Tuesday, August 24, 2010

8 hours and Counting...

The backpacks are packed and lined up neatly by the door. The floor is washed. For the most part, lunches are made. Kids and TPH are snoring softly, and I am the only one still wide awake with real "day before school starts" jitters.

Everything that you have heard from me until now is all for this moment. We are embarking now on the rest of our lives as true Israelis, enrolling our kids in schools of our choosing, schools that will help us mold and shape them into the Bat Yisrael and Bnei Yisrael that we have envisioned each of them to be from the moment we were entrusted with them. Tomorrow we begin to truly give them Torat Eretz Yisrael. 

This week has been absolutely crazy. There is no other way to describe it. We have schlepped from meeting to meeting, from school to school, from classroom to classroom, and met teacher after teacher. We have spoken with principals, guidance counselors, and countless other parents who range from completely clueless to totally helpful in every way. We have met kids that have been through the system, and kids that are starting fresh like our own. Our kids have bounced around with us from place to place, watching, waiting, absorbing. 

Surprisingly, they seem OK. It seems like the excitement, the potential of what is out there is balancing out the jitters and nerves. Yes, they are terrified of all of the basics (think MATH, SCIENCE, etc) in Hebrew. But after all of these meetings, they (the big ones) are finally starting to understand why we have uprooted them from the comfort of their home, from their family and friends to come here.

Everything here is real. I don't know how better to explain it. When the principal of the boys' school stands up and talks for 1/2 hour about love for each and every person, and each and every Jew, and each and every Rabbi that teaches Torah, the whole move has been worth it. When I see the "old" girls welcoming the new girls with huge smiles and outstretched arms, the whole move has been worth it. When I pack my daughter's bag with Mishnayos, the whole move has been worth it.

Don't get me wrong, and don't think that I still have my "aliyah glasses" on. I left those waaaay back in 2002. :) I know that tomorrow will also be the beginning of some very hard times ahead of us. Homework, friends, language, the challenges are in front of us, and cannot be ignored. But when I step inside those buildings tomorrow and officially send my children off with a heart full of prayer I'll know and will not doubt that this whole move has been worth it.

Day Before School Jitters

I don't know who is more nervous about the kids starting school tomorrow: me or them.

Here is a snippet of conversation from this morning that says it all.

Me: "What's Aruchat Eser?"
Them: "Breakfast!"
Me: "What's Sherutim?"
Them: "Bathroom!"
Me: "Good! What's Please? Thank you?"
Them: "B'vakasha! Toda!"
Me: "What's Aruchat Tzahariyim?"
Them: "BASEBALL!""

Um, we're almost ready... :/

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Quick update

I've been trying to find a few minutes somewhere to blog, and it just has not been happening for me lately!! I am hoping with the start of school I might have some of my life back, but am not betting on it, since the holidays are so early this year...

We've been busy!! J finished her 3 week stint of camp, and I just don't have enough good things to say! BH it was a good choice; we had a hard time deciding between camp and ulpan initially, but went with camp so she'd meet friends. Thank G-d, she met some amazing girls, and has a real handle on who's who in the neighborhood...I know, I know, she's a girl...

I went to her end of camp "Concert" where they had 125 girls in a combination of dance, drama and choir. J is in drama; no surprise here. :) She played a girl with a stutter, and was phenomenal! But I did promise her no more blogging about her. Sorry J! I'm allowed to be proud of you just a little!! 

It was such a totally amazing feeling going into an auditorium filled with excited girls, and their mothers, aunts, grandmothers, etc. As they got on stage and started to sing, I got such a good feeling that J is going to be just fine here. Each girl was more gorgeous than the next, beautifully complimenting each other's talents and strengths. The woman in charge of camp "Captain A", they call her promotes good middos and chessed all throughout camp. Their trips were fun, but also included things like packing food for the needy at Yad Eliezer in Jerusalem. 

All around it was a great experience, and she came away with some real friends, BH!!

Boys finished 2 week summer ulpan, and I don't know how this is possible, but S is speaking hebrew! Bigger boys were a bit reluctant about the whole thing, but hopefully they picked something up that will help them. At least they also met other new kids, and will have some familiar faces in class on the first day.

Shabbos here was beautiful, again. I LOVE our new shul, and with the arrival of the new Rabbi, TPH is feeling very good about it, too. He came home lively, and excited and had lots to share with me about the shiur. I also stayed for the women's shiur which is a good hour of intense study on the parsha. It's so good to have a local shiur that is challenging and fascinating!!! BH!!

We are doing good...CANNOT wait for the arrival of Sister D this week!!!! :)

Alls good!!!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Patient Update

Just as we started settling in, and used to the not so humdrum lifestyle of a Ramat Beit Shemean, things took an extra crazy turn this week. For those of you on FB, you've seen it already: 

J broke a crown off her front tooth, rendering her the best pirate look alike we've got, according to her brothers.  She took it in stride, but like most things here, we don't really have a dentist (well, now we do!) and were clueless about dental insurance. BH, it's not even 24 hours after "the event" and she is newly crowned, and smiling again. 

A broke his arm. Plain old broken. A soccer injury that resulted in a fracture above the wrist that will take 3-4 weeks to heal. He is finally ( FOUR DAYS LATER!) in a cast and on the mend.

No, I do not beat my children, although sometimes I most definitely think about it.

B Thank G-d is holding steady, although he did get a suspiciously "serious" stomach ache when he found out that A would not be going to Ulpan today. It was the typical crying and writhing on the floor, until I finally let him stay home, and very miraculously (thanks be G-d ;) he was cured as soon as the other kids walked out the door.

S is fine now, but check out my FB for some seriously scary pics! For a family with 2 dogs, a ferret, and a guinea pig, who would've guessed that we have an animal allergy? But this is the second time it happened, and both times it was at the petting zoo at Kibbutz Tzora. BH, the woman standing next to me when he broke out just happened to have Benadryl in her purse. Amazing. 

and R, my main man, finally has an inhaler. His asthma is bad this week, with his summer cold, and our doctor here told us enough with trying the liquid albuterol, time for the real thing. Seems to help, so that's fine with me. Since he's been sick though, he's been in my bed every night. BIG secret: I LOVE IT. He is not of the snorers, the teeth gnashers, or the sleep talkers. He is the only one who is ever allowed to spend the whole night ;)

N has the cold of a lifetime, with a really yucky looking sty in the eye (that's NOT amore). He's still on anti-biotics from his staph infection, and I think we just have to wait the cold out. Best is when he tries to say "Ernie" with a stuffed nose. 

TPH has spent the day ferrying kids from Ulpan to Doctor to Ulpan to Dentist to Camp to Cast. He is not feeling so hot either, and he had a fever over shabbos.

Big Mama K is doing surprisingly well, BH...isn't it always that way? Lots of grocery shopping today, online and in store :) Enjoying my new oven and trying to get settled...it's slow going, but at least it's going!! Can't wait to see 2 siblings sooooon!!! :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

25 Things You May or May Not Know About Me

Wow. I was looking back at this forward that went around FB over a year and a half ago. But I figured it was worth "reprinting".

Pay special attention to #6. It's a really, really good feeling when you accomplish something that was originally on your list of dreams.

Also, #4 is sadly no longer pertinent, on every single level :(

And I guess #19 should be changed to "Teacher strike days", although those just don't have the same cozy, stuck in the house feeling...

Oh, and #21: I am getting there.

25 Things You May or May Not Know About Me

1. I am the oldest of 10. It was wild growing up, its crazy wild now, and my guess is that it will only get wilder…still, one of the best things that ever happened to me.

2. I am SUPER competitive. I must be best at everything, or it’s not worth doing at all.

3. I signed on to become part of Am Yisrael when I was 7. Good choice.

4. I have two dogs, a ferret, a guinea pig, and a fish. No one cleans up after them except me. Since I am pregnant, Eli is currently on ferret duty.

5. I love chocolate milk. No, I am obsessed with chocolate milk. The more chocolate the better.

6. I made Aliyah, then Yeridah, and hope to one day make Aliyah again, for the final time.

7. I love Hashem, but sometimes have a hard time understanding what he wants from me.

8. I cried when Sruli told me that he wants to marry me, because he never wants to leave me.

9. I have painted most of the rooms in my house at least once, all by myself.

10. I don’t gain weight during pregnancy; only right before and right after.

11. I like watching one trashy TV show a week. It relaxes me, and makes me feel a lot better about myself as a person.

12. I am most fulfilled when standing at the front of a classroom. 

13. I love the smell of the first day of school. New supplies, new paper, etc. It makes me giddy!

14. My kids all need braces, and I feel guilty, because it runs from my side of the family.

15. In the middle of my first date with my husband, I realized that I wanted to marry him.

16. One of my best friends is my mother.

17. I have two mothers-in-law. 

18. I have been camping over a dozen times and can still pitch a tent, light afire and fish better than most people I know.

19. I love snow days and my heart still beats in anticipation every time we might get one.

20. I am super OCD about organizing and cleaning, and it’s really, really hard to realize that I can’t be on top of those things as much now because of my big (KA”H) family. 

21. My biggest fear in the world is that my sons will have to serve in the Israeli army. I am not one of these brave, amazing mothers that I wish I could be.

22. Before I met Eli, I never moved once in my whole life. Now, I have moved 8 times in the past 10 years. (Editor's Note: make that 9)

23. I don’t like my Hebrew name, and wish SO much that I had chosen one that I like and could actually use!!

24. There is nothing in my life as wonderful, amazing or inspiring as my kids.

25. I still think everyday about how lucky I am to have met such a wonderful, amazing, kind, caring person…and he married ME! Every. Single. Day.

Monday, August 9, 2010

We can see school in the distance...

Wow. It's unbelievable, but lots of the boys around town are starting school tomorrow and Wednesday already!

We, on the other hand are still relishing the last couple of weeks of freedom.

Boys are going great in Ulpan, despite the fact that the teachers speak only a smidgen of English. I have to say that I was disappointed at first, but it doesn't seem to be bothering any of the kids! S was hard to leave off the first day, he was clingy and a little weepy, but no downright crying. It's Day 2 of ulpan and today he answered the teacher IN HEBREW. Kids are amazing.

J had a fantastic trip to Jerusalem today with her camp as they started the day packing food for the needy at Yad Eliezer. J and 40 other girls from her camp spent a couple of hours there just packing and loading food. So impressive here that Chessed is a large part of every school or camp experience. It's amazing, BH!

After that they took the camp on a hike in Midbar Yehuda to hike in some sand dunes that miraculously had a stream flowing through them. She came back wet, tired and so, SO happy!!

I am having a good day as my stove arrived today as well as my washing machine. Dryer, not yet. The washing machine will be installed and working by tomorrow, but the stove has another week until the guys can come. It's really not such a big deal; we've been doing fine on our burners.

That's about it. Not much else to report on the home front. We keep wanting to go to the beach, but the weather is too hot. I know, sounds weird, but there is actually weather that people can't even go to the beach in! Hopefully before school starts. Tomorrow, me and and the SIL go school shopping....hmm...THAT should be fun...Here you have to not only buy supplies but books as well.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Coming up...Summer Ulpan

So glad that I am past that really yucky day on Friday. We really had a beautiful shabbos this week, despite the still high temperatures.

It was my first week making both meals at home, and hosting guests to boot! Like CSR said, having guests is the best, because it means that a sense of normalcy is returning. Don't get me wrong, only about half of our stuff is unpacked. ie: 40 boxes of sefarim neatly lined up against the wall where the book shelves are going. Once they are bought. And assembled. Or the fact that when I DO finally get to my in-laws to throw in a load, I fold the clothes and put them away...in their rightful boxes. But slowly, slowly. We'll get there.

Tomorrow is a big day for A, B and S, who are all starting their first day of 2 weeks of summer ulpan. It's a program geared for new olim and we thought that the boys all really needed a jump start on their Hebrew. They are nervous, and rightfully so. I have heard every complaint tonight from, "My head hurts." "I feel sick." "I lost my  glasses." to "I stubbed my toe."

When none of those worked, it got a little more desperate: "I am not going!" "You can't force me!" "It's Stupid!"

It's only from 8:30am to 12:30am everyday, so I think they'll manage. All the kids going are in the same boat, none of them speak Hebrew, and all of them are new to the area.

One of the hardest parts of being a mother that I am just discovering lately is being brave (or faking it) when you really don't feel that way at all. When you want to cry and yell and stomp your foot with the best of them, but can't. When you have to smile (tersely, never but never fake) and say, "I know how hard this is on you. You are really brave. You'll do great." and gently push them out the door. It's not easy. 

I'm just hoping and praying everyday that one day they'll thank me.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Today is Stupid. Stupid heat. Stupid dirty floors that don't stay clean. Stupid messy house. Stupid no stove or washing machine yet. Stupid. Stupid.

I try to be positive, but here is the cause of said Stupid:

Last night J and I were trying to get her to camp for a sleepover by 5:45pm. We were late (stupid #1), and in a rush to get S to the doctor, so we didn't make up how she'd get home (stupid #2). Normally I pick her up, but sometimes she likes to walk. 

Today, knowing there would be confusion on her part, I set out early to get my FIL's car to go pick her up. I went outside and called a cab (stupid #3). I stood outside in the most unreasonable weather imaginable for 10 min. then called the taxi company again.

"Hi, I just called for a cab a while ago to this address. He's not here."
"The driver said that you didn't come outside." (stupid)
"What? I've been outside the whole time!!"
"No. You didn't come outside, but it doesn't matter, I'll send another one." (stupid)
"It most certainly does matter!! I WAS outside!"
"Calm down, another one is on the way." (extra stupid)

By now it's 10 minutes until camp pick-up time. Another 5 min. goes by. I call the OTHER cab company. "Sure, he's on his way." BTW, here you do not EVER call the OTHER company once you have called the first company. On penalty of death. Just because.

Five minutes later two taxis come up the block. I hop in the first one (stupid?), which happens to be from the OTHER cab company. The driver of the cab I did not take starts flashing his lights, and beeping like crazy and acting like he is going to rear end us (stupid). As we make the turn, the angry driver of the other cab CUTS US OFF (ok, so incredibly stupid that "stupid" just isn't good enough)so we can't drive any more and gets into a shouting match with my driver. Um, seriously, I thought he was going to get out of the cab and punch me. 

I get to FIL's house, shaken, and sweating from body parts that i didn't even know I have, but otherwise intact. It is 12:02 pm when I pull up and LOADS of girls and sleeping bags and pillows and backpacks are strewn all over the place. Mine, however, is nowhere in sight. I wait 10 minutes until they all pile out of the building. I ask around. She isn't there. Panic sets in. 

I run back to the car only to find that I've been blocked in by many, mumbling mothers, mighty nice. After another 10 minutes I am back in the car and frantically scouring the street for her. Keep in mind, it's not that I fear her walking home for any reason other than the heat. It is 107 degrees today. She is wearing black (please do not ask) and carrying a HUGE bag and black sleeping bag and a pillow. By now, in my eyes she is the world's biggest sun magnet. By time I get home, I haven't seen her walking and I am almost in tears. I have called home, and at home they tell me she is not home, and she is not at school or anywhere in between. It's sweltering. There is no where for her to go!!

I go inside and there she is sitting on the couch, beet red and in tears. Poor girl!! She didn't know if I was coming, she couldn't call and so she just walked home! :( I felt awful!! I STILL DO!! :(( I hate when I fail my kids and it could totally have been avoided. 

Anyway, that's the cause for Stupid everything today.

They make me proud :)

Just have to write a quick note to say how proud of "J" I am!! 

I cannot imagine how hard it must be for ALL of my kids to move overseas, change schools and have to make a whole new set of friends, all in one summer! Especially hard I would imagine would be for J, a "going into 5th grader", my only girl. Girls are socially more aware at this age (read: eons ahead of their Neanderthal boy counterparts ;) and friendships have already been formed, some that may even be for life. 

Enter J. A shy but courageous young lady, who goes to a brand new camp, not knowing even ONE girl, with a smile on her face. She gently introduces herself and begins the slow dance of making new friends. Not once has she complained or said that she wishes she could've stayed back in the states. Her attitude is going to make all the difference, and her brave determination is something that I am in awe of. 

Love you, J!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hot Enough for You??

The heat is slooooowing us waaaaaaaaaay dowwwwwwwwwwnn. I feel like everything is in slooowwww motion out there. We have hit record highs of 95-105 this week, with "feel like" temperatures of 110-118. The streets are emptier than usual, as most smart people are inside most of the day. 

This was a GREAT week for us with the arrival of BAW's brother and sister in law, their four girls and her parents and GRANDMOTHER!! I watched the NBN arrival video to get a glimpse of them, and like most people, I was in tears. It was truly a beautiful start for all of these incredible people beginning their journey.

Today I went (all by myself!) to sign the kids up for health insurance. They are all set up, and except for me (it's another one of these 'status' differences) the whole family has health care!! I have to wait either 6 months or pay 9,000 shekel, so trying to figure out a way around that for now. Maybe private health care for the first 6 months. TPH should also have the same stipulations as me, but it's often that things slip between the cracks here, and we think that's what happened with him. In any case, we are not complaining.

Took the first kid to the Doctor today which could've been a lot worse! Doctor was an American, clinic was clean with nice toys, and most importantly, GREAT A/C. :)  The pharmacy for the same provider is right next store to the office, which makes the whole process ridiculously simple, thank G-d!

OH! Other good news: stove and washing machine are arriving on Monday and should be set up and ready to go by Tues. or Wednesday. G-d forbid the people who deliver machine could also install the machine. 

I am feeling really, really good about my Hebrew this time, and it was making me think how much easier it is coming to Israel in my 30s than it was when I came in my 20s. Last time, I still had the self consciousness to not allow myself to speak Hebrew for fear I'd make a mistake. Sadly, it made the whole experience much harder for me and I missed out on meeting some really great people. This time, I just throw it all out there. Sure I make mistakes, and I even had the guy at the bank chuckle at me today when I used the wrong word, but it wasn't a mirthful chuckle, more like he thought I was another one of those "funny little Americans". I have had some great conversations with cab drivers, and am just feeling over all more capable. 

Having an Israeli husband is a MAJOR crutch. There is a lot of, "Can you call..." "Can you go..." but this time he really insisted that I do a lot of those things despite my whining and carrying on. And once again TPH was right. 

Thanks, babe.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Ma Ma Ma Ma Mai Ma

I'm ready to come clean. I am ready to admit it....


Ok, there I said it. I am not a 10 year old girl, I am a very happily married American/Israeli housewife. But it was SO MUCH FUN!! J was actually a wee bit embarrassed of both her parents who were happily clapping along with big goofy gins on our face. The band was great, and the kids were great too. Eli Gerstner was there and did lots of singing as well.

We made a real night of it. Special thanks to Saba for watching the 3 little guys so that we could make it a special night with the 3 big guys. We went out for burgers and then to the show and it was lots of fun. At one point they asked who was there from Beit Shemesh and a big cheer went up, but then he continued to ask, and people from Yerushalayim, Netanya, Modi'in, and lots of other places were there, too. It was a really nice crowd. 

Another thing that's been so great since we got here is all the people that remember us!! It's so nice! We were walking in to the show, and so many women came over and said Hi. It's just embarrassing for me, because for some reason I am terrible with names, and I couldn't for the life of me remember anyone's names!! :( So I finally just gave up and kept saying, "oh my gosh! I am soooo sorry!! What's your name again?" Ok, felt so dumb. 

The heat is unbearable...it got up to 96 degrees today, with a "feel like temperature" of 117. We spent almost the whole day inside. Poor J was home today suffering terribly of heat stroke from a full day of camp yesterday. The camps are very good about staying inside, but we (especially red headed) Americans are super sensitive to the heat. She's excited to go tomorrow, but I'm very apprehensive. :(

Not much else to report. Hopefully we'll be back to our regular scheduled programming when the heat dies down a bit!