Monday, September 27, 2010

Moving to Australia

(A real, pre-bedtime conversation from Sunday night. I tried really hard not to laugh at him.)

Sam: When I grow up I'm moving away to Australia.
Me: I'll really miss you. When you move away, I'll make sure to come and visit.
Sam: I'll kick you out.
Me: Nope. I'm gonna visit you and stay for THREE weeks at a time. Because I'll miss you so much.
Sam: No you won't.
Me: Yes, I will. I'll sleep in your guest room for THREE weeks.
Sam: (Pause...thinking) I won't HAVE a guest room. Just a little tiny house with ONE little bed.
Me: I'll share it with you.
Sam: I won't share.
Me: I'll bring my sleeping bag.
Sam: No you won't.
Me: Well, I'll miss you a lot and I'll make sure to visit.

A little too much of this and perhaps not enough of that.

When will he grow out of the grumpies!?

To My Most Loyal Blog Reader

This past Shabbat was my dad's here's what decorated our Sukkah this weekend...
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Define "Dwell"

The holiday of Sukkot has a whole list of rules for us to follow, how to fulfill the mitzvah of "dwelling" in the Sukkah.

Here's one such list of rules to help us define this concept...
To paraphrase:
Eat in the sukkah.
Sleep in the sukkah, unless it's raining.
If the sukkah causes distress (too windy or cold), you're exempt.
If it rains, you're exempt.
If you're sick, you're exempt.
(We're very practical people.)

The blessing for sitting in the sukkah is:

Blessed are You, our God, Ruler of the world, 
who has made us holy with commandments 
and commanded us to dwell in the sukkah.

I think playing your Nintendo DS counts as "dwelling."

Don't you?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Indoor Sukkah, 5771

*Alternate Title: How the (pregnant) Ima supervised this year's sukkah construction.
See this post for the outdoor sukkah building!

Each year we put up an "Indoor Sukkah." You certainly don't have to tell me that Sukkot is intended to be an outdoor holiday. But trust me, if we're outdoors for more than 50% of the days of Sukkot, I consider that to be a minor miracle. We've had rain and snow and heat and the Indoor Sukkah is our constant reminder and celebration of this great holiday.

This year, my husband was enlisted to help since it's not the wisest thing for me to be standing on chairs right now.
And Sam supervised while snuggling with his lulavim and etrogim that he found in the Sukkah Box.
Yael, ever the helper, tangled the fruit as best as she could.
How do you celebrate Sukkot?

Some of my previous posts on this of my favorite holidays!

How to Build a Sukkah*

*When you're pregnant and dodging rainstorms...and your husband just can't be home that day.

1. Bring in reinforcements. Bubbie and the 3 year old daughter will work great.
2. Lay out the sukkah pieces carefully so as not to get any of the mouse-nest debris on you. Ew.
3. Make sure that one of your children is really excited to help and give her a job to do that you don't mind her doing in her own time. As in, "give me one of those zip ties" and then wait about 5 minutes while she picks out just the right one for you. (Perhaps better than the other child, who is completely uninterested in the whole process and spends the time digging for worms.)
4. Marvel at the ridiculousness of the fact that last year the Sukkah was built in coats, hats, and mittens.
5. Refer back to #1, reinforcements should also include Zeyde AKA Master Sukkah Builder.
6. Laugh a LOT at how fast it goes when you buy the large-size zipties as opposed to piecing together the little ones that you have left over. Laugh also at how much faster it goes without too many helpers.
7. Wait to put up the schach until after the massive storm that is predicted for that night...
And that's how we built our sukkah this year!

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Fast of Meaning

Last year, I talked about why I don't want to wish you an easy fast.

This year, I'm not fasting.
Here's why:
28 weeks...and counting!
Fasting isn't the only way to make atonement, to immerse oneself in the feeling of repentance and holiness that comes with this most powerful of days. I know this. The holiday will still work its "magic" on me, it will still fill me with the sense of awe and wonder, the sense of majesty and power that comes with the words of Al Cheit and Vidui, with hearing Sh'ma Koleinu and Avinu Malkeinu. I will still strive for my own moment of Divine connection, my own moment to say "Hineni - I am here."

From Rabbi Simkha Weintraub, a meditation for one who cannot fast:
Ribbono shel Olam/Master of the Universe;
Creator of All, Source of All Life,
Who Knows What is Deep in Human Hearts,
Who Nurtures Every Living Being:
As You know, dear God,
Yom Kippur is fast approaching, and because of my condition,
I am not able to keep the traditional fast –
I cannot abstain totally from eating.
On this Day of Atonement, this Sabbath of Sabbaths,
this year and every year,
it is so central to join the people of Israel
in denying ourselves food and drink for one day
so that we focus on correcting our misdeeds,
on knowing our mortality;
on reaching for a life of Torah, mitzvot, and lovingkindness;
on You.
You know, dear God, that it is not my intent
to be apart from our people and our tradition.
My current state of health makes it unsuitable for me to fast
So, dear God, I turn to You now in sincerity and openness:
Help me in the coming year to do my best in guarding my health.
Help us, Your children, learn how to protect our bodies from harm.
Help us support others in caring for their tzelem Elokim, their Image of God.
Teach us to help one another grow and thrive in Body, Mind, and Spirit.
Guide caring family and health care professionals in their partnering with you
to bring healing if not cure, support and strength if not an end to symptoms.
And if there is an opportunity for me to help others who suffer
by doing something they need or by being attentive company –
Grant me the ability to do this mitzvah with love and devotion.
Rofeh khol basar/Healer of all living creatures:
I thank You for the breath that is in me
for the community of Israel that lives
for the possibilities of today and tomorrow.
May my eating be as a fast;
May it be dedicated to You, to T’shuvah –
to the Renewal and Restoration of my Relationship
to You, to Others, and to Myself.

In whatever way you observe Yom Kippur, may you find meaning and blessing in its observance, and may we all be sealed for a year of blessing and wholeness. G'mar chatima tova.

P.S. Look at this nice link up from the BlogHer site! Thanks!
P.P.S. The new Jewish Book Carnival is up over here.
P.P.P.S. There wasn't a Haveil Havalim but the Kehila Jewish Blog Carnival is here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Good & Sweet New Year!

From my family to yours...wishing you a shana tova, a year of goodness and blessing, peace and light.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Differences of Opinion

Me to Yael: How'd you get so cute?
Yael: God made me that way.

Me to Sam: How'd you get so cute?
Sam: I've got cute parents.

Who's right?!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Beautiful Giraffa Designs (and a Confession)

Confession: I LOVE to get New Year's cards. (I even love them at the secular new year.) I love seeing the pictures of my friends and family and their kids and I really love those annual letters that some of my friends send. I am incredibly jealous of people who do that each year - and it gives me such joy to read them. (Am I the only person who loves these things?) I hang them up in our kitchen, I show the pictures to the kids, I get all giddy like a child when I get them in the mail. Maybe it's because the mail is otherwise so boring. But I think it's because I love love love the way that these cards and letters connect me to those I love. (Then again, I even get a kick out of seeing the cards of perfect strangers - one of my friends gets a ton of them each year in December and I see them displayed at her house...and I look at them all, even though I don't know any of the people! Okay, maybe this weird thing is for another blog post....)

Confession: I never send New Year's cards.

{{{Sigh}}} Usually, I just can't get it together. And I feel like once I get's a big ol' snowball. Can't I just send my blog? :-)

When my pal LeighAnn posted on her Facebook profile that she was starting up a new business, I shared her link. She makes beautiful designs (and babies, by the way) and I loved the design she did for her daughter's birth announcement. (Yeah, I usually don't do those either. I'm such a slacker.)

And then she offered me a free design - no strings attached! (So there's the disclosure - I did get these gorgeously designed cards for free but that's all!) And so I decided to do it and this would be the first year that I ever send out New Year's cards. So if you get one from me, thank LeighAnn, okay? (If you don't get one, don't blame her, blame me. This is one of the reasons I don't usually send them - I'm so scared of forgetting someone!)

Isn't it beautiful!?

It was awesome to work with her - all I did was pick out my favorite, send her a picture, and she emailed me the proof. I love it. And then I uploaded it to VistaPrint, and thanks to a coupon from Ebates, the whole thing was quite inexpensive.

So it does happen that LeighAnn is in the same line of work that I am this is a busy time of year. I'm not entirely sure that you could get a card in time for Rosh haShanah. But you could get it in time for Sukkot, I'm sure, and it's well worth it. (My advice, pay for quicker shipping from VistaPrint, though, that was the slow part for me.) I believe that Giraffa Designs is planning on offering designs for other simchas and occasions, so check back or check with her directly if you're looking for something right now.

But: I'm not making any promises that I'll actually send out cards every year.
After all, next year there will be even more of us.
(Oh yeah, that announcement hasn't actually been formally made here on the blog...
God willing, new little Sommer will arrive around Chanukah)