The Miracle of Marriage

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Yesterday was my seventh wedding anniversary.  I’ve been married for seven years.  That’s like having a master’s degree in marriage.  A master’s and part of a doctorate (depending on how long it took to complete your undergrad degree, I suppose, or what kind of master’s program…okay, I’m seriously digressing here).

Friday night, after the kids were in bed and the baby was resting, my husband and I were able to sit at the table and just talk.  Like we used to do, you know, when we were dating.  Seven years ago.  Okay, seven and a half years ago.

When Renee and Tikva asked if I would be up for participating in Hanukkah Hooplah this year, I didn’t realize initially that my post would be overlapping so closely with my anniversary.  And I wanted to write about both Chanukah and marriage.

So Friday night, I was talking to my husband about this posting conundrum, and we came to the conclusion that I could really write about both in the same piece.  Because what is marriage if not the miraculous meeting of two people and their miraculous ability to stay connected despite all the ish that happens to them in their married life?

Our miracles

My husband and I often joke about how our match doesn’t make any sense on paper.  He was born in the Ukraine and grew up in a Russian household in Memphis.  He became Orthodox in his teens.  He’s science-minded and is generally distrustful skeptical.  I grew up in the midwest, going to high school in Des Moines, IA.  I became Orthodox after college.  I’m creatively-minded and trust pretty much everyone/thing.  Basically, we have nothing in common.

Sometimes we marvel at how many pieces had to fall into place just to get us to meet each other.  He had to emigrate from the Soviet Union, I had to leave Iowa, we both had to become Orthodox.  His brother had to get a fellowship in St. Louis and move onto a certain street.  I had to board with a family that lived on a street perpendicular to his.  They had to invite me to a Shabbos meal.  I had to come home from seminary.  He had to not be dating anyone else.

There are a lot of steps involved and a fair amount of near misses.  And even while we were dating, we didn’t really know how well suited we were for each other until after the wedding when we started to relax a little more and discovered, to our delight, that we were both a little zanier than we had let on during the dating process.

And despite our differences, which generally benefit our relationship, we really do have a lot in common, where it counts.

Very nice, but what does any of this have to do with Chanukah?

We (my husband and I) were thinking that Chanukah is a time of miracles, but not flashy miracles like the parting of the sea, but quieter in a way.  You’re probably familiar with the oil that was supposed to last one day and lasted eight.  That’s pretty well-known.  There’s also the military battle that the few (the Jews) won against the many (the Greeks).  To commemorate these miracles, we say the prayer “al hanisim” (which means, wait for it, “for the miracles”).

With all the miracles it took to get us to together and to get us to learn (and to continue to learn) how to communicate with each other and be married to each other, it just seems fitting that our anniversary falls around Chanukah.

We all have miracles in our lives, and they’re not always flashy.  This Chanukah, take a moment to appreciate the small (but big!) miracles that are all around you.

What’s this Hanukkah Hooplah businesss?

Remember back in 2011 when I teamed up with other bloggers to do a Chanukah post extravaganza with a giveaway?  This is kind of like that, but the 2014 version!  Eight other great bloggers (who are well worth a visit and a read) are sharing their thoughts on Chanukah, and everyone’s offering some sort of prize.  That’s eight prizes for eight readers.  The only thing you have to do to enter the giveaway (I know, two giveaways in one month on my blog!  Lucky you!) is to leave a comment.

The prize I am offering is a mixed CD, made by me, sent to you.  Whoever wins can tell me the kind of mood you want me to create, and I’ll pick songs from my musical library and burn a CD for you.  Old school style (well, really old school style would be making you a mixed tape, but I don’t even own a tape player anymore, so we can’t do that.  Sorry).

If you want to check out the master schedule (and you know you do), click on this picture:

Also, congratulations to Sarah, who said:

I love Bamboobies! I recommend them to anyone who asks and I’m kind of obsessed with all their products :). Those and a good nursing cover are top of my list.

She won a Milk-Saver from Milkies!  Hooray!

Top Four Essential Breastfeeding Supplies

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A few days ago, as I was nursing the baby, the phone rang.  I got up, still nursing, walked over and answered the phone.  It was my husband, and when I told him what I was doing, we both laughed.  Nursing child #4 is very different compared to child #1!

With my first, I would probably have been sitting on my bed, surrounded by the myriad supplies and paraphernalia I thought I’d need, petrified to interrupt the feeding, never mind actually getting up and walking around while the baby was still eating!

I still have various supplies and paraphernalia that I use while nursing, but over the years have fine-tuned what is and isn’t so useful.  Here are my findings: Continue reading

Man plans (for an epidural), G-d laughs

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I know it’s a little crazy to be sitting at my computer typing right now, but I’m in that honeymoon phase of having a baby where the sleep deprivation is enough to make me feel loopy and creative but not completely destroyed.  That’s usually next week and/or the week after, from previous experience.

There’s also an incentive to get this baby’s birth story down before it retreats into the fuzzy annals of my increasingly crowded (and unreliable) memory.  My parents are here to help (for which I am inexpressibly grateful), my husband has paternity leave (it exists!!), and so I have this little, teeny-tiny window of time to gather what I can of my thoughts.

And I’m taking it. Continue reading

A Review of Circle, Arrow, Spiral: Exploring Gender in Judaism

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Gender can be a very hot-button topic (ahem, understatement).  So can Religion.  It’s not surprising that discussions of gender roles in Judaism can get very heated.  I’ve watched op-eds fly across the interwebs, but with a certain amount of detachment.

Gender issues aren’t anything that I get particularly worked up about.  When I became Orthodox, I found the delineations between male and female roles and obligations refreshing.  I don’t feel limited, second-class, subjugated or any of the other unfavorable adjectives I’ve heard describing women’s treatment in Orthodox Judaism.  On the contrary.  I feel that much of what I was taught about gender in my pre-Orthodox days was less healthy and less reasonable than what I understand the Torah to teach.  This is probably why I don’t get worked up whenever a gender-related topic makes the rounds online.  I’m happy with my paradigm.

So if this isn’t a topic which normally piques my interest, why would I agree to review a book whose subtitle is “Exploring Gender in Judaism?”  Continue reading

the Best Pregnancy-Related Purchase Ever, plus Round Three of Orthodox Women Talk

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{The latest round of Orthodox Women Talk is up over at Rachel Eden’s blog!  We’re talking about our favorite way to infuse our lives with Judaism.  Check it out! } 

It’s eight days ’til my due date.  I’m not really taking this deadline so seriously, as all of my babies have been born exactly a week after my due date.  Because of this, my husband didn’t schedule his paternity leave (they’re giving him two weeks – isn’t that wonderful?) until three days after my due date.  My parents aren’t coming in until six days after my due date.

So, you know, as much as I would love to have this baby already (boy, would I), I’m kind of hoping my birthing pattern holds true!  We’ll see.  Pregnancy is one of those things where I’m acutely aware of how little control I have over anything that’s going on in there (except for, obviously, I can control how healthy I eat and if I exercise, etc. etc.).  Pretty much everything that’s going on inside of me is a big, giant, enormous miracle. Continue reading

Music for Fall Days

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It has been ages and ages since I last wrote about music (here’s the most recent post).  Thanks to Sarah’s comment on the blog’s Facebook page sharing that she liked my posts with musical clips, and hoped I would do more, I’m doing more!  This one’s for you, Sarah.

I’ve also been greatly enjoying Sarah Zadok’s musical posts (different Sarah) over at Hevria (which you should totally check out), and seeing her put together actual playlists, I have followed suit.  You can scroll to the bottom of this post if you want to listen to the entire set uninterrupted. Continue reading

On Being a Non-Participant

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This week was the much-publicized Great Challah Bake and Shabbos Project.  I was totally excited about both these events, but, much to my dismay, I didn’t participate in either!  What?!  Yes.

The Challah Bake was scheduled on Thursday.  On Wednesday, I realized that my husband was scheduled to work the 2 pm to 1 am shift on Thursday.  Though I did see some pictures of friends who took a kid with them, I didn’t have the energy to shlep all my kids, and I didn’t have the energy to get a babysitter, either (for some reason, finding a babysitter takes a Herculean amount of effort).  So I watched from home as my newsfeed filled up with pictures of thousands and thousands of women across the country participating in this amazing event.  It looked tremendous, really tremendous!

As for the Shabbos Project, we almost hosted a couple boys for meals, but in the end they went somewhere else, so it was just us.  And since I was still recuperating from the holidays, and a little under the weather, and also having zero energy from, Baruch Hashem, being in the last month of pregnancy, I was a little relieved to not have guests this week.

And when our daughter ended up being sick multiple times Friday night (poor thing!), I was even more grateful for the lack of guests.  Maybe that was the reason that our guests cancelled.

But as I write all this, I feel apologetic and guilty about not participating, about being too tired to do more.   Continue reading