Thursday, February 25, 2010

Watching her Like a Hawk…..

My husband and I have been united in a strong campaign over the last week: not to let Ricki steal. We watch her when she goes down for her ride in the morning (so that she not attempt an on-the-side-marathon to the nearby grocery store). My husband keeps watch when she returns, for the same reason. Yet somehow on Monday she slipped through: on arrival home her face was smeared with chocolate wafers (which the store owner displays on the sidewalk…..). This is giving me a headache. I didn’t agree to having a thief when I gave birth to this kid…….
So how come I understand that she should be able to control her sweet tooth, but somehow it is OK for me to snitch a slice of cake (or two…) from the freezer when I REALLY feel like it?
Color me guilty for the cake I had on Sunday…..
Then color me filled with new resolve.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Place Where I Want to Be

I called my mother recently, and among other things she asked my how my diet and exercising are going. I had to answer truthfully: not so well. Over the last two months my weight has barely gone down, and my walking has also fallen, due to my crowded schedule.
Well, my Mom didn’t badger me.
She avoided criticism.
She just reminded me, with her question, of the place I want to be. And that was enough. Yesterday I stuck with the diet 100%
Where do YO want to be in a year? Are you on the path?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hearing Aid…or Not?

The first year after Ricki received her hearing aid, she wore it most of the time. She didn’t always like it, but in general she used it. Last year she stopped wearing it, very insistently NOT wanting to wear it. Apparently the “screeches” it made whenever there was a loud noise disturbed her enough that she didn’t want to deal with it. Than two weeks ago, when she had a bad head cold, she suddenly decided one day to wear it, saying that she could not hear the computer. It could be that the promise of borekas pastry (my bribe to wear her hearing aid) helped in this regard, but previously it hadn’t, so that certainly was NOT the entire reason. After one or two days, she again stopped wearing the aid. It would seem that she knows VERY well when she can not hear, and will take action. I need to get her hearing retested; it could be that it has improved or changed somehow, and that the aid needs to be adjusted. (Why I didn’t do that a year ago, I don’t kinow…… and even now, it will probably get pushed off until after Passover…..)

Monday, February 22, 2010

All (Well, Almost All) Kids Steal (once)

It is well known that most children, at reaching a certain age of development , will steal. Once or twice. Usually they are inept enough that they get caught. Once caught they are generally punished (ie., made to return the stolen goods), and with one or two tries at thievery, learn that it just isn’t worth it.
It seems that Ricki is at that stage. Yesterday she stole a music CD from a local store, and a bottle of coke at another. On inquiring how she had obtained these items, she said that Miri, a friend of hers from last year, had given them to her.
“So why don’t we call Miri and check?” I suggested.
Ricki turned several shades of purple and admitted to stealing. We returned the disc, and she paid for the drink with the big pile of ten-agorot (3-penny) coins she had saved up in her “piggybank”.
So today, it wasn’t worthwhile for her. The big question is, since Ricki learns EVERYTHING slowly, just how long (and how many times) is this going to take????

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Conversation with Ricki ( reported to me by Ricki’s Sister)

Ricki: Why does O. (her nephew, a 2 month-old baby) only drink and not eat?
Sis: Because he has no teeth.
(Ricki doesn’t believe, so sis shows her. O’s gums are toothless.)
Ricki: So he has to go to the hospital right away with complete anesthesia, to get his teeth fixed!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

“I’m Taking Gili to Gan”

Today Ricki missed her ride to school. She has been very “chutpahdik” (“contrary” is the closest I can get to this term….) lately. In general her attitude has been “I will do what I want unless forced not to”, irrespective of what I have told her. Nu, a typical teenager. So, having decided that she can not get away with this, I have been EXTRA careful in drawing the lines which she can not cross. This means that she will not get away with taking soda pop to school (it is reserved for the sabbath), she will not take soya patties either, etc. So I prepared a bottle of diet drink for her, and she (angry that I had not allowed her to take soda-pop “juice”) dumped it out, and was about to take the SAME drink! Oh NO. If you waste, you will not receive. So she was angry, pouting, and missed her ride. So, after waiting 15 minutes, I decided to let her walk to school. (It is not far and she knows the way.) I just wanted to watch from the window to be sure that she was not going to use these few minutes of non-supervision to go to the grocery store (and steal borekas).
I watched discreetly from the shuttered window, carefull that she should not realize that I was observing. She turned right, towards the grocery, but then crossed the street. She was heading for a small side street , and I had NO idea of why she was doing so. This side street is one that goes towards her school (and not the grocery), but it is NOT the normal way of going to school.
So I called out: “Ricki’ where in the world are you going?”
“I’m taking ‘Gili’ to Gan (kindergarden)”.

“Gili” is her imaginary foster- daughter. (“Gili’s mom was killed in an accident and she is very sick in the hospital….”)

Once upon a time I would have been TERRIBLY irked by this.
Once upon a time I thought that other children with Down syndrome do things like this, but my daughter won’t when she is a teen.

Why did I think that I was so much smarter than all those other moms before me?

[Post script: Just to balance this post out, keep in mind that this morning Ricki:
Took a bath on her own
Got dressed by herself
Combed her own hair
Organized her school bag
Prepared drink (in the end, water) ]

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Special Exposure Wednesday- The Big Laugh

Last week I gave you Ricki with her nephew--today she is pictured with her niece. The niece is older than the nephew, and is engaging Ricki in "conversation". Great fun for both....
Find more of Special exposure HERE

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Exercising Our Spiritual Muscles

Every time we do something that we know is right—but which is hard for us- we are exercising and strengthening our spiritual muscles. Whether it is refusing a snack we don’t need, getting out to walk after eating a heavy meal on Saturday, responding patiently to someone who has cut into line ahead of us, or turning off the computer and going to sleep on time…….
Doing the correct action affects our ability to choose properly. Each time we do the right thing, it makes it easier for us to continue in the path we have chosen.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Magic Marker Monday: Purim Masks for the Month of Adar

Today is the first day of the Jewish month of "Adar", and in two weeks we celebate Purim. So to start the fun, Ricki made Masks, from pre-cut colored paer, covered with black paint. She scaped off the black paint (with a small disposable wooden roasting stick), revealling the colors beneath. This is a fun and easy craft.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

On Love, Valentines, and Ricki

[NOTE: “Valentines Day” is NOT a Jewish holiday, I am posting this rather apologetically…]

I grew up in Midwestern Illinois, and attended public school. Valentine’s day was duly celebrated each year of grade school as each of us made a decorated “mail box”, and we had to give everyone in the class a valentine. I am sure that the stationary stores loved the holiday. I am not so sure that I did. I was not that popular, and it was rather disconcerting year after year to feel my worth being measured by the type and beauty of the cards which I did/did not receive. [What in the world were educators thinking? That friendships would be fostered?????? And what about the romantic love implications, foisted on a group of young children?] All that Valentine ’s Day could have taught me is that we all desire to be loved, to be visualized as someone of worth, to be appreciated…..and it isn’t always all that painless. Also that lack of love, and rejection, can be an abraision or lesion on our fragile psyche.
To Ricki, I suspect that love and marriage seems easy and straightforward. (Any cognitively-impaired person who watches modern movies would think so. People meet, fall in love, kiss on the first date, and get married all in the space of two hours….) I generally don’t allow her to watch a lot of romantic stuff, but she has seen her older siblings getting married, and she is generally not privy to any prior knowledge until the relationship is definitely serious….. And she is certainly not a viewer of any of the difficulties, or the ups and downs that all couples invariably face.
But what would occur if Ricki would be engaged or married, and the relationship would sour? That would be difficult for her… as it is for all of us. Yet I would not advocate “no love” for the fear of a curdled relationship. Interpersonal relationships take a lot of work. And even if a couple is a solid, good one, people can change. People have disagreements. And these matters have to be faced if the relationship is to remain a solid and positive one. But a loveless life, a life where I am not really that important to anyone else on the planet, is horrific.
As Ricki behaves now, she could never maintain a lasting marriage. I hope that as she matures, she will learn to be more responsive to the feelings of others, to be able at times to let her own needs slide or be delayed for the good of someone else. And if she accomplishes that, I hope that we can help her find some young man who is suitable for her.** And after that, I would hope that there would always be someone ( I am thinking of one of her brothers….) who could help her deal with any of those inevitable arguments that couples have, and counsel the pair as needed. Because life without love is hard. But it is complicated as well……

[**readers might be puzzled that I would advocate "helping" Ricki find a partner, rather than letting her look herself. Keep in mind that in our society, match-making is the norm, and it generally works VERY well.]

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The On-Going Saga of the Borekas (and Soft Drink and …..) Bandit

Ever since we started the “Borekas Campaign” my husband and I have been watching Ricki like hawks. When she leaves for school, and on her return, which are primetimes that the local grocery could be assailed, we try and keep an eye watching, to prevent any stealing on her part. The canmpaign will only work if it is the ONLY way to get borekas.
So Wednesday afternoon, my husband sat at the window, waiting to see if Ricki would come straight upstairs after exiting the taxi which brings her home from school. But she didn’t arrive by taxi. We called the taxi service, and they said that Ricki had refused to enter the car, and that her teacher had acquiesced, saying that I trusted Ricki to walk home alone.
Well, I DID allow her to walk home alone if she didn’t want to go to the afternoon activity center. But now (see yesterday’s post) that she is not going to the center at all, there is no reason for her to come home by foot.

(image: girl with “bright idea” lightbulb over her head….)
I realized VRY quickly that there WAS a reason, and the reason was that she knew that Dad would be watching her leave the car. [My G-d, where do those brain cells she uses to get borekas go when she is studying math?????] She arrived soon after, a few crumbs on her lips. But the grocery is closed at that hour. (They are open just until after she would arrive by taxi. If she comes by foot, she arrives too late for our grocery store.) So where did she get the “goods”? She was not telling. (“I dunno….”)
So later that day I took Ricki with me, and after running an errand, I took the bus to the stop next to the school. And we walked home together. And slowly (under threats of being computer-free for a month), Ricki told me what she had stolen (on her various walks home) from each food outlet, grocery store, and bakery on the way. The list was at least 5 items long, but at least all the store owners (except one*) cooperated nicely with us as we confessed and paid.
Ricki claims that she is finished with stealing. I told her she will take the taxi home in the future; one’s evil inclination has a tendency to gain the upper hand…..

* Storeowner: “Oh, she doesn’t understand, she didn’t mean it….” [Yes, Mister, if she didn’t, why was she feeling so guilty?? She is NOT THAT DUMB!!!!]

Friday, February 12, 2010

Mommy’s Afternoon Program

For years, Ricki has spent the afternoon with “Mommy”, doing homework, sometimes cooking together, and often, when I am busy, watching films on the computer.
About two months ago, I started sending Ricki to an afternoon program. The program is pretty good, and they are excellent with behavior issues. The only problem was that one mother from the group the Ricki which would have normally been put into decided that she doesn’t want Ricki in that group (for partially valid reasons), so Ricki was placed with a group of less-high functioning girls. The manager assured me that anyway most of the activities are geared to each teen’s individual level This would give me a break in the afternoons, and make it easier for me to work partime. The drawback is that I would have less time to study and do Life Skills with Ricki myself. However, since I don’t always make time for that, I decided to try it out.
All seemed to go well for a month or so. Ricki was upset that she was not with girls from her class, but seemed to enjoy the activities. Than suddenly, two weeks ago Ricki started refusing to go to the “activity center” after school. I figured that perhaps some of the activities were too childish, or that she had no real friends in the group. (She told me that she was not friends with different girls from the group who she might have befriended.) In addition, I decided that she should attend fewer days each week (something I had originally requested, but which city hall had initially blocked), since she is not used to being away from home so many hours each and every day. But her heart has been soured, and she is not interested in continuing.
I guess Mommy’s afternoon program got better rating from her. (At least I take her to an exercise club once weekly, so she is not completely isolated from her friends.) So, at least temporarily, I need to keep Ricki active in the afternoons, probably helping me Pesach clean……

Thursday, February 11, 2010

An Open Letter to My Fellow Chareidi Community Members

I used to think that the prevalent anti-chareidi* sentiments in the non-religious Israeli society were a product of media bias. I am sure that it is a factor, yet I am equally sure that it is much more than that, and largely our own fault.
I am chareidi, yet some of my sons are not. One is currently in the armed forces in Israel, and another will be entering this summer. The talk about the inevitability of another war makes me uneasy. When I hear the Pesach song “V’Hi S’Amdah”, I inevitably send up a prayer to the One on High, that he protect my sons, and all of our sons, from the enemies surrounding us.
No, I do not believe that everyone should serve in the army. My son needs the zechus (merit) of our Torah** to stay alive; unfortunately he does not have this zechus on his own. I do not believe that we, as a nation, could have endured in the face of the odds against us, without the merit of the Torah study and observance of our religious communities.
But the current situation is such that we DO need an army, and our sons who are serving are putting their lives on the line for the sake of their country and the people within. My sons are willing to risk their lives in order that the average Israeli can generally ride the bus without getting blown up, and yes, so that your son can go to yeshiva rather than sitting in an air-raid shelter. And I, as a loving mother, have to learn to live day-by-day with the very real fear that maybe my son will not arrive home some day. This is not the worry you have when your child goes on a field trip and returns a bit late. It is a palpable, sinking sensation that you try to overcome and control, that creeps up on you time and time again, week after week. I assure you, that if you have no relative active in the services, you have no idea of what it is like. And how a mother without faith in G-d survives it, I do not know.
Yet, when my son arrives home, dressed in his fatigues, for shabbas, he gets very few smiles. He is instead the recipient of stares. And many of them are almost hostile. His total worth seems to be that of “non-religious”, and my community seemingly can not see beyond that label. Where is the gratitude that he is standing on duty so that your child can study? The recognition that he is doing something that you are glad that your son need not do? Why is he not seen as a fellow Jew deserving of a simple smile, nod of the head, or a whispered “My G-d watch over you”, rather than the scorning looks that he receives, as if he was a carrier of some terrible virus?
Think about it. How would you feel about the chareidi community if you were in his shoes, or in mine?

PS. This post is meant as a wake-up call. I do not intend to cause a chareidi-bashing blogging event. Please do not use this post's comments section to do a big bashing fest if you have your own issues with this community and you are not chareidi. Thank-you.

*Chareidi= the ultra-Orthodox community, most of whose sons have deferments from the Army
**religious studies

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Special Exposure Wednesday-Ricki and nephew

Ricki's sister let her feed the baby a bottle the other day. If Ricki has a vision of heaven, this is probably pretty close to it......

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

You Get Exactly What You Work For….

My step count has been down somewhat as late. And even more telling is that my aerobic walking is way down. Most of my walking steps are to get from here to there, and not my lovely walking paths with good lung-enhancing uphill treks. This is all due to my very crowded schedule as of late, in an effort to finish off outstanding things that MUST get done, before I really get started with cleaning for Passover.
And, unfortunately, I am already noticing the effects. On Saturday afternoon the weather was excellent, so I went out for an hour’s stroll. I purposely included one of “my” hills, and I could see that my stamina was a bit less. There is simply no substitute for aerobic exercise.
So as I get busy with Passover cleaning, which will be keeping me very busy, I hope to fit in some aerobic walking, at least 2-3 times a week. I hope. But sanity (ie, enough sleep) takes precedence.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Maybe I Can Wake up in Three Years?

My soldier-son, home for a few hours, was helping his younger brother fill out his "request for unit to serve" questionnaire for the army.
-"Don't go there, that is full of rough-necks. And don't even give a “one” there, as NOBODY wants it, and if you give a one, they will gladly stick you there. Instead,...."
This younger son is determined to go into whatever is the most combative unit possible, so that he won't be "bored". What in the world?!? What being bored? If he has free time, he can study for his matriculation exams, as his brother currently is doing. I understand that he wants a combat unit; he feels that it is a job someone has to do. OK. But the MOST combative?
As I commented to soldier-son afterwards, "Doesn't he realize what he will be doing to me?" Sometimes I wonder if he is brave, or simply fool-hardy. Has the "modern warfare" game given him a feeling that he can just get up and do and go on, in the face of danger????? (My younger son denies this….) Maybe I can go to sleep for the next three years???? How in the world am I supposed to live with this? Yes, with pride that he is willing. And a prayer on my lips, that he not take unneeded risks. I know that he will mature in the army. He will be more dependable, more serious, and yes, probably more willing to study. So what do I do with the terrible fear that hurls itself at me like a dragon from the tournament at Hogwarts?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Band-Aid Story

Ricki loves to apply band-aids to any minor scratch that she might have. Sometimes the “sore” is so miniscule that I can not even see it. Or it may be a type of closed-skin hurt that does not need a dressing at all. But in general, Ricki is adamant about applying the treatment, and that is that. Well, almost.
Afterwards, there is always the need to tell her to pick up the band-aid wrapper, which inevitably gets thrown on the floor. I am simply amazed that she has not yet realized that it is easier to throw the wrapper away herself, than waiting for me to insist that she return to the scene of the crime and dispose of it properly.
Anyway, the other day she really threw a “Plaster (Band-aid in Hebrew) Party”. She had applied at least twelve plasters to her hands, and, as per her custom, had left the outer papers strewn across the floor of her room. Of course I had her pick them up.
Than, a few hours later, she suddenly removed all her band-aids, and reapplied one to the one sore the warranted it. And she even, without my telling her, gathered all the used pieces of dressing up, and deposited them in the garbage. “Eureka!” I thought. “She is LEARNING!”
No chance. A day later the wrappers appeared on the floor tiles again, as usual….

Saturday, February 6, 2010

SOOC Saturday-Apples

Straight Out Of (the) Camera Saturday (motzai shabbas, saturday night for me) is posted weekly at Melody's Slurping Life. Go check it out. Her pictures are usually stunning.
Hope you all have a good week!
[image: apples and pears close up, with part of a chair visable in the background.]

Friday, February 5, 2010

The funny Thing…..

As I wrote on Wednesday, under pressure to write daily, I had found “ I have reached the point that I am finding it harder to say things worth reading”. So, having decided to temporarily (at least) blog less frequently, what happened? All of a sudden, I thought of several good posts.
Possible explanations:
1. -the devil is helping me, so I can blog ad infinitum, ruin my health, etc., etc.
2. -it’s the “vacation effect” (explanation forthcoming)
3. -(most plausible answer) having gotten a good nights sleep on Wednesday, my mind was in “functional mode” on Thursday…..

And what is this “vacation effect”?
Many times with special children and teens, you can be working with them (on your own, or with a therapist) to try and reach some goal. It is immaterial if this goal is walking, speaking a full three-word sentence, learning to adjust the hot-water flow in the bath independently, etc. Sometimes you feel that you have been trying and trying…. And trying… and nothing seems to be going in.
So you switch gears. Change goals. Or the speech therapist tells you that she’s taking vacation next month. (And you are wondering if that is true, or if she is simply trying to drop your “not progressing” child…..) And… a week or two later… BOOM! Suddenly he is doing the long-sought-after goal, as if he has been doing it forever…..

This happens a lot.
What goes in DOES eventually appear.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dear Readers

[image: a steaming cup of tea]
Dear Readers,
Please sit down and join me for a cyber-cup of tea.
Purim is coming, and Passover on its heels a month later. For those who don’t understand the implications of this, it means that these upcoming two months will undoubtedly be hectic ones for me. Orthodox Jewish housewives (like me) clean every corner of their houses before Passover, with a tendency to over-do than under-do.
And I have several outstanding things from before this that need to get done.
And if I want to loose weight I need to get enough sleep, and at least sometimes get out for aerobic walking.
I am sure you can see where this is heading: I have to cut down on the blog, at least for the next two months.
And actually, I am not sure that this is a bad thing. Having written 845 posts since November 14, 2007 (812 days), I have said a lot. And I have reached the point that I am finding it harder to say things worth reading. I feel that the quality of my writing has deteriorated, and I am straining to post daily. In addition, Ricki’s regular, everyday behavior is not all that interesting. [Yeah, reading how she got dressed, made an egg, etc, is interesting day after day….] But if I only write about her bad behavior, that will give everyone a VERY lop-sided view, which is hardly the purpose of this blog.
So, in short, I plan to stop posting daily, but do hope to improve the quality over what I have been dishing out as of late. For those who follow me by clicking on my address, I humbly suggest to pop in 2-3 times a week. Those who follow me through blogger will have it easier. Please bear with me, and I hope to still keep you as readers.
Have a nice weekend!

Making It Kosher….

When I was a child, one of my mom’s best dishes were part of our camping experiences: red kidney beans and ground beef. My mother used to concoct this on a “primus” camping stov. And I loved it.
As an adult I had tried to copy this dish, but had never succeeded. First I blamed the fact that I had used ground turkey. So I bought the more expensive ground beef instead. But the dish was still lacking. Finally, last summer, visiting my mom, I mentioned this. So then she informed me of her “secret” ingredient: bacon.
Well, my Mom can use bacon, but since I keep kosher, I can not. I laughed and told my mother: “Well, I don’t think I can copy the taste of that recipe, can I?”
But I did. Almost. I took some chicken skins (which I saved and froze last week just for this), and fried them to a crisp. Then I fried the onions and ground beef in that. An added bit of garlic and black pepper, and some salt, and the whole lot got thrown in with the cooked and drained red beans.
The result: a less-than-healthy dish, but a deliciously kosher food and wonderful memories of years gone by.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mazel Tov! (??)

Ricki announced to me that “Gilli” is engaged.
“Gilli” is Ricki’s imaginary friend.
I gathered that some of the siblings of some of her classmates are getting married soon, so she decided, as “Gilli’s Mom” to join in the fun.
I keep reminding her that Gilli is not real, but she doesn’t like hearing that……

Monday, February 1, 2010

No Luck In the Kitchen

After a month, I am still waiting for the ceramic tiles I ordered for my kitchen to arrive. When I first heard that they were out of stock, but were one the way by ship, I calculated that there was still plenty of time to finish before Passover.
Then the tiles arrived early, but apparently the ship had some illegal merchandise, which is preventing the tiles from being released.
In short, I am getting rather used to working in half a kitchen, but that won’t work for Passover, so I am getting NERVOUS.

“Anything worthwhile in life”, my mother always said, “takes time and effort.” Good things, whether it is a good relationship with your spouse, a knitted sweater, good marks in school, or whatever---require imput of effort. Dieting, exercising, educating our children, etc, etc. Advertisments would like you to believe that you can get something for nothing, but it just doesn’t work that way. You get exactly what you put into it!