Holding on to the moments

In a conversation with my son in the car yesterday, he expressed how impressed he was with my driving-abilities. (Oh, well, let’s enjoy it while we can! ;-)) Then, very fitting to his usual thought pattern, he started calculating how long it will be before he himself will start learning to drive. – In five years, I will be learning to drive a car, and in three and a half years I will learn to drive a small motorcycle… Then the conversation moved on to prices of motorbikes, and the insurance, and having an own bank-account and so on.

These types of conversations leave me with a thought of really wanting to hold on to the days we are living right now. We still have children who love hanging out with their parents, who really want to talk with us and share everything that is on their hearts. While I can go around hoping it will stay this way forever, I have to be realistic and realize that there are different periods and stages in life. And I totally love the stage we are in right now.

We have a ten year old daughter and a son who is just turning twelve. They are becoming more and more independent every day. Hey, – he cooked us Shabbat dinner last week! And this week he is actually not even home for five days, as he is gone on a trip with his grandparents! And as I was listening to her talking about rearranging her room this morning, I realized she is turning into a little me, in her own sweet way!

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While I love that they are becoming more independent, I also totally love that they still want us to be a very central part of their lives. They want to process their thoughts with us, bringing up their big questions about life and everything. They love playing games together with us, and just hanging out. I love those moments, the days we are living right now, and I want to really hold on to them. I have a feeling there will come a day when I will miss them. So right now, – I want to make the most of the opportunities that these days give, – to invest, to enjoy and to make memories.

 

– Just sit here with me, Imma.

It is that time of the year. Various kinds of the flu, colds and unpleasant stuff are going around. This morning my little princess woke up with a high fever, poor one. She has been knocked out on the couch all day, and was only feeling worse come evening. (We will go to the doctor first thing tomorrow morning.)

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I didn’t take any pictures today, so here is one from New Year’s Eve when we had hot chocolates at the King David Hotel! 🙂

With both of my children, when they are sick like this, and I ask them: – Is there anything you would like? Anything I can get you?  All they want is for me to be there with them. – If you could just sit here with me, Imma…

And so I try to do just that. I have read out loud countless chapters of various books today. We have hugged, we have watched movies, and when she was feeling relatively strong because of fever reducing pain killers, we even started a new knitting project.

And this evening, I must have sat for more than an hour singing songs by her bed. But you know, I am thankful that these types of things actually seem to bring her comfort! It really seems to help! I imagine there will come days when it will seem harder to find something to do to help her, – now at least it is within my reach to do something that actually helps.

So at times like these, when my ten year old baby is in need of some tender loving care, I am so thankful to be able to give it to her, quite easily, in ways that actually comfort her!

At the same time, in between all the hugging and reading, I eat some chicken soup, drink some hot cider and do what I can to strengthen my own immune system. No time is a good time to get sick, but now especially so,  – I have a marathon to run in five days…

The wisdom of asking questions

Asking questions is something that is very encouraged in Jewish tradition and culture. We see this already in Abrahams relationship with God, – he asks questions, and it is acceptable and encouraged. You want to raise your children to be critical thinkers, not to just receive and accept whatever they are told without thinking for themselves.

Kite flying during chol hamoed Pesach

Kite flying during chol hamoed Pesach

We have an eight year old and a ten year old here in our home, – and boy, do they ask questions! Of all kinds! Our daughter will very often at night, when I have prayed with her as she is going to bed, quickly turn to me saying: – Can I ask you something? And of course, I say yes, as I am trying to prepare for the coming question. Often it is just something little, like: – What are you going to do now? Where are you going to be? How long do you think you’ll stay up? But then all of a sudden she asks: – Imma, do you believe in hell?? Eh…. good night and sweet dreams to you too!

And then the other day, she was wondering: -Why is water wet?? We actually googled that one, and found that many others had asked the same question, and the answer is that “wet” is how you describe the feeling of water. So there you go! You’re welcome.

the kite high up in the air

the kite high up in the air

Now at Pesach the whole thing of asking questions is part of our rituals. There are standardized questions that we all ask and answer, and we hear about different types of children, of whom the saddest type is the one who doesn’t know to ask. This year we talked about the fact that somehow the one asking the question may in certain ways be wiser than the one providing the answer. I gave the reasoning that the one asking the question is openminded and ready to learn, while the one answering, may have more of an attitude of “having arrived” and not seeing the need to keep on moving forward and learning. Then one of the children added; – and the one giving the answer, may even have the wrong answer…

So, people, let’s keep asking questions. Let’s keep thinking and seeking and learning and growing! It is OK to come up with answer too of course, as long as we keep an open mind to learn more about the subject.

The power of positive belief.

Now you may think that this is going to be about religious faith, which really is the closest to my heart, but no, this time I am going to write about something that to me is a much more newfound revelation.

running in Jerusalem

running in Jerusalem

I have been thinking about it while I am out running. It is about how the physical and the psychological or emotional are so very connected. It really fascinates me. Because you would think that you could just tell yourself, – believe in yourself, believe that you can do it, think positively! But no. It has to be more real than that.

Blossoming almond tree

Blossoming almond tree

I had heard that “it is all in the mind” or that at least 50 % of let’s say marathon running, is psychological. Positive self talk and such. Belief in yourself, belief that you can do it. They say that is why we train, – in order to train our mind to believe that we can do it. Of course there is a physiological aspect to it, – I am not saying there isn’t. But that is just so much more obvious than this other more hidden one.

So anyway, – now I have experienced this for myself.

out running

out running

After I successfully ran the Tiberias marathon I got a real boost of confidence, and now out of the blue my pace is about 20 seconds faster per kilometer than it was before. It just jumped like that. Because I all of a sudden believed I could do it! This lead to me earlier this week running my first ever sub two hour half marathon distance. (Now, anyone who is familiar with those races and times will see that I am still not a fast runner, but hey, here it is all about comparing yourself to yourself.)

Almond blossoms

Almond blossoms

But really, – think about it, when you feel good, when you feel confident, your performance is just so much better than when the opposite is true! These things are all so connected!

I want to take those lessons to other parts of my life too, – that are much more important than running! 😉 An area that comes to mind is parenting. Not only is it important to think positively about our own roles as parents, – but we want to help the children experience this as well. I see it very clearly with them, – when they feel good, – they do great! When they don’t feel so good… -well, you get the idea. So we want to focus on successes, build confidence and think positively. And the positive will thrive!

just now...

just now…

PS. The photos in this post, with the exception of this last one, are from my recent runs in Jerusalem. The Almond tree is blossoming! Always such a hopeful and positive sign!

Something is stressing me out, Imma…

– Something is stressing me out, imma… My 9 year old was pouring out his heart to me. He was unable to relax, something was stressing him out, but he didn’t know what exactly.

Hmmm, I’m thinking, – Could it be that your abba is out there defending the borders of our little country, right now… Or could it have anything to do with the fact that we just had an exercise where you had to run to the bomb shelter twice in one day, once at school and once at home??

My children in our bomb shelter during an exercise earlier this week.

Our children in the bomb shelter during an exercise earlier this week.

However, what I am saying out loud, is that everyone goes through periods like this from time to time, and maybe he should try a relaxing bath and then we’ll read a book together on the couch.

And afterwards I am telling myself, who is also getting kind of stressed out by the combination of everything, that everyone is going through times like this, and maybe I should think of something relaxing to do… how about tea and chocolate after the kids are in bed??

bomb shelter

Life…

It can be so wonderfully beautiful, and also so incredibly complicated!

– God, please give me wisdom to give my children what they need when they need it! Oh, God, please fill them with Your Peace, in the way that only You can!!

Our daughter was drawing the whole time we were in the bomb shelter. Here is the finished product:

drawing

She did a pretty detailed job. (Note to self: Next time remove the vacuum cleaner and pack of toilet paper before the exercise…) However, I like how she drew the “music” as we were singing songs together while we were in there. And then she added this thought bubble, with a single question mark, because she didn’t know what we were thinking…

Well, – what is there to think?? What are we doing this exercise for? What is going to happen? Is anything going to happen??

May the focus of our thoughts be that whatever may come, we are safe in His Hands! He that keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps!

When I was in this same bomb shelter by myself earlier in the day, when the children were at school, I came across this verse from the Psalms:

“I cried out to You, O LORD: I said, “You are my refuge, My portion is in the land of the living.” Psalm 142, 6

Quite powerful, don’t you think? HE is our refuge!!

Back to every-day-life.

blueberry muffins

Pesach is over, Pesach-vacation is over, and we are fully and officially back to every-day-life. I feel like I got a lot done today (definitely a good feeling!), – countless loads of laundry, cleaned the house, made a double batch of blueberry muffins, got some work done, went for a wonderful run, – all while the kids were still at school!

blueberry muffins

I guess other parents can also relate to the fact that the way the day looks and everything, is quite different depending on if the kids are home or not. The moment they enter, there is lunch, homework, afternoon-activities to drive to, etc. etc.

Our son's baseball practice this afternoon

Our son’s baseball practice this afternoon

A different kind of busyness. It might feel less productive at the moment, but I believe time invested in ones children is the most important investment one can possibly make! So I really want to be present and ready for all those opportunities for good conversation and quality time.

our princess in the hammockBut the time I have in the morning to do “my things” and not just the “mom-things”, really helps me out, so I am thankful that I have a bit of both! 🙂

kids in hammock

Baseball Birthday Party.

This is a party that has been planned for several months. He had only been in little league baseball for a few weeks this fall, when he decided that this would be the theme of his birthday party. Not long after that I found paper plates, cups, napkins and table cloths for this theme on a great sale at a wonderful store I know, – so of course I picked it all up, even though the party was still four months away. Always good to be ready.

baseball birthday party

The birthday boy made a count down calendar for the last two weeks before the birthday. (Hey, that is really good compared to former years, when it has been more like two months!) During the last week we have been following the weather forecast for the birthday, because, – what is a baseball party without a baseball game?! We have had some quite stormy and very wet days lately, but wouldn’t you know it, today showed up bright and clear, absolutely perfect for a baseball game!

birthday boy

The birthday of course started long before the party. At two minutes to six a very excited boy woke me up, and told me he had been waiting for two or three hours (!) already! Outside of his room he had found this huge present, which was too big to even wrap, so we had just thrown a blanket over it, and he was wondering when he could open it. We waited for another half hour, and then the whole family was gathered as he opened his gift.

birthday gift

And boy, was he happy! He has been trying to guess what it could be, but he has never even come close, and it was so nice to be able to really surprise him. I don’t know how many times today, I have heard him say “It is just PERFECT!”.

baseball cupcakes

He took enough cookies to school to share with all of his classmates, so that he could celebrate with them too. And then at the end of the school-day I picked him up bringing him a big helium balloon. That is always a hit. Pure happiness. So simple.

helium balloon at school

The party started soon after we came home, and the first thing on the program after the guests arrived, was the actual baseball game. It was lots of fun. Most of it. Admittedly it had its difficult moments when the game did not go according to the expectations of the one who has been excited about this for four months (but, hey, we’ve been to birthday parties before, that is to be expected!). And still, at the end of the day, he says it was all absolutely perfect. So it can’t have been that bad.

baseball gameAfter the game, when everyone had built a healthy appetite, we came in for fresh home made pizza, – all you can eat! Another sure success. The pizza was followed by cakes of various kinds, – a chocolate cake decorated as a baseball field and lemon cup cakes decorated as baseballs. Fun stuff!

baseball field cake

As gifts had been opened, party favors had been handed out and guests were leaving, I felt the fatigue set in. I put the kids to bed, and found it extremely rewarding to have a new nine year old who just couldn’t keep the smile off his face, – it was all so absolutely perfect!! The best birthday ever!

birthday candles

Then I hit the couch with a bag of candy, put my feet up on the table and enjoyed some me-time. Reading, communicating, blogging, relaxing. There is a time for everything.