It’s a Hanukkah Miracle!

O. M. G. Guys, I haven’t written anything in almost 2 years, (thx MPA and Covid) but I finally wrote something the other day and thought, maybe I’ll submit it to Kveller before posting it here. As I emailed my submission, I said out loud, in my best Miracle Max voice, “It would take a miracle” if they published it. Well, GUESS WHAT?!?! They DID!!!!!!!! I’m totally kvelling over here and will hopefully be inspired to write more as things slow down late December 🙂

Click here to read MY Case for 8 Nights of Hanukkah Presents!!!!!

A house named Pesach

It was a regular weekend morning, a little lounging around in the early hours, cuddling with my boys. We started talking about our middle names, how Benjamin was a strong name and Michael was his grandfathers name. His namesake was smart and loving and stubborn, just like he was.

Then my youngest asked, “What is our house’s name?” I told him the house didn’t have a name. Although we had been the second owners in its entirety, so maybe we should give it a name. “I know”, chimed in my shayna ingl, “Pesach”. My eldest argued that wasn’t a proper name for a house, but I disagreed. That’s a perfect name for our house.

So our Pesach can always be a haven for our family, where all the drama and negativity and b’h’, even the Angel of Death will always pass over us, year round, not just during this week of celebration and reflection. Because in the end, we all want peace and love. We all want salvation and redemption. We all want to usher in the best versions of who we are and leave the bad habits at the door. We all have an Egypt in our lives, a place or way where we feel trapped, stuck, enslaved.

This Pesach, I wish each of you a week of evolution, protection and serenity. May you each have a “Pesach” place where you can be and feel only love and light. Chag sameach.

May the Schwartz be with you

New Orleans Musings

I’m back from my trip and it was glorious. 4 days, 3 nights to the Crescent City, The Big Easy, New Orleans. It was the longest I’ve been away from my two boys and I prepared for it by doing my best to eliminate using my phone when I was with them. I focused on really creating quality time with them in the days before I left. The fact that the hubs was gone made it easier to really have mommy-son moments.

Of course, the day before I left, everyone found a way to push my buttons.  After a day of dealing with ungrateful, snarky, mess making males, I was REALLY ready to go. Cleaning urine off the floor twice in a day because the kid who’s been potty trained a year decides he’s not interested in using the potty is enough. Enough.

Before I left I grabbed a journal. Old fashioned, pen and paper journal. Because as easy as using my phone to jot down reflections is, there’s something therapeutic about putting pen to paper. This helped me to re-frame my mindset on my way to the airport. “This trip will be amazing. My life is perfect. Everything about this trip will be the best”. Because thoughts are powerful.

I was able to make lots of mitzvahs on my way to New Orleans. I ended up next to great airplane neighbors and had easy, relaxing layovers. I even ended up pretending my extra set of headphones worked so the adorable 3 year old girl next to me could watch the Lion King with sound.  Was she adorable enough to make me miss the boys? Not quite. But I was happy to help her.

I got to the hotel and it’s gorgeous! I was running late to dinner, so I did a little bit of running around to find my group, but finally got escorted through the kitchen to a private room of diners and begin my adventures. Great food, plenty of drinks (a theme in the city) and wonderful company.  Can’t beat it.

I spent the next couple days torn between wanting to venture out on my own, so as to not miss a thing and only wanting to go out if I had a companion, a very rare feeling for me. The city is bustling, vibrant, alive with art and music and fun, but also has a dark side. There were multiple reminders that, although in a bubble, I was in the south.  The institutional racism and lack of services and infrastructure was blatant, perhaps more to me than others. Maybe a topic for another article. Still, I drank and danced and ate.  Fun and yummy and exhausting between the early morning conference sessions.

Finally, on my last morning, I get a chance to sleep in (Insert heaven opening & angels singing here). 9 hours of blissful sleep. I was able to lounge in bed for awhile before checking out and took a leisurely shower (with 4 shower heads!) to cap off my trip. I was bummed not to see and eat everything, but really, finally ready to get back. It was amazing, but not as amazing as the mornings I get to sleep in and then cuddle with my sons.

My travel day home brought more scenes that beckoned me back to my boys. My little loves. It also gave me time to reflect on how wonderful the trip was and how blessed I am. Blessed to have 2 boys and devoted husband, to have a family who loves me to come home to. When the minivan doors slid open and I was able to hug and kiss them. Aaaaaah! My perfect life is amazing. Perfectly mine.

Between the fried amazingness, char-grilled oysters, and cocktails “to go”, I managed to enjoy the perfect weather, artistic flair and historic beauty of the city. There were a few things I didn’t have time to see, but if I ever end up visiting again, I can prioritize those sights. At least now I know the perfect length of trip to take in order to barely miss my mishpacha.

May G-d bless your comings and goings

May the Schwartz be with you





My First Hug

I’ve been in my part time job now for a year or so.  I work as admin at a park and see the kids come and go each day.  We get many, many more in the summer.  We get our regulars, the latch key kids who are dropped off and picked up by parents who can’t afford a proper summer camp.  It’s common and most (not all) of these kids have horrid manners.

A few weeks ago, I got a text from a staff who works under me (and directly with the kids activities) who needed help.  One little boy was being horrible, which was not unusual for him.  He would talk back, not clean up, be rude to the staff and an overall pain. My coworker couldn’t handle him that day.  He was at his wits end.  I told him to send the boy my way.

He got to my office and there was a moment of internal panic for me.  What was I going to say? What could I have him do? What would be effective?  I certainly didn’t want to overstep any boundaries and couldn’t make a punishment too light, or else he’d never care about getting sent back my way.  I started by asking him questions.  “Do you know why you’re here?  What do you think the staff are here to do? Do you want to spend your summer in my office, or out there with the other kids?”.  Tears streaming down his face, he answered these for me.  Luckily, I am not a pushover and certainly didn’t let him off the hook because of his emotional display.

By the time I was done asking him questions, I figured out I could make him write standards. “I will listen to and respect the staff” on a lined sheet of paper. A few words were exchanged during this time.  Nothing significant, but friendly.  I sent him on his way with a warning that next time, he’d get a repeat and some additional work to do.  I confirmed he certainly wanted to spend his summer on the playground and not in my office.

Fast forward to the next Monday. He gets to the park, walks into my office and GIVES ME A HUG.  My first hug from any kid in the whole year I’d been working here.  The first kid that felt any connection to me and all I’d done was reprimand him.  Now this kid comes by every day to say hi. We talk about what’s good and not so good about our day.  If he’s around for any longer than 5 minutes, he always asks for a toy or piece of candy, which I give after confirming with the closest recreation leader that he’s been cooperative and respectful.

He seems to be turned around for now, knowing someone has a stake in how his day is going and what tone and words he uses with others.  I guess my Mommellah instincts can expand beyond my own kids in ways I never expected.