Pesach Preparedness

There is no way to avoid it. It's coming.

I used to love it.  Not the cleaning, no one loves the cleaning! Pesach is such a special time. The first hints of Spring. The family time. The nostalgic pots, pans and dishes.  The traditional recipes. I remember the Pesachim of my childhood and can even smell it. What was that smell?  Melmac?

It is a holiday that is so rich in tradition and family roots. Do you eat Gebrokts? (Yes, B"H) How is your Seder run? How late does it go? What kind of Maror do you use? What is your Charoset recipe? (Saba's is awesome.) How do you keep the kids engaged?

Each year we seem to add something new, or something we've done for years becomes set tradition. AM and UM added a great Maggid tradition that I hope we keep.

Usually, Pesach sneaks up on me. Not this year.

This year I have more time then ever before to prepare.

But its not the cleaning, scrubbing, and kashering that I am obsessed with. AM in her usual awesomeness has taken on all the cooking.  We are only sleeping in our house. I'm closing up the kitchen.

We still have to clean.  The kids' rooms, my room, the playroom are all being tackled.  But considering the kids have already been home for days, we should have no problem getting it done. Also, Savta and Saba are helping. A lot.

The preparation this year is all in my head.

Trying to move past last year's Pesach that was filled with fear, uncertainty, and a certain resolve that life would never be the same. Trip'n Daddy was very sick, we were new Olim, and we had no idea what was to come.

Now, the worst has happened and we've survived. But like all those Pesachim of the past, last year's has become part of our family's collective memory. I want so desperately for it to be one that fades. Let that fear and pain not become associative for the Trips.

I want their images of Pesach to be of the joy of cherut. Of celebrating with cousins. Of school vacation in the most amazing country in the world.

Let the sweetness of their 4 cups of grape juice overpower the bowls of saltwater tears we've shed this year.



What a word.

It's hard to say. Doesn't exactly roll of the tongue. It's heavy. Ends harshly. I would argue its even onomatopoeic.

When you say it, you feel it. In your heart. In your gut. In your bones.

The bigger the thing you dread, the heavier the word weighs on you.

I'm carrying around a big load of dread lately.

There are lots of things to deal with, anniversaries to face, memories to be stirred up, a first yertzheit to plan.

Spring is here! A chag is coming. School vacation is coming.

All I feel is dread.

It hurts. It actually hurts physically. It drains me. I want to sleep.

Here's the problem with dread. It doesn't go away. You carry it with you until that moment comes and you have no choice but to face the dreaded day, task, conversation.

The moment passes. No matter what happened, the dread is now gone.

I wish I could just skip all the dread and have it all be over.  Be past it.

The thing is though, there's always going to be another dreaded thing to come along.

I wish that they be smaller, so that the dread will hurt less.

I hope I gain the tools to manage the dread.

I pray that the dread does not rule me. That it doesn't trickle down to the kids.

That I dread.

Lean on Me

Even when you have something good, you don't always realize how good it really is.

When Trip'n Daddy and I were looking for a community for our first year in Israel, we knew one thing:

We were definitely NOT going to be moving to Neve Daniel.

We had a myriad of reasons for this, including:
  1. We were not interested in living over the "Green Line." After Gush Katif, we were nervous. You invest so much in building a home and one day the government can just take it away. There had been so much instability in our life already and Aliyah was another upheaval. When we put down roots, we wanted to feel 1000% secure. (Ironically, some of the communities we were considering are well within missile range of Gaza. Their kids have been out of school for days due to the latest escalation and have even been brought here to the Gush to get away from the tension. See: Gush Etzion Welcomes Children from South
  2. We wanted time to learn more about yishuv life before we chose one, if we chose to live on one at all.  As a couple, we tended to be homebodies and somewhat private. The close living and the tight-knit communities that make up most yishuvim made us nervous. Certainly, we were going to try to find one that felt less like a bungalow colony and more like a small town. 
  3. We wanted to choose a community that really represented us and our values. If we were going to live on a yishuv, it had to be the right yishuv for us. The only way for us to really learn that would be by doing research from within Israel. We knew we had to take our time to really feel comfortable with a commitment on that level. 
  4. We loved AM and UM to death, and would theoretically follow them to the ends of the earth, but Israel was far enough.  They were living in Neve Daniel for 5 years already. When we lived in the same communities as them in the US, we always felt that we were living in their shadow.  They had children first and kids are a major inroad to making friends in any community. I have spent my whole life being "UM's sister."  Also, AM is one of those people who knows everyone and has a lot of friends.  They were so established in Neve Daniel, we felt we couldn't establish ourselves, as ourselves. 
Then the world turned upside down.  One day we are looking at rentals in Modiin, the next day Trip'n Daddy is in Shaarei Tzedek ICU in a medically induced coma, intubated and on a ventilator. 

Priorities change in an instant. Suddenly, there was no "we." There was just me. I now had to make decisions based on a whole different set of variables. 
  1. Where were my kids going to have the support system they needed? Where would there be many loving adults to make up for the one who was gone? 
  2. Where was I going to have the support I needed? What if I can't be home in time for the kids? Need a night out? A Mommy Getaway? 
  3. Without a father to help teach them our values and how to live a Torah lifestyle, I now needed a community of men who will watch out for them and be examples to them. 
  4. Most of all, being close to AM and UM was no longer a question, it was imperative.  Forget living in their shadow. I needed them just to be able to live. 
Neve Daniel more than answered the call. During Trip'n Daddy's entire illness, through the weeks of shlepping back and forth to the hospital, helping get the kids settled in school, and finding a place for us to live - they were there. When Trip'n Daddy passed away, it was 3 men from Neve Daniel, only ONE of whom had actually met him in person, that went to be shomrim for him in the cold Jerusalem night. His levaya was packed. Yes, many were my family or Twitpacha (friends from Twitter), but most were from Neve Daniel. The shiva house was constantly filled with people who had never met me, or him, but were there because we needed them. This includes the men who came to the shiva minyanim even though there was no mourner who was obligated in Kaddish. 

There was absolutely no question. We were staying in Neve Daniel. THIS was the place we needed. THESE were the people I needed to be with.There have been many times over the past months when the people of Neve Daniel have proven this to me. I thank Hashem daily for putting me here and helping me find this place.  

Last night, I had a moment when it hit me. How good it really is. 

My birthday was last week and I knew it was going to be hard. I was dreading it. So, I decided to take the bull by the horns and since it was the week of Purim, turn it on its head. Forget dreading it - I was going to celebrate it! 

AM and I hatched a plan where we would gather as many ladies as we could and head into Jerusalem for Off the Wall Comedy Basement's Women's Only Karaoke Night. Neither of us had ever karaokied before and it sounded like a great time.  Also, the admission was reasonable (15₪, with 10₪ going towards your first drink.) Here was the best part, we were going to invite everyone! I felt there was no way to know who else needed a night out and I wanted everyone to feel like they could come. So we created a Facebook event where I invited every woman in Israel who is my friend on Facebook and AM sent out an email on the Neve Daniel list. 

We headed out expecting about 20 ladies to join us. Some of the Twitpacha, some family, but mostly Neve Daniel women.  Here's the thing, I knew there were going to be some coming just to get out, some really to sing, and some just to be there for me. What I didn't realize was every last one of them, from Savta, to AM, to the ones that I just officially met for the first time last night, were going to build me up and give me that moment.

The song choices ran from fun (Twist and Shout, Daydream Believer) to empowering (my choices of I Will Survive and Hit Me With Your Best Shot, RESPECT), surprising (ladies in sheitels singing Rolling in the Deep?) and even the absurd (America from West Side Story, and did you know Mamma Mia makes Savta cry?)

Some amazing woman put Lean on Me on the list. The message of the song is clear and even blatantly obvious. Sure, I knew that everyone who was there would do anything for me if I just asked. They had all already proved that. They didn't need to tell me, I knew.  But as the song played, they held me, sang with me, swayed with me. Considering the magnitude of the changes in my life, I have never felt more warmth, more safe, more protected, more loved...more myself. 

Staring at the Grief in the Mirror

The Trips are all mourning Trip'n Daddy's loss in different ways.  As well they should, they are (as Savta so aptly put it while they were still in utero) "three individual babies."

C and I have been having an especially hard time with each other since this whole ordeal began and it has been particularly frustrating to me.

He is the kind of kid that all the mothers love, the one the teacher praises for his middot, and the one all the boys love to play with.  He has always had a smile that could melt anyone's heart and truly a Gutte Neshama (a good soul.) None of that has really changed.  The big change is in his behavior at home.

He is angry. All the time.
He is bitter.
He is combatant.
He is fresh, obnoxious, and rude.
He wines, he cries, he fights.
He tries to get out of going to school EVERYDAY.

My heart breaks everyday that I see this change in my little boy.  Honestly, I wish I could say that it makes me want to hold him, reassure him, comfort him.  Mostly, it makes me furious. It makes me scream, punish, and threaten.

Today, at a session with my Grief Counselor, I had a breakthrough.

I am having the hardest time with C's grief because it is an exact mirror to my own manifestations of grief. Watching him suffer is looking in a mirror constantly.

And I don't like it.

But now I "get" it.

We talk a lot about Fight or Flight response.

My "Flight" response has been to have "Bad Days" when I have a hard time getting out of bed to face the world.  I have no mean mommy to force me to go to school.  C also wants to "Fly" from the real world, from the pain of everyday life as the kid who has no Daddy.  But I am there to say, "No, you must go. You must face it,"  and he does. I think I need to learn from him and be my own mean motivator.

He has also been the direct recipient of my "Fight" response.  I admit that I am more short tempered with him than with anyone else.  It makes me crazy when he acts out.  I want him to realize how hard it is for me. How much I miss Daddy too. I want him to JUST BEHAVE.

And I get angry.
And I get bitter.
And I get combatant.
I speak to him with disdain, am obnoxious, sarcastic, and mean.
I cry and fight.

But today I looked in the mirror and saw the pained, tear-stained face of my little boy staring back at me.

Then I turned a corner and I came home and hugged him.

I have no grand expectations that this will make everything completely different from this point forward.  After all, our grief is not going to disappear, and I am far from perfect.

But now I know to look in the mirror more. To recognize our shared pain. To try to treat him the way I want him to treat me.

Name our New Puppy!

We are seriously considering adopting Coco's puppy (and by that I mean we ARE) Coco's family is begging us to name it.
Coco and Puppy

We are now taking name suggestions.

Things to keep in mind:

1. Ideally, it should fit with Trouble's real name, which is Nili. So stick with a Zionistic theme.

2. The puppy is a girl.

3. The puppy is a Peke mix, so she will be small, and likely cream colored.

Let's hear your most creative suggestions!

Mommy Time Out

I'm am writing this on my iPhone from a secure, top-secret location.

I am in a Mommy Time Out.

The past few days have been filled with massive Purim preparations. Everything that I chose for our Mishloach Manot was supposed to be incredibly simple, but of course ended up ridiculously complicated.

We are planning a Persian themed Seuda which means AM and I are preparing foods that we have never made before.

Throw in coordinating costumes for 3 picky 8 year olds, my birthday (which just made me cranky), and the arrival of Saba and Savta and you get one over stressed, overwrought, and overtaxed Trip'n Mommy.

So an hour before Megillah reading, I am hiding and trying to find the Simchat Purim that is hiding somewhere in me too.

Hester Panim theme?

Here's hoping that when I emerge, my good mood will reveal itself!

Wishing everyone a Purim Sameach!

(Uh oh, I hear little voices. I think security has been breeched... )

Writing Workshop: Listening to the Silence (a practice in simile and metaphor)

We were assigned to go outside into the cold winter night and listen to the silence.  This is what I heard. 

The Sounds of the Clouds
I listen for the sounds of the clouds, the childish whisper of their grey floss like a cotton candy nightmare. 
They should be laughing like the dogs at play, but instead they bite, snarl and fight. 
The wind whistles past my ears and I strain to hear its secrets. 
All I hear is the waves of an angry ocean crashing on an abandoned shore. 
But the sea is far away and the clouds are angrier than a mother shushing noisy children as the baby peacefully sleeps next door.  


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