3 Years

We have been living in Israel for just over three years now.

Some days it feels like yesterday and some days it feels like forever.

My Hebrew still sucks but my kids are fluent.

They are both doing well in school (with some serious encouragement) and have so many friends.

Im still at my awesome job and Paul is freelancing and being an amazing house husband (I hardly ever have to do a load of laundry myself).

We have amazing friends, Israelis and Expats.

You cant ask for anything more.

Life is good.

Its been a crazy few weeks

So the last few weeks have been a whirlwind of school holidays, Chanukah candles, fried foods, family dinners, Faiths (belated) birthday party, a visit from Wendi’s daughter, Sivan, a visit from our Australian family and my mom came to visit for two weeks.

I think I will just let some of Paul’s photos do the talking…

 

#Zombieprompts – Share some old family photos

I have a whole wall full of family photos (and a whole bunch of much more recent family pics that need to be printed and put in frames and hung up).

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My absolute favourite photo is this one.

We are not entirely sure who he is. We think he may be my moms grandfather. I found the photo when I was going through my grans old photos. She had photos from her wedding, photos of her brother and other important family photos and then this one. There is no writing on the back and Paul is convinced its just the photo that came with a frame. But…

I dont think frames came like that back in the day. It wasnt in a frame when I found it, just tucked in loose with the others. And, he looks like my grans brother. Definitely family!

Surprise!

A little bit of background…

My brother Matt is graduating with a degree in Government this week. This is a huge deal. he is the only one of the three of us to get a degree.

A few months ago my mom called and wanted to plan a trip to come for the graduation. But it would only be for a few days, we couldn’t take leave, the kids were at school and we decided it was too expensive to come for so short a time. Rather she would come for 2 weeks in December.

Fast forward to last Tuesday. My mom phones me. She is booking a ticket and she is coming on Friday. Don’t tell Matt!

The plan was for me to fetch her from the airport on Friday morning, she would go to fetch the kids from school and surprise them and then Matt and Yana were going to come for supper and walk in and be all surprised. 

Except they already had plans with Barrie for dinner. So I messaged Barrie who kindly cancelled his plans with them (without letting on why) and they could then come to us for supper.

Except now Matt was suspicious. But deny, deny, deny. No, mom is not coming.

To make the surprise a bit bigger, since Matt was already suspicious that she was coming, we hid mom in the laundry room when they arrived and told the kids to pretend Nana wasn’t here. We made mom wait for 5 minutes in the laundry room before walking out ever so quietly.

Yana saw her first and she was speechless. It took a minute for Matt to click and when he turned around there was mom.

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Its been a whirlwind. From getting the tickets to surprising Matt to organising who, where, what and whens. But its been so much fun!

Matt’s graduation is on Wednesday and mom goes back to SA on Friday morning. So a quick trip. But so special to have her here.

 

The last three weeks

The last three weeks have been hectic. Its been Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). That’s lots of Jewish Holy Days and lots of food, except Yom Kippur which is a fast day. It also means I have been a bad blogger.

So here are some of the stories I took photos of over the last little while.

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My gorgeous family on Rosh Hashanah.

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Real South African Peppermint Crisp Pudding that we took with us to Breaking of the Fast. There were a lot of expat South Africans there and they loved it, the dish was empty within seconds!

I was very thrifty and I hand stitched an old bra (the straps were frayed) into a strapless dress (Thank you Yana) so that I had a bit more support. Its a sad day when you realise that even an A cup needs a boost when you get a little older.

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Our very first sukkah. I love Sukkot, its my favourite festival. Its fun and happy and a non stop celebration. The kids had a great time too.

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We finally, after almost 10 months, put up our apartment number. Now you cant miss us.

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I planted bell pepper seeds. I’ve decided that everything that gets planted on our balcony needs to be edible in some way or another. Aaron started us off with (what I think is) a tomato plant that is growing huge and needed to be repotted twice and I decided to do the peppers next. I’ve also decided that everything that gets planted will start as seeds.

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After a very long and exceptionally hot summer, autumn is finally around the corner. The days are a little shorter, the air a little cooler, clouds are rolling in with the promise of rain and the leaves have started falling.

 

Catch up

I’ve been a really lazy blogger the past few weeks. No excuses, I just didn’t feel like blogging.

So, whats been happening…

The kids started school. 

Faith is now in ‘big school’. Her grade R class is combined with the 1st grade class in that they share a common space to do activities and each grade has their own teaching room. She has to wear a uniform shirt (a t-shirt with the school badge on, they can wear any bottoms) and she has her own stationary and a locker. Very grown up.

kids

Aaron is adapting really well to 2nd grade. They are now in a much more structured environment, a proper classroom with set seating and they have a schedule of classes (remind me to tell you about my recurring nightmare!) that they need to bring specific books to every day. In the beginning we had a few mishaps/communication issues with bringing the correct books on the correct days, but we seem to have sorted that out. They get homework everyday, most of which Aaron finishes while he is at aftercare but last night he sat with Paul to do his reading homework. I am so proud if this child, he was reading so beautifully in Hebrew.

The seasons are starting to change.

The days are getting noticeably shorter. Its not so bright in the mornings when I go to work or as stiflingly hot, although it is still definitely summer weather. The sun is going down earlier and the sunsets are beautiful. This weekend was the first weekend in months where we were able to leave the windows open and turn off the Aircon, its still hot but nowhere near as boiling as the height of summer has been. 

I’m looking forward to the cooler weather. Not so much the rain and wind though. Are we ever happy with the weather?

Holy days (chag)

This time of year in the Jewish calendar is pretty busy. We started last week with the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. We decided that since it was a two day chag we would rent a car so we wouldnt have to take taxis since all public transport stops over those days.

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Paul did pretty well driving for the first time in 9 months and on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. I’m terrified of driving in Israel. I know I’m going to have to do it at some stage but I/m very glad that Paul is able to do it!

We spent 1st night Rosh Hashanah at my brother in Tel Aviv. It was such an awesome evening. My sister in law, Yana, and her niece made the most gorgeous place cards and the table was so pretty. Matt made a delicious roast and I made dessert. It was so special spending our first Rosh Hashanah in Israel with family.

This week is Yom Kippur and next week is Sukkot. Lots of meals and family time coming up.

Health

Aaron woke up last Saturday sick and vomiting. It was so bad Paul took him to the ER and he had to have 2 saline drips for dehydration. Thank carp he was ok after that. I think it was heat stroke from the day before.

Faith started feeling off on Sunday night (1st night Rosh Hashanah) and woke up on Monday morning full of a cold. It took her a few days to get better but she seems to be doing ok now.

I picked up Faiths cold and have now developed Man Flu. I am at work though and pushing on. Can you see the sympathy seeking Man Flu symptoms? Send hugs. And chocolate. And chicken soup!

Paul seems to be healthy, lets hope he stays that way!

Overall

We have been in Israel now for just over 9 months. I cannot believe how quickly time is flying. I’ll say it again, this was the best decision we could have made. We are so happy and content. Onward and upwards!

Our first proper family Shabbat!

Last night was the first time we have had a shabbat dinner in MY home with my mom, my brother and I around the table.

Even though Paul and I have had our own home together for the last 10 years, its only been in the last 2 years or so that we have been kosher. My brother Matt came to Israel about 10 years ago and is strictly kosher so when he did come to South Africa we always had shabbat dinner at my moms house.

Last night, our family of four was joined by my brother, his wife, his mother in law and my nephew, my mom who is here visiting and my sister from another mister and her other half.  11 people around my table. Naches. It just doesnt get any better than last night!

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How beautiful are our Shabbat candles? One set for each family last night.

My mom and I spent the afternoon cooking a feast and I think we really outdid ourselves.

Our menu:

  • Challah
  • Slow pot roasted beef with onions and potatoes (recipe below)
  • Teriyaki chicken wings and legs with chopped cashews
  • Rice
  • Chickpea and red onion salad
  • Roro brought her famous Quinoa salad (click the link and scroll down for the recipe)
  • Peppermint crisp tart
  • Chocolate mousse
  • Diabetic friendly apple crumble
  • Diabetic friendly choc vanilla ice cream

Supper was amazing. We ate so much I had to literally sleep on my back last night ūüôā

The best part though was having my entire family around me. Those I was born to and those I chose. Thats what makes shabbat special.

Slow Pot Roasted Beef
Serves 10
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
4 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
4 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1.2kg chuck roast (or any meat that can be slow roasted)
  2. Brown onion soup powder
  3. 1 onion, thinly sliced
  4. 5 large potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters or eighths
  5. salt
  6. pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat your oven to 200C
  2. Dissolve two tablespoons soup powder in a litre of boiling water and set aside
  3. Place your sliced onions in the bottom of a large roasting dish (preferably one with a lid, you can cover the dish with foil though)
  4. Place your meat on top of the onions, fat side up
  5. Liberally sprinkle the salt and pepper over the fat of the meat
  6. Place the potatoes around the meat
  7. Put the dish in the oven, uncovered at 200C for 20 minutes
  8. Remove the dish from the oven and pour the stock mix over the meat and potatoes, cover the dish with the lid or with foil
  9. Turn down the oven to 140C and place the dish back for 2 hours 30 minutes
  10. Uncover the dish and cook for a further 30 minutes to an hour (until the fat has gone brown and crispy) at 180C
  11. Remove meat from dish and allow to sit for 20 minutes, then slice and return to the dish to serve
Notes
  1. In my opinion the fat makes this dish. A piece of meat with a nice thick slab of fat on top is ideal. Not healthy but ideal. For a healthier version get a piece without too much fat on top.
A Bit of This A Bit of That https://gnatj.com/

We all went on a summer holiday.

Last Sunday my mommy arrived!

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I went to meet her at the airport in the morning and we went to my brothers place in Tel Aviv since my mom was staying with them last week, and then Paul and the kids met up with us later.

This last week both Paul and I were off work so we could spend time as a family with my mom.

We went to the beach, the pool, the (kids) science museum, the Kotel (Western Wall), Ben Yehuda Street, Sarona Market. We walked so much Im not sure if my feet will ever recover. On the day we went to Jerusalem we walked almost 12km!

Last night my mom came to us and will stay with us until she goes home. Unfortunately I had to come back to work so she is hanging out with the kids this week.

Here are some pics Paul took over the last week (some on the camera, some on the phone).

My mom with all her grandchildren :)
My mom with all her grandchildren ūüôā

 

Family selfie in Jerusalem
Family selfie in Jerusalem

 

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Aaron took this one ūüôā

 

These two!
These two!

 

Olives at the Sarona Market, Aaron was in heaven!
Olives at the Sarona Market, Aaron was in heaven!

 

Family selfie at the science museum
Family selfie at the science museum

 

The cutest nephew in the world!!!!
The cutest nephew in the world!!!!

 

More sibling love!
More sibling love!

 

Refreshing our feet in this awesome mist generating thingy on the streets in Jerusalem
Refreshing our feet in this awesome mist generating thingy on the streets in Jerusalem

 

Family in front of the wall
Family in front of the wall

 

 

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.

family flower

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.

A belated Israel post

Israel was amazing!

We spent most of our time with family and very little time touring but that is why we went, to be with family!

In Tel Aviv, we were right by the beach, a 5 minute walk away to be precise.  Now, Im not really a beach person but we went 3 or 4 times and I swam in the gorgeous warm ocean and got a tan.  The kids loved it!  We found a restaurant on the beach (literally, tables and chairs in the sand) and plonked ourselves down for a few hours a day.

We walked to the mall and took taxis to my brothers flat and had picnics in the park near his house.

In Jerusalem we spent our evenings with our Israeli family and the days with our family from the UK.

The wedding was amazing.  So very very special.  Looking out over the old city, our family and friends all together.  It was a truly happy and joyous occasion.

And the food!  The food in Israel was amazing.  We didnt stop eating.  The croissants in the morning from the corner store, the felafel and shwarma from the little hole-in-the-wall shops, the Italian restaurant we celebrated my Grandfathers birthday in, the homemade meals our family served us.  So much of yummy food all the time!

Here are a few snaps from the trip!

 

My 88 year old grandfather with his 92 year old brother and his sister in law
My 88 year old grandfather with his 92 year old brother and his sister in law

 

Baha'i Gardens
Baha’i Gardens

 

My grandfather and my brother resting while the gals shop
My grandfather and my brother resting while the gals shop

 

Our little beach restaurant in Tel Aviv
Our little beach restaurant in Tel Aviv

 

Tel Aviv sunset from my brothers apartment
Tel Aviv sunset from my brothers apartment

 

Tel Aviv market
Tel Aviv market

 

More Tel Aviv market
More Tel Aviv market

 

The Jerusalem windmill at night
The Jerusalem windmill at night 

 

My brother and my new sister :):):)
My brother and my new sister :):):)

 

The Kottel (Western Wall)
The Kottel (Western Wall)

 

Aunty Yana and the kids
Aunty Yana and the kids

 

Ruins of the Southern Wall in Jerusalem
Ruins of the Southern Wall in Jerusalem

 

Trying to move the huge rock that once made up part of the old city walls
Trying to move the huge rock that once made up part of the old city walls

 

Ancient olive tree
Ancient olive tree

 

Buttons, the cutest dog in Israel
Buttons, the cutest dog in Israel

 

Kitty sculpture in the Mamila Mall, Jerusalem
Kitty sculpture in the Mamila Mall, Jerusalem

 

Why cant ants read books...
Why cant ants read books…

 

Sibling love!
Sibling love!