The kid-by-kid update:
Barak seems to be doing OK these days. He is happy to go to school in the morning and generally in a good mood, if tired and prone to meltdown, when he gets home. Homework continues to be an Issue. He spends 8 hours a day in a Hebrew environment and by the time he gets home at 4:30 PM, he wants nothing but a quiet corner and a box of Lego. Homework? Surely you jest. I had been letting him get away with it for a while but his teachers (his regular classroom teacher and Morah Penina, his lovely 80-year-old tutor) both called me a couple of weeks ago saying, look, he's not making progress and you need to be reinforcing this at home. So since then I've been trying, but it's so not pleasant and such a struggle. He's six and a half. It's too much for him. But they're also right in that if he doesn't pick up Hebrew by the end of the year, kita beit is going to be really hard.
He's being really good with Marika lately. Just a really sweet big brother. Yesterday we were out on the playground and he was giving her turns down the slide; he sat on top, I put Marika in his lap, he held her and slid down with her. She LOVED this. I wish I'd had a camera. She wanted to do it again and again and again and...
Iyyar is also getting good reports from his moros, who say that he's playing nicely and picking up Hebrew well. He seems to understand everything you say to him in Hebrew--I can give him running directions in Hebrew and he follows them. One thing I want to mention about him though is how much better his face looks. Last year, almost the whole year, his face was puffy. He almost looked like he was on steroids. He wasn't sick, it was just some kind of a reaction to something. I don't remember specifically when it stopped looking like that but I was just thinking the other day how thin his face looked, in a good way. No more puff. I don't know what it was but I assume he was allergic to something that's not in his environment anymore. Who knows what?
Last Shabbos Iyyar and Avtalyon made a huge mess dumping out all the toys in their room, right after it was all cleaned up for Shabbos. I told them they had to pick up before they could have seudat shlishit. By "pick up" I meant a minimal standard of "Lego in Lego box, laundry in basket, rest of toys in toy basket." No sorting or putting away of things in right places, just dump it in the basket. They ignored me and wouldn't do it. I offered to help and started doing it with them and they still ignored me, so I said, OK, you're on your own, come out when it's done.
Five hours. They were in their room for five hours. Eventually, they got hungry and they did it. This is I think the third time in two weeks that we've done this. One of these days they will get a clue and just do it in the beginning when I am there offering to help. Right? Right? Right?
I pick Iyyar up from school twice a week and we talk the whole way home. His brain is really all over the place; we start talking about one thing and then he's asking me about something else. I think Barak had more of an attention span at that age--actually I'm sure he did. Not that I'm worried about this, it's more of a personality thing; Barak FOCUSES, where Iyyar is more prone to flying around all over. Also in the "sweet brother" category, he's been saving pieces of treats for Barak and Avtalyon--yesterday he got a chocolate vaffel (like wafers) at school and broke off pieces for both of them and put them in plastic bags in the kitchen to save them. Big pieces, too. Totally unprompted by me. So sweet.
Avtalyon is being really, really cute. His big thing these days is that he hates being wet. If he spills a tiny little bit of something on his shirt, that's it, ALL his clothes come off and he's naked until I make him get dressed. But he wants new, all-dry, uncontaminated by proximity to water clothing. Sometimes I let him, sometimes not, depending on what the previous outfit looked like.
He's also all about the dramatic hand gestures. He likes posing for the camera, scary action poses and so on.
When I came back from the US I brought the box of Clics from the basement. I also brought a new bike helmet, because I couldn't find the one we had already and the kids have been zooming around down the hill on their little ride-on car in a way that makes me nervous. What do these two things have to do with each other? Well, there must be some genetically programmed desire in my children to make train tracks out of Clics while naked except for underwear and a bike helmet, because so far they've all done it. Barak did it, Iyyar did it, and Avtalyon has not seen any older brothers do it within memory but two days after I got back, he was doing it too. Go figure.
On days when I pick Avtalyon up from gan (Abba and I switch off--it's a complicated schedule) we have this whole obstacle course that we have to go through to get home. There are low walls to walk on, ramps to run up and down, and of course the Alligator/Elevator we have to ride. It's an outdoor glass elevator that goes up to the sixth floor; he pushes the button, we go in, we ride to the top, come out, admire the view, go back down. More low walls, the cat by the schwarma stand to find and comment on, and then the revolving metal security door to ride. Yes, ride: he climbs on the lowest bar and I turn it for him. Fun fun.
And Marika has suddenly become a toddler. She's walking instead of crawling as her primary means of locomotion and is getting close to being too big for the Snugli. She has had for months a habit of reaching her non-sucking-thumb-hand down under my sweater when she's ready to fall asleep, to grab a nice soft handful of t-shirt. Lately it's been warmer and I haven't been wearing sweaters, so she's been reaching into my shirt and grabbing, you know, what's there. This is a little awkward while in public and she may soon be graduating to a stroller as a result.
Yesterday we went to Geula with a friend on a skirt-shopping expedition. It was really fun. I bargained hard and got four skirts for NIS 360, about $100 these days; we also stopped at Moshiko for falafel. I brought the stroller for her and it did make it easier; I could try stuff on, she fell asleep, I could eat. But it's such a pain to bring a stroller on the bus, even though people do usually help. I just don't have enough hands to hold her, hold the stroller, and hang on when the bus starts moving before I find a seat (which it always does).
Favorite word these days: "yeah!" If you ask her a question, any question, with a yes/no intonation, she'll say, "yeah!" with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Also, I've heard her say, almost distinctly, "What is that?" ("Wah dee dah?") and "I want it!" Right now she is playing in the pack and play next to me saying, "Ah dee dee! Ah why? Why? Whee ditch. Ah de det'." Palatalized consonants continue to abound. "At'. At'. At'." And if you prompt her, she will say thank you, very seriously. "Ta tuh."
The jet lag was awful but she seems totally over it now. Oh, I didn't mention: yesterday on our shopping trip I bought her a toy stroller for the princely sum of NIS 20. It's a nice one too, with a metal frame, and just her size. She loves it. The boys put Grover in there for her and she pushed him around the house for a while; then later in the afternoon my SIL came over. I had brought her back some dental floss from America (long story, but it's one of those things that's much cheaper there) and Marika demanded to hold them; two minutes later they were of course gone. We hunted for a while with no luck until with a flash of inspiration I looked under Grover's tush. She had, naturally, stashed them there, because what is a stroller for if not to give your dental floss a tour of the apartment under a Muppet's rear end?
Anyway, that's the news from around here.
Hey, have you noticed I've been blogging more? Hmm? You have? Well, I've noticed that yesterday, 38 distinct visitors came and read this. But nobody but Jasmin does much commenting. So maybe you could, you know, say hi. Because if I'm going to go back to blogging more often, it's much more fun if you wave back. OK?