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.