Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hi, my name is Philly and I am a ________.

Or "Now that I've untied these things, NOW what do I do?!"

So this week finds me with an unusually empty home. Well, not completely, the dog and the husband are here, but my children are not. Both my daughters are with their grandmother visiting this week. Actually, my oldest daughter has been there all summer helping her grandmother out after her hip replacement surgery. (BTW, she is doing very well thank you!) My youngest needed a change of pace and a break from the day to day she is happily spending the week reading to her heart's content. Me? Well, I am not sure. Sunday was a bit sad for me, that is when they left. I had such a hallowness in my chest, but I kept trying to shake it off telling myself I would be fine. I know this probably seems very silly to all of you. I mean, should'nt I be doing the 'woohoo kids out of the house' happy dance. Not my style guys, sorry. But I knwo I also shouldn't fall into despair because of it. So, I am going to the wise thing and keep myself busy. I started off Sunday going to a drum workshop, which BTW was excellent and oh so much fun. I came home and made a lovely but simple dinner for my husband and I. (Spinach and tomato salad topped with veggie burger strips and homemade yogurt dressing, yumm!) Yesterday I came home from work and just kinda wandered about. Today I am setting up a game plan for the rest of the week. I really want this week to be productive and happy! So here goes!

So far my plans are to:

1. Clean (really clean) my home
2. Organize my bedroom
3. Finish my weaving
4. Restring my mandolin
5. Make a wish list for school next year
6. Clean out fridge
7. Weed garden
8. Make several tinctures (lavender and lemon balm)
9. Read
10. Meditate

These are not in order of importance but rather what came to mind first. Notice the take care of myself items came up at the end of my thought process. I am sure that is not surprising because we woman do tend to do that.

I suppose that is what all this is about. As my children have grown up and have moved out on their own, I need to re-identify myself. I have been their mother for 25 years now. From the moment I conceived my son there has been nothing else that has consumed my thoughts as much as being a mother has. I understand I will always be their mother, but they no longer need me and I no longer can (nor do I want to) serve them in the same capacity. They need me now in such different and sometimes even deeper ways. I really do like our new relationships. We are developing a more companion sort of relationship. We speak on different levels, sometimes more openly, sometimes not. (I will always be Mommy after all and there are just some things you do not share with your mother ;-) ) But for sure it is a deeper and mutually respectful relationship. I really like the adults my children have become. They are moral, ethical and upright people. I like that they think for themselves, although they may find that hard to believe. (Hey, I've got my opinions too!) For the most part I am getting used to this 'Brave New World', I just have not quite figured out what to do with me yet.

So, let's say this week is my initiation into me finding what my next phase of life will be. I know my mind and heart is full of many seeds of possibility. I suppose that now the time has come to plant them and see what begins to sprout. Just imagine what this garden will look like!

Maybe the Village Wise Woman will emerge after all...

Note: Picture is from my dear friend 'Not Quite June Cleaver'. If you click link or the picture you will redirected to her wonderful site!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A fun website for my expecting mommies

I just found this site and I thought this would be a great link post for all my expecting mommies out there. Babystrology.com has several neat gadgets over there to play with. My favorite is the baby ticker, which you can find under tools. There you plug in your due date and a ticker with an image of the development of a baby the same age of yours pops us. It even shows the baby floating about, how cute is that! Have fun!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Save Your Local Mint Farm!!

The Crosby Mint farm needs our help! Once upon a time in Michigan there were 60 mint farms. Now there are only 4 and the oldest mint farm, the Crosby farm is in threat of foreclosure! Just so you know, I am a huge fan of mint and am pretty convinced that mint can do just about anything! I grow several kind myself, and I have used it to calm nerves, give me midday energy, get rid of a headache, sooth a tummy ache, make a cool refreshing drink, etc. Not to mention a delicious addition to many recipes! You name it I find mint can do it! They are offering a $5 dram sale and a great package deal! Really, you need some! They are super to stick in an emergency or first aid kit and make very good gifts. Check out the video and let's help the Crosby's keep the farm!

Here are pictures of the mint I grow. Just a small amount and I haven't a distiller to get the oil from it so I do buy mint essential oils.

This is a picture of this years peppermint. It is so strong and yummy!

These are my pots of peppermint and spearmint.

This is my darling applemint, my absolute favorite! I make a wonderfully refreshing tea from this. My mother grew this when we lived in Chicago and I remember loving the fuzzy leaves.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Memories of Summer Time Sewing & Home School

It must be that time of the year. Always towards the end of summer, when my children were much younger, I remember doing lot of sewing to prepare for the colder seasons. Living in Lancaster County made it quite easy for me. There were wonderful fabric stores in the center of the tourist area, that I loved going to. It was so much fun to go with my daughters and pick out material for our fall and winter dresses and jumpers. We would buy many yards of fabric (and even occasionally bolts) usually at really good discount prices. Why so much fabric you may be wondering? Well, once upon a time, I made all of my daughters and my clothing. I loved sewing , and I loved knowing I could do it. Talk about feeling like eishet chayil! I had lots and lots of dress and jumper patterns and just loved looking through them and choosing what we were going to wear for the season. Now mind you, back then I also bought knit material for dresses. My Amish and Mennonite neighbors were HUGE fans of the synthetic knit fabric singing it's praises and convincing me of it's many virtues. It actually did make nice looking and easy to care for dresses, although we only wore these in the colder months because they were too hot for the summer and spring. (BTW, I did eventually get away from the knits altogether. We soon discovered the comforts and coziness of cotton flannel).

This was also the time of year when I would be pouring over curriculum catalogs, searching for the perfect subject or ideas for our home school the next year. It's really interesting to me how intensely I feel and miss this rhythm in my life. For example recently I was with a friend who is planning on homeschooling her son part time next year. He will only be attending a Jewish day school for his religious studies and will be home schooled for his secular. She was so very excited talking to me about what she is learning regarding education and looking at different curriculum. She was so animated and passionate that I just sat smiling and enjoying her enthusiasm. Laughingly she finally said, "I'm sorry, I could go on for hours!" I smiled and replied that it was not that long ago that the lady sitting across the table was me. I was a tad bit envious of her excitement, but my time is done in that area.

It suppose it would a good idea to begin recreating some other ritual for this time of the year. I could certainly sew, and I may do that for old times sake and because I need to teach my youngest daughter to sew. But I think I do need to come up with some other rituals, create a new rhythm that I will look forward to each end of summer. Any ideas?

Monday, July 27, 2009

IMO, guarding the eyes

So, there is an article up on a website that someone posted as a note over on facebook. (things get around on the internet) It is on shmirat ha eynayim, guarding the eyes. I read the article and the only thing that happened to me was I managed to get very annoyed. So, I decided to write about it and give my not so humble opinion. My blog, my opinion. (oh yeah, I said it!)

Personally, I think 30 minutes praying about shmirat ha'lashon would be better spent. Moreover, articles like these tend to make women feel like pariahs. Why? Because many, many frum men I see do not just practice shmirat ha eynayim when they see 'immodest' women, they do it when they see anyone female. I can admire and respect a man who lowers his eyes when a scantily clad woman walks by but I think it is ridiculous when I am walking down the street on shabbat and I say, shabbat shalom and the male walking on the sidewalk either looks the other way or barely glances at me, scoots as far away from me as possible on the sidewalk and mumbles 'gut shabbas'. I try to think positively, maybe he really has serious issues he is dealing with. But everyone one of them?! What happened to be a mensch? A gentleman? You certainly do not need to ogle a woman, but a nod of the head and acknowledgment of the lady's existence is polite enough.

It seems to me that articles like these are also insulting to men. They seem to have been reduced to nothing more than animals who can do nothing about themselves and their drives and therefore should never,ever look at anyone female for fear of G-d knows what!

I will never forget when I was relatively new to orthodoxy and I traveled to see a Rabbi who shall remain nameless, speak. I read his writings, I communicated with him via email and I could not wait to hear him. I went with two other ladies and afterward wanted very much to speak with him. So there I was waiting my turn for quite some time when it became embarrassingly obvious he had no intention of speaking to me. I could not believe it and could not figure out what was wrong. He spoke to other women, but then I began to realize that they had their husbands with them and I just had two other women. I felt humiliated when the light bulb went off in my then unaware head and walked away. Over the course of several days, I kept wondering if I should write to said rabbi to apologize, (not exactly sure for what) or try to explain myself. I really felt awful and finally just decided to let it go since quite frankly, I just did not get it.

And I still don't. I can only help but wonder how articles and teachings like these can, will and are taken to extremes. It makes me wonder what is going to be next on the agenda.

NOTE: All due respect to the website where the article was found. I learn much from this site, but I am reserving my right as a Jew to argue and disagree. We have a long and wonderful history of "two Jews, three opinions". And this sephardi lady has opinion a'plenty! Peace!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Solar Eclipse

This is a beautiful video from the BBC taken July 22, 2009. (sorry. the BBC removed the video because of copyright laws, you will find the link to the youtube.com video below) It is of the full solar eclipse that occurred over parts of India and Asia. This particular eclipse was the longest total solar eclipse during the 21st century, and will not be surpassed until June 2132. Wikipedia states: "A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Sun and the Earth so that the Sun is fully or partially covered. This can only happen during a new moon, when the Sun and Moon are in conjunction as seen from the Earth. At least two and up to five solar eclipses can occur each year on Earth, with between zero and two of them being total eclipses. Total solar eclipses are nevertheless rare at any location because during each eclipse totality exists only along a narrow corridor in the relatively tiny area of the Moon's umbra."

I know this can all be explained scientifically, but that did not take away the awe and chills I felt as I watched this phenomenon. To me it was terrifyingly beautiful! I think it is awesome that this happens so rarely and only around the New Moon. The New Moon is symbolic for us of new beginnings. Here the sun is covered but you still see it's light ring. The darkness is temporary. It's so appropriate for the month of Av. A time when we mourn the loss of our Holy Temple. But the darkness is only temporary. You can see the light rings, if you look.

I particularly like what bursts forth around 2:12 on the video. A reminder that this ancient symbol speaks to us of the interconnectedness of the heavens and the earth, of man and woman, of the Holy One and us.

Here is the link to the video of the solar eclipse here!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

And now for a word from our sponsors:

It should come as no surprise that I am HUGE supporter of the American Farmer, as I am sure you are too. After all, we all eat food and therefore would never think to bite the hand of those who feed us, would we? Some things that my family and I try very hard to do is to grow some of what we eat, I am in Philly after all, so I can't grow a whole lot at least not until I can convince my neighbors to forgo their lawns for some serious urban farmette-ing. We also try to buy our produce from local farmers and farm markets. Obviously when I lived in Lancaster, this was immensely easier, but in spite of my Urban location it is not impossible. Free range eggs and local organic milk is also something we are pretty strict about, especially the eggs. Buying food from locally sustained farms, especially organic, sends a loud and clear message to our farmers and to big agri-business.It tells our farmers that we need and appreciate them and how very vital they are to our health, economy and lives! It tells the big agri-businesses that they can no longer control our food and our health.

Take some time and check out these two videos. This first one is interview out on PBS with the director of Food Inc.

This second one is a full length film called The Future of Food. I assure you neither of these will be a waste of your time and may help open your eyes to what has happened to our food. I know they opened mine!

Educate yourselves, support your local farms and not the big pharms! Know what you are eating and make positive decisions that effect your health and the health of your children, the Country, the World, and the Earth!

It is time to open your eyes and see what you are really eating!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Welcome to Planet Earth, Please Fasten your Seatbelts

The youngest member on our family was born to my (step)daughter this past Sunday at 11:53 AM. After enjoying a quiet time in her mother's womb for nine months and a smooth and relatively easy labor, complications began to develop right at the end. When my (step)daughter arrived at the hospital she was already 9 cm. dilated and everyone was sure baby would wrapped in a blanket contentedly nursing in an hour. But an hour turned into two and when my (step)daughter's labor did not progress they decided to break her water bag. Once they did, they realized that Baby had a bowel movement prior to birth. Normally when this occurs, it is a small amount and mommy has to deliver slowly so baby does not ingest the meconium. Apparently mommy's water was quite green and filled with the babies meconium. After another hour or so which was accompanied by baby's lowered heart rate, they finally decided to perform a C-section. Mommy was of course, quite distressed. Thankfully, she had the support of her husband and other family members, all of us praying for her safety and that of the unborn baby. After what felt like hours and hours, our new baby entered the world. But that was not to be the end of that stage of her journey. Our little one was not breathing when she arrived and the doctors worked hard to get her little lungs working. On top of that, she had also ingested alot of the meconium and had to have that removed. My (step) daughter did not get to hold her daughter when she was born, but she did get tosee her. They shuttled our little one off to NICU and then sent her via helicopter to Philadelphia. (She was born in New Jersey). After several days of much worry and fervent prayers I am happy to tell you all that our dear grand baby is doing much better. She is off all of her medicines and is breathing almost completely on her own. Mommy and daddy are also well and are with baby everyday. Mommy pumps her milk to give her new daughter and has quite a supply already in the freezer! Although our little one is still in the hospital, we are looking forward to her homecoming, G-d willing, very, very soon.

NOTE: I really dislike the use of the term stepdaughter as she is very much my daughter. I simply use it to help you, the reader, understand the members and who makes my beautiful family.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Blessing of the Dawn, Ironic for me...

I rose early to bless the sun at dawn. Ironic when a year ago today, the precious one who bore the name of the early light, was taken from my life. I miss my mother so much.

Dawn, of most blessed memory.
November 3, 1953-April 8, 2008.

Such a long long time to be gone and a short time to be there.

Sunflowers and butterflies always remind me of my mother.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Encouragement for Your Day

I found myself responding to a post elsewhere and realized that, as usual, the medicine that flowed from my 'pen' and intended for another, was indeed meant just as much for me. I thought I would share this with you too, perhaps it is just the medicine you need to strengthen you throughout your day.

"Dearest, how many of us have shared this pain and had these exact thoughts. It seems to be the plight of the human existence. Expectations tend to lead to disappointment and yet, how can we not hope have expectations. It is what wakes us in the morning and drives us through our day. Voices call out to us from the past, voices that urge us to move forward and to go on. On the wall in my room is a voice, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined." (Henry David Thoreau). Another voice tells me to "be the change I want to see in the world." (Ghandi). And lastly, another comforts and urges me in one full breath by reminding me "All beginnings are hard, because you need to swing things around from one direction to the very opposite. But once you have made a start, you will soon become accustomed to your new direction and it will no longer be so difficult. Therefore you must marshal all your strength and steel yourself to make an energetic start." (Rebbe Nachman)
Know, that no matter how you feel, there are those who love you dearly and within this love is where you must find the energy to move and continue on. You are correct, you either make an impact or you don't. Do not underestimate the power of the sleepless night. It is when the mysteries of the Universe reveal themselves. Do not underestimate the power of a pebble thrown in the river, or the flap of a butterfly's wings, tidal waves and tornadoes have been the result of such seeming trivialities. You are doing it, you are accomplishing. Right now you are resting, recharging and learning. Although they feel passive and even sad, they will empower you to move forward and with even greater light. Step by step, you will make it. You were meant to shine, and although I am not sure of a whole lot in my life, of this one thing I am most certainly sure."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chana Laila in Concert!!!

If you happen to be in the Philadelphia area or surrounding vicinities be sure to check out this very happening event at the local Chabad Center! Chana Laila is from Amherst, Mass. and has music with cool grooves and a deep message. This is a special treat for all of here us and we would be THRILLED if you, yes YOU, would come on over and join the jam with us! It will surely be an evening of serious soul lifting! Bring a friend or group and be sure to come say HI to me! I will be there with drums and dance!

PS. Be sure to check out Chana Laila's myspace and home page.

Bio from Chana Liala's myspace page:

"Chana Laila grew up in the NYC area, and has been playing and writing music all her life. She began studying music on piano at age 6, flute at age 9, guitar at age 13, hand percussion at age 16, and has studied voice throughout her life as well. She graduated from Hampshire College with a BA in Music Performance and Composition in 2002, and has been working with her band Kindgroove since 2004. Her solo project "Lion of Judah" is the culmination of many years of hard work, faith, and love for music. Having composed all original music and lyrics for her solo album, Lion of Judah incorporates her positive and conscious message with strong reggae grooves, roots-rock, hip-hop, jazz, and more! Lion of Judah features Chana Laila on vocals, guitar, flute and hand percussion. She is fortunate to have worked with so many talented musicians on the recording of her album at Northfire Recording Studio. All are excited to bring this original and soul-full music to fruition, from dream to reality."

While Crossing the Narrow Bridge...

... I met up with an old and unfortunately faithful companion. His name is Fear. I do not really like Fear very much, although admittedly at times he can be a very good friend. In fact there have been several occasions that he really kept me from making huge mistakes or getting very hurt. But unfortunately, more often than not, he has prevented me from traveling forward on the bridge. He is not too interested in me progressing. He tends to get attached to a situation or a place insisting that danger or pain lurk further along. Sometimes he has blocked my way, bullying me into submission. Other times he wants me to just stay put with him, immobilized in his dark and warm embrace. I even remember once he tried to convince me that the bridge was probably out, in utter disrepair further along and I would end up falling into the abyss below, so why risk it. He always appears to be so large and so much stronger than me.

This time and on this particular stint of the journey, as I am crossing the narrow bridge, I decided to try to shove Fear out of the way. It took much of my strength and has taken some time, but I finally got past him. Strangely enough, once you really take a look at the bastard, he's not so big at all.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Searching for the Hidden Joy

Adar is a particularly interesting month. We are taught that Mishenichnas Adar Marbim B'Simcha, when Adar arrives our joy increases. Adar is about what is hidden, concealed and Adar is about potential. The potential to grow and to change darkness into light. It seems appropriate to have this month at the very beginnings of the spring when the earth is just beginning to wake from her long winter slumber. Seeds and plants that have been resting all winter are beginning to peek their heads up out of the earth and buds are appearing on trees everywhere. I suppose this why 'When Adar comes our joy increases', because the joy has always been there, it was just hidden. It was resting and nourishing that which it needed to and now the time has come for it to slowly spring forth!

The Hebrew letter that is associated with the month of Adar is kuf. The kuf is the one letter that decends below the surface and symbolizes that in adar the potential is there to go deeper. The letter kuf is the the proverbial "eye of the needle". It is the absurd difficulty before us, 'trying to get the camel, elephant, (pick your animal) through the eyes of the needle. The kuf also stands for "Kof" or monkey and symbolizes laughter.

The astrological sign of Adar is Dagim or Pisces. Have you ever gone to the river's edge and gaze into the water at first seeing nothing and then all of a sudden tiny fish appear everywhere! Fish live hidden beneath the waters. Fish swallow by their prey and According to the gemara in Esther Rabbah 7:11, "Fish swallow by their prey, but can be swallowed too!" It is a continual cycle of nourishment, of life and death and dark and light. All neutral and necessary.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Quick grab your binoculars!

Comet Lulin is speeding by us! The best day to see this new comet that was apparently formed when our solar system was, is tonight February 24. Comet Lulin is a special treat since it won't be back this way for another thousand years. It is also an unusual comet because it has a tail and an antitail. The antitail is opposite the tail of the comet. Another backward fact about Lulin is it's orbit. It is ecliptic (backwards), meaning it is orbiting in the opposite directions of the planets. Lastly, it is traveling at such a speed that if you look at it through binoculars or a telescope you may be able to actually perceive it's movement! I find it so interesting all these phenomenon are happening now! Here it is Rosh Chodesh Adar and we have a comet to see, the last one I saw was Haley's. This year is also the hakhel year and the year to bless the sun. Apparently our solar system is a happening place, don't you agree?

Blessing of the Sun

There is a lot of talk lately, particularly in blog-o-sphere, about the Blessing over the Sun, which will be occurring this year on April 8, 2009. It is only recited once every 28 years and it is taught in the Gemara that this is when the Sun returns to the exact same position it had at the time of Creation. Most of us are pretty clueless about what it is and what is involved, so I looked it up and found some good info on Wikipedia and askmoses.com. Below is from the askmoses.com website.

What is Birkat Hachama (Blessing over the Sun)?

The Askmoses Answer:

The Sun

The sun was created on the fourth day of Creation.

In its apparent motion in the ecliptic, the sun has four 'turning points' which mark the beginnings of the four respective seasons. These points are generically referred to in Jewish literature as the Tekufot (sing. Tekufah). They are: the two equinoctial points when the sun crosses the equator at the beginning of spring and autumn respectively, and 'turns' from one side of the equator to the other; and the two solstices, when the sun is at its maximum distance, or declination, from the equator, at one or other side of it, at the beginning of summer and winter respectively, and instead of progressively increasing its declination it 'turns' to decrease it progressively.

In the week of creation at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, which is the beginning of the fourth day, the sun made its debut: the original Tekufah.

Every 28 years the Tekufah will recur not only at the same time of the day, but also on the same day of the week.

The Cycle

Now, A complete solar cycle consists of 365 1/4 days, or 52 weeks 1 day and six hours; which means every consecutive year the Tekufah occurs 1 1/4 days later in the week. So in the following year (after creation) spring began early Thursday at midnight (one day of the week and 6 hours after Tuesday at 6:00 p.m.). The following year it began at 6:00 a.m. on Friday, the following year at noon on Shabbat, and the year after that at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Every 4 years it occurs at the same time of the day but (1 1/4 X 4 =) 5 days later in the week. Every 28 years (10227 days) the Tekufah will recur not only at the same time of the day, but also on the same day of the week.

The Date

Since the sun and moon were created on the 4th day, the beginning of the 28 years cycle is always at the vernal equinox at 6 p.m. on Tuesday evening (the beginning of the fourth day). Birkat Hachama is thus always on a Wednesday morning (when the sun is actually visible).

The date of the month, however, changes. Since Birkat Hachama follows the solar cycle whereas the Jewish calendar follows (for the most part) the lunar cycle, the Hebrew date for this varies widely: in the past 400 years, Birkat Hachama has been said as early as the 27th of Adar II (in 5461 [1701]) and as late as the 26th of Nissan (in 5545 [1785] and 5629 [1869]).

The Gregorian date also varies, albeit slightly, changing every century that the Gregorian calendar skips a leap date (i.e. when there is no February 29 in years ending in "00", not divisible by 400). Therefore, in the 19th Century Birkat Hachama was said on April 7. It switched to April 8 when there was no February 29, 1900. After 2100, when February 29 will not occur, it will switch to April 9.

The Ceremony

Our Rabbis taught:3 "He who sees the sun at its [original] Tekufah... should say: 'Blessed be He who makes the work of creation'. And when does this happen? Abaye said: Every twenty eight years when the cycle begins again and the Nisan [Spring] equinox falls in Saturn on the evening of Tuesday, going into Wednesday."

The actual blessing is:

Boruch attah ado-nai elo-heinu melech haolam oseh maaseh bereishit.
[Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the Universe, Who makes the Work of Creation].

Additional prayers are said before and after the blessing.4 It is preferable to celebrate this event with an early-morning outdoor communal ceremony, and if a Minyan is present the ceremony is concluded with the mourner's Kaddish.


* 1. Talmud tractate Berachot 59b
* 2. Birkat Hachama follows the solar (rather than Jewish) calendar, and is thus determined by the Gregorian (rather than Jewish) date.
* 3. Talmud tractate Brachot 59b, codified in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 229:2
* 4. Before: Psalm 148. After: Ei-l Adon (from the Shabbat morning prayer); Psalm 19; and Aleinu. See Mishna Brura 229:8. See also Teshuvos Chasam Sofer 1:56. There are various other customs as to which psukim and tefillos are recited before and after the bracha.

Friday, February 13, 2009


This morning I saw a picture of a friend who several months ago made aliyah, and my heart felt sad because I miss her. I started to think about the many people who have stumbled in and out of my life and how much every one of them meant to me.

Later that day another friend wrote to me to share some sadness she had regarding maintaining friendships over the years. She asked me why I was still her friend. She and I have been friends, to a greater or lesser degree, for about 16 years now. It is amazing to me to have known someone that long and to see how they have grown, particularly to share in all the hardships they have been through and lived to tell about. Their strengths and perseverance have been an inspiration to my own life. In fact, every friend I have ever had has helped me, truly. Even friendships that lasted less than a year have taught me something valuable.

I believe that each friend comes in to your life at the time you need them the most. You kinda have to look at it as they are there in that moment to help, to support and to teach.

Sometimes friends may even decide they no longer want to share the journey with you. Perhaps they are working on something in their own lives. I know it is hard, especially for those folks we really care about and to whom we have given part of our heart. I suppose the hardest thing is to let go and to let go of the love and the part of us that goes with them. I have had many people who have walked in and out of my life and some I still keep in contact with, others I do not. I do not feel badly that they are no longer a part of my life, but there are a few that I do miss terribly.

I suppose that is why I enjoy the friendships I have managed to maintain over the years. Perhaps it is better to say that they have maintained me. These are the ones that I have inside jokes with, that I don't have to explain a thing to, who understand why I am the way I am or am drawn to the things I am drawn to. They are the ones who wink and smile at me when someone assumes something incorrectly about me or when I feign ignorance on a particular subject laugh with me about it after wards. Some of these friends have even blessed me by metamorphasising from friend to sister. They are most precious of all to me.

For me, knowing that a person is there is good. Even if I may not be able to talk to them a lot, it is enough to know they are there. I too am here. Each one of my friends and I share a time in our lives that was special, exciting, sad, tumultuous, joyful, you name the flavor. These times in our lives are graven on my heart in gratitude and much love and they mean more to than these feeble words can ever express.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Harbingers of Sping

This past Thursday on our way home from work my daughter said she saw a robin. I couldn't imagine it to be true, after all it was only the beginning of February and I was sure that the red breasted lovely would not be back up north for at least another month. Besides our northern Pennsylvanian weather prestidigitator Punxsutawney Phil had determined that we had a good six weeks left to winter. Well, I was corrected when she pointed to a tree on the corner that was virtually covered in robins! An entire flock of robins all roosted in an large oak tree. What a welcome sight they were although they did seem quite cold.

But perhaps they were right and Phil was wrong. This Shabbat and Sunday we had a delicious taste of spring. The earth was damp and the air was warm and moist. The heat and light of the sun felt so good on my body and more particularly my mind. I had to take a long walk and refresh my mind both days. I saw tiny buds forming on some trees and some of the earliest spring bulbs beginning to peek out. Then later that night I saw the moon. She was so bright, so full and so lovely! I was happy I saw her and it brought a happy ending to a lovely prequel of spring.

The only thing I missed were the dancing trees last night. Did any of you happen to catch a glimpse?

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Mom Song

I saw another version of this video sometime ago but I enjoyed this version a bit more. The lyrics are in the video so you won't miss a word, not that you could, she's a mom after all.

I think the strangest thing for me is that the older I get the more I morph into my mother. It amazes me how you just don't appreciate what mothers are saying until you are older. The light bulb went off for me when I was in my thirties. I mean I always loved my mother but I did not realize on a heart level what was really involved in raising four children in a less than functional situation. The heartache and joy of child rearing is intense in the best of circumstances, but she did it, and I must say, looking at my siblings and I, she did a hell of a job. None of us are perfect, but we are loving human beings, we love our kids, we work and we try to contribute to society.

I remember one time sitting at the top of the stairs at her house, maybe it was 5 of so years ago and after a few beers, she said to me she felt like she failed as a mother. I told her she was the absolute best mother ever, and I meant it from the bottom of my heart. I have always said that...she was strong, she tried so hard, and could admit when she was wrong. She loved her kids and although she was no Donna Reed, she was perfect for us kids, G-d knows she needed lots of stamina with me.

So anyway, here is to all mothers, daughters and even sons out there!

And remember, dear children, you WILL appreciate my counsel someday, especially when you do have kinderlach of your own (you KNOW what they say about karma...) Yep, then you will realize I am usually right...it's a mom power we have...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Day

Today it finally snowed and Philadelphia looks quiet lovely for it. There is not very much out there, maybe an inch or two, but schools are closed and office buildings are on a two hour delay. I am glad for it, very glad. About ten years ago you would have heard me complain about the fuss of closing schools for a whole inch of snow. After all, I grown up in Chi-town and we always had school unless there was an actual blizzard occurring. OK, that may be a slight exaggeration, but only slight. Many a recess was spent building snowmen and trying to actually make an actual igloo we could sit in. As I recall we got close once...I think someone brought one of those new snow block makers in. But now I sing a different tune. We have so few snow days any more, it would be a real travesty for the children not to be able to play in them as much as possible. As it is, I look outside and see that the snow is turning to rain, so unfortunately all this will make for is very dangerous driving and not many snowmen.

It makes me happy to think about a friend who called me early this morning to check and see if there was school today. She informed me that her children were already playing outside in the precious snow. I remember those days, my children all dressed and bundled up, ready to get outside bright and early. I miss snow days and I am so grateful for one today.

But you see that is just it, it's not just for the children, it's for me too, the grown-up, I need a snow day too. I need to stop and look at the wonder of a world covered in white. I need to extend a mitten covered hand and catch a snowflake and try to see if they are all truly different, even if science has already proven it. I need to stand outside and try to catch a few on my tongue, regardless of pollution and acid rain. I need to build a snowman with a carrot nose and coal eyes, even if it will melt by the end of the day. I need to throw myself on the ground and make a snow angel in spite of the fact that I will more than likely be making a slushy grass angel. I need a snow day to rediscover the wonder of a quiet walk in the woods, the clunky feeling of heavy winter boots and the cleansing feeling of breathing in snowy air. The only thing I am lacking is grilled cheese sandwiches and hot chocolate. I do have tomato soup though...care to join me.


This is my son at about 15 months old(c.1987)with his very first snowman. We borrowed his father's tie to spruce him up a bit. Good times!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A song for Parasha Shemot

While I was preparing a project for the children to work on, a tune came to my head. I love when that happens, it reminds me of what it might have been like for the Rebbes to hum their niggunim. I know my little tunes may not be from the highest of the mystical places, but nonetheless, they feel like they come somewhere up there. As the tune became more and more defined so did some words. So here are the words to my once wordless melody. I thought I would teach it to the children, but that I think is a bit too long for them. It is rather a folksy tune, so it would be better at a campfire with a guitar and my new mandolin.


In Mitzrayim we were enslaved,
Treated badly every day.
The Paro made a cruel decree,
but Shifra and Pu'ah did not agree.


Soon there will come a day,
The Jewish Nation will all say:
Geulah is finally here!
Baruch Hashem the day is near!

Yocheved trusted in Hashem,
She knew in this she could depend.
Moshe down the river went
In the clay lined box that he was sent.


Soon there will come a day,
The Jewish Nation will all say:
Geulah is finally here!
Baruch Hashem the day is near!

Batya heard a baby cry,
And stretched her hand to find out why.
Hidden in reeds no one could see
Miriam watching carefully.

(Repeat chorus)

Batya saw the baby was a Jew,
And Miriam knew just what to do!
She came out of her hiding place
And gazed into the princess' face.

(Repeat chorus)

"A nurse for the baby I shall find,
A gentle woman good and kind."
Miriam ran to her family,
And told her mother so she would see.

(Repeat chorus)

Yocheved nursed her baby boy,
Her heart was bursting with such joy!
Back to the palace Moshe was sent,
Until the time that he was meant.

(Repeat chorus)

Soon there will come a day,
The Jewish Nation will all say:
Geulah is finally here!
Baruch Hashem the day is near!

By Philly Farmgirl Tevet 5769/01-2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Recommended Read

Like many of you,I have a hard time balancing being joyful when I am just in so much pain. I just read this on A Fire Burns in Breslov and found it brings out some very helpful points. Take a minute and check it out: Balanced Chizuk

Well, I do try at least...

Your Word is "Peace"

You see life as precious, and you wish everyone was safe, happy, and taken care of.

Social justice, human rights, and peace for all nations are all important to you.

While you can't stop war, you try to be as calm and compassionate as possible in your everyday life.

You promote harmony and cooperation. You're always willing to meet someone a little more than halfway.

FRUM Kids say the darndest things...

As some of my children in school are rather small they still need my assistance in bathroom hygiene. Upon helping a smaller one finish up in the bathroom, I reached for the box of tissues and helped her clean herself. Gazing at the roll of toilet paper she says to me, "It's not shabbos so I wanted to use the toilet paper."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Because right about now...

we all need a smile! Enjoy!

PS. I am planning to rejoin blog-o-sphere soon, just been UBER busy!

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