Friday, July 25, 2014

Celebrating Mosh - Happy 4th!

Moshe legally turned four on July 4th and today we celebrated his Hebrew birthday - it's always great to party twice!

The threes to the fours was a miraculous joy-filled journey. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the progress and growth which took place this year. I am trying to write just one of those blog posts that usually come so easily to me, but words would are limiting; they can't pack in the emotion and the oh gosh, yes, tears, (yes, I am pregnant) that would just wrap up an entire year filled with genuine hard work, patience, frustration, progress, set-backs, ups and downs, but really, mostly love, so much love, and so much joy and pride into an untangible on-screen blog post. So I won't but I will.

I will tell you that Moshe is an incredible little person who never ceases to blow my mind with his creativity, wit, love of life, joy, persistence, and energy.

I admire Moshe. We all know how hard it is to change who we are. We all have struggled with fine-tuning our weaknesses into strengths. Can you imagine having to change almost everything about yourself - the way you talk, the way you might not talk, not being afraid of things that might terrify you, complying to something you totally just don't get, staying calm when you feel like you have to explode or everything around you is out of control, dizzying? It's hard work. Especially when you are only three years old.

When a child reaches a milestone, it's fairly easy to recognize the people who were involved in every step of the way. It's not hard to be gracious. And honestly, it feels really good to recognize the pay off of my personal investments as a parent as well. Sometimes though, I fail to focus on the efforts of my child. He changed something. He did it. He overcame an obstacle. He did what he thought he could never do. He conquered a fear. He met demands. HE did the hard work.

He makes us proud.

Today I celebrate Moshe. 

I celebrate the most lovable little boy who never stops. His award winning smile, trying-to-be-silly moments, the way he writes his name with dots on each connecting line. His passion for basketball. His rationale. His sense of direction and independence. His gentle side which melts my heart.

I celebrate his siblings who have showed him, loved him, appreciated him, and - put up with him - of course - as all sisters must do!

I celebrate his purity, simplicity, ingenuity, talent, and uniqueness. I celebrate my Moshe.

And as my mother once said, "To know Moshe, is to love him." Couldn't have said it better!

Happy birthday!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Snow Days

My husband's intense travelling schedule has ingrained an appreciation for snow days deep within me. Somehow, as the two events always coincide I am faced with contrasting feelings of relief, anticipation and a teeny nagging bit of fear. Relief because I don't have to get homework done, kids to bed on time, three lunches along with each child's 4 healthy snacks for the day packed, and out the door at a half decent time with half-decently dressed kids (NO! You cannot wear that! Yes, you must brush your hair!) It is really daunting to do all that on your own.

Anticipation because I know I have to come up with a schedule of fun activities so my children won't wither away watching videos all day. They turn into little media monsters and fight more when they are perched in front of the screen.

Fear, because I know my very best set of parenting skills, creative resources, and patience will be put to the test. Here is where I suck up the fact that I will work on being organized forever and thank G-d for my laid back nature. Yet, even the relaxed folks have what to fear when the snow comes down.

The other week, after a long day and even longer night, I duly checked my phone at midnight to see what the weather would be bringing us the next day. Avi was travelling to upstate NY and leaving at 4am, so when I saw the "snow" icon in a straight succession until 2pm, I breathed away my deepest anxieties associated with a solo morning routine and happily went to sleep. My feelings of content were solidified when the next morning, I heard squeals of, "It's snowing! Yay! It's snowing!". Well, of course it's snowing, it's been snowing every other Monday. I calculated the million dollar -"Is it worth it to sleep in to wake up to a mess or get up and have a clean house" question and went with the sleep. No brainer. Except, when I woke up, I saw what kind of snow my kids were psyched up over, the slow flurrying non-sticking kind. "Mina, you trusted five-year-olds?!" was really all my husband could say!

So, with all the snow days, I have learned some great coping mechanisms which I have been accumulating into one solid blog post. Yesterday, we went to Target and bought "craft stuff" along with lots of other "Stuff" which you can only buy in Target clearance "stuff" sections. I decided to have a "I'm gonna be a good mom crafting day" and hence, here is my blog post. The pictures will tell our story and the "Ten ways how to keep your kids entertained during snow days using household items under $10" will have to wait snow day!

 The many things you can do with tomatoes. The nights before the snow days usually are good indicators for what the day to come will hold.

 Another one of Moshe's creative basketball creations.

 Moshe has endlessly been sneaking hamantashen. I am up now at 2am inbetween laundry loads and I have no idea whether Moshe overate hamantashen, has a stomach bug, or that pink bead he claimed he stuck up his nose on Friday night is not agreeing with his digestive system. 

 We start our snow days with smoothies. It creates a tropical sense of unrealism.

 We head out before the storm and make sure to get some fresh air because I dont go out in the snow and cold. I leave that to my Canadian warm-blooded husband. Needless to say, my children have been deeply deprived of outdoor snow play. Last three storms found Avi - stuck in Trenton, overlooking the beach in Florida, and in the Holy Land of Israel. (And I'm genuinely happy for thetimes he missed it.)

 These are the days I appreciate my girls' extensive doll collection.

 This is the look of a day of trouble brewing.
 I appreciate Moshe's basketball creation hobby for the few moments of quiet they  provide.

 Crafting with our Target "stuff" which was actually really fun fruit and junk food-scented paint.

 Moshe started mis-using paint.Time-out didn't seem to cement any messages.

 The threes are truly a defiant age and stage but it comes packed with so much cuteness.

I decided to up our painting experience and put in some shaving cream having seen some great projects on Pinterest by moms who have containable children.

 Rivka watches everything with her huge eyes and takes it all in. And then decides what to do with all the information.

 Moshe is our seasoned instigator.

 "Ice-skating" - Moshe

 I ran out of the room for five minutes.

And that my friends, is a glimpse into our snow day.

My children had a warm colorful bath. The water was a deep shade of blue...ahh, the Caribbean illusion. They actually had to have two consecutive ones to get all the paint out again. We had more tropical smoothies. Moshe is sick. Avi is landing in 2 hours. My playroom smells like shaving cream, blueberry, licorice, bubblegum, and pineapple paint. My children said, "This was the BEST day ever!"

We did homework. because tomorrow....shall not be a snow day!

A small giveaway in the spirit of the snow - $10 Target Gift Card for the winner.
Sign up as a blog follower in the upper right hand corner.
Post in comments below- A: How do you spend your snow days with yourself or with your family?
B- What can YOU get at Target for $10? I just scored two toss pillows to add some color to my living room. Share your Target joy!

Some of you have complained that blogger "eats up" your comments and I apologize for that. I have found that commenting with an open id/ url (you dont have to fill out the URL blank) or as an anonymous poster is the safest way to post without comment deletion. If you have a google account, you can try that option too.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Do numbers really count?
Do they define you, mock you, scare you?
Do numbers provide focus, gratitude, direction?

I think so.

Last night, on my 30th, my husband Avi and I held that discussion. As one who constantly tells people, "Oh, numbers don't really matter, it's your spirit, being young at heart..." and so on, irony holds it that I, the number-denier, for once in my life care about a number. I give it my fully certified validity.

I am very grateful for the past thirty years. Every decade has held exponential growth and the experiences which were part of my life, the people I met, the places I've been, the things I have studied and learned - they all molded me into the thirty year old person that I am now.

Leaving my twenties, and kissing my youth good-bye should have some kind of wild celebration as whatever remnant of teenagehood that were morphed into the twenties really has to dissolve. I really embraced my 20s, I loved almost every moment and life-changing event. I traveled. I formed my deepest passions. I chose my direction in life. I got married. I moved to Brooklyn. I got my first SLR. I adventured with Avi.I moved to Jersey to start a community.I found creative outlets. I had twins. I met a lot of incredible people. I learned a lot. I had more children. I discovered the truest most infinite joy of motherhood. I navigated through challenges and pain. I experienced miracles. I said good-bye to three of my grandparents. I overcame fears. I made mistakes. I set lifelong goals. I set my priorities. I started drinking coffee. I did a lot. I loved being twenty.

Two weeks ago, 9 days before my birthday, my thoughts directed me to my upcoming "number" and the start of a new decade, And no wild good-bye-20s party crossed my mind which I guess is a testament to a need for vacation and some chilling. Yet. I felt a need to do something and I very deeply wanted to do something that would reflect my vision for the coming years, something that would exhibit my beliefs, something meaningful.

I was born on Shabbos, a day of peace and light. I am a deep thinker and a passionate idealist. I am a Jewish woman. I am a feminist.  I strongly believe in the G-d given power of Jewish women at large and admire the responsibilities endowed to us for who we are at the core. We are the foundation of our families and ensure Jewish continuity. I believe that every person has a flame so strong that makes us who we are, that connects us to another, no matter our superficial differences. I believe so strongly in every person's inner beauty, individual talents, and strengths - I think we can make this world a better place and fill it up with a tremendous light.

Lighting Shabbos candles with my family and friends epitomize my ideals which is very much inspired by the Rebbe of Lubavitch, the leader of Chabad, who encouraged women worldwide to take a moment every Friday night as sundown approached and light Shabbos candles. It is a time of personal reflection and a time for prayer. Candle lighting holds a special magic in our home as the weekly chaos metamorphoses into peace. I love to envision the simultaneous and continuous chain of women throughout the world lighting Shabbos candles. It is so powerfully binding, presently and historically.

I made it my goal to light Shabbos candles with thirty other girls and women in my community on my birthday. I am so touched by the 30+ girls and women in my community who stopped everything they were doing, took time away from their hectic family schedules, and partook in something that means so much to me. You all helped me embrace being thirty in the most meaningful way. I am so grateful. Thank you.

A special thank-you to my mother for raising me and giving me the tools, confidence, and support system from the very day I was born some thirty years back. I am so happy you were with me to celebrate!

 Sitting down after the party was over, watching all these candles burning, was incredibly heartwarming and uplifting.
 The thermostat hit 80 degrees.

Credit for Event Photos: Avi Richler. Thank you!

For those of you who are inspired to light Shabbos candles again, you can find candle-lighting times on Fridaylight.orh or It is a tremendously feminine mitzvah which will fill your home with blessings and light.