Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Are you smarter than MY 5th grader?

Warning: Bragging Post (Ayin Hara not welcome here)

You've been warned: it's a bragging post from one proud Momma.  First off, I do have to admit that the whole story will be peppered with "Immigrant Parent" moments. And you'll be sure to spot them.

So, daughter J came home from school today eager to share her good news. She took some kind of statewide? neighborhood wide? (not really sure as to the details, I'm just an "IP") standardized test a few days ago, based mostly on math and logic questions. An official woman was there administering the test, and when J went to hand hers in, the woman told her that since she is an Olah Chadasha (bottom of the food chain new immigrant), they would not be able to "count" her test. 

I had heard none of this until today. Today the same government official? ("IP") showed up to hand back the tests. 5 girls in 5th grade in each school will go on to take a higher level test against other 5th graders nationwide. And the girl with the highest 5th grade score? None other than my immigrant daughter, thank you very much. Ha! 

I'd take a guess to say they are counting that test now...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sick ? Days

In our house lately, the morning scene goes something like this:

6:35am Alarm goes off. I press "snooze".
6:45am Alarm goes off. I press "snooze". Somewhere in the house Things 4 and 5 start to stir (or, alternately, they have been up since 5:30am and every piece of Playmobil, Lego and Clicks that I own are on the floor of their bedroom).
6:55am Alarm goes off, and although I press "snooze", I am now slightly alive and have managed to wipe the drool off my face.  
7:05am Alarm goes off, I peel myself out of bed and start to wake up older kids. Which, incidentally, if you have older kids, you realize that this task may just be harder than moving mountains. 

They slowly trickle into my room making Night of the Living Dead look good. Scratchy voices, bedraggled bed heads, it truly is pathetic. 

"OY! My head! It's killing! A Mirgraine! OW!"
"My throat! It's killing! I can't move!"
"I'm so tired!" (tears) "Why can't you understand how tired I am?"
Or the ones that just lie forlornly on my bed, too sick/tired/overall nebach to even make a case for themselves.

And most days I don't buy it. Because on those days that I do, like today for example, we witness true miracles right here in Nachal Tzeilim in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

It's called the 8:00am Miracle. After those children who have lost the "Can I Please Stay Home" fight, are bundled off and leave the house, the door barely closes, and those who have been slyly victorious are suddenly, miraculously, without any real explanation...CURED!! It's a MIRACLE! HALLELU-A!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Darn that Dude

We are, BH in the throes of the rainiest month in Israel. Cue: The Dude

For those of you who don't know what a "Dood Shemesh" is, it's a water tank that heats the water for the whole house from solar energy. For the most part, in a ridiculously hot climate, this is a fine idea. But for the month and a half of not much sun outside, there is not hot water to be had unless you turn it on manually. And for some reason we can't seem to remember to turn on the hot water "dude" in enough time to get us hot water for showers. Or baths. Or washing dishes. And it's really, really annoying.

TPH and I are in the passionate midst of the Dance of the Dude, and it's not romantic. It's kind of like the heat in R; I turn it on, he turns it off. I sneak back upstairs and turn it on, he makes some pretense of going upstairs, and turns it off.

Otherwise, this was a great week for us, BH and I was telling my local SIL that I am feeling good, felling settled. We're still a far way from all the way there, but we'll take each small victory as it comes.

We found and finalized a Gan for N next year, and I am so happy with the teacher and the place. We even recommended it to my SIL and my niece will be joining him next year, too! Then came even better news...A got accepted to the Middle School that he really wanted to get into! We've been worrying and ringing our hands, especially because some classmates got their acceptance letters last week, and some still haven't. But BH, he was smiling ear to ear. It was the first time he actually had to apply to somewhere and have that feeling of "Did I really try my best, because suddenly, these things matter!". I've decided that these are good things for a 6th grade boy to think about. Yes, school counts. Yes, effort matters.

So, between the two schools and the new apartment, we are starting to feel like things are falling into place. Granted we have to actually move into the new apartment, but hey, we're getting there.

Now, if only I could get a hot shower.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Not So Terrible Twos

2 year olds have a bad rap. Call me crazy, but my favorite age is 2. Now, it's true that I am not the oldest parent in the book, and have yet to experience kids of all ages, so my favorite age may very well be 16...but I'm gonna say that 2 might be a safe bet. I'll get back to you on 16. 

I've spent a lot of time with my almost 2 year old this week. He was stuck inside watching videos very patient with me the past few weeks while I've been battling the never ending flu. So, this week I decided enough was enough, and we spent some good "QT" (Quality Time) together at the parks, the merkaz and just walking around and dilly-dallying through our days. 

He has decided that he is too big for the stroller, and for some dumb reason I still take it with me. What ends up happening is me running awkwardly after him pulling an empty stroller behind me, and trying to balance that and him running into the street. With his backpack on. He always needs his backpack. 

So, why do I love the not so terrible 2s? First of all, BH my kids are early speakers, so it's around now that they can finally start to communicate with us and tell us what they actually need as opposed to screaming for hours on end for "no apparent reason."

But to figure out what I really love about the 2s, you have to catch a two year old in action and just watch, and listen. It is this little tiny person coming into his own; discovering the world around him one rock at a time, one puddle at a time, one dirty pigeon at a time. 

As we strolled through the merkaz, my every fiber  silently screams, "Ew! Get out of that puddle! Don't lick that pole! Put down (someone else's) dirty bamba!", but I sucked it up and let him do his thing. He splashed, he ran, he chased birds, he climbed the ladder that was too high. And all through it he was running a dialog with me. 

"Mud? I go mud?"
"No, no mud."
"Ha! I splash mud!" (Mud goes flying, jeans are filthy.)

"I chase bird. Bird fly away, sky. Airplane sky. WOW! Airplane sky! Imma! Imma! Look! I see, I see airplane!" (He runs into street after bird, airplane.)

"I climb steps. One, two, three, four...OW! Boo boo! Abba, you ok?" (looks to make sure Abba didn't slip, too)

"Mayim! I jump mayim?"
"No, let's not go in the water."
"HA! I jumped mayim! Sorry, I sorry. I like mayim." ("jumped" = "sat down directly in deepest, dirtiest puddle)

And with each small step, he is learning more than I could ever describe in words. It's funny, when you are younger and are relishing the joys of your first toddlers, you know that whatever "tricks" they know were learned either from you or your husband. There are no real surprises. But when you have bigger kids and toddlers, the bigger kids are constantly teaching their eager shadows new tricks. 

Today, BAW and N and I were on our way to go look at a Gan for next year. We passed by several big empty covered lots in the merkaz, and he runs up to them and yells in, "Echo! Echo! Echo!" And then he stands and listens until one of us drags him away. Neither one of us taught him that one.

On our way into the Gan (Hebrew speaking only!) I introduced him (in Hebrew) to the teacher. Not really thinking he was listening, I said, "This is N." And he very deliberately stops and pokes his finger at his chest and says indignantly, "NO! Zeh NACHO!" The kid has a preference and wants us to know it. 

It's a lesson. We're all finding our way. We're all testing the puddles waters with our Parent. And sometimes we listen, and sometimes we gleefully don't. But as long as all the while we keep up that never ending dialog, and are always looking over our shoulder with assurance that Someone is there, we'll have the confidence we need to learn from every step of our way. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What we've been up to

When I am closing in on almost a week between blog posts, it's a real push to get out here and write. For some reason the more time passes between posts, the more I just want to curl up in a ball and never head over to Nekuda Tova at all. I don't know why, that's just how it works.

Let's see...

The kids got their first report cards last week, and I have to admit that I was in tears. HAPPY tears :) The notes that the teachers write to each and every kid are so personal and sweet. The lowest grade out of four kids was a B! Two of them were graded on special dispensation for immigrants, but two were tested at the same level as everyone else in their grade. I couldn't believe it! I was soo proud! We quickly awarded everyone with a pizza "party" on Sunday night, and the feeling around these parts has been all around fantastic. 

I am still fighting the last of that dang flu, which I've been told is normal. I'm just not the same since it hit almost three weeks ago; a lingering cough, no energy and just general blah-ness. It is too, a word.

We are very excited about our upcoming move (I don't think I've ever said those words before!), but the showing of this house has turned out to be really annoying. I know it's not our house, and BAW keeps telling me, "Stop worrying about cleaning up!", but you women know what I mean: I still have SOME self respect!! So, day in and day out strangers (and some not) traipse through our front door while we sit quietly and unobtrusively on the couch trying to stay out of their way. We really don't have to say yes to all the intrusion, but the quicker they find a buyer, the faster we can get out of here. On the plus side, my house has been remarkably clean this week. Our beds are even made. Can you believe that?!

I have started researching  Gan for N for next year, and have our first visit to one tomorrow. All I can think of is, IS ANYONE CAPABLE OF WATCHING HIM???

And in other news, just a couple miles South of here a little country you might of heard of called Egypt is falling to pieces. 

So, that's about it in W news for now...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Baruch Atah Hashem...Sh'Oseh Li Kol Tzarki

With extra gratitude to Hashem and His shlicha our wonderful friend and awesome neighbor, we would like to announce that we have signed a contract today on a new apartment!

It's amazing how Hashem really sends the cure before the illness. We have been kvetching about our current apartment from the minute we got into it; it's small, there is no storage space, and it has really been cramping our style. It's hard to have friends or playdates over, I have barely done any hosting for shabbos meals this year, and it's all because we are just so squished all the time!

So, when we got the call last week from our landlord that he is going to sell the apartment, and will not be renewing our contract, we weren't even unhappy. Momentarily knocked off our feet, yes. But unhappy or upset? No way. The truth is that we are so miserable in this apartment that another move does not even seem daunting in the least. Well, maybe a little.

That is, until my friend called us and told us about an apartment right across the street from us! It's bigger, it's brighter, it's better. And we'll be able to do almost the entire move ourselves. It's literally out our back door, ten feet down and up a flight of stairs. I'll get those pack mules kids psyched up, we'll hitch some laundry baskets to them filled with our worldly possessions, bribe them with money to spend at the candy store, and viola: a move!

It also helps with the trauma of moving us all to a different block, making new friends again, starting over. BH it seriously could not be a better situation.
The only downside I can think of is that I am going to miss my breathtaking view. Especially now that it's rained a fair amount, the hills are green backed by the mountain, and we joke that we live in The Shire. The new apartment is behind the current one, so the view is essentially the back of our current building. But we spend so much time outside, it's really no big deal. If we want a view, we'll take a walk!

So, again, a special thank you to One who seems to have our backs :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Go figure

Just sat down today to make some serious calculations. Calculations of the likes that the last time I gave them any thought was exactly 11 years ago.

Around this time 11 years ago we were anxiously anticipating the birth of our second child. We had been blessed less than a year before with our first born son A, and didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl this time around. We would sit alone (two babies ourselves!) after A was down for the night and wonder, is this a boy or a girl? Will we have two boys who are 10 months apart and best friends, or a boy and a girl to complete our perfect little family? Then we started really thinking...well...if it is a girl, since they will be only 10 months apart, we'll have a BAT mitzva before a BAR mitzva! How weird would that be?!

Actually, pretty weird. And in ACTUALITY, very weird.

Fast forward to 2011. KA"H my "baby" boy is almost 12, and my "baby" girl is 11. (That's another trick you pick up over the years with kids that are 10  months apart. For the overlapping two months we say, "Oh! She's 11, and he's almost 12!" As we nudge him encouragingly with extra perky exclamation points in our voices. I can't tell you how much pre-teen mortification this saves. Or so we tell ourselves.)

So, we sat down to just look at the calendar. I know it's early, but we just figured it would be a safe bet to take a look, primarily because J has been asking me 3x a week what her Bat Mitzva will be, where her Bat Mitzva will be, and most importantly, who will play the music?? OH, and because when you have grandparents who are tax accountants, anything in the April/Pesach time of year needs planning equal to getting a space ship to take off.

Then we realized a small but very important detail. N, of the red infamy will have his upsherin (first hair cut) one week to the day before J's Bat Mitzva. Oh, and A's "Bo Ba'yom" is not only April 15th, but the day after Pesach.

Who says the Ws don't have more fun?? :)