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.
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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

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Our Aliyah - Day #1

Sunday, September 7th - Go to JFK. See Friedman cousins who did a wonderful job shlepping bags! What would we have done without them?? Kalman and Eli stop by to say goodbye along with Mr. and Aliza Starshefsky. Catch the end of the goodbye ceremony and eat Israeli flag cake - Jonah was excited there were blueberrys on it. Head to the terminal and board the plane. We are in row 57 ......last row of the plane. But seats recline so that's a relief. Jonah complains because he doesn't have window seat or even a window seat row. But the one across from us seems empty so he takes it. Keeps checking to see if the TV's are on yet. They were showing a little slideshow with pictures from Israel. Sammy is already being crazy and not wanting to sit still. So I chase after him for awhile. Flight was supposed to leave at 2pm. We boarded maybe 15 minutes before then. And then we sat and sat and sat. It seemed like the back section was pretty empty but at about 3pm it started filling up. Apparently "Final Boarding Call" doesn't really mean final boarding call. People are still in the aisles putting away their stuff, getting settled - and the plane starts to move. No, please be seated everyone or anything of the sort. Just starts driving.....
We sat on the runway for another half hour or so. There were lots of planes in front of us waiting in line. Jonah was getting impatient. Our seats were strange. We had 4 but the rows were 3, 3, and 3. So we had the 3 seats in the middle and one on the side (next to 2 boys). Our middle row was the last row and the single seat was the second to last row. The back 2 side rows were empty. So Jonah took over one and I sat with him. Sammy was crawling all over us trying to get to the window and stepping on Jonah so he went with Shauli to the other window seat. That's where we did take-off.
Jonah was happy once the TV's were on and he went from movies to TV shows to games. He was very independant sitting in his own little row.
Sammy on the other hand. Also somewhat independent but that meant he just wanted to run all over the plane and smile at everyone. His favorite game was running up the aisles and down the aisles. And up the aisles and down the aisles......... and falling. Again and again and again.
Both boys stayed wide awake until about the last 2 or 3 hours of the flight. Oh joy. Then Ifinally convinced Jonah to lay down across his seats. And although I tried again and again and again to get Sammy to sleep, he refused. But I handed him over to Shauli and BOOM he was out. Does Shu have the magic touch or was he just so tired that he finally fell asleep?
Then I finally went to sleep for the first time that flight. And after about a half hour, they woke me up for breakfast. Yum. That's what I want to eat at 10:30pm........
And I guess that counts for Day 1..........

STAY TUNED................................