Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gam Zeh Ya'avor

Gam zeh ya'avor, this too shall pass.  One legend has it that King Solomon, although wise, was depressed.  He feared that the good in his life would end, but the bad would stay.  One day he said to his most trusted servant, I dreamed of a magical ring that will help me.  It has the power to give the wearer peace of mind.  It makes anyone who looks upon it happy when sad, but also sad when happy.  I want you to find me this ring.  The servant searched far and near.  For months the servant could find no one who had ever heard of such a ring.  Eventually, returning empty-handed to Jerusalem, the servant came to the poorest quarter of the city.  Wandering through the streets, the servant came to a tiny hovel.  Inside there was a poor jeweler.  The servant, desperate, entered the store.  He described the ring to the poor jeweler.  Without a word, the jeweler picked up a ring from his worktable, and engraved it with the words, Gam zeh ya'avor," "this too shall pass."

We are almost three months into this deployment.  It has had ups and downs, but this too shall pass.  As expected, orders have been problematic.  As expected, pay has been completely screwed up.  And as expected, we still don't really know what's going on.

Today, Sean bought me a ring.  On the outside it says Gam zeh ya'avor.  On the inside there's a special joke between Sean and me.  It says BOHICA, a great military acronym.  I love the combination of these two sentiments.

Gam zeh ya'avor.

Monday, December 13, 2010

It seems like it's been a long weekend, like somehow I haven't spoken with Sean in forever.

I don't understand how time moves.  December is almost gone.  The time Sean has been away has flown.  Soon we'll be more than half way through.  Still I feel as if this weekend lasted a week or more.  Perhaps it's sharing moments with friends.  We celebrated b'nei mitzvah with friends, and are preparing for a third.  In these family moments Sean is missed even more.  Perhaps it's Gavi.  He was sick last night.  I was not as sympathetic as I should have been (partly caused by the fact that today I had to get carpet cleanser as a result and partly caused by a total lack of sleep).

It is sad to see Jesse & Keren sick, just like any child, but Gavi is such a happy child that to see him sick is to watch a bird with a broken wing struggle for life.  Gavi has been especially clingy and cuddly.  It's both wonderful and sad.  I love to cuddle him, but know he misses Sean so.  Tonight I had to attend the bar mitzvah party with Keren and Jesse.  Gavi couldn't come.  Normally he'd love the time with his grandparents, but all he wanted was me.  (Of course he was better by the time I arrived home.  All's well that ends well.)

Tomorrow is another day, and one day closer to Sean's return!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

To sleep, perchance to dream....

I love winter.  I love bundling up in my long wool coat.  I love my scarf, my gloves, my earmuffs.  I love my boots.  I enjoy shoveling snow. Even in March, when most people are thoroughly done with winter, I am not complaining.  To me winter is a time of mystery and promise.  Spring is not possible without the frost of winter.  Many plants and seeds must go through the freeze of winter before they can bloom.  The entire world is pregnant with anticipation.

What I knew, but never fully realized the impact of, is Sean's part in this.  I've loved winter since I was a child.  It has been my favorite season for a long time.  Having children, however, can change things. They impact your life in ways never expected.  For me and winter, it is not the children directly, but school hours.

I am NOT a morning person.  Even with a full eight to ten hours, I need light to wake.  Sean is an extreme morning person.  One note from the alarm clock, and he pops from bed fully awake, alert, and, worst of all, happy.  Even in the best of circumstances I take three to five minutes to even realize that annoying noise I hear is actually music, and means it's time to get up.  I am slow, off-balance.  I don't like to talk to anyone because it's much to much work to think.

How does this effect my love of winter?  It doesn't actually.  I effects my ability to enjoy winter.  For the past two weeks it's been pitch black when my alarm rings.  Even on the rare occasions when I've slept enough, I feel the effects of waking in the dark for hours after.  Sean has always taken the first shift of waking the children.  He makes the lunches.  He turns on the children's lights.  He begins the process while I sleep.  By the time my alarm rings, the first rays of light have begun to brighten the sky.  Waking in the darkness leaves me with a headache and drained feeling that lasts well into the morning, if not through the day.

I treasure Sundays.  They're a time to sleep into the light.  Full hours of of sleep, waking only when the sun's rays brighten my room.  Unfortunately, many Sundays are so full this is not an option.  Today was to be one of those rare days with nothing to mar the morning.  Of course mentsch tracht, Gott lacht (man plans; God laughs).  After three hours of sleep, which felt like twenty minutes, Gavi appeared in my room.  He had a stomach ache.  After a bit of cuddling, he began to throw up.  A few more hours of sleep, more vomiting.  Add in two cats wrestling on my bed (and my feet).  It was not a banner night for sleep.  Today I need to buy carpet cleaner.

On to karate grading (Jesse's is getting his brown advanced belt) and a bar mitzvah party, and I doubt sleep will come today.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pillow Talk

Hanukah has ended.  It was a long week, somehow longer without Sean home.  The hanukiyot were lit each night, but usually around 8:00 PM.  Highlights of the week included Sean skyping into the Pride of Israel Hanukah party, our havurah hanukah party, and dinner with friends (a lovely evening!  Thanks David & Lori!  and apologies for the kids who were completely off the wall).

For someone who isn't working, I'm remarkably busy.  Every day this week I was out and about meeting, shopping, supervising.  It's amazing.

Jesse has been pushing every button he can.  Before Sean left I said if he returned to a home with three kids it would be a miracle.  If there was ever a week to ship one of them to boarding school, it was this week. By today, the last day, we needed an early night.  Tonight was better though, and I'm hoping we all just needed some sleep.

All three kids are asleep now, and I'm watching "Pillow Talk" (Doris Day, Rock Hudson, and Tony Randall).  It's a great movie for fun and relaxation.  Worth the price of admission just for the apartment redecoration.

Evenings are when I finally get time to email Sean and share my day.  It's especially important when my parents are here, and I less privacy during the day.

But now, to sleep.  Lila tov.

Friday, December 3, 2010


My kids love Hanukah.  All kids do.  But somehow I think our celebration is a bit different than many.

We don't do a lot of gifts.  With all the family in the US, many gifts arrive as checks to be spent after the holiday, so there's not a lot to open.  We buy only one or two gifts for the kids, usually a large gift they have to share, and something special for each of them.

When there are gifts, and even when there were lots of gifts, we opened everything the first night.  It makes a crazy first night, but the rest of the holiday is focused on it's meaning- Jewish pride.  We light candles, sing songs, listen to Hanukah music, and eat lots and lots and lots of fried food.  The kids debate the messages, history, and mythology of the Hanukah story, making me very proud.

Keren is our hanukiyah setter-upper.  Each person lights his/her own hanukiyah.  Since everyone seems to have accumulated multiple hanukiyot, she asks each person which one s/he is lighting that night.  I help carry them out to our enclosed porch.  Keren then sets up the candles, carefully choosing colors and designs for the candles.  Tonight was the evening of the green shammash.  She carefully chose colors for each hanukiyah, then picked out six (yes, six!) green candles for each person's shammash.  Last night was blue night- all blue candles.  In our house that's 12 blue candles (including shammashim) just for the first night.

We light our candles on our enclosed porch.  We place a table in front of the window with foil covered baking sheets for the hanukiyot.  Windows from the porch into the house allow us to light our hanukiyot (six this year) then lock them safely in a room where the light can be looked upon, but the candles cannot be bumped.

Each night features a fried food.  
Day one always has latkes.  
Day two this year featured Chinese food: fried chicken wings, spring rolls, chicken dough balls, and general tao's chicken.  
Day three (Shabbat) will have latkes, potato and sweet potato, plus tempura.
Day four is the Pride of Israel Hanukah party- latkes and sufganiyot.
Day five will be our havurah Hanukah party- latkes, sufganiyot, and samosas.  We'll also have cheese and nuts in honor of the story of Judith**, associated with Hanukah.
Day six will bring us schnitzel and pumpkin fritters.
By day seven I will be sick of oil, both physically and mentally, but still we'll continue.  No plan yet for seven and eight, but ideas for zucchini pancakes, melawach, and cheese latkes, maybe even funnel cake or zeppolis.

Next week- diet!

**The custom of eating dairy and nuts comes from the story of Judith.  According to legend, Judith saved her village from the Assyrians.  The Assyrian army was besieging her village.  Judith charmed her way into the enemy camp with a basket of cheese, nuts, and wine.  She brought the food to the enemy general Holofernes (who is also said to be the general for Antiochus).  Holofernes consumed increasing amounts of wine with the cheese, which was very salty.  (Today, Syrian cheese is a very salty, but tasty cheese).  Eventually Holofernes became so drunk he passed out.  Judith beheaded him with his own sword, and brought his head back to her village in her basket.  When the Assyrians discovered that their leader had been killed, they left.  In this way Judith saved her people.  It became traditional to eat dairy in honor of her bravery.  

Holidays- Missing Him

Deployment requires constant reorganization.  First when the service member leaves; then, as time goes on you fall into a routine.  As new situations arise this routine needs to be re-evaluated.  Whether it's visitors, illness, or holidays (or in our case all three), the schedule needs to shift, to readjust, or to change entirely.  

Last week my parents arrived, as they do every year for Thanksgiving, turkey in hand.  It's a blessing to have them.  The kids are thrilled.  It's great to have help. But, it still requires a shift in dynamic.  There are two others using the bathroom, two more to feed, two more people to work into the schedule.  

Mom's and Dad's arrival coincided with all of us getting sick.  We all fell to it like dominos.  Mom and Dad being here allowed me to crawl back into bed a couple of days to nurse my cough and headache, getting more sleep than I otherwise could have.  Still, we're negotiating the extra people, the eating needs, the computer, and the television.  

The third piece is the holiday.  Holidays without loved ones, no matter where they are, are difficult.  

I've bought into the entire American Mythology.  I love the ideals of Thanksgiving. Realizing that historically the first Thanksgiving was nothing like what we learned about in school, the idea of a day of Thanksgiving shared by all citizens is a beautiful one.  It is a day that should be shared with family and friends.  It's a day of peace and appreciation for what you have.  And, like any holiday, it's a day that exacerbates the absence of a loved one.  

Our Thanksgiving was quiet.  Gavi and Keren were sick.  Keren was sleeping.  It was a quiet day with my parents.  Nice actually, but oh so different from our normal Thanksgiving celebrations.  Friday night we did it all again.  Shabbat brought a different sense to the family, our first Shabbat since Sean left with extra people at the table.

Hanukah has been a bit more hectic.  School and karate still happen.  We run home, set up hanukiyot, and eat fried food.  Many nights have been later and more hectic, but there are also the calmer, nicer moments.  Tonight our fried foods were Chinese chicken wings, spring rolls, and breaded chicken balls.  My parents brought Chinese food to the karate studio for dinner so that when we arrived home we could relax.  

Two nights into Hanukah, it's not sad, but somehow strange without Sean.  The rhythm is off, not bad, but not quite right.  It's part of the life.  We deal; we adapt; and we move on.