Tomorrow is Shira's birthday!!! I haven't gotten her a gift yet but we'll think of something (really she'll think of something and go get it and say it was from me for her birthday). We did go out to a movie earlier in the week in honor of her birthday and my mother took us out to lunch today. We were thinking of going away for a couple days but it was too hard so it will have to be something else - probably jewelry.

Creepy Crawlies

I have to be careful of how I write this posting because you never know who you may insult or who may come across your blog, but I had to have an entry about this. Yesterday Leora invited her friend over from gan. They have had play dates on and off during the year, but not lately. She had been bugging us for weeks to have her over and for various reasons (mainly Leora's behavior) we did not allow it. Leora finally wore me down and I allowed the playdate to take place. Well, you cannot imagine my utter surprise and disgust when we were walking to the car and I could literally see the lice jumping around in this girl's hair. I was just paralyzed with shock. I did not know how to handle it. I put the girls in the car but warned Leora to keep her head leaned the other way (away from the girl). I then called my friend Penina, the lice lady, but was not able to reach her. I brought the girls home and immediately ran upstairs for bandanas. I made sure to give this infested girl a bandana that I would not mind throwing out immediately after her use. While she was at our house I had conversations with various people and they were all of the same opinion, GET THAT GIRL OUT OF YOUR HOUSE. I did not want to be confrontational so I called the parent and told him a little white lie. I said that I had forgotten we had to be somewhere so I would drop her off on our way out. He had no problem with that. So we loaded up the car, dropped her off and decided to pick up the other kids from school. When we returned home I vacuumed out the car as a precaution. I'm glad to report though, that although Leora plays with this girl all the time, she has been lice free. Even the lice are scared of her red haired temper.

Yeshaya learning baseball

Savta gave Yeshaya a velcro glove and ball so he could start learning how to play baseball. Today, his best friend Ami came over after playgroup so Yeshaya wanted to play baseball with him. He got out Zvi's bases and his plastic bat and two gloves and a ball to set up a game. He may have spent almost half his life in Israel but he still has the American blood in him and he loves baseball.

Lag Sameach

On Thursday night we went to a shul bonfire in honor of Lag B'Omer. Our shul is mostly Americans so our fire was put to shame by many other fires around the city. People have been collecting wood around the country since Pesach so they could make HUGE fires. Rivka spent the night at my parents' house and then on Friday the kids had no school in honor of the holiday. So Shira took the kids swimming at my parents' pool for a few hours. Then Zvi and I had baseball and Leora stayed to play at my parents' house. We were supposed to play against a Yerushalayim team but they cancelled at the last minute so we decided to play a kids vs. dads game. It was a lot of fun - even better than had we actually had a game. It reminded me of my elementary school days when we had an annual game of faculty vs. students every Lag B'Omer. (Wow, I just followed the link to my elementary school and the picture on the front is my science teacher from 20 something years ago. She looks exactly the same.)

Rivka had a friend for Shabbos and we had four seminary girls sleep here. One of them works with my mother-in-law and she brought her sister and two friends. They didn't eat here because we weren't sure if we were going to be home for Shabbos and by the time we decided they had already found another place. We ate lunch at the Sussman's house with the Schertz'. They have four sons named Ocean, River, Sky and Canyon (Yam, Nahar, Rakia and Nachal in Hebrew). Then we went to the Baks' house for seudat shlishit before coming home to wind down until Shabbos was over.


In August, we spent a Shabbos at the Kinar hotel but didn't do anything in the area because we had too many things to take care of at home. We promised the kids that we'd get back to the Kinneret and to Teveria. That was a long time ago but we finally kept the promise. On Monday, Rivka and Zvi woke up before 6 to watch more cartoons but the two little ones slept until 8. They all took jacuzzi baths and then we ate breakfast in Ramot. We really hadn't planned this day out very well so during breakfast we looked for things to do.

We decided to start with a little zoo just south of the Kinneret. Gan-Hai in Ein Zera was great. The kids fed the animals and held bunny rabbits. Even Yeshaya didn't run screaming every time an animal got close to him like he usually does.

Then we went just across the road to Kibbutz Kinneret to go canoeing down the Yarden. The waters were calm. We were basically at the northern tip of the Kinneret and didn't go that far south. We took two canoes and Rivka and Zvi were really good at helping to row.

After that we went to Teveria to get something to eat. Shira and the kids wanted milchigs and Shira remembered this place that we ate in about 7 years ago but didn't remember the name. So she directed me to the parking lot that we parked at then (yes, she has a good memory) and then we got out and walked to the boardwalk but turned left and couldn't find it (her memory isn't perfect) so she called Ornat and Nechama who found the place on the internet. Shira called and it turned out that we should have turned right from the parking lot. The place was called Apropos and was perfect for us.

We were finally ready to head home but then we saw a horse and buggy so we went for a 15 minute ride around Teveria and then headed home. We did all that and still managed to get the kids in bed by 7 so they wouldn't be too tired in school today.

Surprise Trip to the North

The kids didn't realize that when we left Netanya we turned North instead of South. They still didn't realize when we drove by Zichron Yaakov that we hadn't passed that on the way to the hotel. Zvi did say then that it meant that we were still at least an hour from school even though we had left much earlier. As we got closer to the north we showed them on a map where we were and they were very excited. The great thing about surprising them is that it's not so important that we actually do something fun because just the fact that we took them somewhere when they weren't expecting it makes it worthwhile for them. We did lots of fun things on this tiyul though.

We drove straight to Tzuk Minara. They had three really fun things to do there:
1. Toboggan - I'm not sure if this is the right term since that usually refers to going down on snow but there was no snow. We go on these little cars on tracks and go up some of the mountain before coming zooming down. I guess it was sort of like a roller coaster ride. Rivka went alone but Zvi and Leora weren't big enough so they had to come with me.

2. Trampoline - They tied the kids to ropes and then pressed a button and, voila the kids went flying. They had pictures of kids doing flips on these but my kids were satisfied just jumping really high. Just the three bigger kids did this.

3. Cable cars - We all went on the cable cars up to the top of the mountain and walked around up there and enjoyed the gorgeous view.

A lot of the stuff is closed since it's not high tourist season. The good thing about it not being high tourist season was there were no lines but the bad thing was that a lot of things were closed. They also have snappling, wall climbing, bouncy toys and omega but none of that was open. We still had fun doing what they did have.

After we finished we went to Metulla. We saw the Canada Center where Danny plays hockey. We also saw the Lebanon border and to Neot Mordechai so Shira could buy new shoes. Then we drove down to the East side of the Kinneret to a "tzimmer" - a little cabin - in Briza Bakfar in a yishuv called Ramot. We tried driving one way but the road was closed so we had to go all the way around and we passed a forest fire just as the fire trucks were getting there. It looked like they had gotten there early enough to get it under control since the fire wasn't near any houses or anything.

We got to our cabin after 6 and we were all starving. We went to a couple hotels but dinner there was really expensive and hardly seemed worth it. We couldn't find a Kosher restaurant nearby so the kids agreed to get dinner at the supermarket. We got small pizzas to make in the microwave and soup in cups and ice cream. It was good and the kids loved eating in front of the TV. The cabin was really nice and spacious with a beautiful view overlooking the Kinneret.

Shabbos in Netanya

We are leaving in less than six weeks and we wanted to do at least one more tiyul before we left. We also wanted to be sure to spend some time with my sisters. My mother's birthday was last week and my father's is next month so we convinced everyone to come with us to a hotel for Shabbos (we even convinced my parents to sponsor it). This was the only Friday off during the season in Little League so we took advantage and left early. We picked all the kids up from school and got lunch for the road.

We got to the hotel around 1 and had all afternoon to hang out with cousins and go to the beach and pool. The great thing about vacationing now is that it's really quiet because it isn't an ideal time to get away. Things were generally very empty.

The hotel had a minyan on Shabbos but in the morning my father and I went to a shul in the neighborhood because he knew the rabbi and had another friend there. The average age in the shul was probably 80 and they were almost all British but we made it through the whole long davening. In the afternoon we had cake and a big Shabbos party in honor of the birthdays and everyone had a nice time hanging out with the cousins. Normally, when we go to a hotel Shira and I end up with 1-4 kids in our room but this time we got a suite and Rivka slept with cousins so we had our own room. Much more relaxing that way.

We were the only ones to sleep over on Saturday night. The kids were excited for that and thought that this meant that they'd be going late to school the next day. We told them that if they were good we could first go to the beach before leaving. So we did that, jumped in the pool and ate a delicious breakfast at the hotel. We finally left the hotel around 10:30. The kids figured we were on our way to bring them to school a little late.

Mother's Day

So we get all these "Yoms" during sefira (haatzmaut, yerushalayim, zikaron and shoa) but I didn't realize until yesterday that the best thing is that we avoid the "Days." No Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparents' Day, Secretary's Day, Earth Day or any other Silly Day that obligates us to get presents. We haven't made aliya so I couldn't totally skip yesterday but we were able to tone it down.

I took Shira out for lunch to her favorite restaurant here (Angelo's) and we had a nice time. We got pizza and met Amy and her girls at my grandmother's for dinner to celebrate with her. That was it though. My mother is in Memphis visiting Shayna and family so we didn't do anything for her.

We also got portraits of the two bigger kids. We posted the pictures of the little ones a few months ago so here are the others. We highly recommend the photographer in Matityahu so if anyone is interested just email or call us and we'll give you his info.

First loss

Our Little League team lost for the first time on Friday. It was a really tough loss as we had built a 7-1 lead and were still winning 10-7 going into the last inning. The other team scored four times though to win the game. Almost all the kids were crying after the loss. We're still tied for first place and we're playing this team again later in the season.

We had three girls from Anywhere in Israel sleep at our house for Shabbos but they didn't eat any meals with us. We made Shabbos early again and went to sleep really early. Shira led groups at shul for the first time and all reports that I heard were that she did a fantastic job even though she had to do it in Hebrew. Leora loved having her Mommy lead the groups and Zvi watched Yeshaya so he wouldn't disturb them. We ate lunch with the Sussmans at the Weinsteins' house and had a nice time. Tzivi Bak had made Shira's favorite dessert (some kahlua ice cream or something) so we went there for some of that after lunch.

Happy 60th Birthday, Israel!!!

What a privilege and honor for us to be here in Israel to celebrate along with the country the anniversary of Israel's 6oth year of Independence. I'll start with recapping from Yom Hazikaron. At around 8pm the night of Yom Hazikaron, a loud siren goes off and all are supposed to stop what they are doing and reflect on the many lives lost during war and to terrorist acts. We did not hear that siren, probably because we were busy yelling at our kids to go to sleep. The next day at 11 am David and I were at the fruit store. It took a second to realize that the sound I was hearing was indeed the siren and not an indication that we were under attack. It was amazing to see that people just stop what they are doing and stand still with head bowed. The siren lasted for a minute and you could really feel the unity of the people. It was a little disturbing to see out of the corner of your eyes the arab workers walking along as if nothing was going on. The kids all had different educational experiences at their schools. Leora was shown pictures of a relative of a boy in her class who was killed.

That evening the Yom Haatzmaut parties began. Rivka was invited to spend the night at a friends in Chashmonaim. She had an amazing time with all of her classmates from school. Zvi and I along with Jamie, Effie and Shaya Steiner (our neighbors) walked outside until we were able to see the city's fire works display. The kids really enjoyed it. We then continued walking until we got to the local religious Yom Haatzmaut celebrations. There was live music and dancing. Zvi said it was boring but I saw him mesmerized by the band. It made me think that he'd really enjoy being able to play a musical instrument (since given mine and David genes a singing career is out of the question).

Today we (Greenstone's including David's father) met up with Adina (Ethel), Eric, and their three younger kids for a horseback riding adventure. And adventure it was , for David and Rivka that is. They were the only ones brave enough from our family to ride their own horse. The younger Greenstones were not as comfortable so they got to ride on a pony with a guide. The youngest Greenstone was even too chicken for that. I myself would have loved to go horseback riding, but for some reason Rivka chose David to go with her instead of me. I wonder if it is because I am such a chicken and Rivka has no confidence in me. In keeping with the Yom Haatzmaut tradition (for non vegetarians) after the horseback riding we returned for a delicious Bar-B-Que at the Hagege's. Danny and Ornat and girls came by to say hi and then we loaded up the car and returned to Modiin. We were very happy that we didn't encounter any of the dreaded "pa-kack".

Best time of year to be in Israel

After Pesach, Aryeh told me that the time between Pesach and Shavuot is the best time of year to be in Israel. The first thing is the weather and it's definitely been true so far this year. It's consistently been in the high 70s/early 80s with no rain. After Shavuot it starts getting really hot for a few months until it's rainy season. Then you also have Yom Hashoa, Yom Hazikaron, Yom HaAtzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim. The celebrations for these days in the States can't come close to what we're expecting to see in this country. We even put a flag on our car so we could join in the fun (just because we're not citizens doesn't mean we can't be patriotic). Even Lag Ba'Omer is different in Israel than in the States.

Last week was a quiet week in our house. Nechama A. came for Shabbos and we had no other company so it was very relaxing. In the afternoon we walked over the Baks' house and ate seudat shlishit there. The only bad thing was that the hashkama minyan in the neighborhood disbanded so I was stuck davening at a "normal" long minyan at 8:30. I survived it but I'm hoping a new hashkama minyan will start soon.