Sunday, June 29, 2014

June Heat Wave

Jerusalem has hit record high temperatures the last few days of June, which does not reflect well for the rest of the Summer, if the trend continues.  Yesterday, Raphaela and I took our Shabbat naps on the floor, mostly unclothed, because the tiles on the floor were only slightly less boiling than the rest of the house.

When I first moved to Jerusalem 17 years ago, we could boast that in our part of the country we did not need air conditioning; that is no longer the case, and Jerusalem joins the rest of Israel in the global sweat lodge.

Yes, Virginia, climate change is real, despite the denial of Congress.

Today, after picking up Raphaela from Gan, I treated us to Italian  ice cream, and after we finished, Raphaela said, "Mommy, now you won't melt into a puddle."

Thursday, June 26, 2014

End of the Year III

What better way to celebrate the 17th anniversary of my Aliyah, my choice to become and Israeli citizen and to invest in a good future for me and my family, than to attend Raphaela's graduation from Nursery School. For the first time all year, not only did my daughter participate happily in the animal-themed event, but she even had a bit of a starring role.

This represents major progress in Raphaela's ability to overcome her performance anxiety and bolster her self-confidence, and bodes well for next year.

On the down side, I broke my toe this morning tripping over Raphaela's scooter, hardly the injury I need one week before we leave for the United States, at the beginning of the Summer vacation.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

End of the Year II

This morning, as we walked up the stairs to Raphaela's Gan, she physically stopped me, putting her hand out and almost pushing me backwards.

"Mommy," she insisted, "my teacher says that now that we are all big enough to go into Pre-1A next year, we don't need our parents to take us all the way to our classroom.  We can do it alone."


Friday, June 20, 2014

The Sun and the Moon and the Stars

In this Paul Klee-esque interpretation of our family, I stand bigger than life, my head touching the sun and the heart-shaped Love cloud.  I dominate the page like the Jesus sculpture on the cliffs of Rio de Jeneiro, one of the seven wonders of the modern world.   Raphaela is represented by the larger pink person and the small pink person is "the baby," the younger brother or sister about which Raphaela dreams.

When my daughter brought home this drawing this week, I lost my breath for a moment.  I know emotionally and intellectually that Motherhood is a heavy responsibility and a privilege, but until you see it on paper, it remains more of a concept and guiding principle. 

I am at the moment the center of Raphaela's universe, and I feel overjoyed and terrified at the same time.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Light Festival, Ulterior Motives

Last night at the Old City Lights Festival in Jerusalem, while walking the 'blue route' through the Arab market, I overheard a seven year old Israeli boy behind me say to his father, "They are luring us this way so they can kidnap us."

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Bring Back our Boys

A friend of mine used to live in Efrat, in Gush Etzion, a boring place according to her son who during high school, would occasionally skip school with some of his friends and hitchhike into Jerusalem, to hang out at the mall.

This boy is now a 'man' in his 20's, and yet this story keeps running in a loop in my head, and I keep thinking how lucky my friend should feel that nothing ever happened to her son on one of his excursions.

Israel is a funny place, there are terrible things happening - like the kidnapping of three boys studying in Gush Etzion, by Hamas - and although we manage to function normally, the news updates and the thoughts of anger and horror dominate.  What's more, many of the Israelis who stand politically against the so-called occupation of the West Bank, joined in prayer with 30,000 Jews last night at the Kotel [The Wailing Wall] to pray for their return and their safety.  In fact Jews all over the country, in small synagogues and in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square united in prayer last night; unfortunately,  it takes tragedy to pull us together.

Gal-Galatz, the popular music army radio station, has switched into sad-song mode. (Meanwhile, the Palestinian supporters of Hamas appear in the international media, handing out candies and dancing in celebration.)

Yesterday I treated patients in the clinic, bought medicine for our cat Harry, made phone calls and checked emails, folded laundry and washed dishes, and continued my preparations for our trip to the United States in two weeks.  In the afternoon, Raphaela attended a birthday party of one of her girl friends from Gan, and came home with an art project (not yet dried) that made everything in the house shimmer with glue glitter, and I was annoyed.

But not so annoyed, because my daughter is home with me, safe within my arms, and there are three families who cannot say the same.

When I scanned Facebook last night, after Raphaela had fallen asleep, I would estimate that half the posts concerned these three high school students;  the prayers on their behalf, the posturing of politicians within Israel and abroad, the collection of money and supplies for the soldiers who are currently combing every inch of the West Bank, 24 hours per day.

The other half of the Facebook posts featured things like:  a person selling their television and bedroom furniture, college students looking for apartments for the Fall semester at Hebrew University, a woman selling spare tickets to a concert next week, Fathers' Day memes, a mother asking for advice about summer camps, a bit of news about a stash of medicine that had been looted from a warehouse, the latest scores in the World Cup.

You know, normal life events.  Israel is a funny place.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Only in Israel

Walking home from Gan today, we passed by the orange Lotto stand on Palmach Street.  We always stop to say hello, and then I said to the woman, "You know, I buy lottery tickets every week and I still haven't had my Big Win."

The woman pointed to Raphaela and said, "Yes, you have..."

End of the School Year I

While walking to Gan this morning, Raphaela informed me that contrary to every other party and play during the school year, she is planning on participating in the end of the year party play.  She said, "I told my teacher that I am not shy anymore."

I will not pressure Raphaela, because I know that showing me dance routines at home and rehearsing with her class feels quite different than being watched by a hoard of visiting parents.

As we got to her classroom, two teachers wore a huge smile, and while jumping up and down in their version of the Happy Dance, they shouted, "17 more school days until Summer Vacation!"

Someone is counting down the days...

Sunday, June 8, 2014

For a while now, Raphaela has stopped watching Dora and Diego; honestly, most children her age find it boring and beneath their intellectual level.  But every once in a while Raphaela will ask to see an episode, like visiting an old friend.

During a recent show where Swiper the Fox predictably tries to steal someone's important something and ruin their day, Raphaela turned to me and said solemnly, "Mommy, Swiper is MEAN." (As if she was realizing it for the first time....)

Lesson learned, now can we move onto another program?


One of Raphaela's baby sitters is a sweet 20 year old  in "Sherut Leumi," the two-year  army volunteer program that many religious women choose in Israel rather than the normal army service.  I was explaining to Raphaela that her sitter was "like a soldier in the Israeli army," in that she had committed to national service and to helping others in the country, "even if she does not carry a gun."

Raphaela -having learned in Gan about various famous and successful army operations - became indignant and asked, "But if I grow up and want to join the real army and carry a gun, am I allowed? I want my own rifle!"

After answering in the affirmative, I reminded her that she has until 18, and that the discussion of options can remain open.

Ironic and sad,  that in America the NRA is trying to temper the public reaction to open weapons, and my little Kindergarten girl already knows more than most about war and guns.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Day in the Life

Day three of the completely superfluous five-day Shavuot vacation from school.

3:30 am, Harry decides that we need to talk. I remind him that I do not have to take Raphaela to Gan today, and that I am planning on sleeping in.

5:30 am, Raphaela decides that we need to wake up. I remind her (and Harry, again) that I do not have to get out of the house on a regular schedule, and would really LOVE to sleep in.

6 am, I understand that I am not going to be sleeping in.

6-8:30 am, Feed Harry breakfast, feed the fish, take Harry outside and feed his friends.  Play with Raphaela, eat breakfast, take a shower, get dressed, help Raphaela get dressed.  Start one load of laundry, darks.

8:30-11 am, Hadassah Hospital (Ein Kerem) at the Mother and Baby wing, where Raphaela's eyes are examined by an expert pediatric ophthalmologist, who reports that Raphaela should start wearing glasses now, today, in order to get a decent resolution before she starts First Grade, almost two years from now.  The Polish heritage in me starts to feel guilty for having passed on lousy genes.

11:15 am, Arrive home, start Raphaela's lunch, put washer into dryer, attempt to set up Raphaela's follow up appointment through the hospital, only to be told that their first available spot seems to be eight months from now.  At least I have a half hour before my baby sitter arrives, and 45 minutes before my first patient arrives.

11:20 am, My first patient arrives super duper [G-d damnit!] early, along with her daughter-in-law and three children.  I want to scream but I hold myself back; all children do not have school today, not just my daughter.

11:45 am, The baby sitter arrives, exactly on time.  She asks me if she is expected to take care of the four children seated in the living room and playing together, in which case she is charging me extra.

12-3:30 pm, In which I work as a Chiropractor, fold laundry as a Mom, make phone calls and snarf in lunch in my five free minutes.

3:30-5 pm, Raphaela and I take the bus into the center of town, to order her eye glasses.  She tries on about thirty pairs, looks fabulously chic in all of them, and we settle on the reddish frames that do not seem to fall off her "small nose." (According to the optometrist.)  I then explain that genetically speaking,  while Raphaela received my ears and my lips and my eyes, the shape of her face and her cute little button nose come from her father.

5-5:30 pm, We take our weekly pre-weekend trip to the library, to refresh the reading material in the house for Shabbat.

6 pm, Raphaela takes a bath and I practically fall asleep watching her. 

7:30 pm, Raphaela falls asleep in the first line of [the bed time prayer] Shema Yisrael.  Actively snoring...

Good thing we have another day of vacation tomorrow.