Saturday, July 31, 2010

We are positively glowing! (or is that just sweat?)

We are slowly settling into life here, and it's a really, really good feeling. Kids are getting more and more settled by the day, as am I. BAW is like a fish in water here, so he almost doesn't count when we talk about acclimation and all that jazz. He has been the one dealing with all the government offices and things and most of that is almost finished, so he's feeling settled too. 

It was 106 degrees this shabbos. I kid you not. And we walked uphill to BAW's parents, a 20-25 min. walk that somehow stretches into 35 min. in the heat. We were just about the only idiots people out, and it then dawned on us that we should probably check the forecast before we decide to hike across the neighborhood in weather that causes the Israeli army to shut down training. Not our brightest move since we got here.

 Our perspective did change on the way there when we passed by a chassid in a very large FUR streimel, of course with kapata and talis, on the way home from shul. BAW pointed out (to those of us complaining the most:) that it really is mind over matter. 

But I do have to put in just how proud of the kids I am. While their parents were uncomfortable and cranky (and kvetching!) most of the way there and back, the kids (even R and S!) walked a mile in these desert like conditions without a single complaint! Kids, sometimes, are awesome.

Went to a great class today given by rotating Rabbis/teachers every shabbos morning for women. It was SO GOOD! Interesting, interactive, stimulating! Also great was to meet more women from around the neighborhood. What's great about this new neighborhood we moved into is that everyone is new, or has been through Aliyah recently. One woman was so sympathetic when I said my lift came last week, I thought she was gonna hug me! "Oh!! I'm so sorry!! I see these ZIM trucks pulling up and I get an awful feeling in my stomach!!" She made aliyah last summer. See, it's not just me, and I am not crazy!

The R connection is fabulous here! Whenever I say "R" apprehensively, (c'mon, admit it, you know exactly what I am talking about! Will I have to launch into geographic location? "No, it's upstate, right near Niagra Falls!") I have been greeted with lots of enthusiastic, "OH!! R!!! My very good friend so and so is from R!!!" It's amazing how far and wide we R's have reached :)

I am still smiling from the shiur today, feeling that Hashem sent it right to me, although anything in this week's parsha could've been aimed my way! The Rav spoke all about coming from the midbar to E"Y and how the time in the desert was a time of many tests, trials and tribulations. Upon coming to E"Y, certain things were much easier. The lesson is not to forget the time in the desert where things were so clearly from Hashem. Just because things may seem so easy once you get to the Land, remember, it's not you! It's all Him!

Hoping to keep that lesson close at heart.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Da-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na Bat Cave!

Wow. It's been a really long time. But no apologies; life first, blogging second.

The past week and a half was a busy blur. Even one of the kids said to me today, "It can't be Thursday! We just had Shabbos!" With the arrival of the lift came lots (and oh boy do I mean LOTS!) of organizing and reshuffling the crew. New bedrooms were designated, lots unpacked, and smiles returning. B said to me last night, "Imma! Our house is live-able!" Good, B, cuz I wasn't going to put you out in the barn.

Another fond (at first, and then increasingly annoying) part of setting up a new house is the building of new IKEA furniture. There are two IKEAs very close by (eat your heart out R-people!) but we haven't gotten there yet. We DID however, find a bunch of brand new stuff in our old garage that we never got around to building and stuck on the lift. No, not because we were organized and well thought out; we had no idea what the boxes were. Simply because it required less schlepping to have the movers stick the boxes on the truck that for us to haul them to the curb! Lo and behold they were excellent saves! One really great dresser, and another unit like I had in my old playroom: now we have 2 ;) 

So after those were built and hauled where they need to be (I swear IKEA furniture gains 50 lbs once it leaves the box) LOTS of unpacking took place this week. We did stuff a bunch of stuff into Saba's machsan, and will stuff a bunch more, but hey, as B says, we are finally "live-able"!

Few trips we did this week: took whoever could fit into Saba's car to the zoo in Yerushalayim, which was a big hit. It's amazing how different the animals are here. Kids had a great time, but were HOT and cranky on the way home. Stopped at the mall for KFC for dinner, and tortured them by keeping it in the car until we got home (NO EATING IN THE CAR!). I had a terrible migraine and lost the rest of my day. We drank and drank and drank, but sometimes the heat just gets the better of me :(

Today I took everyone to one of our favorite family trips: The Bat Cave! No, not where Bruce Wayne hides out, but in Hebrew "Ma'arat Ha'Teumim" Cave of the Twins...inside there is a stalagmite that resembles a pregnant woman and it's a segulah that any woman who drinks from the spring at the bottom of the cave will become so fertile that she'll give birth to twins. No, this is not why we went.

There was also a treasure found in the depths of the cave from the time of the Bar Kochva rebellion, as it was used as a hiding spot for Bar Kochva's warriors during the rebellion.

It's a great rocky, 30 min hike that suits just about any age group. It does get hard with a large baby on your back, so this time BAW who had work to do, stayed with said large sleeping baby. We had an awesome time, even though the sun was strong!  I didn't bring enough water, so me and Uncle S were quite thirsty by the time we got back into the car. But all in all, lots of fun was had trying to get a rise out of the literally thousands of shrieking bats hanging on the ceiling of the cave above us. 

Can't believe it's Shabbos again! Have a good one! Enjoy your August!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

It's here! :) :(

Ok, so there have literally been wrestling matches to get the the computer lately, although I am proud to say I have been too busy to be involved :) I did decide to jump on while BAW took the kids for haircuts and to get B's glasses fixed. 

The Friday lift arrival totally threw me for a loop. I guess maybe because I had no idea it would actually arrive this early (YAY! Shout out to best lift company: Aliyah Lift Shipping!) and because we didn't clear Meches and all of that until about 8pm the night before. So, we frantically started throwing all of our belongings into suitcases to clear as much space as we could before it got here, took apart all the g'mach beds, tables, chairs, etc., and sent the kids to wait outside. After all, a 40 foot container chugging up the block is quite a sight to behold.

Some BEFORE pics:

PLAYROOM/A&B's room/Storage room Yes, it's only about 10 feet wide, and 15 feet long. It was previously a parking space, and you have to walk down two steps to get into the room. Before the lift came  it was the "soccer room". Then, all hell broke loose:
There is now literally room to sleep for 2 kids and NOTHING else. Thank G-d they are kids, and for them, for some odd reason this is actually "fun". "It's our cave!!" Yay. I cried. They partied.

J and Little Red's room:

And after: 
 The truth is that I worked many hours on this room today and it is DONE!! I can't believe it!  I wish I could sneak in and take a pic for you, but you know what they say: Let small sleeping monsters lie. Or something like that anyway...

You get the point. They movers were here for a total of one and a half hours. It was sheer madness. They were pretty good, getting most of the boxes in the right spot, and so far only a few plates/platters were broken, and that was my fault, as towards the beginning I really wasn't packing well enough. 

The hardest was to have them drop and run, and then we had to go into shabbos and just look at all of it, and not lift a finger to unpack any of it. THAT was challenging. CW will be happy to know that there are several boxes that I have packed right back up and are in a pile for a g'mach. There is no reason that we need all this stuff! Some of it I would never have known was missing!

But, it also must be said that it is a tremendous comfort to have all of our things with us again. It's a funny feeling being so far away from everything that we know, and then suddenly all of our stuff arrives! (Don't worry, still tossing lots of it... ;)

There is a silver lining in this, and I hope that my SIL and her parents aren't reading this :), but BH that this is not happening the same week that school starts!! This has been the real first upheaval that I have seen affect the kids; their things are here, but I am not unpacking fast enough because there are not enough storage spots, so they have to look at it but not unpack yet. For the most part though, they really have been good sports. I unpacked 15 boxes of kids books today, so that REALLY made everyone happy! :)

So, that's what I've been up to, and since I started, TPH has returned and is already hovering. C'mon! What's more important, work or play blogging? 

Don't worry, I have plenty to do, I'll just tackle another box.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Living with Less

With the news that our lift just docked at the port yesterday comes a flurry of running (again!)  to Ramla to get a document stating we have actually made aliyah, followed by a trip to Ashdod to sign it out. BAW just called me after 2 hours of these "sidurim" as he calls them, telling me that he NOW has to go to Yerushalayim because the people in Meches (Port Tax) at the port aren't sure as to our status. Didn't we just spend all day there Sunday clarifying our status?!

The arrival of the lift, if not to our house yet, makes me think a lot about living with less. When packing the lift it was all about "what will we need there? what don't they have there? what can we get cheaper here? what will we never be able to get in Israel again?" We ran around like lunatics trying to buy out whole stores like BJ's, Target and Walmart, with endless cries of, "what if they don't have this there?!"

Three weeks later and I don't know how many time zones different, all that has changed. It's amazing (truly amazing) to see how little we can live with; how much we can do without. I am now actually dreading the arrival of our things. I don't need/want 3/4 of that junk stuff. The only thing that we really have been feeling the lack of are seforim and english books, MY BED! and some personal items like photographs, toys, etc. 

I now imagine our bright airy apartment being filled tomorrow or the next day with ominous dark boxes in every corner, filled with things that we would never miss but once we open the boxes will feel we can't do without. 

I was telling a friend that I am trying to get up the guts to put some of those boxes in the trash without even opening them first. Not being weighed down by all of that is surprisingly liberating. I feel thousands of pounds, ok, kilos, lighter. Happier. 

There's gotta be a tremendous lesson here and it's interesting that it becomes much clearer here in Eretz Yisrael where focusing on things that are most important is so much easier. I guess the real idea is to think about what we really need and what it is that we can most take with us wherever we are going, where there are no suitcases, no boxes, no stuff to weigh us down. Those things that can and do come with us are those that matter most.

Happy Packing :)

Monday, July 19, 2010


I know I've been kind of quiet over here on Nekuda Tova lately, but it's all coming back to me now that it takes time (LOTS OF TIME) just to get by over here. The trips to the grocery store take longer, setting ourselves up with the government takes days, weeks, maybe even months. 

Not sure why each office here is somewhere different, and once we get there we have to wait while they input all of our information all over again. One word for you, folks: NETWORK.

Misrad Ha'Pnim (Minstry of Interior) is where we go to get kids new ID numbers. Misrad Ha'Klita (Ministry of Absorption) is where we go to offically file that we have arrived and get our "status". Some of us are new immigrants, some of us are returning citizens, and some of us are immigrated citizens. Sounds confusing, I am not even getting into half of it. Bituach Le'umi is to set up health insurance and monthly benefits (yes, you get stipends for kids!).

BH Saba lent us his car this morning for a "quick" visit to Misrad Ha'Klita in Ramlah.  3 hours later we had nothing, and were told that we have to go back to them later in the week to receive our actual paperwork stating that we have arrived, and then we get all kinds of benefits: $$ for arriving, health care, etc. 

After the mind-numbing three hours, we get back in the car, and TPH mutters "2 down 5 to go".
Me, "HUH?"
TPH, "2 offices down, only 5 to go." Ugh.

So, we've been busy with mundane, boring aspects of settling in Israel, with details that would make you cry. I thought I'd spare you. 

We're going into Tisha B'av, and with much excitement we straightened and cleaned, getting ready for Moshiach in case he decides to stop by this year.

Hey, you never know!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Family Trip to the Shuk

Yes! The bank strike is over and we are rolling in dough! Well, maybe with the amount that we have, sticking a few on our foreheads and arms would be more accurate....

We are adjusting to this very different lifestyle! For example, we figured out that to do anything outside, we really have to wait until at least 4pm if we don't want sweaty, kvetchy kids. I always wondered why all the Israeli kids are out well after dark, sometimes until 11pm or 12am, and I've figured it out: the outside play day really only starts in late afternoon! So, we all piled onto a bus to Jerusalem at 4pm. In true W style until about 4:02 the conversation went something like this: 

Small people: "We're so bored!"
Big People: "We'll do something soon. BAW is still working."
Small people: "We're hungry. No, STARVING!!"
Big People: "You just ate. You aren't starving or even hungry."
Small People: "We're bored!"
Small People: "And hungry."
Small People: "AND STARVING!"
Big People (at 4:02pm): "OK quick! Everybody grab your stuff, next bus to Yerushalyaim is in 8 minutes!"

And thus ensues the mad dash to make the bus while not forgetting any small children stuff for a trip to "The Big City". The bus ride takes about 50 min. and a good 25 of that is through RBS Alef, RBS Bet and Beit Shemesh proper. It's really not a bad ride, not even with squealing small redheads or the constant refrain of "Imma! I'm so hungry! I'm so thirsty!" For those of you who are starting to think that I starve my children just ask any mother on summer vacation right now. They don't stop eating. Ever.

So, we got to J-lem in one piece and had a beautiful walk between Geula and the shuk. Took about 10 to 15 minutes, but the weather there is so nice that we enjoyed the walk. I loved walking behind the boys and seeing their new defined calf muscles from all the walking. For TPH and I, walking a good 2 to 3 miles a day has been invigorating and awesome, but imagine little R who is only 4, and S who is 5, doing the same walking with us day after day. 

To get the full effect of our shuk trip you have to also see our pics on FaceBook. BAW is still reluctant to let me post pics on my blog as it is such a public forum. It's just an amazing experience. Vendors of every shape, size and religious background selling their wares and prices that can't be beat anywhere. Whole booths dedicated to just chummus. Or another one for chalva. The kids got a kick out of the yalmuka stalls and have been trying out lots of shapes and sizes of yammies.  The candy shop was the highlight and we let them go a little hog wild. I just want this Aliyah to be the sweetest of the sweet! :)

For dinner we went to a falafel shop and then started back where we got some not to be beat Yerushalmi Kugel and (don't ask me why, my kids are weird) black olives. Even Uncle S was impressed with all the sights to be seen there. We started back to the bus stop with a beautiful wind blowing and the sun starting to set. It's not uncommon that anywhere we are walking someone will jump out at us and grab BAW for a minyan and we get to wait and check out all the people and scenery around us.

Bus ride home was uneventful except that once we got off (the very last stop :( ) we realized that we had left our food and yalmukas on the bus!! :( Funny because even though we were really looking forward to that kugel, candy and new yammies, no one was too disappointed, cuz the main fun was the trip itself. 

Exhausted happy kiddies fell into bed. And I'll bet they weren't even hungry.

One Strike and I'm Out

Today I am frustrated. Don't worry, I still have my shiny, happy Aliyah glasses on, but VERY frustrated today.

Strikes in Israel are common. Teacher strikes often get the kids an unexpected few days of school off. Government office strikes can stop all business in those areas for days. The big one that's affecting us now is a bank strike. I guess it's one of the downsides of a socialized government. I really don't know. And I really, really don't care. 

What I do care about is how it is affecting us. Before we moved we transfered most of our remaining cash into our account here at Bank Pagi in the Ramat Beit Shemesh branch. The plan was to get here, show our faces, get our bankcards and checkbooks reissued, and start buying necessities like washer/dryer, oven, etc. 

The first day we got here, TPH walked up to the Merkaz and came back with bad news; the bank workers were on strike, the bank is closed. Now if you have an ATM card or checkbook, you are ok. Unless of course you have to make a deposit. I was talking to someone who has a paycheck in hand, but can't deposit it, so their balance goes farther and farther into "minus" as they call it here. It's ridiculous.

For us it means a total and complete standstill. We have pretty much taken out everything that we can from our US account, and everything else remains locked until someone gives on one side or the other. In the meantime, we haven't been able to rent a car, go on trips or do anything more significant than go to the grocery store and Kotel. 

To do a load of laundry (don't worry, kids' only during the 9 days!) I have to walk 20 min. uphill to my in-laws in 95 degrees lugging a bag of dirty laundry. Oh, and the European machines take half the amount of what we are used to and each load takes 1 1/2 hours to WASH only. It is not pretty. 

I once took a taxi there because I could not do the walk once more in the heat and you know what the driver told me? "You should be walking there! Too close to take a taxi." Trust me, you don't want to mess with a grumpy, hot, American mother in this situation. The only response I could muster was, "Ok, let's go to your house! Thanks for offering!" He grumbled something or other, but then took me to my in-laws without any more free advice. 

Hey, at least it was free, cuz' I definitely couldn't have paid for it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Let's talk food.

I think that there is a general misconception when you live in the US that you can't get anything in Israel, but I'm not sure that we realize just how far this country has come in the past few years. People who lived here 20 years ago will laugh when I say that even the differences from 5 years ago are noticeable. Heinz ketchup, Hellman's mayo, General Mills cereals, Pantene, Pampers, all available at normal prices in most stores! For mucho dinero you can also buy your very own frozen Entemann's donuts. But the truth is that you don't even need those things when you look at what naturally comes from the ground here.

The kids are eating me out of house and home. We are tasting for the first time some of the best fruits and vegetables we've ever had (sorry Danny Weg, eat your heart out). The fruit, like it's inhabitants and even the land itself is deceiving in its humility. The fruits and veggies look small and unmentionable, if not downright puny. The melons look unripe and awkwardly shaped. But take the chance and take some of these home, and seriously, BEST food ever.

And don't even get me started on the fresh pitas, rolls and breads! We are eating an average of 15-20 pitas a day plus 2 loaves of bread. Between the breads and the super fresh chummus and all those fruits and veg we haven't eaten much else. I am hoping that all the walking we are doing will even out the damage, but we'll have to balance things out a bit more when we get more settled.

The prepared food is also unbelievable! Maybe because we are coming from out-of-town with very limited choices, but what you can buy here is amazing! Pre-made mini-pizzas, frozen burekas, dairy products, etc. It's so exciting!

I guess it shouldn't come as such a surprise. We know that טובה הארץ מאד מאד, I guess it's just cool to experience it first hand. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tiyul Report #1

BAW here, and as promised, I'm sharing our first tiyul with you.
(for the uninitiated: Tiyul = trip/ hike/ experience)
Distance: around 1 mile
Time: 2 hrs
Location: Hills south west of RBS A
Wildlife Count: 1 jackal 1 gazelle, numerous lizards,and a shed snake skin

Took the kids for a short hike on the hill opposite our home. Walked along a dirt road that skirted what seems to be a cultivated field, crossed a dry creek bed and followed a trail up into the hills. Lots of thorns and brambles, everyone got pretty scratched up. We have been hearing the jackals howling and barking almost every night, but today we actually spotted one, we tried to be quiet and get a closer look, but it ran away as soon as he saw us (B didn't help matters much by shouting at it "Hey Jack, your name is Jack! Jack the Jackal")

Further Along the trail Ak found a shed snakeskin,which was promptly appropriated to begin our "collection of weird and gross stuff that only children value" (pre-publication note by NekudaTova: after finding said snakeskin on my kitchen floor, it has been promptly chucked into said garbage bag).

Cool find of the day: a Mishna era wine press and Mikva. The place must have been an archeological site at some point, there were still some signs of excavation, but it was mostly overgrown with weeds now. On a different trip (or when I'm feeling braver) we can go down and explore the underground water cisterns.
The trail ended rather abruptly at the edge of a different field, so we had to hack our way, jungle style, through the last few yards of heavy brush to get back on the main street.

All in all a good time was had by all. 

P.S. 'Till i figure out how to get the pics from my phone onto blogger, you can see pics on my FB page

First Shabbos

Our first shabbos here was beautiful. There is no other way to describe it. J said it best when we were out walking right after candle lighting and heard the siren: “Imma, I wish that we could bring our friends and family here to see this!” Totally.

We had many erev shabbos visitors with cakes and cookies, bagels and nosh, flowers, etc.  A neighbor also brought over a welcome bag from the shul with great info inside (which restaurants deliver, etc.) plus matches, candles, havdalah candle, grape   juice and matches. It was perfect. 

Also a big highlight on Fridays is going to the “merkaz” to do shabbos shopping, but mostly the kids enjoyed seeing how many people stopped that knew us! It really is amazing to come back here with so many friends already here! The kids fully gorged themselves on whatever candy they could buy with the money they had earned from doing a few erev shabbos chores. I’m hoping the Kosher candy novelty will wear off soon. We figure if we let them get pretty much anything for a few more days they’ll get sick of it on their own .

 BAW drove the boys over to shul for early mincha at 6 (in Saba’s car) and J and I lit candles. Right before then, N’s abcess finally burst and to say the least, it was not pretty, but BH he was really on the mend once that happened. As I type, he is busy yelling at me and standing on the table trying to hit the keys on my keyboard. Yep, pretty much back to normal, BH.

We went to BAW’s aunt for both meals, and had a truly restful and wonderful shabbos.  BAW and Uncle S took the big boys for a hike up in the mountain across the street from our house after mincha and afterwards I took all the kids out on a walk to find some other kids. Just one block away is a very happening block, and the 3 older ones actually asked me if they could stay and I didn’t see them until shabbos was almost over! TPH told me not to worry, but you always worry about kids making friends when you move. With all the kids in this neighborhood, it would be hard NOT to find friends.

We are love, LOVE, LOVING Ramat Shiloh. It’s a new area right next to Ramat Beit Shemesh, and so far looks like a great place for us, BH. But more on that later. BAW just took 4/6 to Yerushalaim for a modem and router, so that maybe by tomorrow we might finally have some internet. 

It’s like the dark ages over here

Day 3

Fully appreciating my smiling, devious Little Red being home: he can do no wrong, and he knows it!

Up and out early to the merkaz to get our cell phones ordered, which took a really long time. Hopefully by tomorrow we should both have new phones. This being without internet is very yucky. I feel so disconnected from everything.

Kids are taking to RBS so far. For the first time, 7 year old B and 4 year old R took some money and walked around the stores by themselves while we were nearby in the cell phone store. They managed to buy themselves bottles of water in one place and giant jawbreakers in the candy store. Sounds dumb? They still don’t speak a word of Hebrew, so if nothing else, 2 points for bravery. 

If anyone in our family can do it, B will be the first one to venture out.
He keeps exclaiming things like, “WOW! Everything is Jewish! This is all kosher!” or, sometimes things that aren’t so cute in his booming voice, “What is up with these ‘chasids’ and their bushy hair?”

J also blew me away by going to a friend’s house today. We are here 3 days. Kids are amazing.

Rest of the day was spent taking 2 taxis to the train. Train to the mall. 2 taxis to the Kotel. Bus to BAW’s mother’s house. Van home. I am trying to be a good sport with no car, but already it’s taking its toll on us.

Big highlight of today was lunch at KFC. Mmmm…Kosher KFC…’nuff said.

The kotel for the first time was spectacular. Everywhere we go, BAW acts as our tour guide infusing each trip with history and feeling. R wanted to call Morah Shirly right away and tell her where he was. N went right up and kissed the wall again and again. J wasn’t ready to go when I was and wanted to say 2 more perakim of tehillim.  

It’s so amazing to be here and sharing all of this with the kids. They are so into it and excited and thrilled to just be here.

I am so happy too, but just a little unsettled. I think that once we have some more basics (stove, washer/dryer) I’ll feel a little more comfortable.  Maybe once the lift arrives and we are surrounded by our familiars, I’ll feel more at home. For right now I feel like we are on the best vacation ever.

Not too shabby, huh?

A few more Sharei Tzedek mentionables....

This is coming in randomly between my pre-saved posts. I left out a few amazing things about the hospital stay that I wanted to put out there, and DR reminded me on FB...

When we first arrived and were in triage, N was screaming and was inconsolable. Out of the blue, a high school age girl and her 7 year old brother came in with a ballon, toy and bag of bamba. The best part was their smiling faces for a change of scenery. I was totally weepy with the beauty of two kids coming around on their own time and their own dime to do such a big mitzva! It was amazing. 

Little did I know that they would only be the first of many such visitors! Each group bringing a smile to N's face. He loved a candy bracelet that someone brought him so much that when the next girl came, he started pulling at her regular bracelet to try and see if it was up for grabs!

Another amazing part of the stay was the fact that the hospital charged us only 2500 NIS for an overnight stay and 6 courses of IV antibiotics! When I asked BAW why so cheap, he said that in the office they realized our plight, and lowered it significantly. Also, once our insurance kicks in here, the gov't will reimburse us for what we paid. 

Just a few more praises of the land!! Now back to our regular scheduled program....

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day Two (Nacho Part 2)

I woke up with a start to a totally silent house at 11:45am! For those of you who don’t know what “trisim” are, they are both the biggest blessing and curse of every Israeli home. Trisim are heavy plastic slated blinds that roll up and down the outside of the window. When pulled all the way down they block out all sunlight which is good when you are trying to keep the cool in and the heat out. They are also awesome if you want to take a nap in broad daylight; just pull them down and it’s immediately midnight. For jet-laggers, they are not so good. They allow you to keep your US sleeping habits for as long as you mighty well please. So, at NOON today, I promptly became the Tris Nazi, going from room to room in an overly annoying cheerful voice saying, “good morning! Time to get up! Our first whole day in E”Y!” and opening the trisim to let in the heat/light of day.  After much grumbling, most people got up without too much prodding. 

But again, N had a scarily high fever. Over 104. I called the American doctor who had given me his cell number (now, c’mon, imagine a Doc in the US giving me his own private cell?) and he urged me to go back to the Emergency Center and get a referral to the hospital. We moved fast at this point, as he was screaming and yelling and I ran the kids over to Saba and Savta and ran to get the referral. This time, they took us right in, no one was messing around anymore and we were at Shaarei Tzedek in Jerusalem within the hour.  I had both my naturally born Sabras at STz and I still marvel at that hospital every time.  As we are walking in, there is a little machine that looks like a vending machine but upon closer inspection has 10 different docking spots with chargers. You pay to have your phone/iPod/whatever locked in a case and charged. Israelis are brilliant.

Maybe not so brilliant, but worth the mention was the next vending machine that sold hot French fries with ketchup. Gross you say? Believe me, by 3am the next morning those “chips” were looking pretty enticing.

Another thing that always strikes me about STz are the frum women doctors. It makes me marvel that there are some women out there just like me that somehow actually can pull it together enough to have a family and be a great doctor, too.  Awesome.

Again here, they took one look at N’s leg and took him right back to Emergency Pediatrics. At this point, he was burning up and they guaranteed us one night’s stay at the very least. Now think about this. We are literally off the plane. We have no health insurance, we haven’t slept more than a couple of hours in the past few days, and oh! The best part of all: when we first arrived, we went to the bank and there was a strike. No workers at a bank means no money. So now we are admitted to the hospital with no health insurance and no money.

BAW stayed with us for a few hours, but then we decided that someone had to get home to the other five very cranky, needy kids. I surprised myself by not being nervous about being left alone there, and by understanding just about everything the nurses and doctors said. The only thing I was very uncomfortable about was the Arab nurse that was the only nurse on the Emergency Peds floor all night. But the Israeli Docs seem to be able to work side by side with them with no problem, so I dealt with it.

N was uncomfortable to say the very least. They put his IV in his foot since he had one in his hand the night before, and after much poking around L they couldn’t find one in his other arm.  You can only imagine that most of my past 24 hours have been spent trying to get him to stop pulling at that IV. They gave him IV antibiotics every 8 hours as well as pain meds. For the most part he wasn’t too bad. Saba and Savta came with A and A to visit from 10 to 12 last night, and that helped us a lot too. N needed the distraction, and I needed a bathroom break and a good teeth brushing. I have a whole new respect for people with sick kids who spend lots of time at the hospital.  It is emotionally and physically exhausting for both the child and the parent.  

He only dozed off for an hour or so the whole day, and by 3am I was in panic mode again because I was so tired. He wouldn’t sleep. I finally put up the bars to the cage/crib and let him dance around while I fell asleep on the chair next to him. I was out like a light for 15 minutes exactly. When I woke up, he was unnaturally sliding around his crib. He had had a terrible diaper that had leaked and was literally dancing around in the mess. His IV on his foot was COVERED in diarrhea, and I sat down and had my first good cry since arriving here. I had literally reached my limit. The next shift of nurses (wonderful people!!) helped me clean him up without asking too many questions as to why I didn’t notice this sooner :/

Finally, around 5am we both fell asleep and woke up to BAW standing over us around 8am, both of us cranky and exhausted. I felt disgusting, not having had a hot shower since Sat. night, and now it was Wednesday morning! I smiled at BAW and fell promptly asleep again in my squeaky chair next to the crib, only to have him shake me awake to take a taxi home. I was so nervous to leave and only did so when the doctor promised me that N would be home by this evening. I somehow made it home in a stupor and stopped at Saba and Savta’s to have Saba drive us all home.  After a shower and some food I was finally feeling human again, and put on a DVD on my computer for the masses to watch so that I could take a quick nap.
BH around 7pm BAW walked in with N who looked tired and traumatized. We sent everyone to bed, and thankfully there were only 3 people up and looking for breakfast at 2am. Everyone is starting to get on a schedule..

Nacho Part 1

We checked in at “Terem” Medical Center at 11:00pm, and sat in the waiting room until 2:00am. Under normal circumstances this would’ve been annoying beyond belief, but remember, we still had on our “Aliyah Glasses” and were marveling in all the differences between here and the US.

Jews of all shapes and sizes together wishing each other “refuah shalima” and asking each other about what happened, and what they can do to help. One couple in their 40’s (sefardi/charedi looking) was there with a lacerating finger (the husband’s). For some reason, there is no rhyme or reason about who gets precedence when getting called in, and there was another lacerated finger that came in after these people had been waiting for TWO hours. Guy #2 (non-religious) was taken in immediately, stitched and sent on his merry way. As this guy was checking out, the first guy got up to go over and talk to him. My thought was, boy is he gonna give him a piece of his mind! Guy #1 and wife have been sitting here over 2 hours, and guy #2 waltzes in and out in 20 min! But nope, I haven’t been here long enough to know how these things work, and guess what Guy #1 says to Guy #2?? “Baruch Hashem! It was only your fingers, remember to give thanks that it was only this!”

And TPH and I look at each other and smile. For this we came. For this we are here.

When we were finally called in at 2am, I was now alone with a VERY uncomfortable and cranky N, as Uncle S had called us at 11:30 saying every single kid was up and asking for breakfast. Ahh, the joys of jet-lag. So, BAW ran home to deal with those guys while I was lucky enough to score an American doctor who was more than a little concerned. He immediately ordered an IV antibiotic which they gave on the spot. For those of you who have held your babies while someone stuck them with a needle, you know how awful it can be. He screamed the whole 40 min the IV was in and the meds were infusing.

When we got home at 3:30am Uncle S was a little freaked out. He said that he heard someone rattling the doorhandles at the front door and kitchen doors like they were trying to get in, around 3am.  BAW called the police, and there was no answer. Had we been any less tired, we would’ve kept at it, but at this point, we were literally falling asleep on our feet. We locked up tight, turned on every outside light, and said a little prayer.

Finally, by 4am everyone was in bed, if not asleep.  At 6am Little Red woke up screaming, and promptly fell asleep on my mini-cot, leaving no room for me. I eventually put him in a little nest I made for him on the floor next to me and fell asleep. 

Arrived Safe and Sound

So, we arrived to our new home and I had expected to start making beds, go shopping, get the apartment cleaned, etc., and could not imagine how I was going to do that while feeling SO tired. Imagine our (MY!) excitement when we came in and saw that Saba and Savta had set up the whole place, complete with borrowed (made!) beds, pillows, table and chairs and the best part: a stocked fridge! It was such a relief to come in and just be able to relax, BH!

After exploring their new surroundings inside and out everyone who was not already asleep collapsed into a bed and slept for a few hours. When we woke up very groggy, but happy and excited to be here (“Imma, I have finally come to terms that we are moving here, and I like it!!”) we decided to walk up to the “merkaz” (center of town) and see what we could see.

Our house is a good 5 min walk from the main stores (banks, grocery, bakeries, toy stores, restaurants, etc) but it felt like an hour in the 97 degree weather.  BAW and I were trying to be cheerful (“look at how brightly the sun shines in Beit Shemesh!” “Wow, good weather for a tan!” “See, it’s good that the ‘dood shemesh’ doesn’t work yet, cold showers when we get home! “) but we weren’t fooling nobody. It was HOT. We got there and went to Café Bagels to get ice coffees and cold drinks for everyone. Upon hearing that we had just made aliyah, the owner brought us all ice coffee on the house. Then we thoroughly enjoyed a GREAT meal, compliments of the Chaburah ladies!! Thank you!!! 

After walking around a little more, we got home and cooled off with some ices and more cold drinks. It was then that I noticed that Little Red wasn’t quite cooling down like everyone else, and I was worried that maybe he had sunstroke. For those of you who don’t have any direct dealings with the Red Headed Species, they are SUPER sensitive to heat and sun. The real problems started when I changed his diaper. The boil on his leg had somehow managed to become a huge infected sore, and was hot and hard to the touch.  He screamed if anyone came near it, and after a bath and some motrin did nothing to calm him down we started to get serious.  There is an emergency care center about 8 minutes from our house, so TPH ran over to borrow Saba’s car (remember, NO CAR!) and we left the rest of the sleeping kids in the capable hands of Uncle S. 

Our flight and arrival

Well, who’d have thunk that my first post in the Holy Land would be written while sitting at Shaarei Tzedek hospital…but I am not going to get ahead of myself, so let’s see….

Our flight was really not too bad, sorry to disappoint those that were expecting some good laughs from hearing all about it! The kids were so excited about finally reaching this point, that once we got on the plane, and got everyone settled into our whole row, the rest was kind of easy. Little Red was on the hard side, lots of crying, and not so much sleeping, but there were none of the epic disasters that we had both predicted. When Little Red was awfully cranky ,  we noticed an oncoming staph infection on his leg which is not uncommon in this family. I was even prepared with the typical antibiotics and had started him on meds on Sat. night. He was uncomfortable and kvetchy on the plane, and had a hard time falling asleep, but once he did, was out like a light for a good 4 hours or so, BH!!
The hard part of the flight was getting off and locating all of our pieces of luggage. The little guy who flew with us to meet his grandfather was adorable beyond belief, and helped us with locating and finding all of our bags. We loaded up onto FOUR luggage carts, and were the last ones out into the real world!
Our welcome home was beautiful. TPH’s parents, aunt and grandmother made the trip to the airport (and it was 7am, no less!) to greet us with balloons, food, drinks, and 2 fourteen passenger vans to get us home. The first thing that put a smile on our faces was this, and looking very touristy we had to stop and take a picture.

***Picture coming soon...

The kids loved getting into the big vans that had “Imma! Jewish music playing!” On the 35 min drive to our apartment, 4/6 kids were snoring loudly, as most of them had not slept a wink on the plane. So there me and BAW are, loudly exclaiming to the kids about our surroundings and trying to show them things when they were all sound asleep. First note to self about Aliyah: Things don’t quite go as you imagined them when you have kids.

Out of the LOOP!!!

So, it's almost a week later, and we are FINALLY up and running with phone and internet... I can't tell you how pathetically hard it was to be that long without being connected!!

I did, however, keep blogging even though I couldn't post.... so here they come.... I'll upload them in order I guess! Happy following!! :)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Almost there!

Last leg of the journey tomorrow!

Our drive down here was thank G-d uneventful. Bubby helped us drive down in 2 rented SUVs and we somehow managed to fit 10 passengers plus 16 pieces of luggage. Do you have any idea how much SIXTEEN pieces is?! A LOT. Most of it is sitting in the garage here, and it takes up HALF of it.

We stopped in the country on the way down to say goodbye to the brothers at Dougies, and more crying (not too much, cuz I know they'll come visit) ensued. But we had a great meal, and it broke up the drive down nicely. Saying goodbye to Bubby the next morning was hard, but I think not being in R made it a lot easier.

We all had an awesome, very (2 NAPS!) relaxing shabbos; kids had some pool time while we were here, and baby has been sleeping great, got all the laundry done, and M took fantastic care of us, so we are rested, and ready to go. BAW and boys went to shul and even to the park this morning, but I've been home and trying to lay low.

Kids are much more excited than I've seen them in a while, and the only one isn't able to sleep tonight is Brother S, but also just from excitement...

We'll keep you posted...but we're almost there!!


El Al names their airplanes. Ours is named "Yerushalayim". 

With hearts full of gratitude to Hashem Yisborach for bringing us to this point, we'd all like to say Shalom U'lihitraot. See you all on the other side!