Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hanukkah Seminary Style

Okay students...are you ready for today's lesson on Judaism? Great! We will be discussing the fun, fun holiday called Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights. So sit right down and put on your best reading eyes and see this ancient festival through the eyes of a seminary student. Today we celebrated Hanukkah with all the classes in our building, it was fun to watch them learn something new and have fun while doing so!

Hanukkah has been celebrated for over 2,200 years, since 164 BCE. It is not a part of any scripture, but has been documented in ancient writings of scholars. It is not a religious holiday, but one of celebration.

King Antiochus was the King of Syria. He was horrible to the Jews and destroyed their temple and kept them in slavery. A brave man named Judas Maccabee raised up and led the Jews in an uprising where they gained their freedom. As they came back to their homes, they found that the temple had been terribly damaged. The Jews knew that they could clean the temple and rededicate it. They were so sad, the beautiful candleabra in the temple was still there, but there was only enough oil for one day. The women of the temple decided to light the lamp and hope that they could procur more oil for it. For eight days the lamp stayed lit, each day getting brighter and brighter until finally, oil was found. At the end of the eight days, the temple was rededicated. This was a huge miracle based on the faith of the Jews; and that is what Hanukkah stands for, "A great miracle happened here".

Today Hanukkah is celebrated all over the world by Jews and Christians alike. Every year the actual start is a different date, based on the Hebrew calendar. This year it begins on Sunday, Dec. 21st. On that night people will make yummy dinners of brisket or chicken, potato latkes, applesauce, vegetables and jelly doughnuts (sufganyiot). (They celebrate OIL, sorry Andrea...)

Candles will be lit and set in windows for the world to see. Gifts will be given to remember the gift of light from God. Driedels will be played with. (This is interesting. During this time it was illegal to practice their religion and so men would get together to study doctrine and would pretend to play the dreidel game to throw the King's soldiers off while they talked of God and the scriptures!) The candles that are lit represent certain things:

A light in the darkness to brighten the world
A light of hope
A light of faith
A light of giving
A light of strength
A light of happiness
A light of knowledge
A light of freedom.

"We light candles as a testament that through faith - great miracles can happen."

In our home Hanukkah is very much a part of our December. We have a beautiful menorah that we proudly display and light each of the eight nights of Hanukkah. The glowing candles remind me to have faith and believe in miracles. I am also reminded that Jesus is the light of our world. This website tells how to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas as Christians. Try it! It's fun. Barnes and Noble has some cute books and Bed, Bath and Beyond has menorahs and driedels. Cost Plus and Winco have gold coins. It's a fun family night activity. This next Monday we are having friends over and gorging ourselves with potato latkes, applesauce and doughnuts! We will light the candles, recite the blessings and play dreidel. And, we will remember the great miracle that happened and by what source that miracle came.
Class dismissed.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Controversy

You are cordially welcome to join our annual family fight! We have a controversy that boils over every year, with very strong opinions on both sides. Jeffrey fusses, Scotty fumes, Lauren calls from Idaho, Mitchell rolls his eyes in disgust and Byron, very wisely, says little. Rachel says nothing....that's why she is my favorite.

What is it that causes such strife in my otherwise idyllic and peaceful home?


On the Christmas Tree.

Here's my case:
1. I buy the tree. (well, I write the check...)
2. I put the water in the tree thing every day to keep it fresh

3. I bought all the ornaments.
4. I hang the lights.

5. I kept, lovingly, every ornament ever made by my children (AND, I did NOT turn them into the Parade of Ugly as I believe that anything made by the hands of my children are akin to works of art made by the likes of Michelangelo.

Nothing says 'Christmas' like gold painted pasta...

Unless it's popsicle sticks and glitter.

6. Not only did I keep them, I hang them, first thing, on my tree.

7. After my children lose interest in decorating the tree, after, say, 5 minutes; I finish all the decorating.

8. I spend hours curled up on the couch reading and gazing and dreaming in front of the tree.

9. I turn the lights on and off the tree every day.

10. After Christmas I will tuck away gently every ornament, remembering the occasion when we bought or received them. I will miss them all year until the following December.

11. Tinsel reminds me of my childhood and my mother.

12. It sparkles and shimmers.

13. It catches the colors and the tree and makes prisms of color on the walls.
14. It gives my kitty something more to play with besides just the regular glass balls to break. Now he can carry silver strands all over the house.
15. Tinsel reminds me of a time gone by, it's old fashioned.

All these points I think, entitles moi to do whatever I want with the tree I have not proclaimed a color theme thereby doing away with precious ornaments made by little hands. I have not broken down, I still buy a fresh, yummy smelling tree every year. I graciously allow everyone the opportunity to help decorate. I even wrap presents to go under the tree. (okay, I don't really do that, I rely on Lauren, who by the way will not be available to wrap presents this year so we may not have any.....)

Have I made my case for getting to have things MY way? Doesn't matter what anyone thinks...the next time you see this....

it will be tinselized

Monday, December 8, 2008

The child of my old age...

Scotty Boy is 12!!!!

The moment I saw you I loved you.

My favorite all time picture of Scotty, he was 10 months old, clapping about bubbles.

Today is Scotty's 12th birthday and I sure felt like I was OLD when I had him. Now, 12 years later, I wonder where the time has gone. I miss my baby.

Scotty was everyone's baby; among my group of friends I was the only one with a baby (until Celia went and had Claire and totally stole my baby's attention, not that I'm bitter.....). He was so looked forward to by all of us. I had asked two of my oldest and bestest friends, Margo and Pam, to come with me when he was born. We were so excited,I had 4 kids without even a stinkin' Tylenol and this time, I was going to GET DRUGS!

There is something interesting about my body, I don't make Oxytocin, the chemical that starts labor. I have never had a labor pain on my own. One time my water broke, but no labor. They had told us to call early in the morning to see if they had room for us that day. They did and off we went. Byron and I were there for a couple of hours and then Pam, Margo and another friend, Tylyn came. Now we could get the party started. The nurses loved having my fun friends with me, so did I! They hooked me up to the Pit drip and I was waiting to get far enough to get my epidural. Finally the time came!! Woot-woot. Got the epi, things were going great, Byron and Pam went to get something to eat and then BAM! Down went my blood pressure. I remember being able to hear, but I couldn't speak, raise my arm, open my eyes...
turns out my blood pressure was 50/30. I don't think that's too good. My friend Margo was with me and I remember her whispering to me calmly..."you hang on friend, you're going to have this baby and he's going to be so cute and we can't wait to meet him"...etc....

This is the "Jeni don't you die" picture...we think it is hysterical and after 12 years still makes us laugh til we cry. I love Margo!

Later she told me that what she was really thinking was...."don't you die on me!! Don't you die on my watch!" Hysteria inside, calm and cool on the outside. The Dr. whipped that epidural out of me so fast and I remember being hysterical, I wanted drugs!!!

But then came Scotty...the glue that holds us together. He is the love of our family's lives. There is so much I could say about this boy, he is really special.
Scrapbooking was new, a friend made this for me.
(Hey Ellie, Jessica and Ilene....this is what a mom who doesn't get drugs looks like. Not pretty )

When he was born his three "fairy godmothers" each gave him a little blessing. Tylyn blessed him with patience and tolerance. Pam blessed him that he would live for the moment, have much happiness and enjoy the little things in life. Margo blessed him that he would love beautiful things, art, music, nature and people with beautiful spirits. He has been blessed to have so many wonderful, wonderful people in his life.

Scotty is kind.
Scotty is smart.
Scotty is a good athlete.
Scotty is joyful.

Scotty can't wait to be a Deacon.
Scotty loves his family.

Scotty loves animals.
Scotty loves the outdoors.

Scotty's real name is Byron Scott.
Scotty loves triple/triples at In-n-Out.
Scotty is a loyal friend.
Scotty is the last of the both families grandchildren.

Grandma Rydalch gave him his first bath, I love this picture, look at my mom's 74 year old hands lovingly bathing him. I miss her.

Scotty loves the Beatles but has assured his mom he will not be a drugged out hari krishna loving hippie freak.
Scotty is "allergic to clothes", his favorite "outfit" is his underwear, which is what he is wearing if he isn't in public.

A little stinker for Halloween

Scotty and Jeffrey have been best friends since the minute he was born. (It's kind of love/hate right now though!! You understand.)

Scotty loves Soccer. (but you already know that!!)
Scotty LOVES hippos. He wanted one for Christmas one year. He got a stuffed one. He now has about 30 hippos.
Scotty loves Guitar Hero.

I make snowmen cupcakes every year for his school class. (They look a little pathetic here, but he loves them!)

Scotty has nodules on his vocal chords that give him a funky little voice.
Scotty had a liver tumor once, he received numerous blessings. It disappeared.

Nothing ever prepared me for the love I would feel for this boy. I was as astonished to be expecting as Sarah in the Old Testament, but I love this child of "my old age", he has given me and our entire family so much joy. We are so thankful for him.

Happy Birthday Scotty!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Passover Seminary Style

Disclaimer: not a bit funny, but very educational.

Have a mentioned (a billion times) that I love teaching Seminary? It is the very, very best. One of my favorite things to do is to celebrate Passover with my kids; and we did so again today. It has been interesting this year to study the last days of Christ's life interwoven with the Christmas holidays. Studying the events of his death and celebrating his birth at the same time. Both events crucial to the salvation of mankind, how thankful I am for both.

Most of us know that Passover " is a Jewish holiday and that it's important". (A direct quote from one of my kids today.) Let me give you the Readers Digest version:

The Hebrews had been in captivity for hundreds of years, Moses was finally raised up to be their liberator. He went to Pharaoh and asked him to let his people go from Egypt. Of course Pharaoh didn't want to lose his massive amount of slave labor so he said "no'. After nine different plagues, the children of Israel were still captives of Egypt. For a tenth plague God was going to send an angel of death to kill the first born of every household in Egypt, including the Hebrew children. God told Moses to tell the Hebrews to slaughter an unblemished lamb and put the blood of the lamb on their door posts. If they faithfully did this, the angel of death would pass over them. Then, He told them, they would have a very short time to leave. They wouldn't have time to bake leavened bread, they were to make rations and be ready to flee. The faithful did this and were allowed to leave, they then left Egypt, crossed the Red Sea and wandered in the wilderness for 40 years sustained by manna.

After a time God told Moses that the miracle of Pharaoh should be remembered forever and from that time forward the Jews were to celebrate the Feast of the Passover in remembrance of the mercy of God. For centuries Jews all over the world have celebrated, even during WWII in prison camps. They would secretly save little things and in small groups celebrated this holiday even under the worst of conditions.

This is Mark, he was born and raised Jewish. He was bar mitzvahed and went to Temple with his family every week. Eventually he met a good Mormon girl and after 8 years and umpteen sets of missionaries, he was baptized a member. The next year he took his family to the temple, thereby helping the prophecy of Jews will come to know that Jesus is the Messiah, come true. He is a wonderful man with a sweet, sweet family. He has come for the past five years, even before he was a member of the Church. It is so humbling even now to hear him bear his testimony of Jesus Christ.

This is the Seder plate, it has a lamb shank, an egg, parsley & horseradish, and Charoset (an apple, walnut and honey combination), and a small bit of salt water. There is also a glass of wine (grape juice in our case) and matzo crackers in a separate basket. The book is the Haggadah, which is the 'script' for the Passover and the other thing is Shofar, which is used to call the people to the temple. (Yes, Rob H., I do believe it's yours, I've gotten a LOT of use out of it. )

This is what they represent:
Matzo: the unleavened bread the children of Israel took with them into the wilderness (there are three matzos wrapped in white cloth in the basket.)

Wine (or grape juice): the sweetness of life and freedom, the fruit of the vine.

Lamb: the lamb's blood on the door, the Lamb of God that will eventually come.

Egg: represents life and the temple which will be built someday in Israel.

Parsley & Horseradish: The bitterness of bondage, the parsely is dipped into the salt water to represent the tears of the slaves in Egypt.

Charoset: represents the mortar the slaves used, also represents bonding ourselves to God

The silver cup is a "Kiddush" cup, the officiant drinks the wine from it. (Legend has it that the 'Holy Grail' of Indiana Jones searching, is the kiddush cup used by Jesus during the Last Supper, which was the Passover feast)

(I can't find my regular menorah, so I had to use my Hanukkah menorah, it has nine stems, the regular ones have 7, representing each day of the creation)

My personal favorite in my class.

Another couple of my favorites!

It was a fun and enlightening experience for our class. Thanks Mark! (Karen make sure he sees this!)

PS. We are celebrating Hanukkah on Dec. 22nd. You're all welcome to come!
(My husband just had a heart attack! hahaha!)

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Thanksgiving after Math

The equation:

1 holiday

+ 1 24 lb Turkey & 3 siblings

+ 16 family members

- 1 Grammy - 1 set of Newlyweds ( we missed you!!)

+ 10 cute cousins

+ 2 much food

+ 5,456 calories (give or take a thousand)

- 6 adults with hearing loss because of children's fun

+ 1 four year old who discovered the drum set

+ 1 seven year old who discovered Guitar Hero

-1 25 year old with intestinal problems (16 diapers in 2 days...)

- 2 hours doing dishes (thank you again Byron)

- 0 family squabbles

= One really great day!

Okay, so for those of you who stayed with me.... Go to the picture of the whole family...see the corner hutch? See the couch next to it? Normally there is a large, heavy coffee table where the table is. On Saturday I climbed up on the couch and then on to the arm of the couch to put up a Christmas decoration. Image if you will, me falling straight back from the arm of the couch ( yep, lost my balance....) and hitting the corner of the table in the middle of my back, having the force be so great that it moved the table 8 inches. Then as I slid when the table slid, hit the back of my neck. Really happened, I have the bruises to prove it and my permanently traumatized kids who saw the whole fall. I have been on drugs, that's why my Thanksgiving post is late. Is that just typical of me or what? Good grief.