Sunday, June 26, 2011


Wow, we are old. Old and fat. TPH and I have been trying to get more in shape lately, as our current diet of eating whatever we want whenever we want, combined with our current workout regime of sitting on the couch/computer chair all day doesn't seem to be giving either of us the trim physique we so desire. Wonder of wonders. 

I tend to go barging into most things in life, flattening anyone in my way in my quest for excellence and perfection on all fronts. After not exercising for almost a year, the first power walk I took was 4 miles. The second night I walked another 3, and the third night another 4. By the fourth night I couldn't walk at all. And that was that. 

So here we were a week later on our "Do-Over" (yes, when you are this old and this fat, it does take a week to stop aching), pushing and shoving each other out the door to try and get started again, and I'm proud to report that we just did another 5K around RBS. This time I think I'll take it a little slower, maybe only a couple times a week to start. 

My old dogs were both a major push to get me out the door and walking, and I miss them. Not to bash the current furry companion, but she stinks as a walking dog. She also stinks as a guard dog. She is only minorly good at eating anything on the floor. In short she is not much more than an alive stuffed animal, only, most stuffed animals are probably smarter. 

Case in point: This morning around 11am the doorbell rang. I was surprised knowing that said ferocious guard dog was in the yard, and the gate had been locked. When I looked out the peephole, I saw a Chasid. Holding a very sharp garden hoe. Yes, you read that correctly. 

Slightly afraid of what this could possibly mean (riots? had I gone out in my t-shirt?), I called TPH to answer the door, and sure enough, this collector, while clearly stating his plight was grasping tightly to the garden hoe (our garden hoe) while imploring my DH to please help him and his family. After a short exchange he glanced nervously around and muttered something about the dog before he put down the tool and dashed. The ferocious Chasid eating dog? Helpfully cowering under a chair all the while.

So wish us luck on our new weight loss journey, because if you don't I just might sic my dog on you. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wild and Crazy Saturday Nights

Here I sit on Motzei Shabbos with the dishes piled high in the sink, the floors dirty and the living room/dining room trashed. I would also take a good guess that there are no clean uniform shirts for tomorrow. And, what am I doing? I've just been thrown yet another last minute book report to be typed up, you know the, Right-away-please-Imma!-It-was-due-last-week-and-if-I-don't-get-it-in-tomorrow-it-won't-get-into-the-yearbook type of report.

I'm a pretty mean mother when it comes to missing your deadlines. I'm usually the one yelling, "Well, it's totally your own fault, either type it yourself or get a bad grade!" But since we moved here and everything has to be typed in Hebrew, I have been a lot more merciful. 

Probably because:

a. When I sit here and try to type these things up I feel like I have an extremely severe learning disability. This may sound harsh, but those of you who have had to type anything significant in Hebrew know exactly what I mean. I type a mean 120 wpm regularly, and this is just painful. Poke, poke, pluck, pluck. I think it would put my kids over the edge. 

b. Roughly 2/3 of the convenient little Hebrew stickers on my keyboard have been carefully peeled off by a small person with red hair who likes to yell. A lot. "No like it stickers."

c. When I sit hunched over my laptop working hard at this task, I look so angry busy as I mutter under my breath that most people large and small leave me alone. I get some peace and quiet. 

d. I'm so incredibly proud of my kids coming this far; for G sakes, they can write a report in Hebrew, without help! The least I can do is spend a couple hours plucking out a half a page. 

Let's just hope there aren't any "ט"s. That tet has to be the most elusive letter in the Hebrew alphabet. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

נוהל כסת''ח

One of the benefits of having an Israeli husband is that you pick up the cultural slang and nuances faster than the average American-Israeli immigrant. He teaches me slang and phrases that make me giggle, and the best part is how apropos these phrases are for certain circumstances.

Let's start at the beginning. One of my least favorite government establishments in Israel is the Tipat Chalav office here in RBS. Tipat Chalav (translated as "Drop of Milk" --awkward)  is the Israeli answer to the vast population below the age of 6 in this holy country. Socialized medicine has it's advantages (cost,, yeah, that's about it) but Tipat Chalav is not one of them. You know by now that I try very hard to retell only the most positive of stories about E"Y, and I do recognize and admit that it may just be our one branch here, or even my few negative experiences, but Tipat Chalav and I do not get along. I'd love to hear from other Israelis out there. Is it just me? Am I the only one cursed to deal with this 6th level of hell all my life?

Here's how it works: Woman gives birth at her local hospital, comes home 24 hours later. From then through age 6 all well visits (and some people go there for sick visits too) are taken care of at Tipat Chalav. It's like a clinic of sorts where there are mostly nurses, a doctor or two and an extremely crabby secretary (all others with dissimilar dispositions need not apply). A normal well check usually takes an hour or two, most of which you'll spend in the waiting room. You will see the nurse or doctor for roughly 10 minutes of this time, and in my limited experience she'll spend the entire time putting you on the defensive, when she's not jabbing needles into your child.

"Is he speaking?" Yes. "Oh really, like what does he say?"
"Is (said 2 year old) still in diapers?" Yes. "Why?"
"Here are some blocks. Why doesn't he want to build with them?"
"You don't always give him snacks, do you?"
And so forth.

My "favorite" Tipat Chalav memory is from years ago when I took S who is now 6 1/2, for his first well check. He was 4 weeks old, and the doctor that saw me was a Russian woman who must've been well into her late 70s. She could barely see me out of her very thick glasses, and she was not, under any circumstances going to stand up (that would mean actually getting out of her chair) to examine my newborn. She first asked me if I had seen the Baby Safety video at the hospital, and berated me when I said I must've missed that blockbuster. She exasperatedly gave me a summary, "Infant must be in a car seat at all times. Don't leave baby on changing table unattended. Don't give small infant apples."

As this was my 4th kid, I listened patiently, but was pretty sure I'd known all of these important pointers before. Except maybe the apples. No one had actually ever told me that infants should not have apples. Whew, glad she let me know about that one. Who knows what kind of trouble a four week old would've gotten into had I thrown him an apple when he started crying.

So, today found us (after much procrastinating indeed, it's over a year since their last check ups) with our two littlest guys back at Tipat Chalav, 6 long years later. BAW was threatened requested to please join me as I was not going to be harassed alone this time. Long (very long, like 2 hours long) story short, it wasn't all that bad. The secretary only yelled at me for 7 minutes about missing my last appointment (yes, I did, and yes I called to say they had the flu), which was nothing compared to the tongue lashing the girl after us got for being 1/2 an hour late.

The nurse was nice enough, ("You know he is very, very tall." was about all the wisdom she had to impart) and 2 shots for N and one for R later we were out of there. Almost. I realized that I didn't have their insurance swipe cards as I started to walk out. These are crucial; you need them every time you check in at any doctor, pharmacy, emergency, etc. I searched everywhere, and am positive that they were with me when we checked in at the front desk. While I was looking, the secretary walked in from her break (berating people all day is exhausting for certain). TPH explained to her what had happened and although she was looking and trying to help, she kept peppering her sentences with, "Well, last time I saw them, they were with her." or "She was the last one holding them." with an accusatory nod towards me.

Could very well be. I'm frazzled sometimes, especially in 90 degrees when my 2 year old just had double shots and I can't find anything in my giant bag, and my 5 year old keeps asking me incessantly for gum. I concede, it might very well have been my fault. But as we walked out (card-less) I asked BAW, "Why was she so much nicer to you? Why did she talk about me like I wasn't standing right there??"

He claims I have it all wrong, she had nothing against me. Then he taught me my new favorite phrase:    (נוהל כסת''ח - (כסוי תחת : "Nohal Kastach" --The Procedure of Covering One's Own Behind. She wanted to make sure that whatever the outcome, it was not her issue/problem/fault that I had lost my cards. It seriously made me smile all the way home. How appropriate that there is actually a phrase for this.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The End of an Era...

...Ok, maybe just a year, but a pretty important year at that. The kids have almost another full month of school, but this past week we've celebrated lots of "endings", but as they say here in Israel, "כל סוף הוא התחלה חדשה" -- Every end is a new beginning. 

I took the older kids to the Ulpan End of the Year Celebration which included a walking tour of the old city of Beit Shemesh. It started off a little slow (to say the least: imagine standing in the boiling heat for 40 minutes with NOTHING to do), but once it got started it was very interesting. The trip ended with everyone gathered at the first shul that was established in Beit Shemesh (after 1948), in 1952. It's a small building that has a short hallway with "relics" of the past, showing different things that immigrants brought with them from their "old countries". B wanted to know if "In the Olden Days, did you have a typewriter too, Imma?" Imagine if he had seen my Comodore 64, or horror of horrors, our rotary phone. They also showed the kids the old metal shanties (that were no bigger than 3ft x 10ft) that many of the immigrants lived in right off the boat due to the enormous housing shortage during those first few years. 

After a light Israeli dinner of Chummus, bread, techina and vegtables, we went inside to hear the kids give their end of year performances. We sat on the most uncomfortable, hard, rickety benches you have ever seen. We mothers rolled our eyes at each other and tried to stifle our snarky comments. Tried. 

And then the coordinator of the Ulpan started to speak to the kids about Aliyah. About how in the beginning of the year when we met her for the first time, the kids had no idea what she was saying, and how now things were much different. Not unlike the Olim of 60 or 70 years ago. She told the kids about how when these Immigrants arrived the very first thing they needed (wanted!) to do was build a shul, and if we looked closely, we could see that the very benches we were sitting on were made from the wood of the shipping containers they used to ship all their things over. Suddenly those benches weren't so uncomfortable anymore, as I thought of generations of Immigrants who just like us had sacrificed much to make E"Y their home. I don't know how much the kids got out of it, but when I took a good look at it, I realized that it had been a very meaningful tiyul indeed. 

The next night, A, our bechor (firstborn) graduated from elementary school. Granted, it was *only* a 6th grade graduation, but it was a first for all of us. And I'll say it again, every time I go to one of these school functions I realize just how much I love our school, and how at home we all feel there. The main theme of the night was Rav Kook tz'l, as it is the 75th year of the anniversary of his death. There was a play (partially pre-recorded and shown as a video--very cool!), a choir and even a dance. It was really something spectacular. Like all Israeli performances, it was way too long, but how can you be grumpy when each person wants to stand up and talk about Ahavat Yisrael, Talmud Torah, and Love of Eretz Yisrael? 

It's a place that I feel lucky that my kids are able to be a part of every day. And the graduate? He's sitting right here next to me after another full day of school ("I don't get it, didn't we just graduate?") and looking forward to a great next year in the AY Yeshiva. So it's true, these ends are not really ends at all, but rather new and exciting beginnings.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Very Lucky 13

My FaceBook friends and family know that yesterday, TPH and I celebrated our 13th anniversary. 13 years is a long time. Especially because if you catch me off guard and ask me how old I am I'll say in all honesty, 27.

13 years for us has meant 6 (KA"H) kids, 14 pets, 10 moves, 3 houses, 8 cars, many challenges and lots and lots of love.

My first thought is a smug, hey, look at us. But when I think about it for even a minute it's replaced with, wow, are we lucky. Yesterday we were talking about our engagement and wedding, and TPH reminded me about five couples that we knew that had also gotten engaged or married around the same time that we did. Sadly, only 1 other couple besides us is still married. So I guess that 13 isn't something to sneeze at. The truth is that even with Any Perfect Husband, a marriage is work. Much, much more work than anyone could've convinced me of 14 or 15 years ago. I'm only beginning to understand how much patience, respect and fine tuning a marriage takes.

When I was in seminary, I still remember a teacher saying, "Whatever you do, don't think that you are going to change your husband." Who he is when you marry him is who he'll likely remain. If he doesn't do x, y and z before you get married, you aren't going to wave your wand and get him to do so even 20 years down the line. I've found this to be true on some levels, but what this or any other teacher didn't mention is how much you'll change and grow together, as a couple. How after all this time the line between who he is and who you are starts to fade. The memories you share together are more than the memories you each have individually, and how your goals and aspirations become not only your own but for each other and the amazing family that you share.

It's a beautiful thing, and I've been very blessed indeed.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Oh my how things have changed...

We're just a few short weeks away from our one year aliyah anniversary, and it's hard to believe it's already been a whole year. It's been a huge year of changes for each and every one of us individually and as a family, and it's hard to convey just how proud I am of each one of my kids for overcoming obstacles that were thrown their way on many different fronts.  

I was looking back at my Six Short Months post, and it strikes me how some things are very different and some things are so very much the same.

A few (VERY) random thoughts and observations:

The kids (most of them) have officially chosen "sandalim" over Crocs this summer.

Very Small Israeli Apartment makes Average Israeli apartment seem like Large Comfortable Almost American Apartment.

"Eww!! Not that ketchup (Heinz)! Don't we have any regular ketchup??"

Beit Shemesh is very, very hot in the summer.

"Imma, what are these lumps on my calves?" (Muscles.)

Chocolate spread IS TOO a food group.

Yom Ha'azmaut is a wonderful and meaningful holiday in the country where it counts.

There are words in Hebrew that my kids know that I don't.

Still missing those dogs, even with the "replacement".

I used to buy tichels (head coverings) to match my shirts. Now I have so many tichels I just buy shirts to match them.

Ulpan has been over since Pesach, so the kids are in the regular classrooms most of the time. They roll their eyes at me just a little when I ask them if they are understanding everything in the classroom.

The last two books I bought at a bookstore (upon request of said masses) were Captain Underpants and The Diary of a Wimpy Kid. In Hebrew.

We are almost unpacked. In our second apartment.

Hiking in the valley where Dovid killed Golaith? Pretty cool.

"Imma, sometimes when I'm in school I forget that I'm listening to Hebrew."

There ARE bugs as big as mice.

One day Yom Tov feels right.

Didn't realize how much we needed a playroom until we had one again.

Still no clothes dryer, starting to forget that it's supposed to be an issue.

Can't get over how much FaceBook has helped me keep in touch with friends and family.

My kids might not be the first ones on the block in bed anymore. Hey, it's HOT outside until after dark!!

There are few things that give me as much pure joy as a clean floor. No joke. 

We LOVE Ramat Shiloh, and tolerate the rest of RBS.

Still missing those friends, but making new ones, too.

Went to our first Hebrew speaking Shabbos meal, and not only lived to tell the tale, but enjoyed ourselves immensely, and I was even able to schmooze!

Don't have my Israeli license yet, but guess it doesn't matter that much since I don't have my Israeli car yet, either.

The Metric System kind of does make sense when you think about it.

Overhearing the kids speak Hebrew among themselves gives me goosebumps. The good kind.

20 "go-go'im" (apricot pits) and an old shoe box can provide hours upon hours of entertainment.

I don't miss those Sundays as much as before, but having school/work 6 days a week makes me appreciate every moment with the kids when we are all home together.

When we get a chance to get out, the first place I still want to go is the Kotel!

More than anything we are so, SO happy to have the zechus of living here, and I hope that never changes.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Comings and Goings

If you think I'm far behind on blog posts, you should see my photo albums. The last couple of entires are pics titled "R's Bris". R just celebrated his 5th birthday this week. I try, we all try. But sometimes we come up a little short. 

Things have been busy here, a visit that was supposed to be "just" my sister and my niece ended up including a very surprising guest: our one and only BUBBY! My mother surprised us and it was a whirlwind couple of weeks. We did the obligatory (but never boring) Old City/Kotel trip, visited my brothers' schools in Be'er Sheva and Telesone, and went to lots of beaches (Ashkelon, Netanya), Mamilla, Malcha, Ceaseria, the works. I can't even count the amount of times we ate out. But most of all, we just enjoyed being with everyone. 

I've been lucky to have three such trips from family members this year (albeit, this one was the only surprise visit), and the problem with them is that at the end of these trips, the family members actually...leave. And each time it affects me more and more. I'm hit with not only a tremendous sadness but almost a feeling of loss.

It takes me a good couple of weeks, yes...weeks to get over each Leaving. Thankfully, Shavous was a week after they left, so it forced me to pull myself together and move on. And since then I've been ok. Until yesterday. Yesterday, my sister D who has been here in seminary for the year came to say her goodbyes. She hasn't decided if she'll be back for a second year (which is exactly how I was holding at this time when I left for seminary, and I never made it back. Well, yes I did :). I knew I would be sad to see her go; since she was born while I was in high school, and I got married shortly after, we never had any real bonding time, and this year has certainly filled that gap for both of us. But I really had no idea how much another Leaving would, well, leave me. I cried for a bit, and am better today, but I've been walking around feeling lost. It's the same feeling that plagued me after my mother and sister left, and it's the same feeling that I get every time someone comes and then goes. 

To be fair, I guess I am actually the one who left all of them. And again, I'm so happy that we're here, I have absolutely no regrets, and am totally confident with the decision we made to come. I just hope that soon all these leavings will only be comings, and no more goings. Bimhayra B'yameinu.