The Man in the Yellow Hat

When I was growing up, my parents asked a friend of my family named Harold to play the role of bedtime police one night. He came in and told me and my brothers that he's the policeman that parents call when their kids don't go to bed.

Over the years, Harold has been many different personas to us. One time during a Pesach Seder he went outside without us knowing and my father passed the Kos Eliyahu out of the window to him. It took us years to believe that Eliyahu Hanavi didn't actually drink that cup of grape juice. Another time he "lost" his name somewhere in my house. My brothers and I spent hours trying to find it until we decided he must be called No-Name. That name has stuck throughout the years.

Today, he took on yet another persona. Yaeli and I were trying to think of people to call and wish a Happy Chanukah. She kept naming people we had already called and then, finally, said she wanted to talk to the Man in the Yellow Hat (as in, the character from Curious George). I immediately thought of calling No-Name to play this character.

Unfortunately, Yaeli didn't take the bait. At first she thought it was her uncle Yossi. Then she decided it was her Zeighdee. Throughout the whole phone call she kept saying it was all a big mistake. There's no fooling her. So I introduced her to No-Name and she finally stopped mocking me for trying to pull a fast one on her.

She's good.

Happy Chanukah and Thanksgiving everyone!


The Craftiness Is Back!

My dear wife Rivkah has always been a very artsy and crafty person. You should see the scarves she crocheted for my family and the berets she crocheted for herself. Her projects are always pretty cool. Unfortunately, new motherhood and new mother-of-two-hood has pretty much trumped her time over much of the last 3 years.

Not anymore!

With the cold weather coming on, Rivkah decided she was sick of cramming the kids into their carseats with big poofy winter coats. We'd also read that big poofy coats makes carseats a bit less safe.

So...she went online and found a blog post by someone who made fleece ponchos for her kids. You buckle the kids underneath the poncho and they stay warm. See below for the amazing results!

I'm so glad Crafty Rivkah is back.


Where There's a Will...

...there's a relative. Or so my father always says.

This week, Rivkah and I are finalizing the process to have our Wills written and notarized as well as our Financial and Medical Powers of Attorney. This has been a project I've had on my to-do list since Yaeli was born and now, three years later, we have finally almost completed it.

The whole process has been pretty difficult. Writing a Will comes with a lot of difficult questions and discussions. You have to face your own mortality right in the face and think about what you would want to happen when you die. Coupled with what's been going on recently and it's made for a pretty depressing two weeks in the Miller household.

However, now that we've had those discussions and now that this process is almost done, I feel very calm. I feel like I can package up these documents and put them away and if, chas veshalom, something happens, at least Rivkah and the kids are taken care of.

I hope I just threw away all that money.


Things I've Learned From Yarden

Ever since Stella got sick we haven't stopped hearing stories that tell what an amazing person she is. How Stella so courageously carried the entire Stella's army on her back throughout her whole illness, even while we should have been the ones to carry her through it.

Well, I think someone very important has been overlooked. Yes, that wonderful man named Yarden. If it were up to Stella, we would all have been shocked to find out that she had passed away yesterday because she wouldn't have wanted anyone to know she was even sick in the first place. So, here's a list of things I learned from Yarden through this whole ordeal:

1. It's ok to talk about cancer.
2. Cancer is scary, and that's ok too.
3. In times of need, it's not a sign of weakness to reach out for help instead of doing everything yourself.
4. It's possible to be there for your children though the loss of their mother, even when you feel bleak and lost yourself.
5. Strength means standing up at your wife's funeral and telling everyone there that they should be jealous of you.

Yarden, Stella was the cause, but you were the one that has kept us all in the loop. You asked us to share jokes and stories at every chemo appointment. You let us know when you had good weeks and when you had bad weeks. You raised more money from a crazy bike ride than many people make in an entire year. And all throughout this, you helped take such amazing care of Stella and your children.

Stella had a fighters spirit, and I'm sure that was a large reason for why she lived so much longer than any doctor could have expected. But I think she also lived so long because she had your love to keep living for. You showed us all how much it is possible to love someone. You could have given up and said it was too hard. But you didn't. You provided her with such amazing care, comfort, and love that she had so much to live for.

Yarden, today and forever more, YOU are my Rock Star too.


The World Lost an Amazing Soul Today

The world lost one of the most amazing and courageous people I know. Her name was Tzuriya Kochevet Bat Sarah. Most knew her as Stella. Many more knew her as Yarden's wife. I knew her as many things. Jordan's wife. Max's mom. Miriam's mom. Rivka's mom. Yedidya's mom. BaChan's and GiChan's daughter. Scott's sister. Jerry's and Anthea's daughter in law. The second mother to me and to my brothers when we were growing up next door back in Potomac.

Stella faced a death sentence two years ago with amazing grace and poise. She beat the odds and battled it longer than anyone could have expected and brought so much light and happiness to the world. The jokes, tzedaka, prayers and blessings of love and healing poured in every day from all over the world.

I had the privilege of meeting up with the Frankls last summer during Stella's brief period of remission from this awful disease. I'm glad that our last meeting was on such a happy occasion. We had a few hours of peaceful conversation, catching up, a wonderful barbecue dinner and an ice cream finale that ended with Yaeli just covered from head to toe.

(UPDATE: I found the picture from that day.)

Stella, if you are reading this from heaven, I didn't really get to say goodbye to you so I'll say it now. Thank you so much for being such an important part of my life. I feel incredibly blessed to have known you and have learned so much from you. You taught me how to make sushi. You taught me how to read books really quickly to my children when I need to get other things done. You taught me how to take something I'm afraid of and face it. I won't say fearlessly because I know you were afraid. But you didn't let the fear take you over. You taught me how to give without asking for anything in return.

Stella, I miss you so much. I hope you have a really comfy seat right next to G-d.

Stella, I love you.