Friday, September 13, 2013

Where's the Cozy Carpet Corner?

Kinneret in her classroom
Her classroom looks stark. There are pictures on bulletin boards in the back and one side of the room. The windows don't open very wide, presumably to keep kids from climbing on them and falling out. There's no carpeted area or shelves of toys. The kids sit at tables, and not at desks. They store their books and notebooks in magazine boxes on a bookshelf, because the children don't have a desk to store their things inside.

I looked around the room, first trying to find the light switch, then trying to open the windows or turn on the air-conditioning. Her classroom isn't anything like what I remember from my first grade class at Woodland Hills Elementary School in Lawton, Oklahoma.

The assemblies are held in an outdoor amphitheater. We had ours in a giant auditorium. The dress code requires skirts for girls, kippot and tzitzit for boys. We were told that shorts had to reach the ends of our fingers when our hands were at our sides.

It's so different. At first I was apprehensive. Then I remembered my own first day of first grade.

I don't remember the morning. I only remember what happened at lunch time. We all lined up to go to the bathroom to wash our hands. I took a paper towel, wiped my hands, and recited the bracha (blessing).

Then I didn't talk. I'd been taught that you don't talk between washing and eating bread.

I didn't talk when I came out of the bathroom, or when I walked down the hall to the cafeteria to buy my milk with my special milk token.  I didn't say a word even when people talked to me, while I walked back to my classroom, waited for permission to get my lunchbox, and took out my lunch. It was a complete ordeal. It seemed to last for hours. Everyone kept asking me questions and looking at me as if I were doing something wrong by not answering. When I finally made the 'hamotzi' and bit into my sandwich, I felt like I'd been to battle. I was the only religious Jew in my school. There were two other children who I knew were Jewish because they attended our services on-post. I don't think anyone else even knew that. They certainly didn't wash or make brachot. I don't remember what I did about bensching (grace after meals). I'm guessing I gave it up as a lost cause. Until I entered a religious school in 8th grade, I never washed for lunch at school. Not once after my first day in first grade.

My daughter is sent out to wash, and then comes back to the table to make the bracha with her classmates. She bensches with her classmates, loud and clear. Each morning, she davens in school. She will never need a note explaining why she cannot participate in the class activity of eating green eggs and ham, nor will she have to go to school with matza and hard-boiled eggs and be stared at by children eating ham and cheese sandwiches.

In this school, she will never be unwilling to share food with her classmates because she knows she can never eat anything of theirs in exchange. She will not be excluded from school activities because they happen on Friday night or Saturday. She will never be made fun of for being  a Jew.

So I think I'm ok with there not being  a cozy rug corner in her classroom.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Return to Leah

Back in the late eighties, my brother worked at Six Flags Great Adventure for two summers. Since he was the only one around there who wore a 'beanie' (a kippa), when one of the workers found a 'Jewish book,' they gave it to my brother.

The 'Jewish book' was a siddur rinat yisrael (prayer book) with the name  (Leah) לאה imprinted on the front. Since we're talking about the eighties, polling the NY metropolitan area to find which Leah had lost a siddur wasn't really feasible. Instead, he gave it to his sister, Leah.

Over the years, I've kept the siddur, davened (prayed) from it. It was really special to me - I've felt connected to that unknown Leah who lost her siddur.

Recently, I've realized that it probably is possible to find the girl (woman) who lost that siddur, so I'm going to post a picture of the inscription, and ask that everyone please send every friend whose Hebrew name is Leah to this blog post.

I really want to return the siddur to its rightful owner.

thanks for helping!

Leah (triLcat) Goodman

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Shabbat - 7 Years Ago and Now

Seven years ago today, I was preparing for my Shabbat Kalla, which was a little bit of a disappointment.

(It's ok, the wedding was not!)

In that time, a lot has changed.
I have a husband who I am no longer just infatuated with, but actually know and love - with all his quirks (And he has almost as many as I do).
I have an amazing stepson and two children of my own.
I have a new sister (adopted) who is just a year younger than I am.
I have 11 new nieces and nephews (including the one who was born the next day).

This past Shabbat, I got my dream Shabbat - my whole family was together. Every single person from my side of the family got together at Yad Binyamin. While it wasn't a 5-star experience*, the place was calm and peaceful, and the kids got to play with their cousins for a whole Shabbat in a place with no cars. My kids got to run around freely for the first time pretty much ever. They kept going in and out of each other's rooms, playing with different cousins (fighting with different cousins). We sang together, read Haggadah together. Ephraim, Abby, Asher, and Elazar sang ma nishtana (the four questions), and they did really well, even if there was a little confusion.

My dream of having children who could play with Rachel's children has come true. Kinneret and Nomi are friends, and Ephraim & Yirmi are getting there (they have wildly different personalities, but both are so cute and wonderful that I know they'll be friends soon). Ephraim is currently in love with his cousin Ayala - he seems to think she was meant to be his big sister, and she thinks the same. :) As for cousins their age, Ephraim goes to gan with one of his honorary cousins this year, and will (probably) be in gan with another next year. His cousin Nomi Elisheva is 2 weeks older than he is. Kinneret has a cousin Shira (on my side) who is a year older than she is, and a cousin Shira (on Yaakov's side) who is just a day older than she is.

My older nieces and nephews helped with the kids, reminding me of when they were little and I helped their parents take care of them. I watched them grow up, and now they're having the same experience with my children.

To top it all off, we were staying in the moshav where I attended camp when I was 14. Kinneret and I found my old dorm and walked through some of the places where I walked 20 years ago.

All my life, I've been blessed with a fantastic family. In the past 7 years, I've built my own new family, and few things give me as much pleasure as spending time with my whole gigantic family all together!

*If you're looking for a place for a family Shabbat, Yad Binyamin is nice, but I'd recommend calling in advance to verify that they intend to serve more than 1 piece of chicken or 1 slice of roast beef per person. The rooms are not fancy - rustic might describe it, but they're set up well for a family of 4 - 2 rooms with 2 beds.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

But Can He Walk on Water?

For about ten years, I've been suffering from fibromyalgia.
It sucks.
There are real miracles, though...
I've been in pain pretty much constantly, tired, lacking energy.

The psychological aspect is somehow worse - People see me as the type of person who's lazy, sleeps, sluggish. That's actually not who I am. I'm a bubble of energy. I used to get up at 6:30 when I only had to be at the bus stop at 8 because I liked hanging out at the bus stop with my friends.

My favorite place was the pool. I was always trying to improve my stroke, do more flips, always in motion. I'd walk anywhere with friends. I remember the hardest part of Shabbat morning being that I wanted to DO SOMETHING, GO SOMEWHERE. I once walked three miles along nasty highways when I was in highschool, just so I could hang out with a friend on Shabbat.

Saturday nights, I'd watch Saturday Night Live, go to sleep at 1:00am, and wake up raring to go by 8:30. Sleeping in meant sleeping all the way until 9am. I couldn't understand how people could sleep away their days.

That's who I was. And then my thyroid died. Sixteen years ago, I suddenly went from the person who was dying to get out, move, do something to the person who just wanted to sleep through life.

I trusted my doctors. I didn't really know any better. I read an article online about myxedema coma and got so scared that I didn't want to know any more.

I've been gaining weight, the pain's been getting worse, and I've had less and less energy.

I started really doing research about what is helping people who have fibromyalgia, brought information about new experimental treatments to my doctor, but he wasn't eager to run a lab experiment on me.

Finally, I found a doctor who is willing to try experimental treatments. I'm feeling better.

Here are the changes:
First, and I suspect this is most important, he added t3 to my thyroid regimen. Basically, the thyroid produces t4, and the t4 is changed into t3 in the blood. T3 is one of the things that fuels the body, so it's pretty crucial. Standard treatment is to provide t4 and assume that the body will turn it into t3 (Synthroid, eltroxin, euthyrox - all t4, not t3). Almost immediately, I started feeling more alert when awake, and I'm fairly certain that's the action of the t3.

Second, pretty much everyone has a vitamin D deficiency. I did know I had it, but this doctor decided to increase my vitamin D doses by quite a lot (I'm taking 4000 iu now, compared to 400 that my regular doctor prescribed)

Third, even though my ferritin was within normal limits, he said it was on the low side, so I started taking an iron supplement (this is one supplement where not all are created equal, I had to shop around a bit to find one that didn't give me really serious digestive issues).

Fourth, I am no longer taking any painkillers, but I am taking hydrocortisone daily (20mg), which is supposed to boost my adrenal system. (Not sure I believe in that)

Fifth, and this is what he claims the 'treatment' is, he gives me guaifenesin, which, according to a theory laid out by Dr. St. Amand, removes excess phosphates from the body.

I looked up this article which thoroughly debunks that theory. There are, however, two other theories as to why guafenesin works - one is that it helps clear the airways during sleep to promote better quality sleep. The other is that guaifenesin is actually known to be a muscle relaxant and to improve pain relief.

Here's the thing - After 4 months, I can live my life without the etopan and tramadol that I was taking daily to keep the pain bearable. Can I say with certainty that guaifenesin is helping? nope. Can I say that I'm doing better? YES! Very much.

It might just be because of the t3. A few years ago, Stanford University conducted an experiment to see if doses of t3 helped with symptoms of fibromyalgia. I can't find the results anywhere.

At any rate, I can't swear that any one part of this is working. But I am better. So I'm not seeing the splitting of the Red Sea, water coming from rocks (though you can find that on 443...). I'm not sure why it's working, but I am better. I am better.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bad Eats- Good Swim

Milky (pudding with whipped cream)
tea with milk & sugar

Mac & cheese

Mid afternoon snack:
mac & cheese (too much)
Reeses Pieces (way too much)

1/4 Chicken

I swam 30 today, and it went really well. I felt good after the swim.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013



Grapefruit juice
Tuna salad
Light bread.
Cream cheese

I don't remember lunch, there was definitely a cup of tea.

Dinner: Chicken & way too much rice (though at some point, I realized I wasn't hungry anymore, and I threw the rest in the trash)

went swimming, did 12. :(
Breakfast was a yogurt shake.
Lunch - sour cream with a bit of sugar.
Dinner - eggs with cheese, tivol hot dogs, popcorn (a whole bag of microwave popcorn)

Breakfast : sour cream with sugar, cup of tea (with milk & sugar)
Lunch: couscous with vegetable soup
Dinner: couscous with vegetable soup

Overall - medium. no point in weighing in yet. I'll try to hit the gym tomorrow and weigh in there.

Overall, I'm feeling very tired. The swim was helpful for my pain. I'm having a hard time falling asleep... restless legs and tight muscles at night.
I sent an email to the specialist (Dr. Kurland in Kfa"s if you're curiosu), but he hasn't answered yet. I'm seeing him again in around a month. We'll see how things are then.


Thursday, February 07, 2013

Dieting Again

Starting over...
The goal is a little different this time.
I'm supposed to keep it low-carb, but I'm allowed fat.
I'm on a specific diet given to me by my fibro specialist.

(on the fibro front, it's been a bad week, but not as bad as Sept-Nov)

Today's food:
morning: 1/4 apple (left over from making K's aruchat eser)
snack: 1/2 cup grape drink
lunch: 3% cottage cheese, 9% sour cream, 2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup couscous, 1/4 cup canned peas (which Rachel claims aren't edible)
snack: ~1/2 chocolate bar, maybe a bit less, b/c I kept giving my kids pieces.
supper: 1 can tuna w/ cmoyonaisse, 1 green apple.
still hungry.

ok. had another 100 grams of pastrama plus some ketchup.