Friday, November 30, 2007

Chanukah Chaiku (and Giveaway)

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Alex the Great died.
His empire was split up.
Who owned Judea?

King Antiochus
was the new king for the Jews
but he wasn't nice.

"Give up your Torah,"
he said to the Jewish folks.
"Bow down to my gods."

The Jews weren't too pleased.
He defiled the Temple --
sacrificed some pigs.

Things were bad for Jews
They were being killed for faith.
But one guy stepped up.

In his town, Mod'in,
Mattathias stepped up
He said, "Let's rebel!"

His five sons followed
They helped lead the rebellion
and fled to the hills.

A guerrilla fight
against the Syrian-Greeks
hit-and-run fighting.

Mattathias died.
His son Judah took over -
he was a great guy.

Rebellion went well
They called him the Maccabee
(the word means "hammer")

He struck fast and hard
and finally the Jews won -
a long time coming!

A great victory
It was quite a miracle
Just one of many

Back to the Temple
but it was totally wrecked,
defiled, defaced.

They made it holy,
rededicated to God,
prepared for worship.

A legend for sure:
There was no oil to find
to light the great Lamp

One small flask was found,
only enough for one day
but it lasted EIGHT!

Today we rejoice
with victory dances,
remember that time.

The more likely tale:
They missed Sukkot in that year
and observed it late.

Eight days of the feast
have been translated to this
time of Chanukah.

Either way, it's fun
to eat latkes and candy
and play the dreidel.

Happy Chanukah
(However you spell the word)
let's all celebrate!

See more Haiku Friday here.

If you're looking for my weekly Torah Portion Haiku, it's over at my other blog...

Remember the can comment on each post from this week's Chanukah Countdown Party to enter multiple times! A $25 gift certificate to OH! Nuts...

Previous Chanukah Countdown Party Posts:

How do you spell Chanukah?
What works for me on Chanukah
Have a Green Chanukah

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Chanukah Giveaway & 13 Green Tips

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13 Ways to Have a Green Chanukah
(or any holiday, for that matter)

1. Save paper - send e-cards instead!

2. Give environmentally conscious gifts that are renewable or reusable -- CFL lightbulbs, travel mugs, reusable water bottles, cloth bags, linen napkins, reusable lunchboxes...heck, reusable grocery bags are super-hot right now - give one or two tied with a pretty ribbon!

3. Give gifts of time or that will be "used up" -- gift certificates for massages, for special outings or babysitting, tickets to shows or concerts, magazine subscriptions, baked goods or food gifts (see below for the giveaway!) etc.

4. 8 nights, make 8 green resolutions for you and your family. Here's a list of suggestions from the Coalition on Environment in Jewish Life. Some ideas: agree to drive less, turn the heat down one degree, recycle more, etc.

5. Host Green parties for the holidays. Use e-vites, dim the lights, give each guest a mug or glass as their "party gift" and ask them to use it throughout the night (think of how many cups you'll save)

6. Go vegetarian for a few nights of the holiday or for all of the holiday!

7. Pay attention to your consumption and waste. Did you know between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day alone, Americans produce an extra one million tons of trash per week compared to any other time of the year. Try to throw away less during this holiday.

8. Make gifts from recycled objects. Wow, quite a list here.

9. Turn off the lights and watch the Chanukah candles burn. Save electricity by spending an electricity-free evening -- skip the computer, the tv, the ipod, and share a family game night or story night.

10. Pack your lunch and celebrate Chanukah each day by eating in. Try a Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich. You'd be amazed at how one sandwich can change the world.

11. Give the gift of your own time. Find a place to take your family and volunteer during the holiday.

12. Going out shopping? Prepare your trip in advance so as to use the least amount of fuel by getting as much as possible in one place. Save trips!

13. Be conscious of your wrapping -- use cloth bags, tie a ribbon, recycle wrapping paper or newspaper...The average consumer wraps 20 gifts during the holidays. If just three of those gifts were wrapped in cloth bags, the paper saved could cover 45,000 football fields! (Source: Cygnus Group)

(See more Thursday Thirteen here)

And now...the Giveaway!

I am so excited to offer a FREE Chanukah gift tray ($25 value) from the Oh! Nuts, a company offering beautiful food gifts of chocolate and nuts.
(although truthfully, you can use the gift certificate to buy non-Chanukah items too!)

Plus! A Chanukah discount...10% off a a Chanukah or any order on, just use code HBW1116 when checking out.

How you can win:
1. Make a comment here or on any of my Chanukah Countdown Party posts. Say something nice about Chanukah. This is your entry! You can enter each day - once per day. Come back and visit all week!
2. If you feel so inclined (I'd like it a lot), post on your blog or tell a friend about this giveaway and link back to me.
(you can grab my Chanukah Countdown Party code too:
<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"></a>)
3. Don't forget to give me a way to get in touch with you if you win!
4. Contest ends on Sunday, December 2nd at 5pm. I will post the winner Monday morning!

Previous Chanukah Countdown Party Posts:

How do you spell Chanukah?
What works for me on Chanukah

Join the party!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Works for Me Chanukah Edition & Giveaway!

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As part of the Chanukah Party I'm throwing here on my blog, here's a special Works-for-Me Chanukah Edition.

A variety of fun and useful Chanukah tips and facts:

Chanukah is never late or early. It's always celebrated on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev.

Latkes, potato pancakes, are traditionally associated with the holiday in the US and Europe. In Israel, however, the traditional food is jelly donuts (yum!) called sufganiyot, and here is a whole list of "alternative latkes" -- because the main crux is the oil in which the food is cooked.

The most recognizable symbol of Chanukah is probably the chanukiyah or menorah, the candelabra on which we light the candles. If you haven't heard the story of the Menorahs of Billings, Montana, I suggest you check out the children's book version of the story or the website here of the Not in Our Town movement. An Anti-Semite threw a brick through the window of a 6-year-old Jewish boy who'd placed this menorah in the window. In response, the entire town of Billings put paper menorahs in their windows. (Personal note, I was the student rabbi in Billings for a year while in school.)

Drippy candles? Put them in the freezer in advance.

Check out this crazy list of all the people listed in Adam Sandler's Chanukah Song

Can't remember the words to all the Chanukah songs you think you know? Print some songsheets here.

Did you know that you don't have to make a dreidel out of clay?

In my house, we decorate for Chanukah by putting up shiny paper streamers and Happy Chanukah signs. Most of them are inherited from my parents' house!

We light one menorah for each family member. Will we have to light for the baby this year? I guess so! Maybe I need to go out and buy a new menorah!

See more Works for Me Wednesday at Rocks in My Dryer
and stay tuned all this week for my Chanukah Countdown Party...

And now...the Giveaway!

I am so excited to offer a FREE Chanukah gift tray ($25 value) from the Oh! Nuts, a company offering beautiful food gifts of chocolate and nuts.
(although truthfully, you can use the gift certificate to buy non-Chanukah items too!)

Plus! A Chanukah discount...10% off a a Chanukah or any order on, just use code HBW1116 when checking out.

How you can win:
1. Make a comment here or on any of my Chanukah Countdown Party posts. Say something nice about Chanukah. This is your entry! You can enter each day - once per day. Come back and visit all week!
2. If you feel so inclined (I'd like it a lot), post on your blog or tell a friend about this giveaway and link back to me.
(you can grab my Chanukah Countdown Party code too:
<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"></a>)
3. Don't forget to give me a way to get in touch with you if you win!
4. Contest ends on Sunday, December 2nd at 5pm. I will post the winner Monday morning!

To grab my cool badge, here's the code:
<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"></a>

Previous Chanukah Countdown Party Posts:
How do you spell Chanukah?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chanukah Countdown Party!!!

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One week from tonight we light the first Chanukah candle.

While Chanukah is a minor Jewish holiday, it does have wonderful messages and an opportunity, as all our holidays, to get together with family and celebrate the beauty and joy in our religion!

I'm so excited to begin a week of Chanukah Countdown on both of my blogs.

To kick it off, let's answer an age old question...

How do you spell Chanukah?

Here are some ideas from the LeeVees, a fanatastic Jewish singing duo...

Seriously, though, the reason we can't spell it in English is because it's a transliteration of a Hebrew word that looks like this: the bottom line is: anyway you spell it, it's still the same holiday!

Stay tuned this week for Chanukah Countdown posts culminating sometime this week in a big Chanukah giveaway! (Because what is a good Chanukah Party without gifts!?)

Wanna join the party? Grab my cool badge above or here's the code:
<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"></a>

Beach Fun...Best Shot Monday

Wow, so hard to choose from all the pictures we took in Florida. I kept 208 that I couldn't delete! (there were more...)

Here is my "best shot" -- I think...

okay, one more for good measure...

See a couple more shots from Florida here...

and see more Best Shot Monday here.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

After the storms...

Our Florida trip in review:

hanging out with family

It was fun and warm and great to get the whole clan together.

Here are some cute vacation pics...

And, perhaps most importantly(?), I kept up with my blogging and it only took me 3 days to read through the 400+ posts in my GoogleReader!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Wrestling with the Haiku, of course

Vayishlach, this week's Torah portion...briefly...

Jacob stays alone
sends the family on ahead
scared of Esau's wrath

By himself at night
he wrestles with an angel
or was it a man?

The man could not win
so he pulled the leg muscle
and he cried "uncle"

but Jacob was wise
"I can't let you go until
a blessing you give."

and so he was blessed
his name changed to Israel
means "wrestler with God."

Jake renames the spot
Peni-el, face-to-God's-face
His life changed a lot!

(okay so this is just one part of the Torah portion...but I'm tired and it's late. And this is a good part!)

See more Haiku Friday here...
Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

happy tday

Happy thanksgiving
A day to thank and rejoice
unless you're a bird

But seriously, there is so much for which to be grateful. Our lives are so blessed.

May this holiday bring blessings.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

ready to go?

having a great time
snow advisory at home
but ready to go:)

last day tomorrow
the last meals to eat and share
hugs and kisses 'round.

what a ball we've had
Dave wants to come back next year
and every year aft!

We shall see...

pool hanging

Hanging at the pool
we could do this all day long
can get used to this...

waterlogged children
as much fun as they can have
hooray for the pool!

works for me...vacation blogging

blog on vacation
I like to use the haiku
it makes it more fun.

use blogger mobile
keeping up with my blogging
on my blackberry

you can try it too
it drives hubby a bit nuts
but it keeps me sane!

(blogger mobile is less versatile than regular or I'd link to all my other haikus...scroll thru the last few days of haikus on my blog!)

and see more works for me wednesday at

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

friends and family

seeing family friends
is so wonderful for us
years pass but still close

have to hit the gym
when we get home because we
eat eat eat and eat!

skipping t-day meal
the calories don't equal
all that we've eaten!:)

still we're glad to eat
break bread with all that we love
not just one day to THANK!

beachy keen!

Finally the beach!
As beautiful as can be
Kids were full of joy!

vacations are not for sleep

How is it that they
go to bed hours later than home
but wake at same time?

Off to greet the day
At least we don't need alarm
Sun is shining - yay!

Monday, November 19, 2007

live blogging the vacation

Yay Blogger Mobile
Keep up with NaBloPoMo
On my Blackberry!

Hibachi dinner
Kids had a ball - ate it all
Drive back to hotel

Will they go to sleep?
How long will it take for rest?
They are exhausted!!

Having so much fun
Is hard on little people
Good thing they're so cute!

Maybe tomorrow
we can go swimming - splash splash
And see family!

Having fun - wish you were here:)

florida gray

Rain in Florida?
They insist it will stop soon.
Tell that to David.

Warmer than at home
Hanging out and relaxing
Just go with the flow.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

haiku travel feature week!

Three tired children
Worn out mom and dad also
Travelling is fun!

Finding our way 'round
Thank goodness for google maps
A compass would help!

We want to have fun
Tomorrow we'll swim and play
Maybe mini golf!

(Stay tuned for haiku travel updates:)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Things I Love...a Wrapped Emotions Post

Here are some of the things I love today....

See more thankful and loving Wrapped Emotions participants here....

See more of my wrapped emotions posts here...aren't they fun?

Jacob's Haiku, of course

Jake left Be'ersheva
On his way to find a wife
He stopped for the night.

He lay on a rock
He slept well - and had a dream
It was a good one.

A ladder he saw
Reaching up to the heavens
Angels on its rungs -

Going up and down.
And God gave Jake a blessing:
Things are good for you -

This land is your land
You will have a lot of kids
You'll spread all over.

Jake woke up and said:
"Surely God is in this place!
How could I not know!?"

"This place is awesome!"
He made an altar of rock
And named it Bethel.

Then Jake kept going.
He ran into his cousin
Pretty girl Rachel.

It's love at first sight!
"I'll work seven years for you"
he told his uncle...

"If I can have her."
And so they agreed - a deal!
But trickery loomed.

(Remember Jake's trick?
He duped his dad for blessing...
Now it is his turn.)

Instead of Rachel
Laban did a switcheroo
Leah was the girl!

After the wedding
Jacob complained he was tricked
Demanded Rachel.

Laban said, "No prob."
"Just work another seven!"
Jacob said okay.

Leah had children;
Rachel did not have any.
Lots of sons were born.

Reuben and Simeon,
Levi and Judah and Dan...
Naftali and Gad.

Asher, Issachar
Zebulon and then Dinah
Finally - Joseph!

Only one was Ray's
The rest were all born by Sis
Or by the "maid" wives.

Jake fin'lly moves on
Decides it's time to get out
But Laban's not pleased.

They leave in the night
Jake and clan sneak out of camp
But Rach messes up.

She steals Laban's "gods"
He finds his idols missing.
So he chases them.

Laban catches up
And searches for his idols
But Rach hides them well

Laban plays "sad dad"
They agree to disagree
The two make a pact.

Laban goes away
Back to his land...Jake to his
They parted their way.

Ah...the joys of Genesis!

See more Haiku Friday here...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Happy Birthday Thursday Thirteen

Six years ago today, I had my first baby.
Happy Birthday David!

Here are 13 random remembrances on his sixth birthday...

1. The night before David was born, I ate a cheese sandwich at 10pm. My water broke at 2am. Good thing I'd had a snack!

2. Our graduate school, Hebrew Union College, was next door to the hospital where I gave birth. Most of our friends came over and hung out at lunchtime while I was in labor.

3. We used to put David to sleep with Daddy's t-shirt. He was the first baby to come to our co-op daycare with Daddy's shirt instead of Mommy's.

4. For David's first birthday party, we invited everyone we knew, all our friends. Almost no one else had kids! I made lasagnas, we ordered a big cake from Costco, and at 7pm we put the kid to bed and played poker.

5. When David was 2, he figured out how to crawl *under* the gate to his room and come into mine.

6. He walked at a year, and potty-trained at 3. Both almost exactly.

7. When he was almost 4, he put a bean in his ear and we had to go to the ER to have it removed. Those were the days before my blog. Otherwise, it would have been blogged!

8. He has never asked us to "take back" the babies. I'm proud of him for that. Sometimes he tells me that he wishes he were by himself again but he never asks us to get rid of his brother or sister.

9. My big kid is very articulate and well-read, especially for a kid who can't actually read.

10. The other day he shocked me by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in English and Spanish...and counted to 30 in Spanish. Wow, he's learning so much!

11. For David's 2nd birthday, we celebrated his birthday with "If You Give A Mouse a Cookie." For his 3rd birthday, it was a Balloon Party (because at age 2, all they wanted to do was play with the balloons! So we obliged). For birthday #4 it was a Superhero Party and for age 5 it was a Lego Party. This year we were Ninjas. I think we might have to move next year's party out of the house. Next year he'll be 7 - that many boys in my house might be just a bit too much.

12. David plays a mean Guitar Hero.

13. I never thought one little person could teach me so much. I love him so much -- he completely changed my life!

Happy Birthday, David!

See more Thursday Thirteen here...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wish Lists on Amazon

This year has been very stressful for all of us parents of small children. The recalls of all the different toys have made me question the safety of so many toys. Like many of you, I am always seeking to find the "safest" things for my kids.

That's all well and good when I'm the one buying the presents.

But what about other people? There are so many grandparents, aunties, friends, etc, who want to buy gifts for my children -- they are kind and well-meaning, but don't always pay attention. (Some do, and for them I am grateful!) In addition, people don't really always know how to buy age appropriate gifts, or what my children are interested in (what is a 9-month-old interested in, anyway, besides chewing on the wrapping paper?)...

So in walks the Amazon Wish List. For a few years, I actually had separate wish lists for my kids on Amazon. Each of them had a log-in that I created, and I set up lists for others to view and buy the "right" stuff for my kiddos. Recently, however, Amazon opened up their wish-list feature, and you can now have multiple lists -- so I moved the kids' lists under my list and closed their accounts (it was really confusing for me because they were all under my email address). The only downside of having them all safely settled under my account is that they're no longer separately searchable.

I suppose if your kids were older you could have them help you create their list or even make their own account and list. For now, I'm still happy to guide gift-givers to my kids.

That's what works for me!

Check 'em out...
David's Wish List
Sam's Wish List
Yael's Wish List

and of course, my Wish List.

But make sure to check out my entry into Melanie's Holiday Gift Carnival -- lots of ideas here for creative charitable giving.

While you're visiting Amazon, check out my Listmania lists and So You'd Like To Guides...

See more Works for Me Wednesday here!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Our New Arrival

Today this drove up to my house:

And first came this big empty space (yay cuz it was leaking a lot)

Then...this beautiful new fridge joined our family...

Hooray! No more leaky watery refrigerator. No more leaning down into the bottom fridge, I now have a top fridge that is fully functional. So exciting!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Best Shot Monday

We've been celebrating birthdays around here...see Sunday's post for a rundown on the Ima Creativity Challenge, i.e. birthday cake creations!

We had a Ninja Party for the big one and a Blue's Clues Party for the little are the best shots from each party (taking birthday party pictures is hard! I'm pretty sure that these were both taken by my dad. Also, there were lots of pics of other kids with my own...can't post those!)

Celebrating birthdays always gives me pause to my kids really need gifts? Do they really need big fancy shmancy parties? I am so proud of our parties...I hope that we focus on the celebrating of our kids' growth and not on the acquisition of presents. I can't even imagine opening a mountain of 20 or so gifts. David got 5 or 6 today and that seemed like a lot! But I love that he embraced each one of them. We definitely do a "homegrown" party -- my husband and I planned and executed it, this year with a little help from one of our Confirmation students (10th grader) who is a black belt in Karate. It helps that she has babysat for David since we moved here and he loves her! Each kid got a ninja headband, ninja bracelets, and ninja "exercises" got them going. We did silly obstacle courses and sent a bouncy ball through paper-towel tubes. Emily (the black belt) taught them all to count in Japanese. We ate cake. Then they all played outside 'til the mommies came. A good time was had by all, as the grandparents sat on the couch and watched the whole thing!

How do you keep from "too much birthday" in your house? How do you focus on the miracle of growth, the acknowledgement of our yearly progression?

See more Best Shot Monday at Picture This.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Where My Creative Energies Have Gone

...or in other words, Why I Didn't Do the Wrapped Emotions Challenge this week...

Those of you who read my blog regularly have seen some of the Wrapped Emotions creativity challenges that I've been doing each week along with Melody and others. Some weeks it's a challenge to get it done, other weeks it just seems to fit in.

This week, however, I've been planning birthday parties. Saturday morning was Sam's 2nd birthday party. A simple low-key brunch with a Blue's Clues theme. And these gorgeous cupcakes, made by yours truly!

And, not to be outdone by myself, David's 6-year-old birthday party is today. Here is the beautiful cake I've created for that party, with a "ninja" theme. It promises to be much less low-key, much noiser, with six seven 6-year-old boys running around the house. (One per year, plus David)

These cakes/cupcakes have kicked my butt this week but they were so much fun! I explored the joy of candy melt.

Things I've learned:
1. It's hard (almost impossible) to change the color of the candy melt after it's melted. (Maybe because I didn't have this)
2. It's really really hard to get true black and true red color. I used gel food color, which is supposed to be better, but I still couldn't get real black. More like silvery gray. Oh well.
3. Food color stains your hands. I'm now a medley of blue, black and red.
4. Spray food color is harder to use than it looks.
5. It's just not as easy as it looks!

The whole thing was a lot of fun though, and my boys were very excited about their treats.

It does beg the question as to why I didn't just buy the cake and cupcakes. After all, I'm a busy mom of 3, with a full-time job, and much of the cake decorating happened during time I could have spent resting, relaxing, or...blogging (grin). For one thing, I enjoyed doing it, knowing that I was making something special for my kids. I also like the opportunity to try out a new craft. Crazy? Maybe.

Five Places I've Been This Week

A Funny Cake - and making fun of W*lmart too!

Zucchini Muffins with Gumdrops - sounds weird but looks yummy

Bar Mitzvah Behavior


Cake Decorating Basics

from my
Where have you been?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Creative Holiday Gifts of Tzedakah (Charity)

There are so many times during the holidays and during the year when we have to buy some kind of gift for someone who "has it all"...or it's a "gift of obligation" like a hostess gift or business-associate gift...and often the gifts that we come up with are not very useful, not very exciting, or just not what the person wants.

So this year, why not give the gift of tzedakah -- the gift of charity? I know what you're thinking, who do I give to, how do I choose, and how do I make sure that the recipient isn't offended by my choice of charitable organization? Be creative about it! Just think a little bit about the person, and figure out a charitable organization that "fits" with them.

Here are some of my favorite ideas, which I'm sure will get you thinking about more...

For the guys....if he likes...
…fishing...donate in his honor to Seashare, Fish for America’s Hungry People, an organization that donates fish to the hungry

…cars…donate in his honor to The Dare to Dream Camp, a racecar-theme camp that provides enrichment, recreation, and mentoring for underprivileged, at-risk, neglected and abused children.

…ties, donate in his honor to Shop Well With You, an organization that provides people undergoing cancer treatments with resources and advice on how they can dress and feel both comfortable and attractive.

…animals, donate in his honor to Computers for Communities, which refurbishes old computers and makes them available to needy families and communities.

…music, donate in his honor to Mitzvah Clowns, who bring healing through laughter to hospitals and nursing homes.

For the ladies...if she likes...
...candy donate in her honor to A Package From Home which provides candies and treats to Israeli soldiers away from home.

...fruit donate in her honor to Table to Table, an organization that delivers 4000-5000 meals weekly in Israel. The organization gleans fruit from trees to give to those in need.
OR donate in her honor to The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, which aims to plant 18 billion fruit trees across the world to benefit our environment and humankind.

...dogs donate in her honor to Save a Pet, an organization that encourages pet adoptions.
OR donate in her honor to the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind. donate in her honor to Songs of Love, an organization that writes and records original songs for children who are facing life-threatening or chronic illness. donate in her honor to Shoes That Fit, an organization that provides shoes to children in need. donate in her honor to Shop Well With You, an organization that provides people undergoing cancer treatments with resources and advice on how they can dress and feel both comfortable and attractive.

...reading donate in her honor to Dream Reading, an organization that provides books for libraries.

For a new parent or a new grandparent, donate in her honor to St. Joseph's Baby Corner in Seattle, which provides basic care for new moms and babies in that city, or find a similar organization in your own city.

For kids...
Kids love birthday parties. Here are two organizations that bring birthday parties to underprivileged children: Project Birthday in Sacramento and Birthday Angels in Israel. Perhaps there is one in your city? Or maybe this is something for you to start!

Help out sick kids. Many children's hospitals have wishlists on Amazon. Pick something out and send it off to some sick kids. Perhaps the hospital in your area has a wish list. Here is the list for Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.

For kids who love skateboarding, check out Land of Plenty, which strives to spread physical activity and artistic expression through skateboarding.

Do you have a young leader on your gift list? Look at Dreams for Kids, an organization that empowers young people of all abilities through leadership acitivies.

Kids are very concerned about environmentalism. Check out Kids For A Clean Environment and make a donation in honor of the kids on your list.

There are so many different organizations out there. I love thinking about matching honorees with various different organizations. It opens my eyes to the possibilities out there for helping others, as well as makes a creative and interesting gift.

Some of these organizations will send notifications directly to your recipient. Some are smaller organizations and may not. What I often do is take a picture of my kids doing an activity that is similar to the charity donated to (example: a kid holding stuffed animals for a gift to Heifer International) and make a card on Shutterfly. I'll put information about the charity on one side of the card (usually cut and paste from their website into Shutterfly) and say: "A Donation has Been Made In Your Honor to..." Then on the other side of the card I'll put the greeting "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Birthday." This is very well-received! You could also use blank cards and do this by hand.

P.S. I also like to use these ideas for Mother's and Father's Day. I'm sick of sending flowers and candy, when they really don't need them and these are just "made-up" holidays anyway. I know that my mom appreciates the card that I make with the picture of the kids much more than any gift I could give her, and I do like choosing a charity for both my mom and dad.

See more gift ideas at the Holiday Shopping Carnival.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Jacob & Esau...It's Haiku Friday!

In this week's Torah portion....Toldot...

Rivka is barren.
Ike prays to God - please, kids, please!
God answers his prayer.

Two babies inside
Two nations within her womb
They won't get along

Esau is born first
Big and hairy, with Jacob
hanging on his heel.

The two are real diff
E likes to hunt, fish, and fight
Jake likes to stay home.

One day E wants food.
Jake has been cooking all day.
"Gimme some of that."

Jake's no fool, he deals.
"I'll trade soup for the birthright.
You don't care for it."

Esau is hungry.
The birthright goes to Jacob.
The soup to E's mouth.

Digressive story
Ike and Ree go to Gerar
"She is my sister."

The tale's familiar
We have heard it once before.
Whew, now that's over.

Back to Jake's blessing...
Logistics of getting it
are a bit tricky.

Ike's sight is real bad,
He knows not about the deal
So he calls Esau.

"Make me food to eat,
Kill it, I'd like meat to eat."
So Esau goes out.

Meanwhile, Ree hears all.
She sends Jake to catch some lambs.
She insists it's time.

Esau is hairy
Jake is not - lambskins cover
Deception - complete!

Into Dad he goes
Sound like one, smell like other
Isaac is unsure.

Jake deceives his dad,
The blessing is his for good.
Esau is upset.

Jake flees to Haran
To escape his brother's wrath
And to find a girl.

Coming up next week
Turnabout is unfair play
Deception for Jake!

1. is meanwhile 2 syllables or 3? I think it depends on your accent!
2. The last stanza, I couldn't decide between "turnabout is unfair play" and "what goes around comes around..." -- what do you think??
3. this is probably too much analysis, huh?

See more, possibly less weirdly analytical, Haiku Friday here....

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Before I had children...

I'm grateful for my children because....

1. Before I had children, I thought that the best thing in the world was sleeping in. Now I know that the best thing in the world is waking up to a giggly voice telling stories to a little sister or brother in the morning.

2. Before I had children, I thought that the best food was served in fine restaurants. Now I know that the best thing to eat is tofu hot-dog roll-ups slathered in ketchup, served with tater tots. ("My favorite food, Mom!")

3. Before I had children, I thought I liked taking my husband out to the movies on a Saturday night. Now I know that what I really like is cuddling with him on the couch, watching a movie from Netflix and knowing that all the children are snug in their beds and I'm not paying for a babysitter!

4. Before I had children, I thought that breakfast was cereal with milk. Now I know that bananas are an absolute human necessity and when they're not around, we all suffer. Oh, and coffee too.

5. Before I had children, farm animals were an interesting curiosity. Now I am fully aware of the noises, habits, and textures of each kind of animal. Especially pigs. And horses.

6. Before I had children, I thought naps were for babies. Now I know that naps are for babies...and toddlers and preschoolers and, most importantly, mommies and daddies.

7. Before I had children, I saw construction zones and sites as a noisy nuisance. Now they are infinite sources of joy and interest. I can identify diggers and rollers and cranes with ease.

8. Before I had children, the arrival of lights and sirens meant that I had to pull over. Now I have to pull over and cheer for the police!

9. Before I had children, holidays were times to delve deep into study and prayer, celebrating in the most spiritual fashion possible. Now I learn new things each year about the holidays as I consider new and different ways to share them with my children and make them relevant and exciting.

10. Before I had children, the camera was taken out for special occasions. Now I know the importance of recording as many "ordinary moments" as possible. I know that each of those ordinary moments is actually a special occasion.

11. Before I had children, grocery shopping was just a part of life. Now it's an important part of each week, devoted to ensuring that the food I buy for my kids is the best for them. And when they come along? It becomes a math lesson, a social justice lesson, a nutrition lesson, a religious lesson, a behavior lesson, and a personal finance lesson. Before I had children, I couldn't imagine filling a grocery cart to the top. Now I sometimes consider a second cart!

12. Before I had children, I liked to keep my car clean and didn't understand how cars could get so dirty. Now that I have children, I know that it's a losing battle against graham cracker crumbs, sweaters, toys, sippy cups, juice boxes, strollers, carseats....and I still don't understand how my car gets so dirty!

13. Before I had children, I thought that children were important, but I never imagined what my life would really be like. Now, I can't imagine my life without them. I can't imagine what I would be like if I didn't have these little people who daily teach me the joys of life and who remind me to see the ordinary as extraordinary. I'm grateful for these lessons, for David, Sam & Yael, who light up my life.

Written as part of MamaBlogga's November Group Writing Project. You too can participate!

See more Thursday Thirteen here.

Happy birthday to my wonderful Sam...2 years old today! I can't believe it. Where has the time gone....the days might go slowly but the years zip by!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Bibs - What Works for You!?

It's backwards edition of Works for Me Wednesday. I got wonderful responses last time to my questions about sleeping toddlers (he turns two tomorrow, by the way, and is doing much better sleep-wise, thankfully!) here is this month's. It's much more mundane, hopefully someone will help me out.

Here we go Internet...have at it:

What do you do about bibs?

For some reason, with Baby #3, we are having the darndest time keeping a bib on her. She's only 9 months old, and she pulls the bib off at every meal. These are the exact same bibs (well, brand at least) that I used with both of her brothers and no one gave me a hard time at all! How do I keep a bib on her?

A little more info: The bibs we use have velcro tabs, which was never a problem before. They are vinyl (probably made in China...oy don't get me started) and one of the things I like about them is that we wash them in the kitchen sink instead of the washing machine. This way they never have to leave the kitchen. I tried cloth bibs for a bit with my oldest but found that getting the laundry done was just one more thing I couldn't handle.

What works for you????

See more questions (and hopefully answers) at Rocks in My Dryer.

UPDATED: After posting this, my 2-year-old started crying so we went in his room to find him naked as the day he was born, but complaining because he was wet (from no diaper) and cold. Guess I typed too soon about him doing better in the sleep department! Just goes to show...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tasty Tuesday Dream Edition

Do you think I will be able to make this:

ninja cake

or this:

for the birthday parties this weekend?

I hope so.


I'm thankful for creativity. I'm thankful for Charlotte's Web. I'm thankful for Cinnabon. I'm thankful for re-usable grocery bags which make me disproportionately happy. (It seems silly to be so happy over something so small.) I'm thankful for the possibility of eating fruit all year round, fruit that should not be available to me!

What are you grateful for?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Thinking About Time...

November is the month in which I begin to think about the passage of time. (We have a lot of birthdays this month!)

My middle child, Sam, is turning two this week. He is truly a wonderful little guy, although he's going through a bit of a rough patch with teething and transitions...

I already posted some pictures this week of our adventures in the leaves....but here is Sam, almost 2, with his cute tushie sticking out...(my best shot Monday)

and just for old times' sake, here he is at one month old:

Swing by Picture This for more Best Shot Monday.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Life with Family...& Five Places I've Been This Week

This week, Melody encouraged us to spend time with our family as her prompt at Wrapped Emotions....

I love my job. There are so many wonderful things about what I do in my work...and it's a lot of work, let me tell you, but it's very rewarding. I do work a lot of evening and weekend hours, but right now, I'm so lucky that my children are young and I can spend time with them during other parts of the day. Mornings are often more flexible, and this week I was able to spend a lot of time with my little ones especially. (My biggest one is in Kindergarten so he goes to school for part of the day.)

I have one day off each week, Tuesday. While one day off is not exactly enough (imho), it is sometimes very nice to have a day in the middle of the week to spend with my kids!

This week, my parents came to hang out and the kids made a big pile of leaves. Here are some of the pics of that day...

It is truly a blessing to be able to share these moments with my kids. I am such a lucky mama!!!!

Five Places I've Been This Week

Bloggy Giveaways...who didn't spend all their time this week entering giveaways?

Gap Slave Kids -- who made your jeans?

ImageChef -- others have discovered this before me, but how fun

Where have you been?

from my (add me to your network?)

I am thankful for Melody and her creation of the Wrapped Emotions project!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Fall Y'all Giveaway Winner!

We have a winner -- the winner of my first-ever Giveaway, one copy of

10 Principles for Spiritual Parenting: Nurturing Your Child's Soul
by Mimi Doe and Marsha F. Walch


(thanks to

Kylinsmom, aka Linsey at Lille Punkin Reviews (love her header)!

Stop by one of her blogs and say congrats to her!

Maybe I'll do another giveaway soon because it was so much fun:-)

If you liked my giveaway, please check out some of my other posts and stick around...maybe even become a subscriber.

Thanks to all who entered. I wish I could have given it to each of you! Go and check it out, it's a great book.

Did you enter other contests? Check back at the Fall Y'all Givaways to see if you won!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Friday, November 2, 2007

Parashat Chayei Haiku

Sarah was real old -

She died. Abe was sad.

Abe wanted to buy
A burial site he found
Ephron wouldn't sell.

Abe appealed for help
The Hittites interceded
So he paid in full.

Abe buried Sarah
In the Cave of Machpelah
And he mourned for her

*technical note, he actually mourned before he buried her.
But it worked better this way. Sorry

Isaac was ready
A nice wife was to be sought
A servant did go.

At the well he looked
He asked God to help him out
Which girl draws water?

Rivka filled her jug
And he knew this was the girl
For Ike to marry.

To meet Ike went she
Love at first sight...he took her
for his wife, with joy.

Abe married again
Keturah was his new wife.
And they had some sons.

See more Haiku Friday here.

I am thankful for the gift of Torah.
Don't forget my Giveaway which ends tonight at 5pm.
Winner will be announced after Shabbat ends!
A special happy birthday today to my husband...I can say anything I want because he never reads my blog. I love him so much!!!!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A Low Key Halloween Wrap-up (TT13)

Thirteen things we did for Halloween this year...

1. We went to the pumpkin farm.

2. We picked out pumpkins at the pumpkin farm.

3. We met a pig at the pumpkin farm.

4. We carved the pumpkins.

5. We roasted pumpkin seeds.

6. We wore costumes. Okay, not "we" -- just the kids. I stole somebody's idea and claimed to be a Wizard dressed as a Muggle. It got laughs all day.

7. We went trick-or-treating. For a little bit.

8. We sorted out the candy. A fun part for my 6 year old.

9. We kept 6 pieces, because David is 6 years old.

10. We gave the rest to the Candy Fairy.

11. I blogged about Halloween here and here and here.

12. I got a headache.

13. We breathed a sigh of relief that Halloween is over for another year!

Don't forget to check out my give-away!