Monday, March 23, 2015

The Nap That Wasn't

I barely slept on Saturday night and only managed to get about four hours of sleep. Some people can function on that little – I can’t.

So Sunday morning when I woke up groggy and kvetchy Josh said, “So maybe you’ll take a nap this afternoon.”

And I had to laugh. Who has time for a nap in the afternoon?

But little did I know JUST how little time I would have for one.

I arrived at home in the early afternoon after work, opened the door, and was greeted by seven 15 year old boys. 

Um….what? And then I remembered that Matan had told us that their teacher had arranged for six groups of kids to meet up at various houses to work on a project until their bus arrived to bring that back to Sussya at 8:00pm.

But I had forgotten that we were one of the hubs. “Um, Matan, do these guys need to eat?”

And so began a hysterically funny, insanely loud and lively afternoon.

Before picking Yakir up from school, I raced to the grocery store and bought three bags of pasta, sodas and some cookies. I whipped up a meal for the kids while greeting my own kids at the door as they came in from school.

Yakir was in heaven eating lunch with the 'big guys'.

I regret not taking more pictures of the day’s events, but I knew that Matan would be mortified if I were snapping left and right, so I refrained.

But let me try to set the scene:

There were another seven boys working at a house up the block, so at times we had 14 Sussya boys around. And yeah, they got about a half hour of work done together. But that left approximately four hours for Nerf gun fights, electronic helicopter flying, soccer game watching on the computer and jump roping in the house. The kids had planned that they were going to take a hike together, but the weather was quite cold, so they ended up entertaining themselves all afternoon in our house.

This guy wasn't shy about having his picture taken.

At one point, one of Matan’s friends joined in a coalition with Yakir, and the two tore through the house aiming their Nerf guns at another two kids. “Yakir! Yakir!” you could hear the 15 year old calling from behind a wall. “Come quick!” And Yakir would fly behind the wall as well to take cover before popping out to riddle their opponents with bullets.

Yes, it was one of those days. All I could do was laugh. The kids were all so sweet and well behaved. I did think it was funny when I put out plastic cups for lunch that Matan went into the cupboard to find real cups instead. They are being taught about conservation and the school is incredibly green – I love being one-upped by my son on the environmental front.

At 6:30 we finally had to leave because we were driving Matan back to school ahead of the 8pm bus pick-up for a basketball game. It was my first time watching him play on the Sussya team and it was great fun. They won, and then we took him for pizza to the ever-so-elegant tiny little hole in the wall (which may be giving it more credit than it deserves) they have in Sussya. I forced the kids to get together for a picture, before leaving them with the two pizzas we bought for the team and big grins all around.

Josh kept saying “I hope Matan realizes how cool his mom is, putting up with having a house filled to overflowing with Nerf-gun battling teenagers.”

I’m sure my coolness factor doesn’t weigh heavily in his teenage list of priorities at the moment. But it was a joy to watch him interacting with his friends, to see him so happy in his new high school environment, and to fill the stomachs and hearts of his friends for an afternoon.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Sussman Superheroes & A Day of Simcha

We love Purim. 

It's so much fun to think of a family costume and to get everyone involved. This year, when we came up with the idea of being footie-pajama'd superheroes, we got very excited. Of course, no one realized just how much work it was going to be to find 8 different character footie-pajamas in the right sizes (hours and hours on Amazon and Ebay later), but we finally figured it out. And the pajamas arrived from Papa Rogie, Grandma and even from one of Josh's co-workers who picked up some of them in England. Thanks guys!

Then it was time to come up with a mishloach manot idea. Purim rests on four mitzvot that you are supposed to do in the course of the 24 hour holiday (part of why I love it so much). You are supposed to hear the Megilla twice (which recounts the story of how we were almost massacred and how we were saved). You are supposed to give money to the poor. You are supposed to have a festive meal and you are supposed to give gifts to two people. So, the gift part has gotten a bit out of hand, and most people run around the yishuv giving out to all of their friends.

We always try to have a mishloach manot that goes with our theme. So we had to consider what Wonder Woman, Batman, Spiderman, Superman, Wolverines, a Ninja Turtle, the Incredible Hulk and Ironman could serve to their friends. After much consideration, we found Superman and Batman cookie cutters. AND....we found kosher green colored jello in Potomac, which we had a friend buy, mail to South Carolina and then bring to us. Whew!

The Kryptonite arrived and we were ready to get to work on our gifts. Now, I'm not sure what I was thinking when I purchased the cookie cutters, since I can't bake my way out of a paper bag. When it came time to start the cookies, I took a deeeep breath and tried out a recipe. The batter looked right but the cookies turned into shapeless blobs. Where had Superman gone?

So, I turned to my co-worker who is always bringing in amazing baked goods. "No problem!" she said, getting excited about the challenge. She sent me a great recipe and told me to get on my way.

Little did she know with whom she was dealing. I made the first batch but when they weren't working out I added a ton of extra oil. I baked them. They were gross...and I emailed her with an SOS! 

So, in her infinitely patient way, she actually stayed up late that night and made the cookies herself. With a play-by-play set of directions for me! And she brought in the perfectly shaped sheep cookies the next day to prove to me that I, too, could achieve this success. Look how cute her directions are! I printed them out and posted them in the kitchen command center.

I decided to actually listen to the directions and to place each item in at the right time (how boring!). And low and behold...the cookies turned out! After making a few regular batches, I asked Miriam about adding colors, and we ended up with awesome red Superman cookies and black Batman ones.

We packed up our goodies in bags, using our superheroes as packers and we were ready to go.

And then, it was time for the Kryptonite.

Today, the kids woke quite early in the morning, of course, and we got everyone set up with their costumes. It was a great choice, as we were all very comfortable and the kids enjoyed getting into character (case in point).

Matan spent the evening at his school, so we waited this morning for him to get home to complete the picture, and we were ready for our great day.

Batman and Wolverine

Wonder Woman and Ironman

The day was a blast. Most Israelis did not know what the heck kryptonite was, and they looked at me like I was crazy when I started on my long explanation. And the jello was, um....let's say less than tasty (it was diet green jello!). But, the day was wonderful. The children had a blast. The gifts went out and others came in from all of the kids' friends and from ours. We had a lovely meal with friends and happiness all around.

And most of all, we enjoyed another year of creating great memories and of sharing in the joy of a wonderful holiday with our friends in the yishuv. 

Life can be very stressful. 

Life in Israel, perhaps even more so.

It is such a joy to be superheroes for a day, to blow away all worries and concerns and just to have a blast as a family while bringing joy to those around us, sharing with them, and donating to those in need.

And that, truly, is the magic of Purim.

And now, while I launder the footie-pajamas and try to figure out what to do with the dozens of extra cookies (cookie anyone?), it's time to think about next year's costume.