taylweaver: (Default)
So some of you may recall that, after last year, there was much cause for many friends to wish me an uneventful yom tov as we entered the last days of Pesach. I'd link to last year's LJ entry, but I can't recall how and I am tired. (If you need a reminder, it was posted May 1st, and it was one of my first entries)

Alas, uneventful was not to be. Thankfully, this year was not as bad as last year, but it was certainly more chaotic.

Erev Yom Tov, my cousin, Ben (Yes, [livejournal.com profile] rymenhild, that Ben) ended up in the hospital. After he went in with a severe headache, they discovered a tumor on his pituitary gland. They finally operated this afternoon (they had to wait until after the MRI that they did yesterday), and the surgery was successful (they removed the gland - and they are almost certain it is not cancer), but it made for a stressful yom tov.

His older sister (also my cousin - naturally) is the one who lives up the block from my parents with her husband and three kids. She spent all of yom tov near the hospital, and therefore away from the aforementioned husband and three kids. They were all supposed to be at my uncle's for yom tov, but he was, of course, near/at the hospital as well.

So my cousin's husband decided that he and the three kids would be better off staying in their own house if already they would be on their own - which, incidentally, meant they spent most of yom tov in my parents' house. (One of the big reasons why he made this decision - there were half a dozen free babysitters down the block...)

Anyway, take three kids who are a handful on a good day with both parents around, add in a last-minute change in yom tov plans, a parent who is away to be with an uncle who is suddenly sick, two days of yom tov, and the end of a week in which the kids have eaten almost nothing because none of them like Pesach food...

Yes, chaos is a very good word for it.

The entire first floor of our house became one big playroom, the cooking took twice as long - the kids love to cook - and we went through insane quantities of ice cream and chocolate chips - even the colorful ones that my mother thought were disgusting. Especially those.

It made me appreciate my family once again. I thought it was great that my cousin's husband was able to get to shul both days (remember, free babysitting) and that we not only had them over for lunch both days, but sent dinner up the block when the kids were asleep. And we got the kids to eat at least a little bit. And we all somehow got in naps of our own - in shifts - and today even the kids sort of napped... (the youngest, who turned two in November looked so cute curled up in the armchair with a mini pillow and airplane blanket, holding her sippy cup as she slept)

and somehow, despite the chaos, it felt so normal - because, of course, our house is as natural to them as their own. They even know how to get their own cereal - well, not this week - but the point is, we are used to having them around - though not usually for an entire day at once, two days in a row - and they are used to being around. Plus, it's harder to get stressed and worried when there are three kids in various states of 8th day of Pesach crankiness (actually, they were remarkably un-cranky) all clamoring for attention (again, this may be a slight exaggeration, partly because we had a very favorable caregiver to child ratio with myself, two siblings, a guest, plus my parents and their father).

And if we were all going to be stressed and worried, it's always better to do it together.

Plus, there was this added element of strangeness knowing that the 7th day was my grandfather's first yartzeit and the 8th day was yizkor, so life and death and all that was on our minds - or at least on mine - and to add on top of that the knowledge that my cousin is in the hospital, and that we knew he was having surgery but didn't know when or what was going on - and we knew that we weren't going to know until after yom tov unless something went drastically wrong - well, it was strange. To have those two things juxtaposed was very strange. Almost a bit surreal. The question loomed large in my mind: what if he died?

And Ben is my age. Which somehow makes it even stranger.

Anyway, so things were eventful and chaotic, and there was stuff going on - but somehow, it wasn't exactly bad. Ben is going to take a while to recover, of course, since they need to get his hormones back in balance and such, but in terms of how yom tov itself went, well, it wasn't restful, and it wasn't what we expected, but it was still good to see the kids - which we weren't supposed to - and it was good to be with family. And we had a meal out with the friends who couldn't come to lunch last year (again, see last year's entry) - who invited us precisely to make up for the meal they had to miss after my grandfather died. And somehow, when yom tov ended, it felt like it had been good - just different. I am not sure if the rest of my family would agree - especially my mom, who had to do a lot more this yom tov than she had planned on - but that was the feeling I was left with.

Oh, and for those who daven for people, Ben's Hebrew name is Yitzhak Liron ben Tzirel Leah

Happy chametz
taylweaver: (Default)
Has it really been 20 days since I last posted? On the one hand, that seems unreasonably long. On the other, so much has happened over the past 20 or so days that I feel like it has to have been far longer.

And now for an update:

Days 1-2: Transit Strike, alas, continues. Slightly worn sneakers carry me half an hour by foot to the alternate site I got myself assigned to (so that I could actually call it a work day) and half an hour by foot back home. Day 1 also included a detour to Teachers College (I was sort of in the neighborhood) to order a document I need in order to get my salary up to where it should be. It also included a stop at the Bank Street bookstore on the way home. Did you know they sell packages of blank dice? With label stickers? They're great when you want your dice to only go up to 3 so that your students don't win the game too quickly.

On Day 2, (3rd day of the strike, as my last post was the first day), the strike officially ended some time during the day. It did not end on a more practical level until the following day, however, so my now considerably more worn out sneakers carried me home to pack a heavy suitcase, and then outside to catch a cab so I could catch the charter bus that I rode to where I spent the next seven days...

Days 3-9: USY Convention. For those who don't know, this is a gathering of over 1,000 Jewish teenagers (was it 1,150 this year?) from all across the US and Canada for a week of learning, praying, social action, socializing, and other general fun.

Day 3: Now worn-out sneakers and worn-out feet carry me all over the hotel as I help to get ready for the teen-agers, who will arrive on Day 5. This year, I got to make signs (as usual) with schedules, room info, etc. Then Shabbat began - but I will call all of that Day 4 (a la Jewish calendar time)

Day 4: Shabbat. A very special Shabbat that I look forward to every year. This is a day when my dress shoes get to carry my tired feet and body to amazing services (because the people on staff care) and some okay meals... but the special parts are the Friday night gathering in the director's suite (some of you know who the director is - but I will give no further detail in a public entry) at which home-made dessert foods play a starring role - my own bar cookies included. This year, I was too tired to enjoy all this - but I did enjoy a good night's sleep in the cozy hotel bed ([livejournal.com profile] mysticengineer would love these beds - all poofy and squashy and down-filled. Those with allergies to down would probably hate them.) The following morning, I got to enjoy waking up when it was already light out, reading from the Torah - and pretty well, too, I think - and hearing my father teach about the weekly Torah portion - specifically about Joseph. There are times when I really love hearing my father teach, and this was one of them. He is all about group discussion, and it was pretty interesting to think of Joseph in new ways. One take on him that I really appreciated: Joseph as the equivalent of the straight-A student who wants people to like him, and thinks that boasting about his good grades is the way to get there - because he has little concept of how to be liked by others. Or something like that. Another interesting idea that came up: Maybe he wasn't in touch with his father during his time in Egypt because he thought his dad was in on the conspiracy - having sent him out to check on his brothers in the field (which leads to the pit and the sale and Egypt) when his dad knew his brothers disliked him. Shabbat also included an extra long nap.

Saturday night, it was back to work, getting everything ready for...

Day 5: USY Convention begins. The usual excitement. Plus an unusual event: family Chanukah party in Philadelphia with a combination of local relatives and cousins who were visiting other local relatives. Cousins as in three little kids who were very cute and photogenic. Yay digital camera! So the first night of Chanukah was really special.

Day 6: Convention, second day. A highlight: the keynote speaker was a family friend. She is disabled, and spoke about her experiences in USY, her disability, and her life story in general. The USYers gave her a standing ovation, and I learned things about her life that I never knew before.

Day 7: Convention, third day. Since the educational theme was disabilities, this day of social action projects, which carried groups of USYers all over the Philly area, ended with all of us at Temple University, watching a wheelchair basketball game. Then some USYers who won raffles got to try out wheelchair basketball for themselves. I got to give out boxed dinners. And then I got to help man the lost and found, which had tons of stuff in it, because things fell beneath the bleachers and had to be collected afterward.

Day 8: Fourth day of Convention. Concluded with a dinner dance. Loud and chaotic for the USYers, quieter for the staff - we ate, then began packing up - more wear on my shoes...

Day 9: Convention ended. We watched a fun video, then said tefillat haderech (the traveller's prayer) together before heading our separate ways until next year. I got to go home via NYC, so I could get my computer. Then home with my family for a few days (as opposed to at the convention with them)...

Day 10: Got to sleep in late. Put in an effort to find time for the purchase of new sneakers - except that my sister's coat made its way into that same lost and found (not via the bleachers, but because she was helping to sort the stuff back at the hotel and forgot to take her coat at the end of that) and so her coat was in a box, being shipped back to the USY office, so her issue took priority - but in the end, we got to neither.

Day 11: Quiet Shabbat with my family. After such an exhausting week, not nearly enough time to nap. Also gave my sneakers another good workout with a 30-minute walk to shul, and the same walk back. Wore my new Shabbat coat for the first time - and got snow on it! Managed to nap through an an exciting snowstorm in the afternoon. Also managed to get a ride back into the city that evening - New Years party at NU's - only she was sick, so we only saw her roommate. Fireworks from the roof of [livejournal.com profile] mbarr and [livejournal.com profile] wildblueyonder2's building - they looked small and less impressive than last year - I guess I wasn't in the same mood. Oh well.

Day 12: recovering from Day 11 - no, didn't have anything too toxic... - and also a little Chanukah get-together at [livejournal.com profile] mbarr and [livejournal.com profile] wildblueyonder2's apartment. They let me fry beignets in their kitchen. Much fun. Much tasty sugary goodness.

Day 13: last day to recuperate before returning to work. I think that was also the day I realized that wearing the sneakers was hopeless, as they had worn too far and were now rubbing my toe. Didn't do anything too interesting that I can recall.

Day 14-17: Back to work. Wearing shoes other than my sneakers. A different pair each day, as each set was rubbing in a different place. Also saw two doctors - turns out I have enflamed eyelashes - or eyelids, anyway. And $35 later (plus the appointment cost), I have a prescription cream to put on my eyelids. And was it on Day 16 that I went to Barnes and Noble and had fun buying calendars half price? A crochet calendar (as in, a whole box of crochet patterns that just happen to have dates on them) for myself, a magnetic poetry calendar, and two weather calendars for my students, since I may be teaching Earth Science next quarter. And on Day 14, I ordered new sneakers online.

Day 17 also included a trip down to JH's synagogue, and the usual hour walk back up - which my feet somehow survived.

Day 18 saw me reunited with [livejournal.com profile] rymenhild, who was here too briefly, but who also got me back in touch with [livejournal.com profile] terriqat and [livejournal.com profile] shirei_shibolim, and I followed them back to their apartment after lunch for more hang-out time. That evening, [livejournal.com profile] rymenhild was off again, and I got to see the second Star Wars movie (as in, the second one made, NOT Episode II) with friends.

I also began to crochet a mobius strip shawl. As [livejournal.com profile] mysticengineer pointed out, this is not only a fun project for me, but a way for me to understand the mobius strip a bit better.

Day 19 was mostly spent cleaning up from Day 18. And I think I did some other random stuff too...

Day 20's big highlight was hearing Neil Gaiman speak at the 92nd Street Y. He spent a lot of time speaking about the writing process, which I found useful. And he is also rather entertaining. Plus, I got three books signed (two of which I have actually read before...) I bought all three at Barnes and Noble beforehand - and the best part was, one of them, Anansi Boys, was 50% off - just begging me to buy it! So that was a really great evening.

Which brings us to today. I wonder if my new sneakers have arrived yet...
taylweaver: (Default)
I think that this is the correct word for blogging about blogging... Today, I realized just how good it is that I have a blog. Over the past three days, I listened to my mother tell the same story of my grandfather's decline and death what felt like a zillion times. I, on the other hand, have told the story only two or three times - because the rest of you either read it on my blog or told each other. This evening, one of my friends who does not read my blog called to offer condolances and ask me all the details. I didn't want to tell him. It was hard, not in the emotional sense but in the I've-heard-this-story-a-zillion-times-and-I-don't-want-to-hear-it-for-the-zillionth-and-first-time-because-I-am-telling-it-myself sense. So it made me really appreciate the convenience of blogging.

A few minutes ago, my sister-in-law introduced me to a mildly entertaining website: the llama song: www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/llama

She also told me that one of the first sight-words she teaches her first graders is come, because she doesn't want them to spell it phonetically. Think about it for a moment.

And speaking of first graders, my cousin of yesterday's blog entry fame came over this afternoon and I got to help her with her homework. She was a bit overtired - she slept well last night, but yesterday included the funeral and a little league game (she hit the ball twice, or so they tell me) - so she got rather silly. But we eventually got through it. Good thing her math book is the same as the one I was exposed to in my student teaching in the fall... have any of you ever heard of a function machine? It goes a little something like this: you put the number 6 into the machine and the number 7 comes out. What is the rule inside the machine? What does the machine do? +1. (It gives more than one example.) I guess it's the newer version of 1+__=2. (that would be in: 1, out: 2. What's the rule?) And any of the three parts can be blank: the in, the out or the rule. My cousin calls them in-out machines (a perfectly reasonable name for them). She walks in and tells me how in-out machines are hard, and I actually understood what she was talking about! Anyway, so I helped her with that. I taught her how to figure out if it is addition or subtraction (which numbers are bigger, the ones in the "in" column or the ones in the "out" column.) Well, I don't know if she internalized that... and I helped her with her Hebrew homework (apparently, math is "English" homework - gotta love dayschool.) She uses the book with the lions (the same one A's students use - no, not that A, the other A. (Engineers have no use for first grade Hebrew books with lions in them.)) (And I have a feeling I'm not supposed to use parentheses inside parentheses. Oh well.) Anyway, she got to read to me. They are learning how to write in script.

Other than that, today was quiet. One or two visitors at a time, if that. A very calm day. And I got to hear all sorts of stories - not that I really remember most of them... It just gets a little crazy after ma'ariv. That's the most overwhelming time of the day. That's when A (yes, this time it is that A, the one I wasn't talking about before) and M left, right when I was most overwhelmed. Of course, that's when A called me today (still the same A - gotta find a better way to differentiate between the names. Perhaps I should call you two AF and AB), so that was really nice. And once all the people were gone, it got better again.

And now, we still have visitors, but they are my brother's in-laws, which means it feels less like a shiva visit, and more like hanging out. Plus, I get to have my computer in the main room! Yay wireless! Dial-up is soooo slow.

Anyway, that's today's update. As of now, I am coming back Thursday night, but this may change. Either way, count me in for Shabbat. But it's been good to be home and with my family.

AG to O: "Hey, O, you know those little things things that tell you how you're feeling when you write an e-mail?" - this, misquiting her father. (He had said that tell other people how you're feeling. The response: "You mean emoticons?" "No, this is different." But the misquote is funnier.) (This quote has been inspired by the LJ mood options)

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