Can You Please Say Bless You?

This weekend we went up to Wilmington, Delaware to visit my grandmother. My brother came with us and was a great help in the car helping to entertain the kids. We left early Sunday morning and got to Delaware around lunchtime. The kids napped a bit and generally did kid stuff.

We ate lunch when we got there and my Bubby finally got to meet Sophie for the first time. My mom came up as well and Yaeli had some trouble remembering who was Bubby (my mom) and who was Bubby-Bubby (my grandmother). Zeidy Murray (my grandmother's husband) was there too and everyone just loved seeing the kids.

After lunch my mom and Rivkah took the Yaeli to a nearby park. I stayed home with my Bubby and we spent a good hour just catching up and chatting. Sophie showed off her crawling and cruising skills and then ended up falling asleep on me lying on the couch for over an hour. It was delicious. At around 5:30 Rivkah and I went out to Brew-Haha coffee for a much needed date. As part of our date I looked up the store on Yelp and we left a really nice review, alternating writing each sentence.

After our date we went back and put the kids to bed. Yaeli slept on a pull-out sofa which my mom later joined her on. It amazes me that she'll sleep in a bed with my mom but not with me or Rivkah. Sophie slept in our room in our bed. There wasn't room for us to set up a pack-and-play.

In the morning Yaeli actually stayed in her bed reading until I came in to get her. She was very careful to be quiet and not wake up her Bubby. So cute. My cousin Jesse and his wife Erica came and hung out around 11 and we all had a lot of fun just talking. I added Jesse onto my family Photo Stream too. I'm slowly adding my whole family to it.

We packed up the car and got on the way at around 1. The kids were a little antsier this time and after a couple of hours my brother and Rivkah switched places so that Rivkah was in the back with the kids. Sophie was clearly tired of being cooped up in her car seat and screamed bloody murder until she finally fell asleep after about an hour. Yaeli wasn't too bad. She took a nap and was a little loud when she was up but for the most part was well behave.

Then...all hell broke loose...

As we were going through the tollbooth getting off of the PA Turnpike, with 15 minutes to go before we arrived home, Yaeli gave us 3 seconds warning and puked her little guts out. It was one of the most horrible scenes/smells I've ever experienced. The poor kid was so traumatized that she fell asleep about 2 minutes later. Sophie must have through it was really funny because she stopped screaming and started giggling instead. She giggled the rest of the way home.

Thankfully my dad had made dinner for us and came over to my house where we all ate. One thing I realized during dinner was that Yaeli started requesting polite responses from us. She sneezed and then said "Zeidy, can you please say 'bless you'?" It was so cute and she's been saying a few different things like that too.

Well, that about sums up our trip. Going to wait a little bit for the next long road trip.

Til next time.


Why Shouldn't They Serve? My Kids Will

In Israeli news recently was a story about a protest by the Chareidi community against being drafted into required military service. This was in response to the governments plan to stop allowing Chareidi men to be exempt from military service.

I'm having trouble understanding this mentality. I'm not really been a fan of pushing my problems off on someone else. It's one thing to delegate but to say that a task is beneath me is not part of my lingo. So when I hear that a group is pushing off the responsibility of protecting their country to someone else because it will disrupt their quiet peaceful lives it gets me a little ticked off. Don't they understand that they only get those quiet lives because the military is doing their very best day in and day out to protect them and provide them safety?

When it comes time for my daughters to join the greatest army in the world I have no plans to try to find loopholes and exemptions for them. They will do their duty and serve the country that has been providing them their home. This is not to say I won't be scared as hell. Of course I will be. But I'll be mighty proud of them and the work they'll be doing to keep us all safe.

So, remind me again why you shouldn't serve? My kids certainly will!


Mother's Day 2013


On this Mother's Day I'm reminded of how amazing of a mother you are. I actually have a constant reminder on a daily basis of how good a mother you are because of how amazing our kids are. They both resemble you so much and I love that about them. Yaeli and Sophie both have your beauty, both inner beauty and outer beauty. They both have a lot of your personality too.

I know it's not easy being their mom sometimes. Yaeli is so frustratingly independent (not unlike you sometimes) but you handle her with patience and grace. Sophie wakes us up all the time at night (not unlike you waking up and talking in your sleep) but you never deprive her of anything she needs.

I love that you love our girls so unconditionally. They may frustrate you at times but they both express their love for you day in and day out. I'm proud that you are their mother and proud to call you my wife.

Have a great Mother's Day.



Getting the Aliyah Ball Rolling

As I have stated previously, the initial intention of this blog was to document my family's aliyah experience. As time goes along and that dream becomes more of a reality, that message will start to play a bigger and bigger role in these posts. In the meantime, please continue to enjoy the stories along the way.

That being said, this will serve as our aliyah kick-off post. No we aren't in contact with Nefesh B'Nefesh yet. No we aren't about to leave any time soon. But there are things we are already doing now to get the ball rolling to set us up for a successful aliyah.

One such thing is our cell phones. As you know, though it is highly contested, in the United States most cell phone providers lock users into a 2 year contract. Well, as we'd like to think about leaving within the next 2-3 years we made the decision that after Rivkah's next available upgrade in the summer we are not allowing any more 2 year contracts on our plan. We have 6 lines on our plan currently and if anyone wants to extend their plan they'll just have to wait until the contract is up and get their own plan. Once our two contracts are done we'll take them month to month the rest of the way.

The other thing we have been doing is working with a financial planner to get our finances in order. Cut back on spending where it's not needed, purchase proper levels of insurance (life, auto, renters), invest some money, and most importantly, start to save up an Aliyah nest egg. I've always heard that to have a small fortune in Israel you need to move with a large fortune in America. I don't know if that's 100% accurate but we definitely need to have some money stored away for the move.

So, for all you nay-sayers who want to keep us tied down here, I'm terribly sorry but this is happening.


Don't Tolerate Different People

Recently, an NBA player by the name of Jason Collins came out and shared with the world that he is gay. Sports Illustrated had a whole section devoted to the story and I read it end to end. Something about this story caught my attention and intrigued me to no end.

Why should I even care? I don't know Collins. I don't even like basketball. In fact I pretty vehemently don't like basketball. Clearly this wasn't a basketball story. So is it a sports story then? I spent the whole weekend wondering and thinking about it.

Probably because of all the testosterone and adrenaline involved, professional sports has made little room for homosexuality.Until Collins came out there had never been an out gay person in major professional team sports in the United States. The article in SI mentioned that while Jackie Robinson was the first black person to play in a major league team sport, Collins is definitely not the first one to play. He's just the first one to come out. In fact, there are apparently four players in the NFL who are contemplating coming out as a group at some point soon. These people are out there, just hiding who they are.

This line of thinking brought me to the topic of tolerance. Do I have tolerance for gay people, black people, women? Of course I do. I have some very good friends in all of those categories. In fact, someone who I was in school with as a kid, who was "straight" then, is living today as an out gay man. And that hasn't changed how I view him and it doesn't change our friendship.

But is this really tolerance? I don't think it is. Here are a couple definitions of tolerance as defined by merriam-webster.com:
1. Capacity to endure pain or hardship
2. The act of allowing something
Is this what I am really describing above? It's not a hardship or pain for me to be friends with a gay person. It's definitely not a hardship or pain for me if someone I've never met and will never meet is gay. And who am I to say that I allow or don't allow someone else to be true to themselves, even if it goes against what my religion tells me? Even if it's what their religion says! That is not my place. If my religion tells me not to do something, then I need to be the one to implement that into MY life.

I want my kids to grow up with a respect for other people. For their beliefs, practices, religions, whatever. I don't want them to tolerate differences. I want them to embrace differences. If they aren't comfortable with something they can discuss it either with one of their parents, or better, they can discuss it in a healthy conversational manner with the person themselves. Get the answers directly from the source. No antagonism, no accusations, no negativity.

If we just tolerate differences we are still in the mindset of segregation, and that can be very bad.


Toddler Bed Adventures, Sophie is Crawling

After months of almost being able to do it, Yaeli finally got hysterical enough to climb out of her Pak n' Play. She just kinda hoisted herself up on the side and flipped over the side. I was so proud of her. I put her back in and put her down for her nap and when she woke up she asked me to help her climb out. So now we were in a bit of a predicament.

My rule has always been that when the kids climb out of their cribs is when they can transition to the toddler bed. This is a pretty good rule for the most part because it keeps the kid in the room for as long as possible. The downside to this rule is they can learn to escape at any time and we don't have time to plan for it.

So, that night we pumped Yaeli up to sleep in her toddler bed. We made sure to tell her that she's such a big girl now and that we are proud of her. We put her to sleep, closed the door, and prayed. Prayed that she wouldn't fall out of bed. Prayed that if she woke up at night she wouldn't come creeping into our room. Prayed that she wanted to sleep in the big bed.

Well, after almost a week in the toddler bed she's been fine. She slept through the whole night in bed and has only fallen out once. The main issue is that we can no longer just plop her in her room and leave her crying because she'll follow us out. Bedtime has gone from a 10-20 minute process to a 30-45 minute ordeal. I'm sure with time we'll get it down to a system but for now the bedtime process is a little grueling. I took my final final for the spring semester last night and I have the entire summer off so I should be home most nights to help with bedtime.

In Sophie related news, she is in fact crawling. Getting all over the place now (although sometimes she gets there backwards). It's really amazing watching the progress jump so much every day. I'm hoping she waits a few more months before walking. I'm not really ready for her to be getting into our stuff. Time to break out the baby gates again...


Dear Friends, I Have a Food Addiction

Those of you who have known me for a long time will not be shocked by this. For those of you who have not known me that long, I used to weigh well over 200 pounds. I did some pretty crazy things with food and was overall an unhealthy person. I was pretty miserable with myself. Even though I put on a pretty good show for the world to see, I was not a happy person most of the time.

Five years ago, on May 1, 2008, I began the long journey towards a better life. I joined a 12 step program called Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA). I found a sponsor who had long term success losing weight and keeping it off and asked him how he achieved it. He gave me a food plan which included giving up flour and sugar 100%.

Since that day it's been quite a ride. My life has gotten better in almost every aspect. I met and married, I have kids now. I got my first professional job and have built up a bit of a resume and have a great job now. Oh yeah, and I lost and have kept off close to 90 pounds.

I will definitely not go so far as to say my life is perfect. A great saying I've heard is "Life sucks better sober", meaning life is still going to suck sometimes, but it'll suck less than if I'm wallowing in active addiction. One thing I can say is that I no longer let external things affect how I eat. Now, no matter what emotion I'm feeling, no matter where in the world I am traveling, my food stays exactly the same. Life has taken me to Israel and New York, the births of my two children, the divorce of my parents and my wedding (not in that order). As a matter of fact, if you were a guest at my wedding and had the dinner, you had an FA safe meal (you just didn't know it).

Today marks half a decade since I began this journey. I am the happiest I've been since my earliest memories; I am in the best physical shape I've been in my entire life; I'm the most fiscally responsible I've ever been in my life; I have a wonderful wife and family. You may look at my food and wonder why I "eat that way". To that I'll just say "I eat this way because I want all of this." Who I am today is in no small part attributed to the way I eat and through working the twelve steps.

I don't often share this aspect of my life. I feel that it's important to let others know that if they are in a similar situation that there is hope. And, if for nothing else, the more people who know of my addiction means the more people I am accountable to. I cannot do this alone. I have the strong support of my fellows in the program and the support of my family and friends is important too.

Have a blessed day!

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.