Sunday, July 13, 2008


Sorry not to have been posting much. It's been busy, but in a good way. Some random items of possible interest:

1. Avtalyon has gone from My Easy Baby to The Screamiest Baby Ever. At first I thought it was jet lag, and now I think it is teething. Either way, this working at night thing has become... challenging. Barak and Iyyar have been going to bed much later than usual, because--well, because of a few things. One is that their bedroom has a skylight, and it is full of blazing sunshine until about 7:45 PM. I have realized that trying to put them to bed before then is totally hopeless. So now they go to bed a full hour later than they are used to, and often aren't asleep until close to 9, which is waaaay too late for children aged 2 and 4. Barak does okay with it, but Iyyar does not, and ends up taking three- or even four-hour naps to compensate--which puts him in good shape to jump up and down in his crib screaming till 9 pm. Vicious cycle, etc. In the meantime, Avtalyon is usually screaming his head off for hours on end, and I'm trying to calm him down while fielding the children and that whole speechwriting thing... well. It's been happening at some very odd hours indeed.

The official plan is that MHH is supposed to be the Parent On Call after 7 pm, at which time I'm supposed to be at work, but the trouble with that is his stubborn refusal to lactate and consequent inability to soothe the savage baby. We talked about that this evening and have some plans in mind for how we will deal with it in future. Stay tuned for how that one will work out.

2. The tichel-shopping expedition of last Thursday continued Friday morning. In belated answer to your question, israelmom, we're in Ramat Beit Shemesh (wanna come visit?) We were going to visit friends in Modiin over Shabbos, and I had to pick up MHH's Shabbos pants from the dry cleaner Friday morning, so I stopped by Helen's Hats in the shopping center to check out the tichel offerings there. And fortune smiled upon me. Allow a bit of backtracking, if you will; on Thursday, on the way in to Jerusalem, a South African woman was sitting in front of me on the bus with one of the nicest tichels I've ever seen. It was one of the long rectangular ones, and it was in shades of pink, brown, and sage green, which managed to be pretty and feminine and totally not pastel all at the same time. I will admit to a bit of covetousness, and to tapping her on the shoulder to ask where she got it. Alas, she didn't know where it had come from; it was a gift. And I didn't see it in any of the places I looked in Jerusalem. But on Friday, when I poked through the pile of 2-for-NIS-30 tichlach, there were two of them! I got one, and another one that was a nice loose black-and-white weave. Why oh why did it never occur to me to weave myself a tichel when I owned a loom?! It would have been the perfect thing. Of course, it would have required warping at 20 epi...

3. The jury is officially in. I want to live here. In fact, I never want to leave. Neither does Barak. MHH says that I have been actively brainwashing him into this conclusion but I think a lot of it is his own observation. He doesn't get monitored nearly as closely here as he does in the States. There are playgrounds every fifty meters, or so it seems. There is a playground literally downstairs from our building--with a falafel store, equipped with a slushy machine, right next to it. This is the Land of Bamba. There are children EVERYWHERE. They stay out late playing. He also gets to stay out late playing. It never snows. We have an elevator, and he gets to press the buttons. He has cousins here, and when we visit them he gets to play in the dirt out in the shchuna without any adults watching.

And did I mention that this is the Land of Bamba?

Anyway, Barak has informed me a few times that he likes Israel, he does not like the city where we usually live, and he just wants to "live in Israel the whole day." He has no plans to leave. I told him that we did have to go back to our usual place of residence, and he said no, he didn't want to. I explained that I hoped that we would come back here to live, and I hoped it would be soon, but in the meantime we did have to go back because we have an apartment there, and we don't have one here; all of his books and toys and all of my books and yarn and all of Abba's books and, um, books are there. So we at least had to go back and get them. He was okay with that--but I don't think my idea of a return timetable (probably two years, at the end of MHH's contract) and his (as soon as we can get everything boxed up) match up very well.

4. As I mentioned there is a park downstairs from us, known as "the falafel park," as well as a park right across the street, known as "the park with the ball thing," and another park on the way to gan, in front of the makolet, known (funnily enough) as "the makolet park." Barak likes the makolet park, probably because after 4 PM it is packed with children, and it also has some old-time playground equipment like a metal child-powered merry-go-round, a seesaw, and a slide. Iyyar also likes this playground, and whenever we pass it, usually on the way back from dropping Barak off at gan, he campaigns for a play stop. "Pay! Pay!" Unfortunately, even with the shtarkest sun hats ever and a lot of sunblock, midmorning visits to totally unshaded playgrounds with very young children are not a good plan.

5. We don't have AC here and it is actually fine. It would be very very very un-fine where we live in the States. But here, we open all the windows at night and turn on all the fans; in the morning we close the shades, and it stays reasonably cool all day.

6. I am now taking a conversational Hebrew ulpan, two mornings a week. It's great. Five women, all religious, and one teacher, also religious. I'm learning a lot. And B"H my Hebrew is really improving. Last Wednesday I managed to successfully return an item (a defective water bottle) to the store and get my money back--a feat which, if you are familiar with Israeli-style customer service, is not exactly easy. Before I went I practiced my intended arguments on my teacher, and she pronounced them all acceptable but warned that returning things in Israel was not easy even if you did speak the language. So I'm quite looking forward to reporting on my success in the morning. :)

7. The vegetables here are amazing. Everyone seems to be complaining about how you can't get as much, or the prices are much higher, during shmitta--but for me, the prices are about the same, the variety is all I need (except for the total lack of bananas that aren't otzer bais din), and oh, my gosh, the flavor is out of this world. Real tomatoes! Real onions! Real grapes! Tomato sandwiches on warm fresh pita!

8. And on the subject of pita, I have discovered that the bread here grows mold faster than any bread anywhere. Leave it on the counter for a day and there are white spots; leave it for four and you will have half-inch mounds of black festering mold that is hot enough to leave condensation inside the plastic. Yecch. All pita now goes directly into the freezer--it thaws fast enough.

9. Iyyar has always liked cottage cheese. Here, it is noticeably tastier (as is everything else) and it has become something of an obsession with him. Whenever he sees it go into the fridge, he reacts as Barak once did to the sight of Yobabies--with frenzied, passionate desire. "Hotchee! Hotchee! AWAAAANNNNAAAAA!"

10. And is it the climate or the food? I don't know, but whatever the cause, Iyyar's eczema is gone. Vanished. Disappeared completely. When we left, three weeks ago, it was getting bad enough to worry me: despite twice-daily applications of vaseline, he had it on at least half his face, with spots coming out on his arms and a few on his legs too, and it was steadily getting worse. All gone now. We are still putting vaseline on his face at night but I think it would be okay to stop--for the first time in almost a year, the chapped cheeks are totally gone.

I think that's the roundup--more as I think of it, bli neder.


shanna said...

I miss Israeli cottage cheese. 4% is "full fat" here. 5% is "low fat" in Israel. *sigh*

And tomatoes. Though they are finally coming into season here now. Again: *sigh*

miriamp said...

"The jury is officially in. I want to live here. In fact, I never want to leave. Neither does Barak."

Precisely why I have no immediate plans to visit, ever. I don't think I could bring myself to leave again.

(Not having a passport helps with that, though, and thinking about the sheer cost of the passports for a family of 10, never mind the tickets! And I'm not really willing to farm most or all of the kidlings out and leave them behind. That just seems so rude.)

But glad you are finding all these benefits of being in the Holy Land. The produce sounds wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Mmmm, tomato on warm pita. Heaven.

And I vote for the change in diet affecting Iyyar's eczema. When we were in Finland, A.'s chronic eczema cleared right up on a steady diet of Finnish yogurt, and it came right back within hours when she had American yogurt on the plane home.

crunchygranolamom said...

I'm loving reading the details (well, not all of them. I'm sorry there's a screamy baby and some kids awake way too late), but your life there sounds so great, Uber.....Kol hakavod for jumping through all the crazy hoops required to get you all there.

Israel Mom said...

Ramat Beit Shemesh is wonderful ... enjoy your stay! I love hearing all of your observations and how everything's going ... it reminds me again how lucky I am to be here and what I was feeling and doing when I first came. And kudos on the returning water bottle thing - I wouldn't have even tried to return it. I'm very impressed!

Deborah said...

I love hearing about your life there.
Peanut-butter flavored corn puffs? Not for me, thanks.

The sabbath year's rest of the land I did not know was still being practiced. Hurrah.

Add another language notch to that woman's belt!

And I agree with another of your readers that the dietary changes--specifically the higher fat dairy products--are probably what helped clear Iyyar's skin.