Thursday, December 29, 2005


When I was pregnant with Ross while we were still living in Holland, my friend Lizzie followed the Dutch tradition of giving me a ‘chime ball’ as a gift. The silver ball houses a most delicately sounding chime which is said to have a soothing and calming effect on the fetus. You are not supposed to buy a chime for yourself but rather receive one as a gift. There is something very special about this chime and everyone who has ever worn one during their pregnancy will tell you they would never go without it.

Over the years, I have passed my chime on to many people who have all loved wearing it during their pregnancy. Mine has been worn in Holland, England and Canada. The most recent person to wear it was my sister in law Andrea with her third baby on the way and expected early January.

I spoke with her on Friday last week. While she has not had a complicated pregnancy, it has been tiring for her as she has struggled with coughs and colds and sinus irritations that have lingered over the months. She was saying how she felt so exhausted that she was seriously considering a c-section as she didn’t feel she had the energy to deliver a baby. I encouraged her to give this a re-think as she would have to then recuperate from the surgery and told her that ultimately her body would decide what the best way to deliver would be. I learnt that the baby was expected to arrive on what would be my father in law’s grandfathers’ birthday.

My father in law’s birthday is on December 26th so we were surprised when he called us early Monday morning considering we were expecting to call him for the traditional singing of happy birthday over the phone from New Jersey to Toronto. The reason for his call was to tell us that Andrea had delivered a baby girl on his birthday. The whole process had taken three hours and she had in fact not had time for any pain relief.

I love this story because it reflects so many blessings and miracles. I am very curious about what this new little girl's history is. I think it is so interesting that she was due on her great-great-grandfather’s birthday, and ultimately arrived on her grandfather’s birthday. I am overjoyed for Andi and Glen that they have been blessed with three children. I am in awe of Andrea for the fact that she has had a totally natural birth. I am reminded by all of this that there is always a power so much greater than us guiding us through our lives and in spite of our adamant belief that we are in control of everything, we are ultimately quite insignificant in the big scheme of things. If we would just have the courage to surrender and let things unfold as they are meant to. It all turns out so perfectly and exactly as it is meant to – be it good or not as good as we might have hoped for.

And now, the chime will be passed on from Toronto to Vancouver where my other sister in law Vicki will be blessed with the energy from within the chime to help guide their baby into the world in the new year … oddly enough, due on my birthday.

Happy Birthday ‘still to be named’ baby in Toronto. Happy Birthday Grandpa. Happy forthcoming birth day new nephew on the way in Vancouver.

Baruch Hashem, to say the least!

If you look closely, you will see the chime resting on Andrea's hand.

Awaiting arrival in Vancouver.

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

Monday, December 26, 2005


We all know well enough that everything we do is down to our own choice. I sometimes struggle with the difference between choices and karma and circumstances and all the variables that come into play in any given moment in my life. Which ever way I choose to look at things, in my heart of hearts I do believe everything does begin and end with the choices I make or have made. With choice, comes responsibility. Sometimes that responsibility can feel like a burden and other times it can be a blessing … I guess it depends on how I choose to view it.

I spend a lot of time thinking about the choice that brought my soul to a body with a disease. It is indeed an ongoing dialogue of mine and one of these days I will get off my butt and start sharing my thoughts on my KEEPING THE PEACE blog. For now though, I want to share this.

Just before school closed for the winter break, Ross had some Social Studies homework to do. He is learning about the different cultures that make up American society and how much we can learn from each other. The 7th question asked that if he could declare a new national holiday, what would it be and why.

I told him that I thought this was a really interesting question and if I had to answer it, I would have to think about it as I was not sure what I would choose. He told me that he knew exactly what he wanted to choose and without any hesitation wrote down his answer. When he brought me the sheet of paper, this is what he had written:

click on the pic to enlarge it

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Although I have yet to find the words that can adequately describe the emotions I experience when Ross shines, I finally set the wheels in motion to share the journey with him, or anyone else that finds their way to these pages.
My first post can be seen here. I know this is going to be a fun, ongoing experience and I couldn't think of a better or more worthy project to kick off the new year with.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Jazz up a glass of water, or almost anything with these.

Feel like trying a different kind of latke this year, check out this recipe and if you're going to have a sugar rush, it might as well be with these.

For every fan of dooce and/or dog lovers with a sense of humor, this calendar is a must!

A nice perspective on listening to your kids, watch and listen here.

A great collection of gifts for any time of the year can be found here.

Remembering December 8th, 1980 and a good thought to hold, all the time. Available here.


From my last post on November 8th, I feel like I have been through the most grueling of times. Real freaky things have gone down in my life between then and now. I have been getting bold, strong, if not brutal signs from the universe – you know when they come at you full throttle and make you realize that it is time to take certain issues on – in equal full throttle mode – like it or not.

The first of these signs was when the hard drive on my computer d.i.e.d. It was literally moments after that fateful post on November 8th . That post was motivated by the way I was feeling emotionally with regard to my step children. I published the post and that was the last thing I was able to do.

Daniel was away so I found myself alone in technology hell. My computer always works. I know how to do the things I need to do, but beyond that, I don’t know, what I don’t know! I am often surprised that that my posts make the journey from my brain to the blog!

It all started on the Tuesday morning. When I had left my desk earlier at around 2am all was well. Now, at 8am, as I tried to check my email, there was clearly something very wrong with my computer.

I decided to switch off and re-start. The numerous attempts I made eventually brought me to a screen, the contents of which really started scaring me. I called Daniel in Buffalo and he said he would get one of his technical guys to give me a call and see if he could assist me on the phone.

When I heard the words, “this is called a death screen” I knew I was in deep shit, to say the least. This is where the feelings of shame, guilt, remorse, and those other words which all end in the “…ide” sound start coming to the surface. You guesses it, no back-ups … ever!

So, I called DELL and they started talking me through a whole lot of processes. My calls fluctuated between their help desks in Texas and India. Everyone was very helpful and patient. What is interesting to note is that every time I was transferred to someone else, I ended up with a different Case Number. Each new conversation required I give the Case Number, yet I had to go through the whole story again, every time. After acquiring 6 Case Numbers, you can imagine that I was getting a tad frustrated at having to go through the whole story, again, every time.

The diagnosis was that my hard drive had crashed and I had two options about retrieving my data. The first option was to purchase one of two DELL products. One such product would cost me $239 and give me a year’s cover, and the other would cost me $99 and give me three days cover. Given that my computer was bought as recently as February this year, I decided to go for the $99 option. I did, after all have the COMPLETE CARE WARRANTY EXTENDED CARE which was good through Sept. 19th, 2007.

In spite of the fact that I was being sold a product to retrieve my data, the guy kept mentioning a third option, which would be to contact a company called Drive Savers

It got to a point in the conversation where I had to ask the guy what state he was in. As my computer was down, and I didn’t have a watch/clock in the room, I needed to know what the time was as I had to go get Ross from school. He told me he was in Texas and we calculated what the time was in NJ, and I had to literally hang up and leave immediately. I made very sure that I would be able to call them back the next day, give the Case Number and then we would be able to start the process of retrieving my data; that was of course, unless I decided to use the option of phoning Drive Savers. While driving to get Ross, I admitted to myself that as technologically challenged as I am, even I could kind of see that retrieving my data remotely seemed unlikely – how was this possible. Oh well, I assured myself it must be, otherwise why would he have sold me a product for $99 … but there was this niggling voice reminding me that he had given me the option of phoning Drive Savers.

The next day a guy arrived to replace my hard drive for which there was no charge as this was covered by that super fancy, extra special all bells and whistles guarantee! He was here for a couple of minutes, did what he had to do, and left. Call me stupid, but I was sure that I would now be able to have my computer back, in full and perfect working order.


Daniel was now back and took over from me. To cut this already long story somewhat shorter, after speaking with DELL again, Daniel told me that replacing the hard drive was just that, and DELL were now saying that I had to purchase all the applications that would then have to be loaded.

I had also established earlier in the day that buying the product I had bought was indeed a waste of time because of course; it was not possible for my data to be retrieved this way. After a few more case numbers and some time on the phone, DELL agreed that it was their error and the cost of the product would be credited back to me in full.

I then spoke to Drive Savers and was told that they could retrieve my data. If I took the 5 – 7 day turn-around option, with the benefit of a 10% discount courtesy my referral from DELL, the cost ranged from $500 to $2700. I guessed that with the way things were working for me, I could pretty much take it as a certainty it would cost me closer to the maximum possibility, rather than the minimum.

Daniel went off to the Geek Squad at Best Buy. The next day, he went to pick up the computer, with all my data retrieved aside from my email. The cost … just under $100. The turn-around time…overnight. The method…they put the computer into a deep freeze, and seemingly, the freezing process releases the data. If you have lasted this long and are still reading this saga, then you know there is absolutely no point in expecting me to be able to expand on this technological phenomenon. Big, huge, loud shout out to the Geek Squad though! You guys rock!

So, now I have my data, I have a hard drive, and I can’t use any of it. I got back on the phone to DELL with renewed customer clarity. I was not putting the phone down until my computer was working. I made this clear to the person I was speaking to, and when she said that she was from the laptop department and would have to transfer me, I said that there was no way under the sun that I was going to repeat my story. I told her to please make sure she brought the person she was going to transfer me to right up to the minute on my situation.

Well, so much for my clarity. After repeating my story, the gentleman on the phone said to me, “your cover provides for us replacing your hard drive and that’s all. The details of it are in the user manual.”

I kept my cool and explained to this manager that when I have a warranty that says it is going to replace my hard drive at no cost, I expect to get my computer back in a usable format. If not, then effectively what I bought was a free delivery service, because my husband could have taken my computer to Best Buy and they would have replaced my hard drive for a lot less than what I had paid for my cover. I also told him that telling me the small print was in my user manual was not going to hack it. I told him that these companies only provide user manuals once you have bought the product. They do not discuss all the details of the user manual with you on the phone when they are selling you the product. Would it therefore not be more ethical to send me the user manual, let me read it, and then, when I really have an understanding of what it is I would be buying, I can make the informed choice on whether to make the purchase or not.

I went on to tell him that they had been really helpful up to this point. I don’t want this to sound like a DELL put-down. They had been friendly, helpful, and extremely polite and in general had provided me with good service. However, there was no way I was prepared to be left with the useless new hard drive. I am not sure what it was that made this guy get what I was saying. He told me to stay on the line for a moment and then he was going to transfer me to another Help Desk and they would do a remote installation of whatever it was I needed. I was very pleased about this as I felt my comment about the user manual was valid and that the situation I was finding myself in was really bordering on misrepresentation.

I explained to Mr I. Gotit that I was going to put my husband on the line as he would be the best person to work with the help desk to do the installation. I found the whole thing fascinating as I watched the lady in India take control of my computer – and within a reasonable amount of time, I was back up and running.

I appreciate that not everyone who reads this will see this as a major victory, but I felt totally empowered by the fact that I had gotten DELL to give me what I felt I was entitled to get.

Over the next few days I will be catching up on posts about all the things that have been going on since then, to now.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for the emails asking where I have been. This is just the tip of the iceberg in answer to that question! I’ll be back with more.