Thursday, June 23, 2005

What would you do?

If your 12 year old daughter came home - when you thought she was at her friend's for a sleep over and holding back tears she says, "I was at A's house and we were going to have a sleepover. N and L were there and when A got into the shower, N told me that I have to leave. She said that she and L were planning a surprise for A and I had to leave because I was ruining the surprise."
So she did.
Besides calling N myself, which is what I really wanted to do - what would you have said to NED?!

I get so frustrated

Ely needs to have the tubes in her ears removed. It’s been over two years since she had them put in and they haven’t fallen out yet by themselves.

In the states, we used the same ENT (Ear-Nose-and-Throat) doctor for all of our kids. They all 3 had tubes put in and one or two of them had to have them removed. Same doctor. For years.

Now I live in Israel. Health care is different here. I am still learning how to work around the system. Who to talk to, who to get the referrals for, and which doctors you know you can trust.

Should we do this privately and pay 10 times as much for a simple procedure?

Ari has a family history of malignant hyperthermia. It is some kind of genetic allergic reaction to anesthesia. Because of that and the possibility that one of our kids is a carrier, they all have to be carefully watched during anesthesia.

So the big question arises: Do we need to be more concerned about the ENT we use or the anesthesiologist? And which hospital should we use? And do we need to go private or public?

I have been dealing with this all in Hebrew, so when the hospital called today to confirm my appointment for next week, I was a little upset when they said the appointment was at 2:40 PM and NOT 9:40 AM. The middle of the day is the worst – we will be waiting forever to see the doctor! When I can’t argue or ask questions in Hebrew, the receptionists lose patience and hang up.

Hence my frustration!

I used to be able to communicate with doctors and secretaries on the other end of the phone line. I used to be able to speak intelligently about what I wanted to ask or say.

It’s embarrassing and almost humiliating when you can’t get across what it is you want to say.


On the other hand, I am a heck of a lot better today than I was a year ago. Tonight I had a 25-minute conversation with NED’s teacher on the phone – ALL IN HEBREW. Go Me!! I amazed myself! The words just came. They were simple and I didn’t always conjugate the verbs properly, but I did an awesome job!

So slowly but surely (because I am a motivated learner) I am getting this language. The attitudes and innuendos aren’t coming as naturally – that will take years! But I find myself thinking in Hebrew sometimes, wondering how to say this phrase or that word.

I am about to embark on a daring job opportunity. I have been asked to co-lead an empowerment group for women suffering with domestic violence – all in Hebrew. My co-leader speaks both Hebrew and English, so I will have her as a buffer. But they want me to add my expertise in experiential clinical arts, so I am in and now have to pray I don’t destroy these women when I ask, “I’m sorry, what did you say? I didn’t understand you.”

Making aliyah, in case you were wondering, is a deeply humbling experience.

P.S. Happy Anniversary to my Mom and Dad! 40-something years!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

By the way

Guess what I did today?

I went to the kitchen design people to ask for help on designing my new kitchen.

My homework is to measure my fridge, freezer and oven - in centimeters.

Am I really doing this??

Remember your last day of 7th grade?

Today was NED’s final day of 7th grade and yesterday was MB’s final day of 8th grade.

Tonight was NED's "Erev Siyum" (final night celebration). She participated in a play, knew her parts by heart and said them all in hebrew. She was amazing! Then she and one other friend performed a dance they choreographed themselves. Boy, can that girl move!

For me, 7th grade was all about Friday night roller-skating and Shawn Carey and 8th grade was the year my parents wanted me to switch to the Bais Yaakov (all-girls Jewish school) in Baltimore.

All I remember about both years was that my friends were way more important than my family!

Now, to survive the summer with my own teenage girls...

Monday, June 20, 2005

Reality checks

It still blows my mind

When I’m driving down the highway,

and I realize I know how to drive a car,

and the teenagers in the car are MY children,

and I live in Israel,

and I graduated from a hick-town high school 21 years ago,

and now I live in Israel with my husband who I’ve been married to for 17 years,

and we have FOUR children!

It still blows my mind,

When I hear someone call me, “Mommy”

My name is Sarah,

And I graduated high school with all non-Jews

21 years ago,

And now

I live in Israel!

It’s so weird!!!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Saying goodbye

Just came back from dropping my Mom and Dad off at the airport.

I hate saying goodbye to them.

This is definitely the hardest part about living here - being so far away from my family!

The departure drop-off section of the airport is always so sad.

Their trip here was too short. Mom wasn't feeling 100%. That was hard to see.

They are, though, very excited about living here with us some day soon. They must have walked up to our lot of land 5 or 6 times in the past couple of days. The view is spectacular. When did my parents become so Zionistic?

Against my desire, I think I need to start getting more serious about these house plans. If I’m gonna do it, I better do it right.

The kitchen, after all, is my office…

I don’t like saying goodbye to my parents.

I’m still here

Once again, I’m sorry – to my family and friends (and loyal blog readers) - for disappearing for the past week.

I’ve been in a stuck-writing space. Not depressed. Just really busy.

My S-I-L once asked how I had time to write, and at the time I told her, “I make time.”

Recently, I haven’t been able to make time.

Distracted. preoccupied. Busy.

Maybe my writing expectations are set too high. I read other peoples’ blogs, and they are well thought-out and written.

“I can’t write like that.”

Lower my self-expectations.

I’m torn between wanting to just sit on the beach all day and wanting to lock myself in a creative space somewhere and make art.

Maybe I should just go to the beach and make art?!

Thursday, June 09, 2005


I’m still here, just not writing.

I need to – for myself, and to keep in touch, but I just can’t/don’t want to…

Ari’s home
Mom and Dad are here
DB still undecided
MB bouncing off walls
NED miserable in school

Us – going to Netzarim in Azza for Shabbat.

ME? What am I up to?

That’s why I can’t write – too much, too overwhelming!

My ulpan teacher told me tonight that I’m too serious. What the heck?!?!

Job offers. Opportunities.

Learn Hebrew.

Take care of family.

Swim. Walk.

I’m trying my best…

Monday, June 06, 2005

Early to bed

I'm going to try that tonight.

Instead of staying up even later, I'm going to sleep now, and will set my alarm so I get up early.

Big day tomorrow. My parents are coming for a visit!!

As crazy as it sounds, I have to clean up the house.

When my Mom is here, she takes over my house. The dishes get washed every night, the laundry is folded, dinner is made.

But I have to start with a good impression. When Ari is away, I don't clean up.

So I will - please G-d - wake up early in the morning and get to work.

Layla tov

Friday, June 03, 2005

The week I had

This has been some week! And the final thought I have from it all is: How is it possible that I am supposed to go to work? (And I side thought: How do mothers with more than four children – or even one for that matter – do it?!)

This has been a week of constant movement. Hours on the phone with schools, doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, camps, what else?

Sunday started off pretty good. Except for the getting stuck in traffic part and being late for my pedicure, it was a relaxing, day-for-me. I decided to try a pedicure at the Plaza hotel. Thanks to my sister-in-law’s mother, I have finally found a decent manicurist (oh, how I miss my $10 Asian manicures in Boston.) I thought, since I can get a good manicure, why not try a pedicure? To my surprise the pedicurist was a 60-something-year-old crotchety grandmother, who yelled at me for being late! And then when I asked for polish, she practically threw the basket of colors at me. I think I’ll stick to giving myself a pedicure from now on…

After a pretty coat of soft pink polish, I found my way into a quaint used children’s book store on Derech Beit Lechem (a busy street in the Jerusalem area.) I had seen an ad for this shop in a magazine and thought I should check it out. It wasn’t so much the bookstore part that intrigued me, as was the blurb, “Collage hours for women and children,” that peaked my interest. It turns out this little hole in the wall is indeed a used bookstore, although the prices aren’t like used books in the states, I did buy a couple sweet books for Ely.

When I asked the owner about the collaging, he led me down a narrow steep staircase into the basement. It was like a child walking into a candy store! A small little room full of collage materials, along with boxes, frames, and the like, to collage. What an idea! And although I was really excited to find a place like this, it made me a little frustrated. The owner's wife is an art therapist and it was her idea. How come some people can figure out how to put this kind of stuff together, the idea and the doing? And others, like me, can’t seem to get the ideas moving anywhere? (oh- maybe it’s because I’m so busy taking care of my family!!?!)

From there, and feeling a little down, I went to meet my good friend Chayyei Sarah for a late breakfast/early lunch. I always feel better when a good friend puts things in perspective. We met at Café Hillel on Emek Refaim, a trendy Georgetown-esque street in Jerusalem. This is the same café that was terrorist targeted over a year ago when Dr. Applebaum and his daughter, Nava, were killed the night before her wedding. Although I didn’t say anything to Sarah, it was an eerie feeling being in there.

It was, though, really great to catch up, and it was the only get-together with a friend all week. I am still appreciating it.

The rest of my week, although I can’t say it went downhill, because nothing really went wrong, was crazy. Crazier at least than I am used to.

I flitted between the different needs of DB, NED and ELY, leaving MB to cry to me Tuesday night that I’m always so busy and she can never talk to me. MB admitted that she was having trouble in school, but didn’t want to ask for help. She didn’t want to be different than everyone else, but was really struggling. I reminded her that she was an olah chadasha (new immigrant) and it was okay to need and ask for help. I told her how proud I was of how hard she was working, and I was never too busy to listen when she needed to talk. I hope she believed me!

DB needed help with school – getting tutors set up for himself, and motivation to study. I also had to take care of a hospital bill from last summer when he fell and cut open his knee. I was getting these bills in Hebrew that I didn’t know what to do with.

I now have good friends at the new kupat cholim (insurance) office in Kiryat Sefer (a neighborhood/small city up the road). Until now, I have gone to Modiin, where there was always a long wait and the clerks there make you feel as if they were doing YOU a favor. Our yishuv is too small to have any large offices so we travel 5-10 minutes either way on the entrance road to an office. My new friends in Kiryat Sefer are pleasant to deal with and very helpful. My kind of service!

NED has a contagious rash she has been uncomfortably living with for over a month, so I have been dealing with that.

ELY has to have tubes taken out of her ears that have been in since before we made aliyah. This is the first time we will not be using the wonderful ENT doc from Lawrence, Massachusetts, that took care of all the rest of our kids. Needless to say, it’s different system here. And because of Ari’s family history of malignant hypothermia (a genetic condition that causes complications with anesthesia), this otherwise simple procedure has become a little more complicated to navigate in a new health insurance system.

I must admit, that although it has meant a lot of running around and speaking to different secretaries and doctors (in Hebrew, I might add!), everyone has been very patient and helpful.

It has certainly been an aliyah experience. And when I flopped down in my chair at ulpan on Wednesday night, my teacher reminded me that I am still an olah chadasha, and it will take time.

As a quick side note, if I might gloat for a minute, I had to tell a 2-minute story about anything I wanted in ulpan Wednesday night. The teacher has us take turns doing this in order to get used to speaking in public. I spoke about how Ari and I signed a contract to buy a piece of land in Israel on our 17th engagement anniversary. I used hebrew words I had never used before, and stumbled over a couple pronunciations. When I was done, my teacher complimented me on how well I spoke, how I used my verbs and prepositions properly, and that I should be very proud of myself.

Ya know, when you spend all day trying to pump up your kids, reminding them that they are olim, and how proud they should be of themselves, it’s really really nice to have another adult, whom you respect and admire, say the same thing to you. The encouragement is what keeps me going and I love my ulpan teacher!

OK, If you have gotten this far in my week’s ramblings, I must admit that even though it was a tough week for me, especially because Ari was away, the best part was that this time Ari brought with him a computer and icamera. Almost every morning – his time – whether he was in a hotel or in someone’s home, I was able to see and speak to my husband. I appreciate modern technology and am thankful Ari thought to take the camera with him. It made his being away a lot easier!

I’m staying home with the kids for Shabbat. We will eat our meals with wonderful neighbors and friends. I just couldn’t go anywhere. I needed to be in my own bed – even if I was alone.

Although I will miss my husband, I look forward to the peacefulness and quiet of Shabbat with my children.

I am thankful and I am blessed!