Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Ten Plagues

Lately, we have been dealing with fleas.  Or is it lice?  Well, one thing is for sure, we have something in our hair. I believe that it is fleas because we have bites on the tops of our heads and lice don't bite.  We had an exterminator come and bomb the house for what that is worth.  We have washed everything in the house, blankets, clothes, sheets, etc.  Although the funny thing about that is when we went to the grocery the other day to buy more laundry detergent, Alex and I were very focused on the price and what was the best deal (since we work hard to save our shekels) that we didn't really notice it was fabric softener and not detergent.  So ALL of those loads of laundry we did were washed only with fabric softener.  Not going to do them again, just making the assumption that any living thing was drowned or killed by the hot water.  And don't you tell me anything different.

So I continue to wash the kids hair, comb it out, soak it in oil and spend money on shampoo.  What I have pulled out of their hair is quite gross, although I try to downplay it to them so as not to have them freak out.  When I mean them - read Penina.  Penina has announced that she is just not a camping kind of girl, I mean she doesn't like to be outside for 2 whole days and sleep outside without a tent.  This is all in preparation for her not wanting to go on the next tiyul with her youth group.  Her problem is that while in the moment she enjoys it but afterwards, she rethinks it and decides it sucked.  Very frustrating and not so great for her continuing absorption.  Overall, though, she is doing well and seems to be making headway in school as far as language,etc.  She still seems unable to navigate socially with girls but that is no different than it was in Chicago.  She had a bunch of playdates last week, so progress is slow but it is there.

Avi finally started school after much hullaballoo.  Yes, he is at the yeshiva.  He goes to school wearing pants and tzitzit and a kipah on his head.  Of course, both (or all, TMI?) of that comes off when he gets home.  He has gone for 2 days so far and it is going well.  He is in an English class for native English teachers and of course, her first question to him after seeing his writing was "What, don't they teach you to write in America?"
 I asked Avi if he said anything to her or maybe if she could have thought before she spoke she might have recognized that his writing wasn't simply bad but positively juvenile looking and that maybe this kid had a problem.  He didn't say anything to her because he said she was intimidating, but if he doesn't next class, I definitely will.  If I can deal with all of my Israeli students, I can deal with a South African.  He is taking a 2 day trip to the Kinneret (Sea of Galillee) with school tomorrow and Thursday.  They are going to hike 14 km he said and climb ladders.  The last bit was to make me see the wisdom of buying him one of those camel canteens.  Not gonna happen.  I think that this tiyul is a good way for him to acclimate into school.

Yaeli is good also, has made friends with some of the Israeli girls that go to the school where she has ulpan and also friends in her ulpan itself.  She frequently has playdates with a girl who moved here from California.  Her tantrums have subsided somewhat from since we got here and she doesn't seem to have as short a fuse and she did at the beginning.  She loves to talk on her cell phone, to call Alex and I for the smallest detail, but overall she is really doing well.

Alex is going to ulpan in the mornings and working in the afternoons until 10, 11 or 12 depending on how busy he is.  I think that he is happy and for us as a couple, we have nice time together to do things during the day together, to talk and to well, none of your business :)

I continue to slug away teaching at the Yeshiva on Moshav Nechalim.  The classes are getting better but there are still 2 classes, 9th grade and 12th grade that continue to vex me.  The 9th graders have several kids with behavioral issues while the 12th grade literally treat me as if I am invisible.  If I stand up and try to teach them, they just continue to talk to each other, irregardless of the fact that I am there.  If I stand in front of them and ask them to write something, they will not even pick up their pen or look at me.  Pisses me off to no end.  Let's see them try that in the army, but of course, their commander probably won't be a woman.  The 18 hours or so that I teach seem eternal each week.  I got paid finally and it wasn't as much as I thought so I will continue to look for a job.  I am in discussions with a camp to come back and work for the summer and I am looking forward to it.  It is one of the things that makes me keep going when it comes to teaching because I think that will be a good opportunity for me and for the kids to see their friends and family.

We continue to search for corn tortillas and are going to take a trip up North for hanukkah so we will definitely come into possession of some then.  As for now, I make beans from scratch and Avi has also started to cook dinner on the days that I come home late.  Overall, he makes good stuff.  Back to our trip.  I think that we are going to go and see Tzippori in the North and maybe a few other sites in that area.  The kids will be off for the entire week of Hanukkah but I am assuming in school during New Year's.  Xmas is a no brainer.  Sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) have already begun to surface everywhere but I told the kids that they can have their first one on the first day of Kislev (which is the Jewish month Hanukkah falls in).

Speaking of holidays, Thanksgiving is soon and I am looking forward to it as it is one of my favorite holidays. I expect to be homesick since I always spend Thanksgiving with my family eating taco dip and all of the other traditional foods, including Kim's fantastic rolls.  So, I am going to invite some friends, Americans only!, and try and recreate a semblance of Thanksgiving even though the next day is a regular day and I won't be with my family. (I know Mom, that was my choice) Well, it is Friday, so I think we will just eat leftovers for Shabbat dinner.

Alex and I are planning to go out and celebrate our Vegas anniversary next week.  There is an Argentinian meat restuarant having a promotion for 50% off so we are going to take advantage of that.  And in other celebratory moments this month of November, I would like to wish my dad, aka the Goat and Happy Birthday on the 11th and to my nephew Zach, a wonderful 2nd birthday!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Acharei HaHagim (After the Holidays...)

Once you delve into the world of the High Holidays and Sukkot, nothing happens here in Israel until after Sukkot.  So now, that it is after Sukkot, I thought I would let you know what is going on with us.
The High Holidays were actually very nice and mellow here.  I enjoyed (and that is a big deal) tefillot.  The holidays which in the US are seen as so serious and sad, here are solemn yet joyful.  The tunes are uplifting and the fact that the whole country really shuts down lends a sense of vacation and rest.  All of Israel stops on Yom Kippur especially, Rosh Hashana is seen as vacation time for the Israelis who aren't observant.  Many go abroad or vacation here at the beach or by hiking, etc.  Yom Kippur though, literally everything stops.  No one drives and the streets are full of kids on their bikes, scooters etc.  At shul, I have never seen kids eat so much, constantly shtupped by their parents with food, I guess so that the parents can sit in shul all day and the kids will play outside.  It drove Avi crazy and I can't really say that he was a pleasure while fasting, even though he has plenty in reserve :)

The day was short and even though I missed my Torah reading (for which I have still another whole year to atone), I did make it for my Mincha reading later in the day.  The fast was over at around 6 pm.

Sukkot was an entire 10 days off of school and ulpan and work for me.  I accepted a job teaching English to high school boys in a Moshav called Nehalim, about 5 mins. south of Petach Tikva.  They make goat cheese, etc. there but I haven't been yet to that part of the Moshav. The job is 20 hours a week, I don't work on Tuesday and Fridays.  It is only a 20 min. ride from Modiin by car, but at least an hour and a half by public transportation.  Therefore, we are now in the throws of buying a car.

Cars in Israel are expensive and even used cars really hold their value.  This along with the fact that gas is also expensive, but yet, everyone drives around here and most of the cars are 2006 or newer.  This is because many people lease and/or get cars as a benefit from work.  Car insurance is not super expensive.  They are now selling the prius here and I have seen some Honda civic hybrids, but most everything else is a plain old car.  Ironically, the Mazda MPV is one of the most sought after cars here.  There are other cars with 6 or 7 seats that are essentially mini minivans.  The Mazda 323 and Honda Civic are considered family cars here, even with the tiny back seat.  Which is why, we are probably going to opt for a 6 or 7 seater since listening to everyone complain about who sits in the middle is more than Alex can take.

Back to sukkot.  Everyone really does take off at least a few days during the sukkot holiday.  In the US, only the week between xmas and new year's is similar.  The thing that struck me though is that the holiday is not based around consumerism, but around a sense of being with family, friends and enjoying the sights of Israel.  The kids all went on a tiyul (trip) with their youth groups and came home filthy, tired, smelly, etc.  They all had a good time, although Penina is now backtracking on that saying it was just too dirty for her and that just isn't her thing.  Although, it seems to be fine when her room is dirty, and of course, I did point that out.  She often does that, confesses to having enjoyed something and then later will come back and say she didn't so it is hard to tell what she is thinking.  She continues to go to regular school and Alex and I are going to try and meet with her teacher to see how she is doing there.  Yael continues in ulpan and last night read to me in Hebrew without vowels and was really impressive.  Both Yael and Penina are hesitant to speak Hebrew but Avi goes full steam ahead, sounding like an Israel with his accent and his pronunciation of the letter resh (r sound).  Resh (r) of course, marks you as an American if you say it like a letter r, which of course I do and will continue to do so, since at the age 40, I am not willing to make that change.  Other things are more important although my students think I should work on it, so we will see.  I told them that if they learn to say th correctly, and not as a "z"sound, I would work on my resh.

Alex is working from the house from about 2 - 10 pm.  He seems to be enjoying it and is attending ulpan in the mornings.  I still haven't figured out if I can do ulpan but I know that I will learn plenty of Hebrew while teaching English.

Yesterday, we had Penina's birthday party for her friends from school.  About 5 girls from her class showed up, not having RSVPd, since that isn't done here.  They didn't want to do the facial which upset her and seemed to be speaking Hebrew a mile a minute so it was difficult for her.  Her good friends, Atara and Shikma were here also and were willing to try everything.  It went better as it went along and we had pizza, did nails, made colored bath salts to take home, and then let them watch a movie for the last 1/2 hour.  She got nice gifts and I think in the end was pleased for how it worked out.  It is hard for her not to be in charge.

So, we are now waiting for normalcy and some sense of a routine to kick in.  I am hoping that Avi will be able to go to his school on this Friday.  There is of course, requisite paperwork to get done, but it is time and he needs to be able to begin that.  He has moved up a level in ulpan but is going to have to prove himself if he wants to stay there.

We did take two trips during sukkot.  One to Neot Quedumim, a nature preserve close by and the other to another archaelogical site in Jerusalem called Ein Yael (spring of Yael).  At both places, we saw pomegranate trees, fig trees, grape vines with grapes, loaded Date palms and of course, sukkot.  As well at Ein Yael they ahd a reconstructed Roman market that had people dressed as Romans and showing how things were made then, such as iron working, leather working, yarn dyeing and cloth weaving, etc.  There were also animals to pet, make your own pottery and pita, etc.  Afterwards, we went to the mall which is very close and ate at a famous dairy restaurant called Yotvata.

That's it for random ramblings for now....more to come on the Car and Avi's school when they happen.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New York City - Day 1

After the farewells, we went home for the last time, sleeping on air mattresses and my old king size bed.  Woke up and were in the cab at 4:30 am to head off towards NYC and then, Israel.

Flight on Jet Blue was great.  Roomy seats, tv on personal screens, etc.  So of course, no kid slept and we arrived in NYC with our luggage of 5 duffle bags and 5 boxes.  We then used 3 airport carts to haul that shit and had to schlep to another terminal to catch the airport shuttle, with all of that luggage, which wasn't so secure and take it on the airport train.  The only plus was that we could take the luggage carts onto the train.  People were staring at us thinking WTF are these people doing?

Got to the shuttle and turns out everyone in NYC is nice now.  The shuttle driver was incredibly kind (of course, we tipped him but this was only the beginning of the money faucet drip) and we finally got to our hotel which would have been really fancy if it were 1985.  But it was clean and fine and we dropped our luggage in our room, purchased metropasses and we're off.  '

Train into NYC, took the LIRR from Jamaica Station, didn't buy tickets though because we thought the metropass would cover it so when the conductor comes by, she told us the price.  Well, and this is where why is everyone so nice in New York comes in also, turns out the price was over $20 for all of us but we only had $7 so that is what she charged us. I mean where is the old New York that would have thrown us all off at the next station?  It takes some getting used to.  Got off at Penn station and walked to times square, showed the kids around and began to hunt for lunch at this kosher place which we eventually found but was closed.  Kids were pissed and whining ensued. Found another place and ate there. Then we were off to Toys r Us and the ferris wheel.  I was hoping the kids would get the my little pony car because I knew how much Avi would have enjoyed that.  but alas, they got Bob the Builder or something more benign.

We met up with JAR and Guy at the M&M store, and then JAR took us up to the Plaza hotel (which resonated because of Eloise) and then we went to find the Balto statue in Central Park.  After that, the girls played in the park nearby where there were heavy duty Jews there who were speaking in Yiddish and had a ton of kids (running around of course) and were basically wearing winter clothes in 90 degree heat.  I mean for god sake's I really thought I was melting.

We were then headed off to dinner in a little bit but in the mean while, everyone was so tired that they fell asleep for 45 mins on benches in Central Park.  i had to hold Yael up so when everyone woke up, my arm was killing me from keeping her from banging her head on the concrete behind her.

Before dinner, we saw some dudes dancing by the plaza, then we caught the bus to dinner which we ate with friends from Chicago and other various parts.

Home on the train (bought tickets this time) and then arrived at the station which is in not such a great neighborhood only to try and wait for the bus for 45 mins.  The constant presence of gypsy cabs ultimately tipped the balance and after Alex and I were done hissing at each other, we all climbed in and took a ride to the hotel and fell blissfully asleep.

What's on her lung, is on her tongue

This is famously what my mother has said about me, as well as several aunts.  So I guess as long as that is possibly true, I should join the blogging nation so that not only can I say it in front of my family, but now the world and everyone who wants to read what I write.

On August 19, my family, which consists of my husband, Alex, my children, Avi (13), Penina (9 going on 23) and Yael (8) landed in Israel to begin a new life here.  Living in Israel has been a life long dream of mine.  So now, the dream is a reality and we will see what that dream will become.