Monday, December 29, 2008

It's real now.....

I look at the pictures of our soldiers in Gaza and I don't just see soldiers.

I look at their faces and I see a son and know there is a mother and a father sitting at home worried about them.

It's real now - my son is preparing to be a soldier and I am already worrying.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Quick update

DB was home for three wonderful days - Chanukah and family time.

Back to the base this morning :(

Girls home for one more day -

Ari back to work -

And me, trying to figure out what to do with my life.

Quick enough?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

He's comin' home!!

DB just called - sounding really great! - to tell me that he was comin' home for Shabbat..... Woo-hoooo!

We will be in Jerusalem at a Birthright Shabbaton, hope he'll be okay with that! As long as we are together...

Just sharin'

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Just spoke to DB

My nightly awaitied call just came in -
DB had a great day today -
He received my package of cookies and dried fruit.
He sounded really good!
I can sleep now...

I miss my boy!

It’s so hard being a new immigrant

Even after 5 1/2 years, it’s still so hard!

This morning I spent over two hours on the phone with technicians because my internet was not working. And it still has not been fixed…

I tried to take care of two problems simultaneously, which was probably my first mistake.

When I realized my internet was down, I didn’t know who to call.

Back up: Over a year ago, I hired Dalia, my personal secretary/angel. Dalia came recommended by my accountant as someone who could help me with my bills and learn how to keep my business and personal banking separate, amongst other things. She has saved us money over and over again, finding places where we have been charged double or for paying our neighbors bills, for example. She comes every other week or so and goes through my bills and mail with me, helps me to file and even better – makes the phone calls in Hebrew for me.

Recently we have started trying to figure out a budget – what’s going out and coming in – as I had NO IDEA, and have found several places where we were paying double.

For instance for our Internet service. There are several companies here. When we moved into our new home over 2 years ago, we changed services and Ari canceled our old service.

When Dalia and I were going through our credit card bills last week, we saw that we were paying for two services. Ari thought maybe there was a reason. When I checked with Simon, our local computer geek who set up our service in the house – he clarified that we were only using one.

Which meant, upsettingly, that we have been paying for an Internet service that we are not using for 2 years and didn’t know it. All because the system here is so much harder for me to understand and numbers or money in general are not easy for me to manage. (Ari did this all in the States. Why I am doing it now is for another post!)

When trying to log on this morning to see what comments were left on the pictures I posted on Facebook last night, the internet was not working. After getting Ely off to school and going for my morning walk, I decided it was time to try to deal with this on my own – without Dalia.


I called the not-using-but-still-paying-for service and tried to explain the problem, in Hebrew, as they did not have anyone who spoke English. My explanation wasn’t so bad, it seems, because the service rep understood my problem. Except when he tried to explain to me what they were going to do, in Hebrew and as many times as he could slowly, I just couldn’t get it. I apologized for being an oleh chadash (new immigrant) and started to cry. Which of course, he could not deal with and asked me to hold on…
By the time he came back on, I had recomposed myself and he told me someone would be calling me to explain what the situation is in English.

No one has called me back yet…

And I still don’t have internet. Both problems unsolved.

So I am frustrated and humiliated.

Not being able to express myself is horrible for me. And not being able to take care of a simple issue of canceling an internet service is even worse.


I love Dalia, and I appreciate all her help. I just wish I didn’t have to pay someone to help me save money!!

It’s really so hard!!

UPDATE: Simon, G-d bless him, came by, pressed the reset button and VOILA, we have internet!! Now to get our money back from the last two years...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Happy Sweet 16 to NED!!

Another milestone -

NED made it to 16! I made it to NED being 16!!

She wanted a nose ring. I wasn't ready for that. After what I went through with MB, I wanted to be sure it wasn't because I wanted one, too.

We had a nice chat about being a show-off. She understood.

So today I took her to Jerusalem to get her second hole.

And then we met Ari at the mall for lunch - she was happy.

And I now get to reflect on the last 16 years.

I am thankful...

Monday, December 08, 2008

Sluggish day

Ever have one of those days when you just wanna stay in pajamas and watch a movie?

I wanna have one of those days today, but can't.

Feeling sluggish, but have stuff to do...

Hope I get enough energy back to make it to ballet tonight. Missed class last week because I was anxious about DB going into the army the next day.

Keeping low and drinking tea...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Shabbat with my son, the soldier

I'm feeling better now that DB has been home. He arrived on Friday very close to the beginning of Shabbat. Just being able to give him a hug helped my anxiety.

He was like a celebrity when he arrived. One of my neighbors was at the train station and so picked him up and brought him home. We all ran out to greet him, as if we hadn’t seen him in months. He does not like the attention. “I’ve only been gone three days,” he remarked to me as I hugged him.

He looked handsome in his uniform. It could have been like a dress-up party. The boots were what made it real.

He changed quickly and came down to help – like he never left. But I was aware. Aware that he was different.

He is a soldier now. He takes orders and responds to them. He has a very regimented day. He held his head higher. He seemed more calm. Contented.

Over Shabbat he spoke to me in tidbits about his days (even though there had only been three), what he was learning, doing and feeling. He is very modest about what he is doing. He does not like to talk about it much.

On Shabbat day we had a Kiddush in our garden. Our friend, Yehuda, spoke about physical and mental fulfillments; and the feeling of accomplishment. He praised DB for his accomplishments thus far and assured him that he had many people behind him who loved and cared about him.

Ari spoke also about accomplishments; more specifically the ones DB has overcome in his life – moving from place to place and school to school. And how his perserverance has gotten him through.

DB very quietly and concisely spoke (because I made him!) about the feeling he had during the week of what and why he was doing. He felt proud and motivated, and understood how important being a soldier was to our country.

He informed me that he had signed a contract for another year of the army already – which means, he will now do 2 years of basic training, and 2 years of service. He trains now with a regular Nahal unit in Arad, learning all the basic how-to-stand and tie-your-shoes stuff. Then after about 3 months he will begin the special training for the Shaldag unit.

His being away now is no more different than when he was in Mechina (yeshiva). He will be home approximately every other weekend. I miss him being around, but have more of an idea where he is and what he is doing.

It’s just me and the girls at home now – with Ari coming in and out from work. Back to regular life as an IDF family…

Friday, December 05, 2008

COming home for Shabbbat

DB called tonight at 10 PM to tell me that he was for sure coming home for Shabbat - returning early Sunday morning.

He said "it" hit him today - he's in the army. Preparing to protect.

Can't wait to see him in his uniform.

Baking cookies and cakes for the kiddush on Shabbat.

I'm gonna be a mess!!

Need sleep...
Shabbat Shalom - full report on Sunday

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

My First Day as an IDF Mom

It was like most days.

Most of it was spent with MB dealing with her broken finger at the Tel Hashomer Hand Clinic. This was our third visit there. We know the routine.

As far as I'm concerned, the best part of it all, besides being able to spend time with MB, is that I get alot of my cross stitch done.

I am STILL working on Ely's birth announcement. I have made a counted cross stitch for each one of the kids, with their names, birthdates, weight and picture. I finished NED's for her Bat Mitzvah. I hope to finish Ely's by her wedding! I take it every where and whenever I am sitting and waiting or listening to a speaker, I work on it.

On Shabbat when I went to a shiur (lecture) I realized how hard it was for me to concentrate with out keeping my hands busy. Is that a sign of ADD?

I digress...

So MB got her cast off, although her finger still is healing and very tender. She has use of her hand now, as much as she can without feeling pain. We go back again in a month. Woopee!!

When we returned, we ate, I made my Shabbat menu - another full-house - and shopping list. Did 1/2 the shopping - not the produce or meat.

Sorta dragging. Just doing what I have to do. Not what I want to do. What do I want to do?

Made dinner, put away the groceries and went to rehearsal for over two hours.

Kept my phone close to me all day - just in case DB called.

He finally did at 11:00 PM. I guess that is the time they give the boys to make their calls before bedtime. And he called his mother! Good boy. I feel so relieved after speaking to him. He sounded VERY GOOD!

He's in the army for G-d's sakes! It's not camp - this is real! He is being trained to fight and protect. He got his gun today. A flat top M16. I have no idea what that means, but he's impressed. He described how his group gets special treatment. And it makes him uncomfortable. DB is so modest.

He's well fed. Not cold. Likes the guys. Day 1 and generally happy - although still not sure if he is coming home for Shabbat.

If being an IDF Mom means that I spend each day thinking and worrying about him until I hear his voice and he tells me he's okay, then I had a typical IDF Mom day.

And tomorrow? I don't know how long I'll be able to keep this up. It's draining.


Busy day tomorrow. Need sleep. My boy is in bed (or in sleeping bag in a tent), I think I'll go to sleep now too.

Several DB update Posts

There are four new DB posts below


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

My new identity

I am now officially a soldier’s Mom. This morning we handed DB over to the Israeli Defense Force, with a hug and a few tears.

The traffic into Jerusalem was a little crazy, which did not help to lessen our anxiety. We were to drop DB off at Ammunition Hill, a very historic and symbolic place militarily. (But don’t ask me about it. I am not the history person, remember?) We were not exactly sure where to go and were even wondering if we had missed the bus, as we were 30 minutes late and there were very few people around. So we followed DB, as he gotten himself this far, I knew he’d figure out where to go. We entered a building that seemed to be the place. He gave his name and ID number and was told to wait until they called his name.

There were families leaving as we were entering; mothers and children in tears. Large groups of people. “Should we have brought the family,” I thought? Their boys looked like mine. And they seemed to be in the same pain I was.

We waited. Ari gave DB a few more words of encouragement. They called his name over a loud speaker. It was a little eery. It was literally as if he was being “called up.” I gave him a hard hug – with all the love I could muster (tears fill my eyes once more as I write this) – Told him once again how proud I was of him. He answered, “I love you too Imma, I’ll be home for Shabbat.” DB hugged his father and approached the table where two female soldiers were sitting in front of a doorway leading outside. They asked for his Israeli ID card, checked off something on a list and wished him “Hatzlacha” (good luck). Before he walked through the doorway to wherever it was they were taking him, the young chayalet (female soldier) handed DB a lollipop. I’m not kidding. On the table next to all her official papers was a bag of kosher lollipops. She handed one to DB, which he took with a smile.

“That’s it,” I thought, I just sent my son off to the Israeli army with a lollipop! There is something ridiculously funny about that!

I cried. I know I’ll see him again in a few days. But the meaning behind what Ari and I had just done hit me. I had given my son over to the country we believe and live in, in order for him to learn how to and eventually participate in keeping us safe. It was profound, surreal and frightening all wrapped up in one.

From there I took myself to the Kotel. My next appointment wasn’t until 11 o’clock, so I knew I had time. Being at the Holy Western Wall calmed me. I talked to G-d, asking him to watch over all our children, even the ones I didn’t give birth to…

Follow Up: It is 11:00 PM, Dov has just called, and reports that he is in Arad at the basic training base. He was finger-printed, received his uniform and whatever else they do. Couldn’t talk, but would be in touch when he could. I feel better now!

Not knowing

The hardest part of this whole army thing is the not knowing.

I’m not referring to the usual not knowing – the “unknown” – that every person feels when they are beginning something new.

What I am feeling is the REAL not knowing. Like I have no idea what is going on – I don’t understand. Not only culturally. I understand that there is a certain amount of not knowing even an Israeli mom would experience. But she, at least, understands the basic process because her husband went through it, or her brothers, or even she went through the army. It’s part of their life from the day they are born.

My not knowing is about not understanding.
I do not understand what the process entails and/ or what happens next, and just simply, I don’t understand! I don’t understand the language. What are they saying to me, to each other? What am I supposed to do? Where do I go? How do I communicate with the people around him? Can I call his Rabbi who helped prepare him for this? I can’t, because I can’t speak his language. I need to be able to communicate, and I can’t.

Sunday night was DB’s Misibat Giyus. (draft party) The party where I had no idea what was going on. Not 100% true. I understood boys eating and laughing.

BOYS ARRIVE. They hug, they pat each other’s backs. They laugh. They speak to each other, they laugh.

The food comes out. They eat. They eat. They eat. Half way through the night, more boys arrive and there seems to be no more food. I run to the store and buy 40 more chicken wings and 15 hamburgers. They eat again. They laugh. One boy speaks, then another. Ari tries to speak in Hebrew. Switches to English. Most understand him. His message is meaningful: There’s not just physical strength. There is also Spiritual strength. You need the spiritual strength for when the physical strength runs out. The boys got it. They clapped.

DB speaks – only a few words: “The hardest part about going into the Army now is that I have to give up learning. You guys do not. So learn for me. Take it seriously and appreciate it, because I can’t.”
He spoke in Hebrew, I only understood some of it. I can’t even understand my son!

I couldn’t be a fly on the wall.

I only know they care about my son. I know they are mensches. They say thank you and goodbye before they leave. They even help clean up. But I can’t say more than “You’re welcome and Thank you for coming.”

It’s the not knowing that’s so hard!!

I can’t buy beer for my son’s draft party!!!!

DB asked if I would buy beer for the party. I immediately said NO! I can’t buy beer for a bunch of 19-year-old boys, it’s illegal!

I remember a party after high school where there was beer. We were under age. It was wrong that the parents bought it for us. But we still drank it.

Here it’s NOT illegal. But if we were in the States and the police walked in, I would have been arrested!

I didn’t buy it, but DB’s friends did. And I was okay with that. It was very nice of them to bring something. And it was very tame, very innocent. Like old men sitting around drinkin beer and eating a burger. Not a big deal.

But I am still an American mom, and I could not bring myself to buy it for them…on principle.

Which, of course, DB found “Ridiculous!”

DB hug

Thankfully DB is still okay with hugs. After Ari spoke at the party, DB gave him a hug – in front of all his friends.

It’s something Ari has always taught our children: You are never too old to hug your mother of father.

And DB had no trouble hugging his father.

When DB came into the kitchen to say thank you, I wrapped my arms around him and he reciprocated. And did not let go. His friends kept walking into the kitchen and turning around, as if they were wrongly watching something inimate. As I hugged DB, I said, “They are nice boys. And now you get to meet yet another new group of friends.”

DB, in his deep meaningful way answered me. “I’ve known a lot of people in my life, haven’t I? I hope it helps me.”

I assured him that as long as he knows he has been real with people and he is able to say, “I’ve made a difference in someone’s life,” then he knows it has helped.

I love those moments.