Monthly Archives: January 2012

Bar mitzva plans

I’ve hardly written anything about our bar mitzva preparations, and it’s just a week away now!

Here are our basic plans: we’ll be having a meal on Friday night for family and any guests who are coming from out of town.  That will be around 25 people, so not a major crowd.   Then Shabbos (Sabbath) morning, ds12 will be called to read the Torah at a local synagogue, and we’ll be having a kiddush/ dessert reception for everyone.  (I can’t even guess at numbers for this.)

Following that, we’ll be having a meal for family, ds12’s classmates, and close friends  – this will be around 50 – 60 people.  Then later on, we’ll have the third meal for our family and out of town guests, so again, about 25 people.

Since we’re doing all the cooking and baking ourselves, as well as setup, etc, this has been a busy week and next week will be even busier!  Here’s what we did this week:

  • Dh took ds to Haifa to buy a suit (they bought a hat over a month ago on a trip to Bnei Brak, along with his tefillin).
  • Dh designed the invitations and printed them out, and they were given to classmates this week.  (Everyone else will get an email invite or verbal notice.)
  • Yesterday I bought almost all of the paper goods for the meals and reception.
  • Dd15 and dd17 did almost all of the baking for the kiddush/reception.  It doesn’t seem like so much to me, but we were told that fifteen cakes is usually enough.

This includes (all pans are equal to 2 9 x 13 pan unless otherwise noted): 2 dark chocolate cakes, 2 carrot cakes, 2 chocolate chip crumb cakes (loaf pans), 4 lemon pound cakes (loaf pans), 1 marble cake, 1 raspberry bars, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, coconut snowballs, chocolate dipped shortbread cookies, and fudge crinkles.  In the works tonight are: checkboard cake, 3 lay orange cake with buttercream frosting and topped with homemade orange marmalade, lemon bars, and maybe shortcake if someone will go out to buy some more round pans at the store tonight!

I would like to have a couple of fancy frosted cakes in addition to the platters to dress up the tables, but the logisitics are a little challenging.  We only have a fridge sized freezer, but thankfully a neighbor has offered us her fridge sized freezer, so tomorrow I’m hoping to take all of the baked goods over since I’m maxed out for space at this point – and I haven’t even started cooking any food for the three meals!

The fancy cakes have to carefully stored and take a good bit of space, or have to be assembled a short time before they are served.  Since we’ll have about three hours on Friday afternoon to get all of the food for the entire weekend to the hall, pick up electric hotplates to use to heat the food on Shabbos, set up all the tables, heat the food, accompany our guests to the homes of their hosts – and we don’t have a car! – it’s going to be a busy three hours.  On Shabbos morning we have to be at shul by 8:30 am in order to hear the reading of the Torah by ds12, then will go straight there to set up the kiddush, followed by immediate cleanup and then setup for the meal.  I’m not seeing where the extra time to put together a three layer cake is going to happen, and it would be such a shame to put the time into making it now, and having it get smushed in the freezer.

Dd17 enjoys baking really nice looking cakes, and just about every day we have a conversation in which she suggests making something beautiful and time consuming, and I veto it and remind her the point is to keep it simple so we don’t get stressed out.  I was trying to explain the logistics to a couple of the kids tonight, so they could see the big picture that I’m looking at of everything that has to be done, to understand why I keep rejecting certain suggestions – but I think that they won’t really understand what I’m talking about until we’re in the middle of giving baths to the littles, haircut to ds, ironing everyone’s clothes, getting our house clean, in addition to everything else, that they’ll start to realize what I was talking about.  I also love when things look super nice, and if I had a better set up that would allow me to prepare and store things in advance, I would do more along these lines.

I’d like to serve some kind of kugel, vegetable platters and dips in addition to the desserts, but particularly the dips will complicate the cleanup, and whatever I end up adding will be because I found lots of extra time and energy that I hadn’t budgeted for something else!  Not so likely, but not impossible, either.  :)

Then there’s the three Shabbos meals, for which everything will be cooked towards the end of the week, so that it will be fresh.  It’s nice that we rented a place that we can use for not just the kiddush, but will be able to have all of meals in one place.  This wasn’t part of the original plan, but we decided on this a couple of weeks ago.  It will really help us keep things simple since I won’t have to juggle between hosting and serving in our home for two meals, and then in another place for the main bar mitzva meal.

Also, we’re not going to have more than three guests staying in our home for the weekend, and they’re all people we’re comfortable with and can be relaxed around.   There aren’t many people coming from outside of Karmiel, but we are deeply grateful to everyone of them for being willing to make the effort to share our celebration with us.

As far as our budget, I might be wildly unrealistic about this because I haven’t bought the food for the weekend meals yet, but I’m hoping to keep the food expenses within our usual monthly food budget of 2000 shekels or close to it (this obviously means being super frugal with our usual expenditures).  So far just about all of the baking supplies have been purchased and it’s looking optimistic.  I’ll keep track of all of my receipts so I can give you an accurate idea later on of how much our self-catered bar mitzva was.  :)

Avivah

Is it fair to have children closely spaced?

I started writing this post over a year and a half ago, and I had to smile when I recently checked my drafts file, since so many of the topics that I wrote about then are still things I think about!

There’s a lot of strong opinion on the topic of ideal spacing of one’s children.  This is a highly personal decision that is fraught with emotion – I know I’ve had a negative knee jerk reaction to reading some of what is written on this topic, and I’ve had to remind myself that people are entitled to do whatever is right for them.

I’d like to address to a particular sentiment regularly expressed by real food devotees, the nutritional argument.  Those in the real food camp (where I consider myself) try to follow traditional food practices – to eat food as it was eaten for generations, because this has been key in the health of many generations.   As we’ve gotten away from this inherent wisdom of our bodies, our collective health has suffered.

Many people have noted the significant spacing between children in traditional societies, and felt that this is important to implement in our lives.  This is in order to give a mother time in which she can rebuild her nutritional stores after being depleted by pregnancy (and breastfeeding).  An unborn child can only ‘take’ from the reserves that the mother has in store; if it’s not there, his body won’t be able to use it.  And by carefully spacing one’s children, each child can be granted his “birthright of perfect health” (sorry, lost the complete Sally Fallon quote I wanted to share with you).

Now obviously, since I’ve had nine children born within fifteen years,  you don’t have to be a math whizzard to work out that I haven’t followed the ideal child spacing of three to four years between children!    And I’m not going to be an apologist for that.  Rather, I want to question what I perceive to be a dogmatic belief that ideal nutrition trumps the value of bringing children into the world, as well as the idea that you can eliminate any variables in the development of an unborn child.

(Parenthetically, something that is usually not mentioned when making the argument about what traditional societies did regarding child spacing, is that this was accomplished in large part because men had several wives and weren’t intimate with each wife for a lengthy period of time after childbirth.  True, we can replicate traditional spacing by using birth control rather than polygamy, but long term usage of chemical birth control (versus natural family planning) comes with it’s own related health concerns.  (Edited to add: how timely that after posting this I saw Kelly’s post about the dangers of birth control!  Definitely take a look so you can see some of the issues involved.)

There are those who feel passionately enough about this topic that they are willing to not have another child at all if it means that he won’t be conceived from a position of nutritional strength.  I respect that this is their belief and priority, and there would be a lack of integrity for someone who believed this to make any different choice.  For me, it’s not a choice I have chosen, even knowing all that I do about how prenatal nutrition affects a growing child.

I’m going to write a post (hopefully sooner rather than later!) detailing the physical differences that I’ve noted in the  jaw structure of each of our nine children depending on what I ate during pregnancy as well as birth order.  And though I can see that some have better facial bone structure than others, I don’t believe in even the tiniest part of me that because one had teeth that were more crowded than another and needed braces, that I shortchanged them or made a mistake by bringing them into this world.

I believe that there’s an inherent value to having a child, a spiritual piece of eternity that a mother can be part of.  That doesn’t mean that no matter what your current reality is, that having a baby is a good idea right now.  As I said earlier, this is an extremely personal decision and I can only share the criteria that I personally use in determining if pregnancy is a good idea at this time – a woman’s physical and emotional readiness to nurture a child.

While there are nutritional concerns that the expectant mother would benefit by addressing when children are close in age by being particularly careful that she has a high nutrient diet,  I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that there are benefits to a mother and child to being spaced more closely.  Each child has a constant playmate and companion, which often develops into a close relationship that is maintained over the years.  When children are each other’s entertainment, this makes the physical aspect of parenting much easier than for a mom of a singleton or those who are widely spaced.

A mother absolutely should not deplete herself  to the point that she has nothing left to give.  But there’s a lot of ground between absolute physical exhaustion, and striving for the physical perfection of child.  It’s this sentiment of idealizing perfection that I’m disturbed by in the real food community.  I’m not a fan of striving for perfection in any area, since I think it’s stressful, depleting, guilt inducing, and not productive.  (Excellence, yes, but definitely not perfection!)

It’s true that the mother of closely spaced children isn’t likely to be able to replenish her nutritional stores like someone who has worked on it assiduously for several years without the draw from pregnancy.  However, let’s not forget that there’s plenty a woman can do to eat well during pregnancy to improve her unborn baby’s health.  This is not an all of nothing process.  (I’ve written about guidelines for high quality prenatal nutrition here.)

And on the other side of the equation, there are no guarantees in life.  There’s a conviction in the real food camp that if you eat well enough, nothing can go wrong with your child’s prenatal development.  Guess what?  It doesn’t always work like that.  It’s wonderful that there are so many things that we can affect with good nutrition, and this is very empowering.  But there are always going to be potential issues we can’t control for, as comforting as it is to think that we can.

What do you think the ideal child spacing is?  How has that worked for you and your children?  

Avivah

(This post is part of Monday ManiaReal Food 101Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, and Real Food Wednesdays.)

Toddler repeatedly leaving bedroom at bedtime

>>my son (2.5) takes 3 hours to go to sleep now- he finds any excuse to come out of his room, and if i lock the door he screams and i cant bare it. hell ask for food, tissues, bandaids and anything else.  PLEASE any advice is gold right now!<<

I wouldn’t suggest locking the door when your son goes to bed, since it’s a scary thing for a child.  It’s much better to leave it open when he goes to sleep so he can see that even though he’s going to sleep, you are still there for him.

Here are a couple of things to consider before taking any action steps: is he tired when you put him to bed?  Is he taking a long or late nap during the day and he’s really not ready for sleep later in the evening?  If not, maybe he needs to take a shorter nap during the day, more time outdoors in the afternoon to burn off some energy, or more of a bedtime ritual to help him unwind.  If he’s tired and ready for sleep when bedtime comes around, go on to the next thing below.

The next issue is to be sure that bedtime is positive and not punitive.  Look, none of us want to stop doing something we’re enjoying, and for little kids, it’s more fun to be awake than to go to bed.  So we have to make an effort for bedtime to be nice time together.  To start, maybe you can sit next to him for a little while when he goes to bed so he doesn’t feel that bedtime means a sudden big separation.

Then, once you’re doing the bedtime ritual with a child who is tired and ready for bed, he needs to see you’re consistently having the same expectations of bedtime.  Before he goes to sleep, offer him a drink and remind him that once he’s in bed that’s it.  If he asks for something once he’s in bed, tell him pleasantly but firmly, ‘Now it’s time for bed, tomorrow when you wake up you can have a (whatever it is).’
Broken record with this – he needs to keep getting the same response again and again, without you escalating emotionally or verbally.  You don’t have to say this forever – if you’ve had enough after three times, you can tell him, “Mommy said we’re not getting/having that right now. Mommy’s not going to talk about it anymore.’  And then don’t talk about it. Just sit quietly next to him and put your finger to your lips with a little bit of a smile (so you don’t look mean and threatening) if he says something.
Can you visualize this?  Firm and loving.
Good luck!
Avivah

Struggling to feel mothering is enough of an accomplishment

I’ve been feeling kind of down lately, and went to sleep last night feeling especially discouraged.  There are a few reasons for that, one of which is that during cold weather it gets into my bones and I feel like huddling under a blanket all day.  (This is definitely related to living in a stone building without insulation or heating.)  Because it’s cold people stay inside more, so then I feel socially isolated and as a person who is energized by interacting with others, I get down when I spend so long hardly seeing anyone outside of my family.  That’s the reality of the winter – when I feel warm and I can see people when I go out, I feel like a different person.

But a bigger reason is that I’ve been allowing lots of negative and self-defeating thoughts to enter my mind and particularly because of the above situation, those thoughts have been finding fertile soil.  Usually I shake it off pretty quickly and wasn’t going to share about any of this, but then I thought that it would be good for people to realize that we all struggle sometimes.  People have often told me how positive and upbeat I am, but you know what?  It doesn’t always come naturally, and sometimes I have to really work at it.

So what are some of those negative thoughts that were having free reign running through my mind?  How lazy I am, unproductive, and not accomplishing anything with my life.  Then from there I went on to think about how so many people in the world are able to motivate themselves to do something impressive with their life, and I’m not.  And I won’t, because I don’t have all their strengths and I’m too busy and too tired.  And too busy making excuses about how busy and tired I am when if I really tried, I could be doing more.

Then I went on to think how everyone else has so many friends and family that care about them, and I don’t.  This has been exacerbated by the reality that my husband and I come from very small families with just one second cousin living in the same country as us, we’re living in a new community where we mostly know people in a casual way, and we’re making a bar mitva in a week and a half that will reflect that.

And yuck, look at how out of shape I’m getting.  I haven’t exercised for a few weeks (since I use a dvd on the computer and dh is now using my computer all day long), and of course when I’m in this kind of mood I won’t count my daily half hour walk to get my littles from school or the fact that my stamina is better than it has been for a long time.

So this is kind of how the negative cycle in my mind sometimes sounds, usually most focused on not feeling like I’m accomplishing anything in my life and not so much the latter two issues.  Basically grappling with my identity as a full-time mother.  A few weeks ago I was at a reception when the grandmother of the honoree spoke, and she said something that I really appreciated hearing.  She said that her children have often told her how accomplished she is, but to her, there’s nothing in her life that has been a bigger accomplishment than raising her children.

Afterwards I went over and thanked her, and told her I was struggling to find value in all that I do every day, since mothering isn’t recognized by the outside world at all.  But this is really the area where I’m most invested at this stage of my life and where I’ll be invested for the foreseeable future.  I told her that the messages from the outside that I needed to be making money or earning a name for myself in some public way sometimes find a foothold in my mind, and it’s hard to continually pat your own back and reassure yourself that what you’re doing is important.   Particularly since I don’t think I’m doing such an outstanding job as a mother right now – I feel adequate, but not amazing (which is how I usually feel).    Parenting is a long term project and there aren’t major milestones on a weekly or monthly basis that you can check off and know you’ve done well.

She told me she had a similar struggle since she has a sister who has a very successful career, and just being able to honestly speak to someone about this feeling I had, and to hear her validate it and share her own perspective from a lifetime of looking back at what was truly valuable, really was encouraging to me.  This is the kind of message I need to periodically remind myself of when I’m getting too focused on the short term view.

What else do I find helpful in breaking the cycle of negative thinking?  Writing a gratitude list – I’ve been doing this somewhat irregularly since I was 17, and have found it very valuable in keeping me focused on all of my blessings instead of what I lack.  I also mentally make gratitude lists, but I don’t find this as effective – there’s something about writing things down that makes them register mentally at a deeper level.

I have to consciously fill my mind with positive thoughts at times like this, even when it’s the last thing I feel like thinking of.  It’s like reprogramming my brain so it will automatically run good programs even when I’m not trying.

Can you identify with any of this?  How have you resolved any of these feelings for yourself?

Avivah

Young mom protects self and infant from intruder

Some days it’s a really nice thing to see the news!  This story was from a few days ago, but since my husband’s laptop broke a few weeks ago, he’s using mine most of the day.  That means by the time I can use the computer, it’s usually late in the evening and I’m too tired to post.  But this is worth sharing even four days late.

An eighteen year old mother of a three month old baby was at home alone, a week after the death of her husband to cancer, when two men began trying to break into her home.  She called 911 and pleaded with them to send help immediately.  In the meantime, she loaded her shotgun and kept it aimed at the door while on the phone.  21 minutes later, no help had yet arrived, and the man battering her door down was finally successful and entered her home.

Having told the 911 dispatcher what was happening, she asked if she could shoot him if he entered her house.  And basically, she was told to do what she had to do if he entered.  As he came into her home, she shot and killed him.

There are too many news stories of horrible crimes, particularly against women, because they can’t protect themselves.  Being that one of these men had a twelve inch hunting knife with him, it’s pretty obvious that they weren’t there for a pleasant social call and this would have ended horribly if she hadn’t been armed.  You could almost cry for all that this very young woman has gone through, and that she had the nerves to do what she needed to do to protect herself and child is wonderful.

I think it’s critical to know how to defend oneself, though unfortunately I don’t know how to shoot.  It’s one of my regrets that I didn’t learn while I was in the US – my husband went to the shooting range but I was pregnant so couldn’t go with him, and then we never got around to it, though we talked about it.  It’s not much of a consolation that at least I learned how to load and aim a handgun.

The day before this story, a neighbor from the Seattle area in which I used to live told me last week that there have been a recent rash of burglaries in that area, about one a week.  She told me that one homeowner came out with his gun (Seattle being the liberally leaning area that it is, this was expressed with some shock) and held down the attempted robber until the police came.  I thought that was fabulous.  If  more responsible and law abiding people had handguns and knew how to safely use them, we’d see the crime rates drop like a stone, because criminals would think twice before attacking someone if they thought they might encounter serious resistance.

Avivah

A wonderful morning foraging with my boys

Last night I commented to dh that: 1) I really miss homeschooling (nothing like sending your kids to underscore how great homeschooling is!); 2) I missed ds5’s exuberant energy.  He’s seemingly adjusting well to everything, except this boy who used to be happy and excited about everything now is constantly whining, complaining, and crying – I realized yesterday that he hardly ever smiles from deep inside anymore.

This morning the whining started when a sibling gave him a spoonful of sugar in his second bowl of oatmeal, and it wasn’t a big enough spoonful.  You would have thought something terrible had happened, the way he began crying and yelling.  I asked him to speak pleasantly, and he really seemed unable to.

I explained to him that we don’t go to school when we are sick because it could make people sick, and it’s not fair to the people around us to go to school when  we are miserable; it makes people feel good when we smile and bad when we are unhappy.  So it became a ‘gan Mommy’ morning (‘Mommy playgroup’ – what staying home with me was termed for the sake of ds2.5 so he would feel like he was doing what everyone else going to school was).

He was upset about not getting to go to school, but within a half hour, he was smiling.  Really smiling.  I could almost see him unwind and inwardly relax.   It was so nice to see.  I told him at 10 am we’d take a walk and go to the park, but when we got there, the officials told us they changed the hours for the winter and wouldn’t be open until 3 pm.

I’ve recently noticed that it seems to be prime foraging season here – in the US it was after the winter – and lately I’ve had a hankering to get outside and just harvest something!  My motivation for this morning’s outing was that yesterday I noticed some rosehips when I was out with the kids, and wanted to check if there were more so I could prepare a big batch at once.  So it didn’t make much of a difference to me where we went, and when ds5 suggested another park, off we went.

We detoured somewhat, scanning the rosebushes that lined the streets.  On the way, I showed him what mallow looks like – I don’t usually pick any wild edibles around here that grow on the ground because there are lots of dogs.  But it had just rained and we were in an area that didn’t seem to be a dog spot, so we picked some.

Then we entered a big gorgeous park that has a playground but is mostly a huge beautiful natural area, and while the boys were running around I kept my eyes open for rosehips, but instead noticed that some of the olive trees had some ripe olives still remaining.  So when they finished running, I suggested we find an olive tree to pick from.  But ds5 said, “I don’t want to pick olives, I want to pick carob!”  He noticed right then that we were passing a carob tree, so I hoisted him on my shoulder and he picked a few nice long pods.  The three of us snacked on them as we went along, and then found some more mallow off the beaten trail.

As we followed the mallow trail, we happened upon a low growing olive tree with a huge rock underneath it. This was perfect since ds5 could reach the olives by climbing on this big rock.  Ds2 also wanted to pick, but it didn’t last long since it meant me holding him up high while simultaneously pulling the olive branch down low towards us.  I gave him the olives I picked to put in the bag (he was much slower than we were, so this wasn’t really suitable), then switched his job to holding the bag of olives open, but that wasn’t a great job for him either.  But I let him keep that job since he felt useful and ds5 and I filled our pockets as we picked, and periodically emptied them into the bag.  We ended up with 1 – 2  quarts of fresh olives.

It was a gorgeous day, the sky was a perfect blue and the sun was shining, and it just felt so marvelous to be out doing this.  I felt so happy I almost cried – I didn’t realize how much I missed the feeling of being out in nature.  And it felt so right to be with my littles, giving them opportunities for self-directed outdoor experiences, so unlike the kindergarten environment where everything is structured and adult-led.  I watched ds5 and ds2 find a huge ant hill, try to feed the ants olives, mash some olives with a rock and show me about the dye that resulted, all while soaking in vitamin D from the sun.  You can’t manufacture real experiences like this, and there’s something about these kind of things that is good for kids (and adults!) at a deep, soul level.

On the way out of the park, we found an abundance of rosehips concentrated on a few bushes  – all the other bushes we found were still in bloom.  Ds2 planted himself right next to one and got busy picking, and when I told him it was time to go a few minutes later, he looked at me seriously and said, “I’m not done yet”, and got back to industriously picking the rosehips and putting them in the sandwich bag we had with us.  He was so focused and felt so accomplished!  I let him pick a while longer, but then we really did have to leave.

On the way home we found a small lemon tree – they weren’t so big and I have lemons at home, but they were happy to be able to pick three of them.  We got home with all of our treasures, tired after being out all morning but only one of us ready for a nap (me!).

I don’t honestly find foraging to be about frugality for me.  We’re way too big a family and the amounts I can pick are so small that they’re not generally consequential, and the time investment – if looked at it strictly from an economic point of view – doesn’t usually justify the expenditure.  But from an experiential and empowerment perspective, it’s definitely worthwhile.  I like that my kids can identify plants and food that grow around them, and have a chance to be in touch with the physical world in a real way.

Do you ever harvest food growing in the wild?  What kind of things grow locally to you?  What do you like about foraging?  Do you share my feeling that it’s empowering on a personal level?  

Avivah

(This post is part of Monday ManiaTraditional Tuesdays, Fat Tuesdays, Homestead Barn HopReal Food 101 and Real Food Wednesdays.)

Great Depression cooking videos and book recommendation

I learned about these videos several years ago, and enjoyed watching several of them on You Tube at the time with some of my children.  The videos are hosted by a lovely elderly woman, Clara, who shares recipes and demonstrated preparation of foods they made during the Depression.  She also shares anecdotes and stories about her life.  There are 28 videos, and are each very short and have a warm, wholesome feel to them.

I believe she made the first one when she was 89.  I was reminded of these tonight since Clara, now 96, recently released what she said will be the last video in the series because she’s ‘getting old’.  I enjoyed these so much and am sharing a link to them since I think a  lot of you will enjoy this as well.

Great Depression Cooking with Clara

On the note of the Great Depression, a couple of years ago I read a book recounting memories of this time that I really enjoyed.    You can learn a lot about frugal living, self-sufficiency, and just plain out making do by reading about what life was like during the Depression. The book is,  Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression.  It’s not a gloomy and difficult read, which you might associate with the Depression, but has a realistic but optimistic air about it.  (I was able to find it at the library.)

Avivah

Booked a hall for the bar mitzva today

I’m not a person who waits until the last minute to do things; my feeling is by thinking and planning ahead, you can minimize pressure and stress.  So why in the world am I so not on the ball about our upcoming bar mitzva?

I started lists…and I left them incomplete.  I kept losing them, and forgetting what I decided, and then making more lists, and losing them…  Every time I thought about the bar mitzva, I felt down, almost depressed.  This is not typical for me.  On Thursday night, I told myself that it was time to stop procrastinating- after all, it was only three weeks away –  so I made calls that night to organize the details of the kiddush for the bar mitzva.

We were planning to have the  kiddush at the bigger shul that my husband davens (prays) at, followed by the bar mitzva meal, since that day is the actual day of ds’s birthday.  Getting off the phone, I felt even more discouraged and less motivated; I felt such a lack of warmth and connection.  I felt like I was pulling teeth to get basic information, and I felt so frustrated that I couldn’t get an answer to the basic questions of how many people usually showed up to a kiddush, a low and high end estimate.  Everything about the planning was making me feel lonely and alone.

When I got off the phone, like a flash of light I suddenly realized why I was so unhappy that it was keeping me from doing anything.  I didn’t want to make the bar mitzva in the very large synagogue area, which since it’s in the process of being renovated, has bare cement walls with high ceilings that make it feel cavernous.  The big open space would just highlight how few people we knew and make it feel more lonely.  I didn’t want lots of people who didn’t even know us to be there gobbling up cake, and even worse, I didn’t want no one to show up because they didn’t know us!

So I did a mental 180 degree turnaround, and determined that we’d do whatever we had to do to have it in a place that we could feel good about it.  This morning we went to take a look at another hall close by, and I feel like the cloud over my head about planning this bar mitzva finally lifted!   It’s a nice open space, with a warm feeling – not huge, but nice.  There’s a full kitchen to use, and an additional room that’s included in the price.  Even though we only needed it for about five hours, we have to pay the bigger amount since they charge for the entire Shabbos, and we have to pay an additional 100 shekels for electricity since whatever lights we need will have to be left on the entire Shabbos.  But that’s okay, since we’ll be able to use it from Friday noon through Saturday midnight, which will make getting ready so much easier!

It will definitely be more expensive than the other place – because the synagogue basement isn’t yet finished, the fee to use it is very nominal.  But I’ve said before, frugality isn’t about spending as little as you possibly can in every area – that’s called miserliness – but budgeting your funds so that you can spend your money and live your life in the way that is meaningful to you.  So although we do have to be very careful about our expenses, particularly since dh isn’t yet working, to be so cheap on a special event that none of us would enjoy it isn’t really a savings, you know?

Since we’ve delayed everything, there are no invitations printed yet that have to be changed, so dh was able to make that change today without any difficulty.  It feels so good now to jump into the planning for this now!

Avivah