Family Calendar

Made-a-move #22: Online Family Calendar

As our lives are getting increasingly busy with the conclusion of the school year, my move for this week is to better utilize (and share with you) the online Cozi Calendar that I found out about from The Flylady – last Summer.






So what is a “Cozi Calendar”?  For us, it is an amazing (and free) tool to coordinate schedules of a busy family!  It has all kinds of available tools for sharing information with each other – to-do lists, shopping lists, a family journal…  but the one we mainly use is the calendar!  Just for starters, Cozi allows us to:

  • add calendar items and specify which family members each pertain to
  • select a color dot to represent each person on the calendar to easily see
  • choose to have a reminder sent to each person’s mobile device or email
  • set appointments as repeating or singular
  • access our calendar wherever we are – (rather than only when we are within sight of the one on the fridge)
  • add downloadable internet calendars to include in our calendar – I added a Jewish calendar that even tells us when the Sabbath candle-lighting time is each week

Any one of us in our family can add an appointment to the calendar for all of us to see, set up reminders of events, or have a message sent to the rest of us to our phone or email.

It is a great tool for families and one that I plan to make much better use of for mine as we continue to grow and face new challenges.

Have a great a successful week!

- DebBee

In Honor of Mom

Made-a-Move # 18

Every year there is always the question of ‘What to get Mom for mother’s day?’  Another craft book of things I would love to do if I had time that maybe she could find time for…?… flowers, again…?  Treats that will be enjoyed, but gone as fast as an empty sink gets refilled with dirty dishes ..?..  I know how about I stand up in front of a room full of over a hundred people (most of whom I don’t know) and tell them what a great mom she is :)

Ok, it was a week early and wasn’t really for Mother’s day.  But I did do the speech.  How many people get the opportunity to use a microphone to tell their mom how great she is?!  Moms do so much to contribute to the successes of, and make a positive impact on, so many people’s lives.  Some more visibly than others.  Each in their own, unique, way.  So, in celebration of my mom’s ways, here is most of the speech I said at a luncheon she was being honored at yesterday as a “Woman of Achievement” for her many years of contributions to her Synagogue:

When my mother first told me about the event, in her humble way, she was hoping at least I and a couple of my girls would come.   Like so many others who are here because she is being honored, my whole family is here today.  And, my brother, who lives in Germany and cannot be here today sends his warmest wishes and lots of love.  Who is Honored?  The question is asked and answered by Ben Zoma in Pirkei Avos (4:1) He who honors others.

Everyone who meets my mom sees how respectful she is of others.  She is ready to help others, but always in a quiet, unassuming and supportive way.  Rather than jumping in and taking over, she waits for direction of how and where they want her help.

When our first child was born, my mom came to help us.  As eager as she was to meet her new granddaughter, she waited (on our request) until we came home from the hospital and were settled before she came to St Paul.  Mom was there to help any way we let her, but managed to not step on toes as the nervous new parents insisted on changing all of the diapers and bathing the tiny baby themselves those first few days.

And when my husband reluctantly went back to work when the baby was 5 days old, Mom was there to help her crazy daughter surprise him by bringing the baby to his work so he could show her off to his co-workers.

While my mom keeps herself busy with exercise to take care of herself, activities with friends, working as a substitute (including being a very much loved Morah at her grandson’s preschool) and volunteering at her synagogue in so many ways, she clearly lets us know that she is always here for us when we need her.   Both for sharing life’s challenges and for sharing our accomplishments and simchas [joyous occassions].

She has mastered the balance (that seems to allude me) of taking care of herself, giving of herself, recognizing her limits, and maintaining the ability to help others in their time of need.  From driving across town to take an ill grandchild home from school in the middle of the day, to helping her daughter with a big fundraising event.  Without ridicule, and always with a loving smile.  :)   Albeit sometimes a tired one.

Honoring Parents is such a major mitzvah [Jewish commandment] that it is included in the 10 Commandments.  How can I give honor to my mom?  It says in the Torah that the way to know if a tree is good is by looking at its fruit.  So, I think it is, in part, by leading a life by her examples of how to treat others and making sure the fruits of her labor are sweet.  I think that is what the concept of “nachas” [mixed feeling of pride and joy] is all about.  Tasting the sweet fruits of your labor – seeing the growth and successes that stem from your efforts – be it the success of the Sisterhood activities she takes part in, or of the children and grandchildren she had a hand in bringing into this world and nurturing.

I’ve always been uncomfortable with receiving compliments – except for one.  Over the years, whenever anyone told me I was like my mom in some way, I always took that as a compliment.  She is one of the strongest people I know.  Like everyone, she has her own set of challenges in life – but she has the fortitude to control her reactions to those challenges and go on to enjoy life, greet everyone with kindness, and be there for others.

We love you, Mom, and I am still growing up trying to be more like you.
Mazel tov to you on receiving this much deserved honor, and thank you for inviting me to be a part of this very special event.  May you continue to be blessed with health and strength, love and respect from family and friends, and nachas from your children and grandchildren.

Leaving Slavery

Made-a-move #14

Artwork by Shoshana

My move for this week has been preparing for and celebrating Passover with my family – a holiday that commemorates the Jewish people leaving the slavery of Egypt to be free to fulfill our purposes in this world.  The participation and help of all of my family has been immense, each in their own way, and greatly appreciated!

The special Passover “Seder” meal the first night(s) of Passover are filled with symbolic items and actions that help us walk through the history of our people’s experiences as being slaves, of crying out to The Creator for help, and His rescuing us and bringing us to freedom.  As is said during the seder, “In every generation, a person is obligated to regard himself as though he had come out of Egypt… It was not only our ancestors whom the L-rd redeemed from Egypt, but He redeemed us with them as well.”   The symbolism presented on the table in front of us during the meal (and all of the hard work preparing for the holiday) set the stage, but to truly feel the redemption, we need introspection.

Artwork by Shoshana

So often we feel like we are “A rose among thorns.”  That harsh conditions around us limit our freedom.  Passover is a time to look inside ourselves and realize how much we are “a slave to ourselves.”  I’ve heard that in the process of training elephants, the baby elephants were chained, at their ankle, to a post when young.  As they grew big, they could easily have escaped the chains through their great strength, but didn’t even try out of memory of not being able to when they tried in their youth.  How much are we held back by our perceptions of our limitations?  Are the thorns really there?  Maybe yes, and maybe no.  Either way we need to realize that there is a way to get past them, blossom to our full potential, and share our beautiful contributions with the world around us.  We need to not allow past experiences blind us to the possibilities now and in the future.

Artwork by Shoshana

As we conclude the Seder with the words “Next Year in Jerusalem”, it is my heartfelt wish that this be a year that we break out of the confined image we have ourselves.  That we realize that we can call out to, and tap into, the infinite strength of The Creator.  That we recognize the incredible potential we have within ourselves.  And, that we can live fulfilling our purpose in this world – be that in Jerusalem, in our world, in our communities, in our family, in our jobs, or, and most importantly, in ourselves.

Health, strength, happiness, and success to you in all of your worthwhile endeavors!

- DebBee

Multiple Image re-sizing

Made-a-move #13





As I have been doing more and more with putting images on the web, I’m learning the importance of resizing images.  I’m getting better at it, but it has been tedious for the quantity of images I’d love to put up – especially with adding images to my DD’s online artistic portfolio and my aspirations of posting online demonstrations.

Not wanting to let my lack of training [college education in occupational therapy didn't exactly cover this area ;) ]  to hold me back, I did a little searching and found a great freeware program for resizing multiple images: Fast Image Resizer Thanks to for the info and for the confirmation that it is a good (and safe) program.

Resizing a batch of pictures was as simple as selecting them in their folder and drag-drop a copy of them to the resizer – it automatically set up a ‘resized’ folder for them and resized them in seconds.  Wow!  Online picture stories and tutorials, here I come!


Appreciating Beauty Within

Artwork by DD, Shoshana

Made-a-Move #12   Putting thoughts into writing


Morning musings….

Appreciating Beauty Within

To cover or not to cover – that is the question.

I think this is a basic principal of what modesty is all about – appreciating the beauty within.  In clothing, speech, actions, etc.  So often, the more that is revealed, the less the true beauty is seen.  Ever hear someone you are not very close to talk about details in their life to the point you think “Too much information – I didn’t need to know that.”  On the other hand, when you have a very close relationship with someone else, their divulging the same level of detail makes you appreciate them that much more.

An artist’s masterpiece painting

The artist themselves and other art experts can look at a finished painting and marvel at the beauty of the brush strokes, the materials used, how this piece compares to others done by that artist or by other artists, use of color, placement of the objects, and other intricacies.  Some art enthusiasts would be able to recognize the beauty and author of the piece even in an odd location, or found rolled in a corner of an attic.  For the general public to appreciate it as a masterpiece, the artwork is partially covered by putting it in a fancy frame, is hung on a wall with special lighting, and may even be covered at times with a curtain for protection.

Royalty – kings & queens

Close your eyes for a moment and picture a king and queen amongst other people.  How are they distinguished from the masses?  How do they speak?  How do they carry themselves? How is their clothing different from others?

The Torah

In the Jewish tradition, the holiest book, called the Torah, is generally kept rolled shut, covered with a decorated velvet covering (or ornate box), crowned and placed in a beautiful cabinet when not in use.  It is clearly recognized by all, even those totally unfamiliar with it, that it is considered highly special.  Those who are more knowledgeable about it, stand in respect when it is taken out, and appreciate the profundity of the words inside when it is uncovered and read.  Those even more knowledgeable can even recognize the beauty of the details of each of the hand-inked letters and the parchment it was written on.

The Jewish Woman

So many people have the misconception that orthodox Jews make their women cover their hair and wear modest clothing to hide their beauty from other men to not tempt them.  Their theory hits a brick wall when they then try to understand how these same women wear beautiful clothing, hats, and wigs.  The modesty rules are not being bent hypocritically – it is the theory that is in need of adjustment.   Just like the art expert, or very close friend, the woman’s husband and immediate family can appreciate her true beauty with or without the fancy coverings.  Traditional Judaism recognizes the incredible beauty, strength, insight, and closeness to G-d that women have.  The modesty customs are not so much to hide the women, but rather to provide a frame by which their special status can be recognized and appreciated by others.  On her wedding day, the woman was recognized and treated like a queen.  Modesty is a means by which she can carry that status throughout her life.

Through modesty a person’s inner beauty can shine through for all to see and appreciate.

The wind beneath their wings

Made-a-move #10

The wind.  That is what I strive to be in so many ways – the wind beneath the wings of others to help them soar.  That is when I feel like I am soaring – carried on the wings of the people around me that I help in some way.  That’s the common denominator in the wide variety of things I have done since the middle of high school – from being a youth group board member, a care attendant, an occupational therapist, a wife and mother, a sewing teacher, a start-up company administrator, a preschool cook involving kids in the kitchen…

My move for this week was to further develop and add pictures to a web site my DH set up for my oldest daughter.

Friends very kindly commissioned my DD to make painted glass plates that were to be sent out as part of a gift package to many people and included a bio card (with her new web address) to help promote her artistic talents.  To that end, I learned how to upload pictures of her work and combed through my picture directories to create a growing online portfolio for her.

The wind beneath their wings.  Seeing the YouTube posting of that song from Beaches makes me hold back tears, but the song is so me.  I want to be a strong wind that helps and encourages others to ever higher heights.

Wind Beneath My Wings lyrics
Songwriters: Jeff Alan Silbar;Larry Henley

It must have been cold there in my shadow
To never have sunlight on your face
You were content to let me shine, that’s your way
You always walked a step behind

So I was the one with all the glory
While you were the one with all the strength
A beautiful face without a name for so long
A beautiful smile to hide the pain

Did you ever know that you’re my hero
And everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle
For you are the wind beneath my wings

It might have appeared to go unnoticed
But I’ve got it all here in my heart
I want you to know, I know the truth, of course I know it
I would be nothing without you

Did you ever know that you’re my hero?
You’re everything I wish I could be
I could fly higher than an eagle
For you are the wind beneath my wings

Did I ever tell you you’re my hero?
You’re everything, everything I wish I could be
Oh, and I, I could fly higher than an eagle
For you are the wind beneath my wings
‘Cause you are the wind beneath my wings

Oh, the wind beneath my wings
You, you, you, you are the wind beneath my wings
Fly, fly, fly away, you let me fly so high
Oh, you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings
Oh, you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings

Fly, fly, so high against the sky
So high I almost touch the sky
Thank you, thank you
Thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings

(adapted from:

Come fly with me!

- DebBee


My Shiny Sink

Made-a-Move Monday #5

Like puzzle pieces coming together, my brain made a switch this week.  Little messages have been seeping in and resulted in my making a switch from past habits to now starting to take care of things to completion better – not leaving dishes, papers, etc. in my wake to take care of later.

My tangible move for this week is a decluttered living room that has stayed that way for 3 days!, kitchen and dining room floors washed, dishes washed after dinner meals 4 nights in a row, and… a Shiny Sink!!

I shined my sink today!

Those familiar with The Flylady will understand the full significance of my shiny sink.  In short, “the Flylady” has great advice for getting people to change their disorganized habits, get into healthy routines, learn to love and care for themselves and their homes – all with small steps.  And it all starts with a shiny sink.  For the past several years, I’ve been running around so busily the clutter in my house and brain has grown to suffocating proportions.  My rut was too deep to even think about trying to jump back on to Flylady’s wagon.

So what were the messages that came together this week?

  1. I work at a school that follows a Reggio Emilia philosophy and emphasizes the importance of recognizing that children are competent.  Adopting this philosophy is viewed as being on a journey.  Rather than feeling guilty for not doing things perfectly (one of my downfalls) the staff are reminded that we are all on a journey and we are growing with all experiences, including the ones that don’t go as we would have liked.  Everything is positive in this light.  Rather than being paralyzed living in regrets and dealing with things from the past that were left unfinished, I can start fresh and move on with the here and now.
  2. Make-a-move.  Do.  Weekly postings of concrete “doings.”
  3. “Life is short” – we need to make good use of the time we have (from A Short Guide to a Happy Life, by Anna Quindlen)
  4. Really, I used to be an organized person.  Rather than just looking at WHY I and my things have become so disorganized (6 kids, house, job, husband, too much stuff, no funds to hire help, overtired …..), I stopped and asked WHAT is stopping me from being organized?  WHAT is stopping me from cleaning my house?  Somehow, asking these questions gave me the reins to take control of my life.
  5. Guests were coming (Friday night) – Done with CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome – a Flylady acronym)
  6. Listening to the music I loved listening to 25 years ago, when l was as I would like to be – happy, confident, high on life, able to focus, accomplishing, etc.

I’m sure there were other puzzle pieces that helped with my brain switch.  But, I am just happy that things are coming together and am excited to see where my journey is going as I continue to be committed to Make-a-Move.

Announcing: Made-a-Move Mondays


Here it is, last day of Winter break and I have accomplished none of the projects I have been dreaming about doing – I got one of them set up for someone else to do during break.  It still sits out waiting for me to make use of it.

Paints ready and waiting

My paints have been calling me.... no answer... "Line is Busy"

I was able to put over 2 hours into making and decorating a cake for someone – but no time to do the artwork I want to do for my dreams.

My DH has been begging me to “Do Something”.  He believes in me.  He has been infinitely patient with my plans to make and sell all kinds of things I dream of doing.  But finances are increasingly tight and my ability to focus and accomplish continues to allude me.

I’m going to take the advice of the Rabbi Friedman video clip I saw yesterday and not waste time, and derail myself further, by asking WHY I am not doing what is so clear in my mind that I want to do, but instead work on the question of WHAT I am going to do about it.

In a recent posting, Darren Hardy spelled out what I need to do about it.  He stated: “It doesn’t matter your goal and it doesn’t matter your anchor, the formula is the same.
Take your goal and anchor it with something tangible. Track it and display your tracking publicly.”

I am very determined and dedicated  to keep my commitments to others and I am careful of what commitments I agree to – whether it is to my employer, to my kids, to people I bake bread and desserts for, etc.

So, here is my commitment to YOU, my DH, my Uncle S, and myself.   “Made-a-Move Mondays” -  My commitment to be SNM – Stuck-No-More!!!  My commitment (bli neder) to post on every Monday (IYH) something, anything, I created in the past week.  – It could be one of my crafting projects, a writing, a prototype ….  Something tangible – not just more ideas to add to my wish list.  Not just progress for setting things up for future projects – but actual things I completed.

I welcome you to join me in being SNM.  Share with me how you are making a move to be “stuck-no-more” – what are you committing yourself to accomplish?  What progress did you make on that commitment this week?

Wishing all a good, happy, healthy and successful 2012!!

Lets grow and blossom together!

- DebBee

The Language of Flowers


The name and description of The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, caught my eye from a site advertising the previous book I reviewed, Between Shades of Gray.  This book, too, I requested from the library thinking it might be of interest to my teenage daughter.  And, again, it turned out to be more for me than her.  The copy I received from the library was an audio format, which did make it more complicated to find time to get through the book, out of earshot of my kids, as a couple scenes in the book weren’t very kid-appropriate.

The story begins with a girl, Victoria, as she turns 18 and is emancipated from being a ward of the state her entire life – after a life of one foster home after another and one group home after another.  She begins life on her own filled with feelings of anger, distrust, guilt, and a hope for a new beginning.  The book alternates between her building a new life for herself at age 18 and the “new life” that she experienced at age 9, when, for the first time, she lived with a woman who gave her unwavering love and had wanted to adopt her.  In addition to teaching Victoria trust and to accept love, Elizabeth taught her about flowers and how different flowers can be used to express different emotions and sentiments – the first being common thistle, expressing her feelings of anger at the world.  Victoria begins her “new life,” at age 18, with a deep connection to flowers and their meanings and the desire for solitude.  Her fond memories of her time with Elizabeth present the mystery of what went wrong that resulted in her going back to the foster care system.

As both stories unfold, the author takes the reader on Victoria’s new journey along with the backdrop of her past, giving insight into her reactions to life’s situations along with hope for a better future.  The book carries with it messages of growing up, discovering more mature ways of seeing all aspects of life, searching for and recognizing a deeper side to the people and things around us, the importance of forming and developing relationships with others, getting past the road blocks we have set for ourselves as coping mechanisms at previous points in our lives, and of reconciliation.

A few days after finishing the audio of this book, I realized how subtly inspirational it was.  I didn’t notice it while listening to it – I was too caught up in the unfolding of the life story of the main characters and in wanting things to work out for them.

While my life has been much different from that of the characters, I was able to relate to some of their experiences and responses.  After completing the book, I found myself feeling closer to my husband, and making nice dinner meals for my family and washing dishes each night out of wanting to – not as a task to do at end of a long, tiring day.  Just under my consciousness, I felt somewhat of a weight lifted from me in:

  • a release from some of the guilt feelings for mistakes made that have haunted me for years;
  • acceptance of having an “unconventional” home – and that’s ok;
  • acceptance of my shortcomings as a parent and in my relationships with others;
  • awareness of it being ok and necessary to just take small steps in the right direction rather than feeling guilty for not being able to handle it all and be where other people are in their lives; and
  • a new awareness of other people’s limitations in dealing with life’s challenges and forming relationships.

I cannot explain why “reading” this book had these effects.  I just hope that, little by little, they will reshape the patterns I have fallen into, bring me to reconciliation with the painful points in my past and help me to grow and blossom. :)

To Make a Prairie


An important part of tending a beautiful garden is taking the time and effort to get rid of weeds and prune unhealthy growths away.  Last week we got over 9 bags of “over-growth and weeds” out of our house for garbage and donation pick ups.

It is amazing what you can discover.  In my attempt to get rid of some the “weeds” (ie clutter) in my closet, a few weeks ago, I found a whole prairie!

The prairie was in a book published by Scholastic Inc., I am Nobody! Who are You? Poems by Emily Dickinson.  I read through the pages, searching to glean one(s) that spoke for me.  The message that I took away from the book was about the incredible gift of perception Emily Dickinson had through really taking the time to see, perceive and describe the details of simple things in life.

Initially I thought that my challenge in building a business of my own was in the fact that I see so much potential in the basics that I don’t move beyond them to become an expert in anything.  But, then again, Emily Dickinson managed to write about 1800 poems with just the basics – a deep look into the basics.  Appreciating and seeking to utilize basics is what I love – searching for the basic truths in life, without all the frill, is what draws me to the spiritual philosophy and lifestyle we have chosen for our family.  So, how does this fit into the poem I found myself attracted to?

Thoughts to ponder…

  • A prairie occurs naturally when allowed to.
  • When we lack and want to “make” something that is generally natural, we need to begin with a small element of it.
  • A key ingredient is to allow ourselves to dream – to visualize what we want.
  • Through dreaming, we can tap into the essence of the thing we wish to make and enjoy it.

So, what is my “prairie”? What do I want to “make”?  I have a lot of dreams.

Perhaps I dream and pray for things that are too big?  Maybe I need to go back to the basics – the clover.  And then,The Prairie.

To make happiness in my home it takes a smile

and one kind word, -

One smile and a kind word,

And a positive view.

The positive view alone will do

If words are few.

I know a beautiful “prairie” is in store when we start with, and concentrate on the basics, and grow from there.

- DebBee