Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Homemaking tips request from a busy Mom

I received an email from a reader asking me about my homemaking schedule, and what advice I can give someone whose organizational skills aren't her strongest point (ahem... like myself *smile*). 


In homemaking, there are no rigid rules, and I'm certainly far from being able to call myself a pro! Besides, things change all the time and, as good as schedules are, sometimes we need to modify them, or even let go of them for a season, to do what is best for our families. 

Having said that... I do have a system of sorts, and while it isn't perfect, it works. I'm a morning person, which means that my energy level does a sharp dip in the afternoon, so I try to concentrate all the major chores (laundry, dishes, beds, animal care, garbage disposal) as well as any cleaning in the morning, so that the afternoon can be dedicated to more relaxing pursuits; often I schedule my cooking for the afternoon as well, and sometimes I make dinner preparations in the morning (defrost meat, chop up vegetables, etc) and just toss everything into the pot or pop it into the oven in the afternoon. 

But some people aren't morning people; if you feel you have more energy or free time in the afternoon, you might want to make the morning a gentler time, and gradually pick up speed as the day comes along. 

I cook for my freezer, provided there's freezer space. That is to say, I make large batches and freeze them in separate containers, so that convenient-sized portions can be defrosted at need. I also freeze bread a lot; I put it in the freezer when it's still warm, and it tastes just like fresh when defrosted.

I have an erase board which I simply love. It's placed in a convenient location in the kitchen, and contains several columns, such as shopping list, weekly cooking plan (which I try to come up with at the end of every week), project list, and list of things to research/write/check. Whenever I get something accomplished I erase it from the board, and it's so rewarding! 

There are also many websites with organizational tips for homemakers, and some of them offer samples of printable schedules. I'm sure that, even if it takes a little time, you can work out something that is right for you and your family. 

... You ladies, of course, feel free to add your own tips/thoughts/experiences! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The doings and beings

After some rains, we're experiencing once more a typical late-autumn dry heat wave. I know it will pass soon enough, so I'm enjoying what are probably the last summer-like days we're going to get for a good long time: cold drinks, barefooted children, summer clothes billowing in the warm breeze. Soon, it will be time for rain, candlelight, mugs of hot cocoa and toasty warm sweaters and slippers.

Some photos from today...

 A postcard from my dear friend, Michelle. It has arrived, what, two weeks ago already, but I still keep it on my bedside table because I just can't get enough of looking at it, it's so pretty! 
 And a crochet project I'm working on. It's going to be a bag... I haven't been very diligent in the last few days, but I undoubtedly will be once rain comes again and garden work gets put on hold once more. 
Tonight's dinner: whole-wheat pizza topped with olives, cherry tomatoes and lots of mozzarella. You can tell we've gone totally Italian this week, can't you? :o)

Monday, October 29, 2012

While the candle burns

It was one of Those Days.

You know, those days when you get up later than you planned and immediately berate yourself for being such a lazy sloth; days when you hurriedly stuff a load into the washing machine and walk away to do other chores, only to discover later that the washing machine, somehow, got unplugged, and the girls' hose and socks you so desperately need won't be dry by afternoon, or even by tomorrow, and it's going to rain, AND you don't have a dryer, because of course, who needs one in sunny Israel?!

Those days when you are swept away by all there is to do, end up doing very little of it, feel guilty about it, snap at your children to leave you alone while you try desperately to get something done, feel even guiltier for snapping at your children, in particular when they so wished to help, and you, as a rule, always encourage and cherish their help so much. 

Those days when the weather doesn't permit you even the relief of going outside for a walk, or even to just throw out the garbage or work in the garden, and you end up shut inside all day, crabby, with bored children who bicker constantly and drive you up the wall. 

Those days when breakfast was toast and lunch is toast and it seems dinner will either be toast or oatmeal... but wait, it will have to be toast, because you ran out of milk. And yes, you do have that file in your drawer (and your memory), with quick, easy, healthy and frugal recipes for REAL food, but somehow, you don't know where you have misplaced it (in your drawer and in your head). 

Well, we were just having one of Those Days when I, as a last measure to dispel the bad mood, turned on the radio and stumbled upon a lovely, upbeat song version of the famous Jewish saying, "while the candle burns, things can still be fixed", usually attributed to Rabbi Nachman from Breslev, but don't take my word for it. 

So... like a ray of purest sunshine through a parting in heavy clouds, the realization struck me: the candle of our life is still burning. The candle of this day is still burning. We still have time to make a change. 


I cleaned the worst of the kitchen mess, and them took a deep breath, smiled, and declared we'll be making chocolate balls now - a simple but delicious confection of crushed biscuits, melted chocolate, butter and a little cocoa. The interesting part for the children is shaping the balls between their palms. All bickering was instantly forgotten in the fumes of chocolate and the activity of rolling and shaping. Then we had quick dinner, a lovely long bath, and a good story time. The day wasn't a waste after all. 

So, there is always hope.

Even on Those Days. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Planting and projects

A new week begins, as usual, in a flurry of action. There are so many projects to be done! My husband got me some strawberry plants, so this morning, under the lovely warm sunshine, with the earth still damp from the weekend's good rain, was the perfect time to get into planting them. Shira and I rolled up our sleeves and went right down to business, while Tehilla hovered about interestedly.



As a bonus for our work, we discovered a tiny tortoise in the garden.


Presented in Shira's hand. She's so amazingly gentle with any small living thing - kittens, bugs, birds, babies - and can be comfortably trusted to handle newly hatched chicks. 

Now, when the rubber hits the road, the question is: do our chickens like to eat strawberry leaves? I'm keeping an eye out, to see if we need to fence in. The plants, of course. Nothing shall infringe upon the chickens' freedom around here. :-) 

Clothes were taken off the line not long ago. Some things are waiting to be organized in the home. A particularly juicy and cheesy lasagna was today's supper... and it tasted even better than it looked.



Doesn't it sound like the perfect day?

I hope yours was/is, at the very least, equally lovely! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sweet, simple, slow

Kate commented on my last blog post, saying,

"I know what you mean about having several children and maybe having to shuttle them around but I think if the kids truly want to do the activities and benefit from them, then it may be just one of those *seasons* in your life that we all go through, as (if I had 3-4 kids) I would not make them choose simply out of my inconvenience if the gas money was not too much trouble, if that makes sense. Esp if I was a FT SAHM I would find a way to make it work so we could all enjoy what at "out and about" lifestyle had to offer us and still maintain family unity. If it doesn't work, then it doesn't work but I think if the kids really want something then it's worth giving it a shot and not dismissing it outright."

I've already replied in the comments section, but I just had to say this...

As I'm writing from my (very limited) experience, I can only talk about what's working for our family, at this particular season of our lives. I can't say what will work for you, or declare that such-and-such number of activities for such-and-such number of children is good, best and right. Perhaps you are a much more "hyper" person than I am, and enjoy a lot of action going all around you most of the time. Perhaps you homeschool, and have older children, and decide that they could do better with more organized activities. Perhaps you have a child with a very pronounced particular talent, a gift that it would be really tragic to stifle, and you decide to come out of your comfort zone (as we mothers so many times do) for that child. 

Having said that... right now, the primary need for my family is a balanced, orderly home, and a peacefully flowing routine. This means, for us, that we spend most of our time in the home (and its surroundings! We do love to take advantage of the lovely weather). Now, I'm lucky enough not to have a car *smile*, so I can't really be expected to drive here and there (to get to places when my husband isn't home, I carpool). 


A serious problem in our society is that the wife and mother's tasks at home are not sufficiently acknowledged. This leads to people thinking that a stay-at-home wife has a lot of "free" time on her hands - and then come expectations and demands, even if you aren't doing paid work, to always be doing something "more". And so I witness women caught in a flurry of activity - for themselves and their children. Lectures, seminars, classes, and a lot of shuttling. And volunteering, and committees. A lot of it may be good, but it comes with a price, as everything in this life does. 

We have to evaluate our strength, our time, our inclinations, honestly and without reference to what others may be thinking. And we have to stop squirming with guilt if sometimes, we find we have to say no - for a short or long while - to activities, places, experiences... even people outside our family. If you feel you and/or your children are stretched too thin, overwhelmed, it is possible to slow down. Even having a hobby, or talent, doesn't mean it has to be pursued at all costs, all times, all seasons. It can wait. Again, quoting my dear friend Jewels from memory, beyond the essentials of home, family, our close relationships, "everything else can wait, and will be all the sweeter for having done so."

Neither I nor my husband were ever driven to any extra-curricular activity. We both grew up in families that had no car. Afternoon classes were available in the neighborhood, within walking distance, and we went to some when we were old enough to go alone. Also libraries; I don't remember ever setting foot in the library with my mother, only by myself when I was old enough to go alone. I'm not saying that's the only way to do things, but it's an acceptable way. 

Sometimes we have to let go of good things, really good things, when we feel they are coming in the way of the essentials. 

There's a certain restlessness in our culture, a rush, the expectation to be out and about a lot. But at the same time, most of us are soothed by simple things - the chirping of birds, the small hands of a child, the smell of fresh bread, a walk beneath trees, laundry on the line. Ignoring this natural inclination has led, on a global scale, to profound dissatisfaction. 

"Natural resorts" are popular, and people pay an arm and a leg for them. Why? Because we still crave peace and quiet. But these can be brought, with careful thought and effort, into our homes. When we free time for relationships, for peaceful stillness time, for being with our Maker, for digging in the earth, for making things with our hands, we aren't being "lazy" or "backwards". We are responding to the need for gentleness, tranquillity, peace and order that flows from deep within, and is most important for children. 

Now, even very young children know amazingly well what they want (my 2-year-old won't be coaxed to put on a yellow t-shirt when she has her eye set on the red one!), but it's up to us, as parents, to evaluate the general picture. A child can tell you she wants to do swimming practice, dancing and, say, clay modeling. You know all these things are wonderful, and you'd hate to disappoint her, but you also know it would put a strain on your schedule, and perhaps your budget. So you draw limits, re-evaluating as you go. 

There are no rigid frames. We are traveling down a path, and the path is winding. That is one of the things I love so much about it. 




PS: Just as a side note, today we had our first lovely rain of the season! It was wonderful. The girls stood on the balcony, their hands outstretched to catch the falling drops, laughing in exhilaration. Then we went inside and listened to the pitter-patter of raindrops on the tin roof. It was short but sweet, and everything already looks so nice and spruced up outside! The plants are greener, with the layer of summer dust washed off them, and I can only guess our roof is cleaner too. 

Rainy day photo from last winter. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Perfectly still

Yesterday, at the hour when all is still and quiet, supper is in the final stages of being prepared and the chickens are just settling down, I went out and witnessed a magical display of a clear blue sky streaked with wispy, floating clouds, pink from the afterglow of the sun that had already disappeared behind the hills. I called for the girls to come outside, and together, we stood in silent wonder, taking it all in. I had a thought to dash back inside and grab a camera to try and capture some of the beauty, but was afraid to dispel the magic. And so we stood there, until the pink effusion was gone and the sky darkened. It was so perfect.


The above is a picture of another oh-so-glorious sunset, captured by the lens of my husband's camera a long time ago, when we still lived in our old home. It does help to have a husband who has an eye for beauty and photography. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Are your hands free to do what matters?

Thanks to Jewels, I've just discovered this treasure of a website, called Hands Free Mama. I've only read several posts from it so far, but fully intend to continue exploring it, as time allows. Basically it's about something I've discussed here as well: simplifying and slowing down, in order to make time and space for the most important things in life.

Many of us are stay-at-home mothers, in order to be available to our children as much as possible. I feel it's cruel that society expects mothers to be out there working for money - which may mean looking (oh the irony) after other people's children, anyone's but their own - instead of nurturing their own families. The feminine nature, on a general level, is gentle, quiet, introspective, non-competitive; perfectly suited for keeping the hearth and home. 

But even without paid work, there are other things to consider. Screen time - internet and TV, phones, volunteering, extracurricular activities, social obligations, relationships, hobbies - all of this can be a drain and a distraction, not because they are bad things, but because, together, they can sometimes turn into too much. Several times, I've been asked to join committees, to volunteer on a regular basis, but I simply feel it can't work in a non-stressful way, at this season of my life. Even housework, while necessary, and important, can be put on hold at times of need. People are more important than dishes. 

Yesterday, I took Shira to ballet class for the first time. I really wasn't thinking, up until a week ago, about such activities for children so young, but she enjoys music and dancing so much that we decided to give it a shot. She had a great time, and we can afford to be out and about one afternoon a week. But when I see mothers of four or five children, each of whom is engaged in, say, 2 different extracurricular activities per week - which may, or may not, coincide between siblings - it's obvious nearly every afternoon is spent in shuttling children back and forth. And that is in addition to school. How do they do it? I honestly have no idea. 

Here is a highly educative post to begin with, from Hands Free Mama:


I do have that disease. I'm not perfect. But I'm trying, and I'm learning. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Toys that make us happy

I've noticed we have far less toys than many people; we don't have shelves upon shelves overflowing with board games, puzzles, toys, etc, yet our children aren't bored.

What we like:

- Construction toys (Lego, blocks)
- Age-appropriate dolls  and accessories: clothes, little kitchen utensils, dolls bathtubs
- Dress-up clothes (interesting scarves, bags, purses, necklaces)
- Good books; some of them were owned by me as a child. It's really very special to read out of the same books to my girls.
- Art supplies: paper, crayons, markers, paint, play dough, glue, and so on.

Basically, everything that promotes the work of imagination and active play.

We are fortunate enough to have a large yard. I love it so much. There's nothing like the freedom of simply opening the door and letting kids run out free.

What I prefer to avoid:

- Whiz-and-bang toys. Anything that shrieks, whistles, pops, whirls, whizzes, and makes a great deal of artificial noise.
- Dolls that project a false image of womanhood, such as Barbie dolls. I feel those are especially inappropriate for little girls.
- Broken toys. Do you know how difficult it is to get rid of broken toys sometimes? The children don't play with them anymore, hardly notice them, but as soon as you make a move to throw some of the junk away, there's a wail of protest. Lately, during a long afternoon spell the girls spent in the yard, I filled a large plastic bag with broken, discarded toys, and quietly disposed of it after they were in bed. They never asked for any of those toys since.
- Bad quality books. Charlotte Mason conveniently refers to that kind of material as "twaddle"; it's difficult to explain. While reading, you know whether a book is a "living" book or not. Many books for children are printed on expensive paper and have attractive colorful illustrations, but the content of them is so mixed, shredded and chewed up that I can't bear to look at them.

* Our children's screen time is practically zero. We will occasionally watch a nature video, or a video for a favorite song.

Resources:

Every ordinary home is full of creative resources, such as toilet paper rolls (it's amazing how many things you can do with those!), empty bottles (likewise), old calendars (so great for making collages, customized illustrated journals, paper dolls clothes). There is always something to settle down with on a slow, rainy day!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Forgiven

"I'm so sorry," I told a dear friend once.

"You have nothing to be sorry for," was the reply.

I didn't feel that way. I felt I had a lot to be sorry for.

"Please forgive me," I said.

"I have nothing to forgive," said my friend, quite naturally. Again, I didn't feel that way. I felt I had a lot to ask forgiveness for.

"Do you forgive me?" I persisted.

"Yes, of course I do."

In a world where people walk with the viper of grudge and bitterness on their bosom, it's difficult to even begin to estimate the awesome power of generous forgiveness, of friendship, of kindness. Of love.

When you extend those to others, or when you have them extended to you, it leaves a deep imprint on your soul, for always. You just never know when and how you, by a seemingly simple act, change another's life forever.

Some of us are starved for love, for encouragement, for praise. In such instances, warm words of approval, a gentle embrace, some shared laughter may be beacons to shine through dark and difficult times.

Many are fortunate to spend their whole lives among their loved ones. For some, the mere memory of having been loved, once, even a long time ago, is an ever-important reminder that they can be loved... that they are, always, loved by G-d, Who has a special place for orphans. I think those who are very much deprived emotionally, those who feel they don't have a living soul in the world they can talk to - for various reasons - can count as orphans as well, in a way, and earn a special place with a loving Father who is ever watchful and sensitive to their plight.

I have been lucky enough to experience generous love.

I have been easily forgiven, when some bitterness was perhaps to be expected.

I will never forget this.

And, there is this song. Sad but so beautiful:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Some more on hospitality

Friday night. The candles are lit, the house tidied, the table beautifully set for ten persons. I'm waiting for my husband to come home from synagogue, while putting finishing touches here and there; I add another set of cutlery, take out the drinks, pour iced lemonade into my lovely new glass pitcher. The guests - a local family we are friendly with - are due to arrive any moment.

They come. After the meal begins and everyone had had something to eat, the six kids we have among us progress to play and get the house good and discombobulated. We adults linger around the table. The conversation flows. Different subjects are discussed, but not work, or household projects; no plans are made. The Shabbat encloses us all in a beautiful, magical circle, temporarily shutting out the cares and worries of the world, allowing us to be duly refreshed. 

Then our friends are gone, with a tired baby sound asleep in her stroller. The table is cleared, the children tucked in, dishes are being washed. I reflect with satisfaction on an evening well spent. 

Why, then, was I a little reluctant to go through with it in the first place?

Well, there's the extra work having people over requires of me, of course. A larger variety of dishes is expected when there are guests (also, as a rule, around here people usually bring something with them as well). The table needs to be opened, extra chairs fetched, the cutlery drawer almost emptied, nearly all my dishes used up. Then all of it needs to be washed. And Friday is a day usually spent, for me, in hectic activity, and rather a lot of washing up as it is. I'm tired by the time evening rolls on. 

However, there is nothing like the gathering of people around a common table. It gladdens my heart. It forges special ties. I know I want this, for my family. I also know that with no pregnancy, new baby or illness, I can reasonably do a lot of things that would otherwise be stretching. I am blessed with leisure which is rare for someone my age, in my circle. I am stepping out of my comfort zone, if only a bit. And that is worth it. 


The photo is obviously an illustration, because I can't take pictures of our table on Shabbat.

PS: Blogger is automatically putting in some links which I would never deliberately put in my posts, and I don't know how to stop it. Technical support will be much appreciated. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pre-winter projects

Dear friends,

After a few days during which our computer didn't work properly, I'm back online. I must say, I find it providential that the computer malfunctions just when I need the time most badly to concentrate on projects which need to be done around here, and which are completed more efficiently without the internet to distract me!

We are experiencing a wave of heat which deceitfully claims that summer still lingers, but I know it for what it is - the spell of oppressive heat that occurs each year just before good long rains, which means that many things need to be done in preparation for winter, such as:

* Order in our closet, and especially in the girls' closet, with winter clothing pulled out and aired. Evaluation of what we have, and what we need to have, to pass comfortably through the colder season (which, although it doesn't as a rule snow here, can get cold - especially for Israel). 

* Yard work. Everything that is outside will be attacked by wind and rain, including the animals, and that needs to be taken into account. Tools which we don't want to get wet have to be properly stored. Below: the beginnings of a new goat house, which will hopefully be a snug and warm shelter for the goats during the winter. 

* Projects are pulled out. Soon, we will spend a great deal of our time inside due to the rain and especially the strong winds that blow here, for days and sometimes for weeks. To keep us from getting restless, as much as possible, we will need a variety of creative pursuits: baking, painting, doing one thing and another with paper and glue, making dolls, etc. I took out my crochet again, and am now working on making a bag for myself.

How are you preparing for the winter? Unless you're in Australia or New Zealand, of course, in which case you are preparing for the summer... either way, you are experiencing a change of seasons, which always brings something new into our lives. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Home, sweet home

Now that I've finally caught up on all the laundry and am feeling generally better, I took advantage of some quiet time I had this morning to take out a pile of shirts that needed ironing. Some ironing and mending  = a morning well spent!



The hen you see in the picture above, pecking and scratching, had no back or tail feathers at all when she arrived, several weeks ago. The other 3 had more feathers, but all looked miserable. Their combs were pale and flabby, and the smell of them... urgh... if you've ever had ex-battery hens, or visited a commercial battery, you know what I mean. To me, they looked as if they all might die from exhaustion the next moment. 

Soon enough, however, they picked up the cue from our home-raised chickens, and now are strutting around as if they own the place. Their combs became red and upright, and overall, they are looking much more like the white Leghorns we've raised from chicks before. They have gone off egg laying, but I suppose that's the combination of shortening days, regrowing feathers, and adjusting to life with less food available (we give some layers' pellets in the morning, whatever scraps are available throughout the day, and free-range is always accessible). 


This lonely roo took the new ladies under his wing. He has been keeping mostly to himself since his mate was eaten by a fox. I know chickens don't usually form monogamous pairs, but those two were something special, and ever since she was gone he never got along with the other ladies we have. Well, now he's feeling all proud and happy with a small flock of hens who follow him around and sleep next to him. 

Overall, it has been very rewarding to watch our ex-bats take their first steps into freedom, spread their wings, and begin to exhibit natural chicken behaviors such as scratching and food racing (that's what I call it when one chicken grabs a bit of food and runs away with it, and all the rest run after her - always entertaining!)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Sukkot day trip

 On one of the days of Sukkot, we made a day trip to Mount Gerizim. The picture above was taken by my husband on the way there, I'm not quite sure where. Aren't these clouds gorgeous?
 Spectacular mountain view.
 Below: a glorious sunset.
 Part of an ancient building.

Above: view of the Samaritan village. 

I'm glad to be able to say we are feeling better. Also, it's good to be back in our normal routine again. G-d truly knew what He was doing when He set the balance of 6 days of work and 1 day of rest. It really is the perfect balance to keep us happy, busy, and at the same time refreshed. Of course holidays are lovely too, but all the same, once they are over I'm glad to embrace the 6 days of work every week.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sukkot and laundry economizing

The holidays are over and so, almost, is the month of Tishrei. To be truthful, I can hardly remember going through a more intensely challenging period. Among all the busy flurry of holidays, we've also had to cope with stomach bug, fevers, sore throats and coughs, visiting each of us in turn and sometimes more than one person at a time. I'm still feeling rather ill as I write, but hopefully, it will be over soon. And now we're back to our normal routine, and to the many projects that have been put aside and saved for later. 

One aspect I found particularly challenging during Sukkot was laundry. It is a custom of Chol Hamoed (the days of the festival) not to do the washing unless absolutely necessary. And so, while I knew we had enough clothes to last us through one week (although the girls did come very close to using up all their underwear), I felt something very much like panic when I looked at the mountainous pile of dirty washing taking up much of my balcony space. It doesn't help that in this house, I don't have a proper utility room - my washing machine and laundry baskets are outside. 

*Illustration: overflowing laundry basket


So, as a last desperate measure, I decided to do what I can to slow down the exponential growth of the laundry pile. I didn't change hand towels in the kitchen and bathroom as often as I'm used to. At the end of each day, I examined my children's clothes; if they only had a little dust or sand on them, or some little stains, they would wear that item again. There was also a skirt of mine muddied by dog paws - instead of tossing it on top of the already-full laundry basket, I kept it aside and put it on again, whenever I had to go and feed the dog or take her for a walk. 

Of course, I still have a lot of washing to do now that the holidays are over, but today I started on it and hopefully it will all be tackled before long, together with many other things. However, I also understood that perhaps I could apply the laundry-saving method on a permanent basis, since none of us appeared to suffer form it. It could help lower our electricity and water bill, and it would also save me work. 

I hope to be back soon, and also hope I will be able to tell we are all well now. I'm looking forward to sharing with you some of the things we did on holiday, and wishing you a happy season of autumn, or spring - depending on where in the world you are.

With friendship,

Mrs. T

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Private

I have been in doubt for quite a while whether I ought to share this, as the author is Christian and I am Jewish, so obviously we disagree on quite a bit, theologically speaking... but it made me cry with emotion as few things I've read online have lately. Here are some very wonderful quotes. 

"We are to submit to our own husbands. Our own husbands. Our own husbands. Not frightened by any fear. This is so very, very important. If another woman's husband desires her to have many children, this is wonderful and it is their private matter. Her womb is a private place between the two of them. No one has any right to make remarks which would hurt them because their family is large."

"Perhaps another husband would love more children, but his wife is only able to have one or two children. Well, this was probably the case with Joseph. Joseph only had two sons. But God sure blessed him with those two boys in Egypt. You can tell by the names he chose for them. His wife's womb was a private place. We don't know why they only had two children, and it is not our business to know. It is God's business and theirs. But Joseph surely was blessed with his sons."

"His body is her body. Her body is his body. They are one. I am not a part of their union, and I have no business prying and asking questions, nor giving advice when I am not asked. Likewise someone to me. I am to submit to my own husband, and she is to submit to her own husband."

I really wish there was a more complete understanding of this matter - that some things must be left private. I sometimes cringe as I sit with other moms at the playground and hear discussions of some matters that I'm certain these women's husbands would want to keep private. 

As for those who pry and poke... perhaps they aren't even aware of the extent of damage they might be inflicting. Even if they are close friends. Even, and especially, if they are family. Because once the friends or family get used to being told what is happening between a husband and wife, it's difficult to get out of this habit. 

How I wish to learn to tread with gentleness; with love; always thinking the best and wishing the best for all people in all things. How I hope to learn to speak when needed, and be silent when it is appropriate. And love; yes, love is the most important of all. It is more important than the feeling of righteousness, of superiority, of spiritual dominance. Fortunately, we all have access to the abundant source of that Love, perfect Love, which we perhaps didn't experience in sufficient measure when we were little. Perhaps our early years left us broken. But all can be well, and more than well, if we allow He Who Fixes Broken Things to reign in our lives. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

On work, fun and sandboxes

As we move through the month of Tishrei, now at Sukkot, I must say that holidays are always great and meaningful and include a lot of time spent together as a family - so important - but they also mean we are operating on a very tight schedule. There's a lot of feverish cooking and cleaning going on those in-between days which aren't actually a holy day or Shabbat, not to mention a lot of washing accumulating by-and-by. 

In addition, we are now harvesting olives - for the delicious homemade preserves my husband is going to make - and figs in abundance. It might look as though we are going to have a surplus of figs for drying or making jam, neither of which I've tried and both of which are interesting possibilities.


And... some other little thing that has been on my mind. We spent the first day of Sukkot with family, and in the morning I took my girls to a nice playground we like to visit, which included, as I recalled, a lovely big sandbox. Well, you can imagine my disappointment when I saw that the soft golden sand is gone and replaced by a surface made from recylced rubber. 

This is a trend that I've noticed in many places in Israel lately - sandboxes being replaced by recycled rubber. I'm not sure why this is happening; perhaps because recylced rubber is the trendy ecological thing; perhaps because in some places, stray cats use sandboxes as toilets; perhaps because parents are clamoring for "neater" play - and I must say, it does give me a twinge of sadness every time to hear mothers scold, "don't touch the sand!" - either way, I'm convinced there's nothing like sand for children to be creative with, to dig in and build and "cook" with. I'm voting for the return of the old-fashioned sandbox, and perhaps will discuss with my husband the option of having something like this one in our yard.