Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Scavenger Hunt

I was worried about what I would do with all the kids out of the house almost all day. But then I remembered my Sunday Morning Scavenger Hunts. 

See, every Shabbos or sometimes even Saturday night, I get thrown a list of clues. Literally, they throw them at me. These clues come wrapped tightly in the weekly "Daf Kesher" (Newsletters) that each child gets from his or her teacher. The newsletters in Israel are a Big Deal. Every aspect of what they learned, read, did--it's all in these sheets. Lose these sheets and your child literally should just stay home for the next week of school, as neither of you will have any idea what's flying.

Some children even have multiple newsletters. B's comes home weekly at about 4-5 pages. 2 from the homeroom teacher, 2 from the Torah teacher, and another 1-2 from the math teacher. Now take an average of 3 pages per child and there I am up to my elbows at the Shabbos table reading 18 pages (in small Hebrew font!) and trying to find my clues. 

The clues are usually listed in the "Announcements/Notices" section of these newsletters, and cleverly disguised as Things Your Children Will Need For School This Week , Or Else They Will Be The Only One Without It, And They Will Cry. A Lot. 

Well, once I read and decipher these clues, I have my list of items for my Sunday Morning Scavenger Hunt, and I can set out on my quest.

This week's list included:
A teeny tiny jar of honey
Nail scissors
(Yet another) binder
a geography book
The all elusive Sefer: Chumash Devarim
Hand towels

Now, while I appreciate a school in which they are constantly doing projects and always learning more and more, once I get my List of Clues I start to truly lament the lack of a Target or Walmart in the area. One Stop Shopping is a thing of the past.  Luckily I live right down the block from the shopping center, and if I play my cards right I should only need to hit...3...make that 4 stores for these six items. 

To make a long story short, it took me about 45 minutes to track down that small little jar of honey, the only nail scissors I could find came as part of a larger set of SIX pairs of scissors of various size, and (YES! you have to believe this part!) there are NO sefrei Devarim to be had in RBS (and haven't been for weeks)...and EEP! I forgot the towels!

Well, with nobody home, there's always tomorrow...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Did I Just Say That?

While I've been in bed for the past week (yes, I said week) I've had time to think about all the blog posts I have not been writing. There's....

1. The insanity involving the opening of the girls' elementary school called Orot in Beit Shemesh that's being violently contested by a group of ultra-orthodox crazies. But this topic has been beaten to death for me. My neighbor wrote a great post about it which I hope to publish one of these days when I can actually sit upright for more than an hour at a time. 

2. Migron--another evacuation and demolition of Jewish homes 5 kilometers from Jerusalem. This I can't write about because it's too painful and I get insanely emotional every time I go back to the video of our idiotic government sending our brothers and sons in to evacuate their own brothers and sisters from their homes. It's Gush Katif all over again and my emotions just take control and turn me into a lunatic, so I'm not ready to write about that yet either. So I guess tonight I have to keep it light. 

I'm taking a big risk here and letting you in to some very private moments in the W house. Don't laugh. Or do, but just don't think we're ridiculous. Big Abba W and I have a saying between us that goes like this: "Did I Just Say That?" You wouldn't believe some of the things that we've found ourselves saying. Here are some real-life examples:

--Please don't poke your brother in the eye with toothpicks. 
--Take that Kippah off the dog. 
--Don't put salt in your cereal. 
--Tzitis don't go wrapped around your head.
--Please go put that sniper back in the weapons bin.
--Please go throw out the pancake that is sitting in the bathroom sink.
--Stop letting the dog lick your mouth.
--Don't pour yogurt on the guest bed.
--Whose sock is this in the freezer?
--You can't come to Havdalah with your p*nis out.  
--You cannot leave your teeth on the sink! 
--Your blankie does not belong with you in the tub.
--How many times to I have to ask you not to leave your swords around?
--Please take the leash off of N.

I can't tell you how many more of these there are. I wish I would remember to write them down as they come. You can't make this stuff up. Seriously. Pay attention next time you talk to your kids, and share them with me so I feel less weird and dysfunctional. Wait, Did I Just Say That?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A few good things

So many things to write about, so little time. The truth is that with my "flexible work schedule", I do have more than enough time on my hands. What's been holding me back is a new $10 membership to Lego Universe, a new online Lego peer to peer game. No, I am not addicted, but my computer is the only one that has internet that the kids can use, so by the time the last one is off to bed these days, I'm about there myself. 

I never really reported on the first day back to school, and it is noteworthy in it's non-excitingness. It's really true that no news is good news. I got back from the States the afternoon before school started. I am a little neurotic about back to school, so the books and supplies had all been bought a month beforehand, and the backpacks were even packed before I left for the US. 

It's amazing what a difference a year makes. A started a new middle/high school this year, and I was surprised that he wasn't more nervous. I kept asking if he was ok, and he kept giving me The Look. (Slightly rolled eyes, exasperated sigh) He did tell me that he remembered two things from last year about the first day of school. "One, was that this kid was acting crazy and I was sure that he'd be kicked out. Turns out he's my good friend now, he just has a little ADD. Second, I was terrified."

On one hand my heart goes out to him that a year later he's willing to admit how scared he was. On the other hand, it's amazing to look at this young man and see how self confident and comfortable he's become with himself in the past year. The beginning of this new year has definitely had it's challenges for him: he has to get on the bus at 7am, which means up at 6:15, and does get home until after 6pm. The homework has also increased drastically this year and his Hebrew still isn't where it needs to be. Thank G-d he has an exceptionally patient Israeli father who has been helping him every night. The thing is, he's getting there. I no longer worry about him constantly, and that's a good thing.

J loves school, even though every event, relationship, test, etc. is dramatized to the fullest. Academically she continues to shock me and I just don't know how or when she got so smart. I am tremendously proud of her. One highlight for this school year is the Bat Mitzva class that all 6th graders have. Towards the middle of the year they take the whole grade on a shabbaton to a hotel and give even more shiurim (classes) on what it means to be a Bat Mitzvah. She's very, very excited about it. We are currently trying to figure out what she wants to do for an extra "club" after school, but I think there are too many options and she can't see herself doing just one thing. We're working on it... :)

B has grown by leaps and bounds in one year, both physically and maturity-wise. He reads Hebrew books now almost as easily as he reads English ones, and is really enjoying this Parsha set that we have in Hebrew. He makes no differentiation between English speakers or Hebrew speakers in his class and is an equal opportunity friend. School work has gotten much, much easier for him and he is just about on the same level as his classmates. It's amazing to see how this guy went from having a very hard time to being amazingly well adjusted. It's a very good thing.

S is, well...S. His uniqueness and smile make him so special! He has many friends in class and in the neighborhood and is doing fantastic in school. His teacher had no idea that he is a new "oleh". Probably because after one year he really isn't... :) Both B and S are taking Capoeira at the local Matnas (think JCC) and it's very fast become a highlight of his week. He loves math and does incredibly well in school. He misses his Aunt D, with whom he has always has a special connection. But he's happy and likes school, that's always a good thing!

R has probably had the best change of all. Out of all the kids, I think he had the hardest first year. Strange, being that he was only 4 when we got here, right? He had a fantastic teacher last year, but I don't think that the school was the right fit for him. He also had mostly girls in his class and socially it wasn't the best for him. He spent much of most year on the couch with his thumb in his mouth while clutching his blankie. This year has been a WONDERFUL change for him! His teachers are both fantastic, the Gan itself is great and he is so, SO happy. He was home sick this week and every morning ran to get a siddur. "If I can't go to gan, I must daven at home!" He goes everyday with my amazing neighbor and going with a friend made the initial separation easier. He is so happy, it makes me smile every time he comes home. "How was Gan, R?" "AWESOME! I LOVE IT!" Every single day. 

N is the man. He is out of the house for the first time, and it went surprisingly well. He did cry for the first 3-4 days, but since then he seems excited and happy to go. I was worried about him returning today after being out sick for 3 days, but he went in well. He does the cutest thing when we go in. He seems kind of sad to leave me or BAW, but he sidles up to the teacher and waits for a hug every time he gets there. Once he gets it he's full of smiles and runs off to play. He's learning more and more Hebrew every day. 

All in all it's been a great start to the year. Gone are my nervous, anxious American newbies. I don't know what exactly they are morphing into, but it's happening, and that's a very good thing. :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Whew, am I behind. I feel like I always have to start with an excuse. It's my blog and I can procrastinate if I want to!

Well, not procrastinating per say, but I have been honestly very, very busy. Got back from the US a week ago, but it's been a week of sending off kiddies to the first week of school, getting used to a new earlier schedule, starting N in gan for the very first time,cleaning and battling jet lag all at once. 

My trip to the states was fantastic. It was so, SO good to see everyone, friends and family both. We (me and B, my trusty travel partner) arrived in Detroit the morning of the wedding and it was awesome to spend time with my family there. The wedding passed in a whirlwind, due mostly to jet-lag and adrenaline battling each other fiercely within me. B was a trooper but insisted in swimming in the hotel pool the day of the wedding rather than sleeping, so by about 9pm he was passed out on a lobby chair. 

The next day we drove back to the R and spent the next week shopping, shopping and visiting friends and family. There is never enough time to spend it with everyone that I love!! :( A highlight was definitely seeing two sets of my grandparents.

The truth is, I was really nervous about the trip. I was worried about going back "home" but the whole experience was exactly what I needed. It lent me a closure that I really, really needed. I left in such a hurry (decided in March to make Aliyah and got on the plane early July) and I never really got to say goodbye properly. After this trip I feel really good. It was great to see everyone, excellent to be there for a family simcha, and even better to just sit and shmooze with everyone. B had a blast reconnecting with his old friends and it was like they had never been apart. 

I won't bore you with the joys of Target, Marshall's and the like. What I can tell you is that B nearly cried tears of joy in the Target and Toys R Us Lego aisles. I got my plethora of gashmiyus in, and I even managed to fill all the empty suitcases that I brought. The best part was when I was checking in at JFK on my way back home and I was 20 lbs overweight. Never before had anyone ever bothered me about being overweight before. They wanted $150 to pay for my overweight bags. I pulled them to the side and started taking out bags and bags of Hershey's. No joke, I stuffed almost 20 lbs of Hershey's chocolate in my carry-on and we were good to go :)

Coming home was amazing. Every time I land in Israel I get weepy. I can't explain it. It's a relief and a gratitude to be home. TPH is really the hero in this whole story; not only did he hold the fort with 5/6 kids, but he took them on trips and did lots of fun stuff with them. I was so glad to see them after being away so long, and it really helped recharge my batteries and give me a whole new appreciation for everyone.

The house was another story. You've heard me complain about how hard it is to keep house here. For some reason the dirt LOVES the houses here and when I don't clean for a couple of days it looks like a crack house in here. I'm serious. Now imagine one excellent husband and 5 cute kids all alone for NINE days...

It wasn't pretty, and I'm still cleaning from it. But no complaints. All in all it was a fantastic trip and I'd do it again anytime soon. Good thing, too. I still have 5 siblings to marry off.