Monday, September 28, 2009

A Tiny (???) Tallis Bag

Remember when I said that I needed to make a tallis bag for Squidette?

Well I did as promised.

The colors are not what I initially envisioned but rather the ones that jumped out at me in the quilt shop.

And the bag is not quite the size I thought it had to be.

Rather, it is the size that I thought it should be, but not the size it really needed to be.

It's actually about twice the size.
My answer? I'll make a second for Squidette and then make myself an extra large tallis.

Sound like a plan?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bad Days, Good Days, Skink Nights

No matter how the day goes, there is always a cute, cuddly lizard to come home to a night.

The kid's not bad either!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Tallis and the Tickets

After my last post, Cookie responded with a good suggestion as to where I could keep the tickets in the future to avoid losing them again.
Her idea is a good one but I suspect I will go back to our old storage spot -- updated for our current family situation.

And here goes another "Mom and the High Holy Days" story ...

Back in the days when Mom and Mike and I would go to services together, we'd walk over to the synagogue with our tickets in our hands. When we got inside and were seated, we all handed our tickets to Mike, who tucked them in his tallis (tallit) bag. The reasoning was simple -- Mom and I usually did not have pockets in which to tuck the tickets. When we could, we let Mike carry the apartment keys in his suit pockets and the keys and tickets were all that we carried. It harkens back to the rules restricting what one can carry on the Sabbath or High Holy days. It also harkens back to the fact that even back then they briefly searched bags and purses and not having one just made entry faster.

Back to the tickets ...

One year we forgot to remove the tickets after Yom Kippor and the following year we discovered them in the tallis bag. And quickly realized that they were exactly the same color as the previous year. Woo Hoo! Extra tickets! This started the tradition of storing the tickets from year to year in Mike's tallis bag. We never used the "extras" but it was always nice to know that we could bring in an extra family member if they wanted to come.

The color of the tickets held steady for several years and then we switched our service preference and started going to the early service instead of the late one. [Our synagogue has so many families that two seatings are required for the High Holy days. The clergy are very careful to make sure that the services are as identical as possible.] The early service tickets were a different color which made the old, hoarded tickets useless to us. We continued, however, hoarding the new tickets until two things happened. One, Mike stopped going to services and two, they started changing up the color of the tickets from year to year. I guess we weren't the only ones who realized what was going on.

This brings us to 2009 ...

As we were toting around Squidette's tallis today, I mentioned that she really needed a bag for it. Carrying around an unprotected tallis is just asking for trouble. Particularly when one does not have a purse to tuck it into and one is going to lunch right after services.

You see, I am still, when possible, carrying on the tradition of traveling lightly on the Holy days. Now, however, I make sure to wear a suit with pockets deep enough to handle my apartment or car keys (one or the other, never both), my drivers license, some cash / credit and a small handful of tissues. Yes, my pockets bulge and look a bit unattractive but I do not have a purse that has to be tucked somewhere out of sight while ushering. I made Little Squid (as the male with pockets) take his (turned off) cell phone so I wouldn't have to carry mine and so we could easily hook up with our friends for lunch after services. Yes, I am already using my son the way Mom used Mike. Squidette did not have any pockets and my shallow suit jacket pockets were already bulging.


Tomorrow I intend to take a walk over to the quilting store and see about getting a set of fat quarters in blues and whites. I'm thinking a simple Jewish Star on top of a nice background fabric with a button closure. It has to be a fairly large bag since the tallis is a big one.

Mike offered his tallis bag to the cause but there are two problems with his. One: it's actually a t'fillin bag and hence 1/2 the size of a normal tallis bag and two: we can't find it. We didn't even try to find his tallis for Squidette's bat mitzvah (though we probably knew where it was back then) since his tallis is too small for him. It was bought to fit a thirteen-year-old boy and not a grown man. Instead, Mike wore my dad's tallis and my dad wore my Zedda's tallis. We have a vague idea of where Mike's tallis is but when I looked for it before, to take a photo for this post, I could not easily find it.

So there you have it. The Tallis and the Tickets. Not an especially gripping tale, but one of fond memories and lots of side-references.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shana Tova -- Happy New Year

I lost my tickets.

Every year our high holy day tickets arrive a month or so in advance of the holiday. I am always very careful to put them somewhere safe.

Well, not always. At least not this year.

Long story short -- I sent an email to the appropriate person and there will be replacements waiting at the door tomorrow night.


Now for the long story that is going through my head and keeping me awake. Let's call it ...

Remembrances of High Holy Days before and after ... or ... Missing Mom

Mom (my mother-in-law in this story) has been gone for four full years now. This will be the fifth set of High Holy days since her demise.

I still miss her.

When Mike and I started living together, we also started worshiping together. (Or at least going to services together.)

While I was not a member of our synagogue until after our marriage, I always managed to get in to High Holy day services with Mike and Mom on their extra tickets. Since my brother-in-law was still in school and Mike was in graduate school, Mom qualified for "student" tickets for them. I went on my brother-in-law's ticket. (They don't check names and he was out of town.)

We'd always get there early because Mom liked to be able to "see." She had to be able to view the action on the bemah to be happy. We'd joke about it and tease her about having to stand on line for 45 minutes in order to get the good seats in the sanctuary. After a period of years, we wore her down and convinced her that the balcony was just fine and, that if she got an aisle seat, she could see just fine.

It was a compromise that worked well for several years -- except for the year that we discovered the second row of the balcony. This row, for some strange reason, has at least 2 inches less leg room then the other rows. I have long legs. Very long legs. In the other aisles my knees rubbed up against the back of the seats in front of me. In the second aisle ... let's just say that I made Mom switch seats with me during one of the standing bits so that I could put my feet into the aisle. I had bruises on my knees for a few days after.


Once the kids were born, Mike and I worshiped in shifts. He'd go with Mom on Rosh Hashanah evening and I'd go in the morning. The other person stayed at Mom's apartment with the kid(s). For Yom Kippor, we reversed it because he "should say Yiskor* for his father." (In quotes because that was how Mom felt and not what Mike felt.)

Then the kids got older and could come with us and go to the children's programs that ran in the classrooms upstairs in the synagogue.

That's when Mike stopped going to High Holy day services. He's an adult and can make up his own mind. He'd kept going for all of those years to keep his Mom company. Now that the child care issues were over, he allowed me to take that role. Since I wanted to go anyway, it worked. By then, Mom had mostly come to terms with Mike's feelinga about the whole organized religion thing and. as long as she had me, she was essentially o.k. with it.


So Mom and I went and after one or two times together, we discovered that if we arrived just as the line was letting into the synagogue, then we could usually find seats in one of the tiny pews at the back of the sanctuary -- the two seaters.

And we were happy.

We'll forget the year that I bit off the head of the temple administrator after I could not find the kids in the rooms that I left them in ...

Then Mom left us.

My vague recollections of that first set of holidays, coming after a summer of packing up her apartment, include Mike joining me, at least for Yom Kippor morning. Because he should say Yiskor for his mother.

That was the only year I asked him to join me though he still asks, every year, if I want him to go wth me.

The next year, I went, essentially, alone. The kids were in their parallel program having a good time. And I had no one to shmooze with before services or to nod with in agreement (or disagreement) during the sermon. Or to compare notes with afterwards.

I joined friends in the auditorium that year for Yom Kippor and discovered great sightlines. When I wondered to Mike, why Mom had never tried it, he said that she hated the chatty atmosphere that went with those wonderful sightlines.

After another set of services there, I understood why. It didn't help that my friends are of the late arriving sort, so I still had no one to shmooze with before services began.

Then, two years ago I was invited to usher ... and the rest is history. I LOVE ushering. The hustle and bustle and movement. While I do not get the quiet, contemplative time that I associate with worship -- hey, I wasn't really getting it anyway. And that's what late nights are for -- like tonight when everyone is asleep and I can think deep thoughts. And share them with you.


I had no intentions of going to evening services tomorrow. I figured we'd have a nice family dinner together and the kids and I would go in the morning -- we are ushering. But then I lost the tickets and now I feel that I have to go, just to justify the late email asking for help (I probably could have talked my way in on Saturday since we are on the ushering list).

In a strange way I am glad my hand was forced. I'm kind of looking forward to this now ... Squidette may or may not join me. Little Squid is taking a pass. I'm going to volunteer my services as an expert usher (they thought about upgrading my carnation color last year!) but, if I am not needed, I will ...

Shmooze before the services with my daughter.

Nod sagely with her during the sermon (or laugh discretely).

And truly understand why Mom wanted someone with her. And why Mike went for all those years -- and then always offered to go with me afterwards.

It's about more than the religion. It's about a shared experience and being with those you love during something that is important to you.


Shana Tova -- May this year be a good and sweet one and may you be inscribed in the book of life for another year.

*Yiskor: memorial service for the departed

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Addition!

No, not what you think. I'm finished bringing humans into this world. Lizards, on the other hand ...
Meet Lynx (to possibly be renamed later).
Lynx is a blue tongued skink and belongs to Not-So-Little Squid. He arrived at my school this morning courtesy of the wonderful Zach and UPS (and my parent coordinator who bravely brought the box to my classroom).
See how happy they are together?

(After I released little Lynx from his packaging, I kept going over to his temporary "cage" and saying "hi." Periodically I petted him (yup, I stroked his head and back) and cuddled him. I also spoke in a really soft and calm voice the entire time he was in my office. Makes me think that maybe I should get one to keep at work ...)

Oh, and we think he is already plotting with the turtles. They are planning their escape and subsequent world domination.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

One More Year

As I sit here and try to compose an appropriate birthday post, I find myself at a loss for words. Instead, tears of happiness and joy cloud my eyes as I try to write down just what about my son makes him so very special to me.

Is it how he always knows when I need a hug?

Or how much he infuriates his dad -- for making the same mistakes that Mike did at that age?

Is it how he constantly takes me by surprise with his talents and his interests?

Or how he is so very like my dad.

Maybe it is because he is so much like his sister, and yet so very, very different.

Or that he is just himself. Our Monster. Our Little Squid.

Happy Birthday, Little Squid.

May you have many, many more!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Just a few more days ...

Summer is over and in a few more days I will have just one more year of being a mother of a pre-teen. Pretty scary. I mean, where did the time go? I swear it was just yesterday that I was holding him and thinking about the true meaning of window-guards. [It was 3 a.m. As an infant, Little Squid was NOT a good sleeper.]

Fortunately, little ones are made cute for a reason -- so that their parents don't kill them in infancy -- and he survived. And in a few short days, he'll be 12.

On Wednesday he goes back to school. For the first time he will be totally responsible for getting himself to and from school. No more big sister to lean on. And no more mom to come running at a moments notice when he gets a mid-morning migraine. He'll have to wait until 11:00 (by which time the migraine may have gone away). I'll be teaching.

Yup. I'm returning to the classroom on Wednesday morning. It's not a new job, just a part time return to my roots. The rest of the day I will still be an Assistant Principal. Actually, I'll be one all day, just one who teaches. I'm nervous and excited. It's been far too long since I had my own class and I miss it. I just hope I have not lost my touch. I'm starting with the egg-in-a-bottle "trick." Wish me luck!