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Sheva Chaya Shaiman is the artist who created the exquisite, spiritual JewishMOM.com logo in the banner above as well as the covers of both my books. I thought it would be interesting to ask Sheva Chaya a few questions about her life as an artist and as a JewishMOM of 5 kids.

Where are you from originally? Denver, Colorado

At what age did you become an artist? I started really getting into painting and drawing in college, at the age of 18.

Where did you study art? I studied painting at Princeton University, and also in Paris, on a semester abroad, which I spent mainly going to various museums. I studied glassblowing, more specifically lampworking, at Red Deer College in Alberta, Canada and privately in my studio in Tsfat.

When and how did you become religious?
I started to get interested in Judaism in college, in the mid 90’s. I loved Israel the first time I came (when I was 17) because I saw a great energy and joy for life in the people here. I also loved the landscape of Israel, so colorful and varied. I saw Judaism is “alive” in people, that they “live” Judaism, and their lives were obviously on another level. I started to learn Hebrew, loved the language, and heard about Rebbe Nachman, Rav Kook, Shlomo Carlebach, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and found myself blown away over and over again how by beautiful the teachings of the Torah are. After living in the Old City of Jerusalem while spending a semester abroad at Hebrew University I was committed to Shabbos, and learning as much Torah as I could. I loved the chevra (people) so much in Israel, I always wanted to come back until I realized I wanted to live here.

How do you balance motherhood and your art?
My children inspire me so much! They have inspired paintings—of them, of mothers with children, of Noah’s Ark. They are like a gateway into a different way of looking at the world, seeing its wonder and simplicity. I am also inspired to make beautiful meaningful artwork which conveys a world of redemption, of joy, and of the Jewish people and the land of Israel shining and thriving.

Of course, I also do art projects with my children, and I’m constantly impressed with their expressions. I find that I need to spend some time alone as well, painting, blowing glass, making videos, and that gives me the clarity and patience to be more present with my children.

As a mom with 5 kids, is it hard to find time to work on your art? Yes! It can be nearly impossible, but I have found that somehow HaShem opens the gates and there are new waves of creative expression through the phases of motherhood and child-raising. I have found that pregnancy can be an ultra-creative time (it is!), and that with every kid, new windows into creativity are opening.

What is your favorite kind of art? I love art that is alive, fresh, fun, full of joy, and helps uplift people. If you mean what media, it is often a toss-up between glassblowing, painting, and videography. At the moment, I love the glasswork because I am able to share it with people. I do glassblowing presentations in my gallery in Tsfat, and simultaneously explain the “deeper” side of glass. By touching on Kabbalistic ideas connected to glass and glassblowing, we can see that the simple act of creating something new can open our hearts and minds to connecting deeper—to HaShem’s world, to each other.

What do you love best about being a Jewish mother?
The whole experience is such a gift! Ashreinu! We are so blessed! To pick one thing, I would say Shabbos! It is such an honor to get the opportunity to share and be together, to celebrate HaShem’s creation, to learn beautiful Torah teachings, to sing together.
What do you love best about being an artist? I love that I can give something to people. To gladden hearts, to brighten homes, and to share what I have deep inside—-and, on a simple level, I love to be involved with colors!

What are some of the newest projects you are working on?
I started to make chandeliers with glass pomegranates on the lights (see: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=258645&id=641153548&l=1997f0d427) I love seeing the light shine through the glass.

I also recently created a music video
(for women only) for the hit song “Miriam’s Drum” by Tziona Achishena, which shows an array of new paintings and video footage of our recent NY tour.
I particularly love the message of the video, which is the circle of women dancing, and I hope to publish a children’s book about Miriam the Prophetess, and paintings in this video will be the starting point.

Learn more about Sheva Chaya in this video:

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A Russian news program recently reported that a first-time mother gave birth to 10 babies. According to this news report, the mother did not see a doctor during her pregnancy, which explains why there was such off-the-charts shock when she gave birth to 10 babies.

According to the report, the husband fainted when he realized that he had been transformed overnight into a father of 10. The hospital nurses say they were in shock when one baby after another were coming out of this woman. The mother is just doing everything she can to keep the names straight of her 5 newborn sons and 5 newborn daughters.

I was just laughing when I watched this, it just seems so unbelievable. But is it unbelievable/incredible or un-believable/I just don’t believe this?

I’m leaning now to thinking this is a made-up story…Watch this video and vote in the poll below what you think the truth is…



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The Incredible Ear

page 241 Internal Earphoto © 2009 Sue Clark | more info (via: Wylio)
Follow these instructions:
1. Say the word “Hello”
2. Hear yourself say the word “Hello”
3. Read the description below of what just happened inside your ear.

“The outer ear, known as the pinna, collects sound waves and directs them into the ear canal, which carries the sound waves to the eardrum. In turn, the eardrum vibrates, and these tremors are picked up by the three tiny bones in the middle ear: the malleus (resembling a club), the incus (shaped like an anvil), and the stapes (similar to a stirrup.) These bones amplify the sound vibrations and transmit them to the inner ear, where the cochlea converts the vibrations into electrical impulses, which travel from the acoustic nerve to the part of the brain that processes sound, the auditory cortex.”*

I feel awe for G-d when I encounter the vast magnificence and beauty of the world He created—the Mitzpe Ramon crater, the vulture-diving cliffs of the Golan, the fireball of Sun going to sleep behind the Mediterranean. But I could feel that same awe every time I see or feel or smell or hear anything. I should feel awe for my Creator, who created the unfathomable, intricate wonder that is the human body.

* Taken from “That Buzzing Sound” by Jerome Groopman, February 9, ’09, The New Yorker

Me In Timephoto © 2009 Vincent van der Pas | more info (via: Wylio)
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Over the past few days I have been feeling breathless. I think this borderline hyperventilation might be due to my perpetual motion machine life, and the fact that it’s finally starting to get to me.

And then I read the results of a recent survey of 3000 working British moms, which breaks down the average day of a working mom as follows:

(reprinted from the Motherlode Blog):
Get up 6:42am
Get ready (shower, dress, coffee) 55 minutes
Get children ready 47 minutes
Commute to work 52 minutes
Working day 7 hours
Pick children up 33 minutes
Makes / eat dinner 46 minutes
Children’s play and bedtime 1 hour 9 minutes
Household chores 1 hour 13 minutes
Work from home 1 hour 12 minutes
Go to bed 10:45pm
Spare time = 1 hour 30 minutes a day

What is it that parents miss most? Here’s what they told pollsters:

1. Spend more time with the children – 48 per cent
2. Read books – 37 per cent
3. Do more exercise – 34 per cent
4. Put feet up in front of the TV – 32 per cent
5. A lie in – 31 per cent
6. Go to the pub – 30 per cent
7. Meet friends – 25 per cent
8. Take a walk in the park with their partner – 22 per cent
9. Go to the cinema – 19 per cent

My first thought after reading this was that I really don’t get how these moms do it. I work only three hours a day, not seven, and I am the one borderline hyperventilating as I type these words.

What do you think of the results of this survey? Do you think the 90 minutes spare time a day sounds realistic? What does your daily schedule look like and what do you miss most from you BC (Before Children) days? I’ll be interested to hear your comments on this…

Don’t forget to read author Liza Mundy’s wonderful response to this poll entitled “The Strands of Time”…
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Timephoto © 2010 Robbert van der Steeg | more info (via: Wylio)
The following is a fantastic response by writer Liza Mundy to British researchers who claim that the average working mom has 90 minutes of spare time a day. I could so relate to Mundy’s description of the non-stop life of a mom of young children, though I personally take refuge not at the pool but at the gym (which, among its abundant positive qualities, also has free babysitting)… Every time I leave my kids at the gym babysitter and pass through that beloved turnstile I feel like Atlas putting down the Heavens for the 1st time since, well…the last time I was at the gym…Enjoy! (Thanks to my buddy Chaya Houpt for sending me this article!)

The Strands of Time by Liza Mundy

Over at Motherlode, Lisa Belkin highlights a British survey which found that “working parents have 90 minutes” of spare time, each day, to themselves. The study for some reason was done by a supermarket chain–perhaps wanting to know how much time busy customers have for food-shopping and cooking. Or maybe the store just wanted to perform a public service. Maybe some parent in management was curious. Who knows?

Anyway, 90 minutes sounds generous to me, unless you count things like feeding the cats or taking out the recycling as “spare” time. But the piece got me thinking about how the time and place of parental free time changes as kids’ needs evolve. When my children were very little, and being at home meant for me (or my husband) that some small body was constantly needing to be lifted or put down or herded or rescued or fed or bathed or clothed or ferried, the only place I remember experiencing free time was in the shower of the public indoor swimming pool near our house. I would slip out to do some laps, then luxuriate in that crummy collective shower, where there was no privacy and the water was never quite warm enough, but on the other hand, there was nobody who needed anything and I could just stand there and exist, amongst strangers and running water, without any limbs being tugged. Showers in general are one place I think parents often escape for a small window of free time, though even there, if you are at home, you are never safe. I know one woman who–on a particularly excruciating day when her 5-year-old son was following her around the house singing some kindergarten song at the top of his voice while she tried to get her house ready for a dinner party–attempted to lock herself in the bathroom for a quick shower and some peace and quiet. Her son picked the lock with a hairpin, flung open the door, and announced “Great news! I am here!”

In fact, so little free time does one have, when the kids are little…
Click here to read the rest of The Strands of Time by Liza Mundy

Lorraine Candy, the Editor-in-Chief of Elle Magazine, is currently expecting her 4th child, and she is under heavy attack on all fronts for it. In a recent editorial, Candy attempted to defend her decision to continue reproducing beyond the 2.2 kids norm:

“…of course we will be (and have been) criticised for being selfish, environmentally irresponsible and naïve.

It’s your right to think what you think, but I really don’t care. We’re not trying to prove anything or expecting anyone to make our choice any easier. It will be what it will be…

But I also know how much more love we will have in our lives, how much happiness we can look forward to and how long it will last…

I think life is supposed to be an adventure — and this is the next part of ours.”

Pretty eye-opening to be reading Candy’s self-defense against her critics as well as the hostile comments against her at the end of the article. When I walk down the street with my crowd of kids in Jerusalem, Israelis of all shapes and sizes greet me with wistful smiles. I had pretty much forgotten that anybody is still ANTI big families!

Yet another reminder to thank God that I’m living in this world and not that one! Thanks for Rena Lewis of Jerusalem for sending this my way!

I would be interested to hear from moms with big families living outside of Israel. What kinds of reactions have you received to your bigger-than-average family?
Read the rest of Why do Other Women Resent me for having a 4th Child?

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