A few days ago I realised we had been in Israel for 10 months. Let that sink in a moment. We have been here for almost a year. Its gone by in the blink of an eye. I cant even say that sometimes it felt like its been dragging because it hasn’t. Its been like a runaway train.
When we arrived in Israel, winter was in full swing. Freezing cold, windy, rainy. It was over pretty quickly and in the blink of an eye we were in summer. A particularly hot, dusty summer for Israel.
The last few weeks the seasons have been changing. The days getting shorter, the mornings and evenings a bit cooler. Yesterday I left work at 17:25. I stood at the bus stop and realised, while I wasn’t freezing, I was cold. Cold enough to have goosebumps and to bemoan the fact I didn’t have a jersey or a zip up hoodie to throw on over my sleeveless shirt.
Pretty soon I will have to put away my Havaianas (the national summer footwear of every Israeli) and start wearing my boots. I will have to start carrying my coat and my umbrella with me.
While I am enjoying the cooler weather for now, I really am a summer baby. I much prefer the heat to the cold. So I warn you in advance, I will moan and cry and throw many a winter tantrum in the next few months. But winter in Israel is short lived so I’m grateful for that.
In the mean time I’m getting ready to take out our down duvet and preparing to cuddle away the dark mornings in bed.
They say the grass is greener on the other side. They also say that’s because there is more bullshit. They also say the grass is greener where you water it.
I say there are shades of green.
One of the many* reasons we left South Africa was for a better life for our children. Better, in that they can walk to school and their friends on their own without me having to worry too much. Better in that there is a park on every corner and they have the freedom to play in those parks until the sun goes down and beyond. We don’t have to worry about being broken into and being held at gun point (something I have experienced myself). We can drive with our windows down and our doors unlocked (when we eventually get a car). All in all, on a daily basis our lives are much safer here.
That being said, Israel is subject to bouts of extreme violence and terror. Stabbings, rock throwing, run-over attacks, bus bombs, suicide bombers and the ever present rocket attacks.
The thing is, no where is perfect, no where is 100% safe. Yes, its terrifying, watching the news and seeing innocent civilians being attacked, parents dying and children being left orphaned. Its heartbreaking.
But… Its amazing to see the people of this country pull together. Young students with ‘Am Yisrael Chai’ (Israel Lives) signs dancing and singing at the entrance to my city. Old and young talking to each other and hugging at bus stops. People collecting snack, sweets and food for our soldiers who are stationed away from their families and cant be with them on the weekends.
Basically, shades of green.
Life, no matter where you are, is what you make of it. I choose to be in the moment and to make the best of each moment as they come. I choose to love myself, my family and my country.
*There are many, many reasons we came to Israel, in the context of this post I am choosing to only concentrate on safety.
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.
My gorgeous family on Rosh Hashanah.
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.
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.
We finally, after almost 10 months, put up our apartment number. Now you cant miss us.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Im too excited. I cannot wait. Her plane comes in early so I am going to catch a train to the airport to fetch her and then go with her to my brothers place where she will be staying for the first week. She will come and stay at our place in the 2nd week.
The first week we are all on leave so thats the week we will do the tourist thing. Jerusalem, the Kotel, Tel Aviv, the beach, water park, museums, markets, fruit picking. So much stuff to do.
Its also my birthday and my moms birthday while she is here, so lots of celebrating.
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.