On Thursday afternoon, while on the way to a work fun evening, I received a message from our babysitter that she was ill and wouldn’t be able to fetch the kids. The problem was that, because it is Chanukah holidays, the kids finished their after school program earlier than usual and there was no way Paul or I could get to fetch them on time.
We panicked. Paul called a variety of our friends who have kids at school with ours but they were all unavailable. Aunty Roro (who has been my saving grace before in an emergency) was not at home either. In the mean time, I had hopped on a bus to get back to my office so I could catch my regular bus home and Paul was at the train station waiting for the next train.
The after care teacher had called me to see where we were as she needed to leave and a mom who was at the school waiting for her kid to finish an extramural said she could wait another 15 minutes with my kids. At this point I was at least 1 hour and 15 minutes away and Paul was an hour away.
That’s when Paul had a genius idea. He contacted our neighbour who has 3 children, 2 older boys and a girl Faith’s age. As it turns out, the oldest boy was able to run up the road and pick up Aaron and Faith and take them to their apartment.
When Paul got there about 45 minutes later they were all happy and playing and pretty much unaware of the crisis.
I’m not sure what we would have done without our amazing neighbours. We took them some yummy donuts as a thank you and from now on, Aaron will have a key to our apartment just in case they need to walk home from school. I’ve said before how hard it is not having immediate family close by but I can say that our neighbours and friends are a huge part of a village that is raising our children.
Back in South Africa, when our kids were sick they either stayed home with our nanny, Aletta or if they were ok to go to school and then didn’t feel well, Nana or Bobba could fetch them and take them to their house or back to our house to be with Aletta.
If If they needed to go to the doctor, both Paul and I worked close enough to home to be able to pop out and fetch them and then drop them back home and go back to work.
Having sick kids in Israel has been one of the steepest learning curves we have faced.
No Nana or Bobba.
We each work at least an hours bus and/or train ride away from home.
If the kids are so sick they cant go to school, one of us has to take a day off work to stay with them.
Luckily Paul can work from home if he has to and my boss and manager are very understanding about needing to take time off for sick kids.
Faith has been sick the last few days. Not enough to stay home (except for the first day) but sick enough that this is the third day the school has called us to fetch her just after lunch time because she is coughing (sometimes so much she vomits) and is just generally feeling yuck.
That means that I left work early the last two days and Paul left early today to fetch her.
Its hard without that immediate support system that we had before. But living in a country where a lot of people are in the same position we are in makes it easier. We also get to spend time with the kids when they are extra cuddly and clingy and just want mom or dad to be with them, which besides the sick part, is awesome.
Winter in Israel is rainy. And windy. And wet. And cold. And rainy.
We arrived in Israel in the middle of winter. A few weeks after the kids started school, the babysitter was fetching them and it was a really, really windy, stormy day. So windy that poor little Faith almost got blown away. Since then she has been scared of even the smallest gust of wind.
She is also terrified of storms, especially thunder. So winter is a problem.
We have explained to her that the rain, wind, thunder and lightning are outside and cant come in the house. We have explained that her bedroom is the safest room in the house since it is the shelter.
She still screams like she is being chased by an ax wielding maniac. She stands there, literally paralysed and shaking in fear. She has landed up in our bed a few times.
How do you get a child over this very real fear? Any ideas are welcome.
Two months of school vacation is almost over! At one point I really really didn’t think we would make it through in one piece.
But here we are, a day away from the new school year.
Last night we had the kids orientation meetings.
Faith has moved from her small kindergarten (Gan – גן) to the equivalent of Grade R or Grade 0. And she is now going to the same school as Aaron. Quite a few of the kids from her Gan have also moved to the new school and there are a few kids from other kindergartens that are joining them. There are about 25 children in her class. Her teacher seems really sweet and friendly.
When we got there the children had to colour in an apple (or a pomegranate, I’m not sure, its the first project for Rosh Hashanah) with their name on it and the parents had to write a note for the kids on a little cut out of a dove that will be given to them when school starts. Then all the kids went into the main classroom with the teacher and she read them a story about starting school. When that was finished the children had to go and find their lockers and look inside. Inside each locker was a note from the teacher wishing them luck and a sucker. Really really sweet. By the time the 45 minutes were up, Faith was quite comfortable and had picked out the friends she knew from before and made a few new ones.
A bit later we went to Aaron’s meeting in his new classroom. We were supposed to bring his stationery with but something got lost in translation. Oops. One of his friends shared his though so that was good. It seems that all the kids from his 1st Grade class move up to 2nd grade in the same class, which for our anxious boy is a good thing as he doesn’t have to make all new friends again. Speaking of anxious, he is already starting to worry about the new class and the new teacher (who is very sweet) and the work he will have to do. We have tried to explain that he will be fine, that he knows all the kids and that he knows the alphabet and the math that he needs to know. I’m sure he will settle quickly. The teacher was very sweet, when she had them all sitting she asked them who had a sore tummy (which is one of Aarons anxiety symptoms) and quite a few kids put their hands up. I think its a great way for the kids to see that they are not alone.
He was quite excited when he got home. They both were. I think they like the idea that they are going to the same school too.
So school starts tomorrow. I’m not sure who is more excited/anxious/nervous/happy, me or the kids!
My typical weekday (Sunday – Thursday*)** goes something like this…
05:30 ~ 06:30 – Aaron wakes up.
05:51 – My first alarm goes off.
06:00 – Paul’s alarm goes off (usually he has actually already gotten out of bed).
06:00 ~ 07:25 – Paul gets ready for the day, sorts out the kids with breakfast, kids get dressed and mess around.
06:01 – My snooze alarm goes off.
06:10 – I get out of bed.
06:10 ~ 06:30 – I get dressed, brush teeth, brush hair, wake Faith up (she is totally my child, hates waking up), give copious hugs and kisses to family.
06:30 – Leave the house to walk to the bus stop (about half a km walk).
06:40 ~ 06:50 – Wait for my bus, obsessively check the app to make sure I haven’t missed it.
06:45 ~ 07:15 – Play games on my phone or catch a cat nap on the bus ride to work.
07:15 – Unlock office (I’m usually, but not always, the first one in) and turn on the coffee machine before booting up my computer and settling in.
07:30 ~ 08:00 – Paul drops the kids at their respective schools (both within a 200m walk from home) on his way to the train station. From September this will be a whole lot easier since Faith will be attending the same school as Aaron.
07:30 – 13:00 – Work, drink coffee, work, drink more coffee and occasionally a cup of 5 Roses tea. Sometime before 11:00 I order lunch (we are given a budget for the month and can order from a variety of places that will deliver to us).
13:00 ~ 13:30 – Join the rest of the office in the dining area and enjoy lunch.
13:30 ~ 16:10/17:30 – Work and drink more coffee. Depending on the day, I either leave the office at 16:10 to catch a bus back home in order to fetch the kids from after care by 16:45. On the days that our babysitter fetches the kids, I work later to make up some time and usually leave the office at around 17:30 to catch a bus home.
16:10/17:30 ~ 16:30/18:00 – Bus ride home.
16:30/18:00 ~ 19:00/19:30 – Fetch kids/get home, do a load of laundry (not every day), play with kids, wash dishes, read my book, bath kids (Aaron has now discovered showering on his own, when the hell did he grow up?), start supper, set table, hang laundry if applicable, clean floors or vacuum if necessary, make a salad so we get some fresh veggies in our diet.
19:00/19:30 – Paul gets home and we eat supper.
20:00 – Kids brush teeth and get ready for bed, story is read, debate over which parent puts which child to sleep.
20:15 ~ 21:00 – Put kids to sleep. This takes so long because Aaron is a chatterbox and needs to get all the words out before he can sleep. Once a child is asleep, that adult then baths/showers, followed by the other adult when the 2nd child (Aaron) eventually falls asleep. Dishes from dinner are washed in between all of this by whoever is free.
21:00 ~ 22:00 – We usually watch at least one episode of a show we are watching, at the moment we are re-watching Firefly, Netflix is awesome!
22:00 ~ 22:30 – Wash up any leftover dishes from dinner and Paul usually sorts out the kids lunches/snacks for the next day.
22:30 – Get ready for bed.
22:45 – Collapse in a heap, possibly read a chapter or two of a book or play on Twitter/FB.
23:30 – Fall asleep, sometimes earlier, sometimes later but this is the average.
And that’s our normal weekday.
*Fridays are slightly different because neither Paul or I work on a Friday and the kids finish school at 12:30ish. So Paul and I clean the apartment or go do a big grocery shop while the kids are at school and then we fetch them and spend the afternoon playing and getting ready for Shabbat.
**Saturdays are spent at the park or watching movies (again, thanks Netflix), there is no public transport and most if not all stores are closed.
I’ve lamented the fact that these summer holidays are too bloody long. And bloody expensive when it comes to summer camps. The kids went to camp for the first 4 weeks (July) which is standard in Israel. The camps were run at their schools and were coordinated by the local municipality. August is another story. The only camps available are private. Unfortunately we were not really prepared and we could only get the kids into a camp for the second week in August which meant that the kids and I had Mom Camp last week.
It also happened to be the hottest week in Israel, ever! So we pretty much stayed home in the air conditioning for 5 solid days.
The kids played on the computer, watched Netflix, played ‘Zombie Apocalypse’, had a friend over, Aaron was sick, I got sick, we went to Jerusalem with Roro on Tuesday, played with Lego but mostly we imitated sloths.
I think by the time Friday rolled around the kids were a little bored of being cooped up all day. We went to the large grocery store and did our monthly shop and then took the kids to the municipal pool in the afternoon. They love the pool and I have to admit its pretty awesome, spotlessly clean, plenty space, changing rooms, umbrellas, chairs and tables available, a kiosk with drinks and snacks and ice creams. Whats not to like?
Saturday we put the little buggers to work cleaning the apartment, or their rooms at least. And then we slothed some more in the afternoon.
This morning they went to their new camp. They were pretty excited to go since they are together for the week and its also an English speaking camp which they find very exciting. I think they were mostly excited just to leave the apartment!
I adore my kids, I really really do but I really really missed work and was super grateful to come back today.
So the kids have been on holiday for a month (or close to it) and we are surviving.
They have each been at separate day camps and have been having a blast. Each camp was held in their schools so it was a familiar environment and the other kids were all friends of theirs.
That is until the middle of last week when Aaron’s camp was condensed into a camp located at another school down the road. Suddenly it was a new environment and none of his friends were going to that camp. And we landed up with a small anxiety issue.
I had forgotten how bad Aaron’s anxiety had been when we first arrived and he started school. He was overwhelmed by all the new sights and sounds and the new people. For a good few weeks he complained about having a headache or a tummy ache or both. With a lot of patience from us and his teachers he overcame the anxiety and made new friends and settled in.
Last week he suddenly had a headache and tummy ache again. But we talked to him and discussed it and allowed him to phone us at work for a chat when it got too much. Today he went off to camp without a backwards look, he hasn’t called once and seems to have settled in nicely.
I keep saying it, but I really am so very very proud of this child. All the things he has overcome this year are enough to put an adult in a spin and yet he is a champ, he keeps on keeping on.
Next week the kids will be at home with me and the following week we found a private camp that will take both of them for the week and then Nana (my mom) comes for a two week visit. We are all so excited to see her. The kids cant stop talking about her visit. I’m doing a happy jig as I type!
I cant believe we are half way through the summer holidays and that there is only one month left to go.
It seems to be a northern hemisphere thing. Two months off school during the summer. Two months off school. Two months!
Luckily the aftercare facility we utilize for the kids during the school week will be running a ‘camp’ throughout the whole of July. 07:30 – 16:00. The aftercare/camp is run from the kids schools and a lot of the kids that attend aftercare will also be at the ‘camp’ so the kids will have the friends that they know with them. It will cost us about double what we usually pay for aftercare for the month but considering it will be double the time it all works out.
That being said, what happens in August? Most if not all of the camps only run for July. There are a few options during August but they are all private and expensive. They also do not cater for my kids ages. They are either for 5 and under or 6 and over so Aaron and Faith could not attend together (hopefully we would be able to convince them to let Faith go with Aaron if this was an option we chose).
A lot of people tend to go away in August so demand for camps is obviously lower than in July but come on, what about those of us who cant go away for whatever reason?
Now, my mom is coming for a visit (does happy dance and sings!) in the last two weeks of August and has graciously said she will help me with the kids on the days that I have to work. In fact she basically told me not to take any leave, I must work and she will spend time with the kids, which is great, except I want to take leave so I can spend time with her! I am, in fact, taking the 1st 5 days she is here as leave so we can spend all that week together.
This leaves me with the first two weeks of August.
Our regular babysitter is away for those two weeks and both Paul and I have to work. Some of the families that we are friends with suggested we each take a day of the week and look after each others kids but it looks like that wont happen because there are not enough of us.
So, we may have to take the kids to work with us or work from home. Both options are not ideal.
So, my northern hemisphere friends… what do you do over the summer vacation?
You may recall the somewhat awkward and heartbreaking 1st play date we had a week or so ago.
Well, Faith had another friend over today and it went so much better. I think I was more relaxed since I knew what to expect. Aaron also took on the roll of bossy mcboss mentor and got the girls playing with a ball and also teaching them some karate moves.
I even read them a story! In Hebrew!
We have just bought a set of bookshelves from friends who are relocating to the States and I could finally unpack the last of our boxes. All the books! So while the kids were playing I was unpacking and I came across Not A Box by Antoinette Portis. Its a very simple story about using your imagination, and as I found out, quite easy to translate into Hebrew as I went. The kids loved it.
After the book, the kids took all the empty boxes and created a carnival game, Aaron wrote ‘points’ on each box and they placed them at different heights and then took turns throwing the ball into them to get the most points. Definitely not just a box.
I fed them supper before Faiths friend had to go home and both girls didn’t want the play date to end. I consider that a great success!