Sunday, April 19, 2015

Marvelous Monday

The morning started with a bang.  While I was in the shower, our cat Harry caught a baby bird in mid-air, brought it back to the windowsill and ate it.  Raphaela watched the whole thing with a combination of horror and enthusiasm, and was most impressed that he did not "waste his food";  though I heard her chastising Harry afterwards, saying to him, "Now don't eat any more birds, OK?"  Harry has been staking out that birds nest since February, waiting for his chance; I give him credit for his patience and his alacrity, not bad for a 13 year old feline.


Once I dropped Raphaela off at school, for time since before the extra-long Pessach vacation, I did a real run in Gan Sacher, with real sweating and fat burning aerobic activity.  With no specific motivation for staying in shape IE no family event or marathon, I must remember the feeling of elation and commit again to continuing the workouts.


Meanwhile, in Gan, Raphaela had a show-and-tell gig.  Until now, children in her class had brought in their sea shell collection, or a favorite doll, or a soccer ball.  Raphaela decided she wanted to talk about her ballet class.  Which led into (naturally) including selections of paintings of Degas's ballet dancers, her favorite artist.  Which meant that she also felt the need to create her own pastel drawing and add that into the presentation.  Sounds more like a small art history thesis to me, I am proud of Raphaela for making these connections and creating an ambitious presentation.


Raphaela's Nature class finished off the day.  I cannot remember my childhood feeling this busy.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Oh, How I Wish...

"Oh, how I wish you would give me a little brother or sister!"


That has been a common refrain the last two weeks, though I keep explaining that one does not simply order a baby from the store or wish it into existence.
We were walking home from Gan one day with Raphaela's friend and her very pregnant mother, and Raphaela asked her, "Are you pregnant or are you just getting fat?"


Yesterday Raphaela and I walked to the new Gazelle Nature Reserve near our house and spent a lovely Shabbat morning there, so comfortable we were in the puffy beanbag sofas that we could have stayed there all day.  Every time a woman walked by, Raphaela would jump up and ask them, "Do you have a baby inside your stomach?" Israel being Israel, it so happened that every woman she asked answered  yes.


But I was most pleased when my daughter told one of these women, "You know, once you have a baby, you can do and be anything that you want, even when you are a Mommy.  Like, my Mommy is a doctor and a Mom, and she can even be a doctor when she will be a Grandma."


Score one for the home team, someone is listening to my feminist ramblings.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Kardashian Syndrome

Internet goddess Kim Kardashian, her husband Kanye West, their two old daughter North and the 'fragile' Kardashian sister, Khloe, landed their private plane in Ben Gurion earlier this week for a brief visit, along with their support staff and their massive marketing machine.  Immediately, a group was set up on Facebook to follow their every move, with abundant tweets begging Kanye to arrange a free concert.  The magical duo were featured on the covers of every major Israeli newspaper, and the info-tainment industry will probably air a special program on the outfits they all wore to little North's baptism.  Rabid hordes of fans began to stake out hotels and high-end restaurants in Jerusalem, with the hopes of spotting, and maybe even, yes, touching the sparkly celebrity couple.  As if simply being near their assets (pun intended) would rub off on the common folk in some small way.


Who cares, really.  This is a woman who comes from a family more than eager to prostitute themselves for fame and fortune.  We have suffered through daily updates about Kim's gynecological issues and her frequency of love making, her sister's painful divorce, her other sister's dysfunctional non-marriage, her step-father's transgender evolution, and her brother's spiral into mental illness.


I feel dirty just reading that last sentence.


Kimberly even used the Armenian Genocide to manipulate a photo opportunity. Her husband, Kanye West, is at the very least a thug and an anti-Semite, a rapper who felt it appropriate to humiliate a disabled man at one of his concerts;  one of the human beings least qualified for public admiration.


You could argue that I am reacting out of jealousy. After all, I don't have a full make-up and wardrobe team, my apartment could fit inside one of their walk-in closets, and Kimye's clothing budged rivals the GNP of our small country of Israel.  Whereas I can only dream of actually being able to afford a home of my own, something modest in Jerusalem, the Kardashians flew in for two days to purchase a multi-million dollar penthouse in Tel Aviv, on a whim.


This is not about envy, I pity this family for having strayed so far from the norms of basic decency.  I do not aspire to my own reality program, I have enough to deal with on a daily basis in my real life, between single parenting and living in a country surrounded by our genetic cousins who want to wipe us off the map.


This rant is about the Kardashians, the Honey Boo Boos and the Toddlers with Tiaras. The parents who find it praise-worthy to exploit their offspring and actively place their children in harm's way, in order to make a buck.  It is not a far leap from the 21rst century mental illness called "Kardashian Syndrome" to the ongoing tragic news story coming out of Maryland.


It is this same set of skewed and twisted values that allows two Jewish parents to purposely send their ten year old Rafi and his younger sister Devorah alone to the park, so they can be picked up by local police and held hostage for several hours by CPS.  After, all, when the authorities in Maryland have already threatened to remove their children from the home forever, why take that seriously?  And now that the parents are suing the local police, they can expose their children to even more trauma, forcing them to testify in court and relive the nightmare.


The more drama, the better the reality show...


All to make a point about Free Range Parenting and American Constitution, whatever that point may be; and more importantly, to stand in front of the camera while the mother weeps crocodile tears and the father grins with giddy excitement, soaking in the attention from the media.


Let's end the 15 minutes of fame of these parents, the Kardashians and their ilk.  If we really care about our own children and their future, let's stop elevating pond scum into false gods.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Perspective, The Breasts Edition

Raphaela was nursed for one and a half years, until I had to be hospitalized for an emergency appendectomy.  My breasts served her cause well.


When Raphaela was about two and a half, I told her that when she was  a new baby, the milk from my breasts were her major source of nutrition.  Her facial expression read "confused" and somewhat "horrified."


This morning as I was getting dressed, she observed, "Mommy, your breasts are dancing! When are mine going to start growing?"

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Post Holiday Report

Pessach food unopened:  one jar of gefilte fish, one package of matza, four packages of rice cakes
Pessach food unfinished:  Pessach coconut cookies
Appropriate non Pessach breakfast items in the house this morning:  Less than Zero


Skill set to practice for next year, Mom:  properly flipping a matza brei, so it doesn't fall apart
Tours/trips for the next big vacation:  Herodian, Beach weekend, Cinema City
Amount of time the television was used as a baby sitter:  Way too much for my taste.
Skill set for Raphaela, now that Spring has arrived:  riding her bike, swim lessons


Number of Days not worked in clinic:  Nine days
Panic level for my finances this month:  9/10
Days until next Israeli holiday vacation:  10
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Our first taste of chametz took place around two in the afternoon, when we stopped at our favorite bakery, after camp.  In a day of bizarre weather, hail stones battered the streets of Emek Rephaim for less than five minutes, and then melted almost immediately.
Raphaela said, "I think God has mistaken us for the Egyptians."
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Later today, we went to the supermarket to restock, and I handed Raphaela one bag to carry upstairs.  She slung it over her shoulder in dramatic fashion and started singing in Hebrew, "We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt..."

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Pessach Vacation II

Day Three
Despite the phenomenal heat wave in Jerusalem, we returned to the newly opened Nature Reserve near our house, and because of the hoards of holiday people, the deer remained hidden.  Once the mad crowds die down and children go back to school, Raphael and I will walk there - it's less than ten minutes from our house - and observe the wildlife.
Even without the deer sightings, it is a beautiful and serene place.


Day Four
The Prophet Elijah (or at least his human proxy) finished the cup of wine last night and left a note in Hebrew for Raphaela, "Thank you for the delicious wine!  Happy Pessach, all my blessings, the Prophet Elijah."


Raphaela was of course ecstatic, and wants to start a regular correspondence, reasoning that if we write the Prophet's name on an envelope and put it in the mail box, the letter will most definitely arrive at its destination.


Though we still have plans to make a trip to the Old City before the end of the holiday vacation, today promised to be even hotter than yesterday, so we had brunch with friends who are visiting from the United States, followed by a BBQ with Israeli friends.
Finally today, a decent cup of coffee and a filling dinner.


Day Five
The heat wave broke last night, leaving Thursday cloudy and a bit chillier, a perfect day for a local day trip after several days of sweating.  The closer we got to the Old City, the sunnier it got, and the more pleasant our walk.


Raphaela as usual was in charge of distributing our spare change to those asking for charity, and one of the more elderly women physically captured my daughter into hug, praising her for being a "Mitzvah Girl."  I also gave Raphaela some money to spend on herself, as a reward for her generosity and altruism; she bought herself a new book.


When I asked Raphaela what she prayed for today, she said that she asked for Love, she thanked G-d for keeping us safe, and then asked G-d to send her a father.  Raphaela also took some photos with my camera, she wanted to "practice being a Mommy."


She was full of fabulous questions today, like: "Why does Israel need a President AND a Prime Minister?" "How does God read all those notes that people put in the Wall?" She also wanted to know the background stories behind the names of all the gates to the Old City of Jerusalem; I actually couldn't answer her, and promised that I would look it up on the internet when we got home.


To finish off our vacation, Raphaela agreed to taste my matza brei, which so far has been lacking in consistent quality.  We have barely gone through a half of a small box of matza, and for that I am proud.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Pessach Vacation 2015 (Part I)

Upon returning from Seder with my brother and his family, and upon rejoicing that we as Israelis have the most excellent privilege of only going through that ritual once, our stomachs celebrated as well.  Thus we began our full week of vacation.


Day One


In the morning we went to the Bible Lands Museum, where Raphaela seemed actually nervous and uncomfortable around the tour guides dressed as Pharaoh. She kept telling herself out loud, "They are just wearing costumes, they are just wearing costumes..." I assured her that that kind of slavery would not fall again upon the Jewish people.  (Though I cannot give her any real assurances about Iran and the threat of global nuclear destruction.)  In the afternoon we walked to the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, where the guard thanked us profusely for not driving there.  The exposure to sunlight after a bizarre Winter and the laid-back bonding time did us both a world of good.


In what seems to becoming a tradition for the past few years now, Raphaela has requested that we continue to welcome the Prophet Elijah into our house, even once the Seder has passed.  So she left a full cup of grape juice out on the counter when she went to sleep, and can't wait to wake up tomorrow and see if he took a sip.


Day Two
We arrived at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo ten minutes before it opened, got an excellent parking space and within an hour the place was predictably beyond crowded.  I am not sure who would win the competition today of the most people squeezed into a limited area, the Zoo or the Old City (for the official Priestly Blessing ceremony).  Raphaela especially wanted to see the newest couple, the lions Ziv and Ayisha, and we met up with our cousins for lunch on the lawn near the lake.


My daughter would not share her snacks with me, the Pessach picnic I had so thoughtfully packed for us, reasoning, "Mommy, I am doing this for your own good. I don't want you to get fat!"