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?!