Thursday, November 25, 2010


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


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.