The Laundry Saga Continues

Today David was in a panic. Our very NOISY and temperamental washing machine stopped spinning. He took it apart and looked at it from every possible angle but was not able to find the problem. We decided that since we have had nothing but bad luck with the machine, we would not pour more money into it. I went on line to the yad shniyah website and found someone who was selling their washing machine for 100 NIS. We figured that for that price, we'd be willing to take the chance. The owner, Eli, was in Ramat Gan which is about a 30 minute drive from Modiin. We set out with our handy GPS in the hopes of buying the washing machine. We arrived at our destination, checked out the machine, and approved. Eli and David carried the HEAVY machine down a flight of stairs and loaded it into our van. When it came time to pay him, he would not accept our money. He said that he'd like the mitzvah. We told him that we'd give the money to tzedakah instead. He seemed happy by that. When we got home, David and our neighbor, Avraham, carried the washing machine upstairs. We hooked it up, with some difficulty, and tested it out. It's working but the best part is the SILENCE.

Close call to end an exciting week

Last week was a crazy week with all our travels. On Sunday, we went to Zichron Yaakov to see Shira's brother's new baby girl, Mia Leora. Then we were in Eilat on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Then Shira and I went to Yerushalayim on Thursday morning. So I think we could be partially excused for leaving a little late for our trip to Zichron Yaakov for Shabbos. It usually takes us about an hour and a quarter to get there and we left two hours before shkia. We were zipping along on kvish shesh until all of a sudden the traffic just stopped. I don't mean slowed to a crawl but completely stopped. We could tell that we were close to the front because we could already see a crowd of at least 30 people standing ahead. There were more people running past our car and lots of people getting out of the cars and slowly walking forward. We assumed there must have been a major accident and that we had to wait for the police and tow trucks to come. Finally, after waiting for more than a half hour, traffic started moving again. It turns out to have been a chaifetz chashud (suspected object). We didn't pass any police or official looking cars so I guess who ever took care of it just did it and kept going. Thank God, it turned out to be nothing and we made it to Zichron three minutes after candle lighting time.

We had a really nice Shabbos at the Hagege's (my sister) house and walked over to Danny's (Shira's brother) house on Shabbos afternoon. There was a women's only party to celebrate the new baby at 9 PM on Motzei Shabbos at Danny's house. Shira had assumed that the party was earlier so our plan was that she'd go to the party for a little and then we'd come home. Once we found out the party was so late we had to come up with an alternate plan. We decided to sleep there and leave early this morning. We got up at 5:40 this morning to come home and we were on the road by 6 and home by 7:15. It again came in handy that our kids get up so early since Rivka and Zvi were already awake when we got out of bed. Getting ready for school was a little hectic but the kids all got it done.

Last week was a lot of fun but I'm happy to start a nice quiet week now.

Timna Park - last day of Eilat vacation

We woke up on Wednesday morning not knowing what we were going to do that day. Again, we were all up early and all we had to do was figure out what the best activity for us was. Our goal was to be on the road heading home by 2 PM to avoid driving in the mountains in the dark. The kids wanted to go camel riding but there were no camels available in the morning at the numbers the hotel called for us. Danny had recommended that we go to Timna Park. The hotel arranged for us to meet up with a tour that was already there. It was a great day and ending to our trip. We were there for about four hours and we left at almost exactly 2 PM. The drive back was good except that we had bought a bottle of Pepsi in the morning for the kids and they were all hyper for the drive back. The good news is that they were hyper together and really got along nicely. We don't really have any great stories from Timna Park but here are some pictures.


Whoops!

I still have to blog about yesterday in Eilat and I will do that soon but one short interrupt. This morning I was rushing to take care of a few things and then I had to run out to pick up Shira so we could go to Yerushalayim. I was spaced out and I backed right into my cleaning lady's car. Her bumper got pretty smashed up and it's a little broken just above the bumper also. I wanted to call my insurance but there is no phone number on the insurance card. So I went on their website and I couldn't find a phone number for claims there either. Now we just have to deal with another headache but at least nobody was hurt and the damage wasn't too bad.

Merry Tuesday



It's great being in Israel during this season. No decorations, lights, trees. I thought we might see a little bit of it in Eilat but I didn't see a thing. We actually saw quite a few Muslims there who were apparently there celebrating Eid ul-Adha but it's still a Jewish city. I commented to Shira that many things about Eilat reminded me of Las Vegas and a quick Google search indicates that they both have often been referred to as Sin City. It's still a Jewish Sin City though. Anyway... about our day.

We woke up early as we always do in the Greenstone family but had no idea what we were going to do. We went to another Isrotel to discuss our options and after considering many different things we decided on jeep rides and the Underwater Observatory. Shira went to exercise at the hotel across the street and I took the kids into the pool outside our room. It was still pretty cold in the morning but the kids had a great time. After swimming we rushed back across the street to get in our jeep.

The jeep ride was really bumpy but was a lot of fun and educational. There were four jeeps that went through the mountains together and it was our family and an Israeli couple in our jeep. I sat in the way back with the three older kids and Shira sat in the middle next to Yeshaya who managed to sleep through most of it in a car seat.



Then we went to the Underwater Observatory. This was really great. We've been to at least two other aquariums with the kids and neither one even comes close to comparing to this one. The fish were really nice and there was just much more to see and do. We had reserved seats on the boat at 1:55 but the jeep rides took a little longer than expected so we came a minute late and we missed it. Luckily they didn't give us any trouble going on the next boat. I was a little nervous because I had been under the impression that we went on a submarine but the kids (and I) were disappointed when it turned out that there was no submarine. The semi-submarine though turned out to be very good also and it's basically the same thing since we're underwater the whole time. We also saw all the other cool things there were.



By the time we finished it was time for dinner. We were all starving since we didn't eat that much for breakfast or lunch. We had heard that there were two glatt kosher restaurants in Eilat - Halleluiah and Shauli and Guy. We had heard the latter was better so even though we knew where the other one was we tried looking for it. We put into our GPS and it took us out to a restaurant with a different name. We asked someone standing outside and he told us that there used to be two but now there was only one and it was a couple miles away (right near our hotel). We drove there only to discover that it too had closed down. There was a sign in Hebrew on the door with a phone number so we called the number and asked if there were any other mehadrin fleishig restaurants. He said the only one was Halleluiah. So after wasting a half hour we were finally in our restaurant. The food was pretty good. After dinner we were again all exhausted so we went back, watched some videos and went to sleep.

To be continued ...

Surprise Vacation to Eilat

We've been telling our kids all year that we would go to Eilat at some point this year. We thought that this week would be a great week to get away since I was off on Tuesday anyway and I had to use up my 2007 vacation days. Then we started looking into prices for hotels and everything was really expensive (at least 250 dollars a night) so we told the kids that we weren't sure if we were going to go at all. The kids were sure when they went to sleep on Sunday night that they'd wake up in the morning with an email telling them we were going to Eilat. They were very disappointed that there was no such email and gave us a lot of trouble going to school in the morning.

After Shira exercised and I ran a couple errands we started doing some serious research for our vacation. People had advised us to try daka90 for cheap deals on hotels. We'd been there a couple times but didn't really find anything that was good. We tried again and found a good deal at the Isrotel Riviera. We got a suite for the entire family for about 100 dollars a night. We quickly packed up food, clothes, a toaster oven and popcorn popper and went out to pick the kids up from school. They were all surprised and thrilled.

The drive down is beautiful but a little scary at times. We decided that there was no way we were going to do the drive at night coming home. At one point we almost ran out of gas but after the tank was on empty for 10 minutes or so we found a gas station. It took us about four hours to get to Eilat. We had no idea what we were going to do while we were there but we were all exhausted anyway. The hotel was nice and the room was exactly what we needed. (At one point I turned to Rivka and said, "Isn't this hotel awesome?" She said, "Yeah, but I don't think Mommy likes it so much." It wasn't fancy or anything, the rooms weren't carpeted, and it was a little crowded with six people in the suite but it was definitely good enough for us.) The kids watched some videos that we brought and we all went to sleep soon after we got there.

For a little while all four kids were sleeping one room but around 4 AM Yeshaya woke up and cried. We got him and he came into our room and we went right back to sleep. Apparently Rivka and Zvi did not. They had a door from their room that led straight outside to the swimming pool. It was pretty cold there at night but that didn't stop them from coming up with the brilliant idea of going in the pool in the middle of the night. They thought it wouldn't be dangerous if they just went in the shallow end so they went in the pool and then came back inside and got dressed. We did wake up eventually and heard them giggling so we told them to go to sleep. They did but told us about their little adventure in the morning. Needless to say we weren't too pleased. They had fun though and promised us they wouldn't do anything like that again.

To be continued ... (including lots of pictures)

Siyum on Kesubos

Another nice Shabbos for us in Modiin. My parents usually have to stay home to help care for my grandmother but my aunt and uncle are in town from San Diego so my parents were able to come to us for Shabbos. We also had two boys from Netiv Aryeh, through Anywhere in Israel. We were supposed to have Eli and Elie with us for both meals but in the end they went out of town for Shabbos. Lucky for us they only found out they were going away after they had already brought us three delicious cakes for dessert. They didn't take them back so we had good desserts. (Eli and Elie are moving back to the States after only a couple months here because of the university strike. Mr. Eli was supposed to be in a PhD program and this strike was messing him up so they're going back to the States.) For lunch today we had the Neustaters and their kids had a total of three friends. Then our next door neighbors on both sides came over for dessert with lots of kids and kids' friends. So it was a good thing that we had so many cakes for dessert.

At shalosh seudos at shul, we made a siyum on maseches Kesubos. I actually still haven't finished Yevamos because when we first came to Israel I slacked off a little and have to still learn the last 20 blatt or so of that masechet. When Kesubos started Aryeh Bak agreed to become my chavrusa and we've been learning consistently for the last four months. Tomorrow we start nedarim. After learning the last couple blatt of Kesubos it's hard to move back to Chutz La'aretz. With lines like these, how can anyone leave Eretz Yisrael (explanation courtesy of Kollel Iyun Hadaf):
Don't take that the wrong way ... we really haven't made up our minds yet.

Gefilta Fish

Growing up in my house there were two types of fish we ate. Tuna fish and Gefilta fish. Every other type of fish was off limits because my father didn't like it so my mother never made it. It seems that way with a lot of foods. I never had asparagus growing up so I won't even try it as an adult. Once my sister-in-law spent a fortune on sushi and she and David ended up eating the whole tray while Zale and I wouldn't go near it. I couldn't even eat the soup from the same restaurant. Anyway, back to the fish. My grandmother used to make us gefilta fish from scratch. There was never a recipe she followed. It was always a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I cook the same way now. Although she was known to make a delicious gefilta fish, I was never such a fish fan (even though it was just two types - and yes I know gefilta fish isn't really a type of fish). For some reason though, shabbos lunch isn't the same without serving gefilta fish. This shabbos when I realized that my one loaf of fish wouldn't feed our lunch crowd, I knew I had to do something. I called on my friend Elie (female) to go to Kiryat Sefer with me to pick up some more loaves. In the pouring rain, we ventured out to Kiryat Sefer. When we arrived to the super market, Shefa Shuk, we had a choice of a few different loaves. The American Meal Mart loaf was 40 NIS (about $10) - way too much money. Then there were two other brands. I opted for the cheapest one 20 NIS ($5) which came in two different types - Polish or Hungarian. You can imagine my dilemma. All four of my grandparents were Polish, my mother (born in Canada) still think she comes from Poland and I heard Hungarian (not so nice) comments my whole life. But on the other hand, I once bought one of each and the Hungarian was actually better - (I'm so sorry my Polish relatives). So given that I opted for the cheapest gefilta fish that was bound to taste like rubber, I decided to go with Hungarian (again I'm really sorry my Polish relatives). Of course, I'm probably not going to even try it because it looks and smells too fishy to me.h

Sssssss

Yesterday in class the people who speak only Hebrew were singing "de de dum dum ... kol hamiSpalel ..." Someone decided to write the words on the board. For all the words that have a sav, she wrote a samech instead. For example, the word mispalel was spelled Mem, SAMECH (instead of sav), pay, lamed, lamed.

The Family Dentist

Leora has been having teeth issues lately. At her last dentist visit in Baltimore, Dr. Weintraub noticed that her front bottom tooth was little loose. He took x-rays to rule out an infection. However, last week Leora started complaining about a tooth ache. I checked her mouth and found that the loose tooth was looking a little brown. I quickly called my dentist brother Danny, and he said that I should keep an eye on it and looked for swelling. The next time I looked I noticed a canker sore and attributed the pain to that instead of the actual tooth. But Leora kept complaining so I looked again and sure enough there was a lot of swelling behind the tooth. I called Danny again (as well as the times in the middle to update him ie: canker sore etc.) and he said that I should try and get her on antibiotics so that he could pull the tooth if need be. We didn't have any luck finding someone to write us a prescription and since Danny was coming for a Chanuka party that night, we waited for him. He prescribed a 7 day course of antibiotics but the pharmacist who "knew better" only gave us for five. BTW to all the people in the US, the prescription was really cheap. Leora started on the antibiotics and they seemed to be working but then all of a sudden the swelling got much worse and her teeth started shifting. Again a call to Danny who said that we should try to drain the infection if we could with a little pin prick. Luckily it drained itself. Today (a week after the start of the antibiotics) Danny stopped by on his way to J"M and pulled Leora's tooth. He froze it with a topical anesthetic but because of the infection Leora was still able to feel the pain. She was really brave though and was so excited to be missing a tooth. She even wrote a letter to the tooth fairy, in English of course.


Thanks Dan (if you read our blog)!

Just a quick note about our past shabbos. We were home Friday night and my brother Eli joined us for shabbos. We had a nice time. For lunch we ate at the Rabbi of our shul Rav and Tali Sobel. Although they are vegan during the week, they have chicken and meat on shabbos. There was tons to eat and we enjoyed the challenge of having a meal in hebrew. They are very special people.

Back to school

All the kids were in school/gan this morning. Rivka and Zvi went on the bus and they gave us no trouble this morning getting ready. Rivka and Zvi have been going to a Hebrew tutor three days a week after school but Zvi decided that he didn't want to go anymore. So Rivka went by herself today. Her Hebrew is really improving and she's going to be fluent very soon. Maybe Zvi will join again also.

Shira took Yeshaya to his playgroup and he didn't cry at all once there. He's been doing really well. I took Leora to her new gan today. She was clearly excited but also very nervous. We got there a little after gan started so the ganenet would have time to prepare. She met us at the door and gave Leora a warm welcome. I had warned her that she had to speak to Leora in English so she did and Leora was relieved. The girls all came running to greet her also but they all only speak Hebrew. They had even made a little welcome present for her. I showed her around the gan and the girls were following us offering to show her how things worked. Then she sat to color but insisted I stay. Then she asked me to read her book so I asked the ganenet to do that instead. She agreed and told me that I could leave. I warned her that Leora would yell and scream. The good news is that she can't run out to the gate because this gan is in a big school building. The assistant locked the gan door as I left and Leora screamed but the ganenet grabbed her. She called me less than 10 minutes later to tell me that Leora had already calmed down. Leora came home from gan in a very good mood (although she usually came home from the other gan in a good mood also). She told me that tomorrow she's going to try not to cry at all. That would be awesome.

On the last day of Chanuka ...

I finally got my new laptop today from IBM. It had been stuck in customs for a really long time so approximately a month after my old laptop broke they finally had my new laptop at the office in Petach Tikva. We had been thinking about going to Yerushalayim today but the kids really weren't excited about it and I had to get the computer so we decided to go there instead. The building we had to go to is located in Park Azorim which is a gorgeous campus. I got the laptop and then we went out to a nice restaurant on the campus and then we ran around. The kids had a great time there which was pretty surprising since we often plan things and they hate it.

Then we met Amy and her younger three daughters in Cinema City to see Bee Movie. First we hung out at Cinema City a little and bought nosh for the movie and then we went to see it. Everyone really enjoyed the movie and was wiped out by the end. All the kids went to sleep the second we got home.

The world is a toilet

My sister is fond of telling her sons that the world is their toilet and they can pish wherever they want. Today, we met Ethel and her two little kids at Shvil Hatapuzim. There are tons of orange trees there (hence the name) and next to one of them which is about 5 feet from the bathrooms was the sign above (Kan Lo sheirutim - Here is not a bathroom). Ethel was very excited as I think that this really proves what she said. Basically the sign was saying the entire world is your toilet except trees that are 5 feet from bathrooms. Fair enough.

We had a great time at the park. Below are some pictures of the kids having a great time. Actually, we didn't get a picture of the thing that they enjoyed the most but these are some of the other fun things.

Unfortunately we took highway 2 instead of 6 to come home and we hit tons of traffic. Zvi had to pish really badly and he couldn't hold it in anymore so we pulled over to the side of the road, as many other cars had done, for him since almost the entire world is his toilet.

When we got home we lit candles for the last time this year and then we had a game of dreidel which Leora and Rivka won.


BubbieSitting and Chanuka parties

With my parents in Memphis, we volunteered to spend Shabbos with my grandmother. We slept at my parents apartment and my grandmother and her metapelet, Marice, joined us for the meals. Rivka and Yehoshua (Amy's two oldest kids) stayed with us also but our Rivka was in Zichron. I actually got a Shabbos nap for the first time in a little while and we had a relaxing Shabbos.

On Motzei Shabbos, we had part I of our Chanuka party. Ethel and family came from Zichron with Rivka and Shira's cousins Rena and Yonasan came from Yerushalayim. We all enjoyed pizza and bagels and had a nice time. Bubbie was happy to have so many people visiting her and she had a treat for everyone.

On Sunday, the kids wanted to go bowling but it was a long wait just to get a lane so we decided to leave and spend the money on gifts. Rivka and Zvi wanted to share a magic set and Leora and Yeshaya wanted to get a Dora game. Then came part II of the Chanuka party. Danny and family came from Zichron, Malki, Shira's cousin, came from Rechovot and Eli came from Yerushalayim. We had a great time and now Talya and Ayala are staying with us for a couple days.

Upper left: Ethel, Sivan, Bubbie, Leora, David. Upper right: Eitan and Bubbie. Lower left: Malkie and Zvi. Lower right: Talya, Leora, Yeshaya and Ayala.

Sleep-Away

I was in Zichron Yaakov last week. Tuesday night my father drove me to Zichron and then I went to the Festigal in Haifa with my cousin Maya. The Festigal is where some people go on stage and sing and dance. It was a lot of fun. Wednesday morning I went to school with Maya. When we got home we had lunch. After Ethel came home Maya went to gymastics and I watched a movie ( Ice Princess) When Ethel got back we went to pick up Maya and her friends up from gymastics and then went to get candy and go swimming. After we were done swimming we went and rented a movie. When we got home we lit the menora and then watched another movie.

On Thursday, Maya and I went to work with Ethel at Microsoft. When we got there we ate breakfast and played on the computer. After that, we went downstairs and colored in the playroom. Then Ethel drove us to a mall and we stayed there by ourselves. At the mall, we found matching shirts. At Toys-R-Us I bought a magic box and Maya bought art stuff. We watched a movie that night. On Friday morning we went to a grocery store and in the afternoon we went to a book store and shoe store. There was no hot water in the house so we went to the pool to take showers for Shabbat.

Chanuka tournament





Friday was the Chanuka tournament (the first game of the season). At first we thought the game might be canceled because it rained a lot on Thursday night but the field was pretty dry and we were able to play. It was pretty cold but I was just happy that we were finally able to play a real game. Abba and I got to the field then we warmed up a little. Modiin was divided into two teams.

Game #1: We played against Yerushalayim. In the top of the first inning Yerushalayim scored five runs. Then we scored three runs. Then they scored one run and we didn't score any in the second inning. They didn't score any in the third and we scored 9! The game ended after five innings and we won 18-6. I played shortstop most of the game and I had a few hits.

Game #2 was Modin vs. Chashmonayim. I don`t really know what happened in the game because their was too much scoring.But we won 21 to 19(with 40 runs all together). I played short and second. I had a few hits in each game and had lots of fun. Now we have a break until the regular se
The pictures were taken in our house after the game.

Bat Ayin Cont.

Shira did a good job summarizing the trip but I'll provide the details that she promised. The initial email that we got said that we'd be "picking the last of the seasons olives and making our own olive oil, milking goats, wine tasting and much much more." It also said that the cost of the trip was 25 shekel per person for the bus.

It was cool going to Gush Etzion for the first time since I was in Yeshiva there almost 15 years ago. The first thing we noticed when we got off the bus was the difference in temperature - it must have been 20 degrees cooler there than it was in Modiin when we left. Then we got to see what I'd call a typical Bat Ayin house. I've never seen any other houses there but I just imagine that this was typical. Then we saw them grind flour, visited a wine press (and tasted wine), saw an olive oil factory and went home. It also turned out the trip cost 100 extra shekel because we had to pay for our tour guide also. So we got to do half of what we thought for twice the price. It actually was pretty interesting for Shira and me but the kids didn't enjoy it too much. We were lucky that Rivka wasn't with us and that Zvi brought a football so he played with me when he got bored.

Here is a picture of a bunch of the people inside the house in Bat Ayin and a picture of our tour guide with his wife in their house.





Bat Ayin

Where to begin. We received an email from a member of our shul in Modiin that there was a tiyul planned with the Rabbi's family to Bat Ayin with transportation. We jumped at the chance. Firstly, it was something to do with the kids but most importantly we really wanted to see what Bat Ayin was all about. We have heard over the years various things but wanted to check it out first hand. My brother Aaron learned at the yeshiva there. He once commented to me that there is no security fence around the yishuv despite being surrounded by arabs because even the arabs think they're nuts.

We were scheduled to leave Modiin at 8:45 am but of course didn't leave until 9:30am. We arrived 5 minutes late and I was sure they would all be waiting for us. No siree. We were the third family there. Once all arrived we headed on our way, via Ramat Bet Shemesh. The drive was so nauseating we were all ready to throw up.

When we arrived in Bat Ayin (after a few wrong turns) we were greeted by Amnon. He was wearing this interesting black hat but otherwise there wasn't anything too noteworthy in his other clothing. We were invited into his home which was very large but looked like my father built it. His wife had on a huge head scarf but was also wearing "normal" clothing. However, they had a helper who was dressed in the Bat Ayin style. Flyaway payos, scarf over his head, white clothing, naot etc. Very "la la" looking. Bat Ayin was also not very well planned. A house here and there, roads that weren't really wide enough for a car let alone a bus. At one point we had to do a three point turn on very steep roads. People were ready to jump off the bus it was so scary. After several attempts and some whiplash we made it.

I'll let David fill in all the details of what we did because quite frankly it was way too boring. The highlight of the trip for me (and the reason I wasn't complaining too much) was that we got a guided bus tour around the whole Gush Etzion neighborhood. We drove through arab villages, across and around mountains. The views were something else. I would have definitely been too scared to drive it ourselves, especially with my fear of heights.

First day of Chanuka

Zvi had a half day of school today and we decided to pick Leora up from gan early so she could join us for lunch. Today was her last day at Gan Shalhevet and I can report that it was no different than any other day. She ran out to the gate screaming when I left. Let's hope things get better at the new gan ... I can't imagine them getting much worse for her. Yeshaya also had his playgroup today so Shira and I were all alone in the morning. I spent an hour at my grandmother's house as I try to do each Wednesday morning since that's the one day she's home. We had a great game of dreidel with chocolate lentils as the money. I won! Later I discovered that the dreidel was rigged and it landed on gimel over the half the time and rarely landed on nun or pay. We both played with the same dreidel though so I won fair and square and she's 60 years older than me!

My parents are going to Memphis tonight for Shmuel's, my nephew, Hanachat Tfillin party. He's doing the actual bar mitzva here and we're excited that we can join him for that. So we decided to invite my parents to go out for lunch with us and our three little kids so we could say good-bye to them. It's great when we invite them for lunch and then they pay.

Then we went to take our annual portraits of Leora and Yeshaya. Shira is very particular about every kid getting a picture every year and she was nervous what she was going to do here without Sears or JCPenney. She found this great place in Kiryat Sefer where a guy has a studio and he took really good pictures of Leora and Yeshaya. We're excited to see the final picture (we'll scan it in and post it here so you can all enjoy). Then the kids got some candy and Shira bought some things for our Chanuka parties next week and then it was home for candle lighting. That should have been it but Shira decided that Zvi desperately needs new shoes so she took the three kids to go buy new shoes for Zvi.

Chag URIm Sameach!

It's Chanuka!!!

We just lit candles for the first night of chanuka. It was so awesome to be able to light outside in Israel. We set up a table right near our front door and David lit his menorah/chanukia there. All the neighbors were out and came by to watch. We then proceeded inside for the kids to light their handmade chanukiot. Zvi and Leora said their brachot so beautifully and Yeshaya was excited to be holding a lit candle. Rivka was not here with us as she went up to Zichron Yaakov to spend a few days with Maya and the rest of the Hageges. We will post some pictures when Rivka returns so that she could be included.

Wishing everyone a Chag Sameach!! (it's so neat that everyone says that to each other here)

Planning a Chanuka Party

It has been our tradition for the last number of years to host a chanuka party for our extended family in Baltimore. Our kids were so excited because we have so much family in Israel that they insisted I do it here too. I sent an email to invite everyone and have discovered that most people will not be able to make the party for various reasons. I've even changed the date to try and accommodate more people but am not really having much luck. Oh well, it's more latkas for us to enjoy!

On a side note, today I went with my neighbor Miriam to the mall in Petach Tikvah. We had a really nice time with our youngest kids. The most impressive part of the outing was my discovery that Miriam drives just like me (except I didn't hear her yelling at the other drivers)!

Goodbye Free Time

I am sad to say that a chapter in my life in Israel has come to an end. As of today I will no longer have my afternoons free. You may wonder why. The answer is quite simple. LEORA. Leora is going to be switching ganim right after Chanuka vacation (wish us luck because we need it) and she will be getting out of school at 1:20pm. In her current gan she stayed for an afternoon program (tzaharon) but we decided to stop it before the actual switch since today was the start of a new billing cycle. We wanted to make it simple and not leave any room for a billing "mistake". I will now have to entertain Leora with our very limited toy selection. I guess I'll take my neighbor Miriam up on her offer to borrow toys.

Both meals at home

For the first time in a long time we had both meals at home this Shabbos. That is not to imply in any way that they were quiet meals. Adina Bloomberg, an old friend of Shira's, joined us for Shabbos (third time already this year). On Friday night we had Elie and Eli for dinner again and then the Steiners, our next door neighbors came over for dessert. The Steiners only had one of five kids home for Shabbos so we invited them for lunch also. Today, we had the Shlockers, minus one kid, the Rosenbaums, minus Chanina (check out her beautiful and delicious cakes for people in the Modiin area) who is in the States, the Steiners, and two people the Shlockers were planning on having for lunch for a grand total of 10 adults and 12 kids. I think that's the most we've had since we moved here. We only have one table and 14 chairs so we're lucky that the Wines graciously lend us their table and chairs whenever we need. Joel pointed out that we use it more than they do.

Lots of legs

Q. What do you call a black centipede type thing almost a foot long with about 300 legs?
A. An African Giant Black Millipede Rivka and Shira were sitting in the living room tonight while I was in my office when they called me to join them. Rivka had spotted this long millipede in the corner of the living room. I had to get it out of the house. I got two plastic bags and used one to try to push it into the other. It curled up in a ball and pooped all over the floor (apparently it wasn't really poop but it was just secreting a defensive liquid from its exoskeleton). I got it into the bag and brought it outside to the dumpster. I didn't realize this at the time but they are the "perfect pet arthropod". Too bad our lease says no pets allowed.

The Shuk in Ramle

First of all I need to clarify that the shuk was in Ramle NOT Ramallah. It's a city pretty close to Modiin with a mix of Jews and Arabs. I went with my neighbor Esti and I drove. When we reached our destination we started looking for parking but it was jammed packed. It was bumper to bumper in the parking lots. There was one car in front of me and I noticed some people coming to their car. The car in front of me was still scanning around for a spot but was passed this spot. She decided though that she had the right to this parking spot and not me. BUT I wouldn't let her have it. She was motioning me to back up so she could get it and I just refused. She even sent her passenger out to stand by the spot. Then it came time for the person in the spot to drive her car out. Well there was nowhere for her to go. The lady in front of me refused to move forward and I had a car behind me so I couldn't really go anywhere. Everyone started yelling at each other, it was really quite humorous. Finally after much maneuvering, the lady in front moved forward, I moved over to the side and the lady got out of her spot. I decided that it wasn't worth the fight anymore so I just backed up out of the parking lot and parked illegally. After all, I have Cypress license plates and don't get ticketed or towed.

(The Shuk was not too impressive but I managed to get some shekel items for the kids. )

Little League in Modiin

Life is becoming more routine so I haven't had much to post about lately. Also, my computer is broken so I've been using Shira's so she hasn't had much time to blog. She's off to the shuk in Ramle and all the kids are at school/gan so I have some quiet time to myself. There are a few more general things that I've wanted to put in here so here is one of them ...

I'm a coach in Little League this year and it's been pretty good so far. The good thing about Little League here compared to Baltimore is that it lasts for 9 months or so instead of 3. The bad thing is that it's only once a week and not 3. It's also very different in that we practice for the first half of the year and then play games the second half. So far we've only had practices every Friday and then we have a month vacation and then we start the real season. Zvi is on a "team" with about 35 8-10 year olds. We have six coaches and we've been doing various drills with them for 90 minutes every Friday. The kids seem to enjoy it and they're actually improving also. We will break the kids into three teams for the real season but for now we've been practicing with everyone together. It won't be easy to break the kids into teams because it's hard to tell without games who are the best players but we'll have some idea. Then during the season we play games against Gezer, Beit Shemesh, Chashmonaim and maybe another city or two.

We have an exhibition game next Friday in what is called the Chanuka Tournament. It's actually just two games against other teams and for that we'll probably be only one or two teams representing Modiin since many kids won't play. It will be fun to play our first game. The teams won't be the final teams for the regular season and won't "count." You can look forward to a post by Zvi or me about how the games go.

Also, this week they started eight weeks of bonus practices with two special coaches, including a Modiin Miracle player/coach, (I'm off the hook for these) on Tuesday afternoons. The practices start at 2:30 and Zvi only finishes school at 3:15 but we told Zvi that we can pick him up early from school and bring him to baseball every Tuesday as long as it lasts if he's good. He went yesterday and had a good time.

Meeting with the school psychologist

Today we met with the school psychologist for Leora's gan to see how she is progressing. Basically, she is not progressing but rather regressing. This past week was absolutely impossible. Leora started some new tricks. She now climbs fences, jumps out windows, pinches and punches. Yay, we are really proud of her new talents. But seriously, the situation is out of control.

The conclusion that we have come to is that we need to find Leora a gan that is a better fit to her needs. She is acting out because of anxieties and fears and it is only escalating. We are not going to tell her anything (so if you're reading this and you see Leora, please keep it quiet) but she will most likely be switching ganim after Chanuka break. Hopefully a new start with teachers that speak English is the answer. Wish us luck!

Thanksgiving weekend

I was off from work on Thursday thanks to the American holiday so we decided that we should do something with the kids. We planned on picking them up early and going to Zichron Yaakov to do something with some of my sister's (Ethel) family and some of Shira's brother's (Danny) family. Wednesday night we heard that Rabbi Raphael Marcus was niftar and they were bringing the body to Eretz Yisrael. He had been the rabbi of Shira's shul since she was little (Shira's brother blogged about his first memory of him) and his oldest son was my chavrusa in YU and I had gotten to know him after I got engaged. We both wanted to go to the funeral which was at 1 PM in Yerushalayim on Thursday so my father watched Yeshaya in Yerushalayim while we went to the funeral.

We got home just before the bigger kids came home from school so we waited for them and then went to pick up Leora from gan. By the time we got to Ethel's house in Zichron it was about 5:30 and there wasn't much time to do anything. Some of them went out to get the pizza and a movie (Shrek 3) and to pick up Danny's daughter Ayala while the rest of us just hung out at the house. The kids all watched the movie while the adults chatted.
Ethel's oldest two sons have been off from school for about six weeks because of the teacher's strike here. It's a little ridiculous but that's life. The 12 year old, Eylon, was sufficiently bored that he was interested in coming with us for Shabbos even though there really wasn't anyone his age and Maya had been planning on coming the entire time. We didn't have room for both of them so the two of them and Rivka took the train back to Modiin on Friday.

We hung out at Ethel's house on Friday morning and then drove back to empty the bag from that trip and repack for Shabbos. We picked up the kids from the train and drove to Yerushalayim for Shabbos. We were having another mini-reunion at the Inbal hotel. My sister Amy and my cousins Marlene Brody and Stuart Katz were there with their families. We had a nice time with my grandmother and ate plenty of food. Four of us went to the kotel this morning for Shacharis and Shira went to the kotel for mincha with a bunch of the girls. Too bad that neither of us went with Stuart on Friday night because Jerry Seinfeld was there.

My Favorite Quotes

I was at the gym today trying to make the time go by faster by thinking about what to blog about next. I got to thinking about the funny things the kids have said to me recently and thought, VOILA, perfect blog material. So here goes.

Rivka "Mommy are you on a diet?" "Why do you ask Rivka?" "Because you are in the worst mood."

Zvi "You're not supposed to have that candy" "Why not Zvi?" "Because you're on a diet"

(Okay, so maybe I'm a little obsessed with diet and exercise but it's not really making a difference in how my clothes are fitting).

Leora "I'm so thirsty. I want some water. Why can't I have water? Do you want me to die????"

Yeshaya (to me as I'm driving) "Mommy be careful" (said to me twice in one trip)

My all time favorite Yeshaya to David "Abba, I love Mommy" Yeshaya to me five minutes later "Mommy I hate you".

Rivka and Zvi update

In Baltimore, we always got glowing reports from the teachers about Rivka and Zvi. They're both so smart and wonderful kids at school and the kids all like them, etc. This year, we weren't sure exactly what to expect when we went to meet the teachers for parent-teacher conferences. Were they behaving well in class even though they don't understand? Were they doing well in school? Did other kids like them? We thought that they were both doing really well in all those things but we weren't 100% positive.

Last week, we went to meet Zvi's teacher. First of all, we are really impressed with her. She has called us numerous times to tell us about things or to ask us questions and seems to really care about him. She told us that he's really smart and especially good at math. We knew that but it's good to see that he's able to show it here even though he doesn't know the language. He's progressing really nicely and he got 111 on his chumash test. He's also made friends in class and even talks a bit to the Israeli kids. The teacher talks Hebrew to him almost all the time and he understands most of what she says. She is really impressed with him and we are so proud of him.

Tonight we met Rivka's teacher. She loves Rivka. She told us that she's such
a good girl and that everyone in the class really likes her. She is doing really well in class and she couldn't believe how well she did on her chumash test (100% on a test on the entire Parshat Naso). She could tell that she wasn't just spitting back the information but she really understood it and is really smart. She's also doing very well in math and is understanding more and more of what everyone says. She has lots of friends and socializes a lot with the Israeli girls. Two girls from her class live right near us but they only speak Hebrew. That doesn't stop Rivka from getting together with them often. We're so proud of her.

So far, we're very happy with the school and we really like the teachers. The two of them have adjusted so well in the time they've been in school. I can't believe it's been less than three months. They're amazing!

Tests

I have already taken 12 tests this year and I have 2 more coming up. One in Navi and one in Torah. I also have a book report that I have to give in on Thursday. But the good thing is that today we have a play so the teacher pushed of the Torah test until Thursday. Also this test isn't as hard because we're allowed to use our notes.

Does it only happen in Israel???

I have been wanting to blog about these observations that I've made for quite some time but never really had the time to sit down and do it. Not that I really have the time now being that's it's 6:21 pm and I have to bathe the kids and get them to bed.

The other day David and I were comparing our observations of how the city of Modiin is simply wasting their money. There is a light by the intersection near our house. Every morning and evening during rush hour there is a man that sits out there switching the light from red to green. For a country that has the latest and greatest shabbat clocks, could they not figure out how to time the traffic lights? Another example of the waste of money is the new park near our house. The park is completely finished and all the kids from the neighborhood have been anxiously awaiting for the tarps around the equipment to come down. I guess people got inpatient and started removing the tarps and enjoyed themselves at the park. Every shabbos the same thing happens. The tarps come down, the kids play and the next day the workers go and put the tarps up again. The only stopping the official opening of the park is a signature. Pretty pathetic.

I went grocery shopping the other day with Chanina Rosenbaum and we could only laugh at our experience. I got into line, unloaded my shopping cart only to find that my cashier decided to take a break. When she returned five minutes later she had to have a conversation with someone before starting to check me out. Whatever happened to multitasking? With our shopping carts loaded (bagged and loaded by yours truly) we headed to the car. Imagine trying to push a three wheeled shopping cart that loves to veer to the left - that was me. Brand new shopping carts made to veer to the left????

BUT what we also see is a community that is ever so friendly and warm. The sense of unity and caring is unbelievable. To be a part of this is so rewarding for us on many levels. We (I hope I can speak for the family) are so fortunate to be able to have this wonderful experience here in Israel.

Trying something new with Leora

Leora's ganenet, Chani, has been meeting regularly with the psychologist from the city and with the head of gans or something like that to try to figure out how best to deal with Leora. They really haven't given her any great ideas. My impression is that she's pushing to try to get them to put someone extra in the class for some time each day to work with Leora. Last night the psychologist called to tell us about their latest and greatest idea. Leora always eats very well in gan so they felt that if I brought Leora (Chani had previously told us that it's better when I bring her because she screams a lot louder and longer when Shira leaves than when I do) with food it might help. Maybe if I left her with Chani while she was eating they'd develop some kind of relationship.

There are really two problems at the gan. One is the separation; Leora has a very hard time parting from us and she screams every day when we leave. I usually walk her to the gate and she stands there screaming as I pull away. Recently, she went in a couple times on her own after about 5 minutes. The other problem is that she doesn't pay any attention to the teachers. When anyone talks Hebrew to her she completely tunes them out and now even when Chani tries to talk to her in broken English she doesn't listen. So the idea was that this food trick might help with both.

So I went with Leora around 8:35 to gan. It officially starts at 8 but we usually go at that time because it's too hard for the guard to keep her locked in when too many parents are coming and going. We brought "Shabbos cereal" and milk for Leora to eat and Chani went into a back room with us. There are 35 kids in the gan and the teacher and her assistant. So for a half hour it was 34 kids just with the assistant. Leora refused to eat or to even look at Chani for the first 15 minutes. Chani drew a picture of her bowl with cereal and Leora wouldn't look at it. First I tried not saying anything but Leora kept clinging to me so finally I told her to count how many of each color were in the picture and she counted together with Chani. Then they made a crown together but Leora continued to glance back at me to make sure that I wasn't going anywhere. I kept inching away from her and she seemed OK with that. Finally at 9:05 Chani had to go out to the classroom. Leora realized that meant that I was going to leave so she started running out the door. I pulled her back in and tried to talk her into staying in gan but she refused. So she went outside with me screaming just like she'd done on every other day. I asked Chani if she wanted to try the same thing tomorrow. She said that she was off until Friday and we'll see what happens next. I don't think this was any great success but we have a meeting on Sunday with the psychologist and we'll see what she says.

Shabbos in Nof Ayalon

We went away for Shabbos for the first time in more than three months and we are planning on going away two of the next three Shabboses also. Both of my sisters have invited us a few times for Shabbos and this was the first time that it actually worked out so we went to Nof Ayalon to the Fredj's. There are some great things about going away like the fact that no preparation and cleanup is really needed. The downside is that you're not at home. It's nice to be at home in your own beds. The accommodations were good though and we all had a good time until ...

Shabbos afternoon when the men were at mincha, Amy and her daughters took my kids to the park. Her kids love taking care of Yeshaya and he warmed to them and let them hold him and play with him. That was a nice little break. Anyway, Leora started running or something (the entire Shabbos, she found it quite amusing that she was able to walk, run or even sit in the middle of the street) and she tripped and got a big bump and cut her head on the street. It was a very small cut but it was pretty deep and Amy and Shira agreed that it was best to take her to Terem again. So immediately when Shabbos was over Shira dropped the rest of us at home and she went to Terem. They were lucky that there wasn't a long wait (Shira said that when she left the line was considerably longer) and they were in and out in about an hour. Leora got a butterfly stitch.

On the way home, Shira picked up my mother because we had plans to go out to play Panoply at a shul event. We got the kids to sleep and went to the shul. Our RSVP had gotten lost in the email so we were put at the table of "extras" but luckily that included the ADDeRabbi. His trivia knowledge hepled us finish in second place out of 11. The other two couples at our table were also very nice and did well too and we all had a good time.

A little shpatzir

Today, we decided to give Rivka the day off to go shopping with Shira and Yeshaya. The four of us went to the Sussman bris in Chashmonaim with my father and then they dropped me off at my grandmother's house while they went to Yerushalayim. She goes to a group in Bet Shemesh every day besides Wednesday so I usually try to spend some time with her on Wednesday mornings. Shira has assured me that it's only a twenty minute walk if you take the shortcuts so I figured I could easily walk home. I did not realize how many stairs it was. Here is a map of the various routes
The green dot at the bottom is our house and the red line at the top is my grandmother's apartment building. The pink line is that fastest way to go in a car because it's mostly mountains so you have to go around in circles. When you walk though you can cut out a lot of it by taking stairs. The red line is the way that I walked today. You can see at the top the red line going down cuts out a lot but that was 246 steps (give or take a couple). Then near the bottom I went on another 76 steps. All the steps were going up so that was quite a hike. It took me almost exactly 20 minutes so Shira was right but it was not an easy walk. The brown line that goes all the way around is the route that Shira walks every Friday so she can get exercise. Her gym membership is only good Sunday-Thursday so for exercise on Friday she walks. Sometimes Yeshaya and I join her for the walk and when we do we can't take the stairs so we follow the brown line around to get there and then the pink line home. That takes about an hour but it's a tough walk because it's really hilly. When she's on her own though she takes the stairs back. She still goes that crazy route to get there because apparently 320 steps up isn't enough exercise. That's more than enough exercise for me ... for a week!

Yeshaya's Going To Gan

Before we moved to Israel we really debated on the schools and programs where we would send our kids. The hardest decision was places for Rivka and Zvi. Thank Gd I feel that we made the right choice for them. The school really seems to be meeting their needs. We have parent teacher conferences tomorrow, so we'll see how that goes. It was funny, I was speaking to a neighbor that sends her child to the same school. She mentioned that had she been living in NY she would never have sent her daughter to this school. It seems too Bais Yaakovy to her. I responded to her and said that our kids were going to schools in Baltimore even more right wing than this school. I guess it's all about where you're living.

Yeshaya was signed up for a part time playgroup before we left, but when we got here it fell through. I happened to become quite friendly with the person who was going to run it but failed to convince her to start it up. Initially David and I were happy that Yeshaya would be home with us. He's only two and we were looking forward to spending time alone with him. That didn't last too long. He just is so bored not having other kids around. We (mostly David) read him books all day long because we don't have many toys. Then when the kids come home and it's homework time he becomes a little troublemaker. We decided that he needs some sort of program. So after a few weeks worth of phone calls, emails etc. I have successfully found him the perfect gan. I'm really excited for him to start on Thursday. Of course when I tell him that he's going to gan he says "NO". I hope we don't have a repeat of Leora.

For Leora's kindergarten (Gan Chova) we got the one we requested. We wanted a religious school with long hours. At times I regret that we didn't check out other gannim but I'm not sure that her adjustment would have been any easier at another place. She is definitely improving daily but I think that she'll probably continue with the screaming and crying until the end of the year. It's just her way of showing us that she loves us :-)

This time I really was sick

Sunday night I wasn't feeling well when we were at my Saba and Savta's house. Then when we came home I threw up the hot dogs that I had eaten and I felt really sick. When I woke up I still felt sick and my parents said that I didn't have to go to school. I stayed home all day but I basically just stayed in bed most of the time. I played on the computer a little and went for a short walk and played with my football a little bit. I took medicine a few times and after I'd take it I felt better for a while but then I felt sick again. I woke up in the middle of the night last night and still wasn't feeling well and in the morning I felt a little better but still not perfect so my parents said I could stay home again. Today, I feel much better than I did yesterday but I'm still glad I could stay home. We went to get haircuts and then to visit my Savta a little more.

It's raining it's pouring

When I went to pick up Leora from gan today it was just starting to drizzle. In the US when it rains everyone hates it and complains all the time so I turned to Leora's friend, the security guard, and said, "aww it looks like rain." He responded that it was wonderful that it was going to rain. I said that it was great for the farmers and for us eventually when we get the produce but not great for him who has to open and shut the gate for everyone in the rain. He said, "No, the rain is amazing for everyone." It's just such a different attitude here. It rained pretty hard for about an hour in the evening. We had a drop of rain on Friday night and a little bit before Sukkot but this was our first real rainfall.

Tonight we had our second bi-weekly dinner at my parents' house with the Fredj's (my sister from Nof Ayalon). We're also planning on going to them for Shabbos. We haven't written anything about this past Shabbos so a quick recap here ... We had two girls stay with us for Shabbos from "Anywhere in Israel" - a nice program which hooks up kids here for the year with places for Shabbos. Last week the Kletzels had two girls for lunch when we were there and we liked the idea so we signed up and got our own guests. For dinner we had the Baks and the Wines (minus Debbie and the baby who are in the States). The kids all had a great time together. Thanks to the girls sleeping over we had babysitters and Shira was able to come with me to both shalom zachars that we had for Sussman and Peimer. Then for lunch we ate at the ADDeRabbi and his rebetzin's house. Rivka tried Bnei Akiva in the afternoon but found it boring and walked home in the middle. She's just not into these Shabbos afternoon groups since she quit Bnos in Baltimore also.

[this post was actually made by David ... sorry]

Leora's birthday party at Gan

Before I get into the details about the birthday party I'd like to describe how gan has been going for Leora so far this year. Shira has described it partially in the past but I'll try to give a little more detail here. Leora is in gan chova which is for kids who turned 5 by Rosh Hashana so she's one of the younger kids in the gan. Officially the day is until 1:20 but you have the option to pay and have the kids stay as late as 4:30 at tzaharon. Everyone in Leora's gan stays for tzaharon. There is one ganenet (teacher) and one assistant for 35 kids.

Leora went to gan on the first day and basically didn't know a word of Hebrew. At least half her class though speaks English so it shouldn't be a huge problem. Neither of her teachers know any English though. So Leora was a little freaked out. For a while she pretty much screamed any time someone would talk Hebrew to her. She's gotten better with that and now just tunes people out but doesn't run away screaming. After a couple weeks, we/the ganenet decided that we should stay with her for an hour so she could stay calm. It never really worked because it just delayed the screaming (we've since cut it down to only stay for 15 minutes). When we leave, she screams and runs out after us. There is a security guard outside the gan (there are a couple other gans inside there also) who stands by the gate. The door is open in the morning and afternoon when the parents are bringing their kids but the rest of the time the gate is locked and the security guard has to open it for anyone who wants to come or go. Each day, Leora runs out after us and we lock her behind the gate like she's in jail. She screams and cries for 15-60 minutes until she calms down. The teachers claim that once she calms down she's good and has lots of fun in school. So I'm still hoping that one day we'll take her and she won't run out after us screaming. It's going to happen one of these days.

They do three birthday parties in gan at a time and only do them on Fridays. The parents bring aruchat eser and cake and the teachers have an entire schedule of games and songs that lasts for over an hour. So the party was scheduled for 9:30. I brought Leora to gan at 8 and hoped that she'd let me leave right away but she still screamed and ran out to the gate when I left. I picked up my parents so Yeshaya, Shira, my parents and I showed up at Leora's gan at 9:30 for the big party. She was sharing the spotlight with two boys.

It was a very nice party and we got to see firsthand how Leora interacts with some of the kids. I'll include below a video of the hokey pokey in Hebrew and some other assorted pictures. It was a lot of fun but of course Leora screamed when it was time for us to leave.
video

Filling up the house again

Zvi's friend Noach's parents went away for a couple of days so Noach is staying with us for two nights. Then yesterday, Shira decided to call her brother Eli for the first time in a little while. He had been learning at Ohr Somayach for the last few months but decided that it was time to leave. Someone else was moving into his apartment this week so he had to get his stuff out and he's not yet sure where his next stop will be. So we invited him to stay with us until he figures out where he wants to go from here. Yeshaya, Shira and I went in to Yerushalayim this morning to help him empty his apartment. We stopped at the kotel for a few minutes and then went to his place. He had a lot of stuff but didn't have any furniture to move so we were able to fit it all in the van (we had removed the seats before we left). Hopefully he'll find a new place that works well for him soon - for his sake (we love having him).

Accents

SaraK linked to an accent quiz which I recommend. My results were:

Neutral

You're not Northern, Southern, or Western, you're just plain -American-. Your national identity is more important than your local identity, because you don't really have a local identity. You might be from the region in that map, which is defined by this kind of accent, but you could easily not be. Or maybe you just moved around a lot growing up.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz


This pretty much nails it since I was born in Monsey but moved to Dayton, Ohio when I was a few months old so I learned to talk there and I lived there until I was 9. Since then I've lived in Bridgeport, CT., Monsey, Manhattan, Toronto, St. Louis, Baltimore and now Israel. I had Shira try it since she lived in Toronto from the time she was born until she was almost 24. She answered differently than me on a few of the questions but she got the same results. Maybe it only works for Americans.

Language Differences

I'm writing this story on behalf of Rivka who is too tired to type. Today in school there were two Enlish speaking girls that were talking in the middle of class. The teacher tried to get them to be quiet by saying "sheket". After a few minutes when they still had not stopped talking the teacher, who doesn't know English well, walked over to them and said "shut up now". All the English speaking girls looked at each other, wondering if they heard right and then started laughing their heads off. The teacher realized that she must have said something incorrectly and asked how to say sheket in English.

We really enjoyed that story.

Another nice Shabbos

I know it's getting kind of stale with us saying almost every single Shabbos about how nice it was. Sorry. It's just that Shabbos here has always been nice and relaxing. This week, we had the Sussmans on Friday night and in shul JJ introduced me to a couple who made aliya to Modiin just ten days ago. They don't know anyone here so they were planning on eating alone. I invited them for dinner figuring Shira wouldn't mind (she didn't) and they accepted. It's the first time I ever met a couple that both had the same first name - Elie and Eli. It can get a little confusing.

Rivka went to Chashmonaim for Shabbos to a friend's house. This girl's family also came for the year but they sound like they're more sure that they're going to make aliya. Speaking of which, we are no closer to a decision than we were last time I posted about it.

For lunch, we went to the Kletzel's house. We had a really nice time and learned a lot about health and how important it is to cleanse our bodies out from all the bad stuff that we eat. They are both vegans but they do serve chicken on Shabbos for their guests and kids. I've never seen so many fruits and vegetables in a house before. Wherever you turn there are more fruit for the kids to nosh. They were a little horrified to learn that I eat chips all day and that Shira's main staple is Honey Bunches of Oats.

Second encounter with the cops

I forgot to blog about the second time that the cops pulled me over. On the way home from Ganei Yehoshua the kids were a little wild in the car and I saw two cops getting into their car as we were approaching. I warned the kids to calm down or the cops would pull us over and that always scares them so they quickly relaxed and sat up straight. It didn't help because a minute later the sirens went on and I slowed down until they told me on the loudspeaker to go to the side of the road.

I knew that I had done nothing illegal and that it was only because of my license plate. By this time I'm already a pro at dealing with this since I was just pulled over last month. They came out and started asking me lots of questions and asked for my license and registration. This time I figured I could talk in Hebrew since unlike last time I hadn't done anything illegal. They were nice but genuinely confused by the strange plates and the fact that I had an American driver's license. They then made a bunch of phone calls and after about 15 minutes came back to the car and said "Sa" - Go. No explanation, no apology for pulling me over for no reason. I guess I shouldn't really expect it. They were just doing their job but I just wish that I had something to tell these guys so I wouldn't have to wait 15 minutes every time they get curious about the plates.

Living without a TV

When David and I met we were both in agreement that we did not want a TV in our house. There was so much garbage on the tube and we didn't think it was an environment we would want to raise children in. Then after a year and a half when we move to St. Louis, I said to David "you moved me away from my family and friends, you are not moving me away from my TV too". So along with our other boxes we took a tv from my parents. It was so nice in the mornings to let the kids watch Barney and other cartoons while I got to rest. Also, since it was CST we were able to watch Seinfeld reruns and be asleep by 11 pm.
However after three and a half years it was time to move again. We moved to Baltimore and were now closer to friends and family. The tv got banished to the shed. Of course my mom would complain bitterly every time she would visit that there was nothing to do and she needed a tv. Finally after several visits we took the tv out of the shed for her. We plugged it in, heard a loud pop, and there went the tv. At least we tried.
When I had Leora, David bought we a treadmill as a present (I picked it out). I needed something to do while I was exercising. I had a little black and white tv that I inherited from my in-laws and that did the job. Next thing you know, the tv was coming back upstairs into my bedroom and David and I would gather around the little screen to catch glimpses of Law and Order. I was in heaven though. We then started collecting more black and white little tv's as gifts from IBM. I was able to have one by my bed, one by David's and one downstairs.
One day Avi informed us he was moving apartments and he had an extra COLORED tv. I jumped at the opportunity saying it would be perfect for my mom who complained that the little black and white tv was useless for her because of the "vakatka" reception. We inherited the tv and it took a proud place in our new guest room in the basement. The kids only used it for one hour a week to watch cartoons on Sunday morning. At this point in our lives though, I didn't get to rest, because I was constantly needed to break up the fights.
More recently, once Avi and Tikki were married, they again had an extra tv. This one with a built in VCR. David wasn't into taking it, but of course I jumped at the chance. This tv that we inherited got the proud place in our bedroom. All this time we never had cable tv. One day though shortly before me moved to Israel we got a call from Comcast informing us that we were getting free cable all along because the cable to our house for the internet was missing a filter. Oh well. I was happy that I got all of my shows without needing cable.
Now to Israel. We do not have a tv. In fact in Israel you pay a tax if you have a tv, above any service fee. So I'm kind of in withdrawal. I've tried to find shows on the internet and sometimes I'm more successful than others. For example, yesterday I watched two back to back episodes of Criminal Minds not having to worry about buffering but when I tried it again later, the show would stop every few seconds to buffer. It was very annoying. So I guess I will have to resign myself to life without TV, but at least I have Facebook :)

SSDD

Same Stuff Different Day. Some people I know substitute the second "S" with a different word but being that people from various backrounds read this blog, we'll keep it nice and kosher.

Not much really to report here from Israel. The kids are continuing to improve their hebrew skills daily. Leora is still having trouble in Gan but every day there are little improvements. I think that she's just so used to yelling and screaming, she's kind of stuck in the routine.

All this kids have been having various playdates over the last few days. It has been nice for us to see them branching out socially.

The weather is slowly starting to get cooler. We are still wearing summer clothes, but at night you could wear a light jacket or sweater.

I guess you know that there isn't much to report when I've included a weather update. So that's all for now ...

Not getting yelled at

I have this irrational fear of people screaming at me. I'm not sure why but I just hate it when people yell at me. The problem is that in Israel the combination of the way people talk and the fact that it's a somewhat foreign language makes it sound like many people are yelling at me. I don't do very well with that. I'm happy to report that Shira and I went to change the arnona (property tax) and water to our names and we made it through the entire process without even the feeling that anyone was yelling at us. We didn't exactly accomplish what we needed to but at least nobody yelled at me.

Apparently I've passed this trait on to at least one of my children as well. Yesterday Zvi's class was going on a tiyul to go horseback riding. He should be thrilled, right? No class all day, no homework, just lots of fun. He insisted that he didn't want to go to school. He said that the whole point of school is to learn and they weren't learning anything so he should be able to stay home if he chose to do so. He claimed that this proved that the only reason we force him to go to school is because we want him out of the house so we could have fun. After much discussion we found out that one of the main reasons he didn't want to go was because he was afraid someone would tell him instructions of how to sit on the horse or whatever and he wouldn't understand and then they'd start yelling at him. He finally agreed to go when we gave him a cellphone so he could call us if there were any problems but he still didn't go horseback riding. He just watched as the rest of his class had fun.

Saturday night with family

On Friday, my mother invited Zvi to come spend Shabbos with her but he thought he'd be too bored spending Shabbos alone with his grandmother and great-grandmother so he declined the invitation. Leora overheard though and wanted to go instead so she went and had a great time. It also made our Shabbos a little easier and much quieter. We had a very nice lunch at the Kaye's house and then had to rush home to set up the house for a shiur by Rav Meir Goldwicht for women that we hosted.

After Shabbos we all went to pick up Leora from my mother's house. Rivka, my 17 year old niece from Nof Ayalon, was also there for Shabbos so we offered to take her home. My sister Amy commented how crazy it is how little we see each other considering we live less than 10 minutes away. We hung out at her house for a half or so and had a good time and we promised that we'd try to be sure to see each other more frequently. We had to hurry home though because Shira's brother Danny had called that they wanted to come visit us on their way back from a bar mitzva in Jerusalem. So we got pizza and they came over for about an hour. It also happens to be Danny's birthday so Happy Birthday Danny! One of the reasons that we thought it would be great to spend the year in Israel was because of all our family that lives here but too often we're all too busy to actually spend time with them so it was nice to pack so much into one night.

Ganei Yehoshua

Today we surprised the kids and took them to Ganei Yehoshua in Yarkon Park. So after I had gone to shul, Shira had exercised and we had packed lunches and everything we were ready to go.
We didn't tell them where we were going and they were very curious. The only problem was that we had never been there and we didn't know exactly how to get there. My sister, Shayna lent us her GPS for the year so we just put in Ganei Yehoshua and we were on our way. It said we were there but we didn't see a park or anything so we asked some locals who told us that there was an entrance just up the street. We were a little nervous as it didn't look like an entrance to a big park and it didn't say Ganei Yehoshua or anything but we decided to park and start walking. We followed a long path
and there was a nice little playground there
The kids still didn't know where we were going and they were getting more curious wondering what we were going to do. Finally we got to the main part of the park and saw that there was boating and bike rentals. It was about 10:30 already and the kids were getting hungry (they're used to aruchat eser) so we decided to eat our lunches and just play on the playground since we couldn't rent the bikes until noon. The playground in the park was huge and we all enjoyed climbing.
At noon we went to get our bikes but it was still closed so we decided to get the boat first. We got a motor boat and Rivka, Zvi and Leora took turns driving.
When we were done we went back to the bikes and it was finally open. We got a big bike for all of us
Then we played more on the swings until it was time to leave. Everyone actually got along all day
We went out for dinner in Modiin before coming back home. All in all, it was a lot of fun!