Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Close to Home

I can't believe that rockets are hitting Ashdod and Beer Sheva. That's close to home. Well, close to what was once home.

Don't worry - friends and family in Chutz La'Aretz - it's "far" away from Ariel. Check out the following map if you want to see locations of where the rockets have hit. Although I don't know how often it is updated:
Current Events Map in the Middle East
** It says on the map "Blue is where I live". But that is referring to the person who made the map. I live in Ariel. You can see it on the northern part of the map. Just East of Petach Tikvah.

But I spent a year in Beer Sheva in 2001. I studied in University there. And that was a bad time - terrorism wise. That was in the middle of the Intifada. I was constantly in touch with family and friends in the States. Constantly reassuring them that I was safe. I was far away from Jerusalem and Gaza and Tel Aviv. I was far away from rocket launches. And far away from terrorist attacks. And there were so many Beduins, Arabs, that lived in and near Beer Sheva, so we wouldn't get attacked. It was a quiet, calm, desert town.

There was one situation while I was there - I believe it was a shooting. But actually at the time, I was "safe" in Ashdod. Volunteering for Magen David Adom. Learning what to do in the case of a mass casualty. We trained for it but never thought there would be an issue in Ashdod either. I spent a few months in Ashdod during my University break. And we constantly went back and forth between Ashdod and Ashkelon, because that was the nearest hospital. But we took old, sick people. An occasional car crash or suicide. Women in labor. Children with high fevers.
Not terrorist victims. Not injuries from rocket launches.

I just can't believe they are hitting Ashkelon and Ashdod and Beer Sheva. I think of my friends there. And the families that live there. Thank G-d, schools there were closed today. Because the rocket hit a kindergarten!!!!


I am thinking of all those down south. I pray that Hashem will keep you safe and there will be an end to the attacks soon.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tuna Macaroni Salad

Here's another recipe from my Mom. It makes a lot and people gobble it up!!! I use the Hellman's Regular Mayo not the Lite or Low Fat or any of that.


3 c. macaroni, cooked and drained
7 oz. can tuna, drained and flaked
3-4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 c. celery slices
1/3 c. green onion, sliced
1/4. c sweet pickle relish
1 T. mustard
1 t. salt
1 1/4 c. mayo.

Combine macaroni, tuna, eggs, celery, green onion, relish, mustard, salt, and mayo.
Mix lightly.
Chill 3-4 hours.

Eat and Enjoy!!!

Macaroni and Cheese Casserole Recipe

This is my mom's recipe and is a delicious and easy recipe for mac and cheese casserole. It can also be made in advance and frozen.
This recipe makes a smaller portion but you can double it for larger crowds. :)


1 c. macaroni (dry)
1 c. bread crumbs
1 1/2 c. scalded milk
1/4 c. butter
3 eggs, beaten
2 c. grated cheddar cheese
1 T minced onion
1 t. salt
1/2 t. paprika


Cook macaroni.
While cooking macaroni, scald milk, then add butter. Once butter is melted, add bread crumbs and let sit 5 min.
Combine eggs, cheese, onion, salt, and paprika.
Add macaroni after it's cooked.
Add bread crumb mixture to macaroni mixture.
Turn into greased 2 qt. casserole.
Bake uncovered 30 min at 350 degrees.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Doctor vs. Doctor

I may have mentioned previously that I am unimpressed with the OB's here in Israel. I don't have a LOT of experience but I have been to 2 here. The first was in Ariel and he was a bit odd. I had been told that the 2 docs in Ariel in my health clinic were just not great. And been advised to go elsewhere. So I chose a doctor in Petach Tikvah based on a recommendation from someone who had a baby 3 weeks prior. I don't really know her well but hey, she just had a baby so the memory is fresh! I did not factor in that she is Israeli and is used to how things are done and patients are treated.
I'm not.
And I miss my doctor's from Detroit. A LOT!!!

I am not worried about the medical care here. I think the doctors are trained just as well and know what they are doing. The most important thing is the health of the baby and the mother, as it should be. And they make sure everyone is healthy.
But beyond that, it seems they just don't care. Like anywhere else, you will have better and worse ones in terms of bedside manner. But things here are just so much less personal. WAY less personal. At least in my small experiance so far. And I am assuming that if I had paid a lot of money and gone to a private doctor, I would get more personal care. Maybe the doctors in the health clinics just have too many patients and don't want to get too involved. But I am not talking about having my doctor over for a cup of tea. I just want a little concern....a little interest. Pregnancy is HARD! I feel like she should ask how I am feeling. Not just have me come in her office, do the ultrasound and say goodbye.
One of the strange things to me is that the doctor you see throughout your whole pregnancy is not the one who will deliver you or even be anywhere near you when it's time for the baby to come. Her job is done. (Although maybe she does a post-natal check-up?) You see the doc every 6 weeks (and I am not sure how often at the end of pregnancy) and then you register at the hospital where you want to deliver. When you go into labor, you head to that hospital and the midwife does your delivery. Or in my case, I have to schedule a C-section so I sign up, go in, and whoever is working, does my c-section. I will have NEVER met this person, have no idea how well they speak English, and have no comfort level with this doctor who is about to preform surgery on me and deliver my 3rd child. WEIRD!
I hate it.

I don't like my doctor. I have only met her once but I don't like her. And I think I realized why last night. Aside from having a strange visit with her (because of the lack of personal care and concern), she is impossible to reach. That's annoying. If I have questions, I feel like I don't have anyone to call. The nurses on the Maccabi medical line seemed more concerned when I called them in the middle of the night than the doctor herself.
Here's the story.
A couple weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night and was having an issue. Unsure of what to do and no idea who to call, I first called my American doctors. Not that they could do anything but just so I would know whether I have to be concerned and need to go to the ER or if I could wait and see a doctor in the morning. They were already closed so I called the 700 number for Maccabi and told them I am having a problem and have no idea if/how to reach my doctor to ask her and am not sure what to do. They transferred me to their 24 hour nurses line. I spoke to the nurse and explained the problem and she told me that I need to go to the hospital to get checked out. I could take a taxi because it wasn't a huge emergency but I need to take care of it and can't wait until morning.
Well, apparently it is very difficult to get a taxi in the middle of the night in Ariel. After more than an hour of trying to reach one, and with the help of the nurse at the 24 hour line, we ended up taking an ambulance.
Long story short, we spent about 10 hours at the hospital and thank G-d, the baby was ok and I was ok. They were a little concerned about preterm labor but sent me home because there were no other indications of labor, told me to contact my doctor because maybe she would want to check me out, and told me to REST.
I called my doctor's office and spoke to the receptionist who told me to fax over the paperwork from the hospital, she would give it to the doctor, and the doc would call me. A friend of ours faxed over the paperwork but I didn't hear anything from them. A few days later I had to go into a different Maccabi office for an ultrasound and had forgotten the referral so I had to call the doc to get that faxed over to us. I asked if she had received my fax and she told me no. So we had our friend fax it over again. Still didn't hear from her. The next time I called, there was a message saying the doctor was on vacation and would be back next week (on a Tuesday). I waited till the Tuesday but there was no answer when I called. So I called back on Wednesday. But the doctor doesn't work on Wednesday. So I tried again on Thursday. Spoke to the receptionist again who said she didn't see the fax anywhere but if the hospital said I am fine, then I will just get checked by the doctor the next time I came in. Coincidently, I had an appointment the following week so she said just bring the paperwork from the hospital then and show it to the doc. But at this point it didn't really matter because it had already been a few weeks since the incident.

Ya know what I don't like? Where the heck is my doctor?????? I feel like if this had happened in the States and I called my doctor's office and told them I had been in the hospital, they would not only call me to check on me and talk to me but they would also want me to come in so THEY could check me out.
I don't understand how my doctor can hear that one of her patients was in the hospital and not show any concern. What IS that about??
I'm kind of glad that she won't be delivering my baby.

So, that's my complaint. :) I'll let you know how things go on Wednesday. Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

And then it hit me.....

Sammy was sick the other day and I posted as my Facebook status something about "Natalie is home with a sick baby." I almost wrote "Natalie's baby is sick" but I didn't want to give people the wrong idea that G-d forbid something was wrong with the fetus baby.
Because at the moment, I kind of have 2 babies. Sammy and fetus. Or in Hebrew, Ubar (I think that's a funny word).

I had the craaaazy realization that 2 months from now (Bshaa Tova) when I write something about my "baby", I will be referring to a whole new being and member of the Zacks Tribe.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I won! I won!

I vaguely remember getting a credit card statement last year and one of the little ads that they included was for an Instant Win game online. For some reason, I decided to enter and I ended up winning! Or so it claimed. Something about I won a few tickets to a Soundstage concert - one to keep and one to give away. And a $500 gift card. One to keep and one to give away. The promotion was called "A Season of Giving" for the Holiday Season.

So that was exciting. But of course, I was wary of it. Did I REALLY win? I filled out some paperwork and then didn't hear from them again for about 6 months. Out of the blue I get an e-mail regarding the SoundStage tickets and how to claim them. I also get an e-mail about having to choose someone to give the 2nd $500 gift card. So I write them back and ask if I could give it to my spouse. Turns out - I can!! Woohoo!!

So I had some more paperwork to fill out and then they said I would get my gift cards. Another few months went by and then we moved to Israel.
Then I get an e-mail saying the gift cards had been Fed-Ex'd.

Long story short (ok, so it was still long) the gift cards finally made their way to us in Israel. We now have 2 $500 gift cards that must be redeemed by March 2009.

What should we buy??????

Should we be boring and responsible and just use them for groceries, heaters, household items? Should we get something more fun and rent a car for another few weeks - maybe over Chanukah? Should we save them and get something for the baby?

Or should we get something just plain FUN! And if so - what?????
All thoughts and opinions are appreciated!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Out of the mouths of babes

Here are just some random comments that my kids have said in the past few days....

Jonah: Mommy, when are we going to forget our English?

Me to Shu on the phone: Well, I'm on the bus but I am literally on the bottom step next to the door.
Shu: Just tell them you're pregnant and they should let you sit down.
Me: Even if I could say something, there isn't room to get to the seats.
Jonah in background: Tell Mommy to say "Yaish Lee Tenoket Babeten" and to let you sit down.
Me: Thanks Jonah for translating that. :)

Jonah: What is today called, tomorrow?
Me: Yesterday?
Jonah: Oh yah, yesterday. Well tomorrow I will tell Daddy that yesterday you read me 6 books!

(Doesn't seem like he is forgetting his English anytime soon)

As far as Sammy goes, well he says words in English but I think he has picked 2 Hebrew words up at Gan. The first is "DIE". Keep in mind, this is NOT English. In Hebrew "Die" means "Stop". He may have learned that one from his brother. And the second one which I noticed this evening after giving him some cheese, he asked for "Od" which means "More". YAY!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Out of touch

I spoke with my grandmother briefly yesterday who informed me that my aunt (who lives in Israel) told her that no one hears from me. This didn't surprise me and in fact, I had even told Shauli that I bet my aunt was telling my grandmother that I don't call. That's how it was all the other times I have been here.
Well, this time I asked my grandmother - has my aunt called me? No......
I am the one who just made Aliyah, pregnant, with my husband and 2 young children. She has been here for something like 25 years or more.
I am the one trying to deal with the medical system (both for myself and for Sammy who has constantly been sick since we arrived), the educational and childcare system, a foreign language (yes, I can have a simple conversation in Hebrew but ask me to read and understand forms, bills, and Jonah's letters from Gan - forget it!). We've been the ones without all our stuff for the past 2 months, attempting to live normally. Now that our stuff has arrived, we are trying to put our apartment into some kind of order. Kudos to Shu for that one because I don't know that I have unpacked a single box - aside from kid's clothes!
So, I want to know - how come she hasn't called to ask ME how I am doing???
The truth is, I don't expect much different. I will definitely call when I have a chance and hope to visit her and my cousins (who I haven't spoken to yet). When I see them we get along fine. But I feel like I am always the one who makes the effort.

Even though I sound bitter about it, I do feel badly. I feel badly that I just don't have the time to make phone calls. I feel like I am not only neglecting that family that is here but I haven't been well enough in touch with my family and FRIENDS back in the States. And I was the one who reassured them that sure, I'll have an American number, we can talk all the time. We just have to make the effort. Even if we don't have time for a loooong phone conversation, we just have to call and say Hey. But I haven't fulfilled my end of the bargain.

However, yesterday was an example of why I really did not even have a minute to sit down and make a simple phone call.

After being up constantly through the night because of a bad cough, and waking up a bunch of times with Jonah, because of his bad cough, I finally was woken for good by my kids shortly after 6am. Yesterday was a little different because Jonah ended up staying at home but normally, they wake me between 6 and 7am and we get up, play, get dressed, eat breakfast, and get ready for school. Then Shu and I each walk a kid to their respective schools (or sometimes Shu takes both). That's by about 8am or so. I get back, drink a Shoko in a bag for breakfast and settle in for a long day of work. I work from about 8:30am - 4:30pm, give or take an hour. Sammy comes home at 4pm and proceeds to cling to me and cry. Then I attempt to make dinner (with Sammy clinging to me) and often give up and Shu either takes over the kid or the dinner. After dinner, I either head off to Ulpan (until 9pm) or am at home getting the kids ready for bed and attempting to put them to sleep. I say attempting because while Jonah has been pretty good about going to sleep (after books and songs), Sammy has stopped going to sleep. I mean it. He just doesn't go to sleep anymore. And he's our good sleeper!!!
Last night, we thought he was out for the night at a normal hour. So I attempted to make a phone call. I left a message on a friend's machine and then called Grandma. She has a packed schedule so it's hard to reach her but I guess it was early enough in the morning that I caught her at home. We spoke long enough for her to tell me about my aunt and then Sammy started screaming. So we wrapped up that conversation and Sammy was awake until close to midnight.

So much for phone calls.

So, for all you dear and loved ones out there, I know I haven't called. Or certainly haven't called enough. But at the moment, it's just because I literally don't even have 2 minutes to sit down and breathe. it's not cuz I don't think about you and miss you and wish you were here! I look forward to hopefully the near future when Shu has a job (so I don't feel the pressure of the only income) and Sammy is adjusted and our house is somewhat in order.

Aside from that, all is well and good here. :)
By the way, if you don't have our number - drop me a line and I will send it to you!!! Then you can call me and say sit down, let's chat. :)

All the best and all my love from the Holy Land. I'll try to post pics soon! But you may want to check Shu's Facebook for that. He's better about it.....

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Complaint to Omega

What do you think of this letter?

Dear Alon,

I am writing this letter to inform you of my complete and total dissatisfaction and disappointment in your service and your company. I do not ever remember dealing with a company who is handling such an important service for us, who claim to be professionals, and whose total incompetence was clear every step of the way.

When we first began dealing with you, we made constant attempts to reach either you or Tali or anyone that could assist us and failed. You did not call back, you did not e-mail back with answers to our questions, and the very few times we were able to reach you, you always had to "check on the matter" or "look into it" and get back to us. Never happened. Tali even told us that you don't check phone messages so don't bother leaving them. I remember after we paid our 25% deposit, debating canceling with your company because you were so completely unprofessional. Looking back, we should have taken the loss and switched to another company.

I imagine that someone in your position has learned something about Customer Service, despite that it's not clear in the way you handle matters. Perhaps you should go back to business school and take some of these courses. You may have heard the saying that a happy customer tells 1 friend, but an unhappy customer tells 10 friends. Experts have researched that and agree. However, these days the Internet has changed all that. Now, the unhappy customer can post intimate details about their bad experiences on blogs and message boards that reach millions of people everyday and can live on forever. I, for one, plan on not only telling at the very least 10 people, but also posting on a variety of Internet sites, Yahoo groups, Facebook groups, wherever I can reach anyone who is planning on making Aliyah. You may be aware that Olim Chadashim do a lot of networking, a lot of sharing experiances, and a lot of talking. And while yes, people want to know that someone had a good experience with a company they won't necessarily believe the good things written on the web or certainly not the "Testimonials" on your website. Those can easily be made up and "good" experiences easily posted by someone working in or for the company. But let me tell you, everyone believes the bad experiences. Why shouldn't they?

As far as Customer Service goes, I have worked in this area for a number of years and dealt with my fair share of unhappy customers. I worked in retail and people always find something to complain about. I found an important article that you should take a minute to read and try to absorb what it says:

Seeing as you don't want to take any blame for the way our case was handled, I imagine you ignored that article. But I will reiterate a few points made. The article says that sometimes it's difficult to maintain your composure when a customer is angry. But let them vent and don't interrupt. Listen carefully and with empathy. Try to rephrase the problem for clarity and ask for confirmation from the customer. Then, look for a resolution.
When my husband spoke to you last week, he was frustrated. He was tired of no one informing us of what was going on with our lift, or where it was, when it was coming, and even how do we get it??? When he spoke to you, you only seemed to be making it harder and harder for us to get our lift, as opposed to finding a solution. Yes, he lost his temper but it was not unjustified.
When I called back to ask a separate question, I was appalled at how you spoke to me!!! You spent the entire phone call ranting and raving about how angry you were that my husband spoke to you that way and how now you really didn't want to help us get our lift because of that. I couldn't get a word in edgewise. If you are upset about the way an unhappy customer talks to you, take it home with you and complain to your own wife, not to the customer's wife. I was calling so I could attempt to resolve the problem not so I could hear that your feelings were hurt. And certainly not to hear that "now you really don't want to help us". Once again, a sign of the unprofessional way that you dealt with us.

I know my husband already sent you a letter expressing his complaints. But to reiterate, our complaints are as follows:

1. It is almost impossible to reach you and has been from the beginning. You rarely answer your phone calls, don't respond to phone messages, and may occasionally "reply" to our e-mails but not with answers to the questions we asked.

2. Your failure to communicate with us. You work in a field dealing with people moving across the world. Most people have never done this before and therefore are unaware of the process. Not only that but they are in the middle of uprooting their lives, their families, and leaving everything that is familiar to them. YOU are the professional here. You are the one who knows how it all works. And you should be aware and sensitive to that. If you really do put customers first and you work around the clock, as quoted from your e-mail, then I imagine we would have been dealt with very differently. We were only aware of what was happening with our lift because of our constant phone calls to VASM here in Israel. Every time we called, it seemed another problem or delay arose.

3. Our shipping delay. As far as we are concerned, the last we heard from Tali was on September 9th which said she was attaching our shipment information - with nothing attached. I do not blame you for the strike here or for the "400 files that customs had to clear". What I do not understand is why didn't our container leave America until 6 weeks after the scheduled shipping date? How could you possibly not keep us informed of the status of our container? You should let us know when it leaves, when it is expected to arrive, let us know that it is delayed, and certainly let us know once it has arrived!!! How else are we supposed to know? This is YOUR job!

4. We were certainly aware of our open balance and had no problem paying it. You may have noticed that once we finally got in touch with you we wanted to pay immediately and the fastest way possible. All we asked for was our current balance which you had failed to provide for us until that point. I don't understand why you make it so hard to pay you ?!?! I would think you want your money and if you see an open balance, you would contact the customer to inform them. We didn't even know where our lift was, let alone when we were to receive it. If you place a hold on someone's lift, you should inform the customer of that hold. All it takes is a simple phone call or e-mail stating, your lift is on hold until you pay your balance of X amount. I was not withholding money from you. But for such a large balance, I have to withdraw from other funds and I prefer to do that at one time for the correct amount.

5. Regarding our payment, I would like my $152 returned to me for your "Credit Card Authorization fee". We requested of Liat, the accountant who one would think would be familiar with such a charge, to send us your policy on credit card payments. She seemed to be unfamiliar with this and said you would send us that policy. We are still waiting . Alon, please send that to me. We paid the first payment on credit card and that did not seem to be a problem at all. When we wanted to pay our balance, you told us about this 3% charge all of a sudden. I did some research into whether that was allowed or not and it seems that charging a 3% credit card transaction fee violates your merchant agreement. I would like my money refunded to me. And I plan on lodging a complaint against your company for this bogus charge.

6. When our lift finally arrived here in Ariel and they opened the doors, I was shocked to see 10-15 meters (according to the moving company) of unused space. Empty space that I paid for. Your initial assessment at our house claimed that we would need a 20 ft lift with all our belongings. Not only was that wrong, we brought presents and items for other people on our lift. Our total amount of things maybe would have taken half of a 20 foot lift. And since we had extra space, we would have sent some items that we were told "won't fit because our lift is completely full." We would have sent beds, our dining room table, and other items we left behind in Detroit. I cannot begin to express how furious I am regarding that. We paid thousands and thousands of dollars for that space and your screw-ups had us paying for empty space. Alon, this is unacceptable!

Once again, I am completely disappointed in Omega Shipping and especially in you, Alon Aviani. I am certain you will lose many potential customers because of your incompetence and unprofessional actions.

Natalie Zacks

Sunday, November 02, 2008


I think I titled this post "Processing" because as much as this blog is a way to inform friends and family about what's going on with us - it also helps me sort things out in my head.
What I'm thinking, feeling, what's going on. I wish I were able to just send my thoughts to the blog as I am walking somewhere or for example, tonight as I was driving home from Petach Tikvah. Thinking thoughts. :) I'll try to convey them now.

Well, one thing that I have started feeling more and more is that I really love it here in Ariel and I hope that things work out and we stay. What does that mean you wonder? If you love it, then stay. But it's not so easy. For one thing, my family has to be happy here. And for another, there are a few things that we really hope will happen in order for us to really want to stay.
We need a few more Anglo's. Young couples, maybe a couple kids, people in the same stage as we are. And most important - people that will live in our area! There were quite a few Olim Chadashim to Ariel this summer and some that already live here. And whether they are in the same stage in life as us or not isn't as much of the issue. The problem is that we Anglo's are being spread all over Ariel. Not that the place is huge. But there are in fact, 3 neighborhoods and if your kids don't go to the same Gan or we don't go to the same shul, we don't see each other. And the fact that we don't see each makes it feel like we are much more spread apart.
Now, I am not quite in agreement with Shauli who wants an Anglo ghetto. Or says he does. But I wouldn't mind just a few more Anglo's in a similar position as we are, that live closer to us.

I think that's probably the biggest issue. There are other things that we wouldn't mind being different but I think we will get that in any city.
As far as the positives, there are many. The community and people here are FAN-TASTIC. They have been so generous and helpful and we have made a lot of Israeli friends as well as making friends with the Anglo's. I love the feeling of Ariel. That we live on a mountain and are 2 minutes from a beautiful overlook. In fact, I have part of that view just sitting here at my desk, looking out the window.
I love that this is a big enough city that we have a couple bigger grocery stores (not just Makolets) and a City Center and not everyone knows your business. But not so big that I feel lost. I love that it is a 5 minute walk from Jonah's Gan and a 12 minute walk from Sammy's daycare. Which is right across from our Kupat Cholim (health care clinic). It's a 7 minute walk to Shul and if we want to make the BIG trek to town, that's about 25 minutes.
I love that I feel safe and secure in this city and that we have guards at the gate and a security fence. That they are keeping an eye on everyone that enters the city. But I love that I can leave the city and see people riding donkeys to go harvest their olive trees. I don't know why but I get SUCH a kick out of that! Donkeys, strolling down the highway.
I love that we are not too far from the other major cities. Half hour to Jerusalem (but then factor in a half hour of traffic and getting lost IN Jerusalem), 20 minutes to Petach Tikvah, 45 minutes to Modiin, 45 minutes to Netanya, 2 hours from Maalot. We're right in the middle. Granted, I may change the way I feel once we return our rental car. :)

As far as adjusting.....the adjustment is HUGE!!!!! It's not easy. I won't lie. And interestingly enough, I would say Jonah is adjusting the best. By far!! He's amazing. He had a really rough few weeks in the beginning. Probably about the first 3 weeks. And that was hard to deal with. It made me keep wondering, OMG, what did we do? But now - he's doing great! He never fails to impress me. He's making friends right and left. He already has his close buddies, his English (and Hebrew) speaking friends - Leah and Gili Shira. And his Hebrew speaking friends (NO English at all), Shachar, Yedidya, and Mevaseret. And possibly, Elimelech Avraham. I say possibly because Jonah talks about him a lot but I have never actually seen them play together. Jonah has gotten so much more comfortable with his Gan, with the language, with his friends - he has become so much more confident! A couple weeks ago, I wanted to write him a Mitzvah note to put on the Mitzvah Rimon (pomegranate). But he insisted that we don't write it. English, Hebrew, nothing. When I dropped him off, I mentioned it to his teacher and she said he was probably embarresed. Because when the kids bring in mitzvah notes, the teacher makes a BIG deal and calls them up to the front of the class and talks about what they did. Well, this Shabbat (Shabbas) Jonah was really making an effort to make Brachot on the foods he ate. Apparently , the Gan Rabbi (Harav Dadi) told them it's very important to make a lot of Brachot. It was very impressive so I asked if he wanted a mitzvah note (expecting a big NO WAY). He quickly agreed but did inform me that I would have to write it in Hebrew. AND that it would need to take up the entire page that I was writing on. :) He comes home everyday with a new Hebrew word or Hebrew song. And he adores the Gan Rabbi and never wants to be late and possibly miss "HaRav".

Sammy is having a little bit of a harder time. He finally attended his first full week of daycare last week. He cries when we get there and he cries when we pick him up. But they claim he does well during the day. They say he eats nicely, sleeps nicely, plays nicely. I was so happy when I went to pick him up today. He came to me with a biiiiig smile on his face. Instead of bursting into tears! I was so happy, I figured he must have had such a great day and he was finally getting used to being there. I picked him up and gave him a big hug, and the teacher promptly informed me that today he was biting kids ALLLLLL day long! Oh NOOOOOO! They mentioned this a different day and asked me to make sure to talk about it with him at home. But he doesn't do it at home. He pinches, if anything. But he doesn't generally bite! So how I am supposed to have a heart to heart with an 18 month old? The teachers tell me it's his age and it's because he's frustrated that he doesn't understand (they speak NO English). But I'm worried they are going to kick him out!
On the medical side of things, we took him back to the doc who declared him healthy except for the month and a half of diarrhea. His stool culture came back negative (I think) and he doesn't have a parasite. I bought a powdered Pro-Biotic and that actually got him back to normal within about a day of starting him on it. But when we skipped a day, it came back!! We see the doc tomorrow for a "Well-Baby" check up. And we'll see what he says.

Shu is doing ok. You should probably read his blog for more info on that. He's still job hunting and starting to actually get bored of sitting home all day with nothing to do. I am not sure if I should be happy for our lift to come because it will give him something to do or if I should be worried that he may be playing X-box all day instead of unpacking to keep himself busy.

I'm doing ok also. I am feeling more pregnant everyday and I think the easy part of pregnancy is over for me. I got a reprieve so I could function and make the BIG move. And now I am feeling it. Maybe twice as much. I can't believe I have another 3 months to go. On the other hand, thank G-d, I still have 3 months. Because I am TERRIFIED!!! Terrified of giving birth here, dreading another C-section, and scared to death of attempting to take care of 3 kids!! I feel my hands are full with 2. What am I going to do with a 3rd? And right now I am lucky - Shu is home with me! I don't want to think about what will happen Post-Baby and Post-Shu getting a job.

I went to the new OB today because I was seriously unimpressed with the one here. The one here was certainly more convenient!!! 12 minutes walking as opposed to 35 driving plus ?? parking! I got a recommendation for this one in Petach Tikvah. She was ok but I think Israeli doctors are just different. Really really really different. I don't see her for another 6 weeks so I guess it's not so crucial but man, oh man, do I miss Women's Health Consultants and Providence Hospital. I know the "program" there. Here I am just lost. And I won't even meet the person who will do my C-section until the day of. Let's just HOPE they speak English.
I'm having some bad back-aches (most likely pregnancy related) and am tired a lot (pregnancy or life-related). And I am just so busy. I feel like I don't have any time to myself and barely have time to breathe. The kids wake me up between 6:30-7:00 (sometimes even earlier, rarely any later). Then they need to be dressed, fed breakfast, and off to their respective schools. Usually Shu takes one kid and I take the other. It's a lot more traumatic for me to take Sammy though because he still doesn't like going. Jonah is practically ready to walk him self there! (Don't worry - it's not happening). Then I get home and start working (medical billing). I generally try to start by 8:30. I work work work and Jonah gets picked up at 1:30. Then I try to work, work, work some more. Sammy gets picked up at 4:00. He then attempts to attach himself to me for the rest of the evening. Our evening consists of trying to make dinner (with said Sammy attached), trying to get everyone to eat the dinner. And then either me or Shauli going to Ulpan from 6:00-9:00 three times a week. We just found out we will be having a Sheirut Leumi girl come to babysit on Sunday from 5:45 - 7:45 so we can both attend half a class together. :) They days it's my turn to go to Ulpan, I go and am there until 9:00. And the days that I don't go, I am home and go through the circus of putting the kids to bed. And after all that, I just want to fall over. So that explains why you in American haven't been getting too many phone calls from me. At the end of the day, I am just DONE! Heck, by the middle of the day, I am DONE!

So that's life. All in all, we're doing well. I may not have conveyed that well though. It's been frustrating not having our lift. I'm impressed with how the kids have handled not having toys. They've done well. We borrowed some train tracks from R&V so they mostly play with that. And we got them each a toy before Yom Kippur (to keep them busy) so they have a Parking Lot for matchbox cars and a big car carrier. And Jonah has a bag of dinosaurs. They've got a few books, some art supplies, and that's it for the most part.
We should be getting our lift tomorrow morning so that's exciting. And then we can officially lodge or post our complaints against our horrible, incompetent, unprofessional, shipping company.
I look forward to a few months from now. I look forward to being settled in, to getting used to how things work here (medically and otherwise), to learning the language better!!! To not feeling like such an Olah Chadasha. :) I look forward to feeling HOME.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Calling On Your Knowledge and Experience

Ok, I know I left you all hanging after my last blog. And I still owe you the Police Escort story. I promise, I haven't forgotten.
But I've got something else that takes presidence. How do you spell that?
I need your medical advice...............

Beware - this is not for the queasy! :) WARNING WARNING WARNING - Not for the faint of stomach!
Also, if you are not a parent but may want to be one someday - you may not want to read this. It's gross. Parenting is not all flowers, sunshine, and smiling clean babies. Shock of all shocks!

Yes, it's Sammy again. Poor kid, if it's not one thing it's another! BH, in general he is a healthy kid. Just has small issues that seem to come up constantly. The latest one has me stumped. Yes, I do plan on taking him to the doctor but we aren't home and may not be able to get him in until Monday. Unless we go see someone here up north.

He's had a rough time since we got here fighting all the new germs. But the latest one is diarrhea and vomiting. But no other symptoms.

First time he vomited was maybe 2 weeks ago after he had just gotten over a week and half of being sick (fever, cold, virus). He didn't have a fever or anything - just woke up in the middle of the night and vomited everywhere!!

He has had diarrhea now for about 2 weeks - really bad! But no other symptoms. Then he came down with a slight cold and was just about over it. But Monday night he woke up at 3am and vomited! No fever, no other symptoms, and went right back to sleep. I blamed it on mucus drainage after the cold.
Next day he acted totally normal. Cold was all better and everything.
Tuesday night, he woke up at 5:30am and threw up again! No fever, no other symptoms, and went right back to sleep.
Wednesday, he acted fine. A friend suggested maybe he was dehydrated due to all the diarrhea. That seemed to make sense so we made sure to give him LOTS to drink that evening. We also bought some natural drops to help the diarrhea. They wouldn't sell us the "Kal Beten" (kids Pepto Bismo) without a doctors prescription (because of his young age). Wednesday night we were back home and he slept through the night, no vomiting or anything.
Today, Thursday, he acted fine but he woke up about at about 2 am and threw up. Twice. Same as the others, no fever, no other symptoms, went right back to sleep.

So - what the HECK????????

Now if I were Dr. House,I would set up my white board and figure these variables.

Symptoms: Vomiting and Diarrhea

Possible Causes: Dehydration, perhaps lactose intolerance?, what else?

Differentials: May not have had milk before bed on Wednesday night, may have rehydrated on Wednesday

Reasons why it may not be the potential causes: If he were dehydrated, wouldn't he have other symptoms? Like lethargy? And why would he just throw up at night?
He has never been lactose intolerant before, could it happen so suddenly?

So? Has anyone had experience with this? Any suggestions? Ideas? Solutions? Other things I may be missing and should be looking for?

Once again, I do plan on taking him to the doctor but things are different here..... I do not want them to tell me it's a virus and send me home!!!

Well, I will keep you all posted! I'm really hoping we get to the bottom of this. There is only so much vomit I can handle. Truth is, Shu has been the real hero here and been the clean up crew! I can deal with the sick kid and cleaning him up but the vomit on the floor and the sheets and everywhere else, I just can't handle. It makes me want to puke. I am still queasy and this was more than an hour ago! Which doesn't make sense to me. I used to be an EMT. I dealt with blood, guts, and gore...... I saw a man who shot himself in the head!! And saw his brain matter and all other sorts of nastiness on the floor. I didn't throw up then!!! And now my own child is vomiting and I am totally totally grossed out! That is one department where I do NOT win Best Mommy Award!!

Thanks for reading.............I'll try for a better post next time!!!! But, I did warn you at the beginning!!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Busy Day

Ok, I may have to give up on a day by day update. But I do have to get better at following through on my blogging. When something happens, I often think, oh I should blog this. But I don't. So I 'll work on that too keep you all in the loop.
Things have just gotten really busy that there isn't time to sit and write. At least not the Megillot that I was writing. But I will try to post a snippet or two here or there.
For example today. The kids were up around 6:30. Ready and raring to go. I tried to stay in bed as long as possible since Shu had gotten up but it only lasted so long. I got up and Shu gave the kids breakfast and got them dressed. 2 points right there! Jonah wanted to be the first kid at Gan (yes, it's quite a change since last week) so Shu left with him at around 7:30. He can be dropped off anytime between 7:30 and 8:30. Nice leeway but certainly earlier than we are used to!
Sammy was very sad after they left so I had to keep telling him that we were going to go ByeBye too. I said this again and again as I got ready to leave. Then at about quarter to 8, I left with Sammy to get him to daycare. As soon as we were in sight of his daycare, he started climbing out of the stroller and crying. Oy. The closer we got, the louder he cried. We finally got there and I brought him into his room. He was holding soo tightly to my neck! We finally detached him and one of his teachers tooK him and held him while I said goodbye and left.
Yes, that was heartwrenching!!! I don't know if it's more traumatic for Sammy or for me!!!
Then I came home and Shu and I loaded up our rental car (which we just got yesterday) and headed to the Caylim Mikvah. Oh! I probably haven't mentioned this - because I think it happened last week when I didn't write. :)

Funny story - our tenants in America, who were brought in from Israel through Bnei Akiva, heard that we still hadn't received our lift. The husband called us up and wanted to know what we needed and how are we doing, etc. We mentioned that we still really need to get a dining room table and chairs and kitchen items (we're tired of frozen food). I think those were the two biggies. So he said he would make some phone calls and get back to us. Within 5 minutes we hear from his friend who lives on a very nearby kibbutz and has some things for us. Luckily, our friend here even had borrowed his father-in-law's jeep and Shu and he were able to go there the next day to pick up the furniture. There was a dining room table and chairs and even a couch!! We do have couches on our lift but it's awfully difficult to sit and hang out in a room with nowhere to sit. So that was GREAT! Yes, they are old and not in the best condition but the couch will be fine with a cover on it and the table is a table. I wasn't crazy about the thought of buying a new table anyway because of the kids. So that was the highlight!!! The guy said that we can keep them and when we are done with them, pass them along to someone else. Wow, such generosity.
A few days later, our friend called us and said this guy called (who had given us the furniture) and said he has a friend who works in a Pottery factory (or something like that) and could we use a set of new dishes. We said sure, because we are just going through the plastic stuff like crazy! He was going to try and have his wife drop it off or something because she works in Ariel. It didn't work out that day but we get a call from our friend a couple days ago and their car is full of stuff for us! So much stuff, they don't have room to pick up their kids. So she came by and Shu brought boxes and boxes of stuff upstairs! It was craaaaazy!!!
Apparently this guy works at or owns or something a company called Naaman which has dishes, pots and pans, serving utensils, etc. Obviously things get broken at the factory and then they can't sell them. So I don't know what they normally do with them but we became the lucky recipients of brand new pots, pans, dishes for 12, serving pieces, serving bowls, etc. It was SO kind and SOO generous!! And he said whatever we don't want or don't use, we should just pass along.
So I thought that was pretty cool and pretty generous!! And THAT's why we ended up at the mikvah. Toyveling and toyveling away!

Back to the busy day.....we came home and I started to get some work (Billing) done and Shu had to leave for Ramle to meet with someone from our shipping company to sign off on the lift. Supposedly it is actually supposed to arrive today but will not be released until after Sukkot because customs does not work on Chol Hamoed. Grrrr.
I picked Jonah up at 1:30 and was home with him, attempting to keep him happy and get work done. Shu got home and a little later it was time to get Sammy. We picked Sammy up from daycare at 4:00 (it is SUCH a looooooong day). He was very happy to see us. Although they claim that he does fine during the day, he plays well, eats well, naps well, just cries when we drop him off and when we pick him up. I wish I could spy on him! And just make sure he is happy.
So the boys were home and Shu was going to take them to the park. But I asked him to go pick up a microwave. Here's another story!! Ariel has a city website and one of the pages is Classified ads. It's all in Hebrew so I don't understand a lot of it but I check it out every once in awhile. We called a woman selling a microwave and asked her about it but I told her I would just have to call her the next day because we had people over. And then I would let her know if I was interested. I also mentioned we were Olim Chadashim and were trying to buy stuff for our apartment. 5 minutes after I hung up, she called back and said she wanted to give us the microwave as their present to us!! However, we didn't have a car at the time and hadn't been able to pick it up. But now that we had the rental, we called her up and Shu ran over there to get it. He came back a little later with not only a microwave but also a TV!!!!! Wow, it was so kind and generous - and they didn't even know us!
The busy day continues.
Shu returns and I get my stuff together to head over to Ulpan which we started the day before. It is going to be 4 evenings a week for a little over 3 hours a night. Since not only can we not afford to pay a babysitter for all that time, it is NOT fair to the kids!! So today we decided to split it. I went for the first half and Shu went for the second half. This works nicely while we have a car but when we don't - we'll have to see. After Shu got home at around 9:00, then I headed out again to this parlor meeting the mayer of the city was having with the Anglo's. It is election time and he wanted to meet with us to talk about his plans, etc. I was there from about 9:15ish until after 11:00!

And perhaps that story (with the police escort for me) will be posted another time.....

But as you can see, we have some busy days! And we haven't even gotten our lift yet!!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Pics

For those of you who are not on Facebook and aren't updated that I added new photos - here are a couple links to some Photo Albums.
Btw - sign up for Facebook!

The Big Move

New Beginnings


Shabbat in Ariel

Ok, so maybe I'm not as good at updating daily as I was in the beginning. But that was back when I was jetlagged and wide awake until all hours of the night.
Now, I am ready to crash by 8:30.

So I will try to catch you up to speed before Rosh Hashanah.

So, somehow we survived Friday night. It was definitely one of the most frightening in my parenting career. :(
Shabbat day was nice though. Well, Sammy woke up still a little out of sorts. I was in the boys room with Jonah when Sammy woke up. He didn't really want us to talk to him or even look at him. He got angry if we did. So we just let him be in his Pack N Play and figured he would come out when he was ready. I guess he was shaken up from the night before too. Although I don't really know. It took a fair amount of time getting the boys to eat breakfast and get dressed and by the time we were about to leave, Shu had come home to get us. We went back to shul and met up with our friends and "Adopted" family who we were going to for lunch. Their daughter is in Jonah's class at Gan. They are English speakers and moved to Ariel from Efrat. I think they made Aliyah around 5 or so years ago? They live closer to where the absorption housing was, near the Netzarim community. It was bit of a hike because it was uphill but not really so far. They live on a street full of HUGE, gorgeous houses! But they said there aren't really any religious people there. They live in a semi-basement (one side is underground, the other is not) but it is HUGE and beautiful. The huge part is the main room, with the bedrooms coming off the sides. It's really nice!
We enjoyed lunch and Jonah played with his friend. Sammy was a little cookoo but I guess that was to be expected at this point. After lunch, we headed back home and that walk was much easier. I took a nap and then Shu did. Then I took the boys to the park and Shu met us there. It was nice but we have to find the park where all the religious people go. Because there were none at this one. And it would have been nice to socialize a little with the people in the community and maybe for Jonah to meet up with some of his friends.
Then for Seudah Shlishi we were invited to Shauli's new Israeli friend's house. He also has a daughter in Jonah's Gan. But we weren't sure what time to go so we just headed there after the park. It worked out. I talked to the wife (Hebrew speaker but very easy to understand) and Jonah played with both their girls (they have one older and one younger). The kids didn't speak ANY English but somehow they all managed. It was neat. And by the end of the meal, Jonah had said a few words in Hebrew. That's what it is all about. Sammy was ok but kept beating up their little baby. When we finally gave him a toy to play with, he was SOOO happy and SOOO busy. Poor kid doesn't have any toys in our apartment! They are all on the lift! I really feel for him. He's running out of clothes too...... and to think we have crates and crates of clothes on the ship!
We ended up staying with this family until after Shabbat and then went home. It was a bit late for the kids but we managed. We got home and put them to bed. Just in time for the babysitter to come. Total Israeli and very nice. I just hoped the kids wouldn't wake up! They may be a bit surprised.
We went to an Event the community was having for all the Olim Chadashim. It was held at the Community Center and was very nice. A good chance to just hang out with some of the local Israelis and the other Olim. A good group! I think there were 10 Anglo couples/families/singles in all that had moved to Ariel and each one was honored with something.
It was nice. We didn't hear anything from the babysitter so apparently the kids had slept through. PHEW!!
And that was Shabbat.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Friday Night or the Night of the Screaming Child

Friday started off well enough. Jonah complained about going to Gan but on the way there we talked about how things are different in Israel but it doesn't mean they are bad. That there are a lot of changes going on and it's hard but it's not necessarily bad. He told me that he was really going to try not to cry when we left him at Gan but it was just so hard because he misses us and wants us to stay. Awwwww.
Well, I took him to Gan and he sat down at the puzzle table and was doing puzzles. My friend came and we were talking and in the meantime, the teacher brought Jonah over to a table with some other kids and got them involved in some game. He looked so happy! I didn't know if I should just walk out or if I should say goodbye and then leave. I really didn't want him to start crying again. The teacher happened to glance up and I kinda motioned/asked her what to do. She said say goodbye and leave. I was just finishing up my conversation with my friend and the teacher must have said tell your mommy goodbye because Jonah gave me this sweet wave. He had such a brave face on and didn't cry at all!! I was SOO proud of him!
The rest of Friday was uneventful. I got some work done, and attempted to sponga the floors and did some general clean-up. We bathed the kids, took our showers, and it was time for Shabbas. Shu went to shul and the kids and I got ready. We walked to shul with the Urims and I was able to be inside for a few minutes before Sammy got too ansy. Then we hung out outside. Everyone seems to go to shul here and there are tons of kids running around and playing outside. Jonah found 2 friends from school and was running around with them. Sammy was also running around but kept falling so that was no fun. Then we headed to the Urims after shul for dinner. The kids were already getting a bit cranky. Hungry and tired. We had kiddush and Hamotzei and soup (what a bracha for my sore throat which I must have caught from Sammy). Jonah was exhausted and Sammy was REALLY cranky! I assumed it was because he was tired and not feeling well. Jonah curled up and went to sleep on the couch and Shu and I kept taking turns with crazy screaming Sammy. We finished dinner and went home (right down the block). Put the kids right to bed.
About 2 hours later, Sammy woke up SCREAAAMING!!!! Shu went in to him and couldn't calm him down. I went in and Shu said he looked like he had gotten scared or something. I picked him up and he just screamed more. I thought maybe he did want Shauli so I tried to pass him back but he just screamed and screamed. I didn't know what he wanted. Tried the paci, not interested. Went to get a bottle, not interested. He was pointing out of the room so I took him out and he just pointed to get back in. But when I went back in he just screamed more and louder. We walked around the apartment and he just wouldn't calm down. We gave him Acamoli but that didn't seem to do anything. If he had a fever, I would have thought he was delirious, with the way he was acting. But he wasn't warm. Some random things seemed to calm him down but they didn't make any sense. Like he kept going to the fridge and wanting to open it. But when it was open, he would just stand there. And if we tried to close it or take something out to see if he wanted it, he would scream.
There was a book that he kept picking up that comes with magnets. So he would kind of play with that and pile up the magnets but if it didn't go right where he wanted it, he would start screaming. And most of the time he was just screaming. I was terrified!! I had no idea whether this was related to him being sick or maybe some kind of reaction to the Acomol. I just didn't have a clue. Then I was wondering if psychologically the move was affecting him. And the fact that he is in a strange place, strange bed, basically no toys, foreign people, I just didn't know.
It was honestly, one of the scariest nights I have experienced.
Finally, Shauli decided to take him for a walk to see if that would calm him down. He took him out in the stroller for a loooooong time and when they came back, Sammy was practically jumping into his Pack N Play. We all fell asleep but 2 hours later, Sammy was up screaming again. We went through the same things. Nothing could comfort him, he looked like he didn't recognize us. It was awful.
And this time Jonah woke up. He came out into the living room and announced that he was hungry (after all, he did fall asleep during dinner). Well, since I felt I couldn't handle 2 crying children and since it was impossible to console the 1 child, I was ready to give into whatever Jonah wanted. So he enjoyed a nice bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. And with a full belly, went back to bed. Shu took Sammy for another walk and when they came back, Sammy went right to sleep. But 2 hours later, he was awake and screaming again. This time I just stood outside his door. I wanted to see if he would calm himself down. I knew I certainly wasn't able to calm him down. So I stood by his door and listened to my baby scream and eventually he went back to sleep. I went back to sleep and at some point Jonah woke up and took over Shauli's bed and Shauli ended up on Jonah's mattress in his room. It was a very weird night indeed.

But we survived...........I think.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Thursday and Friday

So Thursday was a weird day. Sammy and his strange illnesses.

In the morning we had some meeting with a lady from the Misrad Haklita. We had to give her our bank info so we could get our money money money from our Sal Klita. Absorption basket - woowoo. She scolded me though because I didn't bring the right paperwork. As if I am supposed to remember things that were told to me in the fog of the first few days of Aliyah. I need a checklist!
In the end, Shauli charmed her and I think she liked us. Not that it got us an extra money but hey, better to have people like you then not like you. Especially when they are government officials.
Then we ran a couple errands in the Mercaz - like stopping by the post office, the Hacol B$ store which is really Everything for 5 NIS store. But that isn't the exchange rate anymore. It should be Everything for 3.5 NIS. Oh well. We bought some random junk - like a prize for Jonah, "ritual" washing cup, pens, calculator that for some reason the + button is also the = button and the = button is nothing. Weird... But I liked the variety. :)
We were hungry (even though it was only about 11am) so we stopped at the shwarma place for lunch. This is the 2nd time we ate there and it's quite good. Also, he gives us free falafel balls and fries for Sammy.
Then Avi gave us a ride back to our house because Sammy had to get to sleep and I wanted to get some work done. Sammy fell asleep and slept for 4 hours!! I think Shu also fell asleep. And I worked. But when Sammy woke up, he was covered in SPOTS!!!! And I believe his fever had come back (although it seemed to have broken the night before). He was SO ill and the dots were so scary looking. They were all over his body and even in his ears!!! I called Maccabi and was told there were no more appointments available but I should call the actual branch and see what they could do for me. So I called them at 4 and they said there wasn't room but they would talk to the doctor when he gets in and see what he says. They called back after a half hour and said the doc said bring him in. So we walked to Maccabi and the truth is, the rash was already fading. He was still pretty miserable but didn't look quite as spotty as before and so I walked a little faster to make sure to get there in time for them to see!! Isn't that typical? Your kid is sick sick sick and you finally get an appointment and by the time you make it to the doc, he's happy as can be.
I walked inside and the lady at the desk took one look at him and said (in Hebrew), Oy, what a sick kid. Poor kid. So I was like, ok, I KNEW he looked sick! :)
We headed back to the doc and one person was in line. She asked what time our appointment was and we said we didn't have one. So she nervously kept one eye on the doctor's door and one on us the whole time. When the door opened and someone else left, she hurried in there so quickly - she didn't even want the doc to see us! She was very concerned we would take her spot. :) But the doc came out and told us to come in when he was done with the lady. It was a little bit of a wait - she was with 2 kids so I wasn't sure if they both had appointments or what. And no one else showed up!
Then it was our turn and we went in and yoohoo - he spoke English. PHEW! Not quite as fluent as the doctor from Monday but enough that we could easily communicate. Sammy took one look at the room when we entered and started crying. He is not such a fan of docs! I gave his history and the doc checked him out. He looked at all the spots on the different parts of Sammy's body and pressed on them. He said a viral rash will disappear but a bacterial one won't. They disappeared so that's good! However, there is nothing we can do to help him get better. Just a lot of patience. AHHH. I hate when Sammy is sick. He is so different. :(
We came back and Shu had bought and made some awesome frozen pizza. I love this country. Have I mentioned that? Probably not because I have been writing more about the trials and tribulations. But in any case -I LOVE this country! Perhaps when I am caught up with my daily posts, I can write about all the things I love here. It's a nice list.
Back to kid #1 (cuz he's older and came first). He has been having some rough rough days going to Gan. He basically dreads it all morning and whines about not wanting to go and cries when we leave him. It's all very sad. But what can we do?? At the end of the day he says he has a good time but it starts all over the next day.
We've been discussing it a lot. All the changes and how things are REALLY hard in the beginning. But different isn't always bad. And we talk about the good things about living in Israel. He has a lot of reasons he doesn't want to go to Gan but I think they are either just excuses or things he has overheard us say. So he knows just how to get our sympathy!
Friday morning started out as usual. Jonah complaining for the hour prior to Gan that he doesn't want to go - no matter what we bribe him with. We walked to Gan where I agreed to stay for a few minutes. He was playing by himself at the puzzle table and I was just standing behind him. A friend came and dropped her daughter off so we were just chatting. The Ganenet came over and got Jonah involved in some game with a few other kids. He looked SOOO happy and included and he was talking (in English). Half of me wanted to sneak out and the other half knew I should say goodbye. But I really didn't want the waterworks to start. The teacher glanced back and I kind of pantomimed, should I say goodbye or just leave? She said say goodbye and just leave. I was just going to finish up my conversation and just go but the teacher must have said something to Jonah because he waved and said Bye to me!! He gave me such a brave, hesitant smile and I was SOOOOO proud of him. Honestly, my heart was ready to burst! It was great.
So I left and I think I mostly spent the day working. We cleaned up the apartment (as much as we could without a broom and many cleaning supplies.......)
And got ready for Shabbat.

I'll fill you in on that another time. Stay tuned for "Friday Night - the crazy screaming zombie child"

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tuesday and Wednesday

Tuesday - Another somewhat crazy day. Maybe I don't need more hours in the day, maybe I need more minutes in the hour. The sad thing about Jonah's new Gan is that he is only there until 1:30. Which means if I want to accomplish anything, it has to be done by 1:30. That's probably fine if it is something to do in Ariel but if I need to leave the city, it's a bit of a stretch. B'EH soon we will have friends that Jonah can go home with (and we can return the favor) and it won't be such an issue. But right now it's a problem because we are trying to get things done!!
Tuesday was shopping day. Shu and I both took Jonah to Gan and he was less than thrilled to go. He started getting really nervous when we were leaving so I told Shu to stay while I took Sammy for his first day of daycare. Now, under normal circumstances, I would not have sent Sammy. He had a cold and a slight fever. We had given him Acomoli but it really wasn't the ideal first day for him. However, we had SO much to do and things take infinitely longer and are that much harder when Sammy joins us for a shopping trip. Turns out, for the first day, they really prefer the mother stays for a while and the kid only stays until 12 (as opposed to 4) and so we decided to just keep him with us.
We got a ride to the Rosh Ha'Ayin train station where my in-laws picked us up and off we headed to Tel Aviv. Got a bit lost but eventually made it to Herzl Street where there are a lot of furniture showrooms (I guess?). Now, as an American - you think of a furniture showroom and you think of a place like ArtVan (not sure if they have it outside of Detroit). But basically, a HUGE fancy store with a bunch of fake rooms all furnished and looking beautiful. And you walk around and see prices, hear about payment plans, and make your purchase.
Well, this is not the case on Herzl Street. Basically, it's a bunch of hole in the wall shops, stuffed end to end with furniture). One had some mattresses and a few bed frames, another was the size of a public restroom and just had closets lining the walls. For those of you who don't know, Israeli homes and apartments generally do NOT come with closets. They are not built in. So you have to buy a 3-6 door external closet. It's a pain but the truth is, it store infinitely more than a regular closet does. And you can configure them how you want. How much hanging space, how many drawers, how many shelves.
So there are a ton of these stores and we had no clue where to start. We just started walking into places and asking prices, delivery fees, etc. We have been told that NO ONE ever pays sticker price and we must bargain. But none of us are really any good at that. And so we just took the price they gave us and said ok, fine. It was hard to do research beforehand because we really didn't know what we wanted. So we were coming in blind and had no idea if we were being ripped off or getting the Deal of the Century! I have noticed in the past that it is no uncommon for Americans to get ripped off. If you look/talk like an American, you may get taken advantage of. I don't know if it's because of this great misconception that all Americans are RICH! Or if it's just the fact that we are in a country where we don't know the language or the culture or anything else. We found a couple closets that seemed to fit our needs and a possible bed and a bunkbed for Jonah and Sammy (that was solid wood and rather pricey). Although I was the minority in our little shopping group, I was really not comfortable with just buying from this place. Because we had no comparison to it. We were not being informed shoppers! Besides, it was time to get Jonah and Sammy needed to nap.
So we left (gulp).
Made it back in time to get Jonah (who survived his rough day). And then we spent the afternoon trying to research furniture and talk to people. I think we might be a little more educated now. :) Anyway, we do have a plan. We're heading to a spot near Petach Tikvah that supposedly has a lot of furniture stores and houseware stores. So we can finally get the houseware items we so desperately need like a broom, bath mat, and garbage cans!!
Oh the other thing about Tuesday was we had a parent/teacher meeting at the Gan. It started at 7:30 and when we got there, we had to find our kid's name on a paper that they decorated for us. Then we got to sit on an itty bitty chair made for 3-4 year olds. I was supposed to sit near some Israelis but luckily I thought to ask Dana (Avi's wife) if she could sit near me and help with the translation. G-d bless!!!! There is NO way I would have had a cloe what the Ganenet (preschool teacher) was saying. I figured, eh, it's a meeting about preschool how hard will it be to understand. But phew!! She was talking fast and there was SO much information. She has BIG plans for our kids, let me tell you. :)
So I didn't get out of there until about 9:30 - whew! And that was Tuesday.

If I remember correctly, Wednesday was uneventful. I got some work done and we had our telephone and internet installed. Hooray! Now we just need the lift to come so we can get our wireless router and we will be Hooked Up! And desks to sit at...and an office chair..... etc. Jonah had a rough time again - when we left him at Gan. And Shu and I were feeling so badly about the situation. We took him out of a Gan where he had friends and was comfortable and now he is in a place where he begs us not to leave him, doesn't speak the language, and doesn't really have friends. :( So the mornings have been rough. But when we pick him up at the end of the day, the teachers always tell us how fantastic he was and how after a minute he stopped crying. And Jonah agrees. He says that he cries and then they give him water and it helps him feel better. So we asked why he cries if he knows he will have a good time and he says he can't help himself, he just feels so sad when we leave him. Awwwww.

Well, that's enough writing for now. Time for sleep. Tomorrow is another Furniture/Housewares shopping day. Wish us luck!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Week #2 - Sunday and Monday

Oops, sorry I haven't written for a couple days. Generally I just don't have time to sit down and write during the day and at night I just go and go and go and then CRASH!
But I'll give you the heads up now. Let's see what I can remember.

Sunday - We got back from Maalot after forgetting our CD/DVD case (still working on getting that back) and I think we hung out for a bit. My old friend Shlomi came by at around 5:30 or so and he actually was nice enough to give us a lift over to the Matnas so we could sign up for Ulpan. While we were waiting, he took Jonah to the park where they had a blast on the playground. Shlomi says it's been ages since he has played with a little kid and he didn't know how to answer all his questions (mind you, Shlomi is not completely fluent in English but he does try). He said Jonah asked him, "Why are all the people in such a hurry?" and he didn't know what to answer. :) I thought that was funny.
The ulpan sign-up took awhile but we finally made it back to our apartment where we ordered from the Shnitzelria and made the kids chicken nuggets. Mmm, good food.
Then - bed time for the kiddies and goodbye Shlomi.

Monday - I went to the Daycare and finished signing Sammy up for paperwork. A little background. Sammy came down with a cold last Wednesday. Then he had a slight fever on Friday. It kinda came and went but Monday morning he woke up late and from the moment he woke up, he was crying and crying. His cold was as bad as ever and he was really warm. I was supposed to go with a friend in the afternoon to sign up for the health care clinic but ended up going in the morning with a different friend so I could try to get Sammy seen. The only available appointment was for 6:50 that night - so we took it. Then we dropped Sammy off with Shu and went to the cheaper grocery store where I got a "Grocery Lesson" and to the pharmacy for Acomoli (like Infant Tylenol). Then back home.Jonah had a birthday party that he was both attending and being honored at. Turns out, he and another little girl share the same Hebrew birthday. We're friends with her family and they were SOOO sweet and decided to make the party for Jonah too. They even made a homemade cake with a #4 and blue frosting!! It was really nice. Even if both Jonah and the little girl were a bit overwhelmed. We made it home for Sarra and Shlomo to come over for dinner and because the kids were a little nuts or sick, we opted to pick up pizza. We tried out a new place this time, Pizza Kid, and I personally thought it was quite good. Of course before I got to eat it, I had to get Sammy to the doctor. Shlomo took me (and stayed in case I needed a translater) but it turned out all was ok. The doc spoke PERFECT English, was very friendly, and told me Sammy has a virus (a cold) and I probably knew that already. Nothing much to do for it.
Then we went back and ate yummy pizza and then bedtime for the kiddies. Shu and I ran next door for a minute and Sarra and Shlomo actually got Jonah to sleep! After many books of course. :)
Then we hung out for a bit and they left. Oh yah, they brought us a table, chairs, and some kitchen utensils so we could start cooking/heating stuff up. Woohoo!!!

My plan was to post about the whole week but I'm at that point of crashing and I am also starting to not feel so well. Doesn't surprise me if Sammy got me sick. Awwww. So I'm going to sleep!

Keep reading - hope you are enjoying. :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Friday and Shabbat - woohoo!!

So - we survived Thursday. I notice a number of my blogs start "we survived". :) Well, it's not easy being an immigrant, I'll admit that!

Friday was a much better day. We got Jonah off to Gan and he even agreed to stay. We re-met his new Ganenet too. I came back to the apartment afterwards and packed for Shabbat. Then I did a bit of work and I don't remember what else and it was time to get Jonah. He stayed the whole day - woohoo!!
So we picked him up and our friend Jodi actually dropped us off so I could lend her some diaper cream for her poor baby's tushy. Yay - Triple Paste!! Whoever told me about that, G-d bless you. :) It has saved many a tushy!!

We had to get to the Rosh Ha'Ayin train station which is about a 15-20 minute drive. If we had a car....we were trying to figure out the whole bus system but since we HAD to make the train because it was the last one of the day, we opted to splurge and get a taxi. It was worth the extra money to have infinitely less stress, make sure we are there on time, etc. It wasn't cheap though. I am hoping in the future to either find a ride from someone or perhaps find a college student with a car who wants to make a few extra shek....
So we took the taxi and got to the train station. It was practically deserted, I guess because it's Erev Shabbat and the last train of the day. We made sure we knew which train to catch and when it came, attempted to get on. Jonah was scared to take the big step to get on the train and while he was dilly-dallying, the doors started to close! It scared the "bejeebers" out of him. And me. And Shauli. Sammy wasn't really concerned. He was probably jealous that it closed on Jonah and not him. :) So that was fun.
We got on the train and chose seats and off we headed. We had to change trains in Tel Aviv but it wasn't a big deal and it came within 10 minutes. Then we were on our way to Nahariya. The kids LOVED it and behaved very very well. They were fascinated just looking out the window!
Sadly, we sat on the wrong side of the train so we weren't on the water/beach side. We got to Nahariya and Simmy and my father-in-law picked us up. It was about a 15 minutes drive to Maalot and then we got to see the whole gang again. Plus Mom and Dad. Woohoo!!!
Jonah immediately started playing with his cousins and a little later, Shlomo, Sarra, David, Shany, and Shilo arrived. Woohoo!!!
And then it was time for Shabbat!

We had a beautiful Shabbat in Maalot with lots of quality family time and a few nice walks. Jonah really had a good time with all his cousins and Sammy didn't pinch anyone too much. He did give Aura a few kisses so that was cute.
And that was that.
Motzei Shabbat we ordered pizza and sat around on our laptops. Mom, Dad and our family were the only ones who stayed overnight. We decided it was just too late and too much of a hassle to try and get the kids home. So we stayed until Sunday morning and then headed for the train.
The train ride home was not nearly as nice or restful. It was very full and while Jonah sat watching a video, Sammy would NOT sit. He just wanted to run up and down the aisles - reminiscent of the plane ride. It was SO frustrating. And it got so crowded that we ended up sitting with a kid on each of our laps. Blah.
We got the Tel Aviv University Stop and it sounded like the guy kept saying something about going to Rosh HaAyin. So I mentioned to Shu that I wasn't sure if this was our stop and then the girl next to us said that he said we should get off here for the Rosh Haayin train. We were literally at the stop so I grabbed both kids and Shu grabbed the laptop, backpack, and suitcase. Sadly though, our CD case must have been on the floor or something because it didn't make it into any of the bags. Sad.
So we (or a Hebrew speaking person who can help us) will call the Lost and Found tomorrow and hope that someone turned it in.
Well, I'm tired so I am heading to bed. Thanks to my loyal readers! Hope you are enjoying.
And thanks to all those Facebook readers too!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

"So ya had a bad day......" (SUCH a good song!)

Thursday......dum da da da duuuuuuuuum!!!

Ok, so I guess everyone has to have one of these days. And when I am a "Vatika" I will be able to look back and laugh and say "Well, let me tell you what happened to ME on my 4th day in Israel". It was a rough one but I survived......
Some of you saw my Facebook status so you got the gist of it but here is the more in depth run down.
Wednesday night was another rough one. We were wide awake at about midnight to 2 or 3. Then got up at 7am to get ready and get the kids up. I had already planned for a rough morning because Shauli was leaving for Jerusalem but I was not quite prepared for what happened.
Jonah did NOT want to wake up. He kept saying he was too tired, he didn't want to go to Gan. It was getting really late and we were finally able to get him and Sammy up and dressed. They were NOT happy.
We rushed out the door at the same time as Shauli and at the top of the stairs he said, "Hey, don't you want a set of keys too?" I said, "Phew, yes, that would not be a good thing to forget." I was already halfway down the stairs so he grabbed the extra keys and we hurried downstairs. I got the kids in the stroller and then Shu's ride to J'lem showed up - looking hurried. So Shu waved a quick goodbye, jumped into the car, and drove off. As I watched the car pull away - I realized he hadn't given me the key!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I ran into the street and shouted "SHAULIIIIIIIIIIII" waving my arms but to no avail....
My heart absolutely sank. Because not only did I not have the keys but I did not have a phone (Shu had our only one), or money, or water, or anything! Just me and the kids. Gulp. And a very hot morning.
I was also running late so I started getting worried that once I make it to the Gan, no one will be left there (parentwise) so I can't even hope to run into one of my friends. I will have to ask the new Ganenet for her phone and I don't even know my phone number!! But I figured that's better than nothing. I pulled out my handy dandy map and proceeded to get lost.
We eventually made it to the Gan and luckily ran into Avi's wife who listened very patiently to me as I blurted out my sad story. She started making a bunch of phone calls and let me use her phone to call Shu (he was way out of Ariel by then). We finally located an extra set of keys at our landlord's brothers house but he wouldn't be around until after 2:30 that afternoon. I felt so bad because I knew she had a meeting that morning and I was totally keeping her. She did offer for me to come and hang out at her house but she wouldn't be around for the next couple of hours.
Then we had the second issue which was Jonah absolutely REFUSING to go to Gan. Flat out. So I took him inside and told him I would sit with him just like we did the day before. We introduced ourselves to the new/"Real" Ganenet and he completely fell apart. He started crying and crying and begging to leave and I didn't know what to do! I never see him like that - a total basket case- and I felt like I didn't know how to handle it. On top of that, I am trying to explain to him that we have nowhere to go!!
Then Avi's wife, Dana, brough Ayala in (our neighbor)and said that she had offered to help us out and we could go to her house in the morning, no problem. And seeing a familier, friendly face of someone who was going to "Rescue" us, just made me melt and then I started crying. So Jonah is crying because he doesn't want to stay and I am crying because it's been a horrible day and it wasn't even 9:00!! And people are looking at us like who are those 2 crazy kooks?
Well, at that point I really didn't know what to do so I told him if he really didn't want to stay then for today he could come home with me. Whatever home was.
So we walked home with Ayala. Her, with one less child than she came with, and me with both. Oh well. She gave us something to drink when we got there and we had some breakfast too. Then the kids played and I read books. They have a daughter Sammy's age (plus 2 older sons, one of which is Jonah's age - but he was at his Gan) and Sammy for the most part played nicely with her but he would also randomly go over and pinch her. And when I told him NOOO, we don't pinch. We make niiiice. Then he would pat her head. But he kept doing it!!
I put Sammy down for a nap at almost 12 and Ayala told me to go ahead and rest. So I fell asleep and shortly afterwards, Jonah told me he was tired. So he fell asleep on the couch too. The baby girl went to sleep and Ayala said the house was so quiet that she lay down for a rest too!! So we snoozed away for a couple hours. Then we got up and had lunch and Dana dropped off the key. We were able to get back into the apartment and then I was lucky enough to deal with 2 very bored kids at our house for the next few hours. Eventually they had dinner and finally, finally, at around 7:30 Shauli came home.
WHAT A DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It gave me a taste of how intense the culture shock can be. So on one hand it's really rough because we are total strangers and newcomers here and we have no clue whats what. On the other hand, I'm learning how nice and caring and giving people in the community are. They are phenomenal!!!
So that's neat.

Ok, I gotta go to sleep! G'NIGHT.
And does anyone out there still read this???

Saturday, September 13, 2008

1st Week....

So, we managed to get through the plane ride and our Arrival. PHEW!!

We sat through the Nefesh B Nefesh ceremony where Olmert was the Big guest of honor (and was booed by a number of people). The interesting/humerous/sad/ironic? thing was there were newspapers on each seat for everyone at the ceremony. I think it was The Jerusalem Post. And the huge headline in big block letters was "Police recommend indicting PM for bribery and a host of other charges". Impressive.
So we had just left Detroit where Kwame resigned as mayor, indicted on various charges, and agreed to a plea bargain where he owes a million dollars, is going to jail for 4 months, loses his law license, etc and here we came to Israel where it seems the Prime Minister is being indicted? Ah, politicians. So anyway, I thought it was interesting that they had these newspapers on each chair and had him speaking. But apparently the JP is a sponsor so they had to have them on there.

As the ceremony ended and we were trying to figure out where to go - my Aunt Brenda showed up!! She had been looking for me the whole time and at the end just happened to be standing across the room for us and finally saw us. So that was nice that she came to see us.
All guests were asked to leave. Shu took the kids and I took the passports and went upstairs to do whatever I needed to do up there with our passports. Some government stuff. I got in the line where my name was and waited and waited and waited. It seemed like the entire room was clearing out but our line hadn't moved!!! So we waited and waited and waited some more! I noticed a computer in the back room with a sign that said "Internet". But someone was on it. For a long time - like 30 minutes. She finally finished and I went to go check it out. I changed my Facebook status so everyone would know we had landed and I sent a quick e-mail to my mom. Then time to get back in line for more waiting. Eventually the room was empty except for us so they finally started taking people from our line and helping them elsewhere. So then I got through and I can't imagine what was taking so long in the first place because when the guy helped me, it took about 10 minutes total processing. Maybe less.
I finally made it back downstairs to where I imagine Shauli was wondering what happened to me and if I had changed my mind and run home. We handed in our taxi voucher for our free ride anywhere in the country (we chose our new home, Ariel). It took awhile but eventually we got a driver and off we went.
Made it to Ariel and went out for pizza with Aviva, Sarra, and Shevy. Then back to our temporary apartment. And we all crashed. I slept for a bit and then Shu fell asleep and I took the kids for a walk because they were a little stir crazy. We walked down to a little park called Netzarim Park. That is basically an area of Ariel where a community from Netzarim in Gush Katif was sent to. I am just learning about this community but they absolutely fascinate me. I can't imagine the ordeal they have been through. But that's another blog for another time.
Apparently this little "park" was donated by either a community or an organization. But it's kind of a sad little park. It's has little stones on the ground instead of sand or grass or little smushy ground things. A little climby thing, 2 swings, and a see-saw. And SOOO many kids. We kinda stood around and Sammy tried to eat stones. There were a couple nice ladies who started talk to me, asking if we were one of the new families to Ariel and did we have dinner for that night, Shabbat plans, etc etc. She kept telling me how impressed she was with us and how brave we were, etc. All I could think is how her life must have been absolutely turned upside down and I think SHE is the brave one. We CHOSE to move to Ariel, they had to leave their homes and come here.
After a little bit, we headed back to the apartment. Shu was still sleeping so we just hung around for a while more. We sat outside and I was just happy. Exhausted but so happy to be sitting and breathing in the Israel air. Looking around at our absolutely gorgeous view. The air is just different here.....
Our new friends and adopted Ariel family brought us a yummy dinner and stayed to chat for a bit. We had SO many questions!!!
A while later another friend stopped by and we chatted with him for a little bit.
The kids basically crashed at around 7pm without dinner. And we just hoped they would be so tired, they would sleep all night.
We weren't so lucky. They woke up around 11pm and they were up, wide awake until about 2pm and I was up for another hour. Shu got to sleep but that was fine because he was exhausted and I was wide awake!!

The kids and I woke up at about 10am the next morning, Shu had been up for awhile already. I think we spent much of that day just running around getting things done with the HUGE help of Avi Zimmerman, the Ariel Aliyah Absorption Director (?) and another new friend. We opened up a bank account, got Jonah registered for school, etc. Don't remember much more about Tuesday.
We had another rough night, with us and the kids WIDE awake until late. But Jonah finally got to sleep and I woke him at 7am to see if he wanted to go to Gan. The plan was to just check it out but we went and he opted to stay there. He was there almost the whole time until the teacher (who is actually the sub once a week so the real teacher can get a day off) called to say he wanted to come home. Apparently, some boy hit him or did something to him and he wanted to fight back and the teacher made them stop fighting. SO he wanted to come home. But by the time they took the kids outside, he was fine and would have stayed the rest of the day. But that's ok. We picked him up and did some other various errand running.

Ooh, our pizza just arrived (DELIVERY!!!) so I will write more later.

Hope you're enjoying.....................

Friday, September 12, 2008

Our Aliyah - Day 2 and Big Thoughts

There are a few experiences in life – that you just get to have once. For better or for worse. They are the kinds of experiences that make you say, “Woah, is this happening to me?” The ones that can make you feel drunk on life. The major ones are “Lifecycle Events”. Births, Marriage, and Death.

For me, those times were the following – when my father died, when I got married, and the birth of my two children. Like I wrote earlier – for better or for worse. These aren’t always good experiences or “fun” times – but they are the times that have made me take a step back and appreciate life to it’s fullest.

I remember sitting in the car on the way home from my dad’s funeral, when I was 17 years old, and practically having an out of body experience. Maybe grief does that to a person? I remember almost looking down at myself, with my face pressed against the window and realizing, “I am on the way home from my father’s funeral. Life is going on around me, people are going to work and they have no idea. They have no clue. I am sitting in a car on the way back from watching my father be buried. This is happening to me.” It didn’t make any sense. Stuff like this happened to other people, in books, or on TV. Not to me. It wasn’t supposed to happen to me. But this is LIFE. For better or worse.

Let’s move on to happier times. Ahh….my wedding. I can see myself watching Shauli being danced toward me at the Bedekin. I can feel the love and happiness just filling me up. I can see us later, amidst the dancing, the people, the smiles. And I remember at the time, taking a step back and telling myself, “Natalie, don’t forget this. Take a snapshot in your mind and try to remember this feeling forever. This is happening to you.”

Feel it, remember it, embrace it. Live it.

After 36 hours of labor with Jonah, they finally wheeled me into the operating room and delivered him via c-section. That was another time where I felt I should pinch myself. Was this really happening to me? Did I just give birth to that gorgeous baby? Am I the one in horrific pain after major abdominal surgery? And now – a Mom? Me and Shu – parents?? Being wheeled out of the hospital, holding my 7lb 6oz newborn, I saw myself through other people’s eyes. The new mom……it was exciting. And scary. And awesome.

Sammy was an easier delivery –by far. Lack of labor does that. There I was, being rolled into surgery, cut open, “It’s a Boy!”, and back to recovery. This time I was able to hold my little baby in the recovery room. Mother of 2 boys. Even with the fog of pain meds, I never want to forget how I felt. That feeling – being alive. And loving it. Experiencing it. Appreciating it.

Those were my Lifecycle events. A death, marriage, 2 births. 4 major events. All different. All powerful.

I was privileged to add a Bonus Event to my Lifecycle this week, to my chain of events. I added Aliyah – I elevated my life, my family’s life, as we moved up to Israel.

I was not prepared for this experience. Even though I have been working for it and wanting it for 11 years. The week or so leading up to our departure, people kept asking, are you excited? Every other time I’ve gone to Israel, the adrenaline starts kicking up about that time. I get on the plane and my heart is pounding. This time, it wasn’t like that. I was just Ready. Emotionally. It was Time.

I expected the sad and tearful goodbyes. For the past 6 months or so, when I even thought of saying goodbye, I got choked up. I expected tears as we took off, but they didn’t come. I expected more tears as we landed – but there were just a few. Happy tears. Happy and thankful to be coming home for good.

And I was right, goodbyes were rough. And as we landed in Israel, I did get teary-eyed. I looked across the plane at My Shauli (we were each sitting with a kid at opposite window seats) and I longed to be able to hold his hand – as we landed in our new home. Our new country. And I fell in love all over again because he made this possible. He helped me realize my dream.

We landed, we clapped, we cheered. I cried – but just a little. We got off the plane and headed down the steps, waited for the bus and sped away to the terminal. As I looked out the window and saw the palm trees, I remembered my first view of the land. The palm trees, and the feeling of that blast of hot air. And my heart was overflowing. With love for Shu, Jonah, Sammy, and for coming home. FInally. My eyes started overflowing too at that point... The director of Nefesh B Nefesh, or the Rabbi who started it, Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, was on our bus with us. And he saw me crying. He told me, "Don't do that, now you are going to get me started all over again!" It's cool that he still gets emotional with each new landing. I pulled myself together and we pulled up to the terminal. And no matter how many live or taped landings I had seen – no way was I prepared for what came next. For how I felt.

The shuttle doors opened and all of a sudden, there was Israeli music blasting. “Havaynu Shalom Aleichem, Havaynu Shalom Aleichem…..” Music blasting, people cheering, everyone waving and smiling. Cameras here, there, everywhere. Everyone welcoming us Home.

I gasped and the tears started flowing. There are no words that can begin to describe how I felt at that moment. No way to capture it. And I just stood there for a second, taking it all in. A random army lady saw me, she looked overjoyed to see me and told me, Welcome home. She gave me a little Israel flag and a hug, holding me tight. There were tons of cameras and video cameras in my face. Taking pictures of the boys in the stroller, Jonah almost asleep. :) We walked along, through the aisle created by the masses of people and all I could see were smiles and tears of joy. I’m the one who came home – yet I can see the excitement in their eyes! I stopped, I covered my eyes, I was sobbing. This is my dream come true. Better even because I’m here with my incredible husband and 2 (and a ½) amazing children. We are home.

Well, if I was that emotional seeing strangers, you can only imagine how I felt when I saw the Zacks crew there to greet us! I saw Nava first and I just started yelling and waving wildly, “It’s Nava, it’s Nava! Shu, do you see her?” Then I saw Naphtali, Daniel, Aviva, Shevy – and I couldn’t get there fast enough!! I couldn’t get past the crowd but I just wanted to get over to them – to hug them. To thank them for paving the way for us! As soon as I got there, I wanted to hug everyone, I held onto Aviva for dear life. The crowd controller was trying to move us along, telling us we were holding up the line. Then Shlomo appeared and I followed him to get inside. Our friend Inbar for Sheirut Leumi in Detroit is there and I hug her – the crying starts again.

At that point, I’m about to faint. It’s almost too much to handle. Physical and emotional overload. Someone hands me a bottle of much needed cold water. Of course, then I notice my head scarf is practically off- woops and so I slip on the handy Nefesh b’ Nefesh hat they gave out. Now I know what those are for. Golda and Sarra arrive and more hugs, I don’t want to let go. Then Arye is there and Simmy and we are surrounded.

Avi Z. and the Ariel gang is there to meet us and I’m so grateful. I can’t wait to move there! We picked a good spot. We take a huge group picture. Go Zacks!

And on that note, since it’s almost 2:30 am and I’m running out of scrap paper to write on, I’ll bid you adieu. Or Shalom. Lehitraot. And for those in America, come soon! There is always room. J