Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Was it a month ago

that I posted about how I needed to stop neglecting this blog?

Um. Yeah. Well.

It's too late for NaBloPoMo but that's no reason I can't run a one-woman version in January. I think part of the reason I don't post here, while I post plenty of status updates on Facebook, is that the longer I go without posting, the more I feel the need for a substantial post. But if I post every day, they can be dinky. Right?

When all else fails, lower your standards.

Hey, want to know what I did yesterday? I went to get Shanna at the airport! Did you hear about that El Al flight that was stranded at JFK for nine hundred million years, ten hours of which were spent with a fully loaded plane frozen to the tarmac? Shanna, her husband, her 3 yo twins AND her in-laws were all on that plane. Seriously, people.

So after a day of IM'ing her as sympathetically as possible, while continuously updating and canceling babysitting plans, I went out to the airport last night to meet her with carseats, snacks, child entertainment, knitting, and NO CHILDREN OF MY OWN. It was very very strange. The last time I was at an airport without children, I was pregnant with Barak and it was January 2004 and I was coming back from visiting my grandmother. These days, a trip to the airport is a major military operation involving CONSTANT VIGILANCE. Yesterday, I went to the airport, I sat down where I could see the arrival sign, I bought a Diet Coke (8 shekel!! some things are the same in airports the world over) and pulled out my knitting. The first half hour was heavenly, but then I started to get hives. It was just so completely weird. I felt much better once they'd arrived and Shanna and her husband had gone off to pick up the rental car, leaving me with two overtired children to chase around the arrivals hall. More like life as I know it.

Oh! And something totally unrelated that I have not yet posted about! The cheese counter. Oh, my, the cheese counter. Yes, it did take me four months to discover a supermarket cheese counter, because none of the three supermarkets closest to us has one. But the one near Barak's school does, and because they had a special on Ben and Jerry's last week I went there, and people, did you know that cheese when you have it sliced at the cheese counter costs exactly half of what it costs if you buy it packaged in the refrigerator case? As in, NIS 40/kilo instead of NIS 80? Even the cheapest cheese here is not cheap exactly but this is a huge improvement. Not only that, but just the experience of buying cheese like that--saying, I'd like 200 grams of that sliced please, and a piece about this big of that, and 150 grams of that, grated--is one I have not had since I was 22 years old, living in southern Hungary, and buying smelly sheep's milk cheese for my lunches. (I bought smelly French cheese today--just a little piece, because it was expensive, but oh, yum.)

Food in grocery stores: wonderful.

Food in the dining hall: going south rapidly.

All the lunches have a main option containing dairy or soy, such that half of my children can't eat it. There is exactly one cereal--cornflakes--available at breakfast that I am willing to permit my children to eat. To give the allergic boys cereal I have to buy rice milk, which costs NIS 16 a box (oh Trader Joe's how I miss you) so most mornings they have rice cakes with peanut butter and apple slices, which is probably better for them anyway. And the dinners, which are meat and we had assumed would be no problem, contain a tremendous amount of soy. As of last week they started labeling the menus in advance so at least we'd know when it was going to be omelet night; it was getting really, really hard to show up at 7 pm with everyone only to discover that the meat, green beans, and sesame noodles ALL contained soy, and dinner was going to be raw vegetables, hummus, and bread. Again. I've talked to the woman in charge a few times but she is focusing on feeding 300 people, and if I ask for something specific--green lettuce, for example, instead of iceberg, or Cheerios instead of sugary cookie cereal--she says, just buy that item yourself. But we are buying easily half of our food now--probably more--and this was not in the budgetary plan.

Okay, that's enough for today. As of Monday, DoNuThreePlonyMo begins! Alert the media. And crack open a diet coke.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Neglect

I need to stop neglecting this blog. I've kept it up long enough--almost six years now--that I shouldn't drop it now, and besides that, I'll regret not having a record of this year. The thing is, though, that I have seriously no time. I do not knit. I do not sleep. I definitely don't have time to blog.

But I want the blog, so I'm going to blog anyway. Just probably kind of badly. Better than nothing, though, right?

And now for my fallback: the List.

1. I feel like my name these days is Giveret. As in "ma'am" or "lady" or "you there." Giveret! What do you want! Giveret! Please close the door so I can drive, then finish with the car seat. Giveret! It's your turn on line. I have mostly stopped jumping every time I hear this. I have not, however, managed to stop turning around every time I hear "Imma!"

2. We are going to Modiin for Shabbos. I am looking forward to this. I'm a little worried about the logistics of transportation though--we're taking the bus and I strongly suspect it will be hairy. Will bli neder report back next week.

3. The lovely Alisha brought us back a ton of stuff from her recent whirlwind trip to the States, including several rolls of wallpaper border: two each of Sesame Street, Marvel superheroes, and cute furry animals. Those made their way into the rooms of the little boys, the big boy, and the baby girl, respectively, today. I love it. It looks so much better in there now. Next: find pictures for the walls.

4. We also got our curtains up in the living room. I am less besotted with those. But, like this blog post, better than nothing.

5. There is a big bag of dishes under our sink that we bought before Rosh Hashana. We have not yet toveled them. I'm sure this is not a record, but I'd really like to be able to use those dishes.

6. Marika can stand up not holding onto anything for a pretty long time now. Long enough to investigate whatever she's holding, catch my eye, realize she's standing, and then drop the toy and give herself a hearty round of applause. Yay Marika! Yay!

7. Avtalyon is being absurdly cute lately. He is also in a major Abba-or-bust phase. Yesterday I picked him up at gan and when he spied me, he brightened for half a second before flinging himself down on the paving stones in protest. "No! No WANT Imma! HATE Imma! Want Abba!" I'm pretty sure he doesn't hate me--it's his word of the week--but it was a little much. I made him apologize before I took him home. "I sorry Imma." Pause. "Want AAAABBAAAAAA..."

8. Avtalyon's puzzles? The puzzles are absurd. He can do a 60-piece little puzzle now in a few minutes; we got a new one last week and he did it with no help in under half an hour. The hundred-piece shark puzzle, half of which is just blue water and orange fish, takes somewhat longer. Child needs more puzzles.

9. I mentioned that Barak is taking karate, right? In the bomg shelter? It is the highlight of his life right now and all three boys can count to five in Japanese because of it. Ichi! Nee! Sun! Shi! Go!

10. Did I tell you about the bug attack/chicken pox episode? I don't think I did. Eh, too much to get into here--short story, nobody has chicken pox, but the new pediatrician we have been going to had never seen a child as covered by bug bites as Iyyar was, which is why his ganenet called me at 10 am, 15 minutes after I'd gotten off the bus in Kiryat Abba, telling me he had chicken pox and I had to get him and take him to the doctor RIGHT NOW and not only that BUT I had to get a letter from the doctor before he could come back to gan. Which I did, two taxi rides and three hours and NIS 120 later.

11. We may be getting a washing machine. Stay tuned.

12. Things are getting better. They are. L'at l'at, as everyone tells me--slowly slowly. My Hebrew is getting better, the boys' Hebrew is getting better, we are getting more settled, hopefully soon they will stop being sick so much. Maybe one of these days, I'll even get to knit.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Happy birthday







Marika is one today. One! One year old! How is that possible?!

She doesn't look one. She's TINY--not quite 18 lb. But it's OK. She's stayed nicely on her growth curve, somewhere between the 5th and the 10th percentile on the standard charts they use here and between the 15th and the 20th on the new WHO breastfed-baby charts. She is STRONG--if you're trying to change her diaper and she decides she doesn't want you to, you'd better be up for a wrestling match. She's standing, pulling up on everything, and just beginning to cruise around on the furniture. The second shelf of the bookcase is now in her reach, and one of her favorite things to do is crawl over, pull herself up on it (yes it's bolted to the wall) and merrily empty it of its contents. If that's not age-appropriate behavior, I don't know what is.

I think she had a nice birthday. She got a doll, pink and plush, the one and only girly toy currently in residence in our home; Alisha was just in New York and hauled back all manner of goods for us, including said doll, and some books for the boys, which served as their presents for Marika's birthday (non-birthday children get small presents too around here.) Gifts were handed out Friday night and she loved the doll: her eyes went wide and she made that baby sound of great interest-- a sort of palatalized "atch," or what, if I were transliterating Russian, I would write as "at' at' at'." Followed by a lot of heavy breathing, also indicative of extreme baby interest. The doll is in her crib right now, which, along with her pink crib sheet, pink baby blanket, and pink flowery pajamas, looks very girly indeed.
She also got a piece of chocolate cake, which she enjoyed, but didn't get as worked up about as Avtalyon did with his first-birthday cake. She's just not all that into food right now. Nursing? Yes yes yes. Food? Take it or leave it, mostly, unless it's something I'm eating while she's in the Snugli, in which case she WANTS IT NOW. The other day I had something in a paper bag in my hand that she knew was good stuff. She made a serious attempt to get at it by hauling my arm up toward her, hand over hand.

She sleeps through the night, mostly, as of a couple of weeks ago. She's still quite happy to be carted around Jerusalem in the Snugli, and registers outrage on the infrequent occasion of being confined in a carseat. The other day I put her in a stroller for I think the fifth time in her life. She was not pleased. I can sit in the park with the kids running around, and she'll be content just to hang out in my lap and watch for a good long time before demanding liberty. But if I put her down, she's off like a shot. Her favorite place to be when inside the house is on the floor, and whenever I set her loose she scoots directly under the kitchen table to check out the buffet offerings down there. It's occurred to me more than once that she might eat more if I served her all her meals under the table, instead of in a high chair.
How else can I say it? She is a total delight. On the way back from visiting Orley this week, she struck up a friendship with the young guy sitting behind me; she was in the Snugli and I guess he was playing peekaboo, because she'd lurch waaaay over to the left, look intently behind me, giggle, then lurch urgently to the right to do the same thing again. I peeked back once and saw him, grinning, having fun with his new buddy. She also does this on the city bus--picks some random person and informs them, "You're my new best friend!" No one has yet declined.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Awake

It is 1:30 am and I can't sleep.

Where are we going to be next year? Where are we going to be living in two years? Three? What are we going to do with our apartment? If we are here next year, will I get to keep my job? I think it will be OK but I have no assurances. If I can't, we'll both be unemployed, and that would be pretty disastrous. Should I be looking for another job? Should we both be expanding the job-search radius?

Maybe I should not be posting this on the internet, but well... why not? It's not like my boss doesn't already know.

Can't... sleep...

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

for RivkA

There are certain things I am comfortable blogging about, and certain things I am not.

I wasn’t going to blog about what happened last Friday.

But then yesterday, when I was at Orley’s house, playing hooky with Barak, right before I had to run out the door to catch the bus back to Jerusalem, my phone rang. It was a friend of RivkA’s, and she asked me please to write it up. I wasn’t sure what she meant. Write what up? Well, she said, it would be a nechama to the family if you would write it up, what you did on Friday. So I said, yes of course, I’ll write it up, and that’s what I’ve just sat down to do, although even now sitting at the computer I’m not sure what exactly to say.

I started reading RivkA’s blog… four years ago? I think? Something like that. Since then I’ve gone through phases with how much I read blogs, sometimes regularly, sometimes hardly at all, but I always checked in on hers every few weeks. Was she OK? How were her kids? How was she managing, with the Israeli healthcare system and everything in Hebrew and as an olah, with breast cancer?

I kept reading, but rarely commented, since the comments always seemed more like the schmoozing of a group of old friends than the comments section of a blog. I didn’t know any of them and so I just watched, much as one would watch from a couch on the periphery of a party, when the girl throwing the party is someone you just met in class, the most popular girl, who said, I’m having a party and I’d love you to stop by. And at first you think you won’t, but because the smile was real and the touch on your arm was warm, you stop by, and it’s a great party, and you watch your new friend and all her old friends and wish you were an old friend too. So you listen to the jokes and you laugh and don’t say much—and later, as you slip quietly out the door, you wish you’d been braver, said more, made a joke of your own.

I never said much, but I kept coming back. When we were planning our aliya, the months of paperwork and the weeks of packing, I checked in on RivkA. And a few weeks before we left, I finally posted a comment—soon I’ll be in Jerusalem! And maybe we’ll have a chemo date.

Right after we got here, in August, I emailed her. I live right near the hospital! I’d love to join you for a chemo date.

I didn’t get a reply, but I wasn’t hurt. I was the newcomer at the party. She was the popular girl. I knew the invitation had been genuine, but she had so many other friends.

The weeks went by, and I kept checking the blog, looking for another invitation, another opening to stop by anytime. But it didn’t come. Instead, I saw more and more reasons to worry. The posts were always positive. It’s just another bump in the road, she said. Always, with love and optimism.

When I saw posts that had been posted on her behalf, I felt a chill. Because a few years ago, I was the person posting on someone else’s behalf, when the someone else was a dear friend, another blogger, one with cancer. I knew what that meant.

We’d never had a chemo date.

When the call went out for help for the family, I emailed. I live right near the hospital, I said. I can walk over on Shabbos. Let me know if you need anything.

And again, the next week: I live right near the hospital. I can walk over on Shabbos. Maybe the family needs a break—I can come over, sit with her, keep her company. Here’s my cell phone number. Give me a call.

And on Friday, as I came down the stairs that lead to the road above our building, with my baby in the sling and my boys galloping down after me, I heard my phone ring. I picked it up and the woman on the other end was speaking Hebrew.

Do you speak Hebrew?

I speak some.

I’m a friend of Rivka’s and…

Baruch dayan emes.

The boys had gotten into a niche by the stairs where someone had left schach, long palm branches with the fronds still on, and started doing battle with them. I couldn’t hear the person on the phone. I asked them to be quiet, and they were so deep in their game they didn’t hear. Please be quiet, please be quiet, I need to hear this. Please!

I heard, “to do shmira…”

Can you, she asked?

I started to say, “I need to ask my husband,” but it came out, “Yes, of course I can. Just tell me when.”

When I got home, the phone rang again. What shift can you take? Midnight to eight? I can’t do that long, I said, I have a nursing baby—I didn’t know if I could take her with me. I could do two shorter shifts if I could come home in between and nurse. All right, I’ll call you back.

And then the phone rang again. Can you come now? In fifteen minutes? So people can go home for Shabbos?

I looked at the time and said yes and hung up. I picked up the baby and nursed her and quickly decided not to bring her—she’s eleven months, she’d survive without me and my breasts for a few hours. I told my husband he was on his own and as I ran out the door Barak said, “But what are we having for Shabbos dinner?” I called back over my shoulder, “Cookies!” and heard behind me three little boys yelling, “Yay!!”

(RivkA, you made three little boys very happy on Friday night.)

I got to the hospital and someone met me and we walked outside to the beit haniftarim, and she showed me where RivkA was and where the sifrei tehillim were, and the women who were before me finished and left and I was alone so I sat down and started saying tehillim.

אַשְׁרֵי הָאִישׁ...

Aleph. Beit. I am not a tehillim zeiger. My Hebrew reading is not fluent enough; I don’t get a rhythm. It was cold.

לַיהוָה הַיְשׁוּעָה; עַל-עַמְּךָ בִרְכָתֶךָ סֶּלָה.

Gimel. Daled.

Someone came in. I was on zayin. She left. I started chet.

מִפִּי עוֹלְלִים, וְיֹנְקִים--

I couldn’t help it. I giggled. Nursing! From the mouths of nursing babies!

I put down the tehillim and looked toward RivkA, and I said, I’m sorry we didn’t have our chemo date. I should have brought the baby, because I think you’d like it if someone sitting shmira for you brought her nursing baby along. Do you think anyone’s ever nursed in the beit haniftarim? Did you know I nursed for the first time on a Jerusalem bus a few weeks ago? You would have been proud of me.

RivkA, I’m sorry we didn’t get a chemo date. But I’m glad I had the chance, grateful I had the chance, to spend this time with you; to tell you I liked reading your blog, and I like you, and I know we could have been friends. I’m glad there was something, this one thing, that I was able to do for you, to say thank you—thank you for inviting me to your party.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Three months

We've been here for three months, as of sometime last week. In honor of the occasion, a random list of totally unconnected observations and updates:

1. Marika is 11 months old. This is the same age that Barak was when I started this blog. The mind reels.

2. She just got her second top front tooth, bringing the total to six (four top, two bottom). She is the loveliest, happiest, mellowest baby imaginable; she's still totally content in the snugli for hours, but once I get home wants nothing so much as the freedom to crawl around the floor and taste anything she might find.

3. She's still nursing close to exclusively. This is a first around here. At seven months, an inadvertent attempt at putting Avtalyon to bed with only nursing and no real food was met with hysterical objection (solved by spanakopita); I'm pretty sure that if I didn't give Marika any real food all day, she wouldn't mind. She nurses a LOT--every couple of hours all day and maybe twice at night. I don't mind if she doesn't.

4. Avtalyon is feeling a lot better now. Last week on Thursday, after days and days of his being generally unhappy, and waking up constantly all night screaming, with my thinking it was all because of the pinworms (oh... did I not mention the pinworms? Yeah, he had pinworms.) my husband called me just after I dropped off Barak to tell me that he had peanut butter on his face. Had he taken peanut butter to bed or something. "He's a mess," he told me. "Does it... smell like peanut butter?" I asked. "Um... no." "Is it coming out of his ear?" An expression of horror followed. (Have I mentioned lately that MHH is colorblind?) So, one ruptured eardrum later, I thought we had our answer. But no! Because when I walked into the doctor's office, all she seemed focused on was a little patch of red rash on his face. The strep rash. From the strep infection he'd probably had for weeks (in my defense, there had been not one but two pediatrician trips in that period and she hadn't noticed any strep infection either.) Antibiotics are a miracle, I tell you; two days on amoxycillin and another antibiotic cream for the rash and he was, as his ganenet said, a different kid.

5. Remember X, where X was the weight I was at when I had my first prenatal appointment with Barak? I am now down to X + 12. I was X + 25 when we got here. This is good.

6. What is not good is our budget. I have not been nearly as careful about money as I should have been and have done zero keeping track, mostly because of all the crazy stuff that's been going on around here for the last few months. Result: extremely unpleasant surprise tonight when I sat down with our Israeli bank account and figured out how much we've been spending. WAY more than we should be. I knew that there would be some unanticipated expenses, but they've exceeded what I planned for: I did not expect transportation costs of NIS 600/month, for example, or laundry costs of NIS 240 (and that's without using the dryer--now that it is, B"H, raining, that might be necessary some of the time). I also didn't expect to be spending this much on food. The kids have rebelled at the dining-hall-provided breakfasts (not surprising) and Barak is never here for the dairy lunches. So we've been buying a lot of food for during the week, and more than I anticipated for snacks, Shabbos, etc.

I never kept a formal budget before we got here because I did everything online and I just knew where our money went. It was pretty much the same every month and I knew every month if there was room for a luxury item or not. Here, I have not been keeping a formal budget and I don't know where our money is going and I have to change that. We've also been doing an awful lot of our spending in cash and not tracking it, so now I am looking at a bunch of ATM withdrawals without knowing for sure where all that money meant. I am naturally pretty thrifty and extremely budget-conscious and not knowing where my money has been going for the last three months is giving me conniptions. MHH and I have had A Talk and both of us are now equipped with notebooks in which to write down EVERYTHING we do in cash. Further bulletins, &c.

7. Iyyar, B"H, is way way happier at school than he has been. He goes with a big smile and comes out with a big smile. No more screaming in the morning, at least not "I hate gan!" He talks a lot about the wheelbarrows. Apparently there is a sand pit with wheelbarrows at gan and this is a wonderful thing.

8. I was going to do a list of ten, but see item 3, above. I'm being summoned.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Grandpa vs. Og

First, though, a news flash: Marika stood up unassisted today! I was sitting on the floor this afternoon while my kids were eating popsicles with the neighbor kids (who speak no English at all but somehow they all seem to get along fine) when Marika pulled up to standing on my leg--and let go! She stood there for about five seconds while I cheered until she topped. :)

Now back to our regularly scheduled post:

Those of you who have read this week's parsha knows that is prominently features a giant named Og. Og comes and tells Avram that Lot is taken captive, hoping that maybe Avram will go to battle to free Lot and get killed in the process. Not nice, these giants.

So, this afternoon I was reading to Barak and Iyyar from My First Parsha Reader or whatever it's called, and we got to a picture with Og and Avram. Og, in the picture, is maybe two or three times the size of Avram. I pointed him out to Iyyar and said, "See, he's a giant. Who's bigger, Og or Avram?"

"Og's bigger. He's a giant."

"Right!"

Now, really I should have seen the rest of this coming.

"Is he bigger than Grandpa?"

Um.

"I think he probably is. I'm guessing Og is maybe ten or fifteen feet tall. Grandpa is maybe six and a half or seven feet tall."

This, apparently, was the wrong answer. Iyyar looked worried.

"But Grandpa would win."

"You mean, if Grandpa fought Og?"

"Yeah." With confidence and dramatic gestures: "Grandpa would beat Og! Grandpa would kill him!"

"Actually... I don't know. Og is pretty huge. Og might win."

Iyyar looked stricken. Clearly, this would not do. Fortunately, Barak came to his rescue.

"No, Grandpa would win. Grandpa would get a big gun and shoot him."

Iyyar's relief was immense. "Yeah! He'd shoot Og and Og would be dead! Grandpa would kill him!"

I gave in. "Actually, Grandpa would probably get an Uzi. Or a cannon. Or a grenade launcher!"

Iyyar looked positively thrilled. "Yeah! He'd KILL the giant!"

"Yup. That giant would be toast."

"Yeah," Iyyar sighed happily. "Grandpa's really tough."

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Of sweetness

This morning I woke up at 6:20 after about four hours of sleep to get the kids off to school. The routine now is that Abba takes Avtalyon, I take Barak with Marika in the snugli, and Iyyar goes with the neighbors (hooray neighbors!) to gan, which their son also goes to. This morning the neighbors were running late and Barak and I were too; it got worse when he asked to take the closer-but-slow bus instead of the farther-but-faster one. We were late to school--not terribly, but about ten minutes.

I dropped him off--he doesn't even say goodbye anymore, just marches purposefully inside with his big blue backpack--and walked back down the main street back to the bus stop, got on another bus and got off at the Meuchedet by the shuk, where I had an appointment. Then back up to the shuk, where I bought cherry tomatoes, socks for myself, peppers, tons of Alei Katif bug-free lettuce, bananas, plums and red cabbage. Then home for an hour, cleaning up; then off to pick up Iyyar and make a post office stop; then back home, where Abba and Avtalyon were both napping. We played for a bit after Abba went back to work, then at 4 went up to the bus stop to pick up Barak, who now--halleluja!-- has a hasaa (a paid carpoool with another mother).

We came home and found the other neighboring family with kids roughly the ages of ours out playing; it was starting to get dark so I invited them all in to play Playmobil. The mom, whom I like immensely, and I chatted while I folded laundry and Marika trundled around the floor with ever-increasing fourlegged speed; then the mom went home with her boys and her oldest daughter stayed for a few minutes (she is 7) to help me with Barak's homework. ("What's that picture of?" "A hammock," and I wrote down the word in Hebrew so I could help him draw the appropriate lines to the appropriate letters.)

She left and Barak came out asking politely for a snack; he'd been going tooth and nail with Iyyar a little earlier so I was fine with that development and offered him some of the cherry tomatoes I'd bought. He said yes please and then I showed him a huge on-the-vine bunch of them. "How about this?" His eyes got wide. "Ohhhhh boy! Yeah!" He was so cute about it, and after I washed them and handed them over in a bowl he tucked in with totally adorable glee.

I couldn't resist. I went over and kissed him.

"I love you."

"I love you too."

What to say to that?

"I love you THREE."

"I love you four."

"I love you five."

"I love you six."

"I love you seven."

"No! Imma, let's do it by fives. I love you five."

"I love you ten."

"No, you start."

"Okay. I love you five."

"I love you ten."

"I love you fifteen."

"I love you twenty."

"I love you thirty."

"I love you forty."

"No, sweetie, you're on thirty-five."

"I can't! I have a tomato in my mouth."

Later on he confided that he was sure he loved me more. I said I didn't know. He said he did.

"I love you more than Diet Coke!" I said, dramatically.

He shook his head with equally dramatic dismissiveness. "Do you know how much I love YOU?" he exclaimed. "I love you more than my ROMAN GALLEON!"

What can I say? Maybe he wins.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Ten months

Marika is ten months old.

How did that happen? No, really--how? Wasn't I just really really really pregnant and thinking that the most likely outcome was that I'd just be pregnant forever? And then I had a tiny little baby and now I've blinked and...

Last week Alisha was here for Shabbos and right before Shabbos I heard Marika cry. Then I went in to get her and she was sitting up in her crib (which she started doing right before Succot) and when she saw me she said, unmistakably, twice, "Ih-MUH! Ih-MUH!" I shrieked, of course: "She said IMMA!" and Alisha came in and said "That was her?! I thought it was Avtalyon!" Since then she's said it a bunch of times, usually when I come to get her from her crib; sometimes she just says it for fun while I'm holding her. She started saying Abba, too, a couple of days ago--but let the record show that she is the first of my children to say Imma as her actual honest-to-goodness first word.

And! Yesterday I went to get her from her crib and she was standing up! Looking very pleased with herself, too. Just a few days ago she started crawling, not just scootching on her stomach but really up-on-all-fours crawling; she doesn't quite have the arm/leg coordination down so sometimes pulls both legs at the same time, but either way, she's moving fast enough now to be a menace. You can't sit her down with a box of toys and look the other way now; if you do she'll be five feet away and sampling the under-table tasting menu faster than you can blink.

Favorite toy of the day: empty plastic soda/water bottles. She's got her bottom middle two teeth and her two top canines--total vampire teeth, much more pronounced than Iyyar's were. She still doesn't eat much in the way of food, although she likes drinking water very much; she'll eat Cheerios, she likes avocado, sometimes she'll eat a little bit of something else, but mostly it's still all about the nursing.

She's big enough now that I can't just hold her and cuddle her anymore. She loves nursing, she loves being held, but just quiet snuggles--nope. Fortunately, she is still happy in the snugli for hours and hours and hours, so I still get to hold her all I want.

Funny Snugli story (actually it's a My Tai, but whatever); last week I was shoe shopping (shoe shopping! for Naot!) with Alisha and then we did a shuk stop and then I got on a very crowded bus, more so than usual. Just as I stepped into the bottom of the stairwell, the door behind me closed and the bus (that was headed onto the highway) started to move. So, there I am, road-safety-obsessed me, standing in the stairwell of a very fast-moving bus with my baby strapped to the front of me, people packed in front of me, and nowhere to go. Hanging on for dear life with both hands, trying very hard not to fall, I saw that Marika was perfectly happy with this development because, well, there was just so much to see. Like that sparkly thing! That sparkly shiny rattly-looking thing right over there! That little chain attaching that guy's gun to his holster on the side of his belt! She has a good knack for the sideways twist-and-lurch and manages to launch herself pretty far in any direction when she has a mind to (she can't actually fall out, but she can really reach far). This time, she got just far enough to grab the chain and, naturally, start stuffing it into her mouth with one hand while grabbing at the holster of the gun with the other.

Now, I know that she could not have removed or fired the gun from my Snugli. She could, however, have given the guy with the gun the very strong impression that someone pressed in behind him in the stairwell was trying to steal it. And there was absolutely nothing I could do about it, because I couldn't let go. The crowd thinned a little as the people in front of me paid their fares, and the guy with the gun took a step away and with it went Marika's prize. She pouted a little; I was relieved. I got to the driver, he punched my ticket, and we sat down, at which point she started flirting energetically with whoever was in flirting distance--her favorite on-bus pastime.

Hey! Speaking of the bus (aren't I... always on the bus? It seems that way) I had another bus first the other day. Batsheva and I were on the way to the bus station when Marika decided that she was STARVING and had to eat RIGHT AWAY. On the bus. Which was full. Of charedi men. I tried to put her off for a little while but no dice; with a 25-minute ride in front of us I gave up, took her out of the Snugli and started nursing. Nobody, so far as I know, noticed, except for the fiftyish Israeli woman sitting in front of me, who shrugged and said, "You gotta do what you gotta do."

Indeed.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Chol hamoed

I went shoe shopping today, with Alisha and Marika; ordinarily I hate clothes shopping of any ilk but it was nice to get out, nice to have a break, and the pink flowery Naots I ended up with made it even nicer.

Jerusalem during Succot--succahs everywhere, people everywhere, holiday atmosphere with the buses wishing us happy holidays, men getting on the buses with their lulavim and etrogim, people just seeming in a good mood in general. Or maybe it's just me.

There was a Hachnassas Sefer Torah near us last night--same noise, torches, lit-up truck we had in America. More security. More invisible security, too--one of the yeshiva staff members walked by with his usually neatly tucked shirt hanging loose. I looked closely and yes, there was the outline of a gun underneath. Just in case. This in addition to the visible guards with the great big guns, standing up on a wall watching.

We had guests for yom tov and Shabbos, which was just lovely--both my friends, and fun to have around. We've had guests before but not, if you will forgive me, girls; so nice to have a guest I can hand a baby to or ask to peel potatoes. Or who will start washing dishes without even asking. Or who will go out for pizza with me motzai Shabbos!

I need to be working, but didn't want to abandon the blog for too long. We're all doing well. B"H life is good. It's just very, very busy.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Second day yom tov

Except it's not! Because there isn't any such thing as second-day yom tov here!

Not that I don't like yom tov. I do. But three days? is too much. Especially THREE TIMES IN A ROW, which is what we've got this year.

So tomorrow I'm going to go buy some fresh fruit and vegetables and fresh bread, and get ready to have Shabbos meals in the succcah. So so much nicer this way.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Checking in

Hmm, it's been a while since I posted last. Sorry about that. It's been... busy.

Want a list? I could do a list. Here, have a list.

1. Barak's transportation woes. Oh. The woes. I don't even know where to start. We had a ride, then we didn't, then a different ride, then we thought we were totally set, then that fell apart, then we had in the afternoon and now we don't and... yeah. At the moment I am taking him by bus and foot in the mornings. This is doable because B"H our neighbors are taking Iyyar, departing every morning at 7 am. This means we all get up at 6:15, I feed the baby and get dressed, wake up Barak, wake up Iyyar and physically put his clothes on him because he's half asleep and can't do it himself, take him up to our neighbors' car and insert him into his carseat, wave goodbye (as he cries and screams, usually) and then take Barak down to the bus, skipping the second bus entirely and just walking the last 15-20 minutes. School starts at 8 and the timing usually works out well; there's a bakery right near his school and sometimes I bribe him with a cookie. With all the extra exercise he can stand a few extra calories. Then I walk back to the bus and take it home, getting back at around 9; in the meantime, Abba takes Avtalyon to gan. Then I'm home with just Marika and I hope, once things settle down, that this will be naptime for both of us, since I usually go to bed at around 2 am because of work.

2. Avtalyon and gan. Oh, Avtalyon and gan. Avtalyon is Not Happy in gan. He cries the whole time. Screams. Wails. Sobs. Wants his Abba. Wants his Imma. The teacher has called me a couple times to please come get him; today she told me that she would give me back the money but please not to bring him again until after Succot because there was no point in having him there now. She's right; any getting used to it he achieves now will be undone by a week and a half of vacation. A couple of times Avtalyon has come home with a sticker on his shirt with a sad face on it. Not just a sad face, a sad face spouting tears. Who came up with a sticker like that?!

3. Iyyar screams and cries on the way to gan but has been getting better and also unfailingly has a big smile on his face at pickup time--not just "I'm so glad you're here" but "I've had a really good day and hi!" His gan is great. It's huge. I think there are about 30 kids, one ganenet and an assistant. But it's a big room, bright and spotless; lots of toys, all in their places, and the room is as clean at pickup time as it is when we drop him off. It's impressive. The teachers are great and consistent and orderly, the kids know exactly what to expect, the routine is absolute, and that is what children that age want: predictable, orderly, routine, comfortable, safe, known. That is really what Iyyar needs, especially right now, so I'm glad he is there, despite the incredible inconvenience: it's a good fit for him.

4. Afternoon pickup routine, in general: I get Iyyar at the top of the mountain at 1:30, Abba gets Avtalyon next door at 1:15. I don't mind the longer hike because I can usually accomplish an errand or two along the way and I like the 1:1 time (well, I have Marika with me, but she doesn't butt in on conversation) with just Iyyar. He tells me all kinds of interesting things. Like about lunch. His gan has, like many Israeli ganim, a very definite idea of what constitutes appropriate lunch, and it is enforced absolutely. Each kid gets a gan-issued box with three sections: one for a sandwich, one for fruit, one for a vegetable. Each section is labeled with stickers. No plastic bags permitted or required; no other food can be brought except for a bottle of water. The first day of this policy I asked Iyyar how it went over. "One of the kids brought chocolate. She tried to sneak it. She tried to eat it under the table." "Ooh. Uh-oh. What did morah do?" Iyyar, righteously: "She took it away. She said no no and took it away. She put it high up so she [the girl] couldn't reach." "Do you think she gave it back?" "No." "Maybe later?" "Maybe later she gave it back. Maybe AFTER school. Maybe she could eat it at home."

5. Laundry. Have I mentioned laundry? We do not have a washing machine. We have access to coin-op machines that are in a different section of the building, which means you have to do laundry either with all children in tow or with your children in the care of another adult. This, as you might imagine, is a Problem. I'll spare you the gory details, but earlier this week I had a vomit/diarrhea/wet sheet/no pants for Iyyar meltdown and we asked for permission to buy and install a machine. Permission was, against expectation, granted; any suggestions for washing machine shopping in the Jerusalem area?

6. I took Marika to Tipat Chalav last week, which was actually a nice experience; I also got on their scale when I was there. Remember X, where X was the weight I was at when I got pregnant with Barak? I was at X + 25 when we left; I was at X + 18 last week. Even though I've been eating lots of carbs. I still look pregnant, but I can see a difference. Ergo my increased appreciation for the hill.

7. You may have noticed that there has been no mention of how I get Barak home from school in ther afternoons. That's because I have no idea how I'm getting Barak home from school in the afternoons. Every day has been something different and unworkable in the long term; we're in bein ha'zmanim now, though, and Abba can get him next week, and then it's Succot, so we're not in Disasterville until October 4. Hopefully, we'll have something worked out by then. Right?

8. I hired someone to come clean earlier this week, a Sri Lankan guy who did not really seem to speak English or Hebrew but charged me 40 NIS an hour to de-filthify my apartment at lightning speed. Totally, completely worth it, and he's going to be coming once a week from now on (I hope)--on Monday morning, which is perfect, because I'm off on Sunday and it gives me a chance to pick up first. For those unfamiliar with the Israeli style of housework, you can't have anything on the floor at all if you're going to be mopping; oddly enough for a country in a perpetual state of water shortage, floor-cleaning here essentially involves flooding your house and then pushing all the water out the door with a squeegee stick. You may think I'm joking about this. I promise you I'm not.

9. Barak is enjoying school. He's happy to go, he seems happy when he comes home. I don't think he understands a word the teachers say, but he likes it anyway. The first Friday he came home I asked him how school was. "Fun!" "That's great! What did you do?" "I don't know. It was all in Hebrew." But it was fun, I guess. You should see the drawings in his notebooks though. He was supposed to draw Abba in a boat: he drew a pirate ship with skulls and crossbones and cannons and torpedoes. He was supposed to draw a fish in water: he drew a shark with so many teeth they couldn't all fit in his mouth. The shark was eating a fish. The fish didn't look happy. The whole thing was so gleefully violent and elaborately detailed I wanted to frame it. This, my friends, is the worksheet of an artistically inclined kita alepher who has NO CLUE what his morah is saying. Except for when she says it in English.

9. I'm tired right now and probably a little cranky, and I have a headache that is making me feel horribly suspicious that another tooth is starting up with me. So maybe the above doesn't read all that positively. But, as they say here, l'at l'at--slowly slowly--it is coming together. It is.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Logistics

Tomorrow morning school start times: Barak 8:00, Iyyar between 7:15 and 8, Avtalyon 8:15.

Pickup times: Barak 2 PM, Iyyar 1:30, Avtalyon 1:15.

Morning plan: Have Iyyar ready to go at 7 am, and neighbor can drive him up. Iyyar wants me to come with him, which means leaving Marika at home with Abba & other boys. But Barak has to be up the hill at 7:30 for his pickup, and I probably won't make it in time. It will have to be enough that I get him buckled in. What if he freaks out? He'll be in a booster, not a carseat. Maybe I should go with him and hope for the best, or go with him and have MHH take Barak up the hill for his pickup, with Marika and Avtalyon. But that's a lot of stairs. Not sure they can do it. He'd have to carry Marika and hold Avtalyon's hand--even for me that's a lot. Maybe Abba should go with Iyyar. Then I can take Barak up the hill for his 7:30 pickup, and drop Avtalyon off from there. Of course then that means taking Avtalyon up the billion stairs and no stroller. I could take the stroller and leave it at the bottom of the stairs and hope no one steals it. Or I could walk around the corner with the stroller. Yes, best to do that. Then MHH gets home and should still have time to daven. Maybe.

Afternoon plan: get Avtalyon a little early, take stroller to bus, go get Barak with Avtalyon and Marika and stroller (two adult punches, b/c of stroller). Walk from #6 to school instead of taking the second bus, which is unreliable timing-wise. Or: get Iyyar a little early and take bus from his gan to get Barak, while MHH takes Avtalyon. There is more flexibility than I thought with Barak's pickups; the kids sit on the stairs by the shomer and it's OK to be 10-15 minutes late.

Either way, we will all completely miss lunch.

I have to find a better way.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

What I took away from Barak's parents' night

עברית אני לא מביןVERY VERY IMPORTANT עברית אני לא מביןMUST DO THIS EVERY NIGHT עברית אני לא מביןBAGS OF CORNFLAKES עברית אני לא מביןHEALTHY FOOD עברית אני לא מביןPENCILS עברית אני לא מבין EXCELLENT, MUST DO IT EVERY NIGHT עברית אני לא מביןKOSHER TZITZIT עברית אני לא מביןARBA MINIM עברית אני לא מביןעברית אני לא מביןABSOLUTELY OBLIGATORY AND REQUIREDעברית אני לא מביןBIRTHDAYS עברית אני לא מבין THESE BOOKS EVERY DAY עברית אני לא מביןVERY IMPORTANT עברית אני לא מביןSCHEDULE FOR THE HOLIDAYS עברית אני לא מביןSIX FIVE NINE TWO עברית אני לא מבין TWO עברית אני לא מבין FIVE THREE FOUR TWO עברית אני לא מבין

Sunday, August 29, 2010

One month

since we got here.

So far it's been good, in general, though I wouldn't say easy. The travails of Iyyar's gan were utterly eclipsed by what happened with the school we had planned for Barak; after a week of finalizing his acceptance (interviews and visits and endless phone calls), we discovered that a) the school was moving to the absolute opposite end of the city, b) we were going to be required to pay ourselves for the required Hebrew help, at astronomical cost, and c) there was no hasaa (schoolbus). Well, technically there is a hasaa, but it stops at the top of those 182 steps I might have mentioned before, and they would not move the stop. And it costs more than tuition. And I would have had to take a bus just to get to the stop and back. And there was no viable way to get to the school itself by public transportation--it's over an hour each way and the buses are a huge pain.

So we had to find him another school, and I really don't want to get into the details here but last Sunday we (Barak, Marika and I) literally spent seven hours, beginning at 7 am, literally wandering the streets of Jerusalem looking for a school for him. Many tears later, we found one, a good school not too far from us as the crow flies but two buses (short trips, at least) away. The teachers and principal and office staff all seem lovely, there are no other English speakers in his class (a plus so far as I am concerned) and there are only 25 kids in his class, which is incredible around here. I found another parent who was willing to drive him in the morning, but as of now I have to go get him on four buses total every afternoon. This month they're still on short days (till 2) which means I can go get him while my husband is on lunch break, but after the chagim I'm going to have a problem. Hopefully I'll have it dealt with by then.

Iyyar and Avtalyon start school on Wednesday, and I think things will be easier for everyone once we're all in a schedule. Of course, only one week of schedule before it's all disrupted by a thousand chagim, but! at least only one of them is going to be three days this year. That is something I am really looking forward to, right there.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

For the record

What half a ton of luggage looks like: the inside of the U-Haul that took our stuff to the airport.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Three weeks

I'm trying to check in once a week, just so you don't give up on me entirely...

It's been an interesting week. It got more interesting on Sunday when I went to pay for Iyyar's gan (nursery school) and was told that the gan was full. I said, but I have an email right here dated April telling me he has a spot. Sorry, it's closed. We'll find you another gan. No no NO, said I; I know it's closed and I know it's full but one of the spots in that full gan belongs to MY SON.

Ah, but no. It didn't. Because--well, it's complicated. We live in a neighborhood of Jerusalem that I'll call Neighborhood A. We live on the very edge of this neighborhood, which is built into the side of an incredibly steep hill. I haven't counted the number of steps it takes to get to the top but it's well over a hundred--I'd guess it's around 150 feet straight up. We live on the bottom. Right next to us, almost literally in our backyard, is the border of our neighborhood and Neighborhood B. Way back before Pesach, I registered Iyyar in a gan in Neighborhood B. Between then and now, all the ganim in Neighborhood B filled up. Then they had to turn kids away. But they're not allowed to turn kids who actually live in Neighborhood B away from ganim in Neighborhood B. So what they did to make room for them was kick out all the kids who lived in other neighborhoods, like, for example, ours. They didn't tell them or anything, of course, just gave their spots to other children. So when I went on Sunday, Iyyar's spot had evaporated, and after three hours and much haggling and consulting a map and calling my neighbors, he was reassigned to a spot that is absolutely on the top of the hill--not only on the top, but OVER the top slightly, and a block and a half down the other side! The hill is utterly un-strollerable. It's zigzagging stone stairs all the way up. The actual gan is also not on our bus route. The only way to do it is to take a bus halfway up the hill to the point where the (steep steep) footpath begins, and walk it from there. Counting bus waiting time, it's going to be 30-40 minutes to get there, a bit less to get home.

Avtalyon's gan is ten minutes away from us, in the absolute opposite direction.

Pickup times are 15 minutes apart.

This is going to be interesting. What it means is that my husband is going to have to do one run and I'm going to have to do the other; me doing a gan pickup is going to blow any possibility of doing ulpan right out of the water. There is some possibility that another family could bring Iyyar home a day or two a week--maybe we'll get lucky. We'll see, I guess.

The happier news is that things seem on the right track with Barak's school. The menaheles is lovely, the school looks nice, we are meeting the rav of the school tomorrow. There is a hasaa but no idea of the logistics there. And no point getting worried about it till I know. Avtalyon's gan is lovely, as is the ganenet; it's very close and in her home. That starts the week after next.

Stay tuned, &c.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Two weeks

Still here.

Sorry for the infrequent posts. I am, it should go without saying, incredibly busy; I also have no babysitting and the boys are all home because school doesn't start until 2 September. So everyone is on vacation but me, and I'm still doing my job on top of the usual Imma routine and, of course, doing everything that needs to be done logistically to get us set up here. The first week had the most running around but something needs to be done every day; tomorrow, somehow we need to get Iyyar's gan paid for, which involves an ishur (form, basically) from the iriya (uh... town hall? municipality?) that has to go to our bank so that they can deduct the money monthly. I had a triumph Saturday night in getting myself logged onto my bank's English-language site; triumph was shortlived, as I got locked out mysteriously the next day. Only way to reset login info: go to bank. My kids are going to be just thrilled about that one.

The technical aspects of my telecommuting setup have not been without incident; getting my phone line working was a project, getting international service another project, and what has ended up actually working was not anything like what I had originally planned. As long as it works, though, right?

The boys are doing fine. They seem happy, possibly mostly because they are spending almost all of their time with Playmobil. That stuff? Worth its weight in gold, people. Yesterday Barak and Iyyar went eight hours almost straight at the dining room table (did I mention our new table?) happily and mostly quietly waging Playmobil knight war.

Further to the table: I have one. I have never owned a dining room table. Now I have a lovely and fabulous table, which seats six but has two leaves that open out to seat eight, and five nice chairs to go with it. So so nice. I bought it used, courtesy of onetiredema, who not only found the table for sale, but arranged for the whole thing, and fronted the money for me, AND worked out getting it delivered to Jerusalem from Modiin without my paying anything at all for that part of it. All hail OTE! Yay table!

Marika continues to be the happiest baby on record, in this family anyway; last night she went to sleep at around 8, woke up at 12 to nurse, slept till 8, woke up to nurse again and then went back to sleep AGAIN until around 10:30. And then took a 3-hour nap in the afternoon. In between, she smiled a lot. And ate some Cheerios. And rolled over in her crib a bunch of times; back to sleep is for newborns, quoth she. I'm sleeping on my tummy now and there ain't nothing you can do about it.

Most recent excitement on the work front: today my computer cord went kablooey, so tomorrow I need to either a) find a cord to use for a week until my office sends me a new one, or b) buy a new cord somewhere in Jerusalem. Marika is still mostly nursing so anywhere I go I have to bring her with me. Tomorrow morning, therefore, I set off, with baby and computer, on a hunt for a new cord. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

One week

Actually, one week and a day, but who's counting?



Things are moving right along.



Sunday: we went to misrad hapnim and got our teudot zehut, which wasn't nearly as bad as I'd expected, mostly because Alisha came with us, translated what needed translating and watched the kids while we were otherwise engaged. Once we were done at Window #9 (and Avtalyon's name had a new vav it hadn't had before but we're not arguing with), we all went out for lunch, which, for the kids, consisted of mostly chocolate ruggelach and juice/shoko. (I had a big big salad. And a coke shachor.) Once we were done MHH took the bigger boys home and Alisha and I hit the Israeli version of Amazing Savings and then the shuk--lots of plastic things for the kitchen, some new glasses, a colander, mixing bowls etc. From the shuk, Avtalyon's first barad. He approved.



(Oh--further to barads. A barad is a slushy. Barad is also the name of one of the bibical plagues, specifically hail, which is understood to have been a combination of ice and fire. Barak, when he got his first barad last week, had a red one, and explained to me the etymology of the barad: red like fire, cold like ice, ergo: barad! Totally wrong, but a brilliant chap.)



Monday: Monday was the bank. Oh, the bank. The bank was an experience. It is straight up the hell, henceforth known as The Hill, up which everything needful is to be found. If you have no stroller with you you can go up a bazillion steps; if you have a stroller you have to go up the windy way, which is much longer but, mysteriously, no less steep. We had a stroller so we had to do the straight-up yet windy way and Barak whiiiiiiiiiined the whole way about whyyyyy couldn't he go in the stroller since both Avtalyon and Iyyar got to go in the stroller (answer: because it's a double and they're smaller than you and Abba has to push it). When we finally got to the bank, the air conditioning was delightful, and the rep nice; less ideal was the fact that she spoke zero English. Most Israelis speak at least a little but but not her. An hour and forty-five minutes into opening our account (nobody here has any explanation as to why it takes that long other than It Just Does) I overheard the next guy speaking French and asked her if she spoke French. No, she said, just Hebrew and Russian. I just about fell out of my chair. "This would all have been a lot easier if I'd asked you an hour and forty-five minutes ago if you spoke Russian." We went through some of the essentials again, finished up, stopped for ice cream on the way home.

Tuesday, let's see, what was Tuesday? Oh right, Misrad Haklita. That was pretty easy, although I was supposed to meet up with Alisha again and we missed each other. Wednesday we actually did meet up, I got a cell phone and now it won't happen again. Today was Thursday: shuk shopping date with onetiredema and general decompression. Tomorrow: Shabbos. Finally.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

We're here

In a nutshell: we made it.

The last week is kind of a blur. The day before we left seemed to just run itself; I got up, the kids got up, Asnat came over, Ada came over, I packed and cleaned and packed, Yehudis and her sister came to help, and then in the afternoon the friend who was driving the U-haul with all our stuff turned up and MHH and I loaded that. We have some cute pictures of the kids clambering around inside the empty U-haul, and then of the truck packed with our stuff.

The morning we left was a little surreal. Barak woke up at 6:10 and was next to my bed, where I was half-awake and nursing the baby, saying, "Imma, are we going to Israel this day?" I told him we were but not quite yet. I remember thinking that I should have asked Asnat to come earlier than 9, since we were leaving at 10:30, but it was fine; the kids all got baths, got dressed except for the matching tie-dyes I bought them for the trip, and ate: I think they all had oatmeal for breakfast. I broke down the pack and plays and shoved them along with our bedding into the last piece of luggage. The friend driving the U-Haul turned up, the friend driving us came, and all of a sudden it was really time to leave; I went out the front with the kids and got them into their carseats, then went back to check on my husband who was going with the Uhaul--and realized as I walked through the house that he was about to leave with both carryons still sitting on the couch and the bag with the pack and plays on the bedroom floor. Let him know to load them, went back out the front, into the car, and we headed off to the airport.

The unloading and checking-in of the half-ton of luggage went amazingly well. The guy at the counter complimented me on my baggage: "Wow, every single thing is 49.5 pounds!" Except for the one piece I knew would be overweight, which I had expected to have to pay for and did. It was quite a production, but we did it and then headed off through security and to the play area we'd told the kids we'd get a crack at. Then off to gate F19. Then onto the plane to Philadelphia. Two hours, easy flight. Four-hour layover in Philadelphia, spent mostly in the play area, eating crackers and the kids playing with the new Playmobil they'd opened on the first flight. I scouted out the gate to the flight to Israel, easily spotted by the extra security screen and the obvious bunch of Jews sitting around. At around 7:30 we headed that way, went through the second round of security, and got on the plane with a minimum of headache; eleven hours later, we'd eaten all our snacks, everyone had slept at least a little (Barak didn't fall asleep until we were over Greece, watching Ratatouille and Finding Nemo over and over instead) and we were in Tel Aviv. I am pleased to report a trip completely free of vomit or other disasters; everyone except the baby made it in the same clothes. (She peed all over herself and me during a living-dangerously diaper change on my lap. Oh well.)

We landed, we got off, we got down the long ramp at the airport and found the phone to call Misrad Ha'pnim, and were met by a lady with very high laced-up sandals who kept deciding to push my jogging stroller and then walking away from it without locking the brakes. They told us all to get on a bus to the old airport, and it was us, a family from Montreal, and a single guy with big payos. In the old terminal, up some stairs, into the arrivals lounge or whatever they call it, and then processing with a very nice Misrad Ha'pnim rep who spent half her time talking to me and half smiling at the baby. I did the paperwork while MHH fielded the kids, Barak asleep in the stroller and the other two boys happily demolishing the bags of candy handed them by staff. (Seriously. Bags of candy for the kids. BIG bags.) Back to the main airport, by the same bus; got two guys with trolleys and all 23 pieces of luggage (including carseats); through the exit to find OneTiredEma and family smiling, waving, and holding a Welcome Home sign. When OTE offered to meet us at the airport I just thought it would be nice to have a welcoming committee; as it turned out it made all the difference between what would otherwise have been total misery and an arrival that was about as smooth as it could possibly have been. Taxman dealt with the taxi/luggage guys for us in Hebrew, OTE held the baby for me while I put in the carseats, and when Taxman realized that there was no one there at the other end to help us with our mountain of luggage, they all followed us in their car to help unload--and then supplied us all with pizza and popsicles. Amazing. As MHH said, "Wait. Who are they? You've never MET these people?" "She's a blog friend." He shook his head. "You and your blog friends. Wow."

Made the beds, put the kids in them, unpacked, took a shower; sat on the couch, ate more now-cold pizza, looked at my husband, and we both grinned. We made it. We're home.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

One week

We're leaving a week from tomorrow.

It's a little overwhelming.

In general I think we are OK so far as preparation--at least as OK as we can be at this point. Tisha b'Av is Tuesday, which means I can't finish packing the clothes, because we can't really do laundry till Wednesday; my husband's agenda for Wednesday involves spending the entire day in the basement doing laundry, cleaning out our laundry area, and working on his paper. We have a ride to the airport, for ourselves and our stuff, and the game plan for the last 36 hours is pretty well worked out. Two pieces of luggage left to pack, plus the pack and plays. K and I got snacks at Trader Joe's when she was here, and I have everyone's lunchbags clean and empty and ready to pack. It's still chaotic, there are still tons of random items lying around to deal with, but it's getting there. It is.

I know that I will want to look back and read posts that I wrote the last few weeks before we left, but the truth is I just don't have time. I am absolutely exhausted, and I need the sleep more than I need the blogging time. Marika is in an insomniac stage, which doesn't help; the kids are needing extra time and attention; there's just so much to do. I have a cleaning lady coming on Wednesday and Friday, and we are having Shabbos lunch out, which will help; the goal is to keep the kids out of the house every possible second between Friday afternoon and when we leave, to keep it as clean as possible. Not sure how that one will go.

The idea of leaving, specifically of leaving here, is hard. As much as I want to go, the actual leaving of this place--this apartment, this block, this community--is going to be very difficult. I have good friends here. I have been happier here, by orders of magnitude, than I've ever been anywhere else in my life. We moved here when Barak was three months old, and have not left since. I had three babies here. And I've never felt more at home anywhere else--I can't even go to the store to buy apples without running into people I know and stopping to chat. I feel like I belong here--like we belong here. Even though I know that really, we all belong somewhere else.

I know it's the right thing. And I think it will be good. 

One more week.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The month in review, because Jasmin told me to.

Uberimma: Who knows ten? I know ten. Ten are the days till we leave.

Uberimma: is about to wave goodbye to her spinning wheel. :(

Uberimma: just waved goodbye to six big boxes of stuff we won't see again till September sometime.

Uberimma: ‎'s stuff has a ride to the airport!

Uberimma: was just reminded that she still has no way to get her half ton of luggage to O'Hare in TWELVE DAYS.

Uberimma: One week and six days. But who's counting?

Uberimma: is scheduled to be landing two weeks, one day, and three minutes from now.

Uberimma: It's official: you cannot fit the worldly goods of a family of six into eighteen pieces of luggage. In case anyone was wondering.

Uberimma: loves LL Bean. They had a typo in their paper catalog knocking down the price of really nice no-iron Shabbos shirts to $19.50 each, and are honoring it. Husband has eight new shirts now, and strict orders not to grow or shrink in any way.

Uberimma: just got a book from the JUF about a little girl named Uberimma who makes aliya with her family and misses her grandma. Hmm.

Uberimma: is attempting to write a speech while listening to Avtalon tear around the living room singing "ROOshayayim! ROOshayayi-im!" a la Uncle Moishy.

Uberimma: is writing speeches and eating Nutella.

‎Uberimma: 's kitchen has never been this clean and empty outside of Pesach prep. My whole body aches, but it's gleaming. [collapses on floor]

Uberimma: has just been informed that we will have almost exactly half a ton of stuff with us when we leave. I don't think I needed to know that.

‎Uberimma: 's house seems empty without Deb
and her daughter, but soon Sarah will be here! Aliya: best way ever to get all your out-of-town friends to visit. Highly recommended.

Uberimma: loves listening to Barak daven in the morning, all by himself, with his own siddur.

Uberimma: Two weeks and six days. It feels a lot closer from this side of the three-week mark.

Uberimma: backing up her hard drive. 198 minutes remaining.

Uberimma: hasn't packed in over 24 hours and is starting to feel DTs coming on.

Uberimma: just saw some amazing fireworks with Deb and Barak, whom I had to grab by the shirt to keep him from booking out of there at the first boom.

Uberimma: Three weeks and three days.

Uberimma: needs suggestions: how to get 18 pieces of luggage to the airport on Monday morning 7/26? We can get the people there in one minivan, but the luggage will need a truck or a full-sized van at the least.

Uberimma: should be packing but is taking a short break to snort at this.


Topless Robot - The 17 Least Appropriate Playmobil Sets for Children - Page 1
www.toplessrobot.com

Uberimma: just rejiggered her entire packing plan to allow her husband to take both boxes of seforim on the plane. Greater love hath no woman.

Uberimma: is convinced that stuff is regenerating when I'm not looking. The more I pack, the more there is lying around. Deb, I'm sure there's a bed back here somewhere...

Uberimma: is starting to see progress...

Uberimma: Sony Discman, circa 2004. Anyone?

Uberimma: is getting to the stuff that's hard to pack.

Uberimma: has packed, taped, labeled, weighed and inventoried 12 pieces of luggage. Six to go, most of which I can't pack until the week before we leave.

Uberimma: is really hoping for a night free of vomit.

Uberimma: has never seen such freaky-colored light. Is anyone else's sky looking, um, green?

Uberimma: just put her baby on the bus for the last day of kindergarten. Wasn't it just the first day?

Uberimma: is packing. It appears to be a recurring theme.

Uberimma: and family will IY"H be arriving on Tuesday 7/27, 3:15 PM. Start the countdown now: five weeks and 1 day till departure.

Uberimma: has flights!

Uberimma: is excited. Ellie's coming in twelve hours!!!

Uberimma: still has no flights. Hopefully Monday. Stay tuned, as always, to this exciting channel.

Uberimma: is booking flights.

Uberimma: has visas in my hot little hands, all names spelled correctly. But they did not return my apostille. "The apostille was in that envelope? I will look." Breathe...

Uberimma: was determined not to pack tonight but did some packing anyway. Oh well, it's a harmless habit really.

Friend of Uberimma: Are you packing whenever you celebrate, or you're sad, or just for no reason? Are you packing when you're alone? Do you pack more than one or two boxes at a time? Have people talked to you about your packing? Uberimma, YOU SHOULD GET HELP!!!

Uberimma: But my packing doesn't affect me. Really. I'm totally in control of my packing. I could stop at any time--I just choose not to because I enjoy my packing. I can take care of my family just fine while I'm packing and I'm never sore the next morning. I DON'T HAVE A PROBLEM!

Uberimma: has a totally sewn-together Escher-esque tesselated fish blanket for Marika! (Don't be too impressed: I started it for Iyyar.)

Uberimma: plans to celebrate the arrival of visas and the departure of everyone for convention (speeches in hand) by taking the evening off to sew some fish.

Uberimma: has visas waiting to be picked up!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Eleven days

Sorry for the long silence. I've been a little bit busy.

We are leaving in eleven days. Updates:


1. Barak has just been informed, to his great disappointment, that since we are making aliya on our own on a regular plane, not an NBN group or charter flight, there will be no welcoming committee/brass band/cake/soldiers waving flag. I had been showing him the NBN "Come Back" video and it did not occur to me that he thought SOLDIERS were part of the aliya package (well, they still are, but he was looking forward to soldiers waving at HIM, AT THE AIRPORT). I should have known better. If you know any soldiers you could connive into meeting us at the airport, you have the potential to make some little boys very very happy. And I'll knit them hats.

2. It's been a really nice month of visit after visit after visit. Cecilia left in early June and a couple of weeks later Grandma E came; then Deb and her daughter, then Sarah, and now K is here and being the most phenomenal pre-aliya houseguest imaginable. She is caulking my bathtub for me, people. I know. Seriously.

3. I took Marika for her 7-month (or whatever) checkup. The doctor was a little concerned that she wasn't sitting up yet; I wasn't really because, hello, she gets held ALL THE TIME, but when I got home I started trying to get her to sit up. Today she sat unassisted (with K, who has been hanging with my kids while I run around in circles) for ten minutes. I think she's OK.


4. Further to Marika: first two teeth came through yesterday, first solids (oatmeal) today. She didn't seem interested, didn't seem interested, and then today she WANTED THAT FOOD. I was eating cucumbers and hummous and gave her a taste on my finger; her mouth instantly turned into a black hole.


5. I just got back from loading six boxes (one huge, two big, three small) on a friend's lift. We should see them again sometime in September. Winter clothes and things a size up, toys, a Sterilite cabinet for the kitchen, yarn, books.

6. I should have put more puzzles in the boxes for the lift. Have I mentioned lately Avtalyon's passion for puzzles? It's like nothing I've ever seen. He is obsessed with puzzles and he is getting really, really good. He can do a 48-piece puzzle now, all by himself. It takes him some time but he doesn't get frustrated, he just sits there working at it and working at it until he's done.

7. Since we have K here and K has a Honda Odyssey with eight (eight!) seats, we have been doing some of the local-attraction-visiting that we haven't done much of over the last six years that we've been here. One of the places we went was the children's museum, where there is a real, genuine, green John Deere tractor that the kids can climb up into and pretend to drive. You should have seen Avtalyon's face. He wasn't even smiling. He saw it, his entire body went slack, and his eyes were burning with a fiery intensity that only a tractor-obsessed two-year-old can summon. When we got home, he went straight to his tractor puzzle, and for the last couple of days he's been taking it apart, putting it together, and circling it, muttering, "Tractor. Tractor yeah. Tractor."

8. Oh, one more Avtalyon thing. So you might know if you've been reading this blog for any length of time that the Pirates of Penzance are a local favorite. I have always liked it, I introduced it to Barak a couple of years ago, and it's a regular item on the bedtime CD hit parade. Lately, Avtalyon has gotten into it. "Beeya piyate keeng!" He sings, he dances, and, my personal favorite, when he gets to the section with the drums, sings, "da dum da dum da dum." On Friday night he was distraught because there was no Pirate King CD. I had to sing it to him. Fortunately, I know the entire libretto cold, so that was no problem.

9. Iyyar is in a... well, K is calling it a "defiant stage." I call it "testing testing one two three and a half," although he's four now and still doing it. Like, walking away from me and around the corner, while looking straight at me and grinning. What are you going to do if I do this? And this? and how about this? The timing isn't great, but it could be worse--like, say, two weeks from now. I'm hoping he gets it all out of his system. Soon.

10. Last thing, and this one about Iyyar: so he hasn't had any dairy for a year now, of any kind, with the exception of one small Tootsie Roll a few weeks ago. The day before yesterday, we went to the mall where they have a really neat outdoor play area. It was really really hot, and on the way home I thought we should stop at Baskin Robbins, where they have historically had dairy-free slushies. This one didn't. The only thing they had was a sherbet, labeled "contains milk." I let him have a kid scoop. That was two days ago and he has since had one totally uneventful bowel movement. I'm not sure if "contains milk" means "might contain milk" or "really truly contains milk," so I told him that this afternoon, when we go to pick up Abba at the airport, we will stop off again and I will let him have one spoonful of real actual cow milk ice cream and we'll see how it goes. It's a big deal right now, because we are about to be eating five days a week in a cafeteria that serves dairy for lunch every single day. Even if he can't, say, eat a cheese sandwich, it would be awfully nice to know I no longer have to worry about cross-contamination of ingredients and so on.


11. Okay, I lied. That wasn't the last thing.

Abba has been out of town this week, visiting his parents, which was, I freely admit, totally my idea. He has no idea what he has gotten out of. The amount of cleaning and packing and organizing and shlepping of heavy things up and down stairs that has happened this week is not to be believed. I cleaned out his entire closet, including the file cabinet; unloaded a huge box of shaimos, which was I think the fifth one; tossed and packed and organized every night until around 2 am. We had a cleaning lady come on Wednesday, for the second time; last time the two of us spent five hours emptying out and scrubbing down the kitchen, including scraping the grime from between the floor tiles with a piece of Lego and bleaching the baseboards (that was me) and de-gunking the oven (her). Yesterday she moved all the furniture and did all the floors and bathrooms. They look amazing now. Why is it that the house is only ever really clean at Pesach and when you're about to move out?!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Well that was nice.

Isn't it kind of amazing how things work out sometimes?

I've been stressing about packing for months. Really, months. Do we ship anything? How? How much? Do we buy space on someone else's lift? Ship via New York, meaning we have to mail it all there and then pick it up at the shipper's Jerusalem office? Limit ourselves to the luggage allowance or pay for extra? I have been coming to a definite decision every few days, always a different one. Last week I decided to just deal with the luggage allowance and store/toss everything else. But the realities of that were just not practical. Seriously, what do I leave here: the kids' pajamas? my pajamas? the knitting needles? the pots and pans? the English books to read to the kids? 900 lb of luggage sounds like so much but it isn't much at all when you are moving a family of 6 across continents. I could just buy some of it again but it doesn't make sense when we have things we like already.

Then I decided, well, I'll just pay the excess luggage fees. But then I looked at our duffels and boxes and started to panic because they're all weighed out to 49 lb and what if the scale is off and we are charged $900--$50 per overweight piece?

Then I went into work today and when I got home there was a voicemail from my boss. I called her back and she said, sorry I missed you today, I wanted to give you a letter. About what? About your raise. And your $500 bonus for working so hard this year.

!!!!

(This never happens where I work, btw. At least if it does I've never heard of it. We didn't even get raises last year; I got a good one, relatively speaking, plus the bonus, which totally fell out of the sky so far as I'm concerned.)

Then the phone rang again. It was a friend who is sending a lift, from our neighborhood, to a city in southern Israel; we'd already dismissed the idea of shipping stuff with her as unrealistic because we'd have to get it and it wouldn't be worth it. But now, the lift is going to cost $8 a cubic foot, not $12, which is why she called. And we could pay someone to just drive it in a car--we won't have to get movers for the 6-8 boxes we'd be putting on. $300 or so for the lift space, a couple hundred dollars to pay someone to do the drive. $500.

Wow.

Monday, June 28, 2010

One little thing

Before I forget:

When Grandma E was here, she decided to spoil the kids in appropriately grandmotherly fashion and bought them an Elmo cookie from the bakery. It was a big cookie and expensive so I said it was enough for the three of them; she got what she thought was a prune something for herself, but that turned out to be a chocolate something, which she couldn't eat, so she let them have that too. So what ended up happening was that I cut the cookie in half instead of in thirds, cut the chocolate something in half instead of in thirds, and each boy got to pick a half. Avtalyon picked half the Elmo cookie and the bigger boys each got a half of the chocolate something.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, because Iyyar has lately been having some issues with a) telling the truth and b) keeping his fingers out of places they're not supposed to be. I left the extra Elmo-cookie-half on the counter and went to do something else; a little while later, I came back and saw the unmistakable signs of Iyyar fingers all over the frosting. It looked like he'd succumbed to temptation and pinched off about half the red icing. Eww. Also, not authorized.

"Iyyar," I said, sternly. "Did you take some of the cookie you weren't supposed to eat?" Iyyar, eyes opened wide, shook his head no. I raised my eyebrows. "Please tell me the emmes [truth]. Do not tell me a shekker [lie]. I only want the emmes."

Iyyar just barely nodded his head. "You ate it?" Tiny little head-nod again. "Were you supposed to eat it?" Tiny little head-shake, eyes very very wide. "Can you say I'm sorry, please?"

Very very quietly, "I'm sorry."

I got the knife back out and cut the mangled cookie into thirds, and gave a piece to each of the three of them. Then I gave Iyyar a kiss on the head and said, "That's for telling me the emmes. Please don't do that again. Next time, ask for the cookie instead of just taking."

I went back to the sink to wipe up from the cookie-cutting and the boys turned back to their cookie-eating. And that was when I heard Barak remark, "Well, that was a pleasant surprise."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bad blogger

We interrupt this blogging hiatus to bring you the news that WE HAVE A DATE.

Monday, July 26. Arriving Tuesday 7/27 at around 4-4:30 PM by the time we get our stuff together; anyone inclined to meet us with a brass band is welcome to do so.

Four weeks from tomorrow.

This is really happening.

Much to report in the last couple of weeks: a fabulous visit from Grandma E, some noteworthy sayings from the kids, Marika rolling both ways and becoming more delightful daily. Oh, and that Playmobil? Worth every cent, because it's been buying me entire afternoons of peace and quiet to pack. I would have spent more money on babysitting if I hadn't bought it, and that we can't keep.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Not just listing.

1. We have visas! Yay visas! I was hoping we would be able to book the flights today but that didn't happen--I had to fax copies of the visas in and they kept not coming through legibly. No NBN offices on Friday so it'll have to wait. But I'm assured it will be FINE.

2. The house, specifically the packing-up of the house, is coming along. It still looks very lived in but when you start opening closets there's not nearly as much in there as there used to be. And half the living room shelves are empty, which is saying something because we have two full walls covered with built-in bookshelves.

3. The speeches for the Big Event are done and I am taking a little bit of a breather--I still have plenty of work to do but it's not as crazy as it has been for the last, oh, three months or so. Which is good, because, seriously: buncha little kids + nursing baby + job overload + aliya planning + packing up house = no sleep. Tonight I went to nurse the baby as I was about to get the kids into bed; my husband was starting them with teeth-brushing when I went into my room with Marika. The next thing I knew it was 10:30. Obviously I needed the sleep but then I spent an hour on the phone with a friend and I haven't even started cooking. It was an awesome nap though.

4. Grandma E is coming! Grandma E is coming! I spent most of yesterday making the guest room inhabitable, which was a pretty mammoth task but one that needed doing anyway so it was good to have the impetus to do it. Mysteriously, the bed that I cleared off completely last night is now covered with junk again. How how how???

5. Marika is six months. I LOVE six months. It's one of my favorite ages. She is pushing way way up and rolling both ways, although she still seems kind of surprised when she does it. She's having a lot of fun with her feet--grabbing them, chewing her toes, and all the usual diversions. She's babbling up a storm, lots of thoughtful, considered statements like "Ah buh-buh-buh." She also whispers, which cracks me up. Like, she doesn't really want this to be public information, but you should know: ah buh buh. Keep that between us, OK?

6. When I am about to have a baby I get weird about money. Ordinarily I am pretty budget-conscious and I am extremely disinclined to splurge. Any big purchase, I think about and plan out beforehand, and by "big purchase" I mean anything over $50. When I'm about to have a baby, I do things like--hmm, I'm embarrassed now, but I definitely do things like spend inexcusable amounts of money on yarn or whatever. I'm not about to have a baby now but maybe aliya is like that because I have been spending money like it's going out of style. Mostly on things we need but it's a fairly loose definition of "need." I wanted the boys to all have matching shirts for the flights because it makes them a lot easier to keep track of, and then realized that there's no way they're going to go the whole trip in one set of clothes so got everyone two. (Lands' End tie-dyed t-shirts. Very visible! Barak wanted to know why I hadn't gotten one for Marika and I explained that I don't need her to be very visible because she can't run away. "Oh.")

7. I got new pack and play sheets, fun ones with firetrucks. I also got a new carseat, based on the recommendation of the fabulous Carseat Lady (thecarseatlady.com): a Combi Coccoro. And then I also got the Flash stroller, which is the Coccoro's version of a snap n go. I'm going to need it when I come back here for work next winter. I got my husband a bunch of new shirts, which he needed, and Playmobil for the boys, which they did not need but I bought anyway. And I'm going to get a new mattress for one of the pack and plays, which kills me, because we have THREE pack and plays, but two of them have warped mattresses and I can't have Marika sleeping on a warped P & P mattress her entire infancy. It's got a big ridge running right down the middle. Right now she's small enough to avoid it but not for long.

8. Further to the Playmobil (I'll make this its own item): I am not sending Barak to camp this summer, mostly in the name of thrift but also because I think he'll be happier to just have a few weeks to chill out and play before we move. So there was a little extra money in the budget from that, which I had earmarked for fun summer activities. It's really hard to go anywhere though with everyone--MHH is still working all the time and without a car we're really limited. We'll go to the aquarium and maybe the zoo when my friend K is here, and do the zoo at least once when Deb is here, but other than that we're sticking pretty close to home. And I wanted to do something to make the last few weeks here, and the first few weeks in Israel, easier, for me and for them. So I spent what was, for me anyway an unconscionable amount of money on Playmobil. Not hundreds of dollars or anything--some of the small sets, and some of the Playmobil 123 for Marika and Avtalyon. Our MO around here is toys from thrift stores or yard sales. I just don't spend a lot on toys. For some things, like Playmobil (and Lego, and puzzles), you have to pay the money to buy it new, and I do think it's worthwhile to have good, well-made, educational toys that will last. Playmobil is firmly in this category. Still, I'm feeling guilty. They HAVE Playmobil. Not only do they have some already, but an extremely generous blog reader (hi!) is planning on sending them some more. So I didn't need to go on the Playmobil site late at night and buy them a bunch of Playmobil construction guys. But I did. At 1:30 AM.

9. I am trying to figure out why exactly I feel so guilty about buying that Playmobil. I bought my kids toys. This is, I am told, a normal thing for parents to do. But I'm feeling guilty about spending money on Playmobil when they have a box of Playmobil already and do not, strictly speaking, need any more. They have a 28-qt Sterilite of Playmobil. This is the Sterilite box one size up from the shoebox size, but taller. It's not a huge box by any means and it is full of smaller Gladware boxes with the actual sets inside so it's not like it's even really full: they've got a box of Romans, a box of policemen and firemen, some pirates, a killer whale, the small firetruck, a police car, a fire helicopter and a Roman fort my friend Karen sent. No giant castles or pirate ships or anything, tempted though I have been.

They love this stuff, they play beautifully with it and they play with it a lot. I feel comfortable that my kids are not spoiled with too many toys. So why do I feel so hugely uncomfortable with myself for having splurged on Playmobil for no particular occasion? Well, that's not true. It's aliya Playmobil--it's more expensive there, and easier to pack than the big bulky toys we're leaving behind. Not so crazy really. So why am I spending three items on the same list justifying it to myself? While I seriously consider buying them a ship or a castle or a fortress because I know how much they would love it? Discuss.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Radio Exchange Between Israeli Navy and 7th Flotilla Ship Regarding Tran...

Close-Up Footage of Mavi Marmara Passengers Attacking IDF Soldiers (With...

And now for something completely trivial

In contrast, anyway. But it's my all-consuming decision at the moment.

See, I have a Bosch mixer. I bought it after Iyyar was born and while it would be an exaggeration to say I've used it every day since, I do use it an awful lot--a couple of times a week for sure, often more than that. I have the bread bowl and the slicer/shredder attachments, and between those I can make bread and bagels and kugels and potato pancakes and whatever else, really really fast. It saves me time and it also saves me money; a $3.99 bag of flour makes 40 bagels. Try buying bagels for 10 cents each at the store. They won't be anything like as good, either. I can also turn out pizza dough very quickly, which is both dinner and Project with Kids. And, of course, there's the homemade challah, which I make whole-wheat; it's a nightmare to knead by hand and in the Bosch you just dump it all in and turn the machine off after ten minutes. Amazing.

I've been looking at my Bosch for months now, trying to imagine cooking without it. I'm also thinking about, of all things, peanut butter. We go through two jars a week, easy. A kilo of PB in Israel is NIS 24. Shelled peanuts and other shelled nuts cost a lot less per pound. I could get the food processor attachment and make my own. And my own pesto. And baby food, without also needing a hand blender.

Except, of course, that my mixer doesn't run on 220 current.

So, I could a) pack up the whole thing in boxes and live without a mixer. Buy my bagels and my peanut butter, grate vegetables and knead dough by hand. I did it for years. Although I only had one baby then.

Or, I could 2) buy a new base, that runs on 220 volts. It costs $270. That's a lot. Not as much as a complete new mixer, since I already have the bowl. And I won't have to pay tax because the cheapest place to get it is out of state. Still. It's a lot.

Or! I could 3) buy the new base and the food processor attachment. This would be $370 for both. This is also a LOT of money.

However: we will eventually recoup all of that money in savings on food costs. If we stay.

And we'd need to bring it. It's heavy.

Compounding all of this is that I can't just say, well, we'll wait a year and buy it when we see what our eating patterns really are; the reason I can't do this is that my current Bosch mixer is the "old style" which has now been replaced by the "new style" and the parts are not interchangeable. (Don't get me started.) I already have two bowls and a slicer/shredder for my old-style base.

I am pretty sure I could sell my current Bosch mixer here. That would subsidize the purchase substantially. I'm unaccountably reluctant to do that, though. Which is dumb. What, I'd rather store it than sell it and get a new one? It's probably because I'm thinking, "But what if we come back? Come back and HAVE NO BOSCH?! That would be a catastrophe!"

(You don't need to comment on that. I know.)

What to do? Suggestions?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Just go read this instead.

I don't write well about politics. I've never been good at mounting a clear, logical argument when it's something I feel strongly about; I'm non-confrontational by nature, and I'm not at my best when I feel under attack. And when it comes to Israeli politics, and the relationship between Israel and the rest of the world, I run out of words. I can't do much more, these days, but wave my hands helplessly and feel hopeless. A few minutes ago I asked my husband if it was in Tanach that everyone was going to hate the Jews forever. He asked me why. I said I'd feel better about it if it was in a nevua. "Why, because that way clearly it would be divine will?" I said yes. It would, somehow.

If you want a clear, reasoned piece of writing that says everything I feel too impotent and angry to say myself, go read David's blog (link above) or Charles Krauthammer's op-ed, here (and if anyone can tell me why Blogger won't link my in-post links anymore, I'll be grateful):

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2012025784_krauthammer04.html

If you want my own observation, it is a frightening feeling that we are in the middle of a sea change--not in how the world sees Jews, but in how it is OK to talk about your feelings about Jews. When I was growing up, if you'll forgive the slightly gross analogy, being public about hating Jews was kind of like being public about picking your nose. Yeah, everyone does it, but we all pretend we don't. If you do it in public, we'll all censure you and pretend that we don't do it either. Educated people don't Jew-bash. That's for the KKK.

That's changing. The Holocaust, well, that's old hat now, and we're supposed to be over it. It's not a justification for anything else. It's history and not relevant. We're supposed to... well, what, exactly? Give away our country? Go back to Europe? Yeah, that worked out really, really well for us before. Those Europeans definitely have always had our best interests at heart.

The flotilla? What is there to say? Israel blockaded Gaza because Islamic terrorists are importing weapons with which they are trying to kill us. A boatload of armed thugs tried to break the blockade, to enable to importation of more weapons--not humanitarian aid. There's plenty of humanitarian aid coming in through Ashdod and land crossings. That wasn't the point here. The point was breaking the blockade.

Instead of sinking the ship, as any other country would do, the Israeli military sent commandos onboard, at what was obviously great personal risk--commandos armed with paint guns and pistols, with orders not to shoot anyone unless it was self-defense, and then only with permission. They sent in soldiers with their hands essentially tied behind their backs, because they were trying so hard not to kill the armed thugs who were about to do their level best to kill them.

This is bad enough. But it's not what's scary. What's scary is how it's showing up in the newspapers, the AP, Reuters, the Times. The rush to judgment is instantaneous, the chorus of censure almost total. No one is even bothering to pretend. Something changed this week. Something really changed.

All I have to say to the Jews who are joining in on the Israel-bashing is this: you are no different from the assimilated Jews of Hitler's Germany. You think that if you bash Israel with the best of them, it won't ever be about you.

And you are wrong. It's about the Jews. It always has been. The Holocaust wasn't enough; they're coming after us where we are now. They're coming after us in Israel. Don't think they're not coming after you too.