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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Safed Chanukah

It's been a pleasant week of Chanukah. Very low key but all the kids were home in Safed at some point or another, so I enjoyed the pace and interactions. It always amazes me that after years of living on the edge of WWIII, my children not only get along but actually like each other, as adults/almost adults. We had a restful (and delicious) Shabbat -- I made the Khachpuri which I had been looking forward to -- good thing that I thought that it was good because I've been eating them all week. When we had lunch on Saturday, after the challah, salads (we're totally Israeli now and can't manage without about 10 salads before the main course at a Shabbat meal) and a thick red lentil-sweet potato soup, no one wanted to try the khachpuri which, admittedly, I patchke'd about a bit. So, OK, it didn't go to waste -- I had some great lunches at work.

Soldier-son didn't make it home for Shabbat but he did have leave for the last several days of Chanukah. Those were the days that the 15-year-old was in Jerusalem with her sister so again, it was very quiet. I had given her a chunk of cash for shopping and she came home with some nice sweaters and a very happy disposition -- shopping does that for her. She even helped to rake up the yard with her brother, a first!

Sometimes I simply don't know if I give into her too much, just to diffuse the tension in the house, or if I'm supposed to acknowledge that she is different, with different struggles and needs, and I have to adapt myself to meet her "where she is." I was a pretty strict mother with my older kids but it simply doesn't work with the youngest one -- she's simply a different kettle of fish and I find single-mothering to be very difficult. (My teen even told me once "you don't have any spine" -- sigh. She may be right.)

I was talking with another Safed mother today who also has an adolescent who's going through teen issues. She gave me a good idea -- write positive, building notes. It wouldn't have to be "cheesy" but may have the effect of, not only developing more positive interactions than constantly reminding her of what the kid needs to do, hasn't' done, etc, but also allowing me to express myself before she tunes me out.

I'm going to try it. Another friend once suggested that when I have something difficult to tell my older kids, that I write a letter. Then I wouldn't find myself in the back-and-forth of trying to say what I want to say, having to explain, go on the defensive, etc. I did on a few occasions and it really works. In fact, we never opened the conversation again -- it was simply presented, in the letter, and finished with.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chanukah, o' Chanukah, come Light my Menorah

For a relatively minor holiday, Chanukah always sparks (pun intended) something in me. I get a kick out of watching the glow of the candles (oil wicks don't work well for me) and imagining all of the mushy phrases, like "a single candle can light up the world."

One of the nicest events of the holiday is walking around Tzfat after candle-lighting and seeing everyone's candles burning outside their homes. Lighting the candles isn't the end of the "mitzva' -- an additional important part of the candle-lighting is to "spread the miracle" by letting the candles be seen publicly. It's a point of Jewish pride that, I guess, is a lot easier to do in Israel, where you don't have to worry about being targeted by anti-semites (or having your menorah stolen). But it's very moving to walk around and see everyone's menorah shining brightly.

Family Shabbat this week. Everyone is expected to gather at the homestead, including my Tel Aviv daughter who doesn't come too often. The slow pace of Tzfat, not to mention the religiosity, makes her itch. But she promised that she'd make it up this week so I am preparing a yummy dairy meal to make my two vegetarian daughters happy for Saturday lunch. I found a recipe for Khachpuri on Israeli Kitchen which looks like exactly what I want. I don't know that I'll have all the right ingredients (one cheese looks like another to me) but I think that I have it right. I just walked down to the Tzfat Kadosh cheeses (goat's and sheep's milk cheese -- yum!) to get some of the ingredients. I do hope that the carton that I bought in the supermarket that I think is buttermilk really is buttermilk.

I have lived in Israel for 28 years and am still not "Israeli." Most of the time, I don't notice it much, but a few days ago, I saw, once again, clearly, that my credentials as an "Israeli" are sorely lacking.

I was heading up to town, dragging my pushcart (for shopping) behind me. I wanted to head up the stairs to the next street but the stairway was under construction and there was only one small lane open. As I looked up a group of 40+ people was starting to head down.

I stood there, waiting for them to finish coming down, when a young woman came up behind me and took my cart. "Com'mon" she said and just started up with the cart, forcing the people coming down to hug the wall and let us walk up.

We were very polite and said "excuse me" a bunch of times but darned if we didn't get up the stairs quickly! Of course, the fact that they were American tourists, so they were as polite as me, worked in my favor.

Last night my 15-year-old went to Kiryat Shmoneh with her friends for a birthday/Chanukah party. She warned me that they'd be coming back "between 2:00a.m. and 3:00a.m." because they'd ordered a van which was set to bring them back at that time. Since she was coming home with a friend, I didn't worry, but when I woke up at 3:30a.m. and they still weren't home, I started to fret.

Of course, by 3:40, they walked in -- the van itself had come late, but since my daughter doesn't have a cell phone, I couldn't find out what had happened. And of course, by 3:40, my sleep was pretty much disrupted for the night -- I got maybe another two hours of sleep.

Funny, people sometimes ask me if I worry about my son in the army, but frankly, when he's on base, I know where he is. It's my wandering daughter who turns my hairs white.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Chocolate for the Dogs

If my neighbor's dogs, whom he let out at 5:30a.m. this morning to run around barking throughout the neighborhood, die because some dog-hater left some big bars of chocolate sitting outside their gate.....well, i will have known nothing about it.

'nuff said