Sunday, October 31, 2004

Still here...

I’m still sitting here.
Not tired enough to try to sleep.
I don’t understand why or how? But somehow, I’m awake!
Don’t want to sleep. There’s too much to have to face tomorrow.

After being gone for two weeks, I’ve got a lot to catch up on. Ari did a great job of keeping the house standing, but no one runs the house like Momma does!

But just where do I start?
The kitchen?
Finish unpacking?
The bills?
Making appointments?
Returning phone calls?
Calls for jobs? Calls for communities?
Call NED’s school. (She told me her substitute teacher locked her and her classmates in their classroom. Should that worry me?!)
But to whom do I speak? How do I communicate?
Cleaning, organizing?
Making lists.
Finding those tickets I have to pay.
Planning NED’s Bat Mitzvah. Invitiations sent out.
Restock the fridge. Wait for the electrician.
Walk. Swim. Read. Write.

AAAhhhhhh! Is that all?!?

I’m back to reality.

Where would you start?

Saturday, October 30, 2004

I'm Back... and ready to blog!

First-of-all, I must apologize for being a no-show over the last week. As soon as I figured out how to publish a blog on my Dad’s computer, it stopped working. I had so many thoughts going through my head and wanted to write. Maybe it was for the best. It was a very emotional trip for many reasons. Over time, I’ll be able to process it all. For now, though, I’m home!

I arrived back in Israel Friday morning after a rather uneventful and much-better-than-the-flight-there trip. I sat next to Bobbi Levine from Flatbush and helped her throughout the flight. She was a very sweet 87-year-old lady who was flying to Israel for her grandson’s “chasoona” (Yiddish translation of ‘wedding’). She gave me the opportunity to do a mitzvah (holy kindness) and not watch the clock for the landing time. I also continued to work on NED's birth announcement (yes, she's going to be 12!), a cross-stitch I started when she was about 8, after finishing MB's when she was 9!! One more to go for Ely, which I hope to finish before she gets married!!

I was wiped out on Friday. I think I slept through Friday night dinner. DB had an “in” Shabbat at his yeshiva, so it was just Ari and I, and the girls. I crashed at about 9 PM for what I had hoped would be for the night. At 12:05 AM, my eyes shot open and I was done sleeping! Being that it was Shabbat, I couldn’t come to the computer and write, but only think about what I would want to write! I walked around awhile, reacquainting myself with my house and finally settled on the couch with a book and fell asleep. I awoke in the morning to Ari covering me on the couch with a blanket. (Sweet man, my husband!)

And I’ve been up ever since!

Being back…
Reentry is a culture shock
Speaking Hebrew again, I surprise myself.
Missing “home”
I am home.
Missing my old home.
The comfort of what is familiar.
Unlimited hugs
No real responsibility
My children’s faces,
They smile and stare.
What has Mommy brought me?
Old patterns?
Same songs.
I am alone again, on my own again. (Ari on another business trip)
This is my life.
I must be thankful!
I am…

Shavuah Tov –
A productive week to all!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Soooo much to say

I wanna sit here and type away about my trip to the states so far. But I'm stuck. Stuck, I think, in my own head. My own thoughts. Some I can write about and some I shouldn't.

Lots of emotions here.

Surrounded by love.
Feeling at home.
Familiar surroundings.
Busy with shopping.
Spending time with Grandpa, my family, my friends.
Needing "me" time.
Wanting to sleep.
Too busy to try.
Relaxing with love.
Needing to sleep.
Missing my family.
What's right? and how do we know?

Consider this a quick check in. I'm still alive.

More to come...

Happy Day :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Try Try again

I have tried twice, with great entries written, to publish an updated blog, only to loose it in the cyberworld of my father’s computer when I send it to publish. This time I have written and saved this posting onto his desktop in order to keep my frustration level to a minimum.

So what did I write before?

I don’t remember exactly.

I think I wrote about my uneventful flight, albeit it a horribly boring one. Never did I think I would complain about having 10 plus hours alone to myself. But 30,000 miles in the sky, with nowhere to go, was a little suffocating. I found myself taking care of everyone else’s kids and watching the same movies over and over again. The first time I saw “The Notebook”, I cried. After that…

I think I wrote about the drive into Manhattan with my good friend Sandra. We moved ahead slowly, allowing us extra catch-up time together.

I think I wrote about the dinner I had that lasted about 2 hours while friends just kept coming to say hello.

I think I wrote about the culture shock experience I had walking back to my friend’s house at 11 PM on a night when the Yankees were playing the Red Sox and feeling like I was NOT in friendly territory.

I think I wrote about Monday morning, when I walked my friends and her kids to their school and then sat in Starbucks on 93rd street and caught up some more with friends.

And I think I wrote about the wonderful 3 hours I spent walking the streets and shopping New York with my old college roommate and close friend. We took a cab down to Penn Station together so she could catch a train to Long Island, and me to Baltimore.

I wrote about all the hugs I received Monday night from Parents, Aunts, Uncles, Brothers, Sisters and most especially Grandparents. The feeling of unconditional love I had been missing from extended family.

That is what I think I wrote about.

Today I went shopping in the mall with my mom – haven’t done that in years!
I went out to dinner with my parents and grandparents.
And then went to watch the baseball game with my 91-year-old grandfather. Except for the ramifications from the caramel popcorn I ate, I’m feeling good!

So what, you might ask, has been the most significant thing I have noticed so far?

I am a communicator. I like to talk to people, sometimes strangers. In Israel, in Hebrew, I can’t. I can’t get the words out to tell the salesperson why I want to buy something. I can’t get the words out to talk to the man behind me in line. I can’t ask the cab driver to go around the corner, to a better drop off spot. I can’t talk to the cashier to ask her if she’s having a hard day and that’s why she looks so sad! I don’t understand the conversations going on around me, in Hebrew.

It’s isolating that way. I am appreciating being able to communicate.

Tonight, I was complaining to my grandmother about the cold, rainy and dreary day, and how much I love the daily sunshine in Israel. She asked me whether I liked Israel. “Do you really, really liked it there?”

Am I giving off vibes that say I don’t?

I better think about that.

In the meantime, I have more shopping to do and more friends and family to see.

Tomorrow is the day I have been waiting for: TARGET day!!

Happy day :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

This is a test

I have written 2 great blogs and then tried to post from my father's computer. This will be my third attempt. If it doesn't work, then I'll go to my brother's computer to try.
If it works, then you now know I have landed.
Let's give this one more try....
Happy Day :)

Sunday, October 17, 2004

And.....I'm off!

All packed up and ready to go.

It's 12 middnite. Except for trying to convince DB to go to sleep (he wants to stay up to watch the Red Sox lose again!) and Ari working on his computer, the house is quiet. NED and MB went to sleep in tears, not wanting me to leave. And I am feeling such mixed feelings...

The kids have all given me their shopping requests:
-NED wants something "funky" for her room. I told her I would be spending plenty of time in TARGET!
-MB wants basketball shorts from Old Navy
-DB wants pants from Old Navy
-ELY wants a tu-tu for ballet!

I have packed an empty duffel bag to fill.

On my own for the next two weeks. How will that feel? I've asked this question to the new moms I use to work with in the states and thought about it for myself as well: Who am I, if I'm not with my kids? What is my identity?
Can I let go of the worry and concern I live with on a daily basis. Can I let go of the stress of making sure my family is fed, clothes washed, items for school gotten? Can I be me? Spend time with me? Get to know me?
I've got a lot of thinking time ahead of me. That's not always so healthy for me.

One day at a time...

I'll write again on the other side.

Thanks for reading :)

Friday, October 15, 2004

The anxiety builds...

I don't think I have written here, yet, about my plans to go to the States.

About a month ago I decided I needed a break! I had been here a year, and was feeling the pull to visit my elderly grandparents. I had been taking care of everyone else, and needed some taking care of myself. I have felt myself slowly falling apart, emotionally and physically. In short, I needed my mommy!!

The only good thing about Ari's traveling is that I get frequent flyer miles out of it! (And, of course, my monthly supply of Hellmann's mayonnaise, Duncan Hines, etc.) We decided to take some of the miles and get me a ticket. So we looked at the calendar and found next week to be the best time to go. No particular occasion really, just BECAUSE!

Knowing I was going to the States gave me something to look forward to throughout the Chagim. But now, as the day of my departure gets closer, I have begun to feel myself become more and more anxious?

The anxiety, I think, is about not knowing what to expect and my fear of expectations from others. I remember this feeling about 18 years ago, when I was ready to return to the states after studying in seminary for almost a year. Ari says that this time, though, I know I'll be coming home - I'll be coming back.

I had another "Israel moment" today while shopping in Rami Levy (the local supermarket). As I walked the aisles and read the labels, I thought, "I'm reading hebrew labels in a grocery store in Israel. In another couple of days, I will be in Maryland, walking through the stores, feeling completely familiar with my surroundings. Being able to read everything!" Shopping is unfamiliar here, frustrating at times, but I live here! I live in my Jewish country.

Then I start to think: How am I going to feel when I get to America? Will I want to come back? Will the familiarity of my surroundings pull me in?

That's the anxiety.

And then I think, "I've gained so much weight this past year, how can I face everyone?"

More anxiety.

Flying, in general, gives me anxiety, but when I fly without my kids, I just take a Dramamine and sleep (although I don't think I will need any help sleeping!!)

Leaving my family, my kids? Not much anxiety there. They're in good hands with their father. He'll figure out what to feed them and how to wash their clothes. Either that or I'll be getting alot of calls at my parent's house asking where to find everything.

I leave Sunday morning. I spend a night and morning seeing some friends in NYC and then I train it to Bmore. Time just for me. I've never done this before. So much time away from my children. I wonder if I'll be running home?!

Tomorrow I prepare for Shabbat. Shabbat I (try to) relax. Saturday night I pack. I'll try to write again before I leave. If not, I'll have to fight my Dad for computer time!

I realize that I'm all over the place here...

Think I'm a little anxious?

Better to just go to sleep!

Good night :)

Thursday, October 14, 2004

What did I do today?

Way too tired to write tonight! And I can't even remember what I did today?!

I know I went to ulpan. Boy, do I need to learn hebrew! Going to class boosts my confidence. I need to speak it more, though.

I know I made lists of things to do.

I know I cleaned my room ( I sound like a teenager, don't I?). But I really needed to do it. I hadn't finished the 4 part laundry process.
Part 1 - seperate clothes to wash
Part 2 - wash the clothes
Part 3 - fold the clothes
Part 4 - put the clothes away
I'm finished now...
Starting the process over again tomorrow.

I know I cleaned up spilled water about three times.

I know I took a shower.

I know I walked to Ely's gan to pick her up. (Ari took the car.) And ended up bringing one of her frineds home with us.

I know I made Ely and her friend some lunch.

I know I helped Ely figure out how to play Polly Pocket on the computer.

I know I did my homework for ulpan.

I know I walked to the front of the yishuv to get a ride to ulpan.

I know I went to ulpan...

But what did I do today?!

Hopefully I'll get something done tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Parenting blues

I wish I knew that no matter what decision I made in dealing with my kids, that it wouldn't backfire and it would always turn out to be the right decision in the end. (And that I had backup support! But that's not for here or now!)

I had an experience with MB (13 years old) tonite that has me still trying to figure out what happened.

There is a culture here in Israel of kids inviting their own friends to a distant family members simcha (joyous occasion). MB announced to me at the beginning of the week that she was going to her friends' cousins' Bar Mitzvah. At which time I just looked at her and did not respond. MB has a way of constantly talking and telling me things she is going to do and how she is going to do them. Girls....they talk and talk and talk!!

This morning she again TOLD me that she was going. At which I told her she wasn't.
As usual with her, she kept at it. I told her I wasn't going to discuss it with her and sent her off to school.

After school: Again, begging me to let her go. So I decided to ask details. She was invited by her friend to go to her friend's cousin's Bar Mitzvah. MB did not know the Bar Mitzvah boy, but was invited to go for dessert.

Again, my answer was: You are not going.

Now, before some of you start getting upset with me and questioning my parenting decisions, let me explain my side and then I'll finish the story to the end....

The amount of coed socializing that goes on here makes me uncomfortable. I came to Israel to live a certain lifestyle. It did not make sense for Malka to attend a Bar Mitzvah of someone she did not know when her entire Bnei Akiva shevet (group) would be there (mostly boys) and I knew she wasn't going to
be just giggling in the corner with her girl friends! I did not question my decision once. Even though Ari felt, "What's the big deal", I felt that one "no big deal" leads to lots more "big deals."

Back to MB.

She went to her art chug very upset with my decision for her.
When she came back she decided that if she washed all the dishes, folded the clean sheets, and helped with whatever I needed she should be able to go..."because she wants to."

MB, like most teens, does not like being told 'No" when she has her heart set on YES! She lost it. Began to cry uncontrollably and would not let up. (Ari had gone to sleep with Ely so I was on my own!) When I needed to leave the house to get milk for breakfast in the morning, she called me on my cell phone hysterically crying. I was being mean and she didn't understand.

I knew she wasn't going to understand.

She went to her room and slammed her door...aaahhh, teenagers!....Screaming in her room, I could hear her calling her friends on the cell phone. She came back out of her room and tried again. I told her that if she didn't stop she would lose the privilige to go out on Friday night.

At this point for me it becomes a power control thing. If I give in now, she will think that all she has to do is not let up and she will get whatever she wants. It's a horrible power struggle that I have been battling with her since she was 2!!

Then, suddenly, the tears became about how she wanted to go say goodbye to her good friend who was leaving for America. She would be gone for 10 days or so, but MB had to go say goodbye to her. To prove that I don't always say "no", even though I thought it was ridiculous, I told MB that I would take her to her friend's house so she could say goodbye and then I would bring her home. (There have been some safety issues on the yishuv this week, forbidding girls to walk alone at night.)
In her hiccuping tears, I got back in the car and drove her up the street.

Her friends, I'm sure, think I am the meanest mom on the block! ("Mirror Mirror on the wall I've become my mother after all!")

MB slammed the door as she got out of the car, and slammed every other door up to her bedroom. She got ready for bed and several minutes later came out of her room and said calmly, "Can you please come up to me when you can."

So I did. And what do you think she said to me? Ready for this?

"I'm sorry if I was disrespectful to you. I just really wanted to go to the Bar Mitzvah. I still don't understand why I couldn't."

At which I responded, "You're not always going to understand or like my decisions, but you have to trust that I make the decisions I do because I love you. I can respect that you want to argue your point, and I'm glad that you do, but you also have to respect my decision when I say, NO"

She smiled, kissed me good night and asked me to turn off the lights as I left her room - completely calmed.


What??? Do I know what I'm doing? Am I making decisions based on biases? Fears? Values? Are they the right decisions? I don't know! Where's the gosh-darn direction manual for these kids?!?!?

Am I a good enough parent? I try to be. I think I am. I try to be fair. Ari thinks I say "NO" too quickly. I think I say "YES" too often!

Know what? All I want to do right now is EAT CHOCOLATE...

I'm going to go in and kiss my children while they sleep and go to sleep myself!

Parenting blues.
This won't be the last of them.

Good night :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The rain and good friends

It rained last night! Or was it this morning? It had to be sometime after 2 am, because that's when Ari took our friends to the airport.

I jumped out of bed at 6:30 am to make sure NED was up and moving. She was, but just barely. I started opening the trissim (Israeli-type shutters), and saw that the ground was wet. Uh-oh! I left clothes out to dry last night! Guess that season is over, no more hanging our clothes out to dry unless I know for sure it's not going to rain! Everything will just have to re-dry.

The amazing thing is that when we as Jews begin the prayer for rain right after Simchat Torah, it rains! In Israel we REALLY pray for rain, for without it, our summer is very very dry!
The power of prayer - a religious experience!

An exciting phenomenon...

Having our friends from Boston, the Goldbergs, here last night was great! They came for dinner and "slept" by us (they left at 2 am). It reminded me of the feeling I have with only a handful of old friends from high school. It was nice to experience it again. The feeling was this: When you haven't seen or spoken to friends in a long time and then you finally do, it's as if you have seen them every single day since the last time you saw them. The comfort of the friendship, the knowing of their likes and dislikes, the excitement to interact with their children, the commonalities in our lives. All the things that connect friends.
They say we inspire them, but we get such chizzuk (spiritual strength) from them. These friends are 10 years our junior, but the connection is still there.
Thank you Avi and Alanna for making the time to come see us in our home. When you visit Israel, living out of hotels isn't really visiting Israel! You have to see how people live here to really experience it! Your smiles and warmth will stay with Ari and I and the kids for a long time. And we hope to see you back here very soon!

OK, I must start my day.

My nephew Shauli took the bus from Jerusalem last night to spend the day hanging out with Dovie before they both go back to Yeshiva. So all the men are at shul. I need to get dressed. Ari asked me to proof read a report he wrote for work. (I've been thinking about going into the editing business!) I need to try once again to get NED's Bat Mitzvah invitations going. Start thinking about Shabbat and whether to invite guests. And make a couple phone calls for our future...

Another busy day, Thank G-d.

My cleaning day

Interesting process: cleaning.

You go around in circles putting this thing here and that thing there, wiping this counter and that table, washing this shirt and folding that tablecloth. Then you look up and the ceiling fan has started dropping dustballs over the couch, so you get out the vacuum and start taking apart your furniture. The dishes still need to be washed, dried and put away, food shopped for, dinner prepared for friends and family and table set.

(Tonight I would like to add that my 4-year-old, Ely, set the table completely by herself with folded napkins and all!!)

So now dinner is over and there are dishes to be washed again. Another days dirty clothes, tablecloths to be washed, and a filthy floor from everyone spilling and dripping.

People innocently ask me if I like living in Israel. "Are you happy?" they ask. "Do you feel more spiritual?" they wonder and hope to hear the answer they want.

My answer?

This is my life. I am a mother, wife, homemaker. AND I live in Israel. This is where I want to live - where I need to live. Where I belong. And that is exactly what I do...

I live!!

Monday, October 11, 2004

It's morning again!

Good Morning! In Israel it's another beautiful sunny day.

Already this morning, NED almost missed her hasaa (transport to school), MB left the house early carrying a huge replica of the 12 tribes encampment around the Beit Hamikdosh (Holy Temple) in the desert that she made with a friend for Torah (bible) class, DB rolled out of bed to go to minyan (morning prayers service) with Ari, Ely snuggled with me on the couch before getting dressed, I called our local Bnei Akiva (Zionist youth organization) expert to ask her to speak to the new Olim (immigrants) on the yishuv about what Bnei Akiva is and how is works, and I'm still in my PJs!
Having some friends visiting from Boston for a BBQ tonite, so I have to get ready for that, and I have to get NED's Bat Mitzvah invitations started. Oh! And I have to make some calls about checking out other communities for Shabbat.
Don't think I'll be bored today. Come to think of it...Have I ever been bored during the day?!?!
Hope to be able to write again later...BEFORE midnight!
Have a happy one
Smile :)

I just sent him on a tiyul - Part 2

So you wanna know what happened? I almost forgot to tell you. You are not going to believe this...On the other hand, maybe you will!!

(If you have no idea what I'm talking about, skip ahead a couple blogs to the first part of "I just sent him on a tiyul"- I don't know how to link you there myself it and then come back to this.)

It was 3 AM when I finally climbed into bed. I still hadn't heard from DB so I figured I would send him a quick text message. It read, "Assuming you got on the bus. Have fun. B safe. Love you!" Sent it, waited 2-3 minutes and was just about to send a second text - the phone was in my hand - saying, jokingly, "Unless you're wondering the streets."
When my phone rang. DB, on the other end, saying, "Hi Imma, I'm outside, can you let me in?"
(How many of you are laughing now?!)

Yup! My boy, my teenage boy, decided for himself that if he didn't get on the bus, how would I know and he'd just stay out with his friends. His excuse was that his madrich felt bad for the kids that didn't get on the bus - because they weren't signed up to begin with - and decidied to make them a kumzits. I never confirmed it, but it didn't really matter.

I was floored! I let him into the house and sent him straight to bed with a very clear message of, "I am the parent, you are the child. I make the rules. You don't get to do whatever you want. When you're a parent, you can make your own rules. But as a child you still have to answer to a parent. Next time you call me and let me decide whether or not I will let you stay out. You don't get to do whatever you want!"

Phew!! I think we're still friends. He realizes he messed up.

How'd I handle that one? Think he'll do it again?

G-d, give me strength!!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Gotta keep bloggin'

Why have I only been sitting down to write when it's past midnite?
I never sleep anymore!
Everyday I think about what I want to write in my blog that day and never seem to get to do it? Is it resistance or lack of quiet time or disinterest?
Not real sure, but I promised myself that I would keep at it even though I have no idea if anyone reads this on a regular basis or if anyone really cares?
So then I ask myself: for whom am I writing?
No answer...maybe just for friends and family? yeah, I guess that works. That's a good start I guess. But I don't even know if anyone is reading because I get no feedback and I can't figure out how to get the stupid counter to show up on my board.
I hate being computer illiterate!
I love writing. Always have. I have years of high school and college journals. Full of sobby, sappy, poor-me writings. Then when I was in graduate school I started writing real good stuff about my kids and marriage.
It's great way to vent
to express.

Gotta keep bloggin!

Friday, October 08, 2004

I just sent him on a tiyul!

Not quite sure how it all just happened?

At 8:30 PM we were leaving our house to walk up the hill to enjoy a wonderful post-holiday concert on the yishuv basketball court. As Ari and I walked out of the house, DB (our 15-year-old son) stopped us in our path, "There's a Bnei Akiva tiyul tonite and I want to go." **tiyul = hike/trip/tour**

What? An all-night tiyul? How is that possible? How come I didn't know anything about it? Did you just find out about it? Oh? You forgot to tell us? They're leaving after the dancing at midnight and will return tomorrow "sometime"? What kind of youth organization is this?! "Everyone" is going? Who is in charge? What do you have to bring? Isn't there a permission slip to sign?

Totally caught off guard, I told DB to find me the group leader and have him or her (I still don't even know who it is!!) find me.

At 11:30, DB decided it was time to make a decision NOW! He could not find anyone for me to speak to. So I went looking for any parent who might know anything about this trip. Most had gone home. Two moms told me their kids were not going. One parent told me her daughter would be going, but then again, there was just a piguah in Taba (south of Eilat). She didn't know.

But DB really wanted to go. He doesn't get to see his friends much when he's in yeshiva, and these will be memories for him for life...

We came home, I wrote him a permission letter in Hebrew (go me!!), he made himself a cheese sandwich and filled his water bottle. Grabbed his tfillin, a siddur, a flashlight, and off he went!

I'm guessing he got on the bus because he hasn't called me yet (or he could be out wondering the streets...)

All of this is completely against my parenting nature!

Life in Israel for kids is completely different than what I know to be familiar!

(Should I add that today - Simchat Torah - Ely (my 4-year-old) and her friend walked to the park to play and our only instructions were, "Come home before it gets dark!")

I feel I have relinquished my parenting control and can only pray that Hashem keeps these kids safe! I'll let you all know what happens.

P.S. I am very aware that I have not written in several days. Now that the holidays are over, maybe I can sit down and write...