Friday, December 30, 2011

PS to Previous Post “Silence Implies Consent”

This is a PS to my previous post. I noted that there has been a lot of anti religious reporting by the press. Here is an example. It is a small example, but if you multiply this example by the hours in a day, and the days of the week, and the years that this has been going on, one realizes that the end effect will be significant. This morning after I listened to the news update on the radio, I heard the speaker start talking about the situation in Beit Shemesh. I was interested in what he had to say, so I continued listening. Then I noted something interesting. When he talked about bad actions on part of the religious, it was said as a given fact. However, when he reported that a religious woman had been attacked by someone who was obviously anti-religious, the language suddenly changed: “She CLAIMED…” And of course the demonstration planned by the chareidim(ultra Orthodox) on Saturday night is against “PERCEIVED discrimination on part of the press”. Unfortunately, the discrimination definitely exists, as anyone with an open mind will see.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

No time...

I have a few ideas for posts, but no time to write! Maybe next week. Have a nice (and safe) weekend everyone.....

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Silence Implies Consent

As a Chareidi (strictly Orthodox) Jewish woman, I feel that I can no longer be quiet about the tumultuous events occurring in recent days in Israel. Let me preface my remarks with the observation that the blame for a lot of the anger seen on the part of the non-religious, often against ALL chareidim (ie, the strictly orthodox) can be placed squarely at the feet of the press, who have been very anti-religious in the reporting over the last several years. However, in spite of the previous observation, the behavior of the extremist group in Beit Shemesh is inexcusable. People who choose to live in the city, even in an Orthodox neighborhood, realized that it was part of a bigger, non-religious town, and any fool would realize that in such a case, sometimes people are going to walk through their streets in a less-than-modest attire. I HAVE YET TO HEAR OF A CASE WHERE SOMEONE BECAME MORE RELIGIOUS OR MORE MODEST DUE TO BEING SPIT ON/ YELLED AT/ CALLED “NAZI”. For example, my married daughter currently lives in an orthodox neighborhood, but dresses rather atrociously considering. However, when she attends her (orthodox) brothers’ smachot (celebrations), she takes care to dress better. Not because they demanded it. Because they DIDN’T, they let her choose how to come. She reciprocates their respect with respect for them. However, I DO feel that some people are now looking with eyes to erase ANY gender separation. Is the day going to arrive when I will no longer be able to go swimming, because separate hours for men and women at the local pool will be prohibited by law? There are a lot of ways that compromises can be reached. Stores in chareidi areas could have one check-out counter manned by a male cashier for those men wanting this. Companies desiring chareidi business should be allowed to make pamphlets/advertisements geared for this population (ie without pictures of women). I would like to see a lot more of “live and let live” from both sides. And, by the way, I would say this to the extremists: If someone is REALLY sure of his beliefs, he doesn’t need to force them on others. Let him be the good person his beliefs should lead to, and then others will see on their own the value of that way of life.

Monday, December 26, 2011

At a Bris...

I attended the circumcision of my newest grandson today...and lots of the women from my DIL's family literally didn't recognize me! Looking at the photos, I almost don't recognize myself! LOL!!!! I AM getting weight-loss wrinkles (I COULD blame them on my age, but I didn't have them two years ago. However, I would rather LOOK old than FEEL old!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Warm Scarf

As I mentioned in Tuesday’s post I caught Ricki dawdling on the way to school, so I am back to walking her daily. The first moring that I went with her (this was after about three weeks of NOT going with her daily, just on occaision), we were stopped by a woman. “Oh hello! Are you her mother?” After ascertaining that I really was Ricki’s mom, she launched into her story, that she often sees Ricki going to school on warm days with her woolen scarf, and that she has tried to convince her not to wear it, but she refuses. “She’s such a good girl; she just doesn’t want to disobey her Mother!” I laughed saying “No, it is NOT my idea. I don’t want her to wear the scarf either!” ( Lady to Ricki) “You have to wear what Mother says!” (Me) “Actually, she doesn’t. If it’s not too atrocious, and it is tnius (modest), she can choose her clothing. She IS a teenager, not a tiny kid…” Let me say that I value very much that this woman cared enough to try and convince Ricki not to wear something inappropriate. And, incidentally, the last week or so Ricki HAS been willing to go without the scarf and to wear a jacket instead of her bulky cold-weather coat. It could easily be that this lady’s comments to Ricki on the street over a period of a few days led to that. But judging from her reaction to my above statement, she probably thinks I am crazy (although I DID further hint that the issue here is for Ricki to learn to choose correct clothing). Even if I would force Ricki to look 100% when she leaves the house, that will mean that when she grows up she will start learning (very late…) what she is learning today.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kashrut (Kosher) Capers

I have mentioned before (HERE) the problems of keeping a kosher kitchen when there is a developmentally delayed teen in the house. The problem of the spatula (see previous link) was solved by keeping the pareve one PERMENANTLY out of reach in an upper closet. And since most of Rickie’s cooking involves a few standard items, mix-ups between meat and milk dishes are rare. But lately Ricki has become bolder, and has taken to reheating lunch leftovers without permission. The result has been a few treifed-up (non-kosher) pots and pans. Of course she was told that she has to be more careful, ask, etc. But her new line in the kitchen lately has been “Get out! I can do it myself!” This is a bit worrisome…I want her to be independent, but I don’t want to throw out high sums for new dishes, either. But on the other hand, last night as she pronounced that I was an unwanted personage in the kitchen, she DID ask me if the soup she wanted to rewarm was meaty or milky. But she needs to learn to look for the marking on the dishes, not to be dependent on my input…..

A Kindness

[image: child with paper “crown”]
Ricki’s nephew came home today with a “Hanukkah Crown” from play school, as tonight is the first night of Hanukkah. But quickly we noticed that the staple had come undone. Ricki ran to get the stapler, restapled it, and joyfully handed it back to her nephew. Ricki was obviously thrilled to be doing something nice for someone, but I suspect that in enabling her to do him a favor, my grandson got an even bigger mitzvah (good deed). [image: hannukiah]
Hanukkah picture: another ceramic menorah and the first lights.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

At the Bus Stop (or, “You Never Know….”)

Recently I’ve been letting Ricki walk to school on her own. She leaves the house at an hour that the streets are packed with children and adults, and the walk is a short one. There is only one street to cross, and she knows the way perfectly. What could (reasonably) go wrong? Oh, never underestimate the ability of your kid to surprise you. Yesterday morning I pulled Ricki out of bed. She was sleepy, not surprisingly, as she is still not using the CPAP. But within a few moments she was wide awake, happy to be going to school as they had some type of pre-Hanukkah program planned. I was planning on spending the morning in Jerusalem, and pressed for time, I was only too glad that Ricki could head out for school on her own. 45 minutes later I left to catch my bus. And who did I find at the bus stop, head nodding? My sleepy daughter. Guess that’s the end of Ricki going on her end to school for a while. I just WISH she would wear the CPAP…..

Saturday, December 10, 2011

CPAP update

Ricki feels that the air flow fron the CPAP is too cold. So we got a humidifier, which warms the air. No go...
So I put a hot water bottle on the tubing. That didn't help either. Often she will fall asleep with it, but if she wakes for a moment, she will yank it off.
I am going to have to get her used to wearing it (starting with early evening hours), gradually. If nothing else works, I hope it will be easier for her in the summer, and if she gets used to it then, may carry on afterwards.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Again, the Fads

As reported here,the FDA has issued a warning about the hcg-containing diet fad. And EVEN if it would work, can one REALLY believe that they will be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle on 500-800 calories daily? Do people imagine that after losing weight on a fad diet, that they will be able to maintain that loss?
FACE IT! If you want to lose weight, and most importantly keep it off and feel good while doing so, you need:
1) An eating plan that takes in mind your likes and dislikes, your schedule, and preferences. (For example a diet advocating an big luscious (and yes, healthy) salad for breakfast is just not going to work if you have to be at work at 8AM, and you have kids to get to school as well….unless you adore old, wilted salads made the night before…)
2) An eating plan that takes into account basic nutritional balance, with fruits, vegetables, protein (including milk products), carbohydrates, and a smidgen of fat. People whose dietary preferences are WAY off (like they never eat fruit or vegetables, or dairy products) need to move in the direction of a healthier balance of food. People allergic to foods like milk will need expert advice from a good nutritionist on how to get the nutrients they need within a lower-calorie eating plan.
3) Some exercise weekly, preferably increasing gradually to a decent amount of aerobic exercise. Not only will this give you a (minimal) boost in weight loss, but you should be healthier and feel better as a result.
4) To allow yourself to be “human” (but just a BIT)- an occasional SMALL snack or coveted food, a small extra splurge on holidays (but you DO understand that this needs to be within reason…). If you never allow yourself a BIT of leave-way, eventually you will decide that the diet isn’t livable.


But if you adopt a sensible eating plan as outlined above, you can slowly lose weight, and feel good doing it. THAT is magical, believe me!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Playing “Aunt Loretta”

At some point this winter I am having a medical procedure done, and recently I had an appointment with my doctor about exactly what I needed done. Suddenly I caught myself playing “Aunt Loretta”.
My father’s sister, my Aunt Loretta, was a lovely person. She always greeted us with a wide warm smile, and never complained about the noise we children must have made. Her house, though tiny, was clean and neat, and her bathroom could have been an ad for the bathroom scent companies. She was an excellent cook as well. And yes… she was also grossly overweight.
Her weight never bothered ME… but I am sure that it bothered her. Why do I think so? Because she died of an illness that (according to my mother’s report at the time) could probably have been cured if she had only seen a doctor when the first symptoms arose. But my Aunt Loretta apparently played a “game” that many of us overweight people play. Tired of being viewed as ONLY “fat”, tired of being told that we need to lose weight, we avoid doctors. We visit them rarely, and dream of finding one who will treat us an intelligent person, despite our current inability to move past the addiction to food. (Many people are valued despite their character flaws, but overeating is oh so visible for all to see.) And when we finally DO go to the doctor, we often downplay any side complaints, suspecting that if we dare mention them, we will only be reminded by the dear doctor that it is our own fault.
So as I walked away from the doctor last week, I realized that I had downplayed an important concern, and was playing “Aunt Loretta”. I am still in the “defensive mode” when at the doctor; it being a well-ingrained habit after years and years of “overweight thinking”. What a mistake! Everyone, despite race, religion, sex, or weight, deserves to be treated cordially. Yes, one’s primary physician may need to courteously try to help his patient find the tools needed to live a healthy life. Asking if their patient is interested in referral to a weight-loss specialist or a dietician may well be in place. But it needs to be done in a sensitive way, in order that the overweight person, who needs that health care even more than the normal-weight individual, not run away.
But now that I am well on the way to a healthy weight, now that I AM making the proper choices, I CERTAINLY needn’t let this bad old habit of downplaying EVERYTHING at the doctor’s office continue.
So I made an appointment to see my doctor again, and I set the story straight.

Baby and Bathwater

Note: This post is a continuation from Monday’s post and the comments made on it.

Both Chaviva and Batya mention the possibility of change, and specifically of the need to improve ourselves. This is definitely true. But this in turn leads me to a different point, one especially relevant to any person who is trying to better themselves.
When we embark on a project to improve ourselves, whether it be giving up a bad habit, watch our weight, to become more religious, or to start a new positive activity, the tendency is to go full force. While drastic changes can get us places quickly, we will rarely stay there steadily and solidly as a result. True change involves a process, and THAT requires TIME. Also, the gung-ho method often boomerangs because we do not take into consideration who we are. We often try to imitate others, irrespective of whether their derech (way) is a good one for US.
1) The new baal teshuva (newcomer to Orthodox Judaism) is likely to take on many optional stringencies not required by halacha (Jewish law). In doing so he often bypasses opportunities where he (she) could use their skills and aptitudes for the good of the community and their own enjoyment. This may lead to the person waking up one day and realizing that they threw away an integral part of their identity and well-being. For example, a school might frown on guitar playing, because of the hippie connotations that follow it and because of the blatant sexuality of nearly all popular songs. But if this new baal teshuva would be encouraged to IMPROVE his playing skills, using orthodox music (and perhaps classical as well), he could continue to nourish the musical side of their soul.
2) Overweight people often ask me, when they realize how much weight I have lost, “So what do you eat each day?” My answer is this: that what I eat is not important. Each person needs a healthy eating plan, one designed to suit THEIR tastes and lifestyle.

Often we have a lot of dirty “bathwater” (bad habits) that we want to chuck out. But let us not chuck out the baby with it!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Answer to Chaviva

Chaviva asks: “Are you where you thought you'd be 10 years ago? Where you were when you were a senior in high school ?”
Well, Chaviva, for me this is two questions: a) ten years ago and b) when a senior in high school.
I was actually never a senior in high school. I finished high school in three years, and went to college for a year (in 1969-70)(before attending nursing school). I knew already that I wanted to be a nurse, and to live in Israel. I accomplished both. I also dreamed of having a family, which (thank G-d), I did. But I never would have dreamt of the difficult parts of my life which lay ahead, nor my future interest in special education.
Ten years ago, Ricki was young, and we were fighting for her right to inclusion. I would have never believed that we would make it all the way through junior high. And while I dreamed of losing weight, I could never have envisioned how liberating and life-changing that weight-loss journey would be for me.
Yet, in many ways I am the same: the love of music, reading, knowledge, crafts, nature (i.e. the Rocky Mountains...), and dance. The desire to connect with others. My sincere religious belief.
Yes, the world has changed enormously since I was in high school. Who would have dreamed of facebook back then? But, oh--- the days are not all that different when you get down to the way people think and act.

Friday, December 2, 2011

CPAP Adventures

Well, on Wednesday we finally received Ricki’s new CPAP. Now she has to get used to it. And we have two weeks to do so (we can return the machine within 2 weeks of purchase for a full refund).
Last night started out OK. But she was after a bath (with damp hair), and complained of the air being too cold. I gave her a warm scarf to wear around her throat, but she still complained. (Apparently a humidifier can be purchased that will help with this, but we will not be able to purchase one until next week.) Even so she wore the CPAP last night on and off as long as I was at the computer (which is by her bed). But she was half awake, and not pleased.

Tonight (Thursday evening), she point blank refused to wear the CPAP after a few minutes. Promises of prizes didn’t help. I was fearful of her developing a negative attitude, which, once set upon, would likely not change when the humidifier would be bought. So I decided to let it go for a bit.
Now, however, I saw that she was asleep, and tried to put the mask on her. She fought back a bit, but eventually I got it on her, and as I held her hands she quickly fell into a deep sleep. She wore it for about ten minutes, but then woke up and took it off.
Maybe tomorrow afternoon I will have her wear it a bit as she reads a book, to get more used to it.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Who Would Have Thought?

I addition to trying to walk at least 10,000 steps daily, I have often had the goal to do some resistance band and “weights” exercises every week. But usually I don’t keep it up.
For a while my only non-walking exercise has been my weekly hour swim. But the pool is closed for the month for renovations, so I decided that I must REALLY get some regular exercising in.
So yesterday I was exercising, and the last item on my to-do list of exercises was sit- ups.
No I have not been able to do sit-ups since I was in grade school. The most I could do was to slightly lift my shoulders off the bed.
But yesterday I got up to about a 45 degree angle, and boy did THAT feel GREAT!
Who would have ever guessed?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Warm Snack

Want a nice healthy low calorie snack that isn't COLD?
"Zap" a half grapefruit in your micro for half a minute. Sprinkle with sugar substitute.

Monday, November 21, 2011

“Mom, You Don’t Know”

I picked up the phone:
On hearing my son’s voice I starting chatting with him. Meanwhile, Ricki started having conniptions. When I finished the conversation and hung up, Ricki sputtered:
“MOM, you don’t know how to talk on the phone! You say ‘Hello’ ‘This is Ricki’! “

At her school, at my request, they have started learning how to make formal phone calls, like to arrange a doctor’s appointment.
Ricki caught me not following the script…..

Sunday, November 20, 2011

On Dangly Earrings and Leather jackets ….

Once upon a time, I could only buy whatever clothes I could find in my size, and there were not many. They were few and expensive. But except when I had time to sew, I had little choice, and sometimes was even forced to purchase articles that I didn’t even like.
As I lost weight, I reveled in the new experience of shopping with the knowledge that I had a CHOICE.
Now the clothing we wear is telling. Some women prefer sporty clothing, and some more feminine. What we choose to wear tells a bit about how we identify ourselves.
Suddenly, having a choice , I discovered that my tastes in clothing is changing. I am purchasing clothing that is more “young” than I used to. Then a month and a half ago I got daring: I saw in a store a pair of VERY LONG earrings, which I LOVED. But they were awfully long. But I got them anyway.
(And to tell you how much I LOVED them, consider this: Ricki one day took the earrings from my closet, and went with them to the living room. Then apparently she heard me coming in, and she “destroyed the evidence” by pitching them out the window! I discovered this all two days later, by which time one was lost forever. So I went back to the store and repurchased them. At least they were not expensive….)
The a few weeks ago I was in a store and saw a LOVELY leather jacket. And it looked lovely on me. It reminded me of coats I had always adored but could never fit into as a teen. So even though I am probably the only almost-60 year old lady in my town with such a coat, I bought it anyway.
I like the jacket, but unfortunately it DOES have connotations. Last week I wore it to a meeting with some friends and they quipped as I entered “Where’s your motorcycle?”
But I really was looking forward to my soldier-sons’s reactions. I imagined them complimenting my taste. The other morning one of them saw the coat, and his reaction?

“Hey Mom, where’s your Harley Davidson???”

But I am wearing it anyway.
I have a CHOICE.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


While in Colorado last summer, in addition to several hundred pictures, I took a few videos. Now when I downloaded the photos to my computer, I didn't see the videos, but was too busy at that time to fiddle with it. Then I simply forgot about them. Then this evening, when I used a different program (by chance) to "open" my camera card (to download a photo for tomarrow's post), I discovered the videos! And since I am hosting a "walk" to "the pool" on walker tracker, I simply HAD to post these! [video: one of the rivulets on the way to the pool.]

[video: the "pool"]

Friday, November 18, 2011

“Down syndrome?!?”

Sunday evening I was packing an overnight bag for Ricki and I, for our overnight stay in the hospital. As I was arranging our things, Ricki noticed the letter with the results from her first sleep study. It started with Ricki’s medical history, and she started reading it aloud.
With nearly every line she passed, digesting the imfprmation. Often she would ask questions.
“Heart operation??”
“Yes, Ricki, you had a small surgery on your heart when you were a baby.”
“You remember, when you were in the hospital this summer.”

“Down syndrome?!?!?”
“Ricki, you KNOW that you have Down syndrome.”

And she nodded her head.
Self acceptance.

That’s totally stunning!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Crembos* and Salads

[image: crembos, photo taken from Wikipedia]

[ *For non-Israeli readers, here is Wikipedia-based definition: Krembo (Crembo) is very popular in Israel, especially in the winter as an alternative to ice-cream. It comes wrapped in aluminium foil, and consists of a round biscuit base on the bottom and whipped egg whites cream from above, coated in a thin layer of chocolate. There are vanilla and mocha flavoured Krembos. In Hebrew, the word krembo is a combination of krem (cream) and bo (in it). The average krembo weighs 25 grams (0.882 ounces) and has 115 calories. ]

When I was in nursing school, I could eat ice cream in the freezing Illinois winter. I remember eating ice cream cones while trudging back to the dorm, through the snow, from the hospital. On arrival in Israel I was shocked to discover that half of the year one couldn’t (in those years) get ice cream in the winter; only crembos. It seemed to me a rather poor switch….
But it was my chilren who really introduced me to the confection. They urged me to buy them for shabbat, and for years we did. I came to like the coffee flavored variety.
But slowly over the last 3-4 years the family tastes have changed. Not only did the children grow, but as a family, most of us changed our eating habits and adopted healthier lifestyles.
People who are used to eating foods with high sugar and high fat content are often puzzled by their friends reaction to such foods as “too rich”. The “indulger” often can not imagine that there could come a time when these calorie-laden foods will no longer “call” him.
But if you change the way you eat and live, your tastes adapt. Foods that once seemed a “normal” treat not only cease “calling” you… they often become unappetizing. Or they become foods that you can enjoy… miniscule portions. [As an example, I remember that for me the minimum portion of chocolate used to be a 30-gram bar. Today I still enjoy (rarely) chocolate… but one or two cubes (maximum) at a time…]
And when you are watching your weight, a crembo is a pretty empty 115 calories. Give me a lettuce salad with pomegranate seeds over a crembo any day…..

This post is in response to Esser Agorot’s “Krembo Challenge

The Car Accident (not us!)

Yesterday was one of the first rainy evenings we have had this year, and the soakes-all-summer-long-in-motor-oil-streets were slippery. Ricki came into the house, after her ride home from the afternoon program, bursting with the news:
“There was an accident! I saw it! A car was hit and there was smoke! The car hit a pole….. 4 people were injured! A thousand were injured!”
Well, it was obvious that she had seen SOMETHING, but I never know how much to believe of Ricki’s reports. As I was wondering if there had really been anything serious, my son and law walked in.
“Boy, that was really some wreck down at the pole on the corner…”
But apparently no one was hurt. Certainly NOT a thousand. But most of her report was right on target.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Last night Ricki and I spent the night at the hospital, redoing her sleep study. This time it was WITH a CPAP machine.
It will be a week or so before we get the results, but I am sure that there was definite improvement. The question the study will answer is “How much of an improvement”.
The first hour and a half she could have been a 1960’s teen doing the “twist”. She turned, sat up, and was uncomfortable with the air flow. But gradually she became a bit used to it, and when she fell asllep, she really SLEPT. After we get the test results (and recommendations, we will need in all probability to buy a CPAP. But if she will wake up as rested as she did this (Monday) morning, it will be worth it.
Uut of course the big question will be if she will really wear it…..

Sunday, November 13, 2011

True Confessions

Wednesday evenings is my swimming night. A local health club agreed for separate “only women” hours, on condition that one sign up for an entire year. The price isn’t cheap, but at least it is clean, and the number of women (and only adults….) is limited. This makes real SWIMMING of laps possible.
However, with Ricki’s older sister upstairs, and her father asleep, Ricki is left to her own devices. There are people there in case of emergency, and her sister comes down to check on her occasionally, but in general she can do what she pleases.
Last week before leaving for the pool, I spoke with Ricki and we planned what she would have for “supper”. She had already eaten supper (the separate swimming hours are LATE), but she wanted some of the vegetable soup that I would be eating on my return. I showed her how on her food chart (see HERE)she definitely had vegetables to spare, but we agreed that based on her consumption of the day, bread was a poor choice. We agreed that 1 slice of bread with the soup was more than enough.
Thursday morning Ricki suddenly blurted out that she had eaten soya patties (yes, correct, in the plural) the previous night, as also more than 1 slice of bread. Her overeating inclination won out. But at least she was being honest. And I think that being honest is the first step towards self control.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Shadow Shot Sunday - Jaffa Beach Walkway

These two images were taken along the walkway which runs along the beach between Tel Aviv and Jaffa. I was hoping that it would be a nice scenic walk, and it is, except that it is really pretty short.

[image: shaddow of the railing along the Jaffo beach walkway cast onto the steps beneath]

[image: shaddow from the railing along the Jaffo beach walkway (and of me as well) cast onto the sand below.]

For more of "shaddow shot sunday", go here:

From Which Angle?

[Note: Even though this is written as if it happened today, it is from a previous date.]
I almost called this post “Ricki’s Bad-Mood Morning” (in contrast to my previous post on her “good-mood morning”- see HERE).
Ricki woke up, it seems, in a bad mood. That’s not surprising, as she has a bit of a cough. Seeing that she was on the argumentative side, I straight away gave her the daily dose of her psychiatric medication. She didn’t want it, but when I said that I would not speak to her until she took it, she acquiesced. Her hair was one big tumble of tangles, and I told her that SHE would have to brush the majority out; I would do a touch-up job at the end. She said that she didn’t know how, and only agreed to try when I locked the door and informed her that if she wanted to go to school she would need to look decent. Eventually she tried, and got out at least 85% of the knots on her own. By this time her medicine was kicking in, and she stopped her aggressive “trying to egg me on” behaviors.
I walked with her to school, and after a short aerobic walk headed home. I was in a hurry as I had several tasks to do. First and foremost I needed to take care of getting a “tofes 17”. I have a minor medical procedure in a hospital clinic coming up in about two weeks. The health fund’s doctor’s recommendation of the procedure, as well as the “invitation” (to an appointment date) from the hospital, need to be filed with the health fund in order to get a “tofes 17” (agreement of the health fund to pay).
Now the hospital had mailed me an “invitation” and a list of tests they want me to do, but it had not arrived. I phoned them again several days ago, requesting that they send a second copy, but it had also not arrived. So since I REALLY need to get started on organizing the requested tests, as well as to obtain a “tofes 17”, I had decided that TODAY was the morning I would obtain a copy of the invitation and file a request for payment from the health fund. I was so determined that I had decided that I would go to the clinic if necessary, to get a copy of the invitation.
Besides getting an invitation in the mail, one can receive it by fax. The problem is that I have email, but no fax. But a store nearby does have a fax machine, so I went over there to get their fax number:

“Sorry, but we are out of ink.”

So I called the health fund, and obtained THEIR fax number. I just prayed that they would print out the list of tests for me. I spent the next 20 minutes trying to get through to the hospital clinic, and finally succeeded. I requested that they send the “invitation” to the health fund IMMEDIATELY, as I would be going over there straight away.
I was about to dash out (Planning to eat breakfast on my return home), when Ricki’s school called. They were sending her home as she had apparently had a bathroom accident. So I ran to the grocery store (knowing that it would take 15-20 minutes for her to arrive), afraid that with things going as they were, I might not catch the store open later. On my return, seeing that Ricki had still not put in an appearance, I ate a few almonds to stave off my hunger. It might well be 11:00 until I would finish with this whole saga, if not longer.
Half an hour later Ricki had still not arrived. I tried to call the school, but couldn’t get through. After about 15 minutes of this I was wondering if I was going to have to walk over to the school, but then the phone rang. It was the secretary of the school, saying that in the end it seems that Ricki was clean (or clean enough), and they had not sent her. I quickly said thanks and dashed out the door. I was going to walk across town to the health fund (only about a twenty minute walk), to get some more aerobic steps in. Reaching downstairs I realized that I had forgotten my MP3 player, which makes aerobic walking all that more easy, but I certainly wasn’t going to return for it. I knew that if the health fund had for some reason NOT been faxed the “invitation” or if they didn’t get the list of needed tests, I would need still to go to the clinic, which could easily be an expenditure of two hours or more. I started up the incline near my house, and near the top suddenly remembered that I had forgotten to bring the doctor’s recommendation that I have the procedure (needed in order to file a request for a “tofes 17”)!

“Boy oh boy”, I muttered to myself, “did I get out on ‘the wrong side of the bed’ this morning!”, and I turned around to fetch the letter from my files at home.

In the end, the lady at the health fund was VERY nice. She searched carefully until she found the “invitation” that had been faxed to her from the hospital. She printed out the tests for me as well, so I did NOT have to go to the clinic.
Going home, I decided that I had gotten up on “the right side” of the bed this morning.
-Ricki had combed her hair fairly well
-Ricki was not dirty
-the invitation reached the health fund
-I had the MP3 player for my aerobic walk, as I had also grabbed it when I went back for the doctor’s letter
-the lady in the health fund had printed out the list of tests for me.

You see, it all depends on the angle that you take to look at things………

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Popcorn Story

I occasionally make popcorn for the family, including Ricki of course. If she is home I’ll make it in my pot that has a clear glass lid so that she can see it pop.
Not so long ago I noticed in the supermarket packed no-fat micro popcorn in SINGLE portion bags. I grabbed a box. The popcorn was good, and the 100-calorie bag has just the right amount. Excellent for a very occasional snack.
The other day Ricki caught me eating a bag, and begged me for some. So I told her that I would make her some. I got out a bag, popped it in the microwave, and soon enough it was ready. I even managed not to burn it.
The next morning Ricki informed me that she wanted to make some for school, but I refused, saying that she could take a sandwich and fruit as normal. Minutes later the stench of some VERY burnt popcorn filled the house.
A perfect example of my adage:
“If you don’t teach them HOW to do something, they will try it on their own, without instruction, soon enough…..”

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cure: Walk and Swim

I mentioned about two weeks ago (see HERE)about a pain I was having in my leg. While I had gotten some GOOD aerobic on that day, the ache still was definitely making it’s presence known. This Monday I finally got to the orthopedist. Now this orthopedist is quite good, but he his motto is always to “lose weight”. While his recommendation is VERY valid, it is a bit funny coming from him, as he is no skinny-minny himself. I used to weigh more than him, but today I sure don’t!
Anyway, as soon as I told him about my leg pains, he pronounced ‘The cure is to walk and swim.”.
“But I ALREADY walk, and swim an hour, doing 40 pool-lengths, each week. And I have had this pain for months.”
“HOW much do you walk?”
“At least an hour daily.” (surprise, surprise…)
So he checked me to see if the pain was coming from a spinal problem or a bursitis-type of thing. (It was the later.) In the end he gave me a different “cure”, as the previous one just wasn’t doing it……

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ricki’s Good-Mood Morning

Yesterday morning Ricki woke up, it seems, in a good mood. When she entered my room all dressed at 6:30 AM, she was wearing an outfit that was as miss-matched as can be. I suggested what she could change (this skirt with the red vest, or this vest with a black skirt, and she went to change without bellowing out any dragon-fire. When she returned a few minutes later, with a COMPLETELY different outfit, equally atrocious in appearance, again I made suggestions, and again she looped off with a cheerful nod. A few moments passed, and she returned again with an entirely different outfit. (Apparently she did not want to “give in” to my advice, but DID want to look “OK”.) This third outfit was not to my taste, but it was passable, so I praised her on getting dressed so quickly, and let the outfit pass.
After getting dressed, she trooped off to the kitchen to prepare her breakfast. She prepared a toasted cheese sandwich (eager to get a milk product into her diet). Hen I entered the kitchen (trying to reach the coffee-pot….) she proudly showed me her handiwork. Than she announced “I want to make an egg.”.
“But Ricki, you have already a toasted cheese sandwich!”
“That’s for school. This is for now….. but I will eat only one slice of bread, OK?” She then proceeded for the first time in recorded history to try and pour a reasonable amount of oil into the frying pan, rather than making a puddle of oil (over my protests), as she always does.

And all of this was done cheerfully, not in an argumentative way.
Then later, in the living room, she asked me to “write my foods” (see yesterday’s post).

Now all this doesn’t mean that she didn’t try and irk me once or twice during that one pre-school hour, but all in all, it was an excellent start to the day.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

“Write Down My Foods”

For the last few years I have been trying to teach Ricki what a normal diet is, using one of the older food pyramids as a basis. (The new one is I feel, not as clear to her.) I have printed out papers with the pyramid, with small recommended portion “triangles” which can be filled in as that type of food group is eaten. In addition, I have printed pictures of each food group beside the group.
[image: food pyramid/]

Rather than call it a “pyramid”, I call it the food triangle” (because it is only 2-dimentional on the page).**
For a while I had not been helping her record her food choices, because I realized that she was not trying at all to balance or limit her choices. She would talk about eating healthy, but when all was said and done, she ate whatever she darn well pleased. And I felt that bugging her about her choices would be a waste of time for me, being completely non-productive. Instead I centered on enforcing portion sizes (ie, 1 cup of rice rather than 2; 2 slices of bread as opposed to 4 or 5) as well as I could.
Suddenly on Sunday she requested from me to “write down my foods”. So I agreed, and at the same time I explained WHY one needs different food groups, there being different positive attributes to each group. She did OK in the morning, but overate tremendously at lunch at school (by her list of what she had eaten). This was compounded by her taking a huge amount of bread at supper. When she nudged me to record her food choices, I refused.
“Ricki, the food pyramid is to help you make good food choices. Today you did not try to make food choices, you ate EVERYTHING you wanted. You ate x-y-z-a-b-c for lunch, and several slices too many of bread this evening. We don’t need the food “triangle” to know that you overate, and I am NOT going to waste time just to document and mark that you are overeating. When you want to REALLY eat by way of the triangle, let me know.”
The yesterday morning she requested again, and I agreed. And she did very well all day, except for a late-evening egg and bread “snack”. But she did agree earlier to several reductions/substitutions in her diet. She definitely is trying harder.
I suspect that if I can keep her really well occupied after supper, we just MIGHT have a chance at making some improvements.

** This food pyramid is based on the one in the excellent book by Joan Guthrie Medlen (see HERE and for her informative site (lots and lots of special-needs info, and not only nutrition) HERE)

Too Late

I have a few good posts, but it is too late. I am working on getting enough sleep. Good night! (And I'm sure you'al understand!)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Nice Video on Portraits

With Thanks to Dave Hinsberger for posting this on his blog

Israeli VS Arab claims: How to Know?

Here is a very good post about Arab - Israeli claims.

The Kleenex Lesson

Ricki went over to the Kleenex box, announcing “At school I learned how to take Kleenex.” As she withdrew two tissues, she counted them off: “One – two - and NOT the WHOLE pack!”

I admit to feeling both pleased and chagrinned. For a LLOONNGG time now I have been telling Ricki that one or two Kleenex is enough, and she doesn’t need a wad of twenty tissues to blow her nose. So I was pleased that she was finally taking an appropriate amount.
I asked Ricki, “Why is it that when I told you this several times, you didn’t listen, but the teacher says it once and you understand???!???”
“Because she’s my teacher and I’m her pupil…”

I mumbled something about parents also being teachers, but I don’t think she was listening….

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Cancelled Postage Stamp

This post has nothing to do with Down syndrome, losing weight, or the like. But I think it shows so well how kids operate, that I couldn’t help but post it. My son agreed to let me post it.
Friday evenings “D” and “Y” are usually home, on leave from the army. After the evening shabbas seudah (festive Shabbat meal (and what soldier could pass THAT up?), the three of us will often talk about all sorts of things. This last weekend, we were looking at the collection that “Y” has gathered of postcards sent to the family from other family members over the years. One, from an older brother, had written in the corner next to the stamps, “Y, DON’T remove the stamps”. He had obviously feared that “Y” would remove the stamp, and damage the postcard while doing so.
“He had reason to be concerned” quipped “Y”, “He knew that I was collecting stamps. You know, he had a lovely collection of sets of stamps himself, and once when he was away, I snuck up to his room and took a few. Now he had told me once that cancelled stamps were worth more, so I took the set and ‘cancelled’ them with a (kiddie) stamp of a butterfly or something…”
Kids do the craziest things…..

Sunday, October 30, 2011

On the Bus Home

One day last week Ricki and I had to return from her exercise class by way of public transportation. We waited only about 10 minutes for the bus, but discovered that it was pretty full when we boarded it. This is not a real problem, as the ride is fairly short, so standing is not all that difficult.
But Ricki is not USED to standing. People often get up for her, especially if she looks upset at needing to stand. A few years ago she would scowl at seated passengers until someone would give her a seat, but thankfully I have been able to squash that sort of threatening behavior. But she still looks very disgruntled when she has to stand.
The woman seated next to us looked very pleasant, and I smiled at her. The next time Rina “humpfed” to herself, I commented:
“That’s OK, she can learn that the whole world isn’t coming to her….”

Thank G-d, the lady stayed seated.
Thank G-d, for once someone didn’t coddle Ricki unnecessarily.
And soon enough Ricki got her seat when someone reached their stop.
And Ricki got a small taste at living normally.

Sassy 17

Tonight (Saturday night) I was inscribing in my calendar for the coming year all my grandchildren’s birthdays, as well as those of my children (which I remember anyway, but I write down just to be SURE). As I did, I noted that some of my kids are getting older than I thought. A few are nearing middle age. And even my youngest child above Ricki, “Y”, will be 20 this coming summer. 20!
Well, Ricki is no longer “sweet sixteen”, so I will have to dub her age as “sassy seventeen”. (Her Hebrew birthday was Friday.) But in actuality, her behavior has improved significantly over the past year. She is still very teenager-y, and yes, often sassy… but (slowly, slowly) she is improving. She pesters her nieces less when they come, and is nicer to them. She is better at letting them use her things. When I tell her that her nephew wants to feed himself and not be spoon fed (by her), she is able to forgo her pleasure at feeding him, and let him eat alone.
She’s slowly growing up, and I have to face the fact that in a few years she will probably be moving out. My time to be a SIGNIFICANT educator to her is limited. (By age 21 or 22 she will probably be living in a community apartment, as an independent adult, I will see her much less.)
I need to work more with her on life skills. And I need to spend more “fun” time with her, enjoying having her home while she still is.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The “Chovesh”

[“Chovesh” is the Hebrew word for paramedic.]
The other day a scraped my hand and received a miniscule sratch. Ricki noticed, and I tried to reassure her that I was really OK. But she went into “Care for Mommy” mode and announced “I will be your ‘chovesh’.”
She then hugged me, asked if it hurt, and said “Don’t worry it will be all right. Oh, you poor thing….”

GEE, she has the script down pat!

No Taxi, Please!

For the last month and a half I have been having pain in my left leg whenever I go aerobic walking. This has definitely impacted my speed, which has concerned me.
Tuesday morning I had several errands to run, and while I got all of my 10,000 steps in, the aerobic ones where not as speedy as I would have liked. I even started seriously considering going to an orthopedist. (I have already shlepped to a vein doctor, and he said that THEY were not the cause.)
Then this afternoon I had to walk over to Ricki’s afternoon program, in order to escort her to her weekly exercise class. I considered taking a taxi there (as I HAD my 10,000 steps already), but in the end decided to walk, especially because I had JUST enough time to make it by foot.
Suddenly, half-way there I realized that not only was I going at a VERY good clip, but also that it didn’t hurt! YEA! (……And to think that I almost took a taxi…..)

“What’s THIS ???”

Ricki looked at the tasks-to-do list I had written for her, and pointed to a word.
-“What’s THIS ??”
Yes, again I had misspelled a Hebrew word, and Ricki caught my mistake.GRIN.
(See also HERE and HERE for similar – but more expanded - stories.)

Monday, October 24, 2011


Ricki, on shabbas, was looking for treats. [I usually don’t buy snacks for shabbas; cake is enough extra. BUT with my grandkids coming, I had purchased a few “goodies” to distribute.]
The closet from the porch off the kitchen had been temporarily displaced to the salon, in order not to be crowded into the sukkah (a booth for the festival of Tabernacles). Ricki was searching the closet top, and not finding the contraband, pushed the basket she was searching vigorously back to the top of the closet. She pushed so hard that it knocked over the second basket located there, laden with a few cooking pans. And all this fell on my head as I was sitting on a chair reading next to the closet……
I gave a surprised yelp, clutching the top of my head. Luckily my head scarf had absorbed some of the impact, and nothing beyond a few moments of pain occurred. Ricki however was in absolute shock at what she had done, albeit inadvertently, and was hugging me in sympathy. But then , after a minute, I started laughing. It really was funny, and certainly not done on purpose. Ricki, who had undoubtedly been sure that she would be scolded for her carelessness, looked even more stunned by my laughter than by the accident. So I purposely laughed a bit longer, till she loosed up enough to join in…..

For The Record

After the earthquake in Haiti, Israeli rescue teams were the first toi set up a hospital Israel has excellent rescue teams. And, despite our on-going problems with Turkey, Israel immediately offered aid. Shame on the Turks for refusing.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Not Knowing Does Not Necessarily Equal Not Caring

My older sons are what people would call “ultra-Orthodox”. My oldest son does not listen to the radio, and hears news only through hearsay. In many orthodox neighborhoods this is true.
So on Wednesday I went to the grocery, and a cashier there was being sure that the news of Gilad’s release got out. I was a bit shocked at how people really didn’t know. I expected it to travel the grapevine faster. Perhaps, I reasoned, since it was the Sukkoth holiday, and people are not at work and not in Kollel (study halls), there was less opportunity for them to hear.
Then on Friday, when my eldest son arrived to spend the weekend, I casually mentioned “You DID hear that Gilad Shalit was released…”
“REALLY! THANK G-D!!! You know, I’ve been praying for his safe release daily….”

So my ascetic son hadn’t heard the news. But that didn’t mean that he didn’t care…..

So Glad You're Home....

Go HERE for a nice video on the release of Gilad Shalit.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Captive Bucket

Yesterday morning I asked Ricki to bring me an empty bucket and a mop, so that I could clean the kitchen floor. She point-blank refused, so I fetched it. Than I informed my daughter that since she wasn’t helping, nor cleaning up a mess of papers she had made, she would get no computer time. As I was getting the bucket, and she realized that a punishment would ensue (mind you, I HAD asked her three times to no avail), she offered to get the bucket.
“No”, I answered as I passed her room, “you are too late.”
A few moments later she grabbed the bucket, apparently hoping to “deliver” it and have the punishment rescinded. I felt that she needs to learn that waiting till a punishment is given is TOO LATE. For several minutes she held the bucket “captive”, until I threatened a further punishment. SHEESH. But I DID think that it was a pretty imaginative ploy…..

Evil In Philly

I would like to say that I am shocked by the news emerging from Philadelphia about 4 adults with mental disability being held captive there. Apparently they were held in order to get their social security payments. The news mentions that maybe 50 other victims are involved. If this is assumed because papers were found from these other people, we may unfortunately (very likely) discover that at least some, or all, were murdered.
Unfortunately, this news does not shock me; if sometimes “normal” people are murdered for their social security checks; than it is easy to realize that the danger for adults with mental disability is even higher.
This type of story is what my nightmares are made of……
Again, we must teach our children with disabilities NOT to trust. To realize that someone who smiles at you can also be dangerous. NOT easy…..

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Post Worth Reading

Over at "A Soldier's Mother", she has a post which echos word for word what I feel today. There is also a nice clip (video) of Gilad Shalit's release.

Gilad is home!

Is there anyone is Israel with dry eyes today? How good to see the photo of Gilad talking with his parents, finally with glasses (which Hamas wouldn't allow him) and SMILING.
Today, despite the TERRIBLE price we paid (in the knowledge that certainly there will be future terror attacks carried out by those terrorists who where released), I am proud to be an Israeli, a country that values each and every soldier, and which never gives up hope.

Glued to the Radio, Waiting...

The Israeli radio should take super-bowl prices for any advertizing this morning. The entire country is glued to the radio (or TV), waiting with bated breath to hear that Gilad Shalit is in Israeli hands, and alive and well. Even those who disagreed with the uneven agreement want Gilad to arrive safely.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The World Ignores; We Are “Sweet and Sour”

In the International news I see NO mention of the drama which is gripping Israel this week: the expected return of Gilad Shalit (held in captivity by hamas for over 5 years) on Tuesday. For every Israeli, no matter what their political stripe, the hope that Gilad’s parents will soon see their son, and that he will be free, is very sweet indeed. Because we all know (especially those with sons serving in the army), that “There but for the grace of G-d, goes I”.
But unfortunately, this deal is VERY sour as well. Over a thousand terrorists are due to be released from Israeli jails in exchange for Gilad. The pain of their victims’ families is also ours. In addition, the fear—no, the CERTAINTY, that these released animals (apologies to the animal world) will in large part return to terror, the knowledge that this exchange increases the chances of further kidnappings, makes all thoughts of CELEBRATING Gilad’s release too hard.
I would love to CELEBRATE. But I can’t. I do not blame Gilad, nor his parents. Gilad, I pray, will go on and have a happy life, if his captivity has not traumatized him too much for that. But if we as a country hope to go on and have a happy life, the time has come to end this madness of making kidnapping Israelis so valuable. The time has come for a change. We need to stop giving college degrees to the terrorists in our jails, but instead to start giving the death penalty to those who wantonly murder our citizens.
And I ask, why does this human drama not make the news, but Turkey’s talk of reprisals against the soldiers who boarded their ship does? Simple. Israeli captives are not news. The hamas’s ignoring of the Red Cross is not news-worthy. It does not fit in with the Israel-as-evil-occupier script.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Drawing the Line

I prefer that Ricki, on leaving the house in the morning, should be clean, neat, and dressed tastefully. In addition, she needs to wear clothing that is acceptable in our community in relation to tnius (modest dress).
However, sometimews I grant her a bit of leaveway, letting her wear outfits that I don’t especially like, but which are “passable”.
HOWEVER, sometimes I have to draw a line, balancing her need to learn appropriate dress and her need to be as independent as she can. Yesterday morning was a case in point. She had choosen to wear two blouses, one on top of an utterly unrelated and unneeded blouse, both of stretch material. These blouses are a bit tight, ie they look great under a vest, but are absolutely horrendously horrible by them selves. Worn alone, they show every curve and every pound. I told Ricki in no uncertain terms that she had to remove the extra blouse, and add a vest, OR choose a different type of (looser) blouse. She refused, and trounced out of the house., So I waited until I could see her (from the window) exiting the building, and called to her that if she didn’t return home to change I would go to her school and “tattle” on her to her teacher. No arguing, just a statement of fact. Thank G-d, it worked (saving me a trip to the school and saving her from stares in the street), and she acquiesced, returning home to change. As she went out the door a second time, she reaped a few extra kisses and a hug.

PS An easy fast to all those fasting tonight and tomarrow (Yom Kippur)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Special Exposure Wednesday (Even though it's Thursday....)

This is Ricki in a photo from a family trip this summer (for more on the trip, see HERE).
(You will find more of "Special Eposure Wednesday" HERE.)

Interesting (?) Sidenotes on myself.

1) Growing up I toyed with the idea of a profession: oceanographer (I still love the ocean today and I used to scuba dive)/ doctor (But I didn't have the grades for this)/ librarian/ stunt pilot. Eventually I became a nurse....
2) I love purple food: beets with horseradish/ beets/ red cabbage
3) During college, I ran around with a bunch of drug-users, even though I was "clean". Once when at a music concert, someone new to the group saw that I was happy, and asked the leader of the group "What is SHE on?" Answer: "Oh, Rickismom? She gets high on life....", True. On life and also climbing in the Rockies.
4) I liked the Beatles, but also Ian and Sylvia/ Renaissance dances/ Swan Lake and Sherazad /blues. Today I listen to a very wide range of music.
5) A big part of my growing up was during the years of the civil right movement. My parents were politically conservative, yet very pro civil rights. My Dad bucked the norm when as head of the chemistry department; he hired a non-white teacher who he felt was the best candidate for the job. We sat at the “black” soda fountain (see HERE).
Therefore it should not surprise you that my first husband was black ( an Ethiopian Jew).

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Repentance? REGRET?

Gee, I guess that even Ricki is getting into the mood for the-soon-to-be-upon-us Yom Kippur. (Yom Kipper is a day when we confess our sins and try to make amends.) She had carelessly gotten some tipex (typo white-out paint) on the tablecloth in the living room and she went ON HER OWN INITIATIVE to get a brush to clean it up. And she worked hard, until every last trace was gone.
Now THAT is definite progress!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Conversation

Ricki reported this conversation to me this evening. She and a friend in the after-school program were conversing:
FRIEND: You have to bring the money for the trip tomorrow.
RICKI: NO I DON’T! Don’t you understand?!? I am not going because I threw my mom’s jewelry out the window!

So that DEFINITELY shows that she understood. Later she told me that “next time” she won’t throw my stuff out the window, because she DOES want to go on the next trip…
I am just left wondering if she is including in her self-ban getting into my closet as well…..

Monday, October 3, 2011


We have the results from Ricki’s sleep study of a few weeks ago: definitely NOT good ones! She has an oxygen saturation level blow 90 for 18% of the night, including as far down as 78%. Tonight our ear doctor rechecked her: there are no further surgical options beyond her initial surgery (adenoids removed in 2001), so it looks like we will soon be purchasing a CPAP machine…..

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ricki’s Fallout

Ricki’s “fallout” for the holiday was what she let fall out of our window, and the repercussions that incurred.
Last week I saw a GORGEOUS pair of earrings in a store near where my married daughter works. I hesitated to purchase them, however, as they are definitely a bit (OK, a lot) on the long side, much longer than what I am used to wearing.
Arriving home, I regretted not buying them, and asked my daughter to pop in to the store and get them for me. She did, and she handed me the small bag with the earrings (luckily NOT expensive ones) just as the holiday started Wednesday afternoon. Since I have real jewelry (ie, expensive stuff)* for Shabbat and holiday wear, I quickly stashed the tiny bag with the earrings into my closet.
Lo and behold, this morning I realized that they were gone. First I ransacked Ricki’s schoolbag and jewelry box, and not finding the contraband, I demanded from her to inform me of the jewelry’s whereabouts.
“I threw it out the window.”
Apparently, she was near the window, and as someone entered the salon, she was afraid of being caught red-handed, so she simply pitched the stolen goods out the window. I searched downstairs for the glossy strands, but found only one of the pair. The other was long gone….

Now this type of thing has happened more than once. But today there was a difference. Ricki had MONEY in her school bag. Her afternoon program is traveling to Jerusalem one day in the middle of this week, and I had given Ricki 40 shekels to pay for the trip. I informed Ricki that she would return the money to me, in order to pay for the stolen earrings. As a result she would thereby need to forgo going on this trip with her friends. I hate to do it to her…. But I love her so much that I simply CAN’T not do it. She will needs to learn that taking and losing the objects of others will simply not be tolerated.

*(which , by the way, I keep WELL HIDDEN from Ricki)

Holiday Fallout

I blew my diet moderately over the three day weekend… least only moderately. I didn’t walk that much either. Not such an auspicious start to the new (Jewish) year, is it? But I DO feel that a REAL weight loss plan includes a few MILD breaks here and there (like on holidays)….because, GOSH, you have to be NORMAL. The important thing is to keep the breaks MILD, and SHORT. I worked very hard not to gorge on the days leading up to the holidays (and believe me, it is hard not to sample …and sample again… when you are in the kitchen 2 days straight cooking…..), and while I could have easily eaten less over the holiday, I didn’t do too bad. (It goes without saying that even my overindulgences are a fraction of what I USED to eat on holidays……) I’ll see tomarrow how much extra “baggage” I brought into the New Year. (And any that there may be, I fully intend to take off PRONTO! The reason for this post is to keep me honest and not let me ignore any slip-ups.

PS: Went and weighed myself early- gained about a kilo. Let's see how fast I can loose it! In the meantime, I sat down today and made a calorie-plan to hopefully keep me VERY good through the upcoming holidays in two weeks.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Slice of Cake

On Saturday morning I walked into the kitchen and found Ricki helping herself to a sample of the shabbas cake. (It is pretty traditional to have some cake on Shabbat morning.) Now Ricki is welcome to have a piece of cake once a week (not more), but I eyed her a bit warily, trying to unobtrusevly check the SIZE of the piece she was cutting. I was ready to intervene if she would cut a huge chunk, worthy of 3 portions (or more), as she is prone to do. But to my surprise and delight, I noted that the piece she carefully cut was actually on the scant side. Gosh O Gollies, is she really finally learning what a normal portion is???

Monday, September 26, 2011

Smarter Than I

For once, Ricki was smarter than I was. On Friday evening Ricki joined me for an evening hour’s stroll. However, on returning home, I realized to my consternation that in our absence our grandson had pushed some big chair behind the door of the house, and the door could only be opened a scant ten centimeters.
Upset that my daughter had not been more careful at straightening her son’s mess, I started calling her name, hoping that she would hear me and come open the door for us. I was upset, and my emotions got in the way. I let my emotions, rather than my common sense prevail.
Ricki, however, did the obvious. She told me “Move over”, and reaching around the door’s edge, pulled the wedged chair free and out from behind the door (where it was caught between the door and the wall behind it).
That’s what I get for NOT THINKING.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dancing in the Rain

Well, the first few light showers have already come, a welcome change after the hot summer days. Last week as the first rains started, Ricki went running to the window to watch. And then she did what I KNEW she would: she grabbed an umbrella, stepped out to the porch, and started dancing in the rain. Once this would have bothered me, it not being normal, appropriate behavior. Today I can accept better that my daughter does “strange” things, including showing her exuberance (which all the rest of us are too bashful to share…).

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ricki Writes….

It seems, from what Ricki told me on her return from school today, that someone important at her afternoon program got engaged. So Ricki promptly colored a drawing with balloons, and wrote there:
“(Wishing you) an explosive mazel tov. You should have a lot of married children. Thank you for the borekas. You’re a great lady.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

“Leave Me Alone” / My Twin Sister

Ricki and I were on the bus today, on our way to Ricki’s exercise class. There was a woman on the seat facing us, who, on seeing Ricki smiled and said “Oh how cute you are.” Ricki rewarded her with a growled “Leave me alone.”
And I don’t blame Ricki. I told the woman that Ricki, as a teen, does NOT enjoy being spoken to as a child. And guess what? She understood…..

* * *

I was in a store I haven’t been to for a while, but where I am a regular customer. As he was ringing up the purchase, the owner paused and saidf:
- “You have a twin sister? With a special needs child?”
- “You mean the overweight lady?”
- “Yeah”.
- “That is ME!”

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


BTW, I just added a picture (which only now became available) to my post of Aug.12

Monday, September 12, 2011

Feeling Like a Marionette (or: the Asterisk)

[Image: lady on electric wire "puppet strings".]

Today I felt like a marionette, being pulled this way and that by…. Electricity… or the lack of said item. For quite a while (months), the safety switch in our electric box has been shutting off our electricity with what seemed to be impunity.
This safety switch, designed to prevent serious electric shocks, will automatically switch off the power to the entire household when any breakage of normal circuit occurs. If this happens when you are plugging in or starting use of an appliance, it generally is a good sign that said appliance is KAPUT….. So you unplug the offending item, flip up the safety switch, and return to regular living. (If it is a major appliance, especially a refrigerator/freezer, there is of course a scramble to get it fixed….).
But then there are those frustrating occasions that the power shuts off without there being an easily identifiable culprit. So then you have to unplug each appliance in turn, until you finally can figure out which electric-run item is wrecking havoc on your otherwise well-planned day. Since my house is chock full of electric gadgets (some of which are aging appreciably), and reaching the plugs of several of my major appliances involves standing on chairs and yanking pretty forcefully, this all can be quite time-consuming.
But for the last few months, the safety switch has been rather capricious, turning off our power at whim. No offending item could be identified, each time it seemed that a completely different item was causing the short circuit… and the item whose removal from the socket would allow the switch to go up would often run without trouble a few minutes later…… We tried several times to “fix” the problem, and it finally stopped… only to return with a vengeance this morning.
This morning, after accompanying my husband to the health fund, and running to the post office, I returned home at n10 o’clock, ready for breakfast. I was ready… but the fridge wasn’t. The electricity had gone off, and I set about trying again to determine what was causing the shortage. After disconnecting each and every appliance, one by one, I gave up. I finally called an electrician. But he said “Before I come, save yourself some money. Unplug EVERYTHING and THEN try to flip the switch up. Then as you re-plug in the items, you are likely to find your problem.” I thanked him, and putting an asterisk by his name in the phone book, I followed his advice. [Only unplugging everything was not that simple, as my daughter’s room on the roof has a few nearly inaccessible sockets.] When I tried to re-plug the fridge in, the power went off. But maybe it was simply the extension cord? (Our refrigerator came, for some reason, with a cord that won’t reach high enough to the socket located next to it.) So I pulled the fridge out of its corner, to a lower socket, and plugged it in sans the old extension line. It ran OK, so I quickly scrambled out to buy a new extension cord. I returned, plugged the new extension into the regular socket, and POOF the current shut off again. Deciding that cold food being a priority, I returned the refrigerator to the plug in the hall, waiting for my son in law (who IS an electrician, but was away at work) to arrive in the evening. But then, when I went to make lunch the use of two other appliances AGAIN cause the power to fail. Obviously, this was getting complicated…
Finally this evening my SIL figured out what was wrong, did a temporary fix, and will buy the parts needed for a full repair tomorrow. But all in all, much of my well-planned day flew out the window. But since it WAS 9/11, I have to keep it all in perspective, don’t I?

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I wish I had something truly profound to say about the loss of life at the World Trade Center (and other sites) ten years ago. I don’t. It is beyond me. I remember the tremendous shock that afternoon (here in Israel it was afternoon when the disaster occurred), when I heard of the towers falling. With a numbing disbelief at the power of a few evil people to wreck such carnage and suffering, I stayed glued to the newscasts.
Here in Israel we are almost used to terror attacks, but in truth, one never (and SHOULD NEVER) gets used to it. True, our losses are smaller, but when the numbers lost are compared to the total population size, we in Israel have suffered higher losses. Now, I am not hoping to take the “most suffering” title. But when I look at America, and how they correctly realize today that such atrocities are exactly that, I wonder how can these same people (a section of them) shrug off and do not understand our efforts in Israel to combat and contain terror. I should think that all those who are appalled at the disasters that occurred ten years ago would realize that fighting terror is serious, and must be done.

Monday, September 5, 2011

YU-HOO! Minus 60!

I have lost so far 60 kilos (thats 132 lbs)!!!
And boy does that feel GREAT!

WHAT in the WORLD?!? (Stopping Childhood Obesity)

In Britain, (see HERE )apparently a couple is being threatened with losing custody of their children because they (the children) are overweight.
WHAT???!??? True, parents need to try and curb their children’s overeating, but it does not always work. As much as I try to help Ricki make good food choices, she can not be watched 24 hours a day. Ricki can recite all sorts of great phrases about wanting to eat healthy, but (as occurs with many adults) when temptation arises, she capitulates.

My mother encouraged me to eat healthy, and I finally did, from age 57……

Even though they watched these kids at home, I am sure that they didn’t shadow them at school. [And I am SURE that having a social worker observe their mealtimes REALLY helped these kids feel GREAT. (I am being facetious here…) Maybe we can set up foster homes for all kids who don’t exercise, too…….]

If England (or any other country) wants to stop the childhood obesity epidemic, let them try THESE efforts:
1) Forbid all TV, magazine, and billboard advertisements of sweets, fried foods, and soft drinks.
2) Outlaw the placing of snack foods/ soft drinks near the check-out isle (which generates a lot of impulse buying)
3) Insist that package labeling of portions be a full-sized portion. (Yeah, just how many people do you think eat only one bar of a 70 calorie trail bar, when they are sold in packets of two to a package…..and once you open the package, the second bar starts crumbling up and falling out…)
4) Have “snack” machines in the school that sell only bottled water and low-fat cartons of milk.
5) Offer FREE weight-watchers (or similar) at the school, with available vouchers for off-school sessions for those too embarrassed to go at school.
6) Maintain more sport facilities at school, and encourage after-school use.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Shadow Shot Monday: Light and Stone

[image : closeup of rock]

[image: rock with lichen, and shaddow of leaves]

Both of these pictures are from Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Then We Are Not So Different, You and I” *

[This is a video from an Orthodow Special-Needs Camp, with the background music being one of my favorite songs, Abie Rotenberg's "Who am I"] This song lends it's line to my title and is related to today's post.

Tomorrow Ricki starts a new year of school, in the same institution, but in a new (and long-awaited) building. Since I have swimming this evening, I tried late in the afternoon to get Ricki to lay out clothes for tomorrow. Now she has PLENTY of clothing, as we went clothes shopping just a few days ago. (See how much her behavior has improved; said expedition did not generate any blog-worthy tales of woe….) HOWEVER she has already, in two days, gone through all five of her new blouses, and some are still in the unwashed laundry. I attempted to explain to my daughter that she would need to choose items from her clothing closet, or at the most, from the clothing currently in the dryer. (Her “light” colored laundry will not be washed until tomorrow, when I have enough to make a full load. But she does have some new items in the load presently in the dryer….)
Nevertheless, Ricki has her heart set on wearing a particular outfit. Frustrated that I was not acquiescing immediately to her request, she turned to me in annoyance:
“Mom, you are not listening. I want (to wear) the brown skirt, blue blouse, and brown vest. All my friends will see that I have a new blouse. Everyone will see that I look great. It will be stunning. All my friends will want to see it! Don’t you understand?!?"
Oh, I do. I bashfully admit that I am already pondering what I will wear tomorrow at the school’s new building’s open house, where I too will see many of my friends (fellow parents). And I also am hoping that “Everyone will see that I look great.” I just don’t talk about it…….
So, you see, there is not that much difference between my daughter and I, is there…?

*This is the main line in the refrain of Abie Rottenberg’s song “You and I”

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Kilo of Sugar

One day about a week and a half ago I was baking a cake, and suddenly realized that I had no sugar in the house. Looking at the clock, I noted that the neighborhood grocery was closing in any minute (if it hadn’t already), so I sent Ricki with instructions to go to the store PRONTO for some sugar before they closed.
She quickly left the house, but took forever to return. After a while, I assumed, correctly, that she had found our grocery closed, and went searching for an open store where she could purchase the kilo of sugar. The only problem with this is that I had not given her any cash, as we regularly charge purchases at our grocery, and I pay the bill about every 2 weeks.
It was as I assumed, and when Ricki returned, sugar in hand, I tried to figure out WHICH store she had obtained the sugar at, so that I could reimburse them for the purchase. I tried phoning a few of the more likely possibilities, but those efforts did not pan out. Then I have to admit, it slipped my mind, until yesterday.
Yesterday I passed a different nearby grocery, and asked the owner if a girl with Down syndrome had purchased a kilo of sugar the previous week with out paying. He answered in the negative.
So today, after my morning walk, I went checking at several groceries in the opposite direction, but I had no luck there either…..
As I neared home, Ricki called me on my cell phone, bitterly complaining at my prolonged absence, so I told her that I was downstairs, and she should come downstairs. On her arrival, I instructed her that she should SHOW me which grocery she had bought the sugar at the previous week. She did; it was the one I had stopped at yesterday. When I asked the owner why he had not admitted to the purchase, he said “You asked me about someone taking sugar without paying for it. She told me that her Mother would come in and pay….”
(BTW, I have mentioned to Ricki that if our grocer is closed, she has to return to me for money…. So I hope that this is the last incident of this type….)

The Clothes Closet

Lately I have let Ricki take a lot more responsibility concerning folding her own laundry and putting it away in her closet. Unfortunately, this invariably results in the closet becoming a big unsorted mess within short order. So every once in a while I go through the closet, refolding and arranging the clothing in a semblance of order.
Than, Saturday night (after straightening up in the living room), Ricki decided (again on her own), to “arrange” her closet. When she finished, she called me over with pride to show me her handiwork.
She had put the winter clothes on the shelf that is easiest to reach, and her everyday clothing way down at the bottom. Her bras (which were currently all in the wash or the yet-to-be-folded-laundry had not been assigned a place at all. The closet NEEDED some intervention on my part.
But I didn’t want to crush her pride at her own initiative, nor to give her the feeling that the job was “mine”.
So after a few well-accented “oohs and ahhs”, I pointed out to Ricki that it would be to her advantage to place what she needed most on the shelf which is easiest to reach. But I made it clear that SHE would decide which place on the shelf we would place each type of item. So as a team we rearranged the closet, me making a few general points, but encouraging her to decide the small details. It worked well, and today I see a more careful stance being taken by my daughter as she puts the laundry away. She now puts each item into the correct area, rather than chucking it in haphazardly (just to get the job over and done with…). GRIN

Ricki at Work….

Over shabbas (Friday PM – Sat PM) my oldest son was here with his family; we had a beautiful visit. But inevitably, there comes the aftermath--- the cleanup!
I asked Ricki to clear the leftovers and the dishes from the table (which she did VERY niely with minimal grumbles). Then, as I was washing the dishes, I heard Ricki stacking the chairs in the living room, and collecting all the strewn toys. (Yes, dear DIL had collected most of them, but apparently she had missed several…) All of this work was being done by Ricki on her own initiative, and without having been asked. Now isn’t that nice?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Dead Sea

[image: Generic photo of the Dead sea/]

On Thursday Ricki and I had a real treat: we traveled with one of my married sons (and his eldest daughter) for a short swim in the Dead Sea. Now I have SEEN the Dead Sea before, but as luck would have it, had never SWAM there. So I was looking forward to the trip.

Ricki behaved very well on the trip down, taking the long car ride in stride. She even enjoyed all the “incidental teaching” that I managed to fit in as we passed various sites on the way, including an explanation of the airport control tower, and a review of much of her studies on the Negev area (which she had studied in grade school). All was well until we reached the water. I had packed light, and never having been in the Dead Sea, figured that any rock crystals in the water would be smooth, as rocks in lakes tend to be. WHAT A MISTAKE! The walk into the water was VERY painful, but after a ways, I sat on my backside and managed to progress that way out to where the water was deep enough to float. Ricki did the same, but she was protesting VERY VOCALLY all the way. (I asked my son later if he had heard Ricki on the distant “men”’s part of the beach, and he had….) Once out, she grabbed my arm, afraid to try and float on her back (her experiences with floating in the pool are all on her tummy, which she obviously could not do in the Dead Sea’s highly salty water….). Her reaction probably scared her 6-year-old niece, who refused to even try entering the water. After a while we went back to shore. All the other women there (who probably wanted some QUIET!...) pitched in. One loaned us her slippers to walk back over the crystals to the beach, and another tried to calm Ricki down as she noted the two miniscule scratches on her legs from the salt.

Afterwards we ate lunch in a park. I managed to twist my left leg royally there, jumping down a height I should have known better than to attempt. (This has wiped out nearly all walking for me for the last two days.) [At least I redeemed myself with both Ricki and my granddaughter by buying them popsicles.]

Of course the funny thing was Ricki’s ascertation on the way home that she had had a FANTASTIC time. Go figure…..
PS. Yes, I enjoyed experiencing the unique buoyancy of the Dead Sea.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Green Light

I was several houses from the corner, when I noticed that the "walk" sign was green. Now I hate the red ones, as I have to walk around in circles to keep the aerobic counter going. So I ran! Now I am not surprised that I could, or that I made it (thank G-d, I've noted that milestone already)... But it was effortless and FUN!!!! The joys of losing weight!

A Tale of Education and Lemon Juice

Since Ricki is home on vacation, I have a better opportunity to give her some consistent, intensive behavioral guidance. In simpler language, it means that I have an easier opportunity to apply “consequences” for bad behavior. [She is home the whole day, and she needs favors from me to keep herself truly occupied. That means that if she wants special activities (which stem off boredom), she needs to behave.]
So I decided that it is time for me to start dealing in a much stricter manner with her “chutzpah”. Whenever she doesn’t get her way, she will usually either call me “cheeky”, or make aggressive motions. Up till now I have largely ignored such behavior, realizing that many teens mouth off to their parents. However, she has lately been doing this so consistently that this pattern of behavior will surely hurt her later on in life if not curbed. She will need to know that people in authority can yes expect her to listen to them (in general), and will not tolerate her calling them names.
So yesterday morning, after Ricki told me to “shut up”, I waited patiently. I waited until I went out to run a few errands, an activity Ricki assumed that she would be joining me in. (As with most women, Ricki LOVES shopping….) But when I left, I went on my own, explaining to her that I was not taking her because she told me to “shut up”. She accepted that fairly well.
Later in the day, however, she was truly exasperated when I refused to make her a (diet) frozen yogurt due to her having consumed (and knowing that I did not allow) THREE soy burgers (and G-d knows how many slices of bread with them….). A few minutes later she emerged from the kitchen with two bottles of prepared iced drinks to take on our visit that afternoon to a lung specialist. (We needed to check if she has underlying lung damage after her pneumonia..*) One had diet juice, for me, the other (and here she crowed out in a strong “only-I-am-getting-this” tone) Is LEMON drink for me.
Well, we do have lemon diet syrup, but since she obviously felt that it was something “special”, I suspected highly that she had prepared for herself a bottle of unsweetened lemon juice from the new unopened bottle on the table.
“Ricki, is that “lemon-mint?” (the diet syrup)
“It’s ‘preserved lemon’,” she answered, “for ME!”
I explained that it has no sugar, and is bitter, and now that it is open, needs to go into the fridge. Each bit of information was registered, and she answered to each sentence “I KKNNOOWW!!”, while she simultaneously rushed to add sugar to her drink…..
I would be lying if I didn’t admit that for a split second I considered letting her take her special “Lemon drink” as it was, but gee, even I’m not THAT mean…..

*( the doctor’s first impression is her lungs are OK. We are going to do a sleep study to try and determine why she sits when sleeping as of late.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

This Is Becoming Passé

What? Passé?
People doing double-takes or even almost not recognizing me is beginning to become Passé. Well, almost. Ricki’s pediatrician has probably wanted to ask me for ages, but he is always SSSSOOO busy. But I was there in an empty office a few days ago (to get an out-of-date referral renewed). As I was leaving he said “UUHH , by the way, you HAVE lost a lot of weight recently…..haven’t you???”
And last night I was at the pool (I usually go only on Wednesdays, but I was making up a missed session), and an acquaintance saw me.
“Rickismom, HOW much did you loose?!?!?” And as I answered (so far 59 kilos), she said to the other women there, “You have NO idea of how she USED to look….!”
As much as I enjoy the accolades, I am beginning to tire of them. I think I feel good enough about my new lifestyle as not to need all the attention. I don’t mind the attention, but sometimes I get tired of all the questions that come after. Sometimes…..

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The On-Going "Eyeglasses Saga" (installment #12)

I checked back, and realize that the last "installment " of the "eyeglasses saga" was NOT 7 or 8, but more like #eleven! So this one is number twelve...[for the last installment of the on-going "eyeglasses saga", see HERE (or type "eyeglasses" in the search box above...]
On my return from the US, I discovered that Ricki’s glasses (which she had actually managed to hold on to for about two months) had disappeared. (Why was I not surprised?? LOL) In all fairness to Ricki, their loss may not have been entirely her fault. Her older sister explained that the spectacles went missing on a day that her class took a trip to the beach. Thus perhaps someone else may have been the careless party, or at least, Ricki was “watching” her glasses in an unfamiliar setting.
Anyway, I dug out the “spare” pair (I ought to buy in bulk….), and Ricki was happy to wear them.
A week later, I took Ricki to her eye doctor for her annual checkup. She needs a slightly different number, so we went and ordered two pairs. But what was really cool was what happened when I mentioned to the doctor that over this last year we have averaged about one new pair a month. The doctor finished checking Ricki, and then she said to read a line of numbers, which Ricki did with aplomb. Then the doctor removed the lenses, and asked Ricki to read the lines.
“I can’t,” Ricki said, her assurance shaken, “I can’t see the numbers.”

Ricki was impressed. Even the doctor said that she needs the glasses.

[image: sunglasses]

Then today at noon, as we went to pick up the new eyewear, I noticed Ricki eyeing my prescription sunglasses.
“Ricki, if you don’t lose these new glasses for a year, next summer I will buy YOU sunglasses.”
I mean, if that works, I will be getting off VERY cheaply!

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Trip

Today I took a trip with Ricki, along with several women. Some of them don’t know me, but a few know me a bit, and a few know me pretty well. But none of them have seen me in the last year at least.
I expected that they would be surprised by my weight loss, but at first no one noticed. Then one of the women who doesn’t know me asked me my name , and when I said it one of those who knows me slightly turned and did a double take. “Rickismom, I didn’t recognize you!!!!” ( GRIN…..)
* * * *
Among other activities, we did a short hike through an ancient water way, a stone tunnel with water up to waist deep. Ricki was fairly scared, and went quite slowly. But larer as we were on the bus home, I asked Ricki what part of the trip she enjoyed the most (I half expected her to answer “Lunch”). She promptly replied that the water-hike was the best part. And then she added “I was scared, but I did it!!!!”

Often we are encouraged by the ill-informed not to challenge our special-needs children, lest they fail. I maintain that people with Down syndrome, like most others in life, enjoy that occasional success at something challenging.