Friday, August 21, 2009

Quick status report on the actual subjects of this blog

Sarah Rochel: Still fantastically cute. Now fully three and a half, but occasionally claims to be 6. Master at stalling bedtime. Grasps abstract concepts.

Shulamis: Still fantasticaly cute. As of today, 10 months old, but threatening to behave like a 2 year old. Well, sorta. Master at making smacky sounds with her mouth until you give her whatever you're eating. Grasps anything to pull herself up to standing.

(more on how Llama got that shiner another time)

Four days, two nights

Four days, two nights

Years ago in the history of this blog, I was posting about some BMA or another and lamenting my lack of perfect dedication to the art of mothering, or something like that. One of my erstwhile commenters then commented that judging by this blog, it was clear that "mothering is your life!"

Well... I still don't know about that. I was talking last night with another friend who, like me, didn't have her kids 9 months and a sneeze after the wedding, and we were discussing how it's really hard to get into the swing of full time, full day mothering (her kids, like mine, are out at various caregivers from a very young age). And now, when it's been vacation (what another friend jokingly calls the 'onesh hagadol' (big punishment) as opposed to the 'chofesh hagadol' (big vacation))... well, it's not simple and it's not easy.

All this is leading up to why, for the first time since Sarah Rochel was born, I was quite ready for our gala 4 days, 2 nights vacation away from our precious gifts from Hashem. The idea of driving without talking to the backseat, of getting in the car without diapers, wipes, toys, books, the concept of everyone on a trip having excellent bladder control, the blissfulness of going to sleep and only getting up when you yourself want to... I wouldn't want my everyday life to change, but golly gee was it a nice break.

We first went to Beit Shearim and checked out the ancient catacombs, where humorously I noted they have more ancient things now than when I was there in seminary. We had a great time going through the cold, dank caves (a nice change from the blistering sun outside). Cool stuff. Then we went to Teveria and ate lunch - Yoav had a fish which I think had been swimming in the Kineret the day before. We then went up north and checked into the tzimmer we'd be sleeping in - wo. Next up was a orchard tour and fruit picking - that was a TON of fun (we ate probably 10 plums apiece just standing next to the trees), and really interesting to see the entire mechanism they use to accomodate the agricultural halachos (see the slide show) and the computerized sorting machine to divy up the fruit by size and weight. We picked our own plums to take home too, and once Yoav maasered (tithed) them (the ones you eat next to the tree you don't have to maaser) we proceeded to munch on them for the rest of our trip. We then hit a grocery store (where I bought canned crushed tomatoes to take home because, you see, when you find a desireable grocery item, you purchase it, even on vacation), got dinner supplies to augment our leftovers from lunch, and went back to our 'rustic' cabin. Oh, the tzimmer. It was beautiful, lovely frigid air conditioning, big jacuzzi (the jacuzzi: official mandatory accessory of tzimmers all over Israel), hammock outside - oh, I could stay there for, roughly, forever. Well, until some little sugar ants got into the yummy cereal we bought the day before. Sigh.

Next day we started at the Hula Valley Reserve - we went on a 9 kilometer bike ride around the lake. I haven't been on a bicycle since I got my driver's license!! But it was, pardon the expression, just like riding a bike, and we had a drop dead totally awesome time. I had forgotten how amazing wind-generating exercise is. It was plenty hot, but I wasn't hot because I had the constant breeze from riding, you know? The wildlife and view were gorgeous, and we had a fantastic time.

And then I had ice cream, because as all tourists in Israel know, you haven't really done an activity until you've purchased something from the kiosk at the end. Nestle Crunch ice cream bar - man, when was the last time I had one of those? 1995?

Next up was the Golan Heights Winery, where I'd never been before. The organized tour was very well done, and the free tasting at the end was ample. Hiccough. Then to Katzrin, where we bought some pizza and ice coffee - sops up the alcohol. Our last stop then was tubing on the Yarden river. We brought our own tubes (10 NIS each), parked on the side of the highway, walked for about 45 minutes through a bunch of cows, then jumped in the river and floated back to our car. SO much fun, and a lot cheaper than going to one of the kayaking / tubing places and paying for the privledge of using their launch.

Sodden, dripping and tired, we stopped at a rest stop to change into dry clothes, then wearily drove home, arriving about 10 PM, where I believe both kids were still waiting for us. I blissfully, extatically nursed Shulamis, and - eventually - everyone went to sleep.

That was Thursday night. Monday morning we left again! Back up north, this time we went to Tzfat for lunch, then went to a private session with a pyrography artist, where she showed us how to do wood burning and Yoav and I made our own piece of artwork, together. Aw. It was really very fun (Yoav had never done it before - I had, but the last time was when I was 8) and it was in Nof Kineret, a gorgeous little suburb south of Tzfat with Stunning and Did I Mention Stunning Views. Then it was time to go even norther, and right around Kiryat Shemona we stopped at Tzuk Menara, were we rode an alpine coaster. We then rushed to our hopeful accomodations, for you see, we had no reservations and the hotel had said - just come, we have rooms. So feeling quite sketchy, we walked into a hotel and asked for a room. Fortunately, they had several, and offered us the cheapest they had (when we had already agreed to pay a higher rate) - and it was great! We love the Alaska Inn in Metula - highly recommended. (Oddly enough, their site doesn't have pictures of the cheap rooms they offer - but they were still great, immaculately clean even if somewhat rough around the edges. But a major bargain!)

But - we couldn't stay, because we were off to a special night tour (by lantern light!) of Mivtzar Nimrod. Oh, wow. Wow. It was historically fascinating and really fun and totally, utterly cool. Alas, the complimentary hot tea, coffee and baklava at the end of the tour weren't kosher. We left there about 11 PM or so, and went back to our great hotel. Did I mention free wifi? Score!

The next day we went to the Hermon! (Wow, wikipedia says it's in the 'anti-Lebanon mountain range' - is that a political statement?) It was gorgeous - we rode the ski lift up and walked around. Now, snow woulda been a LOT nicer, but the wind blowing up there was cold. One didn't get cold, because the sun is still plenty strong up there, but it was like standing in a sunbeam next to the air conditioning.

We stopped off at the Naot factory store, but didn't buy anything (we had been there the day before three minutes after they closed), tried to see the Oaf-phoria (oaf = hebrew for fowl) exhibit in Hula but got there five minutes after the last one started, ate lunch and then went to play mini-golf in Kibbutz Farod. Speaking of things I hadn't done since I was a kid, sheesh!

And then we came home, where Sroch had waited up to show us the big Happy Anniversary sign she made us and to sing likewise. Llama was asleep but all of Srochel's stalling woke her, so once again I could happily nurse.

Phew! That's it!

The kids did WONDERFULLY with their Saba and Savta, baruch Hashem!! Hurray for family!

I should so stick a hidden bonus something in here to see if anyone is still reading, like Yoav and I had matching tattoos put on during our vacation, but nah.

(Okay, HOW amazing is my husband for arranging all of that???)

Houston, we have a tooth!

Film at eleven. Or, actually, when it's more than a speck uponst her gum (or sharp against your finger, ow).

Vacation write-up is halfway done. Please be patient. Hope to load pictures before shabbos!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Wish the girlies luck. They're about to go solo with the SabaSavta for 36 hours. 10th anniversary trip, here we come!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Miss Llama

I often call her 'Miss Llama' - yet another derivation of Shula-miss, no doubt.

Shualmis has attained Maximum Baby Cuteness, which I say begins at about 9 months and lasts until about a year. After that, well, it's downhill. Oh, you might have Toddler Cuteness, or even Three-and-a-half Cuteness (which we currently do), but it ain't the same.

I had a couple of other fantastically cute videos of Sroch and Shlama interaction, but I had neglected to recall they both feature a fantastically underdressed Srochel. So while I think her tushy is the cutest thing in the world (a title shared equally by Shulamis's's', which has fleshed out nicely from it's previous newborn wrinkly state), it's not exactly what I want to be publishing online. A pity. Come on over and watch it here on my computer (worth the trip).

SPEAKING of trips, My Amazing Husband has been plotting our 10th anniversary for some time. I finally found out where he planned to take me... SWITZERLAND! Is that amazing or what? Only someone who's lived through August in Ramat Beit Shemesh can appreciate how good snow sounds right about now (pant pant).

(Aside: Sarah Rochel and I had this exchange on the walk back from camp last week:
Me: "It's really hot today, right? There's a lot of sunshine."
Sroch: "Yeah, Hashem needs to take some of the sunshine back!")

But - we're not going. With the baby it wouldn't be the same kind of vacation at all, and without the baby - well, either it would be very short, or it would probably mean weaning. And I'm just not ready to do that yet.* There will be time and time for the European vacation part of our lives.

So instead, next week (many thanks to Saba and Savta coming to babysit (and visit of course) - yay!) we're going to go off for like 36 hours without the children. I'm sure we'll have a great time, assuming I overcome the temptation to literally sleep the entire time. And a week later we're gonna do it again. We'll be going to a tzimmer (lit: cabin) up north. There are hundreds of them up north, little wood structures with beds, kitchenettes and jacuzzis. Apparently, vacation spots in Israel are defined by jacuzzis. Nu nu, I am NOT complaining!

Back to the children... everyone told me with Baby Sarah Rochel, "enjoy it - it all goes so fast!" But with her - it didn't. A month felt like a month (go on, say it - "Maybe because you blogged more!"). It's like when you're driving somewhere for the first time and it seems to take a long time because you're watching carefully. But then when you drive there again, it seems to go much faster. Ditto for Her Highness #2. Like this babyship really IS going by so fast. Crazy stuff.

Have I mentioned Llama's face totally changed in the last few weeks? Like sometimes I hardly recognize her, like - weren't you much younger yesterday? Growth is amazing. I mean, she eats enough to be growing (item: she eats more food than Sarah Rochel, and not more food than 9 month old Sarah Rochel did, more food than 3 year old Sarah Rochel eats now).

Her crawl has already changed from 'normal crawl' to 'Israeli child living on hard hard hard floors crawl', so she kinda boogies forward dragging one leg, moving the other forward on the palm of her foot. Easier on the knees.

She's old enough to chase me around the house.

She's old enough to wrestle with her sister - um, well, it happens, whether or not she's old enough it happens, and they both enjoy it immensely.

She's old enough to - THANK YOU HASHEM! - sleep through the night totally, something she's done quite a few times except, of course, for two nights ago when Yoav was away and Llama was up for most of 11 PM-4 AM. Harumph.

Okay, shabbos is soon, I gotta go. But for the nth time - thank you, thank you Hashem for my delicious girlies. Bli ayin hara.

*I just wanted to point out that my education was good enough that, each time I start a sentence with the word 'and,' I feel like I'm going to get into trouble.