Powered by WebAds

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More Sukkot Fun!! Join Me on Wednesday!!

Sukkot Solidarity Bus Tour:
"Wine, Cheese and Water in the Heart of the Shomron"
Wednesday, 4th day of Chol HaMoed,19 Tishrei,
7 October 2009

8:15 am - 8:00 pm

Subsidized Cost: 25 NIS per person (children under 5 free)
***** cost does not include food or drink *****

Don’t forget to bring water and snacks!

We will be stopping at local Shomron businesses – patronize and show your support!

JOIN US for a bus tiyul, with an English tour guide, through the magic hills of the Shomron. Following an introduction at Elon Moreh, we will visit the organic vinyards of Yitzhar and the agricultural farm at Itamar, where we will have the opportunity to purchase their unique products. If time allows, we will also visit Har Kabir, Nachal Tirtza, and Ma’ayan El Kabira.

Participants from all over Israel and the world will tour different areas of the Shomron, and we will conclude the day with a “Salute to Yehuda and Shomron” event, with public figures and delegations from Israel and abroad.

I am organizing a bus (maybe two) of friends -- we did something similar on Pesach a few years ago, and it was a lot of fun spending the day together.


For more information and registration: Rivka Matitya
or 052-380-0344

This tour is sponsored by The World Likud Movement.
Participation is open to all - NOT limited to Likud members!

Space limited – registration on a first come, first served basis!

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

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


****** Don't miss our JBloggers picnic! ******

It might not surprise you to learn that I have a tough time on Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur has always been tough for me, for different reasons, primarily because I did not fast well nor was I into davening (praying) ALL day.

I am still not into davening all day, but, these days, fasting is not a problem. With my current chemo, I have no appetite. Normally, I have to force myself to eat, at least twice a day, so I can take my chemo after food. My oncologist said I could skip my morning dose, so I did not have to eat at all, which suited me just fine. I still had to drink, which was also just fine, since the chemo makes me VERY thirsty, all the time!

I am so past all the angst about drinking while the rest of the Jewish world is fasting (I have posted about that topic here). God gave me cancer, God knows I have to drink. If anyone has a problem with that, they can take it up with God. I am too tired to feel guilty about drinking and I am too anxious to worry about anything other than my prayers!

After missing almost all of Rosh HaShanah davening, I was preoccupied with making it to at least some of the significant tefillot (prayers) on Yom Kippur, particularly Kol Nidre and Ne'ilah. (I managed to make it for both of these tefillot as well as most of Musaf)

The thing is, davening itself is hard. Praying for your life takes on a whole new meaning, when you have cancer. If I maintain an emotional distance, then I can also maintain my composure. But when that barrier is broken, so am I.

The thing is, we are not meant to maintain an emotional distance when we daven. The power of our prayer is greatest when we are emotionally open and vulnerable to God.

But does the whole world have to see it??

There were several points during my tefillot when I was overcome, and could not stop myself from crying. It took all my energy to contain my emotions and not draw attention to myself.

The first time it happened, I realized I forgot to bring tissues!! Luckily, the Rebbetzin was sitting in front of me, and her daughter had a stack of tissues on her chair. (Still, you better believe I remembered to bring my own tissues the next day!!)

My youngest daughter was concerned when she saw me cry; she did not understand at first. Eventually she realized that she just had to let me cry, and she did her best to console me, as did my eldest. It was comforting to be surrounded by my daughters.

Nevertheless, I felt exposed.

My soul was bared, without my consent, and the entire congregation of women bore witness. I did not want that.

In reality, I do not really know how many women noticed, since I did not look up or around. But I felt exposed. And I felt embarrassed.

Men have the luxury of being able to hide their faces with their tallitot (fringed prayer shawl, traditionally worn only by men). Women have nothing.

After tefillot (prayers), I found it difficult to greet the other women. When possible, I avoided their eyes. I did not want to find myself staring into the "sad, knowing eyes" of people who really do not know (thank God). Rather than hang around talking, I just wanted to go home and go to sleep.

It was a little better the next day, because I was more prepared. But this issue resurfaced at least twice.

By the end of the day, I was able to smile and greet my friends, though I still found myself avoiding the eyes of the women I don't know so well.

My only comfort comes from a parable I heard years ago:

One Yom Kippur night, several talmidim (students) were surprised to find their Rebbe (Rabbi) crying inconsolably in the Beis Medrash (Beit Midrash - study hall). The talmidim rushed to the Rebbe's side, asking "Rebbe, what's wrong?" After a long pause, the Rebbe answered, through his sobs, "On Yom Kippur, if we are not crying when we pray to Hashem (God), then you should ask 'what's wrong.'"

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

With love and optimism,

Saturday, September 26, 2009

JBLOGGERS PICNIC -- Come One, Come All!!

First JBloggers Jerusalem Picnic!

Monday, October 5
2nd day of Chol HaMoed, 17th of Tishrei

Starting: 2:30 pm

Ending: 6:30 pm (or whenever the last person leaves)

Meeting Place: Gan Sacher ('cause they got a sukkah!) by the Giant Japanese Bell
(The bell is at the end of the park closest to the bus station and the Kraft Family Stadium)

Free Parking: by Beit HaChayal and Kraft Stadium (a short walk from the park)

Buses: Go to the Egged website and plug in your starting point and your destination.

Cost: FREE

What to Bring: Food, drink, a picnic blanket, frisbees, etc.

Who is welcome: All bloggers, all lurkers, all family! Basically, anyone who wants to come and hang out with us!

Registration is not necessary, but would be cool. Please fill out this form.


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

With love and optimism,

Thursday, September 24, 2009

How Cool is That??

So, I'm lying in bed at around 9:30 pm, trying to figure out what to eat so that I can take my second dose of chemo, when the phone rings.

It is my girlfriend, BS, who is spending the month in a month long study program, in the Judean dessert.

She called to tell me she found a ride to Jerusalem, and she is on her way. She will stay the night, then we will have time to hang out tomorrow for a few hours, until she makes her way back to the desert.

She took the ride, even before she called, 'cause she knew it would be ok!

It is SO COOL that my friends still feel comfortable enough just calling and coming!!

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

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wonder of Wonder, Miracle of Miracles (bonus post -- main post below)

My son (13) cleaned his room today, on his own initiative.

Mashiach (redemption) is on the way!

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

With love and optimism,

Radiation Relationships

It's not to late to add your input about Monday's Blogger picnic -- the vote is pretty evenly split between Gan Sacher and Park Gilo. For more details and to leave a comment, see my previous post.

Radiation therapy draws its unsuspecting victims into an alternative universe.

For 20 consecutive days, excluding Friday and Shabbat, I descended into the darkest depths of Machon Sharett, the cancer ward at Hadassah Ein Kerem. Then I trudged down the long, dimly lit corridor, until I reached the last door on my left, room 38.

I really could get into painting this "gloom and doom" picture, but it really would not give you an accurate picture, nor is it really the point of this post.

True, the radiation department is on the bottom floor of Machon Sharett. Also true, my radiation room was at the end of a very long, rather dim hallway (though better than I remembered from my last radiation treatments).

But I did not "trudge" to some ominous destination, and I certainly was not a victim.

Besides, this post is not about the journey, but rather the people we meet and the mysterious magic that happens when strangers meet, day after day, for weeks on end.

I spent the first few days of radiation in a haze, still in shock from my diagnosis and how fast my doctor scheduled me to begin radiation. It took me time to get into a routine. After a few days, I figured out what time works best for me to get to the hospital (around 10:00), where and how to park (give my "date"/driver the parking permit, and get on line while she parks), how much time I can expect to be there (20 minutes to an hour), and what my day will look like afterwards (SLEEPY).

By the third or fourth day, I could pick my head up out of the water enough to notice the people around me.

By the middle of the second week, I recognized the "regulars," most notably:

1. The solemn elderly Russian lady who, when I smiled at her, looked up and flashed me a gold-toothed smile. A few days later, I tried to talk with her, but could not understand her friendly response... in Russian. With no real common language, our exchanges consisted of very simple dialogue and hand signals.

2. The sweet older South African couple, with whom I established a real friendship. They came from out of the city, and arrived every day around the same time as I. I loved watching them together, so attentive of one another. (I know you are reading this, but it is true!)

This couple is the inspiration for this post.

You see, for almost a full month, we saw each other every day. Once we became friendly, we also spoke almost every day. We shared details about our lives, our families, our friends.

In the waiting area, our lives became intensely connected.

It is a very strange phenomenon -- this sudden connection and just as sudden disconnect.

Strangers become close friends, and then, in an instant, the day radiation is over, we return to our "normal" lives, and our "normal" circle of friends.

To a certain extent, this dynamic is also true about the radiation staff. Though the staff tends to keep a professional distance, some technicians are friendlier than others (if you are reading this, you know who you are!). Some of us even remember each other from my previous radiation (tw0 years ago, to my left hip).

I really appreciated it when the staff members treated me as a person, and not just a patient. It made the process a little less scary. For a few seconds, I could pretend I am out visiting friends and not in the hospital getting my brain zapped.

The relationship is even more intense, since I am relying on these people to get everything right. I was pretty nervous about the whole brain radiation, and every day I had another question or two. As I got more answers, I felt increasingly confident about my treatment.

And then, as with the other patients, one day it was over. These people, in whose trust I placed my life, and who I saw every day, are now... in another world.

They exist in an alternative universe, one I hope not to visit again.

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

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

JBloggers Picnic -- Speak now or forever hold your peace

It looks like the best day for the Jbloggers picnic will be Monday of Chol HaMoed, in the afternoon/evening (starting around 2:30, ending around 5:30, maybe later???)

The two parks under consideration are Park Gilo and Gan Sacher.

Park Gilo -- lots of benches, lots of shade, probably quieter and more intimate
Gan Sacher -- central location (everyone knows where it is)

Both parks have parking (Gilo has more free parking).
Both parks are accessible by bus (probably more buses go to Gan Sacher, but I'm not sure)

Regarding a succah: I have not been able to find out if there are any parks in Jerusalem with a Succah. BUT....

1. we are meeting "in between" meals, so that should alleviate most of the conflict (what?? a Jewish event without food???? couldn't be!)

2. bring fruit and vegetable snacks (they are good for you heart!)

3. women aren't chayav (obligated) in succah, so it's just the men who have a problem!! (did I just say that????)

4. seriously, I can't work miracles. Isru chag was too difficult for most people, so figure out what works for you and deal with it! This is supposed to be fun!!

If you want your input to count, tell me now.

I will post the final date/time/place after Yom Kippur.

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

With love and optimism,

Monday, September 21, 2009

People Believe What They Want to Believe

I am not secretive about having cancer, nor about the fact that I will always have cancer.

Yet so many people are surprised that I "still have cancer."

I don't get it.

What did they think I meant, when I said "I will always have cancer"?

Is "always" finite? Did "forever" end?

People believe what they want to believe. They see the way I look; they see the way I act, and they draw their own conclusions.

They ask how I am doing, and I answer honestly, "I am doing well." Often, I include that I am tired. But most of the time I am fine, and I say so.

That is all most people want to hear. That is all they want to know.

If I was not feeling fine, I would not be out and about. I would be home, maybe even in bed; you would not see me.

People who really want to know how I am doing, check my blog. Or, they ask me specific questions regarding my current treatments.

Most people do not really want to know.

That is OK.

The cognitive dissonence helps my children (and me) maintain an illusion of normalcy. It is not such a big deal to have a mother who "had cancer."

My kids don't have patience for all the well-meaning adults who ask them in an overly compasionate way "mah shlom Ima?" (How is your mother doing?) They wonder why these people do not just ask me themselves, if they really want to know.

Thank God, my kids are polite. So, like me, when asked how I am doing, they tell the truth: I am tired, but I am fine.

Read into that what you will.

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

With love and optimism,

Sunday, September 20, 2009


About an hour before Rosh HaShanah, my sister popped over to wish us all a Shanah Tovah.

She brought me some beautiful flowers -- snow white, with a deep purple fringe on top. (Purple is my favorite color.)

My eldest trimmed the stems and placed them in a vase. I felt the stems were cut too short for that vase and moved them to shorter vase; the flowers stemmed out beautifully. I proudly showed my daughter the difference.

Last night, when I went to place the flowers on the table, I noticed they were all droopy.

I commented to my eldest that the flowers were pretty, but they did not last long.

My daughter took a closer look at the vase and noted "Ima, when you moved the flowers, you forgot to add water."

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

With love and optimism,

Thursday, September 17, 2009

MRI - Good News! (Medical Update)

"Can the radiation make the tumors go away?" I asked, first to my oncologist, then the radiologist, then the head of radiology.

I was devastated by the discovery of brain mets. I could not accept that the brain mets would not go away.

"Sometimes the tumors shrink from radiation," I was told, with reservation.

"But can they be totally destroyed?" I persisted.

"Rarely," I was told, by caring doctors who did not want to give me false hope.

The main goal of the radiation was to stop the tumors from growing any further.

That was not good enough for me. I prayed every day, during my five minutes of radiation, for the radiation to completely destroy the tumors.

Well, the tumors might not be 100% gone, but they have certainly lost some of their power!

We have not yet received the written report, but the images look a lot cleaner! We only saw one or two "shadows," only one of which is still a remnant of a tumor, according to my doctor's analysis (though he is the first to acknowlege that he is not a radiologist).

My doctor, upon reading the report, sent me the following message right away:

got the report of your MRI and the improvement we thought we saw is REAL.

This does not mean that I am done with brain mets. Like the bone mets, brain mets never goes away. Still, I doubt anyone expected such good results.

Thank you all so much for your prayers!! God is listening!!

I cannot think of a better way to start the new year!

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

With love and optimism,

The Rebbetzin's Visit

I was honored when the Rebbetzin from our shul (synagogue) called to ask if she could come visit me.

The Rabbi of our shul is a soft spoken, gentle, and religiously conservative man. His wife, the Rebbetzin, is also quiet and reserved. She intimidates me. I am not sure why.

One Rosh HaShanah, I felt her looking at me and my girls. Afterwards, she approached me to tell me how nicely my daughters sang during davening (praying), and what a pleasure it was to daven with them. I had interpreted her glances as disapproval of our singing. I was so wrong.

I do not know either of them well. I know (at least, I think I know, never having had the nerve to talk with either of them about this) that they would both disapprove of my liberal, feminist approach to Torah. I do not even ask the shul to announce our women's megillah reading on Purim, lest the Rabbi speak out against it.

In so many ways, I feel that we are not really from the same world.

Yet, we share something profoundly deep, that brings our worlds so very close together. We all know what it is like to live with cancer.

The Rabbi and Rebbetzin lost a child to cancer.

They know all about what I am going through, without my having to tell them anything.

That said, they might not have realized that I have been dealing with cancer the whole time I am living here. After all, I looked healthy. Only this summer did I lose my hair (including part of my eyebrows), giving me "the look" of someone with cancer.

So, I imagine the awareness that I am still dealing with cancer prompted the Rebbetzin's visit. I appreciated her initiative.

I warned her that my home is a major disaster zone, but she was totally cool about it.

It was a really nice visit. We talked about where I am at with the cancer, about my kids, and my background. The time flew by.

As she moved to get up, I realized that I had done most of the talking. The Rebbetzin had mainly asked questions. She seemed so interested in my stories, I just kept talking.

I would have liked to learn more about her as well.

I only had the pleasure of attending one of her shiurim (classes), before I stopped attending the Shabbat afternoon round-robin shiurim for women on a regular basis. It was an impressive shiur, well structured, and interesting.

I know that I could learn from her. I would love to ask her questions too.

I hope she will take the time to visit again.

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

With love and optimism,


My youngest daughter called me today, crying hysterically.

It took me a good several minutes to calm her down so that she can tell me what hurts.

Meanwhile, I am far from home and trying to think who I can call to take her to the ER.

She finally calms down enought to tell me she has broken..... the blender.

"OK, but are you hurt?" I repeat.

"No, but I broke the blender...." she bawls into the phone.

"It's just a thing," I tell her, but she is still crying.

"We'll get a new blender," I reassure her, "the important thing is that you are not hurt."

She's still crying when she blurts out, "but the blender was almost new..."

"Are you hurt?" I ask again, wondering if maybe she's bleeding. It was a glass blender.

"No," she repeats.

"Then don't worry," I say again, "we'll get another new blender."


When I relay this conversation to my husband, he asks "Wasn't our blender kind of old?"

"No," I gently inform him, "we got rid of that one. She was using a new one."


(thanks to Treppenwitz, whose post inspired this one)

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

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I'm Famous!! (and nobody told me!)

Check it out!!

I'm on the front page of the Jerusalem Post on-line edition!

jpost.com (update: I was only on the front page on Wednesday, September 16th. Not to worry, you can still watch my video interview at the link below.)

video of me!

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

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

MRI - A Different Experience

So, I called Hadassa Ein Kerem on Sunday, and the person I needed to speak with was not there. To my pleasant surprise, the secretary (not someone I spoke with before) gently asked if, perhaps, she could help me.

She seemed so nice, I calmly explained the situation to her. Unfortunately, she could only put me on the waiting. I was not satisfied with this, but she very kindly explained that I would get an earlier appointment, she just did not know when yet; someone would call me. At the same time, she encouraged me to call often, as that might speed things up.

In the end, I received a call later that evening, with an appointment for 10:30 pm, the following night!

So, Monday night, after our final aseifat horim, we went straight to Hadassah EK. At night, parking is a lot easier, as was everything else. We had to register at the Emergency Room reception. It was quiet there and I just waited a few minutes before a very sweet young woman filed my forms. Then I went to the MRI department.

The secretaries do not work there at night. So, I waited for one of the technicians to come and take my forms.

In the meanwhile, there was a heated discussion going on between the five other people waiting about whether a Rav (Rabbi) can choose who to service or whether he is a shaliyah tzibbur (emmisary of the people) and has to attend to the needs of anyone who turns to him. There were two hareidi (ultra-Orthodox) couples arguing with a woman who might have been secular, (her clothes were modest and loose-fitting, but she was wearing pants and no head covering), but who I suspect was either traditional or modern religious. She certainly was not anti-religious. It was a good natured, but heated discussion. I joined right in (אילה מה - what did you expect?). I "look" religious (I always cover my hair and I was wearing a skirt), so the couples assumed I would agree with them, but I actually agreed with the woman. They were talking about a very well-know Rabbi who had refused to read a letter that was sent to him from a woman. I actually found it quite offensive that the Rabbi dismissed the letter, but the tone of the discussion was quite friendly, so I did not pursue that point.

After a short time, a young woman was wheeled out (in a wheelchair) from the MRI rooms. It turns out, she is someone I know from Beit Natan. A few years ago, she had breast cancer. Now, here she is, still so young, and she just had surgery to remove a tumor from her brain. I was shocked, though I tried not to show how worried I was for her. She found the tumor because had been suffering from headaches. How many women do I know who were just diagnosed with brainmets? I think this makes 6? My doctor's words echoed in my head "with symptomatic brain tumors... 2 years would be considered a long time."

When I was called in, I started feeling anxious. I mentioned to the attending physicians that the last time I had an MRI, they burst a vein and it was very painful.

Dr. Michael, the male Russian doctor who put in the needle for the contrast, did not seem particularly gentle. He chose a location, in my upper arm, that scared me. I expected it to be very painful, despite his reassurances. I closed my eyes, and focussed on my breathing to try and stay relaxed and calm. I felt a small prick and that was it! I was amazed! He might be my new favorite!

The technician, Andre, also Russian, was constantly smiling and was so nice. I recognized him from the last time. There was also an American woman working there who I recognized, who is also nice and helpful. She checked in with me several times during the radiation, to make sure I was ok.

I was worried when they injected the contrast, but besides the cool sensation I did not feel anything. I was able to relax after that and actually slept through the rest of the MRI.

When we left, I realized that this visit, with the empty corridors and the quiet calm, left me feeling much more relaxed. I almost felt bad about my rant a few days ago...

I might even write a letter about how wonderful Dr. Michael is...

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

With love and optimism,

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bloggers Picnic -- online planning session

You can just lock me up and throw away the key!! I am so tired!!! And I had two serious posts for tonight! But I got so excited about the enthusiastic response to my picnic inquiry, that I had to take this to the next step. So, here it is...... (at 2:10 in the morning!)

Being a firm believer in democracy, and having no particular personal preference myself (I could go either way), here are the options as I see them:

Please state your preferences:

Also, please rate each of the following dates and times as follows:
1. Great day/time for me
2. Not great but I would come
3. Will try, but not sure
4. Definitely cannot make it

Should we do it on:
1. Sunday, October 11 (no school that day and no need for a succah)
2. Chol HaMoed Succot: (please rank in order of preference)
a. Monday, Oct 5
b. Wednesday, October 6
c. Thursday, October 7
d. Friday, October 8
e. don't care
3. Some other time

If we want to do this outside (free, easy, no one has to clean up...), we should do this soon. My inclination is to do it on Isru Chag, since the succah issue might prevent people from participating. On the other hand, the "real world" goes back to work on Isru Chag.

Should we meet in the:
1. morning 9:00 - 12:00
2. afternoon 1:30 - 5:00
3. evening 6:00 - 8:30

I suggest we meet in the afternoon. It will get dark early (clocks are changing, tick-tick-tick) and it can get quite cool in the evening. Also, parents need to get kids in bed and ready for school the next day. My main concern is how many working bloggers would this exclude?

Suggested location:
1. Park Gilo -- it is a large park, plenty of parking, tables, & shade, "mitkanim" for all ages, bike paths, hikes (for those who need to do something more than just "hang out" -- like spouses and kids.....) -- Accessible by bus (several, in fact)
2. other?

There are lots of great parks, but the layout of park Gilo is particularly conducive to large (or small) groups. I have organized several successful get-togethers there for this reason.

Regarding family/kids/whatever -- I think this is a non-starter, but I will ask, just to get a feel for what you want:

Should our Bloggers picnic be:
1. With family
2. Without family
3. Don't care

If we meet in Park Gilo, this is a non-issue. People can do whatever works for them. The layout allows for maximum flexibility.

If someone has a particularly large home or garden, we can consider that as well. Speak up now (or forever hold your peace...)

I will make up an Excel spreadsheet for collecting the date. I am not slick enough to make an on-line questionairre, but if you know how to do this, please let me know ASAP!

Please leave your email address in the comments section and I will email you the file.

As soon as you send it back to me, I will colate the material and try to post the final date/time by Rosh HaShanah (or maybe right after Rosh HaShanah....)

Alternatively, you can just elect me Queen and I will dictate from above!

Just kidding. Please fill out the form and send it back!

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

With love and optimism,

JBloggers @ the Second International Jewish Bloggers Convention

Don't miss my public survey about cellphones -- Please contribute your opinion!!

In addition, to all the fun people who are mentioned in my main post about the convention, it was fun to see (in alphabetical order):
A Mother in Israel (Hannah Katsman), A Soldier's Mother, Elms in the Yard (Rahel), I'll call Baila, Isramom, Life in Israel (Rafi G.), Ki Yachol Nuhal! (Ruti Mizrachi), Me-ander (Batya), My Shrapnel, Safranit, West Bank Mama, and so many others (whose blog names escape me! blame it on the chemo!!).

I also met some interesting, new (for me) bloggers. Job Mob (Jacob Share) is someone whose brain I would like to pick for 20 minutes. Penina Taylor does not blog, but has a fascinating story (I look forward to reviewing her book for you, as soon as it comes out in print). And Love of the Land (Yosef Hartuv), who looked so familiar (He is active with Women in Green, so that's probably how we met).

There were more! Had there been more time to socialize and network, I might have remembered more names! Or, at least, collected more business cards!

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

With love and optimism,

Sunday, September 13, 2009

JBloggers Second Int'l Conference in Israel

Don't miss my public survey about cellphones -- Please contribute your opinion!!

If I were not dealing with cancer, I would totally take over planning of the next JBloggers convention.

Of course, if I were not dealing with cancer, I might never have entered the blogosphere in the first place. But that is neither here nor there.

In my "previous life," not only did I organize seminars and conventions, I trained students and young professionals how to do it.

The first rule is: know your audience.

Both of the main panels and the guest speaker were... NOT bloggers. OK, there were one or two bloggers on the panels, but they were not the majority.

HELLO??? This is a BLOGGERS convention. I really do not want to hear from people who introduce themselves with the following (or any variation thereof): "I admit, that I do not blog." If you do not blog, you do not really belong at a bloggers conference. How hard to figure out is that?

The convention was split into two parts. The first half consisted of three small "workshops" with bloggers who talked about a range of topics. The second half had a short commedic interlude, two guest speakers, and two panels. Besides Benji Lovitt's “What War Zone“ stand-up routine, I did not find the second half very interesting. (sorry)

Regarding the first part, I would have had a much better time had I remembered one fundamental rule: choose according to who is giving the lecture; the topic is secondary.

There were two workshops I should have attended, given by bloggers who I know are really interesting (http://muqata.blogspot.com/, Israel Matzav, David “Treppenwitz” Bogner) and whose sessions would have been fun for me.

Instead, to my chagrin, I chose two workshops which I thought might help me figure out if I want to try to make money from my blog and, if so, how to do it. Yuck. Workshops about making money do not really speak to me, even if the lecturers are really interesting.

I am a fan of David Abitbol, from Jewlicious, so I attended his workshop. Unfortunately, it did not really provide me with the information I sought.

The next workshop was even more "off target," since it was really geared for people who blog to promote their business. My blog is not a business....

....though I have been fantasizing for a while now about making T-shirts. I have some cool ideas... but I just do not get around to it! That (the "never getting 'round to it") is why I will never run a business!

For me, the most educational part of the conference was the third workshop I attended, which was not even about blogging. Ahuva Berger, who blogs at Sabra at Heart, gave a beginner's tutorial about Twitter. I do not know if Twitter is for me or not, but I am going to give it a try.

The main reason I went to the conference was to meet other bloggers. I felt there was not enough time for that.

I wonder if I should just organize an afternoon in the park. No fancy buildings, no entrance fee, BYOF (bring your own food).

Would you come?

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

With love and optimism,

New Family Traditions

Don't miss my public survey about cellphones -- Please contribute your opinion!!

My eldest initiated a new family tradition!

We were sitting around talking, one thing led to another, and she created a whole program!

Saturday night, we gathered, before Star Trek, and my daughter led the event.

First, we all had a treat: hot chocolate (made with chocolate powder and real chocolate) and Tim Tams.

Now, for those culturally uninitiated, Tim Tams are these British Australian biscuits (that all our British friends love) -- chocolate covered, chocolate sandwich cookies, with chocolate cream in the middle.

Apparently, there is a whole ritual for eating them. Our daughter explained: you take a small bite off of each end, so that you can suck air through the cookie. Then you stick one end into the hot chocolate and suck. The chocolate inside the Tim Tam will melt and then you stick the whole thing in your mouth. "It's messy," she warned.

Her siblings loved it, mess and all. Her parents (that would be Moshe and me), did not appreciate the messy nature of the endeavor, and ate our second Tim Tam in a more conservative fashion. Just call us "old fogies."

Afterwards, our eldest explained the main activity: We would all write on a piece of paper our hopes and aspirations for the coming year. Her original thought was to write about things in our house, but we could write about anything we want. Next year, before Rosh HaShanah, we will read the notes that we wrote this year, either privately or publicly, we will each decide for our self. After a few years, we will be able to read notes from past years as well.

My daughter then spread out colorful pens for writing, and placed in the center of the table a special box that she decorated for holding the notes.

Everyone participated enthusiastically, and there was a thoughtful silence as we each wrote our notes to ourselves. Then we carefully folded our notes, put our names on them, and dropped them in the box.

Our daughter placed the box on top of our tallest cabinet and we moved to the living room for Star Trek night.

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

With love and optimism,

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I Hate Hadassa Ein Kerem

Don't miss my public survey about cellphones -- Please contribute your opinion!!

*************** warning: rant ***************

I hate Hadassah Ein Kerem.

Forget about the fact that I have experienced serious medical negligence there (maybe I will post that story another time). Right now, what irks me is the incredible lack of courtesy and professionalism. For the most part, the staff there, from the doctors down to the secretaries, is decidedly unpleasant to deal with. (The radiation department is a noteworthy exception to this rule)

I have filed formal complaints several times about the grossest behavior I encountered, but I cannot take the time to make a complaint every time I deal with a rude secretary. There are just too many of them!

To be fair, the hospital seems to be dealing with complaints more seriously than in the past. Their new guidelines require them to respond to complaints in writing, detailing what has been done to address the issues raised. So, I do encourage making a formal complaint. Still, Hadassah EK needs some serious overhaul/re-training if they are going to change the atmosphere there. Perhaps if enough of us complain, it will make a difference.

Meanwhile, I try to avoid Hadassah EK as much as possible. Unfortunately, Hadassah EK is the largest hospital in Jerusalem; many medical services and treatments are only available there. It is the only place in Jerusalem for radiation. It is also the only place I can get an MRI. (Once a week there is a mobile MRI unit at Sha'are Zedek, but my health fund will only cover an MRI at Hadassah.)

Just getting an appointment for an MRI is a major headache! It starts with the bureaucracy:
First, you have to fax them your referral (hafnaya).
Then, you have to wait 24 hours.
Then, can you call to schedule an appointment.

If, as is what happened with me, they do not receive/find the fax, then you can refax the referral and they will schedule an appointment with you right away.

On Wednesday, I spoke with three secretaries (1 who cut me off, 1 who yelled at me, and 1 who actually helped me) just to find out that they did not get the fax.

I do not have a working fax at home (long story; short version: we want to get a laser printer/scanner/fax but I just have not gotten around to getting it. It would be simple, if we were not particular about wanting a color printer, but we are. Those machines are expensive and we just keep putting it off. So, there you have it) . Since we do most of our "business" by email, we do not need a fax often. If we need to send a fax, Moshe usually sends it from work.

So, I called Moshe and he sent the fax, again. Then I called, again, to schedule the MRI. The fax did not include my name and ID number, without which they will not make an appointment.

I thought I needed to get a whole new referral. So I called the hospital; they said: just add your name and ID number to the referral. OK then!

So I called Moshe, again. He added my name and ID, and tried to resend the fax. It took him over an hour to get the fax through.

Then it was my turn to call them again. When I finally got through, on Thursday, they gave me an appointment in November! I explained that I am supposed to have the MRI a month and a half after I finished radiation. "You'll have to speak with [so-and-so], call back on Sunday."

Boys and girls, can you say "frustration!"?

Footnote: I did not call earlier to make the appointment because I thought I had to include the hitchayvut (commitment to pay) from my kupat holim (HMO). I called now because a friend just told me that I only need the referral to make the appointment, I do not have to wait until I received the hitchayvut. At least now I know for next time!

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

With love and optimism,

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"Come on 'Baldilocks!'"

Last week, one of my children (Child A), wanted me to move a little faster.

"Come on 'Baldilocks!!'" nudged Child A, spontaneously creating this new appellation.

I might have gotten annoyed, but the nickname was so funny, I burst out laughing!

I immediate asked if I could post it. This was too good not to share.

Child A only agreed if I promised not to reveal said child's identity. Done.

A few days later, I shared this story with another of my children (Child B), who also burst out laughing.

Today, Child B called out to me, "bye Baldilocks!"

Child A overheard and immediately claimed ownership of the clever phrase, "Hey, I made that up!!"

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

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mothers and Daughters

Don't miss my public survey about cellphones -- Please contribute your opinion!!

Today, I received a real gift -- special time with my youngest daughter.

Beit Natan sponsored an outing for mothers and daughters. My eldest was too busy -- she works as an assistant teacher in gymnastics on Wednesdays and she had a rehearsal for an upcoming play. My youngest was happy to come, and even missed her gymnastics class to spend the time together. She really loves gymanstics, so this is a BIG deal!

About twenty mothers and daughters met in the Aminadav Forest and participated in a program run by Etgarim. Two years ago, as part of Beit Natan's Summer Retreat, I participated in the Etgarim program for the first time. It was very challenging for me on multiple levels. In particular, it was the first time that I really came face to face with the physical limitations that cancer has imposed on me. You can read more about my experience here.

I had a very different experience this time.

Our first exercise was to cross the "rope bridge" (one rope to walk on and one rope to hold with both hands). Unlike two years ago, when we crossed alone, this time we would cross the bridge together with our daughters.

My daughter led the way, slowly, weighing down the rope just enough to make is easier for me. She stayed just a pace or two in front of me and really worked with me. I already knew how to guide her, and she took the instruction well. Once or twice I did need to ask the madricha (counselor) for assistance, but mostly we managed on our own. I don't think my daughter realized just how much she helped me.

It amazed me how naturally my daughter took to the ropes. She was completely comfortable and unafraid. She could travel and turn around on the ropes with ease. Towards the end of the bridge, she decided to have some fun and started bouncing up and down on the ropes. This was not fun for me. She thought that was very funny. I told her she was mean. She thought that was funny too. We had a good laugh together!

Afterwards, there was a group activity, on a different set of ropes. These ropes were set up such that one person was lifted to a top rope by two groups of women and girls, pulling two ropes from opposite directions. Then one group of girls had to pull extra to bring the person who was lifted to their side. This activity required the group work together as a whole.

At first, the madricha said there would not be time for more than one person to be lifted. All the daughters really wanted to be lifted, including mine. Several of the women were also interested, including me (no surprise there). My daughter, who is usually so quick to be mevater (acquiescing), told me quite strongly that she wanted to do this even more than she wanted to do the previous activity. So I joined the chorus of mothers who were appealing to the madricha to at least give all the daughters a turn.

In the end, all the daughters did have a turn to be lifted by the group and I was lucky to have a turn as well.

During both exercises, participants wrote notes to be dropped in a bottle at the end of the exercise. The first note: what we wish for ourselves during the coming year. The second note: what we wish for our daughters/mothers for the coming year.

What I wished for myself: health, less fear, an organized home, serenity at home, and energy.

After we finished the exercises, we sat in a circle for a short summary session. During the discussion, I noticed that many of the daughters had "run ahead" of their mothers while traversing the rope bridge. My daughter was really exceptional in that she really traversed the rope bridge along with me. She could have easily run ahead of me, but she did not. She chose to cross slowly, at my pace, so we could do it together.

I also realized that "crossing the bridge" is an analogy for children living with a mother with cancer -- some parts are easier and some parts are more difficult. During the difficult parts, we have to stick close and work together. During the easier parts, the children feel freer to go a little wild (like jumping up and down on the ropes).

It was a fun activity with a meaningful message.

Afterwards, there was a delicious Bar-B-Q dinner. The food was really good and I ate more than I have eaten in a while!

We sat with two other mothers and daughters (15 year olds). A journalist, who was there to cover the event, joined us. I found it fascinating to hear my daughter's answers to her questions.

My daughter's insights and maturity were impressive for one so young. She answered questions thoughtfully and openly; she is not usually so candid about how she experiences my cancer. For me, this was perhaps the greatest testimony to the power of this event.

I think it was also good for her to hear the answers of the other girls.

After dinner, the group gathered for singing. I love singing, but I could not stay. I had to leave early to get to the aseifat horim (parent's meeting) at my eldest daughter's school.

To my surprise, my daughter decided to stay. She did not know anyone before we got there. Yet she chose to stay for the rest of the program. One of the girls from our table (and her mother), promised to make sure my daughter got on the right bus to go home.

And then off she went. My baby. Finding her own way.

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

With love and optimism,

Public Survey

I am considering switching my cellphone service provider.

What service provider do you use?

Are you happy with the service?

Are you happy with the reception?

What kind of phone do you recommend?

Do you use internet with your phone?

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

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Case for Separate Bedrooms

Recently, I heard about couples in America who have "his" and "hers" bedrooms. My initial reaction was "that is not normal!"

I know that there are/were other cultures/times where/when separate bedrooms are/were the norms. (did you follow that?)

The point is, it seemed odd to me in today's day and age, in America, of all places. It just does not seem healthy for members of a strong, loving relationship to sleep separately.

So, when we slept over at our friend's home (last week), and she offered us our choice of THREE different bedrooms where we could choose either to sleep separately or together, I thought she was... well... a little loony. (Actually, I knew she was a little loony; that is why I like her so much!)

The truth is, she was just being a good host. She knows that my husband is always hot and I am always cold, and she was providing us with all the options (Room A has air-conditioning; room B has a ceiling fan, etc). In her family, she is the one who suffers from the heat (and has a husband who is always cold). So, she "gets it."

Anyway, we set up beds in the same room, but when Moshe was ready to go to bed (a good two hours before we were), he was hot and announced that he would sleep in the room with the A/C.

When I finally went to bed myself, I realized that having the room to myself meant that I did not have to worry about waking him up. Even more significantly, I could close the window and keep the ceiling fan on low. The room temperature was warm and comfortable. I slept like a baby!

The next morning, both Moshe and I noted how well we slept -- him in his icebox and me in my toaster. (That's about as far as I can carry this kitchen analogy....)

I might have to rethink this....

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

With love and optimism,

Monday, September 7, 2009

Only Good Things -- Race to the Finish!

Despite having gone to bed at an ungodly hour, I woke up (with some gentle prodding) in time for a cup of vanilla ice coffee and a freshly baked cranberry-almond muffin. These days, I do not usually eat anything so early, but the smell of those muffins.... oh, my!

We ate in her garden: fresh coffee, fresh muffins, fresh country air.... Heaven!

It would have been so easy just to hang out all morning! When I noticed the time, I expressed concern that we would not make it to the brit by 8:00. My friend told me "we have plenty of time; the brit starts at 8:15." I asked her if she was sure and she told me, matter-of-factly, "That's the time I told people when I made all the calls..." OK, then!

If I had any doubts about whether or not it was worth all the effort to get to the brit, they disappeared as soon as I saw Jameela, who told me that she davened (prayed) for me during the birth. I felt so cared about and blessed. I know that both Jameel and Jameela appreciated that we came.

I looked forward to sleeping on the drive back to Jerusalem!

As we were about to leave the yishuv (town), we decided to stop at the "trempiada" and see if anyone needed a lift to where we were going. Though I sort of wanted that time alone with Moshe, I know how grateful people can be for a ride. Often trempistim (hitchhikers) are not really interested in talking, and will just sit quietly in the back. So, we figured we would still be able to talk. And, besides, I was planning to go to sleep anyway....

We ended up picking up a lovely woman who was very talkative! She had a fascinating story, so the ride home was quite entertaining.

However, I was a little worried how I would make it through the day, since I knew that I would not have another chance to sleep until much later that evening.

My good friend (and soul sister), BS, is doing this amazing month long program for Elul. Most of the participants are straight out of the army. My friends is a few years older than I am, not to mention that she has five kids (OK, so are almost all "out of the house," but still...), one of whom has CP. My friend has been the primary caretaker of her CP son, for most of his life (and a good chunk of hers). A few years ago, this son (I think he's around 25) moved into a supervised living environment that he loves. That move, essentially, freed my friend to pursue other interests. For a while now, she has wanted to study Torah and stretch her mind intellectually. When she found this program (I think it is in Kfar Adumim), she decided to take vacation and just do it! She is so AWESOME!!!

So, after a week and a half of learning, the program included a free day, and my friend chose to spend hers with me!! I was so happy!!! (This is the same friend who came to me for Shabbat a few weeks ago, right after my diagnosis with brain mets (see here)). Recently, she has been helping me sort through some of my kids clothes (coming all the way from Sde Eliyahu, in Emek Beit She'an!!). She even gets my son to participate willingly!! She is magic!!

Anyway, now that my kids are in school, we planned to hang out for the day and, along the way, for her to help me sort some of my clothes. We would take it easy, since we had the whole day to spend together (and my kids were not coming home until late...).

She was totally cool with me cancelling our morning, to go to the brit. She has other friends in Jerusalem (gotta' share the love!).

The new, revised plan was that I would call her when we got into Jerusalem and she would meet me at home. Except we got in a little later than I thought and I forgot to call until we were almost home.

I admit that I might have whimpered a bit when my friend threw out the possibility that maybe it was too late and she would come by on her next free day...

God bless her, she came anyway! (I would have understood, but I still would have been disappointed.) I just prayed that I would not crash in the middle of her visit! (I was seriously sleep deprived, remember?)

Well, what can I say? Just her presence gives me energy! One hug and I was ready to go!

I straightened up most of my kitchen, a chore I have not had the energy to do on my own in ages! (Never mind that it is already a complete mess again...)

More importantly, though we did not get around to sorting clothes, she did help me tackle my top closet drawer -- the one I haven't been able to close in over a year, because I keep piling more stuff into it....

Though it was a bit traumatic, the drawer is no devoid of all unnecessary items and is completely organized and functional. Every time I open the drawer, I bless my friend!

You might think that when my friend left to return to her program that I would go straight to bed! You would be wrong.

Good friends of our family (the one with whom I grew up) were visiting in Israel (I think they are gone now). We had arranged to meet that Wednesday night, for dinner -- it was the only night that worked out for all of us: them, my sister and me. The couple were actually friends of our parents, but we grew up together. They know me, my brother, and my sister, since we were babies! We all have "matching" friends in their family (kids our age and sex), which means that we did a lot of things together.*

In fact, my friend's mom is the woman who introduced my mother to baby swim at the YMCA, which at that time was an innovative program. This woman indelibly influenced the course of my life!

Once again, I was energized by the company! We had such a lovely evening catching up! We all stayed out later than we should have because we did not want the evening to end.

When I finally did go home, I fell into bed!

It was a great day, but the marathon wore me out!!

* Interesting trivia, for those of you who know my "secret" identity (i.e. the name I used "many centuries ago," before going by RivkA) -- both my mom and my friend's mom chose the same name for their first born daughters; they each chose to spell it in a unique way, to be different. In an ironic twist of fate, they met each other shortly after we were born and we grew up five blocks from each other and went to the same school and... spelled our names exactly the same way. So the "unique" spelling was "normal" for the two of us!

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

With love and optimism,

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Chemotherapy Diet

Two years ago, on one of my first chemotherapy days, I noticed a woman weighing herself and commenting to her husband "I am disappearing," referring to all the weight she was losing.

My first, admittedly dark, thought was "halevai alai" ("I should only be so lucky").

I have been struggling with my weight since I am 14. Three pregnancies did not help.

In my case, neither did chemotherapy.

Despite periodic nausea, my appetite did not diminish. In fact, due to the steroids I was given as part of my treatments, I often had a greater appetite and increased fluid retention.

Combine that with lower physical activity, due to pain and/or exhaustion, and it is not hard to understand how I put on 10 kilo (22 pounds) over the past 2 years.

During radiation, I felt a slight decline in my appetite. More significantly, I noticed a dramatic increase in thirst. I assumed my eating and drinking habits would return to "normal" after I finished radiation.

But my habits have become even more extreme with the Xeloda.

For the first time in my life, I am just not hungry. I have very little desire to eat anything.

If, in the beginning of my new chemo regimen, I had a difficult time managing when I would eat vs. when I could take my various pills, I now have no problem.

When I wake up, I take the Tykerb right away, because I know that I will not be hungry anyway for at least an hour, if not several hours.

When I finally feel like something to eat, I will have a small meal and then take the Xeloda.

If I have a small enough "breakfast," I might be able to eat something small in the middle of the day.

However, more often than not, I will have a second "meal" later in the day, after which I will take my second dose of Xeloda. Then I am done eating for the day.

I rarely snack anymore. For the most part, the very thought of food makes me nauseas. Food has to be really good to entice me to eat.

On the other hand, I am thirsty all the time. I am constantly drinking water. If I don't drink enough, I get a headache.

If I did not have to eat before taking Xeloda, I would eat even less.

In the five weeks I have been taking Xeloda, I have lost 5 kilo (11 pounds).

Not a bad diet, if you need one....

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

With love and optimism,

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Empty Nest -- A Glimpse into the Future

Aaack! I was in the middle of a longer post, and just saw the time!! So here is another thought I wanted to share. It is short and to the point

All our kids were away this Shabbat.

Our eldest went on a Shabbat Mashatzim (weekend youth leadership seminar), that brought together religious and secular youth.

Our youngest went to her cousins, by herself, by bus. She's been waiting for this for three weeks!
And our son, not wanting to be left home alone (we, his parents, obviously do not count), went to his friend (the one with whom he would move in, if we let him!).

It was just Moshe and me. It reminded me of when we went away for our 15th anniversary, only we were home. Since we did not get a chance to go away for our anniversary this year, this Shabbat was a real treat.

It was nice to spend all that time together, just the two of us.

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

With love and optimism,

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Schepping Nachat -- Fathers and Sons ***Bonus Post***

As we ate dinner tonight, Moshe shared this classic exchange with our son...
(Don't miss my "real" post below)

Earlier this evening, 0ur son gave Moshe a rundown of his classes and which teachers he likes.

He likes his mechanechet (main teacher), but still wants to switch classes to be in the same class as most of his friends.

He reports good things about several other teachers as well (Arabic, Sports, History).

He is bored out of his mind in math class. He told me that they have not yet been divided into levels. Moshe just relayed that they will not be tested for another month and a half. That is a recipe for disaster! Our son is a math wiz, he's going to go bonkers if they don't give him something challenging to do in math!

He also reports that lashon (language) is boring. Moshe challenged our son, noting that "I talk about language and etomology, and you seem to find that interesting."

To which our son responded, "That's because it's you! You could talk about the ingredients in pastrami and it would be interesting!"

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

With love and optimism,

Only Good Things -- Just the Beginning (There's more....)

So, as some of you already know, our blogger friend, Jameel, just had a baby boy.

Well, to be technically accurate, Jameela is the one who actually gave birth... but those details are not relevant right now. What is important is that Jameel and Jameela are really good friends of ours and they do not live close by. When traffic is good, it takes almost two hours to drive there. In Israel, that is FAR! (Remember, the country is smaller than NJ and you can drive from the top to the bottom in just over 5 hours!)

So, when Moshe told me that davening (morning prayers) were at 7:15 and the brit (circumcision ceremony) would be at 8:00, I pretty much figured it was a non-starter that we would not go. As most of you know already, neither Moshe nor I are morning people and we would have to get up at 4:45 to get there on time! Maybe we could have gotten up at 5:00, but we already established, in a previous post (read the comments), that 5:00 am only exists in an alternate dimension!

Well, this would not be the first time that Moshe and I processed information differently!

"Let's go the night before." Moshe suggested, "We can sleep there and wake up at a normal time."

Now, let us ignore, for the moment, that for me 6:45 in the morning is not normal either. If you know me long enough, you know not to even call me before 9:00 in the morning! If I am up, and I know that you are a morning person (strange as that may be...), I'll call you! Still, for something important enough (this brit counts), I could wake up around 7:00.

The thing is, this is the first week of school. And, despite the fact that our kids are all super independent, and act as if we are just bothering them when we want to spend time with them at home... they all really want us to be home when they go to sleep. They won't admit to it, but they sleep easier (and better) when we are home.

To make matters more complex, the previous night (Monday), we were also out (for Danny's Frei's Yartzheit Shiur (memorial lecture)), and the kids did not get to sleep on time.

Normally I would not worry so much. But didn't I mention this is the FIRST WEEK OF SCHOOL??? No pressure there!

Never mind that our son is in a new school and has all these crazy ideas about riding his bike (see previously mentioned post) to school. Besides the second day of school (after the shiur), when his alarm did not go off, he has been biking to school every day!!

So, it just did not seem like such a good idea for us to be out, two nights in a row.

I suggested that Moshe go on his own. Moshe and Jameel have been friends forever, and I could see that it was really important to Moshe to be there. I could see right away that Moshe really wanted to go with me. (OK, all together now: "awwwww, that is sooooo sweet!" )

Then I suggested that maybe we should just get up early and make the drive. There is certainly no traffic at that hour of the morning!

Moshe could not believe I was willing to get up that early. To my chagrin, in all honesty I was not so sure I would still be willing to do it either. The world looks a little different at five in the morning... and not much looks important enough for me to wake up at that bizarre hour!

Then, when another friend, and neighbor of Jameel's, actually offered to host us.... it just seemed like the stars of fate had aligned themselves....

I did stipulate that I would not leave the house unless I was convinced that the kids would be OK without us. Read: that the kids would all go to bed on time (more or less); that they would be able to fall asleep; and that they would be able to get up in the morning!

By 8:30, the kids were totally set and I was totally exhausted! I just wanted to go to bed and sleep.

Another friend had called for a ride and I again suggested to Moshe that he could go on his own, since he would have company. (In the end, the friend did not join us, but we did not know that then.)

Moshe suggested I could just as easily (almost) sleep in the car. He assured me that I did not need to stay awake for him.

So, I shoved some clothes in a bag and off we went!

Well, needless to say, I did not sleep in the car at all!

Besides that fact that spending time driving together is about the only time we have to really talk with no distractions or interruptions, almost as soon as we got in the car Moshe casually mentioned that he does "not really remember how to drive there."

Now, Moshe has been driving there for YEARS!! And when we first started driving there, together, many years ago, Moshe pretty much knew the way on his own; I just helped navigate a bit. So, how is it that now I am the one who knows how to get there without thinking?!?


By the time we arrived, at around 11:00, I got my second wind.

When we got there, Moshe noted that all the windows in our hosts' home were dark. I pointed to one of the downstairs windows, which was lit, and said confidently, our hostess "does not sleep." I know this for a fact because, besides the fact that she has mentioned it several times, every time I am up late on line, she instant messages me!!

Clearly, we are both insane!

The bottom line: we sat down for a drink (vanilla ice coffee, yummmm); after about 45 minutes, Moshe excused himself, and my friend and I sat up talking and laughing (and watching 1960's music videos on YouTube) until 2:00 in the morning!

Honestly, and truly, INSANE.


This friend just makes me LAUGH!! For the record, her life is not any simpler health wise than mine. She has different problems, yet surprisingly similar feelings about all sorts of health-related issues. And she deals with everything with a bitingly sardonic sense of humor. I love it!!

By the time I went to bed, I was in a great mood, but not sleepy. So I read a bit; it did not take that long for me to wind down....

Seven o'clock in the morning came around too fast.....

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

With love and optimism,

Only Good Things

Today was filled with so many good things!!

But you'll have to read about them tomorrow, because I am exhausted (it is after 1:00 in the morning!) and I am going to bed!!


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

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


(Hat Tip to Hadassah at In the Pink)

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

With love and optimism,