and the kids joined me for the first shiur of the evening. Then the kids went back to sleep and Moshe accompanied me to all the shiurim. It was so nice walking from shiur to shiur with him, discussing the various subjects along the way.

We will see what will be this year...

Chag HaBikurim Sameach!! (Happy Holiday!!)

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

With love and optimism,

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Books, Books & More Books

We did it! We went back tonight!

Boy was the book fair crowded!

I almost did not go. I was tired. My back hurt. I knew that I would be happy if I decided to go. But I was feeling kind of sluggish. Moshe would not tell me to come. "It is up to you," he said, careful not to put any pressure on me.

A jumped at the chance to go: "Can I go? I don't have school tomorrow!"

I decided to push myself and join them. After all, it was the last night of Shavua HaSefer HaIvri (Hebrew Book Week).

Y came home, just as we were leaving, and jumped on the bandwagon.

And then we were four. (MD was at a sleepover birthday party)

We arrived and were immediately caught up in the festive atmosphere. Y met tons of friends. I did too.

Once again, we passed by Olam HaTanach. Maybe next year...

Moshe picked out a few more books. (elah ma? -- what else did you expect?)

I did too.

Last year, I really wanted to get Yerushalayim V'Chol Netivoteha (Jerusalem -- A Walk Through Time), published by Yad Ben-Zvi. My problem: I could not decide whether to purchase the book in English or Hebrew. The Hebrew version is slightly more comprehensive, but it is easier for me to read in English. I decided to wait until "next year" to decide.

A year passed and I still did not know which version to get.

The Hebrew book is nicer, in hard cover, and cheaper. The English copy is more expensive, comes only in a soft cover, and is in two volumes (making it lighter, but less durable).

I really wanted the Hebrew, but I worried that I would not use it as much. I knew that I would use the English.

"I want to just get both" I said to Moshe.

"So, why don't you?" Moshe asked.

Just like that. The solution was so simple.

Normally, I would be filled with self-doubt.

Not this time.

I will use both copies.

When I want to go on a particular tour, I will read about it in English first, then I will read the Hebrew.

Even if I mainly use the English, it is still worth it to have both.

When my kids are interested, they will read the Hebrew.

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

With love and optimism,

Thursday, June 5, 2008

No More Room on Our Bookshelves!!

My husband and I both have a serious illness.

My name is Rivka and I am a bookaholic.

I do not allow myself to go to bookstores anymore. It is too dangerous. I cannot leave without a book.

The pile of books next to my bed became unmanageable! So, two weeks ago, I moved all the books to the coffee table in our living room. (they are still there)

Mysteriously, a new pile has already formed.

We need to build more bookshelves! (but who has the time....)

This week is Shavua HaSefer (National Book Week). In the plaza of the former Jerusalem train station, all major and minor publishers have set up stands where books are sold at discount prices. (I suspect that some publishers raise the base price before the sale begins...)

Last year, Moshe and I went together, and exhibitted tremendous self restraint; though Moshe did go back a second night. (see post)

This year, Moshe was determined to go several times to Shavua HaSefer, so he would have enough time to browse. He was like a little boy, trying to figure out when he could go to the candy shop! He has been twice already!

Tonight, we went together (Moshe's third visit).

I was tired, but I am glad I went. It was nice to walk around together.

We looked at books, discussed all sorts of interesting topics, and, once again, exhibited extraordinary self-discipline.

But I am not patting us on the back yet....

We might go again on Saturday night!

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

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Some Days are Like That....

We are smack in the middle of end-of-the-year-celebrations!

I did not get a chance to post about yesterday's phenomenal program -- starting with the tour led by the 6th graders, and ending with performances by the 1st through 5th grade classes.

I am too tired to post about today's program -- starting with music, dance, and theatrical performances, followed by a combination of touring and project presentations, by my daughter's 8th grade. We left before the program was over to go to....

My two daughters' gymnastics presentation.... which I am also not going to post about now.

In short, I have had two LONG days and I am EXHAUSTED!

I should have gone to sleep as soon as I got home.

Instead, I had a fight with my son (because he acted in an age-appropriate way -- i.e. like a kid -- and I did handle the situation properly)

Then I ran away. (in a manner of speaking)

I really wanted to go to this month's laughter workshop. I really needed to laugh. And my youngest daughter was eager to come with me! (How special is that?!) But the workshop was across town and I was too tired to drive.

So I went to our monthly English Rosh Hodesh Shiur (class). The shiurim (classes) are always interesting and it is really nice to hang out with other English speakers.

I was running late, and got confused. I went into the building, but I could not find the apartment for the shiur. I walked up and down the stairs, and finally gave up.

Then, I looked at the piece of paper in my hand and realized I was in the wrong building!

I walked up the hill, to the right building. When I entered, the speader expressed her frustration about people arriving late and interupting the flow of the shiur. I almost burst out crying.

I sat there, barely listening, just trying to compose myself.

I did not want to interupt again by leaving, and I did not want to call attention to myself by crying.

I know the woman who gave the shiur, and she has always been so nice to me. I knew there must have been something else going on (apparently there had been many interuptions before I arrived). I struggled to focus on the shiur, and listen to the insightful things she had to say. After the shiur was over, I apologized for the interuption. But then I made the mistake of mentioning that I almost broke down in tears.

I really should have just stayed home and gone to bed.

Did I mention that my daughter, Y, thanked me for coming with her today and told me she had a really nice time?

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

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Little Things

It's the little things that make us "lose it."

I can handle cancer.

But when I go to the municipality and the manager is rude to me, I break down crying in front of a hundred people.

I can handle cancer, because I devote 100% of my resources to handling cancer.

There are no resources left to handle the little things.


My son, he's doing great too. He can handle having a mom with cancer.

But, today, when he needed to get to school by a certain time, and he did not know who would be bringing him, he got really anxious.

This afternoon, he did not want to leave school, because he did not know how he was getting back. (School ended at 12:00 and he had to be back by 3:30)

I took it for granted that I would be taking him.

But I guess I did not convey that clearly to my son.

When he got home, he was really upset that I had not told him what our plans were.

I cannot fault him for being worried. Every two out of three Tuesdays, I am not home when he gets home, because I am at chemo. And, at least one, if not two, of those two Tuesdays, I come home quite late. (after 3:30)

Furthermore, when I do, finally, come home from chemo, I crash. I am tired. I go straight to bed.

So, my son does not take it for granted that I will be available on a Tuesday afternoon and able to take him back to school.

My son is a normal, little kid. But he does not have a "normal" mother.

So, a little thing, like getting to school by 3:3o, is suddenly monumentally important. (Never mind that these school events NEVER start on time)

It is the importance of getting there on time, which catches us off guard, and reminds us how precarious our childrens' security is.

It is the little things, about which we need to be so careful, that keep our children ballanced and their world stable.

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

With love and optimism,

Monday, June 2, 2008

Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day)

I have it all worked out:

I pick up the kids when school ends (early, at around noon), pray that the police haven't closed off the Rova (Old City) parking lot yet, park my car in the lot, and walk into town with the kids, where we have a picnic in Gan HaAtzma'ut (Independence Park) under a tree (where I try to convince my kids that we are not dying of heat) and wait until 5:00 when flags are distributed (it is a challenge for a nice, polite, American mother to get flags for her three cute, young kids, when there are MANY big, strong boys pushing through and grabbing flags for their ENTIRE youth group, school, or whatever) and the rikudgalim (flag-dancing or dancing-flags) parade begins. We walk and dance, and sing, and walk and dance down Yafo (Jaffa) Street; then we follow the crowds in through Sha'ar Sh'chem (Damascus Gate), through the narrow, hot and crowded streets that lead to the Kotel (Western Wall) Plaza. We arrive, hot, sweaty, and tired. We do not daven (pray) or join any more dancing. We eat and drink, then trudge back to our car (greatful that it is inside the Rova), drive home (passing all those poor people who have to walk an extra half hour to their cars or the nearest buses -- no, there are no cabs available!), and collapse (sometimes I can actually get the kids to shower first, but most years I let them fall into bed and just wash their sheets the next day).

Ever since my kids were little, we did this EVERY year, on Yom Yerushalayim.

Last year, I was too tired and begged out, which turned out to be a bracha (blessing) because it was POURING rain and everyone who went came back FILTHY, wet and exhausted (and if that is how teenagers came home, imagine what it would have done to me and my kids!)

This year, however, I planned to do it again! (Yes, I really am a crazy lady!)

I was a little worried, because my kids' big all-day, end-of-year, school event is tomorrow. I did not know how I would manage with two big energy draining days in a row. Not to mention that Y has an all day school event the following day, which means that I would have three big energy draining days in a row!

So, I kept debating with myself about whether I could really manage this, and how bad would it really be if I decided that I was too old/tired/whatever, to keep doing this.....

In the end, I decided that I would push myself to do it anyway, for my kids.

Until this morning when I realized that:

1. Y could go with her youth group. (she expressed her desire to go with me, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy, but I knew that she would have a lot more fun with her youth group!)

2. MD had Sayarut (Scouts) and would want to go to that. (Sure enough, he called from school to ask if he could to to a friend's house and from there to Sayarut.)

Which just left A, who then called and asked to come with me to the pool today.

Well, that made my life easier.

I emailed/called all my students' parents to make sure they realized we had swimming lessons today (I had forgotten to confirm or cancel classes for Yom Yerushalyim, so I had to call them either way).

Then A and I went to the pool. A played. I taught.

And I thanked God that my kids were growing up.

Because, truthfully, though I love the rikudgalim, I really was too tired to do it this year.

Maybe it is the cancer; maybe it is my age; maybe it is a little of both.

I am happy to gracefully bow out, and let the next generation take over!

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

With love and optimism,

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Crossing Bridges

My daughter needs help studying for her math test on Monday. I told her that I would help her study on Sunday afternoon. Rather than relief, she felt anxious.

"What if you are too tired to help me?" she cried.

I do not expect to be too tired, but her concern is not unfounded. Sometimes I get very tired, very suddenly (or after a very busy morning, which I will have this Sunday).

My daughter learned a new expression last night:

"We will cross that bridge when we come to it," I told her, trying to calm her fears.

I had to explain the meaning to her. It was kind of cute. But she got it.

She looked up at me, from under her covers, with her slightly moist, bright, beautiful eyes.

She needed additional reassurance.

Now that she understood the meaning, I repeated our new mantra:

"We will cross that bridge when we come to it."

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

With love and optimism,