Thursday, May 31, 2012

The "Brownie Points"

    Ricki's older sister and her husband live in a room on our roof at the present. So it is hardly surprising that my cooking has been influenced… not only by amounts, but by content. You see, my son-in-law is of Moroccan extraction, so gefilte fish and bland meat balls just don't make the grade. But since my husband grew up in Brazil, and is used to spicy foods, He is also amenable to the use of more spices, so I am gradually changing a lot about the way I cook. I still keep things pretty "cool" (bland), but sometimes throw in some fresh Kuzbarah (Coriander), and on occasion, even a touch of hot pepper.
   Yesterday (Wednesday) I made some Chili in a slow cooker, and threw in a nice bit of chili powder to satisfy the men.  I knew that it would be a smidgen spicy for me, but that's OK. HOWEVER I remembered a bit too late that I was surely out-classing Ricki's piquant-quotient. But I could solve that by mixing in some leftover rice to her portion. And that worked fine… at first.
  Ricki enjoyed her serving of Chili, and went to the kitchen for a second portion. [She had eaten enough, but she wanted more, and we have not yet put up a gate to keep the kitchen off limits.] She dished more chili onto her plate, but neglected to add rice, since there was no more. Sitting down in the dining room, she took a few bites, and then announced meritoriously:
   "I'm not going to eat this second portion. It's really too much for me…."
   I confess that her completely out-of-character passing up a second portion of food prompted my husband and I to erupt in a burst of laughter, much to Ricki's chagrin. My husband quickly noted, "Nebbach  (ie.,poor thing),she wants to at least earn "brownie points" if she can't eat the food."

 So we stifled our chuckles, and I praised her for 'curbing' her appetite…..

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Ripple Effect

   I used to be an avid daily reader of Dave Hingsburger's blog, Rolling Around in my Head. He is an articulate blogger, and an entertaining one as well. Even more important, he is an informative writer, and a world expert on prevention of abuse, and on sex education of those with intellectual disabilities. Lately I haven't had time to keep up with ANY of my blog reading, so I have pages and pages of his blog copied to real paper to read some day at my convenience. I want some day to catch up on reading his blog, something I have not done with the other blogs that I read. [For any of my readers with a child with special needs, I consider this blog as the ONE blog not to miss.] [And to any readers who wonder how a chareidi orthodox Jew can read the blog of someone who has what the Torah deems a "deviant" life style, I can only say that I need not agree with every action done by every blogger that I read. And his dealing with insults has given Mr. Hingsburger a very "true" knowledge of the ramifications of prejudice and abuse.] Over the years, Dave has evolved from having a very aggressive interaction to insults (due to his disability) to a more mature stance, and his stories involving those with intellectual disabilities are often very heartwarming, and always informative. His blog has often given me the push I need to let Ricki do things more independently.

   Now this morning, for some reason I decided not to "dive into" my day, and did some reading instead. I checked out the last few posts on "Rolling Around in my Head", and found this story.

[Nu, I'll wait while you go read it….] 
      Now Dave has even "better" stories on his blog, but I feel that we all can learn something tremendous from this story.  The audience member who left the cough drops for Dave thought that he was doing a kindness for Dave, and he was. But unless he reads this (Dave's) blog, he will never know the extended benefit that his small act of kindness served.
   Our actions have ripple effects. A child sent out of the house with a loving hug and a smile (rather than a snarled "Run downstairs FAST before you miss your ride") will probably undoubtedly have a better and more productive day.  A warm smile, a helping hand, the smallest of gestures, will not only accomplish that small kindness, but it has a ripple effect on the person receiving it, and often even on passersby. And often only G-d will know the consequences of our deeds.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Washing Her Hands…..

Introduction: Those of you unfamiliar with Jewish law will understand this post better if you know the following: Jewish law requires that before consuming bread, one needs to ritually wash one's hands (with water from a cup, poured over the hands).

The Post: 
    Ricki had gotten up a bit late this morning, lethargic after the extended three-day "Shavuot" holiday weekend. She didn't feel 100%, and decided that she would stay home for the day, which I allowed. I prepared a light breakfast of toasted bread for each of us, hers with ketchup, and mine with 5% white cheese. I washed my hands, sat down, and said a blessing over the food. Ricki promptly sat down and dug in, without blessing or washing her hands.
 - "Um, Ricki, it seems to me that you forgot to wash your hands…."
-  (shrug)
- "Ricki, you know that you need to wash your hands…"
(SHRUG from her)
-"Ricki, the angels in heaven are waiting to see you wash your hands and bless…"

   A few moments passed. I decided that arguing with her would be counter-productive, and indeed, a few moments later, when it was no longer apparent that she was "capitulating", she went to wash.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012


   [an aside: I tried writing this post from the hospital a few days ago, but was unable to complete the post. Hence the post being "titled" only for a few days….]
  Remember the Monopoly games of our youth? Remember the "get out of jail free" card? It was always a good one to have.
   Now try and imagine an inmate playing monopoly with the prison head, and on drawing the "get out of jail free" card, he is informed by the jailer that he can leave the prison for good. Wouldn't he be ecstatic?
   Sometimes I feel that I have drawn the "get out of jail free" card in my life. Overweight was limiting me in so many ways that I can hardly count them. Some I was not really aware of until the weight came off and I experienced life without all that extra poundage….
   Here are just a few that recently came to mind:
-the ability to ride a bike in the park
-hospital gowns that fit and wrap around and cover the back of you as well as the front
-hospital staff who see you as a person, not just as a BMI of 50+
-being able to run to catch a bus

   These are just a few things. But I really feel that I've left the jail of my own making…..

Monday, May 14, 2012


   Amazingly, we are home already! (And it 's a good thing, too, because they were NOT giving Ricki her psychiatric drug and she was driving ME crazy!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Ricki update

   Ricki was left in ICU for shabbat, so I walked over there (75 minutes walk each way) early in the morning , before it got too hot.
   This evening I went again and she is doing MUCH better. Hopefully she will go to a regular floor tomorrow AM, and maybe even home before the next weekend....

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Getting Run Over by a Truck…

   No, thank G-d, not even anything remotely related to trucks entered my sphere today. But on returning home after visiting Ricki in the morning, and doing a few health checks for myself, I forwent doing some needed housework, and simply sank into bed for a half hour. I mumbled to my husband on the way “I still feel like I’ve been run over by a truck…”
   Albeit this was an EXTREEME exaggeration, but just the previous evening I remembered a friend who used to always say “I feel like death warmed over…”. I was able to relate. So Last night (Wednesday), I made a point to get in a decent amount (at least for me) of shut-eye. So why was I STILL feeling exhausted?
   Let’s face it. Having a child in the hospital, especially ICU, is stressful. Even though in my mind I understand that Ricki will (G-d willing) be OK., the tiny nagging voice of fear reminds me that there are no guarantees. In addition, my schedule is a whirlwind not of my own design, and I am encumbered by the necessity of navigating around visiting hours, bus time-tables, etc.
   Add to this the realization that one is undoubtedly being evaluated by hospital personnel, people I am dependant on at this moment for Ricki’s well-being. All of these ingredients add up to a pretty spicy soup!
   So here are a few tips for those who may someday find themselves in the hospital with a loved one:
1) Eat healthy. Take the time to go to the hospital grocery (or a store nearby) and buy some vegetables and fruit. DON’T subsist on coffee and pastries.
2) Get up when your family member is sleeping and walk around a bit in the hall. Stretch your legs. (An MP3 with music enhances this….)
3) Get some easy listening music onto an MP3 player to listen to when you want to relax.
4) Sometimes skip #2 and nap instead….
5) Listen to the news report to remind yourself that the outside world still exists….
6) Remember to frequently say “Thank you” to the staff.
7) And if they handled your relative when he/she was in a “cranky mood”, and did it well, let them know how much you admire the way they handled the situation….
8) Preface requests with “When you are able…” “When you have a few moments, could…” This implies your understanding that your relative is not their only patient, and important priorities might preclude them helping you this second.
9) Remind them of requests if needed, but calmly.
10) If you catch them snacking/eating, (UNLESS IF THERE IS AN EMERGENCY) tell them “Bon Appetite. Later I would like to see you….”


   Since Ricki is still in ICU, and I can not be with her the whole day, I took the opportunity to run do a few health check-ups that I needed.  As I was sitting waiting for some test results at the health fund, I saw an obviously pregnant woman exiting the ultrasound suite. Now usually women look pretty happy when they do this test, assuming that all is well. She, while not looking upset, DID NOT look very happy either. I wondered to myself if she had been told of the possibility of some problem. What would I tell a woman who has learned that life is becoming more complicated than she had hoped for, IF I could?
   I would not give a “Pollyanna” whitewash. Having a special needs child is tough at times. But I would add this:

   Yes, mothering Ricki is tough at times, and sometimes I mutter to myself that when I agreed to take her home, I never dreamed that she would do “XYZ”….LOL. Yet having parented Ricki has enhanced my life in SO MANY WAYS.
-   I have become friends with other “special needs Moms”, who by and large are an incredible group of ladies.
-  I have learned to enjoy what I have, and take much less for granted.
-  I am much better able to emphasize with people who are going through a crises of any type.
-  I have learned that my worth is not based on what my child accomplishes (the “My Son, the Doctor” syndrome), but on the choices I make.
-  I have learned that as much as I think that I am in control of my life, G-d laughs at my stupidity, and can turn my universe topsy-turvy in a moment….
-  I have learned that love need have no limits…..

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Ricki in ICU, but (so far at least) not intubated. CO2 levels way too high. Getting antibiotics, steroids, tamiflu

Ricki in Hospital

Ricki is in the hospital again with pneumonia, similar to the scenario we went through last year. (See  posts of June 5-23). So far she has not been intubated, but today she was sent to ICU and her CO2 levels are high. They even did a CT of her lungs to check for underlying lung disease, but the results are inconclusive.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Havel Havelim #358

    Again I am hosting “Haveil Havalim”, a roundup of posts from the Jewish blogsphere, carnival style. 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 Facebookgroup 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 “ Blogcarnival” page but I wouldn’t count on it….

When submitting posts, remember that they should be from the last week.

[Disclaimer: My posting of Havel Havelim does not mean that I agree with every viewpoint of these blogs.]

   Well, I can start out with the good news that I received many more submissions than the paltry few which were sent to me last time, in January. So here we go!


   - With elections in the air we will probably inundated in coming weeks with posts in the sub-category of “POLITICS”.  And the ever-prolific blogger Batya Medad of Shiloh Musings has kicked the ball off with 2 posts, “The PoliticalPressure Against….” and “Tsippi Livni Quits…
[Batya also reminds of the monthly Rosh Chodesh gathering at Tel Shiloh...]

   -ESSER AGAROTH at (where else?)ESSER AGAROTH comments on “More Co-dependent Idiocy From the IsraeliGovernment”

Memorial/Independence Days

Sharon Marks Altshul, blogging at “The Real JerusalemStreets

gives us three pictorial blogs of recent events in Jerusalem:

Paula (at “A Soldier’s Mother”) 
In her touching post “How Far We Reach” speaks about the Post-Army service period… but there’s more. (I don’t want to spoil it for you.)

Ruti at “Ki Yachol Nuchal” shares in “The Wrong Time to Dance” 
a view that surely the dancers did not want to share. In addition she writes a poignant post (and of some Israeli pride) in her “ You Can’t Keep a Good Jew Down”

Yoel Meltzer blogs at  “Towards a New JewishMindset” and gives us a dvar TorahWhat is the “holiness” ofthe Shabbat?” 

 -Sara Brown at “AJew in the Rain”, (a blog which somehow, I’ve missed discovering until now….) shares and comments on an intriguing photo, in her post “InvisibleJudaism”   

   -This week, Susan Barnes from “To Kiss a Mezuza” 
takes the prize for “intriguing post title” with her post“How to Blow up a Demon”.

    - And Susan’s post prompted me (“Rickismom”) to sit down and write a post that had been percolating in my mind for a while: “Perceptions of Our Challenges”   (at Beneath the Wings)
       [Believe me, I was tempted to call my post “Blowing up Demons, continued”, but that would be plagiarism. I have to learn from Susan how to write post titles……..]


 At Trip’nUp (another new blog for me) Trip’n Mommy writes about  “Loving Life InIsrael: Raining Hope”

Ester (“Northern Lights”) at “Frugel and Kosher” blog gives us a post “Online Shopping

The Yiddishe Cup presents his view of the shidduch scene with ”SeminaryBrainwashing #1”

  That’s it for this week!

   Susan Barnes of “ToKiss A Mezuza”  will be hosting next week’s HH. You can PM her on facebook with submissions. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Driving and Safety / Death Rears its Ugly Head

  Just this morning there was a terrible accident outside, at our corner.  Two young men on a motorcycle were thrown a huge distance; and at least one died.
    I do not know if alcohol or drugs were involved by either of the parties, or cell phone use, or not. But I want to take this opportunity to remind all of the dangers of all three. Most people today know well about alcohol and driving not being a good mix.
   But what people don't realize is that using a cellular phone, even HANDS-FREE is JUST AS DANGEROUS!. (click on link)
    My married daughter and son-in-law arrived on the scene moments after the accident... I don't imagine either will sleep tonight after what they saw. I have been sick at heart the whole day after hearing their description. Then, to my horror, it became apparent that I know the parents of the young man who died.
     Yes, death comes of so sudden at times. We shudder at the realization of our frailty.
  I am simply so caught up in this, and can think of little else. I know that this will pass for me, I will soon be back to "normal life".
    As I always say: "All we have power over is what WE do and how WE act." Nothing else.....

Perceptions of Our Challenges

In the Talmud Rabbi Yehuda said:   
    “In the Time-to-Come, The Holy One, Blessed is He (G-d) will bring the yetzer hara (evil inclination) and slaughter him before the righteous and the evil. To the righteous it will appear like a high mountain, and to the evil it will appear like a thread of hair. Both will cry; the righteous will cry and say, “How were we able to overcome this high mountain?” The evil will cry and say, “How were we not be able to overcome this thread of hair?” (Succah 52a)
       So is it big or small? How can it be both? Whose perception is correct?
       Actually, both. It’s like this (and I am examining this from the view of working on diet and exercise, but you can take this to any bad habit you need to work on…):

    People who are severely overweight tend to believe that their overeating is beyond control. I remember at one diet group that I attended years ago (which was not successful for me), one woman moaned “But this is a full-life ‘prison sentence’!”
   The presenter said no, that after one loses weight, they will not need to strictly diet. But in reality she missed the point completely. (No wonder her group didn’t work….)
   Any changes in lifestyle needed to lose weight will need to be continued, at least in a milder form, for one’s entire life (if you want to keep that weight off). BUT THAT IS NOT PRISON!!!   Prison is the enslavement we endure to food, the feeling that we can not break free from overeating, and the limitations that overweight places on us! And even more importantly, the presenter needed to inform her clients that if the work on making correct choices, they will acclimate to the new way of life. Gradually they will come to ENJOY their healthier lifestyle, even with the new limitations which seem so constricting at first glance. Even if you are used to eating a huge plateful of pasta for lunch, and a regular-sized serving seems miniscule, it will not appear that way forever. Each correct choice you make strengthens your resolve, creates new habits and expectations. Your psyche and body become accustomed to the new reality. There comes a day when you really prefer a nice salad (most days, at least) to an overly sweet  cream cake that is simply too rich for your newly developed taste buds.
   So let’s return to that Gemorah (Talmud passage) quoted above. The person who did not conquer his desires thinks that he has an insurmountable urge. But in reality, it is not so. The “dieter” needs to take things day-by-day, one moment at a time. He will find that each single instance of resisting his desires is not that hard, as long as he is determined to change his past patterns. (For example, fasting on Yom Kipper is not harder for the overweight person than the thin, as he understands with certainty that he can not eat.) One becomes habituated to being able to (generally) resist. He discovers that being in control of what he does is empowering. Liberating.
  And when all is said and done, G-d will show him that bit by bit, moment by moment (hair-by-hair), he climbed a full mountain!  
   [Hmmm... maybe I should apply this to my habit of under-sleeping as well as overeating,..........]
   (Thanks to Susan Barnes, whose post “How to Slaughter a Demon” prompted me to go ahead and write a post I have been toying around with for a while…. But if you follow the link, read the whole thing, don’t stop after just reading how to slaughter the demon….)

Ouzel Falls