Saturday, 30 June 2012

Memory Book

Boker Tov (good morning)
Last night, as Mark and I laid in bed, talking over the day, we came to the conclusion that this is the year we truly became one flesh.
The trials of the past two years have drawn us closer together. We realize how much we truly love each other, are devoted to each other.
I laid on Mark's chest as he stroked my hair, listening to Monti barking in his sleep.
Earlier in the day, my mother told me how much she admired me;
"Laini, I don't know if I could go through what you and Mark are going through right now. Not every woman would have stayed with Mark this long, you two are truly one flesh."
I no longer wonder what is HaShem doing or why is He allowing us to go through this.
To make us Holy, as He is Holy.
To make us one.
Another sweet page to add to my memory book.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Seven Years and A RootBeer Float

On this day, seven years ago, I married my best friend, the one whom my soul loves. It has been an amazing seven years. With all the ups and downs, I wouldn't trade one moment for all the gold in the world.
I remember as Mark took me into his arms and we began our first dance, Mark told me: "our life together will be one long honeymoon, filled with fun and adventure...."
And he didn't lie. In the seven years we have been married, there has never been an dull moment.
And yet there is no other man I would wish to spend the rest of my life with. I cannot imagine any man loving me more than Mark. The sweetness of his love. No, Mark isn't perfect. But he is perfect for me.
We have faced two deployments, a miscarriage, unemployment for almost two years and a sick dog. But we have also laughed together, cried together. We have hosted Thankgiving Dinners, Shabbat and High Holy Day Feasts together in our home. We have had the joy in helping the planning of other friends weddings, preparing meals for the sick and most recently, the retraining of a 13 year papillon with a mind of his own.
It has been an amazing seven years.
Each year, unless Mark was deployed, we always return to Williamsburg, Virginia, where we began our honeymoon.
Today, we can't even afford a cupcake.
But this evening I did find a way to celebrate our seven years.
Last Friday afternoon, Mark shared with me a special memory.
When he was little, living in Montana with Uncle Jim and Aunt Michael, his uncle would take his to the local Drug Store for a A&M RootBeer float as a treat. It was a special time between them. I could see the far away look as he was lost in memory; a little blonde haird tyke enjoying a large glass of a sweet treat with his uncle.
So, going into my piggy bank, I brought vanilla ice cream and a tall bottle of A&M RootBeer.
After our supper of salomen and green beans, made Mark a rootbeer float.

I told Mark, "this is the only gift I can gift you right now,"
He kissed my hand, "it's the perfect gift."

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Blessing Of a Little Dog

Thanks be to G-d for the healing of Monti. With tears I thank each one of you for your good thoughts and prayers for our little guy; he is almost his own self.
We first notice the upswing at the Animal Hosptail when Monti tried to be a little too friendly with a cute little poodle.
Later, he slept through the whole night, the first time in a week.
Then yesterday afternoon, Mark, Monti and I went to the PeTa Dog Park. The Bea Arthur Dog Park is named after the later actress, known for her love of animals and support of PeTa.
Though it is a 1 acre park, the Bea Arthur Dog Park is a taste of doggie heaven for our furry babies. There is a park within the park, known as the Ben Arthur Park for little dogs.The parking free.  There are water stations, a toy bin, and even swimming with ramp access to the Elizabeth River.

There is a nice, shaded pinic  area for vistors.
As you can see, Monti is enjoying the shade.
Lilic bush.
I also love the fact that the park is well gated and away from the street. PeTa does have a WebCam, for security. The park is closed Mondays and Tuesdays to care for the park. Monti wasn't too friendly, but then he has been sick. But from the big smile on his face, we knew he had a great time.
After the family nap, I took Monti into the livingroom and it was then it happen.
Monti started chasing Mark, then Mark ran after Monti.
Tail up and wagging, Monti started barking. We haven't him bark in two weeks.
Monti then went for his stuffed monkee George and ran away from Mark, with Mark right behind him.
It was a beautiful sight.
I began to cry. Silly. I know.
I sat there in the livingroom, giving thanks to G-d for healing my dog. Silly. I know.
The Holy One, Blessed be He loves us, all of us, His children, His creation. Includling little dogs.
The night before I cried out in tears for Monti, begging He heal our little guy.
And in His great mercy He did. I also know He worked through the prayers of others, through the medication given, through the Vet.
And if The Creator loves a little papillon, how much more does He loves us?

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Small Improvements

Thanks to everyone for their prayers concerning our little Monti. This is day four of his ten days treatment. While the medication has caused some vomiting, we are seeing slow improvements in his health. We did have to take him to the Animal Hospital yesterday because we were concern about his vomiting, but it seems to be the medication.
Monti still needs to get a medical work-up; after all he is 13 years old and like all seniors, he has special health needs. It is our job as his owner to make Montaque's golden years are healthily as well as happy.

I am amazed of how many people who have pets and feel no need to take their dogs or cats to the Vets except for needed shots or flea protection. They feel "it's just an animal" or worse, "Vet hike the prices of pet care and medications to get your money." Pet Co. Pet Supplies and such is good enough.
I can't disagree more. Having a pet is an commitment that includes meeting and caring for its medical needs. I pray for Monti; but just if Mark was ill and needed to see a doctor, I wouldn't just stop at praying, but make sure he got to the doctor. It is the same with Monti.
What is so sweet is now, when Monti hears me praying, he comes over and lays his little head in my lap and closes his eyes.
I think he is praying with me.

Thank You, Mummy

Boker Tov:
Yesterday, I began another year on this good earth. As I have done for years, when I opened my eyes, I gave thanks to the Creator, to My Creator, for the gift of life. I came to be because of His will.

Thursday amoug the birthday cards I received, there was one from my mother. A Thomas Kincaid of course. Inside the card, she enclosed a bit of cash as a gift, adding to the note: "I just  wish it was more." More?
The next morning, I called her and said the following:
" Mummy, you wanted a child, you wanted me. You went through great lenghts to even conceive me. I was both a Choice and Life in your eyes. On 23th June, you laid down your life for that I could be born. You gave me life. You gave me a name you thought beautiful. You taught me to walk and talk,  to sing and dance. You taught me to read and write and taught me to colour within the lines, but not to be afraid to colour outside the lines and later to write my own stories and create my own pictures. You taught me when I fall down, to get back up and never stop trying. That anyone who can't accept me as I am and doesn't wish to be my friend, that is was their lost, not my. You gave me the ladder to reach for the stars. Even during those times I made a mess of things, made wrong choices, you loved me through them.You taught me how to pray and how to read and study the Bible. Through the example of your life, you gave me faith. You instilled a love of reading and learning, of G-d, His Word, His people. In your eyes, smile and touch I felt G-d, and it took many years for me to realised the precious treasures you have given me. You even told me Mark was the One; you knew he loved me before I did.  You have given me the most precious of gifts, my life. Given me more? You have given me the best."
For years, I have not only thanked G-d, but also my mother for giving birth to me. My birthday is just as much her day as it is mine.
When my sister and I were little girls, mummy would wake us on our birthday with kisses and singing Happy Birthday. Today, she calls us and still sings that special song. Both Eileen and I agree it is still the highlight of our birthday. Mummy rejoices in the fact that G-d has allowed her to live long enough to see us grow into women, marry, have children, even grandchildren. And we give thanks she is still with us. That I can still pick up the phone and hear her sweet voice.
Mark was a little down because he couldn't even give me a birthday cupcake.
But I can tell he is up to something...
When isn't he?

Thursday, 21 June 2012

It's Summer Time

Today is the first day of Summer.
I love Summer. Partly because I am a Summer baby (and Mark loves me anyway) but also because of freedom she offers.
No More Pencils, No More Books, No More Teacher's Dirty Looks....
Time to sleep in late and have cookout in the evenings; hot dogs and hamburgers, potato salad and watermelon. Listening to the guys on the street corner sing and playing Tag until midnight.
Summer time. The time I kick off my sneakers and about barefoot and paint my toenails to make the colours of my long skirts or dresses. Time when watermelon is included in every meal and I make lemon aide and Sun Moroccan Mint Tea. The time of the year I like to walk along the beach in the moonlight with the one I love.
My mother began the tradition in our family to pick a book or a book series for the summer. When my son Aries was growing up, it was The Narnia Series, a tradition I still hold to.
I can only hope and pray Aries is continuing with the tradition. And while there are a few books I have set aside, I will be making my yearly trek to Narnia.
Once a king and Queen in Narnia, always a king and queen in Narnia.
Tonight, Mar and I will start with The Magician's Nephew, with our little Monti curled up between us.
It seems Monti enjoys family story time as well.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

My Affair With Watermelon

Since I was a babe in arms, I have had an love affair with watermelon.
I truly believe when the Creator made watermelon, He had me in mind.

I always referred to watermelon as a 'messy delight." Often mummy would get embarrassed as to I would drive face first into that green bowl of Rudy red luscious pulp, getting black seeds up my nose. But I didn't care. For me growing up, one of the signs of summer was the barrels of freshly picked watermelon, just waiting to be taken home and enjoyed.
One day, about two weeks ago, Mark  brought home a huge watermelon. Seeing the look on my face, he informed me it was on sale and knowing me, it would not go to waste.
So I followed him into the kitchen and after cutting the melon in two, he handed one half.
Yes, all mine....
Ahhh bliss....
About to enjoy the first bite....
You didn't want any, did you?
I didn't think so...

Monday, 18 June 2012

Our Little Butterfly

First, I would like to thank the wonderful person who send money for Monti we can buy his medication. Such a blessing and from the Reel Tribe we thank you and May the Holy One Bless you and your household for your kindness thus us. Tomorrow morning, we will go to the Vet's.
Mark and I were out today, running a few errands, taking Monti with us. And as always, he was the center of attention.
"I love his little ears!" is the most common remark. When I remark that is the hallmark of the Papillion, the butterfly like ears, people say they can see that.
Today we met a young woman who, when I told her Monti was a Papillon, she asked, "is he a pure breed Papillon?" and I answered yes, she said she had never seen one before.
Papillons are not really a commen dog for Virginia, I'd seen only other than Monti. I think that is one of the reasons he sticks out.
Plus he is just so dare cute.
Monti is feeling better. He is eating his dog food from our fingers and this evening, he even ate some of my chicken. We are getting him out to walk more and since the weather is nice, we allow him just to sit outside and  enjoy the sun.
This afternoon, before I took my nap, I was laying across the bed reading. Monti came and laid next to me. He looked at my book, then at me and then back at my book and began reading.
Yeah, he is feeling.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Potty Training

It has been a rough few days.
Mark's PTSD kicked in Friday and I found myself in the battle of my life, praying for my husband who had not only shut me out, but wanted to die.
Why am I sharing this? Because many of our Veterans have these deep, unseen wounds. They struggle with every day life and things like no money, no job and the threat of losing their homes only add to the stress.
A friend of my said to me one day; "I just don't understand, Laini. Why can't businesses be made to hire our Vets. Why aren't jobs waiting for them? This is so wrong. Mark has given so much to this nation and this is how America repays him????"
Well, when the President can go to Hollywood and raise millions for his campaign fund, but can't stir up for the men and women who serve under him......
Anyway, after much prayer and talking, Mark is doing better. I just have to keep loving him through this.
Monti is eating more and more, but we still have to encourage him to do so. The Vet said this is part of his growing older; not wanting to eat as much. I am hoping once he gets his medication, he will start eating more.
However, Monti is now beginning to have accidents in the house. I had read several weeks ago this could happen and here we are. So now we are learning to deal with canine incontinence.
Again, my mummie/nursing skills are kicking in. I have notice Monti needs to go out every five hours. So we have to time this so that his little badder is retrained to wait until he gets outside. Because he an UTI, this will lead to incontinence. There are oilmets, doggie pads and even doggie nappies that can help.
But I can't imagine Monti allowing me to put him in a nappy...

Friday, 15 June 2012

Dancing in the Moonlight

Boker Tov:
Well, this is day three without my blood pressure medication.
Not because I have stopped following doctor's orders, but because we don't have the money to buy the pills.
So far, so good. Blood pressure is still good, only one headache.
Little Monti is feeling a little better. The dog food Doctor Smith gave us for Monti seems to be helping. Though Monti only eats a little, the good news is, Monti is eating. But we have to really coach him to do so.
Caring for Monti right now reminds me of my days working in Nursing Homes, having to encourage an dear old man to partake of the food I was trying to feed him. It could take a good ten minutes to an half and hour. Yes, it take much patience and love.
But Monti is worth it.
What is still hard is Monti's not sleeping through the night.
Right now, Monti wakes me up between 1 and 2 in the morning for something to drink and to relief himself.
So I find myself standing outside, looking up into a blanket of ebony as Monti sits in the grass and looks up into the stars.
I wonder; is Monti making a wish?
I have to admit, at first, it bothered me to get up so early to take Monti out. But this morning, as I watched Monti, his little face up, enjoying the cool air blowing upon it, I realised what a precious moment I was enjoying. The air was cool and scented with rose and gardenia. The sky ebony with sparkles of sliver here and there. No traffic sound, no human voices. Just Monti, me and the Creator. The air on my face was the very breath of G-d, touching me, filling me. For a few moments, I danced in the moonlight with the Creator.
It was a holy moment. No wonder Holy men and women rise this early in the morning to pray.
A moment I would have missed if Montaqe didn't have to take a pee.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Lee Ann Womack - I Hope You Dance



Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
Abraham Lincoln.

When I was a child, I can honestly say, I wasn't a happy one. Often haunted by an unnamed sadness, moody, depressed and painful afraid of people, often lived in a world found in books or the stories I wrote, creating my own little, not unlike Calvin and Hobbies or C.S Lewis's Narnia.

It really wasn't until my twenties, under the tutelage of a rebbetzin (a rabbi's wife) who told me about the Baal Shem Tov; Master of the Good Name. Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), is the founder of the Chassidic movement. It was his belief that joy can be found in every day life; from the rising of the sun, the laugh of a baby, the enjoying of a burger and fries, in the warm embrace of your spouse. In all of these and all of life's moments the Holy One can be found. If we chose to look.
The Baal Shem Tov said: "The ability to be joyous, by discerning the good and joyous within every experience, is considered by chassidim as a biblical command!"
It was from the rebbetzin that I learnt Mr. Lincoln's above quote.
While I can't remember her name, I can still her thick, Boston accent voice; "Miss Elayne, you are much too pretty to go around looking so sad. G-d has given you the gift of Life. Your gift to Him is how you live it. One day you will have to explain to G-d why you don't enjoy your life."
It took several years for me to truly take hold of this truth. But slowly, drip, drip drip. Then like the melting of the White Witch's snow, the joy came to my life, joy that remains.
I found that happiness the Baal Shem Tov spoke of, I found my own Happy Dance.
Happiness isn't based on what is happening in my life. It is based on Who is in my life. The Creator is the Center of my life. Each day is a a gift that is my to open and enjoy.
Life is hard right now. This time last year, Mark and I were going to a local Food Closet. Now, we are having to go to the Food Bank. We thank the Holy One that there is a place to get food. We are blessed with our precious little Montaque who is a joy to all. While we now live on red beans and rice, at least I have my Mark to enjoy them with.
Life is hard. Life is good.
I chose to dance.

The Lion King

Boker Tov:
Yesterday, mid-morning, Mark, Monti and I were laying on the bed. It had been a long night and Monti had his Vet appointment later in the afternoon, so we were getting some rest. When I turned my head to look at Mark, I found the following....
It has been a week since we have seen the playful Montaque. But there he was, looking all the world like the Lion King....
So of course, I went to get the cameria, this was just too good to pass up....
And may I point out.....
Mark is asleep.....

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

For the past week we have been dealing with a very sick pup.
Our little Monti, so happy and bouncy, has been anything but. Sleeping all day, hiding in the coat closet, not wanting to be touched, we couldn't figure out what was going on with him.
Worse, Monti stopped eating and drinking or going the bathroom.
Saturday, I began putting a little sugar in his water and Monti began to drink. I also began feeling him fresh, puree pumpkin and baby rice cereal. This he would eat. But nothing else.
Because of the lack of money, we just haven't been able to take Montaque to the Vets. All I could do is pray for some sort of miracle.
Yesterday, I found a nearby Animal hospital that gave free first time visit examines.
Thank you, Abba!
We set out first thing this morning for the Independence Veterinary Hospital.
It is a small, but very sweet looking building, comfortable.  Friendly. Monti, who had been anxious, suddenly calmed down. Doctor Smith was in surgery all morning, so we had to come back later in the afternoon.
Because Monti has been up all night the past several days, Mark made me stay home to take a nap.
It seems that our little Boo has a major urinary tract infection. The medication that we have been using to treat the small tumour in his mouth actually kicked up an raging UTI. This accounts for his not wanting to eat, play, walk and would affect his bowls.
So Monti is off that medication and once we get the money, we will start the medication treatment. The doctor says for his age, Monti is in very good health, but we do have to switch to a diet that is more suited for his age.
This evening, Mark made supper, including boiled chicken for Montaque. And he ate some of it! Then he ate a little of the special food Dr. Smith send home.
Praise G-d, our little guy is on the mend.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Montaque, Our Little Teacher

“Ask the animals, and they will teach you...In God’s hand is the life of every creature, and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12:7 and10)
“A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal.” (Proverbs 12:10)

The Praying Papllion

Boker Tov:
You know when your in an Torah Observant home when you find the furry member of the family praying before his water bowl.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Picture of the Week

Dogs 101 - Papillion

 This is our beloved Montaque.

Twlight Years

The last years of a person's life. Someone in their twilight years is often elderly.
Growing Older. The Golden Years. The Autumn of our Lives. Seniors. Old Age. Twilight Years.
Let's face it, all who are blessed to reach sixty-five and older, know despite the ups and downs, sweet and sour of life, it is still good, a gift from G-d.
And with age comes grey (or silver) hair, aches and pains, some slow down and more time to do the times one enjoys or finally get to do.
Our four legged family members are no exception. They too grow older and become slower. The walk they use to enjoy, you now have to pick them up and carry them to get them to move at all. The dog or cat food they once would knock you over to get to the bowl, now goes untouched. They are up, pacing throughout the house all night. And worse, they hide from your presence.
All of the above is now what we are dealing with Montaque.
We had been seeing the signs for a while; the not wanting to go for his walk. Having to give him fresh pumpkin to kick start his little bowels. For several nights Monti wasn't even sleeping and I had had to take him out to relieve himself 1 or 2 in the morning.
Having been care giver to the Elderly for many years, including my mother, I find many of my old skills kicking in to care for our little guy.
Not having been a dog owner before, it is so hard watching these changes. Sometimes I just hold him and cry. We don't have the money to take him to the Vet, so we pray a lot.
While Mark has been raised with dogs, he has never had an older dog, so this is very hard on him as well. He struggles with accepting Monti doesn't want to play with him anyone.
I am hopeful when things improve we can take Monti to the Vet and find out what Monti needs to get the more of his Twilight Years.
Everything I have read so far says, though Monti doesn't wish to be petted as much, play as much, he still needs to know we love him.
Love. We have plenty of that.

Blue Face

Boker Tov (good morning)
Last week, Mark and I were blessed with some groceries. Amoung them were a package of red, white and blue frosted cupcakes.
When handing them out for a snack, Mark gave me a red frosted cupcake, stating he gave me red because I am a" Red Hot Mama."
He took a blue one because he is a "True Blue Amercian  Boy."
I thought it was cute and then reminded him that blue is also the colour of the Democratic Party. We exchanged cupcakes.
Our little Montaque, who hasn't been feeling well the past few days, looked up at the cupcake longingly. While he couldn't have the chocolate cake, I did give him some the frosting....

Gota to love a little dog with a blue tongue.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

He Fills The Void

Genesis 1:2 "Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters."

 Emptiness. Vacuum. Vacancy.  Blank.  Gap - Vacuity.
If we were to read the text above in Hebrew, howevre, it would read as follows:" In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and the earth was formless and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of Elohim hover the face of the waters.
If you notice, there is no break in the Hebrew. Out of empty, G-d created.
I have several friends who don't believe in a Divine Being. To them, the verses above are nothing more than just stories.
I have always been curious about why people do not believe in G-d. Not because I wish to prove them wrong, "witness to them," or tease them with "and what if your wrong?" My favourite of course is "one day you will learn the truth and then it will be too late."
To my fellow believers; "how loving does that sound?"
I ask because there was never a time I did not believe in the Holy One, Blessed be He. To me, believing in a Creator is logical.
To my non-believing friends, my beliefs are illogical.
Reminds me of Mr. Spock and Doctor McCoy.....
Void. Nothing. G-d, took nothing and creator all. Simple.
Yes and no. Too many people, this just doesn't compute. If G-d could create the universe, why are there so much suffering in the world? The earthquakes, mass floods and the war. Why children die? How do you explain Hitler?
Good questions. Valid questions. Honest questions. Questions that deserved to be answered and the one asking the questions shouldn't be put to shame for asking. For using his/her G-d-given brain. There is nothing in Torah that speaks of "blind faith."
I believe that there is a G-d. I look at the world around me and the beauty thereof and cannot help but believe that there was a Divine Designer behind it. I see a child's smile, the way and man looks at the woman he has been married to for fifty years as if it was their wedding day. I feel the cold, wet nose of my little Papllion, Monti, on my wrist as I type. I listen to the blue bird outside my window and know that there is One who taught the little lady her song.
G-d stepped into the Void and filled it with His Presence. Like an artist, He told that which was in His Being and brought it forth.
Kinda nice to know I was part off what He wanted to bring out.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

A Day at Barkely Gardens

Beautiful weather. Nice and sunny. And cooler thanks to the Tornado that flew our neighbourhood last Friday night.
One of the blessings we have here in Ghent is a Doggie Park, better known as Barkely Gardens.

Yeah, I know, the Park has gone to the dogs....

It is well kept, plenty of water dishes and balls for our four legged friends. There is a place where you can grab a bag and take of Boo-Boo's little packages and toss them away in a nearby trash can. 
The park is fenced in and gated. It's open during rain or snow. And closes every three months or so to reseed the ground.

As you can see, Monti enjoys the Park, playing with his friends and meeting new ones.
I love it because we can take him off his lead and let him run about and play. Even lay in the grass and enjoy the sun.
I heard only one complaint about Barkely Gardens and that there is no place to sit. Well, I have to say I agree.
This way we are interacting with the furry baby and making sure he stays out of trouble. And since the Garden closes at Sunset, this stops people from hanging out after dark.
So many of us who like in Ghent are apartment dwellers and don't have backgrounds for our pets to run and play. So I think it is amazing and very good of the City of Norfolk to allow us to have a place for our pets. It is one of the things I love about Ghent; she makes all of her residents feel welcome.
Even the four-legged ones.