Sunday, August 17, 2008

Welcome to Our Family Azriel!!

We had an amazing weekend. It was a bit crazy, but really meaningful and special. On Friday, food started pouring in for our Shalom Zachar and our Shabbat meals. It’s a tradition to have a get together on Friday night after the birth of a baby boy. People come after their meal to eat desserts and to wish the family a Mazal Tov! In some places, it’s really just the men who get together…while in others the women participate too.

So, we had TONS and tons of food, baked goods, drinks, etc. that came from all of our friends – and even from people that we don’t know very well. We had good friends from Tel Aviv come to visit in the afternoon and they couldn’t believe how the door kept opening and people just kept coming in with food and gifts.

After dinner, we had close to 100 people who came through the house. It was really festive and lovely to share such a Simcha with all of our friends. The Rabbi spoke beautifully and Josh did as well.

Saturday morning, it was time for the brit. I was worried about how I was going to get all the way up the mountain to the shul, and I had someone come to the house to push the double stroller and to help me get there. I’ve barely moved since the baby was born – so this was quite a shlep! We had originally thought to do the brit at a small shul closer to our home, but decided to do it at the main shul. The smaller shul would be very crowded, with many of our friends coming who don’t usually go there, and we thought it would be nice to do it in the venue of the Yishuv at large. There was a bar mitzvah this Shabbat of a family that founded the Yishuv. The grandfather, Chaim, is an amazing man and a real role model to us (as is his son and family) and we thought it was fantastic to be able to share these smachot together.

So, I shlepped my way up the hill and arrived at shul. I had our trusted babysitter, Lexi, meet me there and she took over watching Amichai and Eliav – which was great! It was so nice to see so many of our friends and everyone was excited about the brit and excited to see the baby. There are a number of honors that you can give at a brit, and it was really fun to watch as the baby was carried in to the synagogue by one couple, and then passed amongst a number of our friends for the different parts of the brit. The shul was packed – absolutely packed – and we did the brit in the center rather than at the front of the shul, so it was an amazing thing to see. Josh, the mohel and our honored friends were slightly elevated in the middle and then there was a sea of people on every single side, and above in the balcony, watching our child be entered into the covenant. It was really amazing.

We named him Azriel Dor. Azriel means “Gd is my helper” and Dor means generation. We picked Dor in memory of Josh’s grandmother, whose name was Dorothy. We liked the idea of connecting through the generations – and actually having the name both mean that, and be part of his grandmother’s name.

After the brit, the kids were very excited to finally know their brother’s name and we had a lovely kiddush outside of the shul. We came home for lunch, and then had some people over for dessert. Then…it was time to collapse!
Now, we look forward to a relaxing week with Azriel and the rest of the boys. Everyone is home for two more weeks before we gear up for the school year. Next week, we are doing a small kiddush on Shabbat at the shul that we usually go to, and Josh will give a short speech about the baby’s name.

It was a beautiful Shabbat and an amazing way to welcome Azriel into our family, our community, and our people. Welcome Azriel!!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A New Baby!

There are few things as amazing as having a baby. I’ve been quite cranky for the last few weeks and ready to have the baby already. I always find it nerve-racking not to know when the baby will be coming – and now I always assume it will be late because the last four were born five days after their due dates.

So, Josh and I were caught by surprise when the baby looked like it was on its way on its due date – August 8th, 2008. Nevermind that I had told Josh wishfully that it would be so cool to have the baby on 08-08-08!!! And it looked like we would. We quickly started to form plans for the boys during the day on Friday and headed to the hospital at about 6pm. Josh thanked me for heading to the hospital at a time when there was no traffic on the streets as everyone was getting ready for Shabbat! Our doula was driving behind us and we were ready to go.

We had an “only in Israel” moment when we got to the hospital and went through security. It was almost exactly the moment when Shabbat started and the guard looked at us when the doula said “Laboring woman coming through!” and said “But Shabbat is starting!” We thought that was very funny.

We went to get checked and got our delivery room by 7:30 or so….we were put in room number 8 (and the baby was born on the 8th of the Hebrew month of Av as well)! So, then Josh and Chaya (our doula) decided we should deliver by sometime in the 8:00 range to keep working with the 8 theme. Well…that didn’t happen, but we did deliver at 9:50, a beautiful 8 pound boy. They put him on me right away, all sticky and adorable and we admired him and relaxed. We had an amazing few hours after that. They left us virtually alone until about12:30 and we realized we had brought everything except wine and challah to make Shabbat. Chaya went down the hall to get us provisions, and right there in the delivery room Josh made Kiddush, we sang Shalom Alechem and Josh gave the baby his first bracha (Friday night the father, and sometimes the mother, blesses every child with a blessing). I’ve always found the first bracha very powerful – and we’ve always done it when we are home for the first Shabbat. But, here we were doing it within an hour of the baby’s birth there, enjoying him in a quiet environment. They made me some tea and we relaxed and laughed and enjoyed the baby. He barely cried at all when he came out, and didn’t cry much all night.

Since it was Shabbat, Josh didn’t rush home to the kids the way he usually would. This gave us an incredible gift of a Shabbat together in the hospital with the baby. Hadassah has a great hotel attached to the hospital and he was able to get a room. He slept a bit, went to shul in the morning, had breakfast, lunch and Seudat Shlesheet there and was able to hang out with me the rest of the day. It was quite a treat – since I’m usually alone in the hospital with the baby! The care in the hospital was great and I had a really nice stay.

We came home in the afternoon on Monday to a sea of open arms (quite literally). The kids are all trying to hold the baby 24 hours a day and they are very excited about him. Even Eliav is doing well. He’s been giving the baby kisses and he wants to get to hold him as much as the rest of them. Never mind that I just saw him perched on top of the baby’s crib with a screwdriver in his hand….I’m sure that was an isolated incident : )

We are all doing well and looking forward to the Shalom Zachar Friday night when people will come to our house to celebrate the baby. Then we have a busy Shabbat with the brit during services at the main synagogue and a large Kiddush afterwards that we are sharing with a family having a bar mitzvah. Next Shabbat we are going to sponsor Kiddush at a smaller shul that we usually go to so that we can also have a more intimate event.

What a miracle a baby is – and we look forward to bringing this one into the covenant and into our community this Shabbat!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

What a Country...

After living here for a number of years, you tend to forget about the unique nature of this country and the originality of our interactions. We had a great day with the kids today. We took them to go bowling in Jerusalem and out to lunch. They had a great time bowling. Amichai has never been before and we weren't sure if he would enjoy it. He had a fantastic time! He kept yelling "High Five" after throwing the ball each time. He didn't quite understand what the point was, but he thought it was fun to watch the ball roll (slowly) down the lane and to watch pins fall. It was very cute.

Then, when we finished, we decided to take the kids to a great arts and crafts store to each pick out one project. Insane? Yes, probably. And we both regretted it as soon as we entered the store. But, the kids were very excited. Matan is incredibly artistic and he asked for a small canvas where he could do water colors. I sent him to ask the woman who works there about what paints to buy. She was enamored of Matan and then got excited when she saw his siblings. She thought it was so cute that we had three little boys - and then couldn't believe we actually had four little boys (Eliav was in daycare) and...that there is another little someone on the way. She called over one of the other women who work there to see our cute boys - and then all of a sudden that woman was massaging my hand and saying that she was working to induce labor. She told me about the pressure points in my hands and was showing me all about it. I felt like I was in my living room with an old friend.

They ushered us out with all sorts of good wishes for an easy labor, a healthy baby, etc. and encouraged us to come back soon. The whole experience cracked me up - but it wasn't until we left that I realized how "Israeli" the experience was and how funny and buddy-buddy people tend to be here.

So, now we've told the kids to save their art projects until the baby comes. Suites me fine because it means Josh can deal with the utter chaos of the projects!

Backtracking a bit, yesterday, Josh took the boys to the Kotel (Western Wall) where they all wrote notes and then had lunch in the Old City. They told me about their notes, and they all wrote that mommy should have a baby soon and that the baby should be healthy. I thought it was so amazing that, here they are on their summer vacation, going to the Kotel on a given day and writing notes to Hashem. Pretty powerful place we live!

Hope the next post comes from a tired lady with a new baby! Time will tell....

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Sometimes Things Work Out...

Things are going very well in the Sussman house right now, Thank Gd. I spent a lot of May and June wondering how I was going to juggle the four kids, the heat, the summer, and the coming baby during July and August. August in Israel is a very rough time for working moms because the kids have no camp. None - nothing. It's a time when families tend to travel and when working parents somehow get by with their kids running around. So, my fears were all unfounded because Josh ended up being around all of July and now he's with me for August. He starts a new job September 1 that looks like it will be fantastic for him! And that means that he can enjoy being "Dad" this month - and I can enjoy putting my feet up, napping, having the car around, and having HIM around all month. We worry and sometimes things work out despite our fears and worries...

So, camp ended last week and Josh and the three older boys have really been having a nice time. They went on a hike on Sunday, coming home rosy-cheeked and energized. This was the first time they took Amichai on their hike with them and he was very excited with his own water backpack. Monday we did a lot of cleaning and organizing around the house. And then today we all went to the mall together. The kids got slurpies and had fun looking around the stores. Amichai loves going on the escalator and kept calling it the "alligator". We took them to lunch and then went to see "Kung Fu Panda" the panda karate movie. It was very cute and the kids loved it.

They keep asking what is on tap for the next day and we've explained that we have to take each day as it comes - as we keep hoping the baby will upset our plans! Tomorrow, Josh plans to take them to the Old City and to the Kotel.

We are all really enjoying the time off together and waiting, quite impatiently, for our newest family member to arrive!