Monday, December 31, 2012

Guns and Israel: Why what you think is probably wrong

Two weeks ago, I turned on my computer after Shabbat to discover what everyone in America had already been grappling with for a day: Newtown. And in the days that followed, in the news--well, you all know what you read, about gun control, the NRA, mental illness, and gun control. And every so often, Israel would come up, as a place where people are all armed to the teeth and ergo these things do not happen. A school massacre could never happen here, because we have armed security guards, and, well, people here are armed.

Well, no. School massacres like the ones in Newtown haven't happened here, because mentally unstable teenage boys here don't have access to guns, and the Arab terrorists who would very happily shoot up a classroom full of children aren't given the chance to do so.

Rates of gun violence in Israel are not low because everyone here has a gun. Rates of gun violence are low because guns here are very tightly regulated, and because the guns that are out there are in the right hands.

In  Israel, there are 7 privately owned guns per 100 people. In the US, there are 89. The US rate of firearm deaths per capita is five times as high as the rate in Israel. Even though we have, you know, this terrorist problem.

Guns in Israel are ubiquitous. Yes, this is true. You see guns everywhere. You see guns on the bus, guns in the bus station, guns on every policeman and security guard. You see soldiers in uniform carrying guns, and you see soldiers on leave, not in uniform, carrying guns. So the sight of a 19-year-old boy with an automatic weapon slung over his shoulder, eating a hamburger, doesn't get a second glance.

It's easy to see this and think that Israel is the NRA's version of paradise. Actually, this is pretty far from the truth, because when you get down to it, you cannot have a gun in Israel unless the government specifically says you can--and unless you have a very good case to own a gun, they're going to tell you no.

Guns in Israel exist for a very clear reason. They're there, to be blunt, to keep Arabs from killing Jews. There: I said it. That is why we have guns on the streets here: so that when a terrorist gets on a bus with a bomb, or walks into a pizza restaurant with a bomb, or starts mowing down passersby with a stolen bulldozer, or climbs through your bedroom window to murder your family, you have a chance to kill him before he kills you or anyone else. It's pretty straightforward. We have off-duty soldiers, policemen, and security guards carrying guns for this reason, and we have the guns visible for this reason.

Attitudes toward gun ownership in Israel are completely different. Gun ownership is not a right. It's something you avoid if you can. There is nothing cool, exciting, or sports-related about guns in Israel. You do not use them to go target shooting for fun or, for the most part, to go hunting (although I'm told some people do hunt here, it's nothing like deer hunting in, say, upstate New York). Military service is mandatory, for the most part, because Israel is constantly fighting for its own existence. You learn to use a gun with every expectation that at some point, you will be using it in a situation where you might die. Guns are large, smelly, greasy, heavy, awkward and dangerous. You do not collect them, you do not show them off. They are a necessary evil. And because of the mandatory military service, people understand this, they understand guns, they respect guns and they know how to use them. There are very few gun accidents here; people do not accidentally shoot their own kids in parking lots. Stolen guns are rare, because if you have a gun, you have to keep it behind two locks at every moment it is not on your body. If someone steals your gun because you were negligent, you--yes, you--can be held responsible for crimes committed with it. It's a pretty strong disincentive for being negligent.

In Israel, you cannot just walk into a store and walk out with a gun. You have to have a reason to own a gun, and you have to demonstrate that you have a need for a gun, and you have to prove that you are capable of owning your gun responsibly. If you live in the West Bank, if you are employed in security, if you transport valuables, if you travel in the West Bank--these are reasons to own a gun. Usually, they are reasons to own one pistol, which you plan on carrying. One pistol. Not a Bushmaster.

If you apply for a gun permit, you stand a 40% chance of being rejected. If you have a gun, the police check up on you regularly, to make sure you haven't done anything you shouldn't have. And you have to reapply, at least annually, to demonstrate that yes, you still need your gun.

We live in the West Bank, within a literal stone's throw of lots of Arabs who would very much like to kill us. We are not allowed to have a gun, simply because we haven't been here long enough and, I would imagine, the Israeli government doesn't have confidence that we are Israeli enough to handle one safely. My husband looked into it when we moved, and was told, sorry--not for another year. If we'd stayed in Jerusalem, we would have been refused even after that time. Because we didn't have a good enough reason.

But it doesn't matter, because we're not going to have a gun in our house. With a houseful of curious little kids, we're much safer without one. And unless you live in Givat Assaf, or Efrat, or Afghanistan, or Yemen--so are you.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Kid chronicles

On Friday night, a few of the kids were not sick, exactly, but under the weather. Avtalyon fell asleep on the landing of the stairs at about 4--just lay down there and conked out. Mr. Bigfoot moved him to his bed, and there he stayed, until around 11 PM when the three of us (me, Mr. Bigfoot and Alisha) suddenly heard the dulcet sounds of Avtalyon belting out birkat hamazon (grace after meals) at about 200 decibels.

"Avtalyon? Are you up?"

"I'm benching!"

"We can hear that. Do you want to come downstairs and eat something, so you'll have something to bench on?"


He came downstairs, a little flushed but not feverish, eyes the size of dinner plates and the color of tar pits. He traipsed into the living room, stopped short, and then, with the full-body, arm-waving expressiveness that is his peculiar provenance, exclaimed, "Imma! Do you know what? It's the middle of the night! It's not morning anymore! Do you know how I know?"

Pause while he waits for an answer.

"No! How do you know?"

"Because I can see the bookshelves!"

I will cheerfully give myself full credit for figuring this one out. He was talking about seeing the bookshelves reflected in the windows. During the day you see the backyard; at night, it's dark out and light inside, and so you see the bookshelves. Of course.

Mordechai is ten months old. How crazy is that? He's got two teeth on the bottom, two on the top, and two more coming in on top on the sides. He just started waving bye-bye, crawls everywhere, loves to climb ther stairs but can really only do it with two adult hands right behind him, because he doesn't have the balance to not fall over backward every so often. He still has that insanely hilarious cackle when he laughs. He just started eating food, and has gone pretty much directly from gagging on half a teaspoonful of pureed carrots to eating cheerios and matzo balls and noodles and demanding four square meals a day plus snacks. If you put him in the high chair, he howls until he sees the box of Cheerios come down from the cupboard. Then he's happy. He's getting much better at navigating them into his mouth, too.

Marika turned three a few weeks ago, and had a lovely birthday party at school that was the culmination of nearly a full year of "yom bodedet" fantasies. She went to an upshearin for a friend's little boy last December and has been kind of obsessed with birthdays every since. She was very very attached to the crown she got, for days, and still refers to any cake or gift or birthday-associated item as a "yom yom bodedet."

I pick the kids up from gan most afternoons, and usually what happens is I pick Marika up a little early, at 5-8 minutes till 2, and she and I and Mordechai in the baby wrap go up and get Iyyar and Avtalyon (whose ganim are right next to each other) and then all three of them play in the gan playground for an hour or close to it. This works out well for everyone. Iyyar gets his OT in by swinging hard on the swings, which I insist on as a prerequisite of playtime; Avtalyon also gets his playground time in, which his OT also suggests for his gross motor delays. But really, what most of them do is sit down in the sand and dig. And dig. And dig some more. Twice a week Barak comes home as I am heading up the hill, and I take him with me, and then they launch major works of civil engineering, with connecting tunnels and bridges and what have you. All the other kids have long gone except for Oded and his sister, the daughters of the assistant in the big gan that is between Avtalon and Iyyar's little ganim (since Iyyar and Avtalyon are both in gan safa, with only nine--NINE--boys in each, they're in smaller spaces. Iyyar's in a side room, Avtalyon's in a trailer.) Today I saw Oded's little sister, who is four but very tall for her age, strike up a friendship with Marika. She has only just begun to really have friends, so it was really fun to watch the two of them settle into the sandbox, collect their toys, take turns and so on.

Iyyar's doing well. He's in a good phase right now, seems happy at gan, is doing less of the weird behavior, isn't too hard to get out the door in the morning, isn't pounding on Marika quite as much. But it's day by day. Some days are great; some days, not so much. I'm still hoping to see him in a regular kita aleph (first grade) class next year, but if he's in a kita katana, and that seems like the best place for him, then that's OK too. He's gotten kind of amazing with mental math. And he's gotten really affectionate, in a way that is a little bit clingy but not alarmingly so. He just likes to sit next to me on the couch and cuddle. Obviously, I don't object to this. I'm all about cuddling on the couch.

And Barak just got a 107 on his Torah test. Homework continues to be a struggle and I've completely stopped trying to get him to daven on days he doesn't have school. I don't need to make it into a fight. He's steadily turning into a yishuv kid; goes all over by himself, although I insist on knowing where he is and exactly when he'll be back. But last week I ran out of eggs, and after wrestling with myself a little bit, I handed him money, sent him to the grocery store, and told him I needed 30 large eggs and he could also buy some parve chocolate for us to share. Half an hour later, he was back, mission accomplished and only two eggs broken. A new era, to be sure.

Sunday, December 09, 2012


1. Avtalyon: "Ooowwwwwwwwwwwww!"
    Abba: "Do you want me to kiss it and make it better?"
    Avtalyon: (through sobs) "It's not going to make it better! It just shows me you wuv me!"

2. Barak: "Imma? I feel that you should be aware that the parve chocolate coins in the cupboard have been mysteriously disappearing. There used to be a whole lot and now there's only one, stuck down behind the box of crackers." Useful information for me to have, but not in the way he thinks.

3. Mordechai:"WAAAAAAAH!" Translation: "I want to talk to the management! I want a new room! Why do I always get stuck in the crappy room with the cold little bed and the thin mattress and no room service? I want the room with Imma, with heated bed, down blankets and in-bed minibar.  GET ME THE MANAGER!"

4. Iyyar: "Imma, do you know what we did today? We made soup with pitriyot [mushrooms]. The ganenet took us all outside and we went and looked for mushrooms and picked mushrooms. Then we went back to the gan and made soup. But you can't do it yourself, only with the ganenet. Otherwise you might get sick."

5. Marika: "Iss my yom yom bodedet! I hadda yom bodedet in my gan! Inna chair!" Translation: It's my birthday! I had a birthday in my school! I got lifted up in a chair!

6. Mr. Bigfoot: "I hope you're still blogging. Are you still blogging? You need to write some of this down.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

You never forget your first time

My husband said, I'm going to head out for maariv. I opened my mouth to say, okay, and that was when the noise started pouring through the streets, the noise that is so much louder than you think it is going to be. The siren that says that Israeli radar has picked up a Hamas missile, and that missile is heading toward your babies and your husband and you.

We have 120 seconds here, from siren to impact.

The first thing you think when you realize that this is really happening is the kids, the kids, where are the kids? The first thing you do is start to scream their names.

We don't have a safe room. The safest spot in the house is in the front hall, between two supporting walls with a steel beam over them. Barak was there in a flash; we had done a drill at home, they'd done drills at school, and he didn't need to be told. I ran outside in the unearthly noise and screamed to Iyyar, get INSIDE, get INSIDE, and I saw our neighbors, two teenage girls, standing frozen in confusion in the middle of the street. I shouted at them tikansu! tikansu! and they came and sat with Iyyar  and there was my husband, Barak, Iyyar, Avtalyon, and I had the baby but oh, my God, where is Marika?

I ran outside screaming Marika! Marika! and my husband took the stairs two at a time shouting Marika! and we couldn't hear anything over the sirens but had it been a minute? A minute and a half? The siren, the siren, and Marika! Marika! Where are you? My husband shouted down, I've got her, and pounded back down the stairs with her in his arms, my little girl who'd fallen asleep before Shabbat in a pile of  blankets on her brother's bed, and they dropped down on the floor with the rest of us and I slammed the doors shut

and all of us sat.

And listened.

And waited for the boom that did not come.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Home (no place like)

Seven people still read my blog!


I’m kind of surprised. But since there really are seven of you who like my blog enough to say so, I guess I’ll give you the long-overdue update.

The short version: we moved.

This, quite simply, has been the best thing ever. It’s hard to even put it into words. We spent two years living in an old, dingy, run-down apartment that was built as a dorm, built by people who knew for an absolute fact that they, themselves would never have to live in the apartments they were building. We did not have a kitchen to speak of. We had only one toilet, there was no washing machine (we bought one but it died and we didn’t replace it, for a variety of reasons), no bathtub, no kids for our kids to play with, far from everything, no local schools, not a neighborhood we ever would have chosen. It did have some advantages, the biggest one being that the apartment was, well, free, and there were some very nice people, but it just wasn’t a place to set down roots. We knew all of this, more or less, in advance. So when we came to Israel, knowing that we’d be in this furnished apartment for two years, instead of sending a lift (=shipping container full of our stuff), we put it all into storage, packed up 18 49.5-lb bags, and got on a plane with just that.

In a lot of ways, the last two years, we were camping. We didn’t have our own stuff, we didn’t have our own home, everything was temporary.

In August, we moved, not to another apartment, but to an actual house, in a yishuv about an hour north of Jerusalem. It really is more than I ever dreamed of, certainly more than I thought it was realistic to hope for. Three bedrooms and a full bathroom upstairs, a big living/dining room, enormous kitchen, office, and second full bath downstairs. Big backyard, huge playground a couple of blocks away; I can walk to all of the kids’ schools in about seven minutes if I need to and not even arrive out of breath.  

I now have a real kitchen. Gas stove, oven, big freezer, washing machine, dryer. The house is finally organized, the last box emptied and put away, the linen sorted, the pictures hung, the outgrown clothes in the storage closet in the right-sized bins. The house was really, really dirty when we moved in, and the last three months has been spent cleaning it, bit by bit; the switchplates, the doorframes, the windows. It looks beautiful now. It looks like home.

And it’s hard to put in words exactly what that means. We have our own stuff back, all of our own stuff: the baby pictures, the bookshelves, my grandmother’s crocheted bedspreads, my wedding china, my mug collection. My husband has his seforim back. The kids have all their old toys, and now Barak and Iyyar have a bunk bed and Avtalyon has the train bed that I bought for Barak when he was three. Marika has Barak’s old toddler bed, with the pretty pink quilt that Sarah made; Mordechai sleeps under the sock-yarn blankie that Cecilia made. I have my spinning wheel, and all my yarn, and lots of new things that I bought for the lift: new beds for us, new comforter covers, a new set of Corelle for weekday dishes. I can cook again. Not only do I have an amazing, incredible kitchen, but I have all of the equipment I need to cook. I have a blender, a big stand mixer, immersion blenders, all the little gadgets and pans and so on that make cooking a pleasure. And cookbooks! Let’s not forget cookbooks. I made pad thai last week and have been experimenting with different kinds of pesto. We eat much, much better now.
And the kids are better, and happier. They are happier because they have friends whose houses they can go to and who come here to play. And they have a backyard with a swingset and a tree swing and lots of dirt to dig in. And they are happier because, well, I am happier. You’ve seen that poster, right, from the 80s? If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. It’s true.

But when mama is happy, things are pretty good. And she is. So they are.



Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Is anyone still reading this thing?

Where are we? November, right?

November. Okay, well, here's where we are:

Mordechai is shattering all household records for baby development. He got his bottom two teeth in a few weeks ago, and sat up for the first time, let's see, seven weeks ago. He's now eight months old and is crawling everywhere, pulling up on everything, and standing quite nicely without holding on to anything--for long enough to take a picture, anyway. He goes to sleep at around 6 and mostly stays asleep until the next morning, waking up a couple of times in there for a snack but generally going back to sleep. He does wake up much earlier than the rest of us though; if I go to bed really late (like after 4) I hear him awake in his crib, rolling around and talking to himself. He is, without doubt, the world's most delightful baby; he smiles at anything, loves to cuddle, and is just, well, totally adorable. And he nurses all the time--no solids yet, no interest really that I've seen. Sometimes he goes for something I'm eating and I let him try it; this leads to him spitting whatever it is out, and, usually, flipping sideways in my lap with an expectant look. The real thing, now, please, Imma.

He doesn't sleep in our room anymore, because he would just wake me up to nurse every half hour all night long. After a couple of weeks of musical beds, we've worked out a solution: I put him to bed at bedtime in our room and then move him into the other pack and play in Marika's room. She likes this, and points out "Mordechai's crib." The other day she told me, with difficulty and at length, that sometimes Mordechai stands up in his crib and cries. I don't really remember where everyone else was linguistically at exactly that age, but it strikes me that they were a little farther along (with the exception of Avtalyon, maybe.)

I looked at the AAP list of milestones for three year olds the other day, and Marika is not really there with the language. At all, really. I can't understand half of what she says and I don't imagine strangers do; she comes out with a lot of non sequiturs, and whatever you ask her when you pick her up at gan, the answer is "Great!" As in, "Who did you play with?" "Great!" "What did you do at gan?" "Great!" I realized a week ago that she completely didn't know her colors--everything was "Blue!" so we've been working on that. And she really can't identify many things by name--her vocabulary is very limited. I know that a little bit of delay is normal for kids in bilingual environements, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little concerned. Well, gan safa is a good thing; it's there if she needs it.

Iyyar and Barak are taking karate now, which seems to be going well; Iyyar and Avtalyon are taking capoeira, which I think they're enjoying more. It's good OT for Iyyar, for sure; he's noticeably better and less, well, stimmy after karate. Both of them are doing well in school, in their amazing gan safa classes with 9 boys and at least 3 adults in the room at all times. Onsite OT, onsite PT and speech, art therapy, play therapy and attention therapy (!)--it's pretty incredible. They like school and never protest going; I'm trying to temper my possibly unrealistic hopes about how much it will all help in the end. We'll see, I guess.

Things really are good around here, just so, so busy. I have no free time whatsoever; right now I'm blogging because I couldn't fall asleep (going to bed at 2 am is, well, early for me) and thought I'd post. I know there are cute stories to post, I just... can't think of any of them right now. Maybe it's time to go back to bed.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


I don't really have time to blog (there's a surprise) but since this is also more or less my baby book:

Mordechai is seven and a half months old. He started babbling in a serious, interested, considered way a few weeks ago, and erev Yom Kippur, two and a half weeks ago, I looked across the room to where I'd left him enjoying some tummy time and did a double take: he was sitting up, all by himself, in the middle of the stone floor. I did one of those slow-motion dives across the room, sure he was about to topple over and crack his skull on the floor. He didn't. Not only did he not fall, he got himself back on all fours and started sort of heaving himself forward. A few days later, he was crawling. On Thursday, he was in his pack'n'prison and I realized that he was up on his knees, reaching up and trying to get a hold of the side of one of the walls. My next-door-neighbor was there and saw it too. "I think he's trying to stand up," I said. "Uh, you think?"

Yeah. So. He stood up. On Friday. Now he's pulling up on everything. This afternoon, he pulled up on one of the little white kid-sized chairs in the living room; then he let go with one hand and grinned at me. And then he reached over for the ottoman, grabbed onto the ottoman and cruised right on over. On his feet.

Cruising on the furniture. Seven and a half months. For point of comparison, Barak was not even rolling over both ways at that age. I think he sat up by himself for the first time at maaaybe ten months. Iyyar did not pull to standing until he was well past one.

Barak, Iyyar, and Marika all started walking at fourteen and a half months; Avtalyon started at ten and a half.

Hmm. Maybe it's time to get that baby gate on the stairs. You think?

In other Mordechai news, I bought a new baby carrier last week (a Chibuki, if you're interested) and I love it. It's kind of a pain to get on (lots and lots and LOTS of fabric) but once it's on it's amazing. It distributes the weight so evenly over your back, shoulders and hips that you really can wear it all day; we brought the kids to the zoo last week and Mordechai was it in from 9 AM till almost 7 PM, only coming out to nurse, with no complaints. He slept really well afterward, too.

He's starting to look less like Iyyar and more like Barak, I think. Still no teeth yet; a bit more hair. He is a total flirt, and finds a new best friend any time I sit down on public transportation or anywhere else. Wants to be carried around or plunked on the floor to explore just about all the time. Still not eating any real food; I've given him some tastes of this and that but he's not interested. Still wants to nurse all night long. (Yes yes yes I know. You don't need to comment on this.)

Other non-Mordechai-related things: Iyyar in general seems to be doing better. Some days are better than others. Barak is again not doing his homework and I just got a call from his rav. Marika is talking more and more; Avtalyon is a blog entry unto himself which I will, perhaps, one day write.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012


Huh. So. It's been a while, then, has it?

A lot has happened, pretty much all of it good. Short recap:

1. We moved. We now have a house, with an upstairs, a downstairs, a backyard, and a kitchen that is beyond even the raving fantasies of my kollel-apartment dreams. It's got two sinks. A billion cupboards. Space for everything. And nice floors.

2. Mordechai is seven months old. On erev Yom Kippur, he sat up by himself for the first time. Yesterday, he started to crawl, and now nothing is safe. World's fastest transition from Easy Low-Maintenance Baby to Holy Terror: achieved.

3. My in-laws are here. We haven't seen much of them--they've rented an apartment in Jerusalem and we are now in a yishuv around an hour away--but they're here, and that is nice.

4. Kids have handled the transition pretty well. Iyyar and Avtalyon (whoa, it's been so long since I wrote here I had to stop a minute and remember their blog names) are now in gan safa, which is a special-ed kindergarten setting for kids with speech issues. It's not exactly appropriate for either of them, in that Iyyar doesn't have speech issues and Avtalyon is getting over his on his own, but it's pretty amazing for the issues that Iyyar does have (in plenty) and it's certainly not hurting Avtalyon any. A 3:1 student-teacher ratio rarely does. Onsite OT,  PT and art and music therapy are what they're there for, and we have hopes that all of them will help a lot. So far, the adjustment has been a little bumpy but basically OK. The staff seem fabulous.

More detail on all the above to follow, I hope, now that I am on vacation (vacation!) for a whole week. But for now, there's the nutshell version.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Giving birth at Hadassah Ein Kerem

After Mordechai was born, I wrote birth story parts one and two, and didn't get to three. I've been putting it off, but I do want to write it, and not really just for me. I want to write it because I wish I'd known beforehand that such things were liable to happen--if I had, I would have done some things differently.

Even though I think what happened to me is not the norm, it really could happen to anyone. So. For the record, and for anyone else who is planning on having a baby in Jerusalem soon, this is what happened.


Where were we? The baby had been born, my friend went home, Mr. Bigfoot went home to get a few hours of sleep before getting the kids off to school in the morning. It was around 1:30 am, a little over an hour later. And the nurse came in and said, "I have some bad news." Fortunately, before I had the chance to react to that as one might, she went on and said, "We don't have a room for you." I didn't really process this. She said that they had a bed for me (okay) and that there should be a room by about 11 AM. I kind of thought that this meant they'd put me back in an L & D cubicle, one of the partitioned areas with a bed and a curtain, for a few hours.

But before I could go anywhere I needed a lot of stitches. I had given birth to a 9-lb baby who was face down, and it was pretty unpleasant. In addition to the horrible-ness of it in general, was the additional horrible-ness of the OB who told me I needed stitches insisting, right after I gave birth, that it was now or never. I said, I need a few minutes to recover from this. She said--and I cringe just remembering it, but she is the one who should be ashamed and not me-- "I know how to deal with Americans. I worked in America. Let me tell you, if you do not get stitches, you are acting against medical advice. It is your responsibility. You take full responsibility. Don't think you can sue me later."


I said, I just had a really horrible delivery and I need half an hour to recover. I know I need stitches but I can't deal with it right this second. Please come back in half an hour to give me a chance to gather myself together before there is more pain. And that was the response. She said, she might be busy in half an hour and no she would not come back. And I said,  I cannot do this now, and she shrugged and said, "Your decision." Then she walked out the door without looking at me, tossing a nasty "Mazal tov," behind her as the door slammed shut.

The very nice American nurse who had been there when I arrived ran some kind of interference, I am pretty sure, and at some point a different and much nicer doctor came in and did the stitches. It really was awful, although not his fault, and almost as soon as he was out the door the nurse suggested I go take a shower. I was completely confused by this and said I couldn't stand up long enough to do that. She said, do you want me to help you? Because you might not get another chance for a long time.

She was right.

I changed into clean clothes, washed my face and hands, picked up the baby. She got a wheelchair and brought me and the baby upstairs, along with all of our stuff (bag of my stuff, bag of baby stuff, bag of clothes I'd worn during labor). In one elevator, up a few flights, out another elevator to Yoldot Bet (postpartum ward #2).

Okay, so, for those of you who have had babies, let's imagine this scenario. I have just had a baby after about a week of early labor, and the baby was almost 9 pounds and face down. I have had a lot of tearing and a lot of stitches. I have had no drugs, not even Tylenol. It's around 2 am, and not only have I not slept yet tonight, I didn't sleep at all the night before, and I've barely slept most of the week. I'm sticky with sweat and shaking with hormones and covered in blood. I'm still in that very early stage where just moving can make me bleed enough to soak completely through a pad and soak my skirt. Which is exactly what happened when I sat down in the wheelchair.

When the elevator door opened, there was my bed, which was sitting in the hall next to the elevator. No curtain. No screen. Nothing. Just a normal high hospital bed (which isn't easy to get into, by the way, postpartum), sitting there in the hall next to the elevator. Everyone and their brother--patients, families, staff, anyone and everyone--is walking right past. This is my bed, where I am supposed to wait until I get a room.

The L&D nurse piled my bags and paperwork on the bed and we brought the baby to the nursery to be checked in.  As I stood there, swaying a little, waiting for the nurses to look at him, the L&D whose who'd come up with me said, well, mazal tov! And she left.

And I sat down on a plastic chair near the little plastic bassinet the baby was in. Then after a few minutes, I pulled him and his little bassinet into the nursing room, to the side of the nursery, and sat down.

I stayed there for 12 hours.

I don't want to be overly dramatic about this but I do want to be honest. I was no one's job. No one looked at me. No one offered me a drink of water, anything to eat, or asked how I was doing. There was a water dispenser, but no cups. I did not have a cup, and I couldn't stand up to get to the water, so I didn't get anything to drink. At one point I asked for a cup and was given a disposable plastic cup that held about two ounces of water; I got up to fill it and soaked my skirt with blood just moving. One of my most vivid memories of that day was sitting in the chair, thirsty, nursing, just staring at the water dispenser, wondering if it was worth the risk.

The only attention I got was when I started to fall asleep holding the baby, at which point I was suddenly surrounded by angry nurses telling me not to fall asleep because I might drop the baby. They could not have made it more clear to me that I was not their job; I should be out in the hall, in that bed, and not there in the nursery where I had no business being. They really just wanted me to go away. But I couldn't, because I needed to keep nursing the baby so that he wouldn't get newborn jaundice just like all three of my other boys had. And I couldn't nurse the baby out in the hall. And frankly, the idea of lying in that bed, on public display, in the state I was in, was not anything I could consider. So I stayed in my chair in the nursing room.

There was no bathroom. I needed a bathroom and asked where the bathroom was and was told there wasn't one. So what do I do? I asked. Go into any woman's room and use hers. As in, just walk straight into another room and say hi, I'm using your bathroom. I had no choice, so I did, and of course--of course! I bled all over the floor, and it was while I was trying to mop up blood from the floor with wet paper towels four hours after having a baby I began to think, something here is really not right.

At around 8 AM I started wondering about breakfast. I knew that the way it's done in Israeli hospitals is that all the new mothers are expected to go down the hall to the dining room, but I didn't know where or when. At that point, foolishly, I sort of expected someone might tell me. By 9, I was really, really hungry, and I asked one of the other mothers who were coming in and out to nurse their babies (this was not a rooming-in unit) where breakfast was. She told me that I'd already missed it.

At 12, I started trying to get a nurse's attention to ask about lunch But it was lunchtime for them too, I guess, and no one was around or interested in looking at me. By the time I found someone to ask,  I was told, with obvious irritation, that lunch was over. And then she said something about how I should read the sign. By the door. OK, the sign by the door? There was an entire bulletin board covered with paper, all of it in Hebrew, some of it packets of multiple pages or brochures stapled to the board, some of it copies of copies. I could not even have told you at a glance which pertained to the hospital and which to postpartum care and which to... anything. I certainly could not have told you which had to do with dining hours and policies. I couldn't have stood long enough to figure it out, and just walking that far would have been a challenge.

I haven't eaten, I said. She pointed me alllll the way down a very long hall. Lunch is there, maybe you'll still get something. I started walking and again, not to be dramatic, but I was so dizzy I'm amazed I made it. I was hanging on the rail and taking two steps and resting. And then I finally got all the way down there and there was no food left. So I walked back.

The same nurse was there behind the desk and saw me come in and looked back at what she ws doing.  I said, there was no food. No reaction. I said, look, I haven't eaten since yesterday. I just had a baby. Could you help me out here? There was a lot of eye rolling and exasperated sighing but she did, after a few minute, beckon me into the hall and down--all the way down--that long hall again, somehow expecting me to match her pace. When she realized I could barely walk, she did slow down. And she found me some chicken and rice from the staff dining room and I ate it alone at a table in the empty dining room. And then I walked back.

The baby cried, and I sat there shivering and sweating and feeling the blood seep through my clothes. I tried to nurse and he didn't seem to be getting anything. I tried so hard not to fall asleep. I remember dreaming while awake, seeing things move that weren't there. Everything hurt, and the longer I sat, the worse the pain from the stitches and the swelling. I was there holding the baby, watching people move past at not quite the right speed--too fast, too slow--talking too loudly or seeming not to make any noise at all. I wondered sometimes if I was dreaming, but the crying of the baby and the pain in my body were all real.

Don't fall asleep. Don't drop the baby. Don't fall asleep. And watching the hands of the clock which seemed not to move at all.

At some point in the afternoon I remember them calling my name from the other room and telling me someone was ready to look at my baby. I got up and pushed him into the other room, where there was nowhere to sit, and just stood there waiting. For half an hour. While no one looked at my baby. Is anyone going to look at him? I asked. It's not so easy to just stand here. So go back in the other room, I was told. But then I wouldn't be HERE when the doctor does show up and I really don't trust you to explain to him about my children's history with jaundice. So I stood. There weren't, by the way, lockable brakes on the bassinet, so I couldn't even lean on it. It would have rolled away.

Every so often, I'd get up and walk to the desk and ask when I was going to have a room. The answer was always, not yet. But I always had to stand there for what seemed like forever before anyone looked at me, and if I dared an "excuse me" I got that Israeli Hand of Wait--if you live here, you know it.

Why didn't I kick and scream and pick a fight? I just didn't have it in me.

At around 1:30, finally, I heard my named yelled from the other room. "You have a room." I got up, I got my stuff together, I put the baby in the bassinet and rolled and dragged everything to the front desk. Where I was ignored. For twenty minutes, by the clock. At which point I finally, finally, lost it. I started to cry, and it was the kind of crying where you just can't stop.

The nurses stopped talking and all the heads swiveled in my direction. They stared. And then one of them said, in honest confusion,

?למה את בוכה

Why are you crying?

They really had no idea.

It did get their attention, and the nurse (or whatever she was) who brought me to Yoldot Gimel (Postpartum Unit 3) did at least carry some of my stuff for me. By the elevators, we ran into Mr. Bigfoot, who had scrounged a single guy to watch the kids while he brought me Shabbos supplies. "It's a good thing you came when you did," she said to him, shooting a meaningful glance in my direction, implying that I was not quite stable. We got up to my new room, and put my stuff down and she had the gall to say to my husband something along the lines--I can't remember now--of how I was very worked up and needed something something.

I don't remember now what I said in response, but I do remember the look on her face when I was done. It was shame.


So. If you're going to have a baby in Jerusalem, would I say, don't go to HEK? No. There are good reasons to go there. I think the L & D care I got was excellent. My postpartum care once I was in a room was also excellent. It's the only hospital in the city that allows rooming-in, and that was a very big deal to me; it is the only hospital that had a lab onsite that could do CMV testing for the baby, which also was relevant.

What I would say is, do not be there alone. This is of course easier said than done; if someone had said that to me before Mordechai was born, I would have shrugged and said, well, I don't really have a choice. But if I'd known what could happen, I would have taken someone up on an offer even if I wasn't sure she meant it. I would have hired someone. I would also have read more carefully the list of things to bring to the hospital. Bring your own water bottle, because no one is going to bring you anything to drink. Bring snacks, because there's no such thing as meals in your room.

I knew I needed someone to advocate for me before and during birth. It just never occurred to me that I would also need an advocate afterward. I thought I was covered. I didn't know it wouldn't be enough.


In the end, it's only a blip. I didn't hemorrhage like I did with Marika; if I had, things might be different. After two days in Yoldot Gimel, I was discharged and spent three days at Hadassah Baby, where I ignored the newborn care they provided completely and spent my days in bed, nursing the baby and watching the National Geographic channel. In the hospital, for the first time ever, I had not had enough milk for the baby. He cried incessantly and I had to give him formula--I really had no choice. At Hadassah Baby, I had milk. I took four hot showers a day and ate food I had not shopped for or cooked, and by the time I went home I was OK.

The baby was fine. He did not have CMV and he did not have jaundice.

Now, that otherworldly interlude in the tinokia feels like a bad dream. The baby I brought home is real.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

It's almost like blogging again

A few things that I really need to mention:

1. The other day I was slicing strawberries into bowls for the kids. I was doing this assembly-line style, with four bowls in front of me, the container of washed straberries behind them, and a knife in my hand with which I was topping and halving the strawberries as children circled me (well, half-circled me, since I was in the "kitchen" and they're not allowed to cross the line of red tape that delineates the kitchen space). Avtalyon was particularly eager for strawberries and kept asking for tastes, which I denied on the grounds that he would then get more strawberries and it wouldn't be fair.

"Imma, I want the tooth bowl."

"The what?"

"The tooth bowl?"

"The tooth bowl?" Puzzled, looking at bowls. "They're all the same size."

Avtalyon pointed at the blue bowl. "That one. The TOOTH one."

"How is that a tooth bowl? It's blue plastic."

Avtalyon, exasperated: "Noooooo! Not the tooth that's attached to my mouf! The TWOTH bowl. The number twoth one, right there!"

2. Marika has started using the toilet, with incredible enthusiasm and frequency. She appears to have the smallest bladder ever, because as soon as she got the idea (feeling of full bladder --> pee in the toilet--> get chocolate chip) she started leaping up and crying potty every 20 minutes or so, all day long. A couple of times I got suspicious that she was just after the chocolate and told her she couldn't possibly need to go again so soon: both times she got frantic, ran to the toilet, peed on the floor and cried. I'm obviously thrilled at how well this is going (we only started with this a few days ago and she's barely even having accidents) but really hoping that she gets more, uh, stamina soon.

3. Barak's two top teeth are coming in. Iyyar's top teeth are just getting loose. Barak had no cavities at his last checkup--hooray! Much better than the five he had last time.

4. Did I mention that Barak got glasses? A few weeks ago I noticed that he didn't seem to be looking quite at me when he was looking at me. Then I noticed his right eye wandering outward. A quick google made me instantly panic and get an eye doctor appointment for the same day; by the end of the week, I had calmed down and we had realized that he had become really nearsighted. Which explains the plunge in his math mark and his spaciness in class for the last few months--he couldn't see the board. I asked him why he'd never mentioned it and he shrugged. "I thought it was normal." Which I understand, really. Anyway, he's got glasses and now looks more like Mr. Bigfoot than ever; all he needs is the receding hairline and the beard.

4. Barak has been really cranky lately and on more of a hairtrigger than ever. He blows up about being out of milk, about his brother going into his room, anything. I think it's anxiety about the move. He likes the idea of moving to a house, he likes the idea of not living in a dorm, he likes the house we're moving to. He doesn't like the idea of leaving his school or his friends, and he doesn't like transition in general. I remember him being like this before we moved here, two years ago; his teacher told us he seemed really sad and anxious at school, and I saw it too, and it really disappeared a few weeks after we'd arrived--it was the idea of the unknown that really threw him. Once we were here, he liked it. Hoping hard that all will be the same after we move.

5. Huh. Move. I don't think I've said much about that here. Facebook, see; I post things there and forget that I haven't mentioned them here. So, uh, we're moving! We signed a lease on a house on a yishuv (settlement) about an hour outside of Jerusalem. The house is fine, not perfect but really OK, and we're lucky to have found anything because there's been a housing crunch there recently. I didn't blog much about this really stressful turn of events, but we discovered after we had made plans in a lot of ways (like registering two of the boys in gan safa) to live in this yishuv that there was very little housing available. We were getting really nervous and having a house this nice is a huge relief.

It's got three small bedrooms and a full bath (with bathtub!) upstairs, plus a laundry area; a fourth, larger bedroom and another full bath (two! bathtubs!) downstairs, plus a big L-shaped living/dining area and a kitchen that is, in a word, amazing. Tons of cabinets, tons of counter space, built-in range, two ovens, two sinks, and just lots and lots of space. Gorgeous. I can't wait to cook there. It was really the kitchen that sold me on the house; the rest of it is a little run down and not the best maintained, the upstairs bedrooms are under the roof and all have sloping walls and skylights instead of windows, and there are some other things I don't love, but the kitchen? Bliss. Also, it has bars on all the first-floor windows and a good solid door, which is important to me safety-wise, especially since we're really right near the perimeter fence. And A/C, which is too expensive to run much but still really really nice to have.

6. Iyyar has been doing amazingly well. The difference is really noticeable; he doesn't stim nearly as much and seems more relaxed. He still is kind of challenging and still takes more time than any of my other kids (sometimes more than all the rest of them combined) but it's getting us somewhere. We do "homeworks" (=OT activities) all day long, about every two hours; five minutes on the swing, Obese Iguana (I'll explain that if anyone asks me to), hiking up stairs with a water bottle in his backpack, dragging mattresses around the house. It's not something I understand but I now trust his OT with all my heart and soul, because she is so right. We do this stuff, he calms down instantly. Why five minutes on the swing makes such a difference I really don't get, but I see that it does, so I do it. And the other day when I was still jetlagged and wide awake at 6 am and the sprinklers came on outside, I went and woke him up and said, "Let's go outside and play in the sprinkers!" Just him. And we did, and it was magic.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012


I think it is safe to say that as a family, we are not among the world's more materialistic people. Still, we are American and we are Americans who have made/ are sort of still making aliya and this almost inevitably involves the transport of a staggering amount of Stuff. When we moved here almost two years ago, we came with 19 pieces of checked luggage, 6 carryons, 4 carseats, 2 strollers, and a partridge in a pear tree that unfortunately did not survive its trip in the cargo hold. Since then, we shipped 6 more boxes and have of course bought things locally and I have hauled another 500 lb of stuff across the Atlantic and other people have brought us stuff and now we have an apartment full of stuff AND that 20' container of which you have recently heard tell on its way. How this is all going to fit into a smallish house without closets I'm not really sure. (Well, I'm going to buy closets. That will be part of the solution. But there are currently no closets and only a very very small machsan.)

I spent an awful lot of time last week acquiring even more stuff. Jasmin asked me what I bought and my one-word answer was "Target." I didn't buy the whole store but it sure felt like it: three trips, six shopping carts full. The space goes quickly when you are buying cases of pull-ups. Some of the stuff I bought because I have a preference for American this or that; most of it I bought because it was so much cheaper in the US and I had the space to ship it. Anyway, to satisfy Jasmin's curiosity more fully, here, as far as I can remember, is what I bought last week:

Ikea stuff: Expedit bookshelves and the desk that attaches, a toy kitchen for Marika and a set of toy pots, a toy tea set, and soft toy fruit and vegetables. Six sets of duvet covers and sheets.

Everything else: pillows, a duvet, shampoo, conditioner (the kind I like), baby shampoo, Aquaphor, cereal, brownie mixes, tons of clothes from Lands' End, a swingset, a baby swing, OT stuff for Iyyar, board games, a baby toy for Mordechai, copy paper, Corelle dishes (12 place settings each of meat and dairy), vacuum cleaner bags, Pull-ups and diapers, more dishes, a 220-v blender, a step-up transformer for my small US appliances, a new set of dairy flatware, a printer/fax/copier, a new high chair, water bottles, Play-Doh, undershirts for the boys, socks, maple syrup, scissors, Sharpies, 2 bikes, a tricycle, a kid-sized table and two chairs to fit it, Wedgits (which were so cool I brought them back in my luggage), a bouncy seat/rocker, and I'm sure there are other things but that's all I can remember at the moment.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Where to start?

When I was 19, I transferred from a large, cash-strapped Canadian university to an Ivy League university with a lot more money to spend. The first week I was there, I did not unpack. It wasn't because I was loathe to settle in--although I was--or because I didn't really want to be there--although I didn't. It was because I literally did not have a moment. I had something scheduled every minute of the day, from math placement classes to course exchange to whatever else. I made my bed, I dug clean clothes out of my backpack, but the boxes of stuff I'd brought with me pretty much just sat there for most of the first week. It was the first time I'd ever been that busy, with every moment of my time spoken for by someone or something. It never happened again, until last week.

Two weeks ago, about 30 minutes after Shabbos ended, Mordechai and I got in a cab to Ben Gurion airport en route to the US and the city where we used to live. Goal: pack six months' worth of meetings into four days, while also shopping for, packing and loading our lift. The movers did the actual packing, but I had to go through our basement storage space, decide what we were and weren't taking, do all the pre-aliya shopping we didn't do the first time around, organize everything and do it right because there wasn't going to be a next time. I also had to get everything I ever wanted to see again out of our apartment, because it's in foreclosure now and while it's supposed to get restructured and all be fine, I'll believe it when it happens. I did all of this, plus work, with Mordechai in tow. Mordechai hit four months this past week and still refuses to put anything silicone (like, say, the nipple of a bottle) in his mouth.

It was a challenge. I did have help: the amazing Kory did my Ikea shopping for me and showed up with a van packed to the gills with all the stuff she'd taken care of for the last two years (like my wheel!) plus a bunch of new acquisitions. I stayed with Yehudis, who took me to Target and Trader Joe's and provided me with a helpful ten-year-old who ran errands for me.  And Kory's daughters hung out with Mordechai during my meetings, so I didn't have to stress about that, and they even delivered him to me every three hours so I could feed him between meetings. So I got up at dawn or before, packed and hauled and shlepped and organized, fed the baby, went to work, had meetings all day, came back to my apartment, packed and hauled some more, and then went back to Yehudis's after they were all in bed and started writing speeches. Then Kory came with her girls and we had a day of all moving, with the packers there going through all of our stuff and filling the basement with amorphous blobs of paper-wrapped furniture. Then Kory left and on Friday came the loaders and they packed that 20' container to the gills. We had space at the end for everyone who said "can I just send one or two boxes" and even for the ones who had more than that. One of them saw how much space was left and offered one last Target run; I accepted and asked him to get the boys bikes, which he did. And I went to the grocery store and bought ten parve brownie mixes, which are going to be fun to find when we unload.

I'm sure I must have eaten and slept, although all I can actually remember eating is Chinese food in the backyard and hamburgers on Thursday night with Kory. Oh and some Triscuits. I'm sure there was other stuff though. There must have been.

Anyway, it's done. It wasn't perfect; there are things I wish I'd gotten that I didn't get and I'm sure I'll unpack some of those boxes wondering why in the world I decided to ship that. But it's done, and we got home on Tuesday, and Mordechai did pretty well overall the whole trip and Mr. Bigfoot managed OK at home, so all's well, etc. And in four to eight weeks, I'll have matching dishes, and a 220 blender, and new sheets, and a desk, and Marika will have the world's cutest toy kitchen from Ikea, complete with soft stuffed fruit and vegetables. It'll be great. Although the thought of unpacking all of that makes me feel a little... queasy. But we'll get through it.

Local news: I am supposedly going out to the yishuv to sign a contract on a house tomorrow. Rental, not purchase. It's a nice house: 140 meters (about 1400 square feet), four bedrooms (three small, one big), two full bathrooms, a nice big living/dining room and a kitchen that nearly made me weep with joy. And a backyard with fruit trees. If it happens, I'll post pictures.

All is well. Just tiring. Don't give up on me; I'm still here, just otherwise engaged.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Well hello there.

I'm still here. Are you?

Lots and lots going on here. Which means, as usual, no time to blog. And my maternity leave (such as it was--more on that in a moment) is over, so it's about to get even busier, so maybe I should post something.

When was the last time I checked in? Right after Pesach, wasn't it? Okay, so let's see...

1. Work. Work is aggravating and upsetting and a lot of things I wish it weren't. I worked like crazy during my leave. I tried to say no, and I was told "you don't say no to [Plony]." There were two weeks that were absolutely hellish, and I'm not using that word lightly. Pulling two consecutive all-nighters with your kids off school for Yom Ha'Atzmaut, when you're also sick? It's not a joke. You start to shake and you can't see straight and you have no patience for anything and cry at the drop of a hat and freak out your kids. I had to postpone Barak and Iyyar's birthdays, which I told my boss. Direct quote: "It'll give them something to talk about in therapy." What do you say to that? I mean, really, what, unless you're willing to walk away from your job and go find a lawyer? And then more things happened after that, making it obvious that nobody really thought anything of the fact that I'd worked straight through my leave. So this is what's at the front of my mind right now, and I haven't decided what to do about it yet, but I'm going to have to do something.

2. We still don't have an apartment on the yishuv we're moving to. I went out there yesterday and looked at two places: one was perfect, lovely, and probably not available, and the other one was a little-boy death trap. We have no other leads, but did post a "seeking apartment" ad in the weekly newsletter so maybe that will get us somewhere. We have to be out of this apartment by July 1 and I'm leaving for a 9-day work trip on June 17, so time is getting tight here. Oh and I also need to pack up this apartment, find movers, deal with our old apartment, and... my maternity leave, such as it ever was, is over. It's all a little crazy. Or maybe a lot.

3. Iyyar and Avtalyon had their vaadot hasama (think IEP meetings) last week. They're both in gan safa and OH THAT REMINDS ME I have to call three different people about this to actually start the process of getting them registered. Excuse me while I go do that.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I have no idea why I am not asleep

Pesach ended yesterday. The Pesach dishes are put away but the chametzdik dishes are all still shoved in a jumble in the two taped-off cupboards. I don't yet have my regular toaster ovens or hot plate or sink bins, so can't do much till Mr. Bigfoot gets those out of the storage room sometime later today. We were both up till 3:30 am between the baby (wide awake/crying) and the kitchen, and got up at 6 am (him) and 6:45 (me) to deal with laundry/kids/school. I thought I'd get to go back to sleep but three (three!!) people knocked on our door before 9 am for various things; then I brought Marika to gan and then I had a couple of urgent phone calls to make and then... yeah. I'm still here. I could go back to sleep but now I'm sort of wired and besides the baby is going to wake up to nurse any minute now.


Lots of things to talk about. I am so tired I don't even realize I'm tired anymore; I'm just used to random words coming out of my mouth midsentence. Doesn't that happen to everyone?

List? Sure, why not.

1. The baby is sweet and adorable and lovely. Seven weeks on Friday (how? did? that? happen??) and he hasn't really settled down to any kind of a schedule, other than usually sleeping for most of the morning. He's outgrown all of his newborn clothes, is looking at my face very intently, and has juuuuust begun the first glimmerings of smiles.

2. I know I owe you the rest of the birth story. It's coming. In the meantime, remember how he was born on Rosh Chodesh Adar? It's a good birthday, because it's a day you are supposed to Be Happy anyway, because Purim and all that. So his blog name is going to be Mordechai. There you go.

3. Pesach was nice. It was the most minimal Pesach I have ever done (with kids, anyway). The house got cleaned of chametz, the kitchen was turned over, I did do some cooking, but nothing beyond chicken soup/schnitzel/chicken and potatoes/some vegetables. No baking, nothing fancy, I never even broke out a milchig pot. The kids ate a lot of matza. We got a hetter for Avtalyon and Iyyar to eat peanut butter (ordinarily a no-no for Ashkenazi Jews) and that saved us. I really don't know what we would have fed them otherwise.

4. The seder was lovely. We went to Racheli's house! It really was the nicest seder I can remember; the kids were involved but I didn't feel pressured to be at the table every minute, everyone more or less behaved, it was fun and we all enjoyed. Racheli is one of 8 siblings (one is married, rest at home) and they like to put on plays in the middle of the seder; this time, one of the brothers was Pharaoh, one girl was Moshe and another was Pharaoh's gabbai, and Iyyar and Avtalyon were, of course, the plagues. Frogs and lice, specifically. It went like this:

Moshe: Let my people go!
Pharaoh: No!
[Cue Iyyar and Avtalyon pretending to be frogs and jumping all over Pharaoh, who waves arms in distress and screams for his mommy.]

Needless to say: hilarious. Four Questions were carried off with aplomb, and Marika, unbelievably, stayed awake to the very very end.

5. Tried to refinance our condo again. No idea where it's going, but not feeling optimistic at this point.

6. Just found out we may need to move out of our apartment 2 weeks before school ends for the kids. I am trying to tell myself this isn't the end of the world, but it throws a huge monkey wrench into my work/family/move plans for June. It will work somehow but if this happens, it means a huge amount of extra work for me. Which, frankly, I just do not need right now.

7. Speaking of work: there are a lot of speeches to write and some of them I am still writing. I wrote a speech the day after I got home with the new baby. I have written more speeches since then and people are still calling and emailing and even texting me for more speeches. I wouldn't say maternity leave is a total mirage--I am, after all, not getting paid, which is pretty real--but I'm definitely not off call like I have been in the past. I remember previous maternity leaves as being six weeks of sleeplessness and then six weeks of getting my house nice and clean, being pretty well rested, and feeling like I had my life generally in order (before it all crashed down on me the day I went back to work, obviously). This year, it was speeches the minute I walked in the door, then the bris, then Purim, then Pesach prep, then Pesach, and that ended... yesterday. And now the speeches are starting back up in earnest. And then I have to get ready for the move, find an apartment, buy furniture, etc. It's a lot.

8. Mr. Bigfoot still does not have a job. He does, however, have his MA (they even sent him two diplomas!) and just finished his last bechina for smicha (his last rabbi test for ordination). It's something.

9. The current thought is that both Avtalyon and Iyyar should do a year of gan safa (language kindergarten) next year. Iyyar is doing better but I don't think he's ready for first grade. Avtalyon's speech eval showed that he had retrieval issues, which we see a lot of although I didn't know what they were; he'll be talking about cutting an apple and instead of "cutting" he'll pantomime with sound effects. It's not that he doesn't know the word, it's just not at his disposal at the moment. But it happens a lot and it seems to be (says speech therapist) why he chooses not to speak Hebrew at gan even though he understands as much Hebrew as English and clearly is quite capable of speaking Hebrew at home and in other settings. I had initially been pretty resistant to the idea of putting Iyyar in kindergarten again, since I didn't see what it would accomplish, but gan safa would be a different story. We had a meeting with the gan psychologist before Pesach, who had observed him, talked to the psychologist in the yishuv where we're moving, and seen all his evals; that was her recommendation and it seemed like the best option. He's got a special ed placement board meeting in a few weeks and that's what we're going to request.

10. Going to take a nap now. More later. No promises on when, though.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

You know you married the right guy when...

When your husband stays up till 1 am helping you clean up from Shabbos and start cleaning for Pesach, and just as you're getting into bed you realize that your 2yo threw up all over her crib, and you get her cleaned up and back into bed and while you are doing this, your husband, without being asked, de-vomits and stain sticks her sheets AND spends a good twenty minutes cleaning off her "baby" AND THEN puts back on his clothes and goes down to the laundry room to get it in the machine right then AND THEN gets up early to put it into the dryer so that "baby" will be clean and dry and ready for your little girl when she wakes up in the morning.

This is when you know you have a keeper. :)

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Part the Second

I posted part one and suddenly had the most vivid mental image of Thursday afternoon: standing up in the office, chatting with the friend who runs the show up there, sending faxes for Iyyar, while Barak in his red cabled sweater sat there reading White Fang and eating a ruggel from the plate that was sitting there for some visiting rabbis.

Anyway. Where was I?

Right. The plane ticket.

I really should have written this earlier because the details are already getting fuzzy, but I remember walking out the door and up the stairs and thinking oh, right, real contractions hurt a lot more than those contractions I've been having, and also thinking about something a friend told me, which is that when you're in labor the gates of shamayim are open like they are on Yom Kippur so daven as hard as you can. Walked up the rest of the stairs and out the door and the cab was there and my husband caught up with me; got in the cab and headed off to Ein Kerem. I can't remember if we fielded any plane-ticket calls on the way there--maybe Alisha does.

The entrance to the hospital that most people use is through a small mall, which seems like a strange thing to have attached to a hospital but is actually a really good thing when the hospital is as far away from everything as this one is. I wanted to go in that way because it's the only way I know how to get to L & D, but the cab driver turned around and took us to the emergency entrance: I asked him to go back and he grumbled something about only trying to make it easier for us. Went through the security and the guy mannng the entrance made some comment about Mr. Bigfoot's two bags--"Is this all you have?" Uh, it's not so much, considering, but obviously you've never seen a woman come here to have a baby. Buddy.

Went through all the passageways and into L & D and put my envelope full of stuff down on the nurse's desk. Walked up and down the hall, looked at the uncomfortably realistic posters depicting the phases of labor on the wall, walked back in, and was brought by a nice Israeli midwife into an examining room to get checked.

A side note: you know how some people's foreign language speaking skills suddenly get a lot better after a glass or two of wine? I've seen this happen myself--people who can't ordinarily speak Hebrew jumping an ulpan level or two at a Purim seuda, or some of my classmates in Hungary magically speaking improved English at a pub. I think it has to do with your brain's filters; when the filters are off, and you just kind of go with it, sometimes things actually improve.

I've never tried to speak a second language while under the influence (SSLUI?) but apparently the effect is not limited to inebriation. It can also happen while you're in labor. I have NEVER spoken such good Hebrew as I did that night. Ever. There was past, present, and future, all conjugated more or less correctly; idioms I didn't even know I knew; vocabulary that must have dropped into my subconscious without my knowing and sat there in the muck for months before flying up into service as if my magic.

After five minutes, midwife was speaking Hebrew to me, and English to Mr. Bigfoot. Seriously. That would be... a first.

Anyway, she put me on monitors and the baby sounded fine (hoofbeats!) and she checked me and told me I was four centimeters dilated.

Four. Centimeters.

Remember with Marika? I was between four and five for what, three weeks?!

So. Yeah. A little bit disappointed there. I'd sort of hoped to walk in and give birth again, but not to be.


The L & D room looked pretty much like L & D rooms anywhere, down to the fake wood flooring and the warming bed that looks impossibly irrelevant until there is actually a baby in it.

And then the phone rang. A few more times. About the plane ticket. The price had gone up--what was it, Alisha? 500 dollars? I said JUST TELL HIM IT IS TWELVE HUNDRED I WILL PAY THE DIFFERENCE I DO NOT CARE BUT DON'T LET HIM OFF THE PHONE WITHOUT A TICKET. More phone calls. At one point I remember grabbing the phone from my husband, dealing with something (my billing address I think) with Alisha and then handing it back to him when the next contraction hit.

Seriously insane. But he did get the ticket in the end.

Midwife came in, and oh glory she was AMERICAN and very nice. The contractions got more serious and I went in and out of the bathroom thinking, oh yeah, this is what this is like... I'd forgotten how not enjoyable all of this is... and I think that was when I told my husband he could go hang out in the hall. There was a labor ball there which I've never used before and I sat on it and bounced and it was just what I wanted, for a little while anyway.

My friend Bruria walked in and her husband was there, with a Meuhedet bag containing a bottle of soda water and pretzels. I remember his oh-so-guy "Want a pretzel?" to Mr. Bigfoot and then the nurse shooing them elsewhere and one of them saying, "You're really supposed to make your after bracha where you eat" and me saying "JUST GO!"

Bruria was rubbing my back and the contractions got hard and fast and I stood up and leaned on the bed but wasn't ready to start pushing. Bruria thought I was and I said no I'm not and then I guess I screamed--okay, I screamed--and they told me to get up on the bed so they could see what was going on.

And the rest of it, well... what is there to say? It hurt. A lot. I screamed. A lot. Natural labor, especially when it is back labor, is not fun. And I had really hoped for another magic easy labor and it was not happening. I had felt that the baby was so low and the ultrasound I'd had earlier had shown him really low but by the actual labor he had turned the wrong way. At one point I dimly realized that there was more than one doctor and more than two midwives and an ultrasound machine had materialized and someone said, "we need to turn him" and people were saying move this way, get on your side, get on all fours, DON'T PUSH DON'T PUSH which, truly, is almost impossible when you're at that point because pushing against the contractions is the only thing you can do, and a woman said "היא לא יכולה" then PUSH NOW and I kept thinking it was almost over but it took such a long time... there was one doctor who kept yelling at me through every contraction, "חזק חזק חזק עוד עוד עוד" (strong! strong! strong! more! more! more!) in this urgent way that made me keep thinking that this was the last push and the baby was almost out and yet he wasn't even close and I drank some water through a straw and screamed some more and pushed and eventually Bruria screamed "there he is! I love this part" and I thought "WHAT?!" and it was over and I had a baby boy. And I may as well be honest that as every other time, except maybe with Marika, I was even gladder that the labor was over than I was to have a baby on my chest.

But I'm pretty happy about him now.

[Coming next: Part the Third, In which I Discover that I Have Sent My Husband Home Prematurely.]

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Before I forget: Part 1

I'm wrestling with myself right now, because I feel like I really should be taking a nap while the baby is sleeping, or doing one of the three (three!) speeches I promised I'd do before I went on leave and ergo still need to finish even though I'm now on leave, and I'm not so much in the mood to blog, but I really want to write this down before I forget. You think you won't forget any of it, but when I look back at the posts I wrote about having Iyyar and Avtalyon and Marika, there are always things that make me think, "Oh right, that did happen." So, here we are. There's a lot to tell, so I'll do it in parts.

I was due on Thursday the 23rd, and the Thursday before that I went from "not even close" to "any day/hour/minute now." It wasn't so much the contractions that made me feel that way, although I was having a few every hour and they hurt; it was more a feeling of intense downward pressure that made me wonder if the baby was going to fall out any second. I checked out of work that Thursday night thinking I'd have the baby within the next day or two; the emails kept flying thick and fast from people who had apparently not registered until that week that I was going to, you know, have a baby, and ergo go on maternity leave. Monday night a particularly nasty one arrived, complaining that I had gone to have baby without doing speech X, and I called my boss in tears for the first time since I started this job in 2004. She was very sympathetic and told me not to worry about it. Then I called Alisha and went to the bus station and met her there and ate a hamburger. Which helped. Note: getting portabello mushrooms on burger is expensive, but oh so good.

Tuesday, Wednesday were the same. Wednesday night at about 9 I realized we were out of almost everything in the fridge, and decided to go to the makolet but didn't feel like carrying that much stuff back myself. Peeked into Barak's room and saw that he was wide awake and reading a comic book. "Barak, do you want to come to the makolet with me?" Barak, naturally, catapulted out of bed, got himself dressed, found an empty backpack and presented himself for duty in the living room in about a heartbeat and a half, with that super-helpful, super-polite, extra-delightful demeanor he gets when he's getting away with something in the middle of the night. We went to the makolet--I can't remember now what we talked about--and bought two bags of milk, cottage cheese, bread, cucumbers, peppers, and whatever else. Oh, and two pints of Ben and Jerry's, which was on sale. And seven bars of chocolate. That was not in the plan. I wanted to buy one, as nose-blowing rewards for Iyyar (part of whose OT homework was thorough noseblowing) and bought two because Barak asked for some also; then it was on sale seven bars for NIS 20 or whatever so... yeah. Chocolate and ice cream. And ravioli, for me.

Got home, plopped on the couch and watched Barak put it all away. Then he went to bed and I looked for the ravioli and it had completely disappeared, because he had put it into the cupboard, not the fridge or the freezer where I'd been looking (silly me). Ate ravioli. Went to bed.

Woke up the next morning to a mildly upset stomach and a miniscule amount of bleeding, which has heralded imminent labor in the past. It didn't feel that imminent though, so I went about my day, in the company of Barak, who was taking an Authorized Personal Day (TM). We took Marika to gan, doing "one-two-three whoo!" most of the way. Taught Barak how to open the combination lock to get into the next campus. Taught him to use my Kindle and got him started reading White Fang. Cleaned up kitchen, talked to gan psychologist about Iyyar (she said she would try, and has since succeeded, to postpone his vaadat hasama--we aren't sure yet what he will need for next year school-wise and don't want to make decisions yet). Mid-conversation, saw Barak at door of my office brandishing his top right front tooth, which had fallen out while I'd been on the phone. A little while later, found Barak on the office couch crying because the puppy had left his Imma and left his person and he was all alone. Reassured him that the ending would be OK.

IM'd Alisha to say I thought it would be today. She pointed out that I'd been saying that for a while. I said I really thought it would be today and then a little later asked her if she could come over that night. She said yes. Mr. Bigfoot brought boys home from gan, then went to mincha and afternoon seder. I considered and then decided to actually make dinner: sauteed some vegetables, added some black beans, made rice in the rice cooker. Called Mr. Bigfoot at about five and told him that I was going to need him home within the next half hour or so. He came home, Alisha came over, I worked on getting everyone in bed before I left and the contractions were real and regular at this point. At around 7:30 or 8 I had everything together and my bags by the door and went to email Grandma E to say I was leaving for L & D, when I saw that I had a voicemail from my father-in-law.

The quick back story: my in-laws generally do not travel. My MIL has not been to Israel since the 80s, despite the fact that her daughter has lived here since 2003. My FIL was last here in 2008 and has not seen any of our kids since then. They were planning on coming this week for their grandson's bar mitzvah and decided a couple of weeks ago not to come after all (this is pretty common with them--they'll plan a trip for a long time and then cancel right before) and my SIL was really upset. So here I was with 11-minute-apart contractions that were getting too strong to sit through, and a voice mail from my FIL saying, "Well I've decided I'd like to come after all but my computer seems to have a virus and you've been really helpful in the past so I was wondering if you'd help me book a ticket."

Now I knew at this point that either I was going to have to book the ticket then and there or he wouldn't come; I was planning on going to the beit hachlama after the baby was born, which meant not getting home till the following Wednesday at the earliest, and he'd have to be on a plane the day after that to make the bar mitzva. I looked at the clock. I picked up the phone. "Hi, it's me. I just got your voice mail. I'd love to buy your ticket but we have to do it right now and actually buy it right now, not just talk about it, because I'm on my way to the hospital to have the baby."

An hour and a half later, I had found an acceptable itinerary and he wanted to check with Bubbe before buying it. I'll call you back in a few minutes. I said, OK, but I might not be here. Hung up the phone, thought about it for about half a minute and handed Alisha my credit card. "Can you please book it when he calls back?" She gave me a look that was part sympathy, part you-are-crazy, and said sure. Grabbed my bags, walked out the door, called the cab, and Mr. Bigfoot and I headed up through the main building and to the front door and to Hadassah Ein Kerem.

Thursday, March 01, 2012


Almost 4 kg even, born 12:55 am on Friday. He's fine, I'm fine, details to come. Stay tuned, as always, to this exciting channel.

Monday, February 20, 2012

39 weeks 4 days (with translations for Sam)

What was it I said right before Marika was born? It's been 20 years and I'm starting to lose confidence?

I know I have to have a baby eventually. But I've been timing contractions since LAST THURSDAY when I would have been willing to bet (a little) money that I would have a baby in the next 24 hours.

I would, clearly, have lost that bet. Because it is now Monday night and I am Still Here.

This means I'm going to have the World's Easiest Labor (TM), redux, right? Right???

Moving right along.

Had followup meeting with Iyyar's new OTs yesterday. It was good. It was informative. It inspired confidence, and I left feeling better about things, although I also left in a full-blown panic about the piece of information that the OTs had just shared with me: to wit, that the 2012 deadline for the vaadat hasama (educational placement board) meetings is MARCH FIRST. As in, NEXT WEEK.


Because Iyyar's ganenet (kindergarten teacher) has been all wait, wait, wait about that. She did not know about the deadline and I have been relying on her to know these things. I submitted the request last month but apparently she also has to submit something and she hasn't done it yet. I spent the entire morning today trying to get through to someone, anyone, at Misrad haChinuch (the ministry of education) with about as much success as I usually experience dealing with Hitpatchut HaYeled (the child development center where they specialize in making sure nobody ever, ever, ever gets help). I have no idea what's going on with that. I need someone to tell me if all his paperwork is in or if he needs anything else. He definitely doesn't have a date (Avtalyon does--more on that in a moment). And... ow. Contraction. Ow.

Avtalyon had his speech therapy eval today. In Hebrew. He did really well. The speech therapist thought he was really cute and very bright. This is both good and bad. It's good because, great! He speaks and understands Hebrew as well as a native Israeli kid a year older than he is! But... why does he not talk at gan in more than single words? Why does he have no clue what's going on, to the extent of not even knowing which is his cubby even though it is now February? And how do we get him into a gan safa (nursery school for kids with language issues), where he will get the attention and OT he needs, without a crappy speech eval?

It seems pretty likely that if Iyyar's issues are sensory, Avtalyon's are too. Avtalyon now is very like Iyyar at the same age, and he is starting to show signs of heading in the same path Iyyar did. He is less mellow. He is less happy-go-lucky. He is acting more frustrated, less cooperative, more whiny, less eager to get out the door in the morning. I can only guess that gan is overwhelming for him on a sensory level, in the same way it is for Iyyar.

One of the things that Iyyar's first OT (who we're not going back to, because she a) works in Ramot and b) is INSANELY expensive and c) I don't like her style) suggested was that we get him to blow his nose at least four times a day. I said, uh, okay, and promptly discovered that not only could Iyyar not blow his nose, but he really didn't want to do it. A dozen chocolate chips later, he had emptied his nose of about a bathtub's worth of slime. And he's had two really good days since (at home, although unfortunately not at gan). Coincidence? I dunno. Can't have hurt though. And I want it in my Artscroll biography that I sacrified my lone last bag of Trader Joe's chocolate chips on the altar of my kid's Eustachian tubes.

The OTs we're going with want to start Iyyar on a sensory diet, and our plan is to do whatever we do with Iyyar with Avtalyon as well. OTs think this is OK as long as we see that he is OK with it and it does not overstimulate him. First appointment with them is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, after Avtalyon's speech eval part the second, and well-child visits for both Marika and Avtalyon in the morning.

Unless, of course, I have a baby. Laughable though that idea might currently seem.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

39 weeks 2 days

Thursday night, I wrote a speech. By the time I was done I was timing contractions 8 minutes apart. I sent the speech at 3 am saying, "I think I'm going to go have a baby now" and went to bed fully expecting to wake up a few hours later, head to the hospital, and, you know, have a baby.

Instead, I woke up at 9 am to no contractions at all.

Now it's Saturday night and they're picking up a bit but still not doing anything definitive.

Dum dee dum.

In the meantime, we had OT eval number 2 with Iyyar on Thursday and it was good. I mean, it was good in that it was thorough, the OTs (there were two of them) inspired confidence, and they seemed to "get" Iyyar. They asked a lot of the kinds of questions where you get the feeling that they know more than you do--you know the kind, the questions that seem completely random to you but you answer "uh, actually, now that I think about it... yes."

Anyway, they confirmed that Iyyar has a lot of sensory issues, and they think that this is a big part of what's going on with him. Yes, they said, they could have been there but not causing much trouble until a few months into last year, for a few reasons. And they think that starting OT and a sensory diet will help. They also think he needs play therapy because OT alone is not going to deal with the anxiety. All of this is going to be out of pocket, but if it helps, it will be worth it. We (me and Mr. Bigfoot) have a full meeting scheduled with the OTs tomorrow night, and a first appointment for therapy on Tuesday at 2. The logistics of this are going to be really, really daunting, but these are the first people I've met whom I trust and that's the only time they have available so that's what we're going to do. Somehow.

In other news, I got a phone call from Barak's teacher today. Barak has not done homework in two weeks. I knew this, because I officially stopped taking responsibility for his homework two weeks ago. I told him I was sick of fighting with him over it and it was now his problem. He can do it himself now, and if he can't he always has the option of going up to the beit midrash and asking Abba or one of the bochrim for help. He doesn't; he'd rather play. This is understandable. He is a 7 year old boy. However, he's a 7 yo boy in a Torani school that goes till 3:45 and expects an hour of homework nightly. Whether or not this is reasonable, it's what he's stuck with till June. His teacher wanted to know what the story was before she cracked down on him; I said, feel free to crack down. So tomorrow, he's going to get a talking-to at school; when he comes home, he's going to get a snack and get dispatched to the beis medrash. If he shows up at school without any homework, he's going to get punished, although I have zero idea what that actually entails. No recess? Trip to principal? I hope we don't find out.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

38 weeks 5 days

A crystal ball would be nice sometimes.

Just got off the phone with the head of education at the yishuv where we're planning on moving next year. The educational system there is generally considered excellent and I've definitely had better luck talking to human beings in charge, as opposed to people who take your form and never call you back.

However. It appears that there are two options for Iyyar next year: a full-on special ed environment, and a class of 30-35 kids with almost no support.

His ganenet wants him to have a shadow and a resource teacher. In Yishuv X at least there is no such thing; shadows are only for kids with physical problems. So far as a resource teacher, max one or two hours a week. The only other option is the "small class" which is for kids with attention/learning/emotional issues. Which yes, he does have. But he is functioning in gan and his ganenet, whom I trust, feels very strongly that he will have a harder time in a class with kids with emotional/behavioral problems than in a class with "regular" kids. Peer group is important, she says. Role modeling is important. If you put him in a kita katana with eight kids and two of them are hitting and two of them are bouncing off the walls, that's what he'll see as acceptable behavior. Which is probably true. Although he may just see it as acceptable behavior for that environment--he's pretty good at picking up what's OK to do where.

I don't know. I say that a lot lately, don't I?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

38 weeks 2 days

The strike is over! Yay! We have buses. We have gan. We have hospitals that are not on Shabbat schedule.

This is good.

We had a nice Shabbos. The weather was lovely and I took all the boys outside to drive their little red car around in the closed-for-Shabbos parking lot while Mr. Bigfoot and Marika napped. We have a schedule of nappage on Shabbos that is not exactly standard but works for us: see, shul in Israel ends WAY earlier than it does in the US. No kiddush, no speech, and an earlier start time, so Mr. Bigfoot is usually home at around 10:30. I can't deal with cholent at 10:30 AM and nobody is ready for lunch then anyway, so when he gets home, I go back to sleep while he makes kiddush and has a snack. Then he gets me up at around 12:30 and we eat Shabbos lunch like the buncha Americans we are. After lunch is naptime for Marika (getting shorter and shorter each week though alas) and Mr. Bigfoot.

Iyyar did get his star yesterday (for no handwaving/talking to himself) but needed many many many reminders to stop. This morning he was hard at it and almost lost his star before breakfast was over. I said, Iyyar, the star isn't for stopping when I tell you to stop and then starting again a minute later. It's for not doing it.

"It's hard, Imma."

"I know it's hard. That's why you have a star chart with only seven spaces and a big big prize. If it were easy, I wouldn't make a star chart. Or I'd make lots of boxes and only a little prize."

"It's really hard not to."

"Why is it hard?"

"Because I want to do it. I feel like I want to."

I got him one of those squishy stress balls to play with when he gets the handwaving/face-squinching urge. He used it so much it broke within a day. I have no idea where to get good-quality sensory balls here and don't have anyone coming from/going to the US anytime soon that I could ask; tried to find a place with international shipping and that way wouldn't get them here till almost Pesach.

This morning I slept late (worked really late last night) and left Mr. Bigfoot to get the gan boys moving on his own, with the result that I woke up a little after 9 and they were both still playing in their underwear, not having had breakfast, etc. (School starts at 8:45 and it's a 15-minute walk). I was not pleased and went in there like a drill sergeant; Iyyar instantly went into full Boneless Toddler mode, whining, lying in bed, not looking at me or paying attention. Imma is mad--> I can't deal--> hello this is the worst coping mechanism imaginable. I got him to look at me and we had a short but firm talk about it. He got dressed and didn't do a full Iyyar flipout, but the weird behavior took a noticeable upturn.

How do I make him stop? How how how? What else can I give him to do? Distracting him seems to work the best, but that can't be the nonstop solution. I need to figure out ways to help him a) recognize when he's doing it and b) distract himself. Tally card? I don't know. He's easier to talk to about the whole thing and does mostly want to stop, which helps, but... yeah.

Is it just me or is almost every post lately about Iyyar? Guess you can tell where my head is these days.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Things that quietly go right

I was looking back through some old posts and noticed that in November I was worried about Barak's Hebrew reading. Last week, he read all of Fantastic Mr. Fox, by himself, unprompted, in Hebrew. And understood it.

Also, Barak got his report card today. It was pretty great. Except for the fact that he almost never does his homework. Aleph for behavior across the board; almost good, good, or very good for everything except for gym. He's not that coordinated, it seems. (Nor are any of the rest of us.)

Iyyar's playdate went fine. Great, maybe? He had a great time. As I was trying to get him out the door, I started talking to his friend's mom and he and his friend ran back off to his room to play some more. A Very Good Sign. He keeps asking me when he can play with Yoeli again.

It's been a good week with Iyyar. Another star chart, this time with the very extravagant prize of Bone #8 (a full-priced NIS 76 graphic novel) at the end. Yes, he starts singing at the table or talking to himself or waving his arms a lot, especially at the end of the day when he's tired. But when I tell him to stop, he does. He talks to me. He makes sense, most of the time. No his thoughts are not that organized, yes he jumps around a lot, but it's not so far off normal. And we talk a lot about why he needs to stop with the talking to himself and the silly faces. Because the other kids don't realize that he's telling himself stories, and they think it's scary, and if they're scared they won't want to play with him. He gets this. He understands that he needs to stop. He's trying. It's really a step in the right direction.

I brought him to a private OT evaluation today. The OT was recommended by a number of people, although I wasn't terribly impressed personally--she seemed to be in a huge rush, she manhandled him in a way I would have hated (although he seemed OK with it), she talked to me about him as though he didn't understand (until I pulled her aside and said Don't Do That, and she stopped.) On the way out she handed me a copy of the Sensory Profile, in Hebrew. She said she didn't have it in English. I looked at it at home and realized there was no way I could do it in Hebrew, so called her and asked how to get it in English (since it was obviously a translation of a standardized English rating scale). She said, I'll fax it to you. Apparently she has only one copy, which she hadn't wanted to give me, and hadn't copied ahead of time even though... whatever. Like I said, not hugely impressed, and I have a second (also private) OT eval scheduled with an American OT who specializes in sensory issues, in two weeks. On my due date. This will... work out somehow.

38 weeks today. Avtalyon's fourth birthday is Shabbos. Oh, and his gan birthday party was yesterday. It was fun. He had fun, I had fun, I took some cute pictures. It was a monthly birthday party for all the kids with birthdays that month (him, Liel, and Ro'i, of course) and each mother brought a cake so each kid could have their own cake. My cake? Whole wheat with no dairy, soy, or trans fats. Ro'i's cake? Bakery evildom with Smurfs spray-painted on top. Guess which cake every single kid wnated? Guess which cake came home missing only two pieces? Oh well--we enjoyed the leftovers.

Further to Avtalyon: he drew a lion today that was so good I initially thought Barak had done it. Then maybe Iyyar. Then Avtalyon piped up, "It was me!" I remember exactly when Barak drew his first not-scribbled thing, and it was a sea wolf the summer we were in Israel (aged four and a quarter). Avtalyon is drawing really, really well for his age. Also, I noticed in a drawing he did the other day at gan that he wrote, not in order and with an inverted Z, the word "ZOOM." He did it at gan so wasn't copying. I'm pretty impressed. Also, after a couple of weeks of me consciously making time to sit with him, read with him, ask him questions and not let Iyyar or Barak answer them, his English has picked up noticeably. I'm really not worried about his English now, but am still going to do the English speech eval just to a) have the information and b) get the insights of the really amazing speech therapist I took Iyyar to last week.

Further to whom--I feel like she was the first person who's really had good insight on what's going on with him. She does think he has some ADD but doesn't think it's his primary issue. She thinks he might have some sensory stuff, but also doesn't think that's the bulk of the problem. Mostly, she thinks it's emotional, and I think she's right. I don't know exactly how it started, but there are lots of things we can do to help and we're doing a lot of them already. So... yeah. Progress.

OK. Speaking of progress, there are speeches to be written.

Stay tuned, as always, to this exciting channel. Also, if you're reading, comments are nice. I'm much more likely to post if I don't feel like I'm posting into the ether.