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

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?!