Daily Vlog // Wednesday 29th Heshvan 5779 // 7th November 2018

Hey hey! Daily vlog time (is there anything else lately? No, no there’s not. Because there’s no time for anything else when you’re making a video every day!).

Today is mostly about cracking open a coconut, which went on all day really  while we did other bits in between. It was mostly Eli’s project as he is a keen life investigator, but we all had a go at different bits.

Daily Vlog // Tuesday 28th Heshvan 5779 // 6th November 2018

Something different again today (may or may not be due to not filming much of anything else in the day despite it being fairly busy!) – a book review!

I’m reviewing Mamaleh Knows Best by Marjorie Ingall which was given to me by PJ Libraries as part of their Summer Reading Program. Spoiler alert: I gave it like 4.5/5, so I definitely think you should grab a copy and read it, no matter if you’re a mum, dad, Jew, non-Jew, it doesn’t matter – this book is great for all parents!

Daily Vlog // Monday 27th Heshvan 5779 // 5th November 2018

Today’s vlog is a little different – I’m experimenting with just following one process of the day rather than the little snippets of the day I’ve done in the previous videos.

We made these kosher tacos, including the tacos from scratch which was lots of fun. Luke gave me a tortilla press as a gift for Sukkot, so I’m glad to try it out. We made these with corn, so they were gluten free, and we cooked with meat, so of course everything was dairy free as well.

Definitely going to add these to the menu again (hopefully it won’t take so long to make the tortillas next time if I don’t have so many helpers!).

Daily Vlog // Sunday 26th Heshvan 5779 // 4th November 2018

Sunday! Such a full day. I skipped Saturday because it was Shabbat. 🙂

In our family we love to do “date days” to have one on one time with each of our kids. This morning my husband took the younger kids out, and I had some one on one time with our eldest son. We went to a coffee shop to do some drawing, and then came home to do some art journaling. My parents stopped by on the way to the airport (they’re travelling for work for a few days), and then we had a relaxed afternoon watching Paddington 2, eating popcorn, and and playing some VR.

Daily Vlog Friday 24th Heshvan, 2nd November.

In today’s video:
* Opening our Judaica package. New hand washing cup, kippot, and a necklace for Ahava (she gets a bit jealous that the boys get to wear kippot, so we bought her this as her own special Jewish thing!).
* Mama & Eli time while Ahava sleeps.
* Picking up some supplies for Shabbat from the bulk store.
* Shabbat prep!

Daily Vlog Thursday 23rd Heshvan 5779 // 1st November 2018

Hi everyone! I’m having a go at doing some daily vlogs for the month fo November! They’re only going to be a few minutes long, and will hopefully help me to improve my video work, and by a fun little documentation of bits and pieces of our life right now.

This first video is for the 1st of November – the 23rd of Heshvan on the Hebrew calendar, and it includes a bit of a tour of our garden, Ahava’s wonderfully silly singing and dancing, and making some bone broth noodle soup for dinner! Enjoy!

Conversion Classes Update

Our first class was on the 29th of May 2018, and it’s now the 31st of October 2018. Five months in to the official part of this process, and it’s been quite a ride! A couple of months ago I was talking with a friend who, when I explained what was involved over the next year (thankfully we have a very good idea of what religious life involves, so we are mentally prepared for what’s coming!), she likened it to a University degree! In some ways it is, as there’s a big mental shift, and also a big lifestyle change. 

I am still as excited as ever, and even though the process is not without growing pains, I am often surprised at how quickly we get ourselves into a new rhythm – taking on board the new things we need to do and practice. So here’s what we’re up to:

We’ve just finished learning about Kashrut, and are in a stage of practicing this. Our kitchen isn’t totally kosher – we’re in a practice phase. So if we (or our kids!) make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world – it’s just something to learn from. We had to do quite a bit of rearranging of our kitchen to accomodate a second set of… everything (!), and buckets to dirty dishes and washing up in to keep meat and dairy seperate. 

One of the things I didn’t fully anticipate in the conversion process was the cost involved. Not just in things like buying second dishes and kitchen tools (which I had anticipated), but in buying mezuzahs, tallit katan, various books etc. This isn’t a big thing, but we have had to save up for a bunch of stuff, so while we’ve already done the theory and on mezuzah, and tallit katan, we have to save for a few weeks before we can purchase these things. I guess it’s just about priorities, as in, we prioritised the kitchen stuff over these other things for now. All will get done in the next month or so, but for now we wait!

We’ve also been learning Hebrew. Our Rabbi took us through quite a few weeks of intense Hebrew lessons, and we practiced regularly (I’m not a linguist, so new languages are a bit of a challenge to me!), but we got trough that and now we’re just practicing in our own time. Time is ticking though, because we’ll be working our way through the siddur and praying soon, and we will need to be more or less fluent by then to make that process easier. I’ve been doing Hebrew on duolingo daily (okay, 4 times a week – but I TRY to do it daily!!) to practice reading Hebrew and hearing it, and spelling it, and interpreting it etc. And I also try to read parts of things in Hebrew when possible. For example, when I get lost in the Siddur at Shule on Shabbat I sometimes just choose something like the Amidah and just read through as much in Hebrew as I can. I should probably try and find my place, but I am in and out of the service so much with the kids that it’s a real difficulty.

We’ve been learning many prayers off by heart including the Modeh Ani, and the brachas before meals and benching. I really enjoy these because they all of a sudden make Judaism a very real and very tangible part of everyday life. The only problem is feeling a little self conscious when doing these around friends or family. People often don’t know what to do/say, and it can be a little awkward, but I suppose that’s just part of this stage of life. The children are very good at remembering the brachas, and also remembering to say them (not always so good at knowing which one to say – but they try hard, and they are getting better).

Speaking of the kids, that is another layer to this process – interpreting everything we’re learning and then translating that to the kids. I try to be pretty up front with them and treat them like the intelligent, spiritual people that they are, and that works well. We follow this process:

  1. Explain what we’ve been taught, and best practice, as in, how we ideally want to practice it.
  2. Talk about how they feel about taking this mitzvah on, and answer any questions they have about it.
  3. Work out the practicalities with them. If we choose to start at a lower level of observance and work up to something more observant later then we also talk about a time frame.

As an example of this, we have just talked to the kids about wearing tallit katan and kippot. So we explained what we ultimately want to do, and what Daddy will be doing. Lior expressed some hesitation about wearing these things at school, while Eli was happy to do it all the time, straight away. So we talked through Lior’s concerns and answered their questions like do they have to wear them swimming, doing sports, sleeping etc. All those regular questions kids might have (any even adults!). Then we worked out what level of observance they would be happy to do at this stage (for us that ended up being wearing them tucked in under their clothes so they can’t be seen, which is what was recommended to us anyone as people going through conversion and not yet Jewish), and getting ready to implement that once we have the tallit katan they need.

So I think that’s all I need to include in this update… I’m sure there’s other things I haven’t covered, but I can’t remember what I wrote in the last update (I did do another update, didn’t I?!). Ha! Oh well! We’re enjoying this journey, and I am so pleased with how well we are all going and how enthusiastic everyone is to take on these mitzvahs and get involved! I’m particularly thankful to Luke who is a real team mate in this process, especially with kashrut, as I would not want to be solely responsible for that!

So Tired (A Dairy Relapse)

I feel so tired right now. It’s nearly 1pm, and I should be taking a nap. I should be putting away the washing. I should be cleaning up for Shabbat. I should be prepping food for Shabbat. So many things to “should be” doing! But I’m sitting here writing because I’ve realised something and I wanted to record it.

So about 6 weeks ago I got back some food intolerance test results. It showed high intolerance to eggs and dairy, and milk to gluten and a few other random things. So I set about cutting these things out of my diet. I have tested the egg thing, and yep, definitely get the runs after having that! And gluten too affects my gut in that way. But I love cheese almost more than I love dairy, and I wanted to try doing keto again, and that’s pretty dang hard without dairy! So this week I decided to go for it with the diary and just have it (not heaps, just not nothing, ya know?) and oh man, this is where the tiredness comes from. Tiredness and a belly that looks like I’m 6 months pregnant. So much bloating, so much flatulance, so much exhaustion.

So on the positive side, I’m 100% sure that dairy effects me! Even cheese, which is all I had – no milk (this scored higher on the test for me than cheese). So here’s to better choices in the future!

Lessons I’ve Learnt – Tishrei

3rd of October 2018
24th Tishrei 5779

I feel so tired. Exhausted. My biggest lesson I’ve learnt standing at the end of this holiday season is that I need to be realistic about my capabilities at this time, and I need to prioritise the Yom Tov over other events.

So we went through Rosh Hashanah fine – totally observant, and really enjoying the time. We hosted family on the first night, and had a really special family time on the second night.

Yom Kippur went okay. Luke attended services and I was at home with the kids which was a bit hard. I felt myself getting really sick and flaring (Hashimotos style) towards the afternoon, and I realised that perhaps my health isn’t good enough to really fast a full 24 hours at the moment. This was a disappointing realisation, and one I will have to be mindful of with future fasts while I am in this healing period. G-D willings, I will be better next year though!

Luke left to go to Melbourne straight after Yom Kippur (like, that night), so then I solo parented for a few days, while also trying to finish up Sukkot gift shopping, Sukkot supply shopping and food prep. I did as little as I could, as I was pretty wrecked, and that meant that we weren’t super well prepared for the start of Sukkot.

The Yom Tovs to start Sukkot were still great, and we celebrated them well – taking time to rest and go to services and enjoy time in the sukkah. Same throughout the rest of the week – we had our neighbours over which was lovely, and had great family time. I was aware that next year I would like to have more activities in the sukkah with the kids during the week, but it was fine for now.

We hosted two “parties” on the weekend, and while they were both enjoyable, I felt really tired and drained after them and was too tired and worn out to properly observe the ending Yom Tovs of Shimini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. I deeply regret this, and realised that I should have prioritised these yom tovs over other events.

So the holiday season ended in a less than stellar way, BUT overall it was still really enjoyable. I learnt a lot, and enjoyed services so much more this year having gone through the Machzor beforehand with our Rabbi.

Things to be mindful of next year:

  • Prioritise the Yomim Tovim over any other events. Ideally host people on these days and not on other days.
  • Family events are nice, and I’m grateful that our family is so supportive that they’re keen to come to these events even thought they’re not interested in Judaism themselves, but just our family is also really nice. We don’t NEED to have other people over for for every holiday for it to special.
  • Have a budget and stick to it.
  • Put more effort into kids activities throughout the Chagim. I want to make this special for the kids, and I think that this stage it’s more important that we do those activities then do big fancy meals etc. Teaching my children and making this memorable for them should be my priority as a mother.

Hello 5779 <5778 year in review>

Wow, what a year! Rosh Hashanah last year we had just started going to synagogue a few months ago after a big move to the city from our simple coast life. I was homeschooling Lior, and we were all missing our friends and the beach, but still in the bubble of excitement that comes with moving and doing new things.

I thought the previous year had been hard – making the decision the leave our family and friends in the pursuit of G-D, not entirely sure where that would leave. And it was. It was actually really hard, but the year on the whole was beautiful and fun. Enter 5778.

This was truly a more challenging year. If I thought it was a big deal to make those decisions, I had no idea how hard it would be to live them out. So many things went wrong this year and it has easily been the most difficult year of my life.

Death in our extended family, my own health hit rock bottom, various difficulties with each kid resulting in endless worries and anxiety. Depression, stress, loneliness – they all reared their ugly heads this year and stayed for most of it. Confusion of our direction, and my own beliefs and understanding, and a general feeling of… stretching.

Now, I don’t want you to think that the whole year was bad. We did after all make many happy decisions and experience a LOT of joy. Several holidays, most notable was our whole Rodgers family trip to Tangalooma, and two overseas trips. Lior thrived at school – learning more than ever before, and just truly enjoying all aspects of school life. It was hard to make the decision to take Eli out of Kindy, but one I am proud we could make, and that Luke and I could be united on.

We made the official decision to convert to Judaism, and start lessons. Those lessons have been a big part of our stretching (learning Hebrew is… difficult!!), but also a huge part of our joy. We’ve seen our children grow in size, confidence, and spirituality. We’ve settled into a lovely house we enjoy, with wonderful neighbours on all sides. A house I am free to garden in, and one that’s easy to clean! We’ve also been fortunate to afford luxuries which easy both Luke and my stresses (in different ways) like a cleaner once a week, and someone to wash our dog, Pepper.

This past month – Elul, I have felt more stretched than ever before (but that’s kinda the point of the month, right?!), and I to be honest I have had many angry words with G-D along the lines of “Why am I here?!” and “Why am I living this life?!” and “WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME. MAKE IT STOP NOW!”, and I’m not exactly proud of those moments, but they are what they are. Just days before Rosh Hashanah I could finally see that this whole process of that of refining – my own exit from Mitzrayim and cleansing before entering Israel.

Tehillim 66:8-12 says
“O peoples, bless our G-D,
celebrate His praises;
who has granted us life,
and has not let our feet slip.

You have tried us, O G-D,
refining us, as one refines silver.
You have caught us in a net,
caught us in trammels.
You have let men ride over us;
we have endured fire and water,
and You have brought us through to prosperity.”

The whole chapter is about G-D refining Israel for his glory. And honestly, if I am going through the process of joining the Jewish People – then I should have probably expected more of this (and more to come!). I am seeing this through a new lens that shows me that this is a refining process – getting rid of my old habits, old ways, old life, and being reborn into a new observant life. It’s hard, yeah, but worth it.

My hopes for 5779 are that I continue to grow. Even though many times this year I’ve desperately wanted to give up, I am glad to stick with it, and hope that maybe this coming year is a little less hard, but still full of lots of growth!