Living my dream

Do you remember what you imagined your adult life would be like when you were a child? Call it dreams, thoughts, imaginations, – I think we all had some sort of thoughts or expectations.

For me, if I were to think about it in a black and white type of way, I guess I would have to say that a lot turned out very different than I expected. But then again, – today there were so many moments when I just had to stop myself and think about it, – I am living my dream! What a blessing!

flowers and candles

Like so often, – I am reminded that it is the small things that matter. They make up life, really. Today was a beautiful day. Spring weather with sun from a clear Jerusalem sky. In the morning I got efficient work done for several of the different jobs I have, and still had time for a nice walk (and talk!) with a dear friend.

And it was especially in the afternoon that I was reminded of how this matches my childhood dreams for my adult life. The children both had friends over. The door was open, and they were playing inside and outside, everyone was getting along and there was plenty of creativity and positive energy going around. Two neighbor girls noticed all the fun going on in our yard, and it was decided that they would come and join as well. Meanwhile I was having tea and cookies with one of the moms.

It was one of those days. The kids ate well at the meals. No one got into a fight. Everyone played well and cooperated well. (I guess the fact that I notice these things, tells you that it is not always like that, but that is also part of life, right?)

And so it hit me, that even if the setting (country, language, culture etc.) is not the same as I imagined as a child, the content is still the same. I dreamed of being a mom, my children having friends over, me hearing them playing outside, opening the window to call them in for home cooked meals… Life. My dream came true!!

Even if not every day is like a dream, it is all part of life, and we will take what we get served. Enjoy the good days and grow on the more challenging ones.

And even the parts of my life that are different than I dreamed, – really, I could not possibly have dreamed of the turn my life was to take! It was too much, too good to be imagined!

I feel very blessed, and have so much to be thankful for.

With the Bible as our History-book

The wintery weather has made its wonderful arrival to Israel, bringing blessed peace and cosiness and all kinds of good things! (Yes, it is almost funny how rain brings peace, but it really does, – I guess stone throwers don’t want to get wet and cold!)

Candles

Right now I am sitting here in my warm home listening to the rain pouring down outside. In here it is so nice and cozy. Lots and lots of candles lit. I have fresh cream of butternut squash soup and yummy hot cider. Life is good.

hot soup

The last few days have been really nice. The children have majored on puzzles, we have enjoyed knitting and sewing, and I have been reading out loud to them from a book that was read to me (several times) when I was a child.

puzzles

I have to share one little conversation that developed from the reading. We heard about a girl who really liked the subject “history” in school. My children do not at this time have a subject called “history”, so they were trying to figure out what this would be. I suggested a subject they have where they learn about our country and our people, – because in “history” you sort of learn the history of your people, I explained. – Ah, they nodded in understanding, – that is what we call “Bible”! That is the history of our people! How precious, don’t you think? What a privilege to get to grow up with the Bible as your history-book, and that is where you find your ancestors and your identity!

sewing

The reality is that the messages in the Bible are really central in so much of what is going on here! Recently I was at a race with runners from most of the schools in Jerusalem, our son was a participant from his school, and I was a parent coming along to help out. I was really impressed with the music chosen at this event, – it had such depth and content! To give you an example, one of the songs went like this: “Israel! Israel! Trust in the LORD!” ย And another one was the whole psalm 121ย “I lift myย eyes up unto the mountains, where does my help come from?”ย 

kids

I really am thankful to get to raise my children in a country where faith and the Bible are given such a focus, and are seen as really relevant for our lives! There certainly is no place like Israel! Am Yisrael Chai!

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Please make noise…

Quite regularly we have a relatively big group of children over to our house. Yesterday afternoon was one of those times. We had ten kids aged between seven and eleven around our dining room table, learning Torah, doing crafts, eating snacks, and well, being kids.

After about an hour and a half of them being kids (read: making noise), a couple staying in the apartment underneath us this week, knocked on the door. They wanted to ask about something completely unrelated to the fact that we had the group of children over, but I mentioned that they must have noticed the fact. The couple then explained that they loved hearing it, because their own home had turned too quiet, as they lost their young daughter in a tragic accident a few months ago… The woman turned to my son who had come to the door with me, and encouraged him to “Please make noise!”.

blessed noise makers

Now that puts things in perspective! Thank God we have these live and thriving little noise-makers! What enormous blessings they are, really! And what a huge change it would be to all of a sudden not have them here anymore… Impossible for us to grasp. I pray for comfort for those who have to go through this nightmare.

The perspective stayed with me for the rest of the afternoon and evening, and I found myself being very present there with my children also after the group had left. I was thankful for the moments. I enjoyed sitting next to my daughter as she did her Torah-homework, listening to her thoughts and opinions. I loved reading to them from a Norwegian children’s book that we almost know by heart as they ate their evening meal before going to bed. Getting just a tiny glimpse into the loss that the people who are visiting downstairs right now are going through, makes me incredibly thankful for all those everyday kind of moments. I don’t want to them to just fly by, – I want to be there, to be present, and make the most of them.

Thank God for these blessed noise-makers.

A little bit of creativity

These days my workload is somewhat easier than normal, and as I understood that, I immediately started making all kinds of plans for how I was going to take advantage of all this spare time! ๐Ÿ™‚

flowers in the garden

What project should I hit first?! Maybe paint all the interior walls of our house? Cook and bake a whole lot and fill up our freezer-space? Get caught up on the years I am behind on the children’s scrapbooks?? Not thinking big projects or anything… Well, I have enjoyed some scrapbooking, and have done maybe 7 pages (about 700 to go…). I made enough meatballs and gravy for about ten meals, which will be convenient to have on busier days. And I have done some smaller painting projects, one of them being this wooden box that some neighbors had thrown out after receiving some fancy wine in it. It fits perfectly in this open shelf that we have in our bedroom.

white box

I have wanted to paint it white for a while, and now was the time. I love these types of projects! You finish them so quickly, and they are like “big”, – you really notice them. Think, less than an hour’s work, and what a result! So much better than, let’s say, – cleaning… You could work for more than an hour, and nobody really notices it. (It’s the type of thing that is most noticed when it is left undone…)

Anyway, – back to the box. I had these nice wallstickers that my mother in law had brought me from the States, and it was hard to choose which one to put on the front of the white box. So I put one on each side, and can just change it around whenever I would like to! ๐Ÿ™‚ (Now of course, those baskets on the shelf above are begging to be painted white as well…)

white box

These are some of the little things in life that just makes me a happier person! No, they are not very deep, I admit that, but then again, if they add something positive to my everyday life, then maybe it will encourage me to add depth in other ways. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Oh, and look at our blooming pomegranate tree just outside our kitchen window:

pomegranate tree

And we just noticed that for the first time we have almonds on our young almond tree:

almond tree

Oh yes, good things are coming, I can feel it! ๐Ÿ™‚

The Festival of Lights

Another name for Hanukkah (which means Dedication) is The Festival of Lights. And, really, it is a festival of lights like none other! Here are some photos to illustrate this:

hanukkah lightsThis is our home last night.

hanukkah lightsAnd no, nothing caught on fire.

hanukkah lightsIt was a cold Jerusalem night, and still, we had no need for any heating. Other than the candles, that is…

hanukkah lightsWe lit the symbolic number of 18 hanukkiot on the last night of Hanukkah. 18 means chai, – live, – so here is to The Light of Israel LIVES!!!

hanukkah lightsOn this last night of the holiday, my in-laws and a friend were here for the lighting of the candles.

lighting hanukkah candlesHaving 18 hanukkiot to light, there were still several hanukkiot for each one to light.

lighting the hanukkiahOh, those beautiful sights! Those wonderful moments!!

champagne on the last night of hanukkahNot a perfectly lit photo. But look at those happy faces! I love them!!

hanukkah lightsThis one I always light thinking of my sister in law, who bought this hanukkiah. We live on different continents, and it is sad not to be together for the holidays, but lighting her hanukkiah makes us think of her every night.

hanukkah lightsAnd here is my sweetness who just turned eight, busy coloring in the light of the full hanukkiah with its eight candles.

hanukkiah with peopleThis hanukkiah we bought for our son as his first hanukkiah when he was only two years old.

hanukkah lightsHere is the Jerusalem-hanukkiah our daughter made last year. I don’t think we had lit it on any of the other nights, so it definitely had to be lit on this last night of Hanukkah.

JerusalemCelebrating Hanukkah in Jerusalem is a real privilege, and on the seventh night we went on our annual tour of the Old City and its beautiful Hanukkiah-lit streets together with some friends.

Hanukkah in the Old City of JerusalemIsn’t it just heavenly?!

Hanukkah in JerusalemAfter having been at the Western Wall for the lighting of the big Hanukkiah there, we just walk the streets and pathways of the Jewish quarter of the Old City and look for beautiful sights. And it is just amazing! You look down and you look up, and you find these bright little flames of oil hanukkiot all over.

Hanukkah in JerusalemThere is something so powerfully positive about all these little flames!

Hanukkah in JerusalemLight has certainly overcome darkness!!

J in the light of the hanukkiotI have always loved looking at my children’s faces in the light of the hanukkiot.

B in the light of the hanukkiotI am so thankful for these two hanukkah-candles of mine!!

Hanukkah at the KotelAnd I am so very thankful for the fact that we get to live our lives right here in Jerusalem!

Nes Gadol Haya PoWe get to celebrate Hanukkah right were it happened!! We keep on saying like it says on the poster on the street in the photo above:ย Nes Gadol Haya PO!ย A Big Miracle Happened HERE!!

HanukkahOh, yes, it has been another wonderful Hanukkah. It did fly by way too fast, but at least our hearts are full of sweet memories as we leave this special time of the year.

white hanukkiah

Hand dipped Hanukkah-candles.

Here in Israel there are two categories of Hanukkah candles for sale. There are the regular ones. And there are the fancy hand dipped ones. The latter are many times more expensive than the first, so when we take into account the amount of candles needed to light all of our hanukkiot, it is not a difficult choice at all. We buy the regular ones.

hand dipped candles

Then last year, when we after Hanukkah made candles of leftover wax from old candles, I got the idea that we could hand dip our Hanukkah candles by ourselves! So, yesterday was the day. We were going to have our annual candle-making, and boy, did it become a PRODUCTION!!

hand dipped candles

After having worked on it for about five hours (!), I did the math, and realized that I had hand-dipped close to seven hundred candles!!!

dipping candles

The children were excited to be part of it in the beginning. Our girl left the project early on, as she didn’t like how hot it was and all of that. Our boy stayed with it for a bit longer, because he was very excited to make special Thanksgiving – Hanukkah – candles. This is the first time in history that those two holidays come at the same time, so it is a pretty big thing. We have fall-colored candles and even pumpkin-pie-scented Hanukkah-candles (hard to beat, huh?).

dipping candles

I am very happy with the result of our candle-dipping, and think it was all worth it, even though it did take a loooong time. We will have very special and unique hanukkah-candles for this holiday (or rather; these holidays!).

hand dipped candles

The idea is very simple really. You start by melting some wax in some empty cans in a pot of boiling water. We had some wax from old candles, but you could of course just take some hanukkah-candles.

candle dipping

Once it is melted, you dip your candle in it, and get this nice “fancy” look of a candle with two different colors. It takes them a moment to dry, and I quickly realized that it would take waaaaayy to long to stand around and hold each candle until it had dried, so I used a hanukkiah as a “drying rack”…

hand dipped candles

Also, – since I was making such a huge amount, I had to keep on returning the can of wax to the pot of boiling water for the wax to stay melted enough.

I admit, it was a mess to clean up from afterwards… But we might as well just get used to cleaning a lot of wax as there will be plenty of it during Hanukkah…. And again, – it was so worth it! Our candles are so beautiful. And they smell so good!

hand dipped candles

And, as with anything homemade, – they are all different! Each one unique and one of a kind.

hand dipped hanukkah candlesI like to think of the hanukkah-candles as symbolizing people. All of us different, unique, one of a kind. All of us lit by the Shamash, the Servant Candle, together making a bright light that helps spread warmth and remove darkness.

Homemade Hanukkiot

Our Hanukkah-craft-station is definitely being actively used this week as well. And now we have advanced to making Hanukkiot! This is something we do every year, and we keep them all, – so I admit it, we have quite a few.

making hanukkiot

We go out and buy what is needed for this on rosh chodesh Kislev, because the selection in the store is best at that time. But then we keep it until the week before Hanukkah, – and yes, the excitement builds up…ย -Imma, when are we going to make the hanukkiot??

making hanukkiot

It is really very easy to make a hanukkiah. You just need some sort of base, which you decorate however you choose, and then glue some type of candle-holders to. Our boy will normally choose whatever seems the biggest or longest or something like that. And he likes the jar-theme, reminding us of the fact that it was the jar of oil that was found in the temple, that was used for the miracle. (*He also shares his name with the Maccabee-brother who found this jar of oil…)

making hanukkiotOur girl will normally choose whatever is shiny or glittery… and if that could be combined with pink and purple, then it is just perfect! ๐Ÿ˜‰

making hanukkiot

This year she made a pretty creative one though! She made an aquarium-hanukkiah! It has a square-flask-base, which we filled with water and small plastic fishes. She painted the back of it blue, and decorated other parts of it with shiny “diamonds”…

homemade hanukkiah

Here is the final result. Well, not quite final. Afterwards she found some other small white marbles that she wants to add to it. So I guess it is one of those that will keep changing as we go along…

homemade hanukkiah

And here is the jar-one. He painted the inside of all the small glass ones, so they turned out very nice and colorful, don’t you think? We were not quite sure how to fit one of the little things that actually holds the candle on top of the big jar. But then he saw one of the many CDs we have lying around from our dreidel-making project, and just cut a piece of a CD to glue on top of the big jar! Good to have creative solutions. ๐Ÿ™‚

And now our home is enriched with two new hanukkiot…

homemade hanukkiot

And also with more fun memories making them! ๐Ÿ™‚

homemade hanukkiot