Thursday, February 19, 2015

Snowpocalypse, February

First there was the three days of sand storms and mud rain, with the desert and the clouds blotting out the Jerusalem skyline, and the sun...that little white dot in the sky.

Meanwhile, in Boston where my Bubby and Zaide live, they have thus far gotten close to nine feet of snow.  My grandfather has to climb onto the roof to shovel, so the ceiling doesn't cave in.  That sounds dangerous.

Then last night, after thunder and lightning, Jerusalem got eight inches of snow, and it is still coming down.  No school today!
So we stayed home today and watched Disney's "Frozen." 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Sticker Chart

Before my brother's wedding in the Summer, I was VERY motivated to exercise and run, because I had to look good in family photos that would be preserved for posterity.  But when we returned to Israel in the middle of the war, it hit me hard, resulting in an extended break in my workout regimen.  Not because I didn't know that the running was important for my health, but because I could not break out of the emotional jet lag of our trip to the United States, and the trauma of the war.

Now, with less than three weeks before Purim and exactly four weeks before the Jerusalem Marathon, I have kicked it back into full gear.  Not only do I need to look smokin' in my costume, but I need to be able to run 10K without embarrassing myself and/or collapsing on the street.

To motivate myself, I created a sticker chart, in which I record daily the amount I have run, and whether I have also lifted weights and completed a full set of stomach crunches.  Truth be told, after I run I feel quite invigorated, and get a little angry at myself for having avoided this activity for too many months.  As well, when I fill in my chart and give myself a sticker, I smile and it encourages me to continue the trend.  When I can walk up the treacherous hills of Jerusalem, the positive effect is confirmed.

For the past few days, the weather in Jerusalem has been a combination of icy cold winds, sand storms and mud rain.  I have exercised as best I can, but today I barely managed anything because it is also Erev Shabbat, and "miles to go before I sleep." 

When Raphaela came home from Gan today, she asked me (unsolicited) if I had earned my sticker today, and I realized that thanks to the chart, I have a wonderful built in coach in my house;  now my daughter will not let me slack off, and I am grateful for it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Your Royal Highness

As Purim approaches, Raphaela's kindergarten has started teaching the topic of  "Kings, Queens and Castles." The resulting conversation last night was more than revealing to me:

Raphaela:  Am I the Queen?
Mommy:  No, I am the Queen in the house and you are the Princess, because you are my girl and I am in charge.
Raphaela:  When I have a baby, you will become the Grandma and I will be the Queen.
Mommy:  Yes.
Raphaela:  But where is your King?
Mommy:  Believe me, sweet girl, I am still looking for the right man.
Raphaela:  Well, it's never too late.  Even when you are a Grandma you should be able to find yourself a Grandpa.

(Moving onto the subject of castles...)
Raphaela:  Do we have a big house?
Mommy:  It is more than enough for the two of us, but your grandparents' house in America is bigger, and has a big back yard.  That's how Mommy grew up when she was little.
Raphaela:  But our house is big.
Mommy:  Not as big as a castle, no, but a good home for us.

I gave up a lot to move to Israel, and I do not regret the decision, even when things feel like a struggle, because I doubt that I would have become a mother to Raphaela if I had stayed single in the United States. 

The one dream that eludes me - mostly for financial reasons and the ridiculous real estate market - the one element of American life that I lust after each day, is owning a home here in Jerusalem. Not an apartment where I fight about central heating and parking spaces and whether the crazy old lady downstairs is afraid of my cat Harry;  rather, a living space that has more than one floor, relative privacy and a patch of grass to set up a hammock or a climbing toy.  A yard to host  a picnic or birthday party, or build a snowman or sunbathe.  A house where I can decorate and build as I like, make repairs immediately without getting permission, and where no owner (no matter how kind and accommodating) can decide to make the rent exorbitantly higher or decide to kick us out on a whim.

A mortgage, but with the stability of knowing that I live in my own castle.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Thinnest Line

For the past two days, a group of boys in Raphaela's Kindergarten class have apparently become more rowdy and uncontrolled than usual, and Raphaela came home yesterday and today with stories of taunting and throwing toys and general mischief.

I told my daughter, as I have told her in the past, that if someone attacks her or gangs up against her, she has every right to defend herself.  If a boy says, "I will paint your face with glue," you say right back, " I will paint YOUR face with glue.  You are hurting my feelings, so stop!"  And unfortunately as happens in the Israeli school system at too young an age, if there is physical bullying, Raphaela has been encouraged by me to hit back...and then tell the teacher or a responsible adult the whole story.

As has been explained to me often since moving to Israel almost 18 years ago, if you allow yourself to become the target of bullying, you are perceived as weak and the cycle of victim-hood continues.  The same could be said for the political situation in the Middle East, your enemy will most surely take advantage of a show of so-called compromise and weakness.

After explaining all this to Raphaela, and hearing a series of statements against boys and their roughness and the noise they make, my daughter looked at me and said, "But you told me that I am not allowed to hit, and that I shouldn't hurt a person's feelings on purpose."

Her beautiful rigid sense of rules and morality is stopping her from fighting back, and I don't know how to teach her that exceptions can and should be made, without it sounding like I am contradicting my own principles.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Every morning we look at our Metropolitan Museum of Art calendar, with a new piece of art/furniture/cultural piece every day.  Today's picture featured a French ball gown from the mid 1800's.  I asked Raphaela if she liked the dress, if it was something she would want to wear.

Raphaela:  Mommy, why didn't you have another baby?  I wish you would make another baby.
Mommy:  What would you do if you had a little brother or sister?
Raphaela:  For starters, if it were a boy, I would wear that dress to his Bar Mitzvah.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Every morning when I drop Raphaela off at Kindergarten, I check her drawer for pictures or projects that need to be taken home.  This morning, the following note greeted me:

Briefly translated from the Hebrew, "Mommy I love you, may you continue to climb up the ladder of mitzvoth [rules and lessons of the Torah]."

This will be kept for a long time, close to my heart.

(Postscript:  Tucking in Raphaela at night, I thanked Raphaela again for the beautiful sentiment, and she said to me, "Mommy, I will always be your friend." I replied, "Raphaela, I will always be your Mommy who loves you.")