Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Inspired by MckMama and her snow pops I decided to say yes when Big asked if we could make a yummy dessert yesterday. A few weeks ago, he was looking through a cookbook and folded over the pages of things he wanted to make (or wanted me to make). Every once in a while since then he has asked when we are going to cook the things he chose. Usually, I have some reason why we can't do it, such as "not now because it is the middle of the night." Or "it will be hard to bake while you are in the tub."
Yesterday, I asked Big if he wanted to have some strawberries and he said yes and then he said "wait, one of the recipes has strawberries, can we make it??" I pulled out the cookbook and saw the the recipe for crepes filled with strawberries and whipped cream didn't actually look that hard and that we had all the necessary ingredients. He was pretty shocked when I agreed to this project.
We mixed together all of the ingredients for the crepes themselves. At some point, Little came to investigate what we were doing and he helped mix as well. The boys were amused by my unsuccessful attempts to flip the crepes, but what can I say? Gourmet chef I am not!!
Once the crepes were done, I gave each kid a crepe on a plate and I put out a big bowl of whipped cream, some strawberries and some chocolate chips. Big had a lot of fun assembling his, although it was impossible to pick up and eat! Little just ate the plain strawberries and had no interest at all in the crepe.

I just ate a leftover crepe for breakfast with strawberry-pomegranite jelly spread on it. Delicious!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I Heart Faces--Hilarious Outtakes

As I was choosing pictures to put in the annual calendar that my sister and I make for our parents and grandmother for Chanukah, I couldn't help but burst out laughing out loud at this one (totally worth clicking on it to see it bigger--one day I will learn how to post bigger pictures here):

My younger son must have just taken a sip of his orange soda and was making that "oh, this is bubbly and I wasn't expecting it" face just as I snapped the picture.

See more Hilarious Outtakes at I Heart Faces!

Glad I'm Not Traveling Now!

Christmas time when we lived in Boston always meant some sort of travel. We had off from work, the kids had off from school/daycare. The weather was crap. Having grandparents in Florida was a good thing! Being the not-so-good flier that I am, I always dreaded the flight (it's funny to me now how stressed I'd get about the 3-hour flight to Florida that seemed so, that is NOTHING!)
I would pack my carry-on for the plane with enough provisions to last just in case the plane got hijacked or crashed on a desert island. Half the time I never even took anything other than snacks out of the bag, but whatever! I would plan my own outfit and shoes and the kids stuff to minimize the amount of time we'd have to spend in line at security taking off our jackets and shoes and whatever. I can feel my blood pressure rising just thinking about it!!
And the crowds and the inevitable weather-related delays. YUCK. And then the sheer joy of landing in beautiful sunny Ft. Lauderdale and knowing we had a whole week of no jackets and no snow in front of us!
Those days of a short trip down to Florida to escape the snowy mess seem to be a thing of the past, at least for now. First of all, it's way more than a short trip from here! Second of all, there is no snowy mess to escape from!
Surprisingly, I now find myself a much better and less scared traveler. Maybe it's because we've done the long-haul trans-Atlantic flight about 11 times (I just counted but I might be missing some) and I've just gotten used to it. Or maybe it's because I know how important it is to do these trips to go back and see family and friends so that outweighs my fears. I still don't enjoy the trip, but it's more a fear of how am I going to entertain the kids for a gazillion hours and less a fear of the plane crashing or being hijacked or other fun stuff like that.
Of course, when things like this happen, it reminds me that maybe some of those seemingly irrational fears are actually justified. Sadly, the main result is going to be more ridiculous rules and screenings that may or may not really be keeping air travelers any safer. It's going to mean longer lines and more delays at the airport. I'm just glad we are staying put for the next little while!

Friday, December 25, 2009


This is why I love it here...weekends with the following forecast:

It is December but it is not snowing or even remotely cold! I did cut off the picture at Monday, because starting Tuesday there is a 40% chance of drizzle. Not rain, just drizzle. And it will still be 64 degrees.
This is why we get to do things like this in December:

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Apparently, we are doing what is called "raising bilingual children." I am finding myself completely and utterly fascinated by the process. If we were living in America, sure the kids would be in a Jewish Day School and would learn Hebrew there. But, our house would certainly not be considered a bilingual one. From my own experience, the Hebrew learned in Jewish Day School is not exactly the same as the Hebrew learned from growing up as an Israeli kid! Big's vocabulary at almost 6 years old already surpasses mine. He's had 2 and 1/2 years of living immersed in Hebrew, compared to my 12 years of Hebrew at school in America. And, of course, he actually sounds Israeli when he speaks Hebrew. I sound like the immigrant that I am!
I asked Krazy's cousin who has lived here for years whether it ever gets old listening to her kids speak in Hebrew. She said she is still consistently amazed at how easily and fluidly they switch between the languages. I think it will always amaze me as well. And if we end up not staying here, I will be sad when they lose their super-cute Israeli accents.
Over Chanukah, we were in the mall with my sister-in-law and her kids. We were eating pizza in the food court and my 11-year old niece didn't finish hers and wanted a box to take it home. Although she knew how to say that in Hebrew, she was shy and didn't want to do it. I, mostly out of curiousity to see if he would do it, turned to Big and asked him to go to the counter and get a box for his cousin. Without hesitating, he ran over and I heard him say loudly and clearly "b'vakasha, efshar l'kabel kufsah?" (please can I get a box?) He NEVER would have done that a year ago. His confidence is just incredible. As is his intelligence (not that I am a bragging mother, of course!) and ability to absorb and learn 2 languages at once.
His teacher pulled me aside yesterday to tell me how great he is doing. She said he is not only writing all the letters, but he can sound out words and figure out how to spell them. And most of the time he gets it right! He is starting to do that a little bit in English as well, but seems to have an easier time of it in Hebrew. I think that is primarily because the Hebrew letters are more consistent in the sounds that they make than the English letters so it is somewhat more straightforward.
Little is also making progress. He still speaks a lot of gibberish and says it's Hebrew, but I have caught him having conversations with himself that are actually in Hebrew. I go with him to a gym class that is entirely in Hebrew and while he doesn't talk much during it, it is pretty clear that he understands most of what is going on because he follows instructions for the most part.
I find his mixture of Hebrew and English to be charming. Yesterday he told me: "At Gan Frieda (gan means kindergarten and that is the name of his school) there was ein or." That literally translates to "at school there was there was no light." Apparently there was a black-out, but I love the way he said it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

'Tis The Season

Here are some random thoughts about the current winter/holiday season in no particular order...

If it weren't for various blogs that I read talking about Christmas plans and trees and gifts and all that fun stuff, I would not have even realized that Christmas is this week! There are no Christmas songs being played on the radio, no lights up in store windows and certainly no sign of any snow on the ground. While I truly love living in the Jewish homeland and I love that so much emphasis is placed on Chanukah, I can't help but miss a little bit of the Christmas spirit. I even a little tiny bit miss not being able to get "Feliz Navidad" out of my head after hearing it on the radio a million times a day.


I've been feeling a little nostalgic for all things winter-y after seeing so many pictures posted on Facebook from the big snowstorm that the Northeast US had last weekend. I always loved waking up the morning after it had been snowing all night to see how pretty and silent everything looked. There is nothing quite like being the first person to make tracks in the freshly fallen snow. I'm sad that my kids aren't getting to experience the joys of a snow unexpected day off from school where there is nothing to do but make snowmen and snow angels and then come inside with dripping noses and freezing cold hands and drink hot chocolate. I remember the first time Big went out in the snow and really enjoyed it. He was about 18 months old or so and it took him a little while to figure out how to walk in his boots because they were so heavy. I wonder what Little would do if he saw snow--he would have no clue what it was!


The kids Chanukah vacation was last week and went by so quickly. My sister-in-law and 2 of her kids were here which was SO amazing. It seems that cousins, even if they don't see each other all that often, have some sort of innate bond that allows them to pick up where they last left off and immediately be close. Although she didn't bring her son who is Big's age, I loved watching him play with his older cousin and his baby cousin (I guess she's not that much of a baby since she is 2 and acts like a teenager). Little and his little cousin are a match made in heaven. She is a bully when she wants to be and I think it was good for him to get back a little of what he gives!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


After a brief hiatus, I am rededicating myself to this blog! I'm not going to bother recapping the past few months in a long drawn out post. In a nutshell: the kids started school, we left the country for a month to go visit friends and family in the US and Canada, we came home and got the kids re-settled in school. Exciting stuff.
It's been good to get back into routine. Unfortunately, my routine includes job-searching since I quit my job right before we left for our trip. Job-searching is not fun, but I am trying to network as much as possible and am hopeful that things will work out soon. And, in the meantime, I am taking advantage of having my mornings free to meet friends for coffee and maybe even to stay on top of the laundry.
I am also working on some tough love with my kids. Maybe it was the lack of routine for the month that we were away or maybe it is their ages or maybe they are just rotten (but I doubt it!) but they have both been proving to be very difficult these past few weeks. Lots of whining, fighting and generally not listening to me. And I have bright red scratches next to my eye from a very angry Little who apparently really needed his nails cut.

****Clearly being back has not made me post more often because I just realized that I started this post a week ago and never finished it. I'm just hitting "publish" even if it's crap just to hopefully get me back in the writing and posting mode!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

I Heart Faces: Nostalgia

This week, the theme at I Heart Faces is Nostalgia. Every year as the summer draws to a close, I feel nostalgic. Both about the end of the carefree days of THIS summer as well as the days of summers past! There is nothing like spending an entire day outside running around in a fun park with good friends.

This picture says it all...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Little!

Dear Little,

I am a day late in writing you this birthday letter, but you were more than a day late in being born so let's call it even! Yesterday, you turned three. Or "free" as you call it, proudly holding up four fingers on each hand. You can actually count fairly high--I've heard you get as far as 17 in more or less the right order and in 2 languages no less! You can recognize a few numbers and letters too. I think you maybe should be able to recognize a few more and sometimes feel like I'm not spending enough time on things like that with you.

But you are smart as a whip. Nothing gets by you. Especially if I am chewing gum or eating candy. You either smell it or notice my mouth moving from a mile away and come running to say "Also I want gum." Or you just help yourself from my bag.

You are so independent. You announce "I needa pee" and then off you go to take care of it by yourself, only sometimes coming back to me with your shorts around your ankles because you need some help pulling them up. And then you run back saying "I needa flush and wash my hands." You like to pick out your own clothes...almost always a shirt with yellow somewhere on it and "sebenteen shorts" (which are shorts with any number or letters on the leg).

Your favorite food by far is a yogurt drink. You have at least 4-5 of them a day. You are also partial to hummous by the spoonful, being the true Middle Easterner that you are. Although you certainly don't look the part with your beautiful white-blonde hair and bright blue eyes.

Sometimes I look at you and have no idea where you came from. How you got to be this perfect little boy. So sweet when you want to be and so sure of what you want, especially when what you want is "don't talk to me, Mommy!" You are truly a Daddy's boy in every sense of the word. When you wake up in the middle of the night because you have fallen out of bed you cry for Daddy. When you wake up in the morning, you run right for Daddy. When you fall and get hurt you cry for Daddy. When we ask who should put you to bed you choose Daddy. I love that you have that relationship with him and nothing makes me happier than the one random time that you say "I need Mommy!" (of course it only happens when Daddy isn't around but that is ok).

You were only 9 months old when we moved to Israel. You don't know of any other life other than the one you have here. Hearing 2 languages is normal to you. You love Yuval Ha'Mevulbal and have no idea who Elmo is. You play with your toy cash register and say "20 shekels please" because you don't know what "a dollar" is. But you can identify the difference between the Israeli Flag and the American Flag. And you know that going on an airplane means "we going to 'merica."

You love the beach, the pool, the sprinkler park, anything with water. You are fearless when it comes to jumping in the water or climbing up a jungle gym. But you are terrified beyond terrified of cockroaches and dogs.

You love books--sometimes you want them read to you and sometimes you just want them next to you in your bed. You also love motorcycles and cars and coloring (you know that we only color on paper but sometimes you get confused and think the wall IS paper).

Until just a few days ago, you couldn't pronounce the "sc" sound. It came out "ch." So "scared" was "chared" and "squirrel" was "chuirrel" etc. I'm sad that you can say it right now! You are growing up so fast. I love you more than anything forever and ever!!

Here is you just born:

One Year Old:

Two Years Old:

And Now:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Two of My Favorite Things--the Beach and a Clean Playroom!

This past week was the one week of the summer that I had both kids home all day every day. I was originally looking forward to it because my sister and brother-in-law and their two boys were supposed to be here. But, sadly, plans changed because of my grandfather's death and my sister and her baby didn't come. My bro-in-law and nephew were here for a week (the first part of which I missed because I was in Boston), but they left early Tuesday morning. So we had to fend for ourselves for the rest of the week. We did a variety of fun activities and overall I think the kids had fun, but I know they were happy to start camp again this morning. They do much better when they have routine.
The week ended on a high note with a weekend visit from our friends M&A and their 3 boys who live up north in the beautiful Golan Heights. We met them on the beach in Herzliya on Friday afternoon for some fun in the sun. I LOOOOOVE the beach and have gotten over being annoyed by all the sand that gets tracked into the house after a trip to the beach!
Here is Big and his friend S hard at work building in the sand:

It is interesting to note how 2 kids growing up in TOTALLY different environments can be SO similar. And how 2 adults who grew up in very similar environments can be so different. S's dad, M, and I grew up together outside of Boston. We went to the same school from Kindergarten through 12th Grade and lived in the same community. He is now living out his dream on a Kibbutz in the Golan Heights and working as an archeologist. He lives with his wife and 3 boys in a temporary caravan that is more or less the size of a postage stamp. While he and his wife are both American, their kids were all born here and are much more comfortable speaking in
Hebrew than English (although they understand English perfectly). They are truly integrated into Israeli society, with the only indication of an American connection being that their kids (thanks to grandparents) are fully decked out in clothes from GapKids, Children's Place, Gymboree, Old Navy, etc.
I, on the other hand, am totally shocked that I have ended up living in Israel (whether or not it's a permanent move is irrelevant...I never thought I'd be here for any significant amount of time!) The community that we have chosen to live in has a huge Anglo population and I find it easy to maintain an American identity while still living here. It is a HUGE priority for me that my kids speak English properly and without an Israeli accent and that they learn to read and write in English as well. While they do ocassionally switch into Hebrew when talking to each other, so far both of my kids are more comfortable speaking in English.
So, Big is growing up in Israel but in a clearly "American" home. His friend, S, on the other hand, is growing up in a completly different part of Israel in a clearly "Israeli" home. But the 2 of them are 2 peas in a pod. They always have been, from a shared obsession with Thomas the Train to Hot Wheels to Transformers and Legos, they are always into the same thing at the same time! It's great because although we don't seem them often, when we do, those 2 just run off and have the best time together.
In other news...I spent hours on one of my favorite activities--organizing the playroom! Even though it only takes about 30 seconds for all my hard work to be messed up, I get tremendous satisfaction from organizing the toys and putting everything in its place. What do you think about the results?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Beautiful Nature

I love when friends and family come to visit us here. Not only because it's always great to see people whom we don't get to see often, but when we have visitors we tend to do fun things and take advantage of all this country has to offer. Like yesterday, for example. My brother-in-law and my 7 year old nephew are here so yesterday Big and I joined them for a really great day!
First, Big and I drove down to Jerusalem to pick them up and then we all drove down to the Dead Sea. Big has been there before and on the way down he told his cousin all about how cool it is to float in the salty water. It was ridiculously hot and of course there was not an ounce of shade anywhere on the beach. And, while floating in the salty water of the Dead Sea is definitely cool, the novelty wears off after about 5 minutes and then it is just itchy. So we hung out there for a short while and then went across the highway to Ein Gedi, which is literally an oasis in the middle of the desert.
Our first order of business was getting some lunch which turned out to be ice cream. As my mother is known for saying "an ice cream sandwich can be is a SANDWICH!" After we ate our nutritious lunch, we started our hike. I was a bit nervous about Big making it thorough the whole thing and I had visions of having to carry him and both of us falling off a mountain. I asked at the entrance whether the shortest hike was suitable for a 5 year old and was told that it was super easy and that it was only a 10 minute walk to the first waterfall, so if he didn't want to keep going after that we could just walk back.
My worries proved unfounded and we did the entire hike. It wasn't very long or very difficult (other than the steep parts on the way back down where I wished I wasn't wearing flip-flops!) but it was a lot of fun. It was probably close to 100 degrees so it was amazing and refreshing to stop and cool off at the 4 or 5 waterfalls that are along the trail. I vaguely remember doing this hike when I was in Israel on a summer tour in high school and again when I was here for the year after high school. So weird to be doing it again with my kid!!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

My Grandpa

I've been away for the past week for a very sad reason. My mom called me last Wednesday night around 11pm my time. As soon as I saw her number on the caller ID I knew something was wrong because she never calls me that late (even though it was only 4pm for her). A number of thoughts ran through my head about what could be wrong and who might have died. But not for one second did I think it was Grandpa, and so I was beyond shocked when she simply said "Grandpa died." He was 91 years young. My Granny passed away in November after being sick for a very long time. Grandpa took care of her and made sure she had everything that she needed. It was nice to see him being able to enjoy life after her passing. He lived in an amazing assisted living facility in Florida where he had tons of friends and was actively involved in the community. I couldn't (and really still can't) comprehend that he was just gone. I'm so glad for him that it was quick and painless. He had driven his car (yup, almost 92 and still driving!!) around to the front of the building to pick up his friend to take her to the grocery store. Apparently, he got out of the car and just fell to ground and that was it. He had recently told my mom that he didn't want to be sick like my grandmother had been. He didn't want people to need to take care of him and worry about him. I'm so glad he got what he wished for. I just wish it didn't have to be so soon. The last conversation I had with him, the Friday before he died, we talked about our next visit to the US coming up in September. He was very much looking forward to it as were we.
After I hung up with my mom, I switched into planning mode. I had to book my flight, deal with work stuff, and figure out plans for the kids while I would be away. The funeral was set for Sunday, so I had a couple of days to get my act together. Luckily we have an amazing support network of friends here as well as a fantastic babysitter so I knew Krazy and the kids would be fine.
I flew out on Saturday night--Continental Flight 91 to Newark. Same flight I took in November when my Granny died. Packed flight. Middle seat. Overly concerned that the person sitting next to me would have swine flu and cough on me. I did take a few minutes to bask in the glory of traveling without kids. I am not the best flyer and I know my Grandpa was looking out for me and ensuring a smooth flight. I arrived at Newark at 4:45 in the morning and had 3 hours to kill before my flight to Boston. I finally made it to Boston and even had time to shower before the funeral.
While we were all sitting in the "family room" before the funeral, I just kept waiting for Grandpa to come into the room. I could see him and hear his voice so clearly. My aunt and I both spoke, but it was so hard to put into words what an amazing person he was.
My 4 days in Boston with my family went by too quickly and next thing I knew I was back on the plane. I had the most breath-taking view of New York City as we took off from Newark, but I cried tears of relief when I saw the coastline of Tel Aviv come into view 9 hours and 41 minutes later. It was good to be home.

Grandpa: September 5, 1917-July 29, 2009
We will love you and miss you forever.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Israel Advocacy-My Way

I must start this out by saying that is blog is NOT meant to be political in any way. Of course, I have my views on the conflict here in the Middle East and they may sometimes come across in this blog, but that's not typically why I write or what I like to write about.
I do think, however, that Israel tends to get a bad rap in the press in the United States and around the world no matter what the government or army or citizens of this country do. So, I will occasionally use my little platform here to spread the good word about this amazing country!

For example, only in Israel would the following have happened:
Imagine this scene, if you will...Little and I are in the car driving home from his music class. He is screaming at the top of his lungs about something and I am trying to get him to be quiet. For some reason, I decide to go home a different way than usual and I turn down a particular street. Immediately after turning onto the street, I think to myself "hmm, something seems weird to me...this doesn't look right..." Then, I notice the big giant arrow painted on the ground pointing in the opposite direction of that which I am currently driving! Yes, I turned the wrong way down a one-way street!! There were no cars coming, luckily, and I was able to quickly turn around and go the right way. As I started to turn around, I noticed to policemen on motorcycles. My first thought was "oh crap, I'm going to get a ticket." And then, as I watched them drive right past me, my next thought was "WTF?? Why don't they care that I was just driving the WRONG way down a one-way street??" They didn't even give me a "what were you thinking??" looking as they drove past!

The moral of this story is: Israel is good because traffic rules don't apply.

Hmm, maybe I need to rethink my definition of Israel Advocacy!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I ♥ Faces: At The Beach

This is my first time participating in the I ♥ Faces weekly photography challenge. I'm glad the theme this week is At the Beach because we love the beach and we go often!

Here is one of my favorite pictures, taken on the beach in Tel Aviv. He just couldn't contain his excitement!

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Not-So-Happy Milestone

One reason that I blog is to keep track of my kids' milestones. I don't have baby books for them (that's not totally true because I do have one for Big that I kept up pretty well until he was about 6 months old) and I don't have a good memory for things like that. I can remember my friends' phone numbers from elementary school but I can't remember when my kid first crawled!

Anyway, this evening marked a not-so-happy milestone for Big when he had to say goodbye to his best friend who is moving 6,000 miles away back to America. Granted, we all had to say goodbye to many people when we moved 6,000 miles away to Israel 2 years ago, but Big was littler then and didn't have the same kind of friendships that he and this friend have had over the past year since they have been here. They are just a few months apart in age and they look so similar that it is scary! They like all of the same things and they play so incredibly nicely together. This friend has slept over at our house (that would be Big's first sleepover--see that, another milestone!), knows the code to get in the front door of our building and knows where we keep the good snacks. He and Big were not in school together but would greet each other at every playdate with huge smiles and maybe even hugs. And then they would run off to do whatever they felt like doing without a care in the world.

I'm not sure how much Big understands about what "moving away" means. We talked about how his friend is "going back to America." Big understood that in the same way that he understands that we go back to America a couple of times a year and his response was "ok, so he's coming back soon." Who knows...maybe he will come back soon and maybe we'll still be here when he does. Or maybe he won't. Or maybe we won't. Either way, it's still hard when your best friend moves away whether you are 5 years old or 31 years old.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Whopping Dose of Mommy Guilt

Summer is an interesting time here in the land of Israel. Basically, the school year runs from September 1-June 30 every year, regardless of what day of the week those days fall out (unless they are a Saturday). From July 1-July 21 (again, regardless of day of week), most nursery schools/kindergartens run camps in the school with the same teachers. That was the case for Big and Little this summer. Yesterday was their last day. It's always a big ordeal to figure out what to do for the end of July and all of August as there are very few options and they are all very expensive. Someone told me recently that the month of August can cost more than the entire rest of the school year--and it's certainly true!! I paid a grand total of about 700 Shekels (that is approximately $184) for Big's entire year of Pre-Kindergarten. The month of August will cost me 1560 Shekels ($410)--more than double. How insane is that??
Anyway, I was happy to have found things for both kids for the next 2 weeks or so. Big is going to a camp run by 2 of my friends at one of their homes. It's perfect--many of his friends are going and drop off this morning was a piece of cake. He looked a bit shy for a minute, but then he ran off to play and didn't even look back to wave goodbye to me.
And then I took Little to his new camp. And here's where the Mommy guilt comes in. Little will be 3 in a couple of weeks and he is NOT so great when it comes to transitions and new places. He was so happy at his school and went every day with a big smile on his face and I felt fine leaving him there. His teacher was amazing and started every day with big hugs and kisses and I always knew that he was safe, loved and well-cared for there. When I was trying to figure out what to do with him after his school/camp ended, my friend A suggested that I send him to the place where her son J goes. J is just a couple of months older than Little and they are good friends. I thought that would be a perfect solution and I spoke to the teacher, Bella, and got it all worked out. Then I took him there this morning for his first day. He was, obviously, screaming and clinging to me and freaked out because he didn't know where the hell he was. Bella's response: "I really don't have time for this kind of crying today." Excuse me?????? I almost just turned around and walked out at that point, but I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she is just your typical tactless Israeli (pardon the stereotype but it is so day I will write a post on the culture shock I still experience almost daily after being here for 2 years!). The 2 other women who work there were both extremely nice (and Bella herself was fine other than that one comment) and were trying to get him to calm down and play with them. I had forgotten his bag in the car, so I left him screaming to go get it. I drove around the block a couple of times to take more time to give him more time to calm down and when I went back, Bella met me outside and said he had stopped crying and I should go. I left and cried the whole way home! I just feel so guilty for leaving him somewhere where he clearly didn't want to be and where I didn't necessarily feel secure that he would be well taken care of. I called my friend A who was appalled that Bella would have made that comment, but confirmed my suspicion that she is completely tactless and says whatever she is thinking.
I just called to check in and one of the other teachers said he cried for about 3 minutes after I left and now he is fine. She said he's not playing with other kids yet, but he is willing to play with her and he seems happy. I'm going to pick him up early and we'll try again tomorrow. Hopefully it will be ok. It's just not going to be worth it if it takes him a week to adjust and then a week after that, it's over!

What is it About Children's Performers?

I never had the privilege of taking my kids to a Wiggles concert or even to Sesame Street Live. We did take Big and his cousin to see Go Diego Go live in Boston, but that was very civilized with tickets and assigned seats. Tickets and assigned seats are just not done here in the Middle East! (Actually, they are done in movie theaters, which I don't really get. That and the intermission. What's up with that??).
Anyway, today was the day that Yuval Ha'Mebulval was going to be performing live at our local mall. He is only Little's favorite person ever. Most nights in the month of July, our mall has some sort of performance for kids. They set up a small stage and have an area blocked off for people to sit on the ground or stand. It's fine for most of the performances because they don't tend to be super-famous people and they don't attract a huge crowd. All except for Yuval. He is a crowd-bringer (is that a real term?). I (thankfully) had to work today, so my angel sent from heaven (a.k.a babysitter, but I will call her Angel becasue that's what she is) took the kids to the mall. She loaded up with snacks and drinks and got there about an hour and a half before the show was to start in order to get good seats. When I eventually got there right as the show was starting, I had to push and shove my way in to get to where they were, but they did have great seats! Angel was truly an angel today--I would say she went way above and beyond when Little announced that he had to pee and rather than risk loosing their spot, she gave him an empty water bottle to use!! I wish the mother of the kid sitting next to us had that kind of quick thinking because her kid just peed ALL OVER THE FLOOR. I guess the excitement was too much for him!
Check out how mesmerized Little was:

Wouldn't you be if you were watching this (excuse the picture quality--taken with my phone)?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wordless Wednesday--Have Your Cake and Eat It Too!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Water Water Everywhere

Because we live in a desert country, water is a precious commodity. Much of the water that runs into people's houses in Israel comes from the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) and there is often talk on the news about the water levels of the Kinneret. It only rains between November and February, approximately, and that rain is supposed to be enough to fill the Kinneret to last throughout the dry summer (and spring and fall) months. This past winter was VERY dry with very few rainy days (except for the week that my parents were here visiting, of course) and now we are having a severe water shortage. I once read an article somewhere that said that one day, people in homes across Israel would turn on the tap and no water would come out and for some reason that just struck a chord with me. We are very conscious of not wasting water and try to teach the kids the same. I have heard Big yell at Little for playing with the water fountain in a park, saying "Little! That water is for drinking, not playing. The Kinneret is almost empty!" They also know that if they take a drink of water and don't finish it, they need to water the plants with the leftovers and not pour it down the drain. Sometimes I think they purposely fill their cups too full so that they can water the plants...and spill half the water on the floor as they walk from wherever they are to wherever the plants are. But anyway, we are trying our best to save water! And, our filthy car attests to the fact that we don't do any unnecessary car washes. Some might say we also don't do any NECESSARY car washes!
Anyway, there is a point to all this talk about water. Sort of. This past weekend we went up north to a Kibbutz for the weekend with our good friends who are moving back to America in a couple of weeks. The Kibbutz had a guest house where we stayed which was basicallly a glorified college dorm without the drunken parties. Not the nicest accomodations I've ever stayed in, but we had an amazing time. On Friday, we wanted to do something fun in the area so we headed out to Mei Kedem. It was very very cool. First, we watched a movie about the building of an aquaduct and how the water moves through it. It was all in Hebrew so I didn't get too much out of it, but afterwards I asked Big and his friend A if they understood it and they said yes and then proceeded to explain what it was about. Impressive!
Then, we took a 20 minute walk through part of the aquaduct. I was nervous, being the claustrophobe (and general big fat baby) that I am, but I'm so glad I did it. It was just so cool. Did I say that already? Little insisted on being carried the entire time, and Big was scared at first so I carried him until I almost fell and dropped him in the water, at which time he finally agreed to walk. For most of it, the water was just about ankle-deep but there were two parts where it was waist-high on the adults. And it was cold water. And a little dirty. But fun nonetheless.
On Saturday morning, the 2 fathers took all the kids to the dairy on the Kibbutz to watch the cows being milked. They came back stinking like cow poop, but they all loved it. We spent the rest of the day at the pool just chilling and enjoying.

All in all, it was a great weekend with great friends. We are going to miss them so much and are so sad that they are leaving. Simon will especially miss his best friend. How cute are they??

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bedtime Difficulties

Bedtime used to be my favorite time of day. Not only because it meant that I was finally going to get some peace and quiet, but because it had a routine and a structure that involved cuddling and reading books and singing songs and just having an enjoyable and relaxing end to the day. Lately, it hasn't quite been going like that and often involved one or both kids crying and multiple trips back into their rooms.

I just want to take a short trip back in time to remember the early days of bedtime routines. Let's start with Big. In my quest to be the most informed new mother ever (ha!), I read a million different books and websites and generally ignored a lot of what I read. But, the one thing that I bought into was the idea that even a little tiny baby needs some sort of routine and is comforted by knowing what is going to happen next. It doesn't matter what time the routine happens, but if the baby knows that once he has a bath, next he's getting a bottle and hearing a song and then he's going to sleep, then when he goes in the bath he is already planning for what is coming next and knows that sleep will soon follow.

The routine we had with Big was very simple and started probably as soon as we brought him home from the hospital: bath, pajamas, read Goodnight Moon on the rocking chair in his room, nurse/bottle, sing some songs and into the crib to sleep. I will freely admit that in the beginning, he would fall asleep on me and then wake up as soon as I'd put him down so fine, maybe the routine didn't always go so smoothly!!

As he got older, the routine never changed significantly, we moved on from Goodnight Moon to other books, the bottle turned into a sippy cup, but the general idea of bath, book, bed stayed on and worked. Sometimes there would be negotiations over how many books or which books, but there was hardly ever any serious crying or fighting.

Then we threw Little into the mix when Big was almost 2 and a half. We kept up Big's routine as best as we could, but it was Little who sort of got the shaft. We'd bathe them together (Big in the big tub and Little in the baby bath on the floor next to him) and then Little would lie in the crib while Big was getting his pj's on and having books read to him. The plan being that then Little would be held and read Goodnight Moon, etc. But Little would often just fall alseep waiting. So, he never learned the routine. Although, I guess his routine just became bath and bed and he didn't really know the difference.

At some point, we seem to have given up on the books altogether. Now, bedtime consists of us realizing that Little MUST go to sleep when he starts hitting and kicking and acting like the overtired little toddler that he becomes at about 6:30 or 7:00. Then fighting with him to actually go to bed, maybe reading him books (it's only recently that he's begun asking for this and even sitting still to listen), bringing him 3 cups of milk (yes yes, I know that is a bad habit). All of this happens while Big is watching tv or playing Hot Wheels games on the computer. Then, when Big is told it's time for bed, he immediately bursts into tears at the unfairness of it all since he didn't get to finish his game (that he's played a million times) or watch enough tv (even though he's been watching for the past hour or more). Then there's more fighting and crying and threats of no books and then maybe reading a book and then discussions about needing to sleep alone in one's bed versus having a parent stay there all night.

And then, finally, quiet. At least until a little voice screams "MORE MILK" or "I NEED TO PEE" or "I CAN'T SLEEP ALONE IN MY BED" or "WHERE IS MY BROWN BEAR?" or "IT'S TOO NOISY."

I think we need to get back into a real bedtime routine. I think (hope) it would make the evenings feel less stressful. What's bedtime like in your house? Any suggestions??

Sunday, July 5, 2009

How You Know You Might Be Spending Too Much Time on Facebook

Yesterday afternoon while I took a very long nap, Krazy took the kids to A and J's. He told me that he and A were sitting at the table playing Bananagrams and then Big came and sat down with them and said "did you know that there is Banagrams on Facebook now too?"

This doesn't have to do with Facebook but was also really cute. Yesterday Krazy was tickling Little and Little was trying to get away from him. Little kept saying "I want to go...I want to go." Then he said "SERIOUSLY I want to go!" It sounded like "see-ee-us-ly."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

New "Babysitter"

Big has always been obsessed with tv. Ever since he was really little, he could sit for a very long time watching more or less anything. Little, not so much. Maybe because when we first got to Israel when he was only 9 months old, we didn't have a tv so he just wasn't exposed to it during those important young months! I know many people would say that it's a good thing that he doesn't zone out in front of the tv, but I say it's a BAD thing that there isn't a way to get him to just sit still and out of trouble when I need him to. Like on a 16 hour plane trip for example. Or so I can go to the bathroom.
There is a VERY annoying Israeli kid show called "Yuval Ha-Mebulbal" which translates to Yuval (that's his name) the Confused. We have a couple of his DVDs and Big sometimes watches his show. Suddenly the other day Little was asking for it. I put it on for him and he was mesmerized. He watched it about 4 or 5 times and it kept him completely occupied and enthralled. I'm glad to know that there is finally something I can put on when I need him to be distracted, but I wish it wasn't something quite so annoying!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Two Years

I'm copying this from my Facebook status and adding a bit to it because I like it! 2 years ago today (well, yesterday really) we embarked on the greatest adventure of our lives...2 years ago today we showed up at our friends' house after 16 hours of traveling with NO luggage (and Krazy wore women's pajamas courtesy of ElAl Airlines)...2 years ago today neither of my kids could speak a word of Hebrew...2 years ago today we didn't even know many of the people who are now such close friends...2 years ago today I didn't realize how much it physically hurts to miss people who I love who are so far away (yeah, yeah, I don't want to hear how it was my choice to move far away)...2 years ago today I was so excited about eating real Israeli schnitzel and now if I never saw a schnitzel again I probably wouldn't care (that is a big lie because I really do love schnitzel always and forever)...2 years ago today I would never have dreamed of letting my kid pee outside in public...2 years ago today Little only had 4 teeth...2 years ago today Krazy's Hebrew was just as bad as it is now...2 years ago today I was terrified of having to spend entire afternoons alone with my kids...2 years ago today I didn't have an MBA...2 years ago today we ate Burgers' Bar for dinner...2 years ago today I had no idea what Ra'anana even looked like...I could probably go on forever but I'm getting bored of this game! In case you didn't get it, today is our 2nd anniversary of being in Israel for a year.
What better way to celebrate it than by going to the mall for dinner with friends who were celebrating their one-year anniversary of being here! As always, we stopped at the entrance to the garage for the guard to check the trunk of our car. As we were driving away to find parking, Big and I had this conversation:
Big: why do some people bring missiles into the mall?
Me: what?
Big: why do some people bring missiles into the mall?
Me: what are you talking about? no one brings missiles into the mall!
Big: yeah, some people do.
Me: who told you that?
Big: my dad. he said that's why they have to check our trunk. for missiles.
Me: (thinking, oh crap, what am I supposed to say now?) there are some bad people who might try to bring missiles into a mall, but that's why they check the trunks.
Big: did they think we might be bad people?
Me: no, there are no bad people at the mall in Ra'anana
Big: then why did they check our trunk?
Me: look over there, do you think we can fit into that small parking spot?
Way to change the subject! And, later Krazy denied that he ever said that to Simon. The joys of living in the Middle East! I wish my kids didn't have to live in a world where it's necessary to open our trunk every time we go into a parking garage and to walk through metal detectors and have our bags checked when we go to the supermarket. I wish Big didn't have to spend 10 minutes in his pre-school's bomb shelter as part of a nationwide drill a couple of weeks ago. But, sometimes I still feel safer here where we know who/what the threat is and we know that it is real and that the army/police/goverment is doing everything it can to keep us safe. And most of the time I don't think about it at all because daily life here is really no different from daily life in America.

Monday, June 15, 2009


By far the hardest part about living 6,000 miles away from the good old US of A is the fact that the large majority of our family is 6,000 miles away. Krazy has a whole bunch of first cousins with a whole mess of kids who all live here and it's been amazing getting to know them. And, of course, our friends have become family because we are all in the same situation living far away from the support network of parents and grandparents. Although our British friends definitely have an advantage being only a 4 hour flight away and so many of their parents seem to own apartments in Netanya (a city on the beach about 20 minutes from here).
Anyway, we went from living about a mile from my parents to much farther away. My kids went from seeing them at least once a week to hardly ever. Big had a very close relationship with my mom, D. And Little was too little to have really formed any significant relationships before we left. We've had some trials and tribulations in our relationships with family members since we've been here. We were originally supposed to be here just for one year but then we decided to stay longer. To make a long story short, that didn't go over well. My parents in particular now assume that we are never coming home and they are not happy about it. While we've managed to get past all of the mean things that were said when we first broke the news, I do think that our relationship is different and forever changed, especially the relationship between Krazy and my mom, who also used to be very close. Hopefully over time things will continue to get better.
This has all been a very long way of saying simply that distance sucks. I hate missing major milestones--all 3 of my sister-in-laws as well as my own sister have had babies since we've been away. By now we've met them all, but seeing them only once a year is really hard and sad. I had my own major milestone last week when I had my official graduation from the MBA program that I completed (it's a weird Israeli phenomenon that the graduation ceremony takes place a year after the program ends). I had asked my parents a while ago if they wanted to come and they said they did but they didn't think it would be possible, etc.
AND THEN THEY SURPRISED ME AND JUST SHOWED UP!!!! They literally just showed up at my apartment on Wednesday afternoon! We went to graduation Wednesday night and then we just hung out at their hotel and the beach and the pool for a couple of days. They left
Saturday night so it was a very short trip, but SO AMAZING!!!!!

This is me shocked to see them:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dare I Say It? Toilet Training Success!!

I think my dreams are coming true...I may have just recently purchased my last package of diapers...YAY!!!!!!! This will bring down monthly expenses by a lot since I insist on buying pampers and they cost a fortune in this country! I did try the no-name generic Israeli brand and they were crap (excuse the pun) so I stuck with what I knew. I also did a short stint with Huggies because Little was peeing through everything at night and I thought Huggies were a bit bigger, but that didn't help the leakage.
Anyway, last week Little announced one morning that he was going to wear underwear to school. He had been peeing in the toilet at home on and off and sometimes wearing underwear but with no regularity at all and he most certainly had not left the house in it. So I packed him up 2 extra pairs and some extra clothes and shipped him off to school. His teacher was surprised but was happy to go with it. He did great--a couple of accidents here and there, but for the most part it's been pretty painless. Tonight will be the real test. He's been sleeping in a diaper and waking up wet in the morning so I was hesitant to let him go with underwear at night. Last night, he wore a diaper but he woke up at 11pm to pee and then when he got up in the morning he was dry and went in the toilet. Tonight he absolutely refused to put on a diaper so we'll see what happens! I fully anticipate needing to change his sheets in the middle of the night but you never know. I'm so proud of him! 2 years and 10 months--beating Big in this milestone by a good 2 months, not that I'd ever compare my kids to each other:)
And there you have it. A whole post about pee. Fun.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Bilingual Boys

I am so fascinated by the way children's minds/brains work. For the past 2 years, I have watched my boys become suddenly immersed in learning a new language. Big was almost 3 1/2 when we got here, so he was clearly already well-versed in the English language. He knew a few words in Hebrew that he had learned from the JCC PreSchool or that we had taught him at home, but he was nowhere near fluent. Shortly after arriving, he started his new school, entirely in Hebrew. Progress was slow at first, but it's incredibly amazing to me that now he is more or less fluent. I hear him chattering away with his friends at school and he explains to me what is happening on the tv shows. And he now thinks it's normal for Dora to speak Hebrew and English instead of English and Spanish!
With Little, it's been a different experience. He was only 9 months old when we moved and didn't talk yet. He went to an English-speaking daycare for the first year that we were here because I wanted to be sure that he learned English properly before learning Hebrew. I was worried about his language development because he was still not speaking very much (in either language) by his 2nd birthday. I think he was just confused by hearing 2 languages all the time because we went to America for 6 weeks shortly after he turned 2 and his speech completely blossomed in that time. That was just in time for him to start preschool in a Hebrew-speaking school. His spoken Hebrew is nowhere near as good as his English, but his teacher says he understands everything. I'm not sure that he completely knows the difference between the 2 languages because he throws in random Hebrew words here and there mid-sentence.
It's just amazing what their little minds can absorb!!


I've been reading a number of so-called "Mommy blogs" for a while now and have been writing one of my own for almost 5 years. I started mine, as many people did, just to keep my family and friends updated on what was going on in our lives and also to keep a record of my kids' early years. I've decided to stop being a "lurker" on other blogs and start getting out there and being part of this amazing blogging community. Because I am super-paranoid about the crazies out there, I decided to start a new blog where my kids' identities can remain secret instead of sharing and publicizing my other blog. So, here, I will just call them Big and Little, which is often what my husband, who I will call Krazy (because that was his nickname in highschool and I like it), and I call them anyway.
I am so new to this and will probably end up breaking all kinds of blogging rules since I don't really know what they are so please forgive me in advance.
I guess this post should be an introduction to me and my life...just about 2 years ago, Krazy and I packed up Big and Little and our entire lives and moved 6,000 miles away to the other side of the world. It was meant to be a temporary move--just to spend one year in a country that we love--and I do believe it is still temporary, but for now we plan to be here for another year until the summer of 2010.
I work part-time from home for an internet start-up and the rest of the time I am a mom to Big, who is 5 and Little who is almost 3. They are my pride and joys and although they are often psycho, they are always entertaining!! I haven't decided yet how I feel about putting pictures of my kids on this blog. I've seen people do different things--blocking out faces or just putting pictures of kids from odd angles so you can't actually see their faces, etc. It's a sad statement about the state of the world that we have to be worried about things like this, but such is life.
I have no idea where this blog is going to go, but I'm excited to find out and I hope you will join me on the journey!