Pesach is here!

We have been preparing for this holiday for more than a month! Finishing all our leaven. Cleaning our whole houses. Scrubbing our pots and ovens. Burning our last leaven. Cooking food for the holiday. Decorating the house and ourselves. 😉 Calling friends and relatives to wish them a joyous and kosher Pesach.  And the long awaited holiday is finally here!! Baruch ata she hechianu… Thanking God for having brought us to this time!

Pesach is here!

We had a lovely Seder Night with family and friends Monday night. In the diaspora you guys get to have this joy two nights in a row, but here in Israel we do it only once a year. So we have to make the very most out of that night, – and believe me, we do! I wish you could have heard our beautiful princess sing the four questions of what makes this night different than all the other nights, which is traditionally sung by the youngest member of the family. She totally loves this part, it is what makes it fun to be the youngest, in her opinion! 🙂

Spring has come! Pesach is here!

Spring has come! Pesach is here!

Seder literally means Order, – so this holiday meal is full of order! I read somewhere the thought that it is kind of strange that the holiday of freedom is celebrated by a meal with lots of rules and limitations… But then again, this adds so much! It is what makes it special! It is what makes it what it is! The article I read compared it to unstructured play with a ball and playing a real ball-game with rules and regulations. The latter option is so much more interesting!! So also with the Seder Meal!

Home-made Pesach Cookies

Home-made Pesach Cookies

This Jewish holiday can be summed up the same way almost all the Jewish holidays can: “They tried to kill us. The didn’t succeed. Let’s EAT!!” And yes, we celebrate by eating, – lots of symbolic foods, four cups of wine and a very yummy holiday meal. We eat bitter herbs to remember slavery in Egypt, unleavened bread to remember the haste in which we had to leave, we have a lamb bone to remind us of the blood that was put on the doorposts which saved the firstborns from the angel of death, we dip vegetables in salt water to remind us of our tears, we eat a sweet mixture of fruits and nuts to reminds us of mortar we used to put the bricks together in building, etc. etc. Notice the fact that we look upon it as thought WE were the ones who left Egypt. This is the way it is supposed to be. – Every generation should think of himself as having been set free from slavery in Egypt. This is why we are teaching our next generation all this and much more, to help them feel that they are a very real part of this.

Pesach and Spring.

Pesach and Spring.

And now we have a whole week of festivities of various kinds. Tuesday we were invited over to good friends for food and fellowship after the synagogue service in the morning. Today we are going to have a barbecue in a large park here in Jerusalem along with a group of friends, and the rest of the city, basically. And this is the way the days go by, good times, making more memories with family and friends. We have so much to be thankful for!

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My First Full Marathon.

I have participated in a few marathon arrangements over the last few years, but today was the first time I actually completed my first full marathon.   There has been so much back and forth about this. First it was postponed because of a heatwave, and then the postponed marathon was cancelled, because one person died in the half marathon that did take place as planned, and several people ended up in the hospital because of heat stroke and dehydration.

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Then there was this group of runners who organized an informal marathon, so that we would be able to at least do this run that we had trained so much for. The whole thing was quite controversial, as there was a heatwave expected for this day too. So naturally there was a lot of focus on being careful on this run, listen to your bodies, don’t push yourselves too far etc. There was not going to be any injuries or any type of scandals in this race, that was our responsibility!

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Before we started running, at 5 o’clock in Tel Aviv this morning, we stood in 42 seconds silence in respectful memory of the runner who died last week in this same city. And then we started running down the promenade with an absolutely beautiful view of the sea, the waves, the old city of Yafo still lit by streetlights, as it was still relatively dark. More than half of the marathon was ran right next to the Mediterranean, – I totally LOVED it! First we ran south from Tel Aviv Port where we started, and after returned we ran north. The nice thing was that we kept coming back to our starting point, where I had my very supportive family refilling my water packs and encouraging me. Our son would come and meet me and run with our group a bit in the area, which everyone loved, – and so did he! 🙂

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We were a small group of runners, and that made it very nice and friendly. We talked along the way, and some of us even got informally interviewed by a reporter from Runner’s World who ran along with us for the first half! 🙂

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I smiled to pictures, and had such a great time running. I really, really enjoyed the experience. I was happy with my pace, did not push the speed too much, and really thought I would finish strong. But in the second part of the marathon I started having signs of dehydration, and I guess I started drinking more too late, because in my 34th kilometer, I all of a sudden became acutely dizzy and could not run/walk straight, which really brought me into panic. (*I guess that is what starting a marathon by standing in silence for someone who died running recently does to you…) And I really, really did NOT want a scene of any kind. Collapsing and needing an ambulance was to be avoided if it could be! So I started walking, drinking lots, eating more energy-GU-chews, and tried to help myself as best as I could.

The thing was also that I was very confused as to how far I had gotten. There was no marking of kilometers along the way, and I was convinced my runkeeper had told me I was close to the end… (I still think it was giving me mistaken information, about both time and distance, but there is of course the chance that I could have been confused due to the dehydration.) As I didn’t know the route very well, I also thought I could see the finishing area, but it was just somewhere that looked similar. So when I actually opened my runkeeper and looked at it, I found that I had several kilometers left, and I guess that threw me off mentally too. (*And really, running a marathon is at least 50 % mental!)

I had so not expected this type of thing to happen! It really shouldn’t have, as I had invested in this great water-backpack type of thing, so I had water available at all times, in addition to water stations along the way. I thought I drank little sips all the time, but I guess it was not enough. And I had talked about how strange it is when people start walking at the end, after doing so well for the great majority of the race! Why would they not just push themselves a little longer?? Well, now I know from personal experience how that can happen!!!

This is when my wonderful support group of a family came and met me, cheered me on and encouraged me. So I tried to walk a little faster, run a little bit in between, but after having stopped running, my legs cramped up pretty badly when trying to start running again. And, after having drunk a lot of water all at once, I had this painful pressure in my chest, which made me want to take it easy too.

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Anyway, – I finished! Which is the main thing. I thought to myself out there: If I can’t run, – I’ll walk if I have to. I’ll crawl if I must. I really, really wanted to finish my 42.2 kilometers!

I am filled with a deep respect for people who finish marathons strong! It is not a small thing, let me tell you! And I am motivated to keep training, and get ready for the Jerusalem marathon next year. I know it will be a challenge. Here we will probably not have the heat we had to deal with in Tel Aviv today (29 degrees towards the end), but here we have hills, major hills. Anyway, that is a long way away, but it is still nice to think that there hopefully will be another chance.

finishing my full marathon

Here is a photo of me finishing my marathon. I was filled with a cocktail of emotions at the time. I was relieved and disappointed, happy and sad, smiling and crying at the same time. And I was really thankful for my health and that I had actually finished my 42.2!

Cleaning lists…

This whole week the kids are home on Pesach Break. They get off from school more than a week before Pesach really starts, in order to help clean… Nice idea, huh? 😉 Well, truth is, I normally try to have most of the cleaning done by the time their break starts, so that we will have time to actually enjoy our time together when they are off. BUT, – truth is ALSO that I normally don´t really succeed in this, because there are so many things you want to do at the end… The windows, for example, they even told us on the news last week not to clean our windows yet, because of the dust storm that would come in the weekend. That´s when you really feel that the whole country is doing spring cleaning together, – when that is a news item!!! Anyway, right now my windows are clean, and I am enjoying them for as long as it lasts, as they say there is another dust storm on its way…

cleaning

Back to kids and cleaning. This year the intention was for them to take part in this a bit when they are home. And, believe it or not, they were actually excited about it!! Most of all, they were excited about making the list of what to clean. I have to admit, – they may have inherited this from me. Because, as we came home from our wonderful weekend in Tel Aviv, full of energy, I sat here on the couch in the evening, writing a long and detailed list of what was still to be done. The next morning I told my son about this, but he wanted to write his own list. Ok, no problem, he could have his own list. He was just done when our daughter came downstairs, and I explained to her that he had now written a list of what was to be done, and she could look at the list, choose something, do it, and then tick it off. This is when our son jumped in and said that this was his list, so he was going to be doing the ticking off….. The princess did not have any problem with this, as she anyway wanted to make her own list, – a pink and decorated one of course! (And she is not ticking the various items off with  simple “v”, no, she is doing either a flower, a heart, a star or something else decorative, always something different…) So, let´s say, we were not lacking in the list-department….

cleaning for Pesach

The cleaning itself started pretty well too. They both took off and started on various projects, and came back to tick it off as soon as it was done. But as the days have gone by, it has become more of a question of what IMMA (that´s me…) has done, and they can tick off…. Oh, well! As long as they are getting along well, and are having good days, I am not complaining. When I find them in bed, him reading her a book, for example. Sweet.

kids reading

I must admit, this idea of them taking a bit of ownership of the project, feeling part of it, has given a positive structure to our days. Much better than them spending their days on the couch with DVDs and games on the I-Pad, making a fuss of every little thing while I am the only one aware of the cleaning project we are in the middle of!

We have also done some fun gardening two days in a row.

gardening

Today is an absolutely beautiful day, and we are celebrating the fact that we are almost ready for Pesach, by filling the little pool in our front yard. Nice life!

filling the pool

“Baby Moshe on the Nile” – Craft

This is such a brilliant Pesach craft. (I can say that, because I was not the one who came up with the idea!) It is so simple and fast, – and yet so sure of success.

Baby Moshe on the Nile

You need: A piece of cardboard to draw the Nile on, A little basket of sorts, a little doll to be baby Moshe, possibly a little piece of cloth for a blanket, and last but certainly not least two quite strong magnets.

You color everything, – well, not the baby…

Making a Pesach Craft

And you glue one piece of magnet to the bottom of the little basket and put it on “the Nile”.

basket on the Nile craft

The other one you hold underneath the cardboard under the place where you have just placed the basket.

magic with magnets

And here is the trick; – when you move the magnet under the cardboard, – the basket with baby Moshe moves on the Nile! By itself, so to speak!! It’s magic!!!

Moshe in the basket on the Nile Craft

I have now done this with several groups of kids, and they have all loved it! I am warmly recommending it!

Running In Tel Aviv

First of all, – THANK YOU so much for all  your sweet and compassionate comments to my last post!! You guys are the best!!! And really, maybe it was all your encouragement, prayers and good thoughts, – the next day I was already feeling much better! As I told my sister that on the phone, she said, – yes, it is not like you to be down for long! 😉

It helped to gain perspective, – it is JUST a marathon! We are all healthy and all is well, really. I have so much to be thankful for!!

It was also helpful to just make a decision for what to do about this new situation. I knew the whole time that I wanted to run on the day of the marathon, to get to take part and enjoy the festivities and all the excitement. But I also really wanted to run my 42.2, my full marathon. (You know, the bumper sticker… ;)) So because I am planning on doing the full marathon on the Friday the week after the Tel Aviv Marathon, I decided to just run the 10 K race on that day (to not mess up my tapering-period, where I am supposed to take it somewhat easy just before the marathon).

Here you can see me having fun running the 10 K:

running the 10K in the Tel Aviv Marathon

They let those of us registered for the full marathon get into whichever race we wanted to, since ours had been cancelled/postponed, and I felt like quite the VIP going around there with my special number. 😉

Here I am towards the end of the race… giving it all…. I only get it to come up here with the ad on the bottom, but I saw it without it, and then you can see that I am actually in the air and not touching the ground, – kind of makes up for the facial expression! Haha!

running the 10 K in the Tel Aviv marathon

I started running at 06.45 in the morning, and it was not so awfully hot yet. But they say that between 7 and 8 the temperatures rose dramatically. People actually stood along the race and hosed us down with water!!! It sure had a cooling effect! For anyone interested in the time, – I did my 10K in 52 minutes and 53 seconds. I am quite happy with the result. I didn’t know how it would go, as this is not the distance I have trained for, but it was fun just to run with all these thousands of runners. I started together with five thousand runners, and there were close to 35 thousand runners all in all.The running in crowds both slows you down and speeds you up, as you constantly have to pass people, but also are encouraged further by all the great runners around you.

Here is me cooling my feet off in the Mediterranean after the race, with my medal and all:

having done the 10K in the Tel Aviv  marathon

I really hope I will get to run my full marathon on the upcoming Friday, – they are actually forecasting a similar heatwave… so we will see.

Afterwards, I stood for a bit by the finishing line to encourage those who were still coming in. I am the type who would say something like ” Go for it! Only ten more meters! Give it all you’ve got!!!” But as I got there, I heard the ones over the loudspeaker saying stuff like “Take it easy. It is totally OK to walk. If you feel like it at all, just start walking. Listen to your bodies. Don’t push too much.” I was puzzled by this, but not long after I understood why, because sadly we heard about a tragedy that had taken place: One of the runners of the half marathon had collapsed and died. And several others had also been taken to the hospital in difficult situations. We pray for comfort for the family of the young runner who lost his life doing something that he loved, and we keep praying for complete recovery of the ones that are still being treated in the hospital.

So this is a reminder to us all to stop in time, to not push beyond a certain limit. And even if you keep drinking, sometimes it is not dehydration as much as it is overheating. They say a factor that made it particularly difficult now was that this is early spring, and we are not used to such heats, had it been May, the situation would have been very different. But really, the numbers speak clearly of that the great majority of runners were totally fine. There were close to 35 thousand runners, and somewhere between 50 and 80 individuals were treated for medical difficulties.

Afterwards, we enjoyed a really nice day in Tel Aviv. I loooooooved being by the sea!

the Mediterranean

And so did the kids.

kids having fun in the water

We were there for two whole days, and did several really nice walks on the beach, in the water, and on the promenade next to it. By night and by day.

walks on the beach

We also had friends who came to hang out with us a bit on the Friday. Lots of fun!!

fun with friends

But I have to go, you guys! The kids are already well started with cleaning for Pesach, and it is about time I join them!!!

See you later!

Disappointed.

I am so disappointed, guys. I know you don’t normally hear me like this, and really, I am normally not like this, but right now I feel like the air has just left the balloon, so to speak.

There has been this great build-up. I have been so focused. It has been so exciting. I have really been looking forward to running a full marathon in Tel Aviv. I have been training for it for four full months. It has been hard at times, but I have kept my eyes on the goal, and kept going.

On one of my many, many training runs.

On one of my many, many training runs.

Then, almost two weeks ago there was the Jerusalem Marathon. I participated in the 10K race with my 9 year old son, and my husband impressed us all with an amazing time at his first full marathon. Ever since then I have felt the butterflies in my stomach, – my own first marathon is coming up…! I have been counting days, – and hours! Really, I have!

done Jerusalem marathon

I have been limiting my sugar, caffein and alcohol to a minimum for the last week or so. Everything for the upcoming marathon. I have dreamt about pacing strategies, and that is no exaggeration. How fast should I start, what finishing time can I realistically aim for, – all those thoughts were constantly spinning around in my head.

On our way to pick up my shirt and number and everything, was the first time I heard about the temperatures expected for race day. 35 degrees Celsius! That is like the heat of summer, hot Israeli summer. Oh, well, I decided to keep a good attitude and just plan on wearing sun screen, a wide brimmed hat and drink lots and lots of water.

Then today, a couple of hours ago, – I hear my marathon is cancelled. Well, they have all kinds of options, but basically that is what it is, cancelled. And let me remind you, – I have trained for this for four whole months!!!

On another training run.

On another training run.

And now I have the option of running a half marathon, which is what I did last year in Jerusalem. But that is not what I trained for, – I was totally wired for a full marathon now… The other option is to run my 42.2 next Friday, but then as in circles in a park, and of course without the whole arrangement of the other races etc. etc. And this is the weekend we were planning on being in Tel Aviv, not next week, a few days before Pesach! We even have a nice hotel room for Shabbat this weekend, a really nice birthday gift from my in-laws. We were going to be there to celebrate that I had done my first full marathon, – what, now we will be there a week before my marathon?!? Or after just having done another half marathon?

And my bumper sticker! My 42.2 marathon club bumper sticker! I was so excited to find that in my bag of goodies when picking up my shirt and number, so looking forward to stick it on the back of our car after finishing the race!! Ahhhhh!!!!

A bummer! Such a bummer!

Sorry for taking it all out on you guys! But I just have to get it out. Ah… I am sooo disappointed!

Of course they have a very good reason for canceling the 42.2 this Friday, it was the ministry of health that did not recommend keeping it. And of course none of us want to risk our health. Would have been a memorable race, huh? The one were hundreds fainted and had to be brought to the emergency room… No, they probably did the right thing in canceling it. That is what I try to tell myself right now anyway.

On yet another training run...

On yet another training run…

And I, – I have to use this as a good learning situation. Learn to handle disappointment. Learn to cope with things not turning out the way I expected it to, or wanted it to. And then to do the right thing in the midst of it.

In Hebrew, or I guess in Jewish tradition, we have this saying – hakol le tova, – meaning, everything is for good, it all serves a purpose, kind of. And that is what I am telling myself now. Even though I do not understand why this came about the way it did, it must be for the good, for something good, somehow.

Our lives, our days, our plans, everything is in God’s Hands. He has the full control, and we just have to trust Him. Somehow that makes it easier for me to cope with situations where I feel like I have no control, – and I guess, I sort of wish I would have had just a little bit of control. Well, at least I know the one who holds it all in His Hands, – and I know He wants only the best for us, always.

A few new sewing projects.

As we clean and tidy and make everything ready for Pesach, the urge for renewal naturally comes to the surface. There are sales on furniture and dishes and all kinds of stuff for the house, so clearly this is the season…

new pillows

I have often ended up painting our walls at this time of the year, and thereby achieving a feeling of something new. But as I used my leftover paint last year, I went to my stock of materials and cloths this year. So I am sewing pillows, runners, kitchen towels and a few more little decorative items. Some are still in process, but some are done, and I thought I’d show them to you here. 🙂

new runner in the kitchen

To get a few new items, feels like a nice reward as we are putting so much effort into going through things and making everything so nice and orderly in the house. All my projects are really, really easy and simple. But when you have beautiful materials, the results are good anyway!

new kitchen towels

Of course this is kind of a far stretch from getting rid of chametz/leaven. However, Pesach is kind of like a new start, a new year of sorts, so why not make it a more beautiful new start?? 😉

new pillow

I cannot count how many times I have been thankful for our leather couch. Just think of kids birthday parties, and just life as a family, really. It is VERY convenient to have a couch one can just easily wipe anything off. But, the downside is that I feel it gives a too heavy and dark kind of look. So, I do my best to make the visual impression a little lighter by adding more country style pillows.

new pillows

Last time I showed you our daughter’s room. So here is a picture from our son’s room, with a new pillow:

boy's room

OK, now I have to go put my challot in the oven, so that they will get out just before we light the candles for Shabbat. By the way, in the parasha/Torah portion of this week (Vayakel Pikudei, Exodus 35-40), we read about how they made all the things needed for the tabernacle. Crafts and handy-work are given a very worthy position, and as I read it yesterday, I all of a sudden felt it so fitting that I had done all this sewing this week! 🙂

kitchen counter

Wishing you all a blessed Shabbat Shalom from Yerushalayim!