Marathons Coming Up!

For the last four months or so, our family has been training for running in a marathon. My husband and I are both signed up for full marathons… Our nine year old son is signed up for a 10 K, and our daughter, well, she is cheering from the side… and whenever she wants to join in the fun, she is welcome to, but meanwhile she is more comfortable on the side.

The third Jerusalem International Marathon is taking place this Friday. The signs and flags can be seen all over our city, as can the runners getting ready for the big race. We have picked up our shirts and numbers already, and are as ready as can be. My husband is going to do the 42.2 K (26 miles) here in Jerusalem, I will do the 10 K with our son, and then in two weeks I will do my 42.2 in Tel Aviv.

A recent training run with my big boy.

A recent training run with my big boy.

For those of you who are not familiar with Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, let me tell you, – there are some MAJOR differences between those two cities. They may be only an hour drive from each other, but when it comes to running a marathon, it might as well have been another planet (when it comes to many other things too, actually…).

The Jerusalem Marathon has gotten the name “A breath-taking marathon”, and rightly so. Not only is it so beautiful, it will take your breath away, – the hills that hit you everywhere will no doubt take your breath away! Our city is built on many, many hills, and the marathon-route does not want you to miss this fact… Last year I ran the half marathon here in Jerusalem, and let me tell you, those hills….. especially the one at around the 19th kilometer… which when doing the full, would be around the 40th, I guess… PUH!!!

Tel Aviv on the other hand, – is flat as a beach. It is actually a city built on the beach, while Jerusalem is built 800 meters above sea level (about 2600 feet). But don’t get me wrong, – I am sure that running 42.2 kilometers, is challenging, even in Tel Aviv!! (*I must have an advantage though, having trained in Jerusalem? Don’t you think?!?)

The love of my life and me finishing the 25K Begin Race here in Jerusalem three weeks ago

The love of my life and me finishing the 25K Begin Race here in Jerusalem three weeks ago

The training has for the most part been very enjoyable. I really like the shorter training runs during the week. They somehow give me an energy-boost for the day ahead. I have been on a plan that has had me running only three times a week, and I have been doing strength training twice a week (well, most of the weeks anyway…). The longer training runs were great up until around the half marathon distance. 21.1 K now feels like a piece of cake. But once I hit 28, 29 and around there, I have to really work on my mental strength, as there does not seem to be much more physical strength to be found. Hopefully the adrenaline on race day will help with this, plus the fact that the hills that have been draining my energy here in Jerusalem will be non-existant in Tel Aviv. The longest I have ever run is 31 K, so the last 11 K of the marathon will be new territory, but that day I will be able to give it all, – nothing to save strength for, – this is it!!!

I am very thankful that although I run on asphalt, my knees and back have not been complaining at all. The thing I have had to work on is for my stomach to be able to handle the ongoing hard pounding. I have found that for me it is definitely most helpful to run on an empty stomach. I eat one banana as I go out the door, and on long runs I fuel along the way with GU fueling products. And then I enjoy a nice big meal afterwards.

Another challenge I found, was that my toes started looking like they had gone through a torture-machine… Some toe-nails are blue and black, others are missing. (I’ll spare you the pictures…) Blisters are found all around. It got so bad at one point, that some of my training-runs were replaced with foot-soaks… But after that I found that during the actual runs, it didn’t hurt all that bad. It was worse in between somehow. (And the fact that my children felt like they shared my personal space, and regularly stepped on my toes, was NOT helpful. We have pretty much gotten rid of that habit now…) Anyway, my toes have roughened up, and I don’t think it will a problem on race-day. (The upcoming sandal-season is a different story…. I have invested in some dark shade nail polish…!)

Us after finishing the 25K Third Begin Race.

Us after finishing the 25K Third Begin Race.

But really, for the most part, I have come to LOVE running. (Who would have believed, old friends and family??) I feel privileged who gets to take the time to run, and it is a very positive part of my week, which spreads optimism and energy and joy to other parts of my life as well.

So I am One Happy Runner! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Mishloach Manot and Shushan Purim!

One of the negative claims that the evil Haman has against the Jewish people in the book of Esther, is that they are “a scattered and dispersed people” (Esther 3,8). As part of our Purim celebrations we do our best to NOT be neither scattered nor dispersed, but rather closely knit together and caring for each other. So, – we give sweet gifts to neighbors and friends, and monetary donations to the poor among us.

We took gifts to school on the last day there, later we drove around to deliver gifts to friends in the wider Jerusalem area, and here is a photo of our daughter taking little sweet gifts to neighbors this morning:

mishloach manot

This part is really one of the favorite parts of the Purim-celebrations for the kids. The making of the mishloach manot. The delivering of them. And of course, – the receiving of them… ๐Ÿ™‚

making mishloach manot

making mishloach manot

The content of these sweet gifts is, well, – sweet… We put homemade Hamentashen in ours, along with various candy, maybe a Purim-toy, and maybe some wine. Some of the packages even look like Hamentashen, or as we call them in Hebrew; Oznei Haman, – Haman’s Ears…

Haman's Ears...

We have given out lots of those sweet gifts during the last few days, – and don’t worry, we have received a whole lot ourselves too… The candy is literally covering our kitchen counters, and what to do when you are like a child around candy, – enjoy, enjoy, enjoy… (cannot possibly be any good for the upcoming marathon…).

We have thoroughly enjoyed these Purim-days, with everything from hosting a large and loud, fun Purim Party to just enjoying family time and having the kids home from school. In Jerusalem, because it is a walled city, we celebrate a day after people who do not live in walled cities, and this day is called Shushan Purim.

Enjoying Purim Days in Beautiful Israel

Enjoying Purim Days in Beautiful Israel

Today we made it downtown and enjoyed the celebrations in the streets of Jerusalem. We were far from alone, but if we had wanted to be by ourselves we would have stayed home… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Purim Fun

These are some of the people we met downtown… And just afterwards we bumped into Pinocchio!

Purim Fun

And just look at the view we have as we round a corner:

Jerusalem

Privileged, I know. I am very thankful.

Purim Fun

It has been a very happy Purim in every way.

Megilat Esther

Megilat Esther is Hebrew for “The scroll of the book of Esther”. An interesting and quite well known fact about this book of the Bible, is that there is no mention of God in the whole book! His hand is present, but His name is hidden.

Megilat Esther - The scroll of Esther's Book

Megilat Esther – The scroll of Esther’s Book

This is a reminder of looking for the hidden presence of God in everything we do and see around us. He is everywhere. The question is if we see Him, or rather if we search for Him and want to see Him.

megilat Esther

Just about since I learnt Hebrew a decade and a half ago, I have known that one of the meanings of the name, Esther, is “hidden”. But only this year did I pick up on the fact that one of meanings of the Hebrew word “megilah” is “finding”. The root clearly shows it, so once you realize it, it is all clear. (Hebrew is a deep and really amazing language!) So, anyway, – this leaves us with “Megilat Esther” meaning “Finding the hidden”. Pretty cool, isn’t it??

Reading Megilat Esther

Reading Megilat Esther

As part of our Purim-celebrations we have read through Megilat Esther twice. An exciting story with enormous depth if our eyes are just opened to see it.

May we look deeper and deeper, and see God more and more like He is! May our eyes be opened to see His presence and His guiding hand everywhere!

PURIM-JOY!

The air in our home was definitely filled with excitement this morning. The time had finally come to go to school in this year’s Purim-costume!! What joy! What excitement!! There were still a few uncertainties as far as how it all would work, – but thankfully it all turned out totally fine in the end! (Thankful for hot glue and lots of goodwill from everyone involved!)

I think I will let the pictures speak for themselves:

the little mermaid and her cowboy

my little mermaid

my cowboy

my little mermaid

the little mermaid

Isn’t this the cutest little mermaid?? Well, I sure think so! ๐Ÿ™‚

And what about the cowboy? He is One Cool Boy!

Love. โค

cowboy

I just wish I could add the same fun Purim background-music as we had on at home as we were getting ready… And I’m telling you, it only got better, – because we were marching (well, walking as a flock of sheep…) after a great Jerusalem band, – called Dr. Jazz.

Here are some pictures from that part:

Dr. Jazz

Dr. Jazz and school marching

friends

OK, with these joyful pictures, I am wishing you all a Purim Sameach and Shabbat Shalom!

Esther’s Fast.

In the book of Esther we read about them fasting and praying for three days. Neither eating nor drinking for three days. (Esther 4,16-17)

Well, I am glad that in our days we are doing this by a one-day fast, and it is considered a minor fast, so it is only from sunrise to sunset. This is normally done on the 13th day of the month of Adar, the day before Purim itself, but this year the 13th is a Shabbat, and we don’t fast on Shabbat (with the exception of Yom Kippur), – so we have our Esther’s fast today, Thursday.

I have never found fasts to come easily. I am more the type of person who eats a meal every three hours and snacks in between. So now, going for a day without eating and drinking, is challenging. But I find the fact that it is a collective fast VERY helpful! We are doing this together, we are in this together. That thought is SO strengthening. If this was something I had just decided to do today, it would be so much easier to just break it, but now I want to stick to it because I feel empowered by the fact that I am not alone.

Also, – what a good thing to be doing, really! Fasting and praying. There is deep meaning in that. You are not wasting your time when you are investing in those things! Here I am working, cleaning and cooking (yes, cooking! Because we are going to want a yummy meal after sunset!), and the whole time there is a song or a prayer underneath my breath. Because I don’t want to be going through this fast without really making use of it. I don’t want to be just not eating, – I want to be strengthening my prayers through fasting.

And I am praying for deliverance for my people, just like they did in Esther’s days. Then Haman was plotting to kill them. Today we have numerous enemies who would like to see the Jewish People wiped off from the face of the earth. We better make good use of this fast-day!!

Of course it is not the fast that is saving us, – it is the God of Israel who is saving us and protecting us and keeping us alive every day! All honor and glory to Him! But then again, – HE told us to fast and pray, so there you go…

The children are aware of the type of day it is today, but they are keeping on with their various dress-up-days at school, and today the theme was HATS. Here they are with their morning-faces and one with a fruit-basket hat and one with a viking-hat:

Purim-hats

Our son is interested in fasting, but I have him doing a partial fast for now, because I think that is all he can handle in his situation (read: I know how irritable he gets when his blood-sugar is low. That may be the case for us grown-ups too, but we should have a higher level of self control…).

Tomorrow we are going to be part of a Purim Parade in the streets of Jerusalem, and I hope to be back and tell you about that before Shabbat! We are going from joy to joy here, – with this fast-day thrown in there in the middle… Well, it is special too, there is no denying it!

Praying for our people. Together with our people. In Jerusalem. Amidst our people. What a privilege!!

Different Dress-up Days.

I smiled to myself as I watched my two kids walk out the gate.

She had orange hair with braids sticking straight out on the sides of her head. He had gel in his hair to keep it nice, combed and orderly, and he wore super-cool mirrored sunglasses.

She was wearing a very colorful short dress, two different colorful long socks, and way too large-size shoes. He was wearing as close at it gets to a full suit, including a white shirt and a golden tie.

While she carried a horse and a monkey, he carried a briefcase to school for the occasion.

My two kids. My two very different kids! My two incredibly beloved kids!!

It is the week before Purim, and every day they dress up with a different kind of theme. This was yesterday, and they were to come as someone from the movies. Did you guess it yet? She was Pippi Longstocking and he was James Bond. I am sorry I didnยดt get any photos, but I am sure they will repeat the success one of these days, as they both seem to love the character they dressed up as… and then I will be ready with the camera.

This morning again, I was smiling as they skipped out the door. Today they were to come with face paint, so we did clown faces. Somewhat rushed, I admit, as school mornings tend to be kind of rushed in our house. But still fun, – and you can see that they are clowns, canยดt you?

My beloved clowns

My beloved clowns

I hope you enjoy your Pre-Purim days as much as we do! ๐Ÿ™‚

Hamentashen

There is no doubt about it. Purim is in the air. And it is a happy, crazy type of atmosphere. Today the kids went to school in their pajamas. Every day this week they are dressing up in some type of different theme. Tomorrow they are going as someone from the movies. We have one Pippi Longstocking and one James Bond. Very different choices, very different kids.

Here at home we have costumes and masks and face-paint all over, so there is no forgetting that we are in the month of Adar, and that Purim is right around the corner. And, we are enjoying Oznei Haman, the Purim cookies maybe most commonly known as Hamentashen. Their Hebrew name, “Oznei Haman” literaly means “Haman’s Ears”, so that is what we are eating for treats these days…

oznei haman

I thought I’d share my recipe with you here, if you wanted to try them out yourselves. They are really pretty easy to make, but it is somewhat time-consuming as each one has to be made in several steps individually. Anyway, it is totally worth it. The homemade ones are so much better than the store bought ones, and just think of the lovely smell it spreads around the house!

My recipe is quite big, and makes about 150 cookies, which will come in handy, because you want to make sure to have plenty to fill your sweet Purim gifts for your neighbors and friends. But if you want to, you can just cut everything in half and make a smaller batch too. ๐Ÿ™‚

OZNEI HAMAN

Dough:

600 grams butter

300 grams sugar

3 eggs

the peel of two lemons

2 teaspoons vanilla

900 grams flour

1 teaspoons instant yeast

2 teaspoons baking powder

Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Then beat in the vanilla and the lemon peel. In the end fold in the flour, yeast and baking powder. (I never quite understood why the yeast is there, and you could probably skip it, but I have always added a little bit of it since the recipe asks for it.)

It is best to let the dough cool before shaping the cookies. Anything from an hour to overnight is good.

Poppy seed filling:

200 grams poppy seeds

the peel and juice of one lemon

raisins and chopped nuts

lots of good jam

some water

optional : sugar (I normally don’t add sugar, but I really put a LOT of jam.)

Cook the filling over low heat for about an hour. Taste and adjust along the way.

And then there is the option of filling them the way I did the ones in the photos here, – with Nutella. Simple, easy and delicious!

making Purim cookies in the midst of Adar-joy!

The way you make them, is to roll your cooled dough out flat on a floured surface. Stick out round shapes with a cup or something. Put a little bit of filling in the middle of each round, and fold them closed so they end up in the shape of a triangle in the end.ย 

Bake for 8 – 10 minutes at 180 degrees celsius.

oznei haman

ENJOY!!