All. The. THINGS!

unpack

 

My container arrived. My container arrived! MY CONTAINER ARRIVED!!!!!!

Sorry, I’m just really excited.

We packed up our things in mid-November and moved in with my mom. The shipping company was supposed to send the container in mid-December but due to one thing or another it didn’t leave until the beginning of March. Six weeks on the water and a week in customs and the truck arrived at our apartment yesterday.

My apartment went from this:

 

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To this:

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I started unpacking yesterday and have managed 8 boxes.  I’m specifically trying to do the kitchen first as that is what the majority of the boxes are. So far I have unpacked the following from those 8 boxes:

  • A gazillion coffee mugs.
  • Whiskey glasses.
  • Hot chocolate glasses.
  • Salad bowls.
  • Glass serving platters and bowls.
  • My milk crockery.
  • Ceramic serving platters and cake stands.
  • Half a tea set.
  • My meat pots and pans.
  • A rolling pin and a baking tray.
  • My kitchen scale.
  • The bread bin.
  • A stove top whistling kettle.
  • My handheld blender.
  • A variety of serving spoons.
  • A knife block and knives.
  • The Nespresso machine.
  • An unused 2011 diary (??) and a single Nespresso pod. (These were wrapped up in a ton of paper, all very carefully).
  • Various other small bobs and bits.

That’s about a quarter of my kitchen unpacked.  I had to stop because the rest of the kitchen boxes are either too heavy for me to move closer to the kitchen or buried under other boxes.  I have to do the kitchen first as that is the majority of the boxes and I can’t move the cabinets and bookshelf into place in the lounge until the majority of the boxes are gone.  Only then can I unpack the rest of the things that go into the cabinets.  Its like working on a giant Rubik’s Cube, trying to make all the pieces fit in the right order.  Paul and I don’t work on Fridays so when the kids are at school we will delve into the boxes and hopefully make a huge dent tomorrow.

One of the things I unpacked is my ‘work’ coffee mug. A client gave this mug to me as part of a Christmas gift in my first ever job. That was almost 15 years ago and this mug has come to work with me wherever I have been. I swear my coffee tasted better this morning in my ‘work’ mug.

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Your favourite things – Faith

TV programme: You watch a variety of things on YouTube, most notably Frozen videos.
iPhone App: You like playing Two Dots on my phone.
Meal: Schnitzel. Corn or chicken, you dont care as long as its schnitzel.
Fruit: Bananas and apples and grapes. Oh my!
Vegetable: Sweetcorn, carrots and cucumbers.
Breakfast: As long as it has chocolate in it you love it.
Drink: ‘Red’ juice, just like Aaron.
Toy: You have a little Lego genie figurine and a Boba Fett figurine, they go everywhere with you.
You love: The park, especially the swings.

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Something that happened yesterday: The day before yesterday you went to play at a friend without me going with you. Granted, Aaron was with you and the friend is the neighbour across the hall and you were running between the two apartments so I was close, but you went there on your own and that is huge!

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Your favourite things – Aaron

TV programme:  You watch any videos on YouTube to do with Minecraft.
iPhone App: See above!
Meal:  Pizza. I think it will always be pizza.
Fruit:  You don’t really eat any particular fruit, more like whatever is available. You do have a fondness for grapes though.
Vegetable:  You eat cucumbers and carrots every night with dinner. You are also trying fresh red and yellow peppers, some days you like them, some days you don’t.
Breakfast:  Anything loaded with sugar.
Drink:  ‘Red’ juice. Its a diabetic friendly juice concentrate. We all love it.
Toy:  You have a nerf gun that you love, you make targets and practice shooting.
You love: Minecraft.

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Something that happened yesterday: You and your sister recently discovered that you can go across the hall to play with the neighbors kids. Yesterday you came back from the park and asked to play, you ran between their apartment and ours for hours, lots of screaming and laughing and fun.

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I’ve been cheating.

This last week has been a little hectic.  It’s been Pesach and the kids have been on holiday and I’ve been home with them.  I’ve done some work, we’ve gone to the park, we went shopping and as one does on a Jewish holiday, I’ve cooked.  A lot!

And I’ve cheated on this blog with my other blog, You Cooked What.

Take a look at some of the recipes I’ve made this week over here:

Im going to be added lots more recipes going forward, I feel like I’ve neglected my little food blog and thats going to change.  I hope you enjoy the recipes and please let me know how they turn out if you try them.

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All you need is love…

I wrote before about arriving in Israel with just our clothes and not much else.  Well, just over three months later our things still have not arrived (although the ship should hopefully be docking in the next week or two).

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the last three months.

  • We decided to buy a new washing machine in SA because it would be cheaper than buying one here. We should have just bought one here.  Dragging two or three huge bags of laundry to the laundromat once a week is a monumental pain. It would have been so much more convenient to buy one here and just do our own laundry.
  • You don’t really need a microwave. I bought a kettle when we arrived (hello, coffee!) and a toaster but I knew our microwave was on its way so we didn’t buy a new one.  We have survived quite well without one.  Sure its a small pain to reheat leftovers in the oven but its not impossible.  Im not sure I want to even unpack it when it arrives.
  • You CAN survive on minimal clothing.  Technically I have had all my clothes with me, we just didn’t have cupboards until a few weeks ago so I was living out of my suitcase with only a few pairs of jeans, a few jerseys and sweatshirts, 5 long sleeve under shirts, 7 short sleeved t-shirts, a skirt that I dug up from one of the unpacked suitcases when we needed to go to shul and my undies, bras and socks.  Since we got the cupboards I have unpacked most of my clothes and its like a whole new wardrobe.  It helps that its hotter here now so I get to wear more summer stuff too.

Have a gratuitous picture of my gorgeous family. Why, because they have made everything so worthwhile!

Left to right:

Left to right: Aaron, Matt, Yehonatan (on lap), Faith, Me, Buttons (on lap), Yana.

  • You CAN survive with one pair of boots, a pair of takkies (sneakers) and a pair of flip flops.  Shoes are heavy and bulky and I decided to send the majority of them in the container.  I brought my red boots, my takkies and a pair of ‘fancy’ slops.  Gasp, horror, I managed to survive over 3 months with 3 pairs of shoes.  That being said, I really really want my shoes to arrive, I’m pretty sick of my takkies and now its too warm to wear boots, I want all my pretty summer sandals.
  • Even if you have no carpets in your house, you still need a vacuum cleaner. Not all dust can be swept up and brooms cant reach everywhere.  Also, sand. My kids bring home the equivalent of half a sandpit every day.  Also, we live in a desert, sand blows in the windows and if you use the aircon it comes in through the vents. Sand gets EVERYWHERE!  I bought myself a vacuum cleaner on sale and its the best investment I could have made.
  • Toys.  The kids got to bring a handful of toys on the plane and we have bought a few small things here and there but the majority of their toys are on the ship.  So far they have managed (especially when we limited their device time) and have made do with what they have or created their own toys out of paper, cardboard, sticky tape and coloured pencils.  They go to the park, they kick a ball, they make up games to play.  They haven’t even asked for any of the toys we packed in the container.

It really is amazing on how little you need and makes you exceptionally grateful for everything you do have!

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Old MacDonald had a device, uh-oh…

We are a digital family. In particular a Mac family.  Paul and I have Mac Book Airs, we both have iPhone’s.  The kids also use Mac devices, Aaron uses an old iPhone 4 (as a gaming device, not a phone) and Faith uses a 1st Gen iPad.

As with most connected people these days we are a bit obsessed. Yes, all of us, parents included. Personally, I feel very disconnected if I don’t check Twitter and/or Facebook a few times an hour.  Its a bit obsessive and I am trying to at least reduce the amount of time I spend on my phone. Aaron is particularly addicted to {Minecraft}.  Faith watches YouTube videos about Frozen, Superman and those plastic eggs filled with toys and sweets.

I will take responsibility for the device usage by our kids getting out of hand recently.  It much easier to tell the kids to go play a game or watch a video while I’m checking my phone cooking or cleaning than it is to have them underfoot while I’m busy.

The problem is that both kids (and probably the parents if we are being honest) were ‘disappearing’ from the family.  Aaron stopped wanting to go to the park or out to an event (like the olim Purim party) because he wanted to play on his phone all the time.  They would give excuses not to go out, its cold, I’m feeling sick, it will be boring, to name a few.

We tried to limit device time by only allowing them one battery charge a day but that caused fights because the phone battery never lasted as long as the iPad battery.

The final straw for me, came when I walked into the house the other day and no one greeted me.  I think the house could have burned down around them and they would not have noticed, they were so involved with what was on their devices.

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So Paul and I agreed.  No more devices during the week.  We would take them away on  Saturday night (school starts on Sunday here) and only give them back after school on a Friday.  On top of that, the iPad will be charged once during the weekend and the phone twice.  If they run out of battery so be it.  As for the parents, I am making a concerted effort to not be on my phone when I’m with the kids.  I have to say, the kids are adjusting far better than I am.

Aaron and Faith are playing together.  They kick the ball and play hide and seek and draw and make light sabers out of cardboard and sticky tape.  They are practicing a concert to put on for mom and dad at the end of the week.  They make up games that only they know the rules of.  They sit and talk to me while Im cooking and tell me about their days.  They actually want to go outside and play at the park.

I am going to be limiting my online time as well, especially when Im with the kids.  So, no more Twitter and Facebook for me during the week (Im allowing myself half an hour at night to catch up before bed). And no more games on my phone during the week either.

Its so easy to let these things get out of hand but the bottom line is we all need limits and we all have to be strong and stick to those limits.  It really is the best thing we could have done for us as a family.

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Becoming an Israeli, voting and the crab that got away.

So, about 7 or 8 months ago we decided to move to Israel. Within four months we had completed our application forms, filled out our medical forms and received a host of unabridged documentation from the Department of Home Affairs (which is a miracle in and off itself!), we received our visas and our plane tickets in the last month before leaving. Three months ago we left South Africa and arrived in Israel on the morning of December 16th 2014.  A few hours after landing, we left the airport as citizens.

You see, as Jews, we are entitled to Israeli citizenship by virtue of {the Law of Return}.  Take a moment and click the link to read exactly what the law entails.  Its a short but very informative page.

So, we landed at the airport, went through to the office, waited a bit since there were a few people ahead of us and then Paul and I had our photos taken and we were issued our Israeli ID books (the kids get theirs when they are 16 but they are listed in our books).  And that’s the long and the short of us becoming Israeli citizens.

Three months and one day after arriving we participated in our first election. *Edited to add: If the election had taken place on 15th March instead if 17th March we would not have been able to vote, you have to be a resident for at least 90 days before being eligible. I only found this out today :)

*Photo by Paul

*Photo by Paul

Its quite daunting having to choose a party without having directly experienced much of what the previous government had delivered/failed to deliver.  I decided to research each party (online and by discussions with colleagues and friends) and disregard any that didn’t stand for my own views on Israel as a Jewish homeland.  I was then left with a handful of parties that somewhat fit my views and beliefs.  None of them fit exactly, some had things I wanted, some didn’t, so I made a pro/con list and went with the party that had the most pros vs cons.

The election day is given off as a public holiday, so we decided to be at the voting station early (they opened at 7am) so that we could then take a train out to Tel Aviv and explore a bit.  We wound up arriving at the voting station at 7:30am and were the only people there.  I walked in, handed the official my ID document, they marked me off the voters roll and gave me a small envelope.  I then went into the booth and chose the slip of paper with my party’s name on it, placed it in the envelope, sealed it and then dropped it in the box in front of the officials.  A process of less than 5 minutes. Easy peasy.

After voting we hopped on a train and went on an excursion to the Tel Aviv Port which is very much like the V&A Waterfront.  We watched people fishing, almost got splashed by some waves, saw lots of dogs that had been shaved for the summer (think standard poodle with only his tail and his head not shaved).

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We saw a huge crab escape a fishing line (come back tomorrow for a photo that Paul took) and watched a trio of young kids play keyboard, base and trombone for the crowd with a bunch of little kids dancing like no one was watching in front of them.

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We took lots of gorgeous photos, Paul’s mostly more gorgeous than mine. We then met up with my brother and his family and a friend of Paul’s who also happens to be an ex Saffa and had sushi for lunch.

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Faith wasn’t feeling so well so we called it a day after getting an ice-cream for dessert and headed back to the train station to go home.  I ended up having a fantastic nap before dinner.  A great end to a fantastic day.

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Lets talk about sex, baby.

I remember the first time I heard that {song}, it was at a friend birthday party.  All of a sudden everyone got so excited, her older brother (who was playing DJ) was going to play this song I had never heard of before, it was quite exciting, I mean really, the lyrics have the word ‘sex’ in them!  Granted, we were 12 years old, it was very risque.

Last night though, my 7 year old decided it was time to ask how babies got in mommies tummies.

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I’ll back up a bit here to say that this has been coming for a while.  About a year and a half ago, he started asking how babies came out of mommies tummies.  I explained that there were two ways a baby can come out, c-section and vaginal birth. And that was that.

A few weeks ago, he started asking me why only ladies could have babies.  I explained that ladies have a womb and men don’t and that’s the place a baby has to grow.  I also said that with some animals its the male that carries the babies, like sea horses, which he already knew, thank you very much!

Last night while trying to get him to go to sleep he started asking again about why ladies have the babies not the men. We discussed it again.  He went quiet and I thought he was asleep. And then…

‘Mommy, how do the babies get inside the mommy?’

Thank heavens it was dark, I think I may have looked like a fish out of water!

I started by describing the differences between men and woman.  Women have wombs, men don’t.  Women have a vagina, men have a penis.  At this point he proudly told me that women have boobs and men don’t. I explained about sperm and eggs.

I then told him that when a man and a women love each other very much they have sex. I very (very) briefly explained about penetration. I explained that the sperm and the eggs join up and that they start to divide and multiply and start making a baby.

He then proceeded to grill me on the mechanics of how the baby develops? When does it have a heart and a brain?  Is it alive if it doesn’t have a heart yet? Why is it so small? If the baby starts off so small how does a lady know she is pregnant?

Eventually I said we would find a video on YouTube about the development of a baby from conception to birth and that it was 10pm and it was time to go to sleep.  I didn’t tell him it was time for mommy to have a stiff drink.

So, that was it. Our talk about sex/how babies are made.

Did I explain it the right way? Who knows. Will he keep asking questions? For sure.  Am I happy with how the discussion went?  I think I am.  Am I putting him to sleep tonight? Hell no, that will be Paul’s job!

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Lingo

I am lucky that I work in an environment where I can speak English.  That being said, English is a relative term.

I work with Brits, Americans, Canadians and of course Israelis.

Sometimes I will be speaking and I will get blank looks.  I then realise I have used a South Africanism.

Here are a few words and phrases that I seem to use on a regular basis and that have gotten me those blank looks:

  • Sies/sis = Literally, yuck. An expression of disgust.
  • Lekker = Literally, tasty. Meaning nice or good. When someone feels not lekker they feel sick.
  • Howzit = A shortened form of ‘How is it?’ Or ‘How is it going?’ It is used as another way of saying Hello.
  • Eina! = Ouch! Apparently this is possibly from the {Khoisan} language. I always thought it was Afrikaans.
  • Eish! = Wow! an expression of amazement, I tend to use it when I cant believe how dumb/ridiculous someone has been.
  • Klap = smack. From Afrikaans.
  • Just now = This one gets me into trouble all the time! For most people (everyone that is not South African take this literally), it means right this minute. For South Africans it means sometime in the near future, not immediately.
  • Now now = THIS one means immediately.
  • Yebo = Yes. From Zulu.
  • Aswell = Me too. Funny that the Brits all seem to know this one.
  • Braai = BBQ
  • Takkies = Sneakers.

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You don’t really realise how your culture effects your language until you speak to people from other places. Coming from a country with 11 official languages, each of them adding there own flavour to the English language, it shouldn’t be a surprise.

Have you said something to another English speaker (from a different country/culture) and had them look at you funny??

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Purim!

{Purim} is the day we celebrate the Jewish people overcoming a plot by the Persian Empire to wipe us out.

You may have heard the expression ‘The whole Megillah’? Meaning the whole long story. That comes from the reading of the Megillah or the Book of Esther on Purim.  Its the story of {Haman} (boo hiss) and {Mordecai} (yay) and of course the phenomenal {Queen Esther} (woohooo!!!).

We also give food parcels to friends and the needy. These {gift baskets} should contain at least two different foods/drinks so that two separate brochas (prayers) can be said over them.

A large part of Purim is that it is a celebration.  As such we have celebratory meals and parties.  Everyone gets dressed up, including the adults, and fairs/carnivals and parades with much singing and dancing take place.

This was our first Purim in Israel and it was quite the eye opener.

The children started by having special dress up days at school throughout the two weeks leading up to Purim.  They had Hat/Hair do Day, Country Day, Celebrity Day, Pajama Day to name a few.  They had face painting and hat making days.  They made gift baskets to exchange with each other and to bring home.

The Friday before last was the annual Modi’in Purim parade.  There were floats and jugglers and stilt walkers.  There were ice cream vendors and candy floss and popcorn.  There were balloons and bubble guns.  There were entertainers and actors and singer and dancers.  There was lots of fun!

On the Monday evening we went to the annual Absorption Centre Purim party.  This is a party for Olim (new immigrants) and was great fun. Lots of kids, music, games, popcorn, candy floss and a show.

Then both Paul and I had work Purim parties.  My theme was Supermarket and I went as Fairy Dish-washing Liquid.  Paul didn’t have a theme so he went back to his roots and went as Clark Kent/Superman.

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The kids were off school on Thursday and Friday so Paul and I took off Thursday (we get Friday off every week) and we dressed up and missioned around town doing our thing.  We went to an anglo Shul to hear the Megillah and landed up getting there late and only hearing the last 5 minutes.  I wasn’t feeling well so Paul took the kids to the {Se’udah} (meal) that we had been invited to.  They had lots of fun eating and drinking and playing with all the kids there.

On Friday we were supposed to go to the Purim fair but by that stage I think we were a bit Purim’d out so we went to the park and just relaxed.

Needless to say, Purim in Israel is insane. Fun but insane.

Here are some pictures that Paul took over the Purim weekend.

 

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And that’s enough of that :)

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