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.