Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Let the Little Light Shine

I'm going to Blog Elul over at my other blog on a regular basis, so make sure to check that out too!

Each day, the Jewels of Elul offer inspiration and words of wisdom during the month of Elul, the month that precedes Rosh HaShanah.

There's also going to be a daily question, and you can go over to the Jewels page to post your answer.

Today's question is:

If you could identify one light that changed your world this year, what or who would it be?

It sounds totally cheesy, but my new little guy has been quite a light. Quite by accident, I started posting a daily picture of him on Facebook. (Today is Day 263.) It's been really remarkable to take a picture each day and see how much he has grown.

From Day 1:

to Day 260, just a few days ago...

Watching him grow and change has been quite a light. The daily picture has been its own light. Feeling compelled (by social pressure - Solly has fans!) to put that picture up has been such an interesting feeling. To know that each day I need to find a few moments to snap a picture (which has gotten harder and harder as he has gotten faster!), in addition to snuggling and loving him...it has been a good and welcome challenge. To know that the three day trip I'm planning in November will also include a plan for making sure that the picture of the day is taken by someone else, that too is a lesson for me in how much wonderful time I've had to spend with Solly in his first year of life. I am truly blessed.

The other light that he has shined on our family is in his siblings. I'm constantly amazed by the way that they love him so much. They want to hold him, to get his attention, to make him laugh, to feed him, to play with him...I hope this delight in their brother (and in each other?) continues to grow and be always a part of our family's life.

What light has changed you this year? Feel free to answer here or pop over to Jewels of Elul to answer there.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Shabbat Blessings Online

People often ask me about my online life.
You know, the one that exists inside the Internets.
The one where all my imaginary friends live...but that's a different post.

People want to know about the whole rabbi/twitter/facebook thing. As in, how do you do it and why do you do it, and what does it mean to you and how does it impact your rabbinate and just where do you find the time?

Right, all *those* questions.

And I don't have a lot of answers. Sometimes I find the Internets an incredibly spiritual place.
(By the way, I tend to think of it as a plural word, like The Badlands or The Mountains...I don't know why. And I visualize it as this swirly ever-world of sparkly bits...which might be why I find them so happy...)

Sometimes I read stories that move me to tears, sometimes I get goosebumps and want to jump inside someone else's words and roll around and just fill myself up.
Sometimes I connect with people in amazing ways that give even me a little thrill.
(And someday, I might answer those questions...if I ever figure out the answers.)

But the one thing that I find most wonderful and interesting about my online life is Shabbat.
This is pretty funny, because I don't actually post on the internet on Shabbat. So, you're thinking, tell me why Shabbat is so interesting and wonderful then!

Ah...it's all the Shabbat messages that get sent out right before Shabbat starts and all the Shavua Tov messages after it ends. Each week, I get at least 5 (if not more) "mentions" on Twitter, someone wishing me a #ShabbatShalom (that's Twitter-speak for Shabbat Shalom!) and the same afterwards. This gives me a happy feeling right as Shabbat begins. To know that friends and acquaintances all over the world are all taking a moment of their own Shabbat prep to wish *me* a Shabbat Shalom...what a good feeling.

And then there's Shabbat on Facebook. Almost each week, I spend a few minutes (I wouldn't say this is like writing a sermon or anything, but I do think about it for more than just your average Facebook update) crafting a Shabbat message for Facebook. It's my "sign-off" - I won't be back til Saturday night. But it's also my own way of leaving the sacred space of the Internets with my fondest wishes and blessings for a Shabbat of peace and health.

Lately I've noticed that more people comment on these posts, so I'm hopeful that others feel the Shabbat-love the same way that I do. And sometimes I wonder if there are people out there who might not even really celebrate Shabbat who enjoy a reminder of this special day, a chance to slow down, to be with family, to find blessings, and to disconnect from the Internets to find the spirituality in other places...maybe.

Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back to School Tradition

I've shared our usual back to school picture tradition, but I've never actually shared this one. Since David was in kindergarten, we've always made him get inside his locker. So it continues...except he doesn't really fit any more!

Here's our usual back-to-school photo tradition - a picture with the school mural. To see the previous pictures click here and here.

This year, we added a new face. Not just a fourth grader, but also a kindergartener:
And of course, the two of them. Together....

(Hard to believe that next year there will be three in this picture.)

Such a blessing to start a new year. I feel so darn lucky.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Prayer for the Start of School

And so the school year begins....

It's hard to believe that it's that time of year. Wasn't it just summer? Wait, it still is.

Here are my school-starters...full parental disclosure: I don't pick out their clothes.

Incredibly excited to begin her pre-K year:

Putting on fake enthusiasm for 4th grade:

Quietly impatient for kindergarten to start....
(it was the same day as the 4th grader but the rain started before afternoon kindergarten)
Completely uninterested in what's going on but always happy to watch...

And so begins a new year.

May it be a year of learning and growth, a year of new experiences and understanding.
May they outgrow their shoes and may they not lose their jackets.
May each day bring something new and may routine guide their steps.
May their pencils be sharp and their minds even sharper.
May they revel in the joy of each new fact learned, each right answer, each small accomplishment.
May the erasers on their pencils get as much use as the tips.
May they learn that wrong answers can be just as important as right ones.
May they ask questions, lots and lots of questions, and may their teachers be patient. Very patient.
May they make friends and build relationships, and may they make lifelong connections.
May they be kind and polite and each one a mensch of the highest order.
And may this year be filled with blessings...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Britax Baby Carrier {Review}

I am a baby-wearer. Not quite as much as Stephanie, but I definitely have had my own adventures.

I have a Baby Bjorn, three ring slings, a borrowed Ergo (thanks, Jody, I love it), and a few assorted pouch slings.

I regularly wear my baby, and I've worn all of them - often at work, and often to lead services for Sunday School or at camp (see this post for me at camp, wearing Solly in my sling).
Read the rest of my review of the new Britax Baby Carrier over at The Ima Reviews...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sam, the (Kosher) Ham

This was the fourth summer that we were blessed to visit our friends who have a house in Green Lake, Wisconsin. It is truly amazing to be with them, especially now that these friends have moved away from Chicago - we hadn't spent time with them since last summer! My kids love their kids and vice-versa, and it is always a wonderful couple of days together. We spent a lot of time out on their boat, and it's been really amazing to watch, as over the years, my children have become more and more comfortable with the various boating activities. In previous years, Yael loved to watch but would not go on the tube. This year she was so excited to go with the "big boys" (and she had them wrapped around her little finger, let me tell you). But the real star of the show was, in my mind, Sam.

He was fearless, taking turns on the tube and also the knee board (like a stepping stone toward water skiing). Here he is, showing off his skills... "look, no hands!" And we could hear him shout, "is that all you got?" and flash the "faster" sign. He was singing to himself and smiling and clearly enjoying every moment of this experience. The kid is a (kosher) ham. He could tell that we were having a great time watching him and that fueled his fire.

 He looks so little and far away when he's out on the board, being towed by the boat. It's such a moment of release for me, to put my kid out there and watch him, huge grin on his face, so far away. (Of course, I really have no worries in terms of safety - our friends are incredibly safety-conscious and take very good care of our family and theirs!) To see my little boy growing up into a funny, daredevil, fun-loving person is so remarkable. Here he is getting a big hug on his return to the boat. We all laughed with delight at his antics. I think the kid is truly ready to leave the nest for kindergarten. He'll be the class funnyman for sure.

Of course, not everyone was impressed with the whole experience.
See more Summer Stock Sunday (which I haven't gotten around to much this summer!) over by Robin's place.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Yael: Mom, let's play a game.
Me: Okay, what are we going to play?
Yael: You be the mom and I'll be the kid.
Me: I think I can handle this.

a few minutes later...
Yael: Okay, now let's play that you're the mom, I'm the kid, and Solly is the baby.
Me: I think both he and I can handle our roles.

another few minutes later...
Yael: Mom, pause the game.
Me: Okay, but how do I know when we're playing and when we're "paused"?
Yael: (she thinks for a moment) Okay, when I call you "Mommy" then we're paused. When I call you "Mom," then we're playing the game. Got it?
Me: I'll do my best to keep it straight....

Who knew this parenting thing could be so mind-bending!?