Sunday, January 29, 2012

Haveil Havalim 345- The Diversity and Tolerance Edition.

Today is my turn to host Haveil Havalim, a roundup of posts from the Jewish blogsphere, carnival style. I really received very few submissions so I added in one or two that I found as well….
Founded by Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim is a carnival of Jewish blogs — a weekly collection of Jewish & Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It’s hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Jack. The term "Haveil Havalim," which means “Vanity of Vanities,” is from Koheleth, (Ecclesiastes) which was written by King Solomon.
The site that runs blog carnival has been fuzzy at best as of late and has left those of us hosting relying on writers to join the Facebook group and check there for whom is hosting and to whom you need to email your weekly posts. You can still try to submit them through the “Blog carnival” page but I wouldn’t count on it….
When submitting posts, remember that they should be from the last week.

I dubbed this week’s edition as the “Diversity and Tolerance Edition”, because that was a common thread through most of the posts. [Although there was NOT a lot of diversity; we had no bloggers screaming out to censor (or worse) everyone who disagrees with them]...


At “The Real Jerusalem Streets”, Sharon writes about Tolerance.

Batya Medad at “Shilo Musings” writes about separate seating on buses, as well as issues of tolerance.

Eric of “The Israel Situation” sends us another piece about the diversity of people in Israel.

Rickismom (that’s me) writes about officer’s bars and pride.

And at “A Soldier’s Mother", I noted this post to bring to your attention.

And a definite LACK of tolerance is exposed ,by Batya Medad of Shilo Musings. (And I personally enjoyed one of the comments there as well….)

And a lovely blog over at “ima2seven” on a bat mitzvah speech is well worth reading. (and in it, BTW, she also requests a bit of tolerance….)


And I (rickismom) have posted a video which is (in my opinion) well worth watching. (About the single best thing you can do for your health.)

And that, I am afraid, is it. If we want Haveil Havalim to survive, we need more bloggers. And probably with more varied outlooks (although I personally was glad not to be traipsing out into public view any posts I had big disagreements with...(Which is why I never volunteered to do this job before in the first place....)
Have a nice week, everybody!

Family Meetings and Riding Shotgun

Last night we had a family meeting. I think that I wrote, ages ago, about our family meetings, but was not able to conjure up the post via the search tab. So I will briefly recap: One of the biggest fears parents of special-needs children (and adults) deal with is the big question: “What will be with my child when I die?” Now in this regard, I am lucky, actually. Ricki not only has a sibling, she has several. But I don’t want, as often happens, that the load fall 90% on the shoulders of one of them. For this reason, I have instituted a yearly “family meeting”. At this gathering I update everyone on what is going on in Ricki’s life, problems, etc. We deliberate about any difficult situations, and I remind them that they have to continue this after I die. But the whole process is sweetened by the fact that it is one of the few times we ALL (hopefully) get together. There are of course generous refreshments, and plenty of time to simply pow-wow together and have a laughing good time. [And I am happy to note that my children, despite their differences * in religious observance (or lack thereof…), get along quite well….] * * * Last night we planned to hold the meeting, at the house of one of my married sons, in Jerusalem, which is about an hour’s drive from my house. And not wanting Ricki to miss the fun of the gathering, we took her along with us. (Ricki was occupied in the adjourning room with her nephews and nieces during the period that we discussed her.) Luckily, we had at our disposal the rental car used by my son who is currently visiting from the US. As we walked to the car, we indicated to Ricki that she could ride in the “shotgun” seat in front, next to her brother. She was thrilled at the opportunity, and as we rode to the holy city Ricki happily sang along with the disk that was playing. She felt adult and important. The rest of us looked along in pleasure, glad that she was so ecstatic. But we were also chagrined at the reason that Ricki was riding shotgun: as the heaviest person present, and with the need for three of us to fit into the back seat, we had little choice about where to place her……

Friday, January 27, 2012


A lot has been written lately about the frictions and diversity of different groups in Israel. But one group has truly been the victims of intolerance and blanket generalizations : those with intellectual disabilities. If a person with intellectual disabilities gets on a bus, chances are big that the seat next to him will remain unoccupied. People consistently stare at Ricki. People consistently talk to her either in a condescending voice, or they speak to me instead. Adults with intellectual disability are NOT children. They are adults with a difference. People with Down syndrome are NOT all happy, smiling , angelic folks. Teens and adults with a smaller intelligence deserve to be spoken to with respect, and be related to as an individual. They deserve the right to work. They deserve to have chances to give back to the community as well. Recently (about a month ago), I was at a conference in Jerusalem held by orthodox organizations which support people with varying disabilities. I noted with surprise and pleasure that things I dreamed about 14 years ago are finally becoming available for those who have a disability. Marriage. Adapted college classes. Our community has made a lot of good strides over the last decade. But while people running many of Israel’s disability programs seem to have learned to think “out of the box”, I am sad that the average man in the streets still does a lot of stereotyping of those who are different from themselves.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Officer’s Bars

My son who is currently living in the US has come for a visit, and the army graciously allowed “Y” to come home for a few days to visit with him. (“D” is already home, as he is basically finished with his regular army service. Now he will only need to serve occaisionally, as a reserve soldier.) As he came in the door, “Y” handed me his army uniform. “Hey”:, he grinned, “I got some stripes”. Yes he has gained a rank, and it is my chance to sew his bars to his uniform sleeve. I am already used to this, from my experiences with “D”. “You’re proud to do it, aren’t you?” [Proud? I’m not sure. After all, these bars are his first, and are given out pretty freely to anyone who has served a certain amount of time. I mean, it’s not like he did anything extraordinary… I AM proud that he is a dedicated, responsible person. This would be similar to saying that I am not PROUD for doing the dishes today, but I am proud that I am doing a good job (I hope!) as a parent.] But of course I didn’t tell him that. I grinned, and got out my olive-green thread…. Later, my two active army sons were talking with their older brother about the importance of exercise. He, in turn, was explaining to them that “body building” can be unhealthy. “But you want to be able to tell the girls that you do ‘body building’, don’t you?” And it was obvious that he had hit the target (“Y”) straight on. Yes, we all have the need to feel worthwhile, admired, and appreciated. It’s part of our psyche. So let’s try and do things we can REALLY be proud of, and to stroke our children’s egos as much as we can…..

Monday, January 23, 2012

Two Tough Cookies…

Ricki is on strike- or so it seems. Today was the fifth day in a row that she has refused to attend school. One reason is because it is cold outside, and she doesn’t enjoy the walk to school*. Secondly there is a new girl in her class that she has issues with.But this evening her brother came from abroad to visit, and I twisted HIS arm- to refuse to give her the present he brought until a day that she actually WENT to classes. Ricki is a tough cookie, and is being very stubborn. Well I am also a “tough cookie”. *Yes, she has coat, hat, and mits…..

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tremendous Video! Please watch!

By the way, there is an excellent English web site, Walker Tracker, which encourages walking. You can reach it by way of the "HERE" link under "Join Me On Walker Tracker" in the right column here. (Just above the "closed on Shabbas" logo).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Health-Fund Card – A Conflict Between “Rights” and Sanity

After having visited the specialist in the hospital on Tuesday, I needed to take the consultation and recommendations that she made to Ricki’s pediatrician on Wednesday. There was no need for Ricki to accompany me, so I left Ricki in care of her father while I popped next door (a 2 minute walk) to the doctor’s office. On arriving, I had to give the receptionist Ricki’s health fund card. Normally I keep Ricki’s card next to mine in my change purse, as I need to present it not only at any medical appointment, but also when buying her medicines. However, on opening my wallet, I discovered that the card, and also Ricki’s bus pass, was missing. It was obvious that she had removed them both earlier that day. Now I can appreciate very well the desire for Ricki to carry her own cards. And it would teach her responsibility as well. But my need to have these cards at frequent intervals (and often at times when Ricki is at school), as well as the repercussions of losing the cards has led me to consistently decide to hold them myself. Believe me, I have considered the possibility of giving them to her care more than once, but always my desire for preserving my sanity has won out. As it turned out, since I had been at the doctor already this month (getting a prescription for her regular medicines), I was able to see the doctor without the card. But I did phone home to inform Ricki that I wanted the cards the minute I returned. Meanwhile, my husband overheard this, and brought the health-fund card to the office. When my husband and I returned, we discovered that Ricki was gone, and since she had been wearing pajamas, I realized that she has left the house in her sleepwear. I visualized Ricki prancing to the bus stop (to use the bus card on her own, while she had the chance), clad only in her flimsy night clothes. Luckily, I quickly remembered that she might be at the neighbors, which she was. So now I am again wondering if she isn’t responsible enough to hold her own health card.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Cab Fare

Yesterday I took Ricki to a check-up at one of the local hospitals. I checked online the evening before to ascertain where and when I could catch the bus, but in the end we missed it due to extreme dawdling on Ricki’s part. She was “cold” (yes, it WAS a bit windy), and kept ducking into the entrance of buildings on our way to the bus stop. So in the end, in order not to forfeit the appointment, we took a cab. The fare cost 45 shekels. (Three and a half Israeli shekels equals about a dollar.) Later while sitting in the clinic, waiting our turn, Ricki started grilling me about how we would return. When I said “by bus”, she tried to convince me to take a cab. So I told her quite firmly that I had no intention of splurging more money on cab fare, and if she wants to go by cab, she would need to give me fifty shekels. So Ricki started rummaging in her school bag for her change purse, as I wondered why she didn’t realize that she had at the MOST three of four small coins in there. However, as she opened the wallet, I stared in absolute shock at the three bills: a 200 shekel bill, a fifty, and a twenty. LORD! Where in the world did she get 270 shekels?!??!!!?? She must have stolen it from my purse, but I didn’t notice? Then as she pulled the 50 shekel bill out, I realized that it was a bit small… it was PLAY money! I sighed in my relief that Ricki hadn’t become a thief, and prepared to inform my dear daughter that this “50 shekels” just wasn’t going to cut the grade with a taxi driver…..

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Sunday evening I think I received more compliments in the space of two hours than I have in any other two-hour period! I was at a function where several of my friends who HAVEN’T seen me for at least a year and a half where present. So comments on my weight loss came thick and fast. But what I really noted was the fact that many added that what struck them the most is how happy and energetic I seem. Definitely! I can’t emphasize this enough. If anyone with a lot of weight to lose reads this, please realize that losing a significant amount of weight will make you feel TOTALLY different! What I DO NOT like are the people who ask “So what do you eat….?” What I eat will not necessarily be good for someone else. A person who wants to lose needs an eating plan that fits THEIR likes and dislikes, THEIR schedule restrains, THEIR activity level and metabolism.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The “Guests”

I had a class I wanted to attend the other evening. Ricki’s Dad was home, so she was not alone, but she would need to entertain herself. So before I left I gave her a work booklet on the topic of “The Sabbath”, so that she would have something to do. On my return, Ricki showed me the work she had done. On one page she had drawn a picture of the evening meal, with a table surrounded with SEVERAL figures. Well recently, our Friday evening meals have been with only 5-7 people, so I expected her to explain that they extra figures were people from one of the married brothers…. But Ricki had been MORE imaginative then that. She started off naming figures, corresponding to those usually present. When she had finished these, rather than continuing with her nephews, she named the figures: -Abraham -Yitzchak (Isaac) -Jaacob -David “THESE are our important guests!” (Actually, we symbolically welcome these “guests” during the week of Sukkot,so she probably got the idea from there – although Sukkot was several months ago…..)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Special Exposure Wednesday

[image: Ricki along with craft work done over Hanukkah:]
Here is Ricki proudly showing off her work....(By her right hand, by her head, and on the clear window also.) You can find more of "Special Exposure Wednesday HERE.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Lesson and the Story

So, after what happened yesterday, I sat down with Ricki and had a long discussion with her. The topic is not a new one, but perhaps her willingness to listen was. First we talked about what people value in others, and how true worth comes from one’s actions. Then we talked about bullies, why they act as they do; how belittling others makes them feel strong. We discussed if a bully’s implication of her having less worth is true or not. (At first she shook her head yes, but then realized that the answer was a resounding “NO!”.) Finally at the end we discussed what she is good at, what is harder for her, what Down syndrome is, and the implications for her. (And she didn’t claim to NOT have Down syndrome even once!) We also did role plays about dealing with bullies. As I mentioned before, these topics are not new to Ricki, but she seams to be gaining a better grasp and internalizing the message better. Near the end I mentioned that people with Down syndrome are born with Down syndrome, that they have it from before birth. She queried me about her birth, and I told her the story. I informed her that the doctor had told us right away that she has Down syndrome, and that I had replied that we would love her as she is. [Mind you, sometimes I’m not sure that I haven’t renegaded on that promise at times….but really not. I have always loved Ricki—just not a lot of her actions!] Ricki said with great emotion “Thank you, Mommy” and gave me a huge hug. I was very deeply moved to witness the power and strength that the reassurance that she is loved gave her.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Measure of Man (A Soap-box Post)

This morning as I was nearly sprinting down the street (it WAS downhill) on my aerobic walk, a couple obviously from out of town stopped me. “Where is the bus to Jerusalem?” I inwardly groaned; this stop was going to kill my aerobic count on my pedometer, as I had left Ricki’s school about 5 minutes before. But I squashed the impulse to be bothered by it, and pointed in the direction of the bus stop, which was around the corner and across a street. Then I trotted over to the corner, hoping that my “stop” had been brief enough to not be noticed by my pedometer. [Explanation for non-pedometer users: Most pedometers measure aerobic steps, but you have to walk at least ten minutes without stopping, for them to actually be registered….] At the corner there was (as always…) a red light, so I was going to walk in place… until I noticed that the couple turned the corner and was walking to the stop on the WRONG side of the street. I called out to them, but they didn’t hear me, so I followed them the fifty steps to the station, and pointed out the correct stop across the street. Then I returned to the corner (and, inevitably, a different red light…). And really, this is no big deal. Because what is the ultimate value of our life on this planet? Our money accrued? Weight lost? Steps walked? Fame won? Of course not. On the day we lie in our graves, the only thing people will really remember about us is how we treated them and others. The ability to forgo our own (often petty) desires for the good of another is a hallmark of what makes us human. * * * * * So what can I say about what happened a half hour before this small incident? PREFACE: Ricki has decided of late that she wants to walk to school on her own. Now I want to keep tabs on her (see December 20th’s post), so I set out a bit after her, and as I catch up with her, I can either join her or walk around the block to sneak a peak at the next corner. (Ricki’s walking rate is about a third of my speed.) TODAY: This morning I set out to tail Ricki and caught up with her to find her standing and crying. I wrongly assumed that she was crying from sore feet, and resolved that I have to get her to an orthopedist as soon as possible. But as Ricki mumbled her complaint a second time, I heard her: “They called me ‘retarded’. They pushed me.” YES. The evil of what little kids can do. I was anyways planning on redoing a lesson with Ricki on what Down syndrome means to her, self value, etc. I guess it can’t be soon enough. Ricki needs to know that her own self worth is no less, and undoubtedly more, than those urchins that accosted her. And I need to think with others how to create an atmosphere in our city such that children (and adults) will be EMBARRESSED to call ANYONE what they feel is a derogatory name.

The Old Picture

I was looking through some old photos and suddenly I SAW myself from exactly 3 years ago. I was agast! And pleased that today I am only 10 kilos more than half of what I once weighed. [image: Rickismom:left in January 2009, right in Late December 2011)
But I kept the same smile....

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Disappearing Picture

The other night Ricki actually fell asleep with the CPAP machine on. It was so great to see her breathing deeply, even though she was prone… so I took a picture. (Although even THAT evening she tore the mask off when she was awakened by the machine going off, due to an electrical shortage). I remembered having transferred the photo to my computer, but a few days later, when I originally wanted to write about that evening, I could not find the image. I looked all over my photo files, yet I couldn’t locate it. I felt that it had fled, my only proof that Ricki CAN sleep with the CPAP. I felt that the disappearing picture was almost like an omen of her not wearing the machine…. Eventually, using the “search” option, searching for “photos altered in the past week”, I found the folder it had somehow gotten misplaced in. Then I even showed the picture to Ricki, hoping that this would encourage her to wear the CPAP, but no dice (at least not yet). But, for history’s sake, here is Ricki’s single longer-than-ten-minutes-use of the CPAP:
Let’s hope there will be more…..


Yesterday we had a family get-together with some relatives who had arrived to visit from abroad. We were supposed to meet them at a place which is one or two short bus rides away (depending which buses you use, and /or how much you are willing to walk…). My step daughter and her children arrived by car, and my daughter and family also went by car, also ferrying Ricki and my husband, That left me to get there on my own. In the end, I fiqured that I could get there faster by foot than by bus, and that the walk would be an easily doable 45 minutes. So I walked. And I arrived first. (I quess the others left a bit late…) Often I have seen, however the phenomenon that people who own cars simply don’t WALK anywhere. All I can say is a pity on the car-owners’ health and (with the high price of gas) wealth. Maybe you don’t have to take a car EVERYWHERE????