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!

Are We Cool Or What

The following is an email we sent to the kids and their responses. (Leora does not yet know how to access her email.) P.S. Notice the time the kids responded - and that's after being up for an hour already!

Shira Greenstone Wed, Oct 24, 2007 at 8:43 PM
To: Rivka Greenstone , Zvi Greenstone , Leora Greenstone
Surprise!!! Guess what! Today you will NOT be going to school. Instead we will be going on a surprise family trip. This is going to be so much fun, so no complaining.

Mommy and Abba love you guys so much. We know that it has not been easy for you, but we are so proud with all of you. You just make us so happy. We feel so lucky to be your parents.

We love you,
Mommy and Abba

Zvi Greenstone Thu, Oct 25, 2007 at 6:40 AM
To: Shira Greenstone
Well I love you too!
[Quoted text hidden]

Rivka Greenstone Thu, Oct 25, 2007 at 6:49 AM
To: Shira Greenstone
Thank you so much I love you both


Shira and I just went to the bank to pick up the credit card and checks that I ordered last week. We were out of there with the checks and credit card in about five minutes. My advice to all of you ... if you ever have to go to Bank Leumi in Modiin go at 10:45 on a Wednesday. I'm not guaranteeing anything though because when we left there were three people in line. We just got lucky.

I haven't been having much success with the laundry. Last week, I accidentally washed Zvi's tie dyed t-shirt in a load with some other things that weren't so dark. It ran all over a few things. It mostly got pajamas though so it wasn't as bad as it could've been. Then on Sunday night I noticed that the clothes weren't drying. After trying again, I realized that the dryer wasn't going around and around so even though it was getting hot, it wasn't drying the stuff. JJ and Aliza were kind enough to lend us their old dryer that was in Jerusalem. So Monday we went to Jerusalem to bring it home. That dryer still takes a long time to dry things but it works really well and we're thrilled that we didn't even have to survive one day without a dryer. Thanks!!

Rivka got a note home from her Hebrew language teacher yesterday. She teaches reading comprehension/creative writing to the class - the entire class. I've told Rivka numerous times that she really doesn't have to worry about those classes because there is no way that she could possibly expect to keep up in a class like that filled with Israelis. She insists on trying her hardest though and yesterday the teacher assigned the class to write a story. Rivka wrote a story in Hebrew so she could complete the assignment. It was a great story in excellent Hebrew. The teacher was so impressed with that particular story and with Rivka in general that she sent home a glowing report. Rivka really is a an amazing girl!

Zvi has also had a very good week and is adjusting very well to school. Yesterday he went to Chashmonaim to visit a friend after school. One of us (most of the time Shira) still goes with Leora for one hour at the beginning of gan. She screams when we leave but supposedly calms down and plays pretty nicely after that. Hopefully it's getting better. This week has really been very good so far; we haven't had the storm that Shira expected.

A Shabbos with Savta

This past Shabbos I slept at Savta's house. When I got there we went to warm up the food at Bubbie's and we did not go back to Savtas until after dinner. In the morning we woke up at six and went outside and had a yummy breakfast on the porch and played all the games she has which is a lot. After we came back inside we went to read in bed. Then we got dressed and davened and went to Bubbie's again for Lunch. After lunch we came back to Savta's and rested and played some more games while eating popcorn. At about 5 we went to the park and saw Bubbie there. I played on the swings and Savta and Bubbie talked. We came home when Shabbos was over made havdala and Mommy picked me up. What a fun Shabbos!


There are tons of dogs in Modiin. In Baltimore, we have this huge rottweiler that lives next door to us. We also live across the street from an empty field where a lot of people go to walk their dogs. So we see plenty of dogs but that really didn't prepare me for the number of dogs that I see here. Maybe it's just that so many religious people have dogs that makes me notice it more. I'm not sure why but Jews and dogs just never went together in my mind. When I was growing up I don't remember anybody owning dogs but that's probably my selective memory. The ADDeRabbi, a resident of Modiin, linked to a post on the Seforim blog about the Jewish attitude towards pets.

Last week, I printed out some Dora coloring pages for Leora and one of the pages said to draw things that she sees on her way to school. On the way to school (on the rare occasion that we walk) we pass through this empty lot that is filled with dog poop and we need to really watch where we're going to avoid it. That's the thing that impresses her about the walk to school so she drew dog poop as one of the things she passes. She's also terrified of dogs which doesn't work so well here because we often end up at people's houses who own dogs. They always just lock them up and hopefully our hosts, who supposedly own a big dog, this Shabbos lunch will do the same.

One cool thing that I saw at one of the parks here is a big plastic bag dispenser with plastic bags that say kaki saki (loosely translated to pooper scooper) on them. If only all dog owners actually picked up after their pets. My friend, Aryeh Bak once told me that he never shakes dog owners' hands because either they're the type of people who don't clean up after their dogs so he doesn't want to associate with them or they pick up their dogs' poop and he certainly wouldn't want to shake their hands.

My sweet angel

I realize that I have been neglecting to write about Rivka specifically. The reason for this is that she is doing so wonderfully well here. Although it is hard for her with the language barrier, she tries her best and is still able to keep up with all of her school work. She has done so well on all of her tests. The best thing about Rivka is that she is really easy going. She has made so many friends already, English and Hebrew speakers. Whenever I pick her up from school she is always surrounded by tons of friends.
Rivka is such a great girl. She impresses people wherever she goes with her kindness and generosity. She is truly special girl inside and out.

Leora's 5th Birthday

Today was a much better day than anticipated. Leora woke up and was actually excited that it was her birthday. She still complained that she didn't want to go to gan but she went along without too much trouble. She brought her doll "Jenny" with her and it gave her a little more confidence. I took my usual seat in the corner and Leora slowly started interacting with some children. I made sure to let everyone know it was her birthday. When it came time to leave, she of course was upset and I had to leave her screaming, locked behind the gate. She and the shomer, Roman, are good buddies. He has a limited English vocabulary but tries his best. This afternoon we met with the school psychologist again and she just reinforced what we already knew. She was very nice and it was good to see that there were other people watching out for Leora.

After the meeting David dropped me off at his grandmother who had an appointment with a home health OT. She was very impressive and we were on the same page with various issues. David then picked Leora up from Gan, waited for the other kids, did some homework and returned to his parent's apartment. There we had a nice birthday dinner with pizza from Big Apple Pizza, donuts and ice cream. Leora also got three presents. One from Bubbie, one from Savta (and Saba) and one from Marilyn (Savta's friend). She was very happy.
Also today, Zvi and Yeshaya got new shoes. We took Yeshaya earlier in the day. He seems to suffer from the same Hebrewitis that Leora has. As soon as the woman started speaking hebrew, he just flipped out. We managed to get the shoes on him and hopefully they fit him well. They happen to be really nice shoes, and we paid much less than we would have in the US. Zvi got a new pair of runners/sneakers/running shoes/tennis shoes/naalay sport. He is happy with them.

Not much else to report except that I got a haircut from a lady who didn't really understand what it meant to cut my hair but still have it long enough that it fits in a pony tail. Oh well, not much I can do about it now.

Let's hope the rest of the week is just as good as today!

The Calm Before the Storm

It has been a few days since I last blogged because quite honestly things have just been too stressful. Leora is having a very difficult time adjusting to school and hebrew in general. We have tried everything, including spending quite a bit of time with her at gan. The teacher has even called in the school psychologist to give us some words of wisdom. Basically, she was no help and just suggested that we continue coming and spending at least an hour with Leora every day. It is just pushing off the screaming tantrum that is guaranteed to happen. Leora is just so overwhelmed and frightened by all the hebrew around her. She loves to talk and share stories and just finds it impossible because of the language barrier. She is having a difficult time socially, perhaps because she has scared the kids with her temper tantrums. It's a good thing she is not too aware of the other kids not embracing her, but it breaks my heart to see my fun, lovable, energetic girl having such a hard time. David and I keep debating back and forth if maybe we need to switch her gan where the teacher knows a little more english and where she can have a fresh start with the kids. Tomorrow is her birthday, so hopefully the day will be good.
Rivka and Zvi are thank G-d doing so much better. We still get the complaints, but they are much less intense. I am so happy that they now come home with stories about friends they've made and instances where they've used their hebrew. Their teachers call or write notes about their progress and they report such nice things about them. They started private Ulpan lessons this past week and seem to enjoy that. (I'm even learning some new words "aleh" - leaf).
We had a very nice shabbos and maybe that's why I was able to sit down and blog. My friend Adina came for shabbos. She is great with the kids and keeps them entertained with card games. We ate dinner at home and went to friends for lunch. We had a really nice time and got to meet another family who had a son Zvi's age. They really hit it off. Rivka went to David's mom's for shabbos and had an incredible time. She loved the one-on-one attention from Savta and was so happy that she went.
I just got back from a run and the house is so calm and quiet. Everyone is asleep, maybe even David. I don't even want to start thinking about what tomorrow morning will be like, the start of a new school week.


In Israel, the kids have to choose all their books to bring to school each day because they don't leave anything at school. In Baltimore, Rivka had a desk plus two big lockers and only brought home books and notebooks that she needed for homework (at least in theory). Here, they can't leave any books in school so each day they shlep everything home and in the morning we spend 5-10 minutes looking at their schedules and emptying the books they don't need that day and adding the books they will need. We're getting better at it but it still takes time. It wouldn't be so bad if it was just the textbooks but we also have to go through their notebooks and folders. It's not the worst thing in the world but it is a pain in the neck (literally for the kids who have to shlep all the stuff to school). I had been under the impression that this was only for their school since they're not in a real building but apparently this is common in Israel. So each morning we go to the desk where they store all their stuff and they give me the old books and I take out the new. Rivka then organizes the books in order of her classes so she's completely ready for each class and doesn't waste any time. Zvi takes all the books and stuffs them in his schoolbag so that he can finish as quickly as possible to go ride his bike or something else fun until it's time to go to school. So his teacher just called us to complain that his schoolbag is a mess and he can never find the books he needs so we need to encourage him to keep it neat. One more thing to worry about in the mornings.

Queueing Theory

When I was in YU, one of my math professors convinced a few of us to take a new course he was offering the next semester called queueing theory. We had a lot of fun in that class but I really didn't learn that much. One thing that I discovered though is that queueing is one of the only words in the English language that has five consecutive vowels. The Blogger spellcheck though isn't smart enough to realize that and thinks that it's spelled with only four vowels. I'll stick with my spelling. I think that what I should have learned was how to calculate the average waiting times in various scenarios. That might have helped me today when I went to the bank with my mother

Shira and I have avoided opening a bank account figuring it was more trouble than it was worth. All of our income is in dollars and we can just use our American credit card and easily change dollars to shekel when needed. A couple times we needed checks and my parents graciously wrote them for us. The only problem was for recurring payments. Some places insist on setting it up on credit cards and the recurring payments don't work on non-Israeli credit cards. We put one or two things on my grandmother's credit card but my mother really wanted us to switch it to our account. She also figured that if I had my own account then we could write checks and use the credit card for other purposes also. It is more convenient at gas stations because we're limited to 200 shekel (about half a tank) on a non-Israeli credit card at all gas stations. I have no idea why they all have that limit but they do.

So my mother kindly offered to grant me a power of attorney on an existing account that she had. We got to the bank and took ticket number 165 for the personal bankers (as opposed to the regular tellers) and they were up to 157. Here's where some knowledge of queueing theory might have helped. My mother knows that some people take over an hour and there were only three bankers so she figured she had some time. She went out to buy Yeshaya a treat and then one minute later it was 159 and then it was our time. I guess people took numbers and left or took multiple numbers and threw the extras out when they couldn't sell them. Either way, it was our turn while my mother was out so I let someone go ahead and called her. She came back and it was our turn a couple minutes later.

We told the lady what we wanted to do and (as can be expected), she said we couldn't do it since I wasn't Israeli. My mother told her that someone told her it could be done and the lady checked and it could be done. So my mother and I gave sample signatures and everything and then the lady went to order the credit card and checks. Whoops! It's the wrong type of account. She had to start the whole process over to open a new account for us. My mother had to sign her name about thirty times to get the account opened but after a total of about 90 minutes we were done. The two people who had come in after me were at the other two desks and other people had been waiting for a really long time. Now I just have to go back in "about a week" to pick up the credit card and checks. They won't mail them to us so I have to take a number next week again. I need to try and figure out the best time of day to go so that I will have a short wait.

Honey Bunches of Oats Heaven

For all of you who know me well, you will know that I am quite obsessed with the cereal Honey Bunches of Oats. In all the cities we've lived in, I can tell you the cheapest place to buy a box. I always say, had I bought stocks when I first discovered this heavenly cereal, I would be a millionaire. I have helped Post so much, they have no idea. I have even attracted many Honey Bunches of Oats followers.

Well today I was debating about where to go grocery shopping. The nice supermarket Mega, that is closeby and has many American products. Or Rami Levi which is a further drive and not as nice but considerably cheaper. I asked my neighbor for her opinion and she said that she wouldn't attempt Rami Levi with a 2 year old. Decision made, I was headed to Mega. You cannot imagine my delight when I saw, read and understood the sign that Honey Bunches of Oats was buy 2 get one free. I filled up my shopping cart. Instead of paying 22 NIS per box, I got three for 44 NIS ($11). When I got to the checkout the cashier was trying to tell me that I couldn't buy so many (12) but I calmly explained that there was no sign indicating otherwise. And guess who was right, the customer (not a common occurrence in Israeli supermarkets).

I couldn't wait to get home to tell David so I called him from the cell. For all of you in Israel who have never tasted this delicious cereal (I only like the orange box) I dare you to taste it. You won't be disappointed. You are also welcome to come over to taste a bowl at our house ... but only one bowl per person.

No breaks today

Thank God we had a nice restful Shabbos because today is anything but relaxing. Leora absolutely hates/is terrified of gan in the morning. Neither teacher knows English and Leora is completely intimidated and cries and screams the entire time. She agreed to go in the afternoon without complaining since one of the teachers speaks to her English. We'll see what happens with that but the "afternoon" only starts at 1:20 so she and Yeshaya are home until then. Rivka and Zvi sit in school all day not understanding what's going on so I agreed to pick them up around 1:30 to try and make the day a little shorter and more bearable. With that deal they agreed to go to school. Shira went to Yad Sarah in Yerushalayim with my mother to offer her OT expertise so my mother could get some things for my grandmother's apartment. She was going to take Yeshaya but he fell asleep on the ride to the bus and I figured it was easier to have him sleeping at home then for her to take him on the bus so she went by herself. She won't be gone long anyway. Leora's been very good this morning and I suspect the big kids will be good in the afternoon so I can get some work done.

UPDATE at 7PM: It turns out that the teacher who speaks English at Leora's gan no longer works there. So I brought Leora and there were only Hebrew speaking teachers. Leora was not too pleased and was crying and refusing to stay. One of the teachers offered to hold her while I ran out and I left. I think she was pretty good after that. That caused me to come a little later than expected to pick up the other kids from their school. They were still happy to see me and came with me in a good mood. We went straight to my parents since Shira's bus was going to come a half later or so. We did their homework there and they were good. Then we hung out there and at my grandmother's before it was time to get Leora. Everyone had a great time riding bikes outside with friends until it was time for dinner, showers and bed. Now we're trying to convince Leora to go tomorrow morning and the others to stay in school all day. We'll see how it goes.

We're slowly learning Hebrew

Today Leora was in the bath and I asked her "aifo h'einayim shelach?" and she knew that and many other body parts. She also comes home with phrases and words. She's really picking it up. Shira and I try to throw a little Hebrew into our conversations with Yeshaya and it's always funny when he repeats the words. Zvi and Rivka are definitely learning lots of new Hebrew. The only problem is that it's not fast enough for them. They want to go to school and understand everything their teachers and friends say and they're not quite there yet. We've been talking to people and we're trying to arrange tutors for them and soon their Hebrew will be better than ours.

I was just on a conference call in my office and I could hear bits of a conversations Shira was having on the phone. She was on for a half hour talking only in Hebrew to Zvi's teacher. I was very impressed. I think that even my Hebrew is improving a little. I was afraid that I wouldn't have the opportunity to talk Hebrew while I was here since all my friends are American and most of the time I'm working. I was wrong though because there have been plenty of opportunities to speak Hebrew and I've learned quite a bit of new words and phrases. Yesterday someone told me that I don't even sound American when I speak Hebrew ... I sound British?!?

Combined Blogging

Hi all. This is Shira and Zvi blogging together. This morning we surprised Rivka and Zvi with a half day off of school. I told them that they had to pretend that they were going so that Leora would not find out. So they got dressed in their school uniforms (T-shirts with school logo) and packed up their backpacks. I went to the gym for a quick workout and returned on time for a quick shower before we were off. We dropped Leora off at Gan. It wasn't such a great morning for her but I left her there screaming after 10 minutes. I called later and she had calmed down and was in a good mood. Zvi and Rivka were so lucky because they got to accompany David, Yeshaya and me to Ramle to renew our Visas. Although we had been to this office, we got lost nonetheless. After what was supposed to take 20 minutes but took us 45 we arrived in Ramle. We got our number and discovered that they were up to 24 while we had 41. Each person takes at least 15 minutes. After waiting a while I convinced David to go back home with the kids and I would take a bus home. I was done by 11:45 and caught the 12 pm bus back to Modiin. The visa process was uneventful although this visit would not have been necessary if we were dealing with rational people. I presented the same letter that we had last time. Although it was not sufficient last time, the same lady now said it was perfect - go figure.

Nothing Like a Hot Shower After a Long Day

I just came out of nice hot shower and now I feel that I can blog about a day in the life of the Greenstones. What a day!!! Our early morning started off with Yeshaya (who now sleeps in a bed) climbing into bed with us. He was just too adorable and we were just too exhausted to return him to his own bed. He even brought along his blanket and two pacifiers. We had a pretty restless rest of the night as Yeshaya thought he was king of the bed.

When morning actually arrived and David was home from shul, things seemed to have been headed in the right direction. The usual kvetching from the kids, no more than typical.

David had set up a meeting with the principal for Rivka and Zvi so he drove them to school instead of the bus. I had the duty of taking Leora to Gan. I am happy to say that she did not cry today BUT I had to stay with her for over an hour promising her the world. She was in a great mood when we picked her up and even had a play date with her friend Michal.

Back to David: David met with Rav Ravitz and discussed our options for Rivka and Zvi. He assured us that they would be getting more support from the school. From talking to friends we found out that there was a four day/week ulpan being offered for new olim. We felt that that was the answer for our kids and they were very excited about it too. Well too bad on us!!! They do not qualify. You may think that perhaps being that we are tourist and not olim would be the reason. Nope, they do not qualify because they are not in one of the schools that are affiliated with the Ulpan. We even offered to pay. Personally I don't think the fight is over, but it seems that David may have given up (he is also the one who spoke to the person so maybe that's why).

When Rivka and Zvi heard the news that they could not go to Ulpan they went bazurk. They were so looking forward to learning hebrew in a comfortable environment. Basically our whole evening until they fell asleep was listening to them alternated between screaming and crying. For those of you who have been to our house, you know how the acoustics here just help the sound along.

As I reread this post I realize that I have not even touched on how difficult a day we had but take it from me, it was. But as I said in the title, there is nothing like a hot shower after a long day.

A day out with savta and some cousins

One day over chol hamoed I went with Savta, Aviva and Dina to Ganei Yehoshua. We took a train from Modiin to Tel Aviv. When we got there we walked like 5 minutes to get to Ganei Yehoshua. In Ganei Yehoshua we rented a boat for a hour and on the boat we said Tehillim, sang some songs, ate and we each got to peddle a little bit. After we returned the boat we played on some of the climbing things. We took another train to a mall and in the mall we looked for clothes for Aviva and Dina and then got popsicles. When we were done we took a train back to Modiin. When we got to Modiin Amy picked us up and we ordered some food but they do not deliver to where she lives so we all came to my house to pick it up. After the food came they invited me to sleepover there so I did. When I got there we ate and then watched a movie but we had to go to sleep very early because we were waking up at three thirty in the morning to go to the kotel. When we woke up we went to pick up Savta from her house and we went to the kotel. You can't believe how many people were there at three thirty in the morning; we could not even find a seat.When we left the kotel we went to a bakery to get cakes and to a different store to get popcorn. Then we drove Savta home and Abba, Zvi, Leora and Yeshaya picked me up from there but we did not have breakfast yet so everybody got something at the bakery. It was a lot of fun but I was exhausted from getting up so early.

Still getting into the swing of things

The kids are really having a hard time adjusting to school. Rivka and Zvi have been pretty good (it's all relative) in the mornings going. We told them that if they're good then we will take them each out for one afternoon a week. School is just really frustrating for them because they sit there all day without understanding a word that is going on in class. They're bored and then they come home and they have to do homework which really means learning everything that they missed in school. It's just really hard. Tomorrow morning I'm going to drive them to school and meet with the principal to see if we can help improve the situation so they're not so miserable.

Leora has been impossible going to gan. Yesterday Shira took her to gan and it took her 45 minutes and she left her screaming at the gate. Today, Leora grabbed onto my legs and wouldn't let me leave. She screamed and screamed until finally I got her to stay (not my best moment in parenting). She continues to insist that she's not going to gan and I don't expect tomorrow to be any easier than today. The good news for me is that Shira is taking her tomorrow since I'll be with the big kids at school.

Big House

Our house is so big and calm or at least it feels that way. Since yom tov ended the guests have slowly been filtering out. Shira and Yeshaya just left to take Avi and family to the airport so now I'm all alone in this huge house. The trick from that famous story to load up the house and then when all the animals leave the house will feel so big really works. Having the kids around all day is fun, chagim are great and having family is pretty good but it sure is nice to be back to the regular schedule. The laundry is getting done, the house is getting clean and Shira and I even went on a long (speed)walk together with Yeshaya this morning. Aaaah... the daily routine. I missed it.

The Reisers and Feintuchs

This will be a quick post since it is erev shabbos and there is still so much to do. Today we had some visitors at our home in Modiin. Akiva, Sarit and family (Feintuch) came from Lod to visit and see my mom before she returns to Canada. They spent two years in Toronto so their kids know English. We look forward to spending more time with them over the year, since they live so closeby.

Rena (Silver) and Yonasan Reiser shlepped in from J"M for a visit too. We enjoyed a bagel brunch with them catching up. We hope to have many more get togethers with them.

This shabbos we have a full house again.
  • Our Family - 6
  • Danny's family -4
  • Avi's family - 3
  • My Mom -1
  • Eli -1
  • Eli's friend, Ari Balofsky -1
  • Nechama Abramoff.
We are looking forward to everyone and hope we all get along. Have a great shabbos.

Our greatest fear

This post by "Jameel" on the Muqata is really scary. I often read his blog and have exchanged emails with him so I feel like I know him even though I don't know his real name. Thank God everyone in his family is fine but I just can't imagine going through that experience. We have not been to Chevron, Kiryat Arba, Gush, Kever Rachel etc. on any of our trips to Israel because Shira has always been too scared. I really hope that we will have the opportunity to go to Maarat Hamachpela at some point during the year and hopefully this story won't scare her too much.

Ein Gedi and Yam Hamelech

Yesterday we woke up at the crack of dawn for our tiyul to Ein Gedi. The adventurous people included our family, Avi's family and my mom. We all got geared up in our hiking clothes including crocks and hats/bandanas. We left the house by 7:40 am and reached our destination about 1.5 hours later. The drive takes you through some lovely areas including right by Yericho. For some reason though, I was not scared at all this time. In the past I made David drive the roundabout route through Be'er Sheva (takes about 3 hours). The drive is pretty direct, with few turns. When we arrived at Ein Gedi the parking lot was pretty empty and we had our choice of parking spots. We smeared ourselves with suntan lotion and headed for Nachal Arugot. The kids did exceptionally well, but most impressive was my mom. Not a kvetch out of her ... she was a really trooper. We made several stops in the different waterfall areas. At one stop I was taking our camera out of the backpack and it slipped out of the camera case into the water. I fished it out really quickly but it is still not working. I hope that once it dries out completely we'll be able to use it again. This is the reason though that I am not posting any pictures right now.
After our hike we had a picnic lunch and the men were able to eat in the sukkah on the premises. Avi then bought ice cream/popsicles for all the kids.

We then drove over to the beach to check out Yam Hamelech. I must mention that while hiking in Ein Gedi everyone was paired up with a partner. My partner was Leora. Every time we came to a water source Leora would ask me "is this Yam Hamelech?" (of course today she couldn't remember what it was called so she kept asking me "what was the river called?" and Zvi would correct her and tell her it was a sea). Anyway, back on track, the kids were really looking forward to their visit to Yam Hamelech. Rivka ventured in for five seconds and came screaming out that her badly scratched legs were killing. She was quite upset but felt better when she washed off. Leora and my mom got their feet wet and Zvi and Tikki managed to get more of their body wet. In total, we spent about 5 minutes in the water. It was really hot there too.

We came home, showered and ordered food in. It was a great day.

Basket Weaving 101

Sunday we spent the morning with Danny and family at Neot Kedumim. We went there about six years ago with my sisters and parents and Shira and I both remembered it being pretty boring. We decided to go anyway since they have special sukka exhibits during Sukkos and it's so close and easy. It was pretty nice with games to play and lots of learning activities. It got really hot though as it got close to noon and my kids decided that they'd had enough when we got to a basket weaving station. The night before when we were planning I had insisted that we leave early to beat the crowds. I was mocked but the place was packed by the time we left and it was really hot.

We went straight to my parents house for the annual Andelman Israel Sukka Party. Most of my first cousins who live in Israel were there and it was nice to see everyone. It was my parents second straight day hosting a sukka party. On Saturday night I was at their sukka for the first (annual?) Dayton sukka party. There were 35 people there who had at one time lived in Dayton (or were married to someone who had lived there). Most of the people were a little older than me and I didn't know a lot of them since I moved out when I was 9 but it was still nice.

Then we came home and Shira was off with the three bigger kids to go to Beit Shemesh for a festival. I don't really know anything about what happened there so we'll just have to hope that one of them decide to blog about it.

Good thing we bought lots of beds

We had a packed house for the first part of yom tov:
  • Our family (6)
  • Shira's oldest brother, Danny and his family (4)
  • Shira's brother right under her, Avi and his family (3)
  • Shira's youngest brother, Eli
  • Shira's mother
  • Shira's first cousin, Malki
A total of 16 people. We had just enough mattresses and plenty of room for everyone. We had even more space since three of us slept in the sukka. Eating was another story. We had two options of where to put the sukka. One was extremely easy since three walls were already up as part of the house and my brother-in-law, Erick from Nof Ayalon had lent us the base that fit perfectly in that space. The problem was that the area was pretty small, 2 meters by 3 meters (about 6x9 feet). The other space was much bigger but would have been more money and more effort. We chose the easier option. Somehow for the meal at night we managed to squish everyone into the sukka and during the day some of the women ate inside.

It was only two meals and then Friday everyone did their own thing. We went to Yerushalayim to go the kotel and made it out just before the police closed many of the roads for Rav Shapira's funeral. We also stopped by to see Malka and David who were visiting in Yerushalayim for yom tov. We missed their wedding so Shira was very excited to see them as a married couple. It was a very short day though as we had to come home and get ready for Shabbos. Friday night was the same crowd, besides Eli but Shabbos lunch was quiet since Danny and Avi both ate at friends' houses with their families.

One day or two?

I hope that all our friends in Baltimore are sitting down as they read this post (OK, so maybe it won't really shock you and I can't imagine that you read blogs standing anyway but whatever). When we came to Israel we weren't sure if we'd keep one day or two days of yom tov. We decided that we'd wait until we came to Israel to speak to a Rav about what to do. A few weeks before yom tov Shira started getting nervous about all the company we were expecting and how much food she'd need. She had to know as soon as possible how many days we were keeping. I decided to ask Rav Dovid Lau, (Rav Yisrael Meir's son) for his psak. He's the chief rabbi in Modiin, has an excellent reputation, I've heard him speak a couple times (including at Shomrei in Baltimore) and my father has developed a bit of a relationship with him. So I called and scheduled an appointment. I figured I'd ask him some other questions also while I was there.

I met with him and he asked me about our intentions. I told him that as of right now we really don't know if we're going to stay here. We still own our house in Baltimore and we're only renting here but if everything goes well then there's a chance we'll stay. He asked a few more questions about our situation and gave us the psak that for Sukkos we only had to keep one day. If we decide before Pesach that we're going back in the summer then we should keep two days but for now we can keep one. We will know one way or the other by Pesach. We've started floating the idea of staying to the kids and we've gotten a bit of a mixed reaction. I'm hoping that they'll be adjusted in school by Chanuka and then they'll want to stay. I'd really like to make a final decision by February.

We'll keep everyone posted on this blog. Speaking of which, sorry about the lack of posts lately. I hope there will be at least three new posts up before the end of the day.