Monday, September 01, 2008

September 1 - School Starts!

There are many ways that living in Israel creates a feeling of unity for its people - whether some of these things are done on purpose or not. September 1st is one of those ways. The entire country starts school on the same day. Now, in most places in the States, school starts after Labor Day and most people do return around the same date. However, they don't all start exactly on the same day and I've found this to be the most interesting thing here.

There is a feeling of excitement on August 31st, as every child knows that school will begin the next day (and every parent is excited to finally have the kids back in a routine!) Yesterday, the yishuv did a huge carnival for the kids. There were huge bouncy toys, popcorn, art projects, clowns and more. Everyone came together to celebrate the end of the summer and to see each other.

Then, this morning, it was school time! It happens to be Rosh Chodesh today as well, so all my boys are dressed in blue and white. They woke up excited this morning, gobbled down their breakfast and were ready to go. When we left the house, we could see the whole neighborhood in motion. Everyone was taking their kids to the first day of school and was kissing them goodbye. This year, Matan started third grade in a new school building and Yehuda went to 1st in a new school. Yehuda will be taking the bus for the first time to Efrat each day. Amichai and Eliav are still on the yishuv and Azriel is home with me! As Josh said this morning, I can finally start my maternity leave now.

While I kissed them goodbye, I actually found myself a bit sad that the summer was ending. I had been so nervous before I had the baby that I would have everyone home and underfoot for all of August. While it was a bit trying at times, it was also nice to have everyone home and to have a more relaxed setting without homework, schedules, etc. Now, it's off to another structured school year with much to do. We say goodbye to the summer with a bit of sadness and hello to the school year with some's also an exciting time as I watch the boys grow and start with new possibilities.

Josh, quite fittingly, also starts a new job today. We are both every excited about it and hope that it will be a fantastic opportunity for him to grow and contribute to Israel and to aliyah.

Here's to a great school year and great new beginnings for everyone!

Nurturing the New Mom

I have found an incredible culture here of people who nurture a new mom. I don't remember this mentality in the States as much, and it's such a beautiful way to see birth and to wish the mother well. A few days after we came home from the hospital, our neighbor showed up at the door. This is a family that has 9 kids and a very full house! They keep to themselves a great deal and aren't people that we've had the chance to spend much time with. So, there the husband was with a huge loaf of amazing, hot homemade bread, and a large jar of homemade plum jam. It was arranged on a platter and was such a sweet and warm gift. We devoured it the next day and really appreciated the sentiment.

Another family came with a "new-mom shake," as the husband called it. It was a milkshake that was delicious and that was full of nutrients to help the new mom. I drank it on the spot and it was such a cute idea that I had to giggle while I was drinking.

Next, my next door neighbor brought an enormous fruit platter over to wish us Mazal Tov. The next day, she showed up with lunch for me! She'd made a nutritious meal that was full of whole grains, vegetables and nuts and she informed me that no one else in the family was allowed to eat it - it was just for the new mom.

We received meals from our friends for 10 days and had Shabbat meals provided for us for three weeks in a row! It was amazing to watch people coming to the house with all of this food and with such joy at seeing the new baby. It really helped to keep me off my feet and to nurture me and the family.

Finally, as the grand finale, an amazing friend invited me to come and stay in Tel Aviv at her house for a night. Her husband took the kids to Europe and she had her house to herself. So, I packed up and arrived on Wednesday morning last week. She met me at the house, showed me where she had my breakfast and lunch and got me situated. I had the entire day to hang out with Azriel, watch terrible shows on t.v., nap and enjoy. In the late afternoon, she came home and took me to a new spa that they have in the neighborhood! She watched Azriel while I had an amazing facial and a pedicure. Then, we went to a mall for dinner and some fresh air. The next morning, she had breakfast and lunch waiting for me and I hung out and relaxed again, before returning to Jerusalem that night. It was the best present and such a sweet offer from her!

Now, after three weeks of nurturing, I feel refreshed and ready to conquer many of the day to day tasks of life with five boys. It's been a great three weeks and I've loved watching the creative ways that friends have chosen to nurture me and to welcome Azriel into our community!