Monthly Archives: April 2010

Slice of Life

1. Well, this one is disturbing. I was at the local Walmart doing what one does – spending money on things you were so sure you hadn’t needed before you walked through those doors. I was browsing the lingerie section (such as it is in Walmart) and happened upon a mother and son in the same department. I would say the son was about 40, his mom around 65. My boys would rather stand in the middle of traffic than go with me into the ladies underwear section. Oh the horror! But this son, in the midst of the ladies dept, calls out “Hey, Ma, they have this Triumph bra in a DD. Should fit you nicely”. I think I threw up a little in my mouth. Just too…….weird. Mind you after reading this article, nothing surprises me any more.

2. I had to be on the bus this morning to go to a meeting. Usually the bus drivers are surly and unresponsive here – well that has been my experience anyway. The 535 bus driver this morning was the opposite. Every person that got on to ride his bus was given a cheery Bonjour! or Good Morning. And then a Merci or Thank You once they paid their fare. He greeted everyone enthusiastically. It totally makes a difference to the morning commute. I am sure people are stressed when they get on the bus – having the driver be welcoming helps. I thanked him as I got off the bus, -he smiled, and wished me a good day!

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Full disclosure with kids

In this day and age it seems as if no one has any secrets any more. Facebook and twitter and blogs and texting – well, some people use the internet to record every waking moment, every thought, every event. With some of the new applications out there, you can even update your location with maps and everything. (I briefly signed up to foursquare. I deleted the app from my Blackberry yesterday. Not for me).

Some of my friends have their kids as Facebook friends. I don’t allow my children to have Facebook accounts, so I am not worried that they will read something on my page I don’t want them to see. In fact, I won’t add a friend’s kid unless they are over 18 and I know them well.

Our kids are used to knowing everything real time. But how much is too much information? We sit down and talk to our children about the dangers of drugs and smoking. It has to be an honest conversation if we want them to really understand the consequences of certain types of behaviour. But then again, if you were a pot-head as a teen – and your child / teen asks you if you ever inhaled – do you tell them the truth? Perhaps a sanitized version? Perhaps the truth with a huge disclaimer along the lines of “we didn’t realize back then what consequences it could have had, and now I regret it”?

I have told my kids that smoking is bad for them. They know their grandfather smoked a heck of a lot and died at a young age. They also know that if I ever caught them smoking they would be in trouble. “It isn’t the cigarettes that would kill us, Ima would kill us first”. But it’s totally hypocritical of me. As a 17 year old starting college I smoked. Silk Cuts to be precise. For 3 months. I tried hard but I couldn’t get addicted. Thank God!! If the kids ask me if I ever smoked do I tell them the truth? That I did it to fit it with all the other students who were puffing away? That it did nothing for me except make my clothes and breath smell? Or do I lie and say I never smoked? I try so hard to be honest and open with my children – but where do you draw the line?

How about disclosing a previous marriage? Do kids need to know about that? Sometimes people have had a “starter marriage” – first marriage, totally wrong for each other, lasted all of 10 seconds, everyone moved on to bigger and better things, leaving just a tiny little blip on the horizon. Do children of the subsequent marriage have a right to know about the first one? Is it any of their business? Is it a part of what makes them who they are, or is it not necessary to their life? I have a couple of friends who had babies in their teens as unwed mothers and gave them up for adoption, moved on with their lives, got married, had more kids – when do those kids need to know about their mother’s story? Never? What if that child comes looking for his / her biological parent?

As the children get older the boundaries seem to blur a little – their maturity level makes them more understanding and trustworthy. They can handle uncomfortable truths. But does that mean we need to share all those family secrets that we have been withholding up until now? How much is too much?

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Mental Picture

When you think of God what picture comes to mind? How do you see Him in your mind’s eye? Is it the traditional picture of a bearded man sitting in a throne on a cloud with a host of ministering angels hovering around Him? Or something less traditional? Just curious…

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He’s so special – different kid!

My sixth grader’s class is partaking in a program run by the Chofetz Chaim Foundation. I haven’t seen any literature for it, but my son explained it to me. By behaving nicely, and not talking badly to people and about people, in class and at recess, the boys can earn a letter in a Sefer Torah that is being written. They need 20 points to earn one letter. When they have earned their letter, the rebbe / teacher sends in a form, and the boy gets a certificate telling him which is HIS letter.

My son earned his first letter yesterday and came home so excited to tell me about it. I have noticed he is being more patient with his younger brother, and taking a deep breath before asking his brother politely to please stop annoying him ( 🙂 ). He can’t earn points at home, but it shows he has become more aware of his behaviour and his speech. He told me he wants to work towards at least one more letter. He’d be really thrilled if HIS letter is in his barmitzvah parsha next year.

So proud of my little HockeyFan!

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He’s so special!

My 14 year old son, that is. I love all my kids equally. They are ALL my favourite. But today I need to boast about my eldest.

He comes home daily for lunch from yeshiva – I love that I get to see him during the day without other brothers around. One on one time is hard to come by these days with all of them. Some days I am home, some days I am running errands.

Today I had popped out to the shops to buy some bread and milk and snacks etc. He called me on the cell phone when he got home and saw I wasn’t there. I told him where I was. He said “Ima, wait for me, don’t shlepp everything home yourself. Let me walk to the store to meet you and I will shlepp it all home”. That’s exactly what he did. He wasn’t even embarrassed to be seen by his classmates shlepping the bubby-cart full of stuff, his mother by his side.

Love him!!

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Women who know their place.

Received this via email and seriously spat my coffee onto the screen! (I wonder if it’s even true, if Baba Wawa did go back and have this convo, anyhow, it IS funny).

WOMEN WHO KNOW THEIR PLACE……. it’s all in a point of view!

Barbara Walters, of 20/20, did a story on gender roles in Kabul, Afghanistan, several years before the Afghan conflict. She noted that women customarily walked five paces behind their husbands.

She recently returned to Kabul and observed that women still walk behind their husbands. Despite the overthrow of the oppressive Taliban regime, the women are happy to maintain the old custom.

Ms. Walters approached one of the Afghani women and asked, ‘Why do you now seem happy with an old custom that you once tried so desperately to change?’

The woman looked Ms. Walters straight in the eyes, and without hesitation said,

“Land Mines.”

No matter what language you speak or where you go:

BEHIND EVERY MAN, THERE IS ONE SMART WOMAN!

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How to identify a cheater

Apparently, according to Dr Phil, in this article, a man whose ring finger is longer than his index is more likely to be unfaithful. Yes indeed. Apparently this longer ring finger happens because of an excess of testosterone in utero – and this leads to having the cheating gene. Players, those who have many partners, have a busier brain scan that their more boring one-partnered counterparts.

Sigh, what next? As part of the shidduch criteria do we now have to measure fingers and have brains scans so that we can predict a man’s ability for potential monogamy?

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Heinous or Harmless – dating world

You have a single girlfriend who is, as they say, in the parsha ie dating for marriage. She needs guidance. You are sympathetic to her story and want to help her all you can. However she prefers to speak with your husband, finds his advice more helpful for some reason. You have no reason to distrust her, but it makes you uncomfortable. Hubby thinks you are over reacting – it’s not like either of them are hiding their conversations from you.

Is this appropriate? Should single women be calling a married man for advice about anything? For that matter, should married women call someone else’s husband for advice about anything? Eg furniture, cars, politics etc.

What are your thoughts?

(not my story, not my husband)

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Wednesday’s Wacky Signs

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My Mikvah, My Mitzvah

(Inspired in part by this article)

I am a married orthodox Jewish woman. I adhere to the laws of Taharat Hamishpacha – family purity. As a married orthodox Jewish woman, I am trusted by God and my husband to observe these laws in the ways I have been taught, the same laws that were taught to my mother and her mother and her mother etc.

I do not have to answer to anyone or prove my observance of this mitzvah. My husband trusts me to go to the mikvah at the appointed time, he trusts that I am performing the mitzvah correctly and wouldn’t dream of going through a pre-Mikvah checklist with me. (oh, I have heard of such situations, believe me). He knows my cycle, he knows when I am counting, he keeps track – it’s in his interest to do so – but never would he question my timing or my preparation.

This mitzvah is given to us women, it is our mitzvah. This is something so deep and personal, we generally do not share the intimate details of our observance of this mitzvah with even our closest friends.

So – by that token, if God trusts me to perform this mitzvah to the best of my ability, and my husband trusts me, why on earth would I allow anyone to tell me I am not doing it properly? Why on earth would someone else feel that they were able to judge my preparations or my acceptability to be toiveled?

If a woman has correctly calculated when she needs to go and immerse in order to be ritually purified, and she prepares for her immersion according to the way she has been taught, why can the balanit / mikvah lady decide that she hasn’t done a good enough job? How can she assume that the woman’s preparations are not up to the right standards? Is her word not good enough? Who gives the balanit that power?

My balanit checks my nails and for loose hairs on my back. I am ok with that. If I wanted her to check me more, she would. If I wanted her to check me less, she’d be ok with that too. She is awesome.

How dare anyone tell a woman she has too much dry skin on her elbows, or that her long nails render her tevilah invalid? How dare anyone forbid another woman from immersing because she cannot prove she is Jewish? (I cannot prove I am Jewish on mikvah night!! Who walks around with their ketubah?!) How dare a balanit walk away from the mikvah room, after refusing to watch a tevilah, due to her doubts as to whether the woman has prepared appropriately?

As far as I am aware balaniot are volunteers. They are not paid for their service. And the majority of them are awesome and giving people. They are there to help, not hinder. It’s the few that we hear of, like those in the disputed Ramat Beit Shemesh mikvah, that make this whole mikvah experience a nerve wracking experience for some.

Mikvah is a mitzvah that I enjoy performing. I have written before of the peace it brings me, the deep spiritual cleansing I feel after having immersed. The joy of being able to reunite with my husband on all levels. I would hate for my mikvah experience to take away from that.

Taharat Hamishpacha is not an easy mitzvah to keep. Without going into too much detail here it involves certain bodily awareness and counting of a specific number of days – you have to make sure you are immersing on the right night. In the not too distant past there were places where it involved a lot of co-ordination in order to get to a mikvah – hours away, in a far off town, sometimes at great risk. It’s indeed much easier to not bother with it. But we do, as we are religious Jews who have taken this mitzvah upon ourselves. If we are prepared to go toivel, we need to be welcomed. We need to be encouraged to continue to keep this mitzvah. We need to be able to make the most of our potentially deeply spiritual experience – not be worried that our tevilah will not be valid.

The more I blog about the subject of mikvah the more stories I hear of negative experiences. It breaks my heart. This is a mitzvah I do with my entire body and with my soul – there is no other mitzvah I can think of that encompasses that. There is no other mitzvah that brings me such profound spiritual fulfillment. We need to stand firm and embrace our mitzvah and not let anyone cheapen it or take away from its spiritual value.

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