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


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