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Mar 4 2014

My Breast Cancer Scare Changed My Life and Made Me Appreciate My Blessings

By at 2:39 pm

biopsy

It all started innocently enough–with a nondescript letter from the hospital where I get my annual mammograms and ultrasounds (dense breasts, anyone?). It was included in the stack of mail that accumulated during our December pilgrimage to my sister’s ski house in Vermont (Christmas Day on the empty slope–a gift to the Jews, even if there are no available Chinese restaurants for dinner). The envelope’s only distinguishing characteristic was a sticker attached to the front. “Not a Bill,” it read. “Please Open.”

Inside was a form letter summoning me back to the hospital for additional scans of my breast. After consulting with the aforementioned-sister, who also happens to be an OB-GYN and multiple cancer survivor, we decided that there was no cause for alarm. I hadn’t received any ominous phone calls from my doctor. The follow-up appointment they scheduled was weeks away. And plenty of women are called back for additional views.

So I resumed my normal routine without panicking. Laundry. Lunchbox packing. Writing. Trips to Trader Joe’s. Schlepping to after-school activities. Rudimentary dinner preparations. The joys of typical suburban life. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 14 2014

Turns Out Shabbat and Valentine’s Day Have a Lot in Common

By at 11:43 am

shabbat

Tonight I’m planning dinner by candlelight. It will engage all five senses, with attention lavished on the tiniest details, including our wedding china instead of Corelle, and soup that requires a trip to the butcher instead of just a can opener. They say oysters are an aphrodisiac, but I’m banking on the kneidelach my husband likes: the firmer, the better. Ah, February 14th.

Isn’t this how Shabbat should always go?

My kids’ preschool director sent an email out reminding parents that “we celebrate love and caring all year long, but we do not celebrate Valentine’s Day at school.” Last V-Day, when my son found a cupcake in his cubby with the Post-It note reading “Baked with love in our kosher home,” he thought it was a happy coincidence.

No valentines, no candy hearts–would Friday be any fun? Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 3 2014

Why Isn’t There a Jewish Blessing for Coffee?

By at 9:16 am

travel mug of coffee steaming

The twin tote bags are massive. My daughters could fit together inside one of them, and we’d still have room to spare. Yet my husband and I fill them each morning with all the necessities for daycare: sheets, blankets, bibs, extra clothes, sippy cups of water and milk. Each girl has a bag for her lunch. I try to send them with home-cooked meals and fresh fruit, but there are days where I cannot scrape together enough energy to slice their grapes into 16ths. Sometimes they make do with pre-packaged.

My 3-year-old invariably throws a tantrum. (Reason why my child is crying: I wouldn’t allow her to wear a Tinkerbell nightgown to school in eight degree weather). We calm her. The baby is sleeping and we have to wake her. I nurse her, change her, and dress her in record time. Her perfect, tiny nose needs a kiss. Coats, hats, gloves, and boots go on. My husband hauls the bags, and we shepherd the girls out the door and into car seats. I drive them to daycare, escort them into their respective classrooms, where their ever-cheerful teachers are waiting. I dole out breakfasts, hugs, kisses, and promises of fun with their friends. I tell them that I’ll be home soon.

Back into my car, I check the time. I have one spare minute before I absolutely have to get moving again. I exhale with relief, and enjoy my 60 free seconds. My loyal green travel mug has been patiently waiting for me all this time. I flip the lid and sip. Coffee. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 4 2013

Friday Night: My First Shabbat Alone Felt Terrible

By at 2:26 pm

shabbatca

I had been thinking about it all week. Josh was out of town for work, and for the first time in a long time, he wouldn’t be home for Shabbat. It would be my job to make Shabbat.

Seeing as how Josh and I have been lighting candles on Friday nights since we first moved into together nearly 12 years ago, this should be no big deal, right?

Wrong.

I had never led the blessings by myself before–I always had Josh to back me up–and I had never blessed the girls before. That’s his job. I wasn’t sure I could do it. I didn’t really want to do it. I thought about just not telling the girls it was Friday night. But Frieda woke up that morning asking if it was Friday, if we were going to do Shabbat, if she was going to get her beloved Shabbos guacamole and chips. (I’m from New Mexico. Work with me here.) Then I thought about telling them that we don’t do Shabbat unless the whole family is with us. But I realized I had just been away for a week, and Josh did it without me, so that wasn’t going to fly.

I had to step up. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 9 2013

It’s OK to be Overwhelmed by Happy Events

By at 11:59 am

boxes movingWe moved into a house recently. It’s kind of a big deal, I know. It’s a mazel to find a house you like, in a neighborhood you like, for a price you can afford. But moving is kind of like having a baby. It’s a wonderful thing, and everyone tells you mazel tov, and you’re happy and all, but OH MY GOSH it’s overwhelming, and even if you’ve done it before, you forget just how much of a pain it can be.

Since it’s such a happy event, I feel totally guilty for not being deliriously ecstatic about it. Right now, I kind of want to curl into a ball, but I can’t, because first I have to make sure that the Macguyverish gate is in place so the baby doesn’t climb up the staircase. Again.

The concept of First World Problems is a cute way of keeping perspective, but sometimes we just need someone to tell us, “It’s okay to be overwhelmed by your blessings. You’re not a bad person for feeling this way.”

Because it’s totally true.  Read the rest of this entry →

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