Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The People Inside Us

This morning, we were getting dressed, the baby was crawling around, I was sitting on the floor in the upstairs hallway helping to turn shirts right-side-out. Not the ideal time for a deep conversation.

Yael came right up to me, a very serious look on her face, and said: 

When God made you, did he make ME inside you?

Yes, Yael. 
When God made me, he made you inside me. 
And Sammy and Solly and David too.
And let me tell you a secret, I said...
Inside you...there are people too.

Not inside me! 
piped up Sam.

Oh no, I said,  
inside you too.

It's been with me all day.

God willing, my children will have children...the children that are inside them right now. Or...they will bring life to children not of their bodies but of their souls. Or...they will inspire and be the light that shines and guides someone else - a child, an adult, another human being. Or...all of the above.

May we all be so very blessed.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Letter to My Son at Camp

Dear David,
Please take out the trash.

Dear David,
Please practice piano.

Dear David,
Please empty the dishwasher.

Dear David,
Just wanted to make sure you didn't miss me too much...
I'm sure you're having a fabulous time!

(This was an actual letter that I mailed yesterday...)

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Mama's Prayer for Summer Camp

A prayer for my dear son embarking on his second year at summer camp...

May you find learning and growth of all kinds.
May you gain independence and feel comfort in your Jewish identity.
May the mosquitoes be guided away from you, and may the raindrops not fall into your tent (too much).
May the food be delicious and the pool the right temperature.
May you seek out new experiences and try new things (vegetables would be nice but I'm doubtful).
May you smile brilliantly for the camp photographer and show up daily in the online photo albums.
May you avoid the camp crud and may you never lose your socks.
May you take a shower and brush your teeth every day.
May you not send wet towels to the laundry, because the laundry is charged by weight.
May your arrows fly straight, your fishing line never get tangled, and your tetherball not whack you in the nose.
May you not fall off the top bunk.
May you not spend your whole canteen account on silly junk.
May you not lose your hat and water bottle in the first week.
May you not lose your way in the night to the outdoor bathroom.
May you write me at least one letter besides the mandatory first-day-letter.
May you create a life-long friendship (at least one, if not many).
May you  renew old friendships, since they are the most precious. (Are 9 year olds allowed to have "old friends"?)
May you learn more and more about yourself and your spirit and being.

May you return home in one piece with all your belongings,
and may you ever yearn to return to the land of summer camp.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Summer Stock Sunday: At the Park

It hasn't been very warm around here, but at least the sun came we went to the park!
See more Summer Stock Sunday pictures at Robin's place!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bubbling Over

Do your kids like to blow bubbles? Mine do.
They love to chase the bubbles around, try to catch them and pop them.
There's something a little bit meditative about blowing bubbles, watching them grow and change and float away.

And sometimes they don't work out quite right...they might pop in your face.
But when you're blowing bubbles, you've got to remember to breathe.
And that's important.

I made a big batch of bubble juice (as my kids call it), from a recipe I found at Real Moms Guide:

10 Cups water
1 Cup eco-friendly dish soap (I used the Mrs. Meyer’s soap)
4 Tablespoons light corn syrup
Stir well and let set over night.

We refilled old bubble containers so we had the wands all ready.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Making Bourekas

I somehow got it in my mind that I wanted to make Bourekas for Shavuot. One of my favorite Israeli treats, a boureka is a flaky pastry stuffed with...cheese, potatoes, tuna...etc. I found a recipe online and it went something like this:

You need:
1 egg, lightly beaten
8 ounces (1 3/4 cups or 225 grams) cups shredded mozzarella cheese
salt, pepper, your favorite seasonings
(chopped leeks - which I added into half the bourekas, because I had one leek from my vegetable delivery)
1  package frozen puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten

What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, mix the egg, cheese and spices (and leeks)
3. Divide puff pastry into 5 inch squares. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling in each square. Dampen the edges of the squares with water, and fold in half diagonally to form triangular pastries. Pinch the edges together to seal the filling inside.*
*Working with the puff pastry was super easy. I defrosted it overnight, and then when I was ready to use it, I spread it out onto a lightly floured surface, cut each piece into quarters (so I ended up making 8 bourekas), and made the pastries. So easy I did it with one hand - held the baby with the other hand!)
4. Brush tops of borekas with beaten egg.
5. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden.

Serve with salad - super duper yummy. I have one more package of puff pastry left in my freezer, can't wait to make them again. Next time I'm trying a potato filling...or a potato and cheese filling...or mushroom and spinach...or....yum.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Six Months Old

Look who is six months old!
Loves to swing.
Crawls, pulls up to standing.

Ticklish and funny.

Doesn't sleep through the night.
But he's darn cute.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

End of an Era?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)Tonight David and I finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

If you're a friend or a blog follower (or both), you know how much I love this series, both the books and the movies. I actually noticed that I have a Harry Potter "tag" for blog posts! (For the record, this post makes #4 in my posts about the Boy Wizard.)

I personally felt horribly bittersweet when I finished the series. I wasn't ready for it to be over but I was so happy to find out the ending.

Now I feel the same way about reading the books with David. He is 9 years old and a very well-read child. He loves to read, and would stay up til all hours of the night reading if I'd let him. He knows that he can read much faster on his own than I can read to him out loud, but I adamantly insisted that the Harry Potter books had to be read out loud together.

But now it's over. And I feel bittersweet. I'm so happy to have shared these books with him but I'm sad that this compulsion to read together has ended. He's just not as excited for me to read anything else out loud...he'd rather read it to himself. He didn't need Harry Potter to instill in him a love of reading but it was certainly a fun part of his reading history. I'm so hopeful that for the rest of his life he'll remember how we read these books together.

(Side note: I'm that crazy mom who absolutely insists that one should, if at all possible, read the book before seeing the movie. Any book, any movie. David is beside himself with delight that he will be able to see the final Harry Potter movie in the theaters this time. He's finally caught up to Hollywood. I can't wait to take him! And I hope I've taught him the important lesson that the book is (almost) always better than the movie.)

On the bright side: soon Sam will be old enough to read these books with and I can start all over again at the beginning! And then Yael! And then it's not quite over yet....

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Solidarity With Israel

Today was Israel Solidarity Day/Walk With Israel.

I must admit to being less than impressed with the whole event. Too much speechifying, without enough crowd-pumping. I know that the Maccabeats performed at the end, but my small companions pooped out before the entertainment!

So here are my Israel-loving companions:

My children have a pretty strong connection to Israel, even though they've never been there. They know that their parents met there, they know that we lived there for a time, and they know that their Uncle Harry lives there. They also hear about it all the time, they read books about it, watch videos about it...and they know that they will travel to Israel when they're older. We talk about those journeys all the time.

...but I must admit that the Walk With Israel leaves me doesn't inspire. It's hard to get the kids to enjoy something that I find to be missing the proper excitement and energy. I have to think a little harder about what I want to do about it in the future. Where's the sparkle!? I know that there are so many political issues and questions about Israel...but that doesn't matter - I want my children to Ohavei Zion - lovers of the land of Israel.

How do you inspire your children to love Israel?

For some beautiful pictures from Israel and around the world go see my pal, Robin at Around the Island, who is again hosting Summer Stock Sunday. And link up!
What are you up to this summer?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Shalom Sesame Shavuot & Hebrew {Reviews}

I received two DVDs of the most recent Shalom Sesame episodes for review.

Shalom Sesame 2010 #9: Countdown ShavoutThe first, Counting Down to Shavuot, was adorable. It really managed to get most of the elements of the holiday into the video, if not overtly, then in a subtle way. There was a sofer writing a mezuzzah, there was counting down the weeks to the holiday, decorating the home, eating dairy (including the usual stinky cheese from Moshe Oofnik!), and a really great telling of the story of Kabbalat Torah, the Receiving of the Torah. (I wish that segment was available on their YouTube Channel.) There were a few segments that were silly or too long, like the "chasing the cheese" (?!) and I was a little weirded out by Ben Stiller's choice of costume...why does he want to dress up like cheese? (Plus, since when is the Cable Guy a person in your neighborhood?) I loved the sign language poem at the end of the show, and overall this was a great way to teach kids about Shavuot.

Shalom Sesame 2010 #8: Grover Learns HebrewThe other video, Grover Learns Hebrew, also had a few highlights. The story of Eliezer Ben Yehuda was great. I plan to use it with kids in Hebrew School - it was really well done:

The rest of the video was a little bit basic for my family, or it was over their heads. The basic stuff? Grover learns just a few words - boker tov (good morning), todah (thank you) and bakbuk (bottle). Over their heads? This really cute segment about onomatopoeia words in Hebrew (I'm embarrassed to tell you how many tries it took for me to get that word typed correctly.)

Cute, right? But totally over the heads of my kids. A nice version of the Aleph-Bet Song - my kids weren't familiar with it but they recognized that the letters were "the same as our Aleph Bet Song, mom!"

So...bottom line? Both videos are worth watching with your kiddos. I recommend the Shavuot one if you're making a choice. 

Full disclosure: I received copies for review from the publisher. I was not obligated to say nice stuff in any way.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Where has the magic gone?

Sam has had a loose tooth for quite some time. I, personally, was a tooth puller. The thing got loose and I was all over figuring out how to get it out of my mouth fast. Sam, on the other hand, was a prolonger. He wanted to keep that darn tooth in his mouth as long as possible.

Which left us plenty of time to discuss
The Tooth Fairy.

Sam insists that it is not real.

Which, of course, it isn't.

So why am I so upset and annoyed about this? Why do I care that my child doesn't believe in a fairy tale, a fantasy, a made-up concept?

I think it's because I'm sad that he isn't at all interested in magic.

You know, magic.

He is such a realist, such a pragmatist, that he can't even believe in magic. He won't. (Trust me, I tried.)

I've been thinking a lot about why this bothers me. And I've figured it out.

It's about God.

I know, for sure, that not believing in the Tooth Fairy will not necessarily lead to a lack of faith in God.
(After all, I know that there's no Tooth Fairy but I'm pretty confident about my belief in God._

But I think that is my worry. If he is so certain, so sure, so absolutely positive that The Tooth Fairy doesn't much harder will it be for me to convince him that there is a Holy One, that the God of my Ancestors is his God as well?

We talk about God all the time in my house. I want him to have a connection, a relationship, a belief.

Is that too much to ask?
Sigh....this parenting thing is hard.

P.S. Here's what I had to say when David lost his first tooth.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Books for Shavuot {Reviews & Giveaway}

Shavuot is a pretty major holiday that gets a pretty major short-shrift in the mainstream world. The grocery stores aren't putting out their displays for this holiday. (Last year, my family had a great Shavuot observance, which I'm hoping to replicate in some way again this year.) That's why I was so excited to receive a package of Shavuot books from Kar-Ben Publishing!

They sent me four books:

No Rules for MichaelNo Rules for Michael by Sylvia Rouss

My kids loved this one. Partly because their dad's name is Michael, and he is pretty mischievous in this book! A really sweet story about a boy who wants NO rules, and when he gets it...well, you can only imagine.

Ten Good Rules: A Ten Commandments Counting BookTen Good Rules: A Counting Book by Susan Remick Topek

Adorable photographs and simple print accompany this introduction to the 10 commandments, while also pointing out the "counting" lesson, which my kids are always really into. We enjoyed this one as well!

Sammy Spider's First ShavuotSammy Spider's First Shavuot by Sylvia Rouss

If you haven't met Sammy, you should. The cute little spider lives in a great house where they're always observing Jewish holidays. "Silly little Sammy...spiders don't celebrate Shavuot, spiders spin webs!" That's what Mrs. Spider always tells her son...but he ends up celebrating the holiday anyway. Sammy watches the way that the Shapiro family prepares for the holiday. I must admit, this one was a little bit of a stretch for me in Sammy-land, but my kids, especially my own Sammy, loved it.
The Littlest Mountain (Bible)
The Littlest Mountain by Barb Rosenstock

This was my favorite of the four! It is a lovely adaptation of a midrash in Bereshit Rabbah, telling the story of the mountains competing to be the site of the giving of the Ten Commandments. The illustrations are beautiful and the story is told so sweetly. I wasn't sure if my kids would like it but they really did, they asked to have this one read again! I love how the story reminds us that impressing God is not about our size or our accomplishments, but rather how kind and caring we are.

The Littlest Mountain was also my family's PJ Library selection this month, so I'm giving away the copy from Kar-Ben to one of you, my lucky readers! Leave me a comment here to be entered to win. Ends on Friday morning so I have time to get you your book before Shavuot!

What's your favorite book for Shavuot?

Full disclosure: Kar-Ben sent me the books for review, and my family has read them over and over again.