Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Techno-Savvy Two Year Old

I had the funniest, strangest thing happen yesterday. I was sitting at my desk at work, when my boss came in with the office phone. Now, Josh is in America, and I don't believe that even HE knows the office number. There isn't a person in the world who would be calling me on that number.

I tentatively took the phone from Sam and said, "Hello?" It was my soldier, Jeff, calling from his base.

"Umm, are you ok?" I asked.
"Yeah, of course." He answered, confused.
"How the heck did you get this number?"
Puzzled, he replied, "What number? I called your cell."
"No you didn't," I said, chuckling and completely confused. "You somehow called my office number."
"What?" He answered. "I was wondering why some guy answered your cell phone."

And then we had a long pause. What in the world was going on?

I suddenly remembered two things. Yesterday, I caught Zeli (who's not quite two) playing with my phone; and, this morning I noticed, and chose to ignore, a strange green arrow on the cell that I'd never seen before.

Suddenly, it dawned on me. While playing with my phone yesterday, Zeli managed to put call forwarding on my cell, and to have all calls forwarded to my office number! Now, I probably have 200 numbers stored in my cell phone, and for him to accidentally select the office number was quite bizarre.

Cracking up, I went to find our technology expert to find out how to redirect my cell phone calls to my cell. Considering that, even with hours of fiddling around, I wouldn't be able to intentionally replicate what Zeli had done, I was very impressed with his two year old techno-savvy feat!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Uncovering a Mom's Secret

In 2001, while watching a beautiful movie called Billy Elliot with Josh, I had an idea. I don’t fully remember how it unfolded, but in the movie there is some discussion about a journal that the mother kept for her son.

The next day, I bought a journal and started writing to Matan. I decided that I would write a few times a year, capturing his development and antics – and recording our hopes and aspirations for him as he grew. I’ve kept the commitment and now, 9 plus years later, I’m still writing entries to him on his birthday, and once or twice during other times of the year.

Little did I know exactly the type of commitment that I was undertaking by starting this project! I certainly wouldn’t have predicted, in 2001,that I would be keeping up with five journals someday – but that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.

And I absolutely love this project.

While I don’t prepare much before the birth of a baby, I have made a point, for the last few boys, of hand picking their journals before their birth. I treat myself to an excursion, and take time looking through all of my options and picking the journal that calls to me.

And then, even before the baby is born, I write to him a few times. I write about how excited we all are that he’s entering our family, how we reacted when we found out we were pregnant, and what his brothers are predicting he’ll be. And then, after he’s born, writing an entry to him has been one of the first things that I do in the hospital.

Over the last year, I’ve grown tired of writing to them by hand (who writes by hand anymore?) and I’ve come to realize that they won’t be able to read my sloppy English when I finally give them these journals some day! So, I’ve started typing my entries and taping them into the books.

Last night, when Matan came to say goodnight, he discovered my little secret. He sat with me, asking me what I was doing. When I explained the project to him, he giggled and said, “Wow – you’ve managed to keep this secret from me for 9 years?! Good job Mommy!”

I didn’t let him read any of the entries, but we had fun browsing through the five books and looking at the dates. He asked me when he’s going to receive his book. I haven’t given this too much thought, but I figure I’ll either give them to the boys when they enter the army or, more likely, when they get married.

While I’ve diligently created a baby book for each boy, these books only chronicle their lives until they are five. It’s been a very strange feeling to put three baby books up on a higher shelf, retiring them from use.

My journals, however, will continue to fill slowly and surely through the years, as my love for my boys grows, changes and expands in so many ways. I hope that I’m capturing a small iota of the love that I feel for each of them, and of the hopes and aspirations that are so wrapped up for us in each of these little men.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Caterpillar is Finished!

I'm so proud of the older boys today. Last year, I was complaining to my friend Devorah about my children and their reading habits. They weren't reading for pleasure as much as I wanted them to, and she suggested a chart. I am very much NOT a chart person, a sticker person, etc. But, I thought this was an interesting idea.

So, Matan meticulously sat down and created a caterpillar with 100 little compartments. The goal was for the four of us (Josh, me, Matan and Yehuda) to read 100 books over the course of the school year. We set our sights to June 30 as our goal. We created a color coding for ourselves so that I would color in a purple circle when I finished a book, Josh would color in an orange circle, etc.

Matan, in particular, has really stepped up his reading this year. He's been blazing through a series called "Minheret HaZman" where these two kids travel through time to all sorts of significant events in the history of the State of Israel. It's an amazing series. While Yehuda has not been as prolific a reader this year, he's certainly also felt the pressure to read and the enthusiasm about finishing the 100 book goal. Matan ended up reading over half of the 100 books! Yehuda read somewhere around 20 and Josh and I picked up the slack.

Now, of course, comes the expensive part. We promised the boys a night out to an expensive all-you-can-eat meat restaurant if they got to the goal....AND a day at an amusement park. Oy vey! Serves us right!

But we are very proud of them. And, last night, before he went to bed, Matan already created the next chart.

The Summer Goal? 40 books by the end of August. We're working to save the money for their next reward now!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Yep, I'm an Immigrant

(Yehuda this week at his ceremony for finishing second grade.)

I am such an olah (immigrant) that it makes me laugh (yes, and want to cry) at times. Yesterday, Yehuda came bouncing into the house declaring that I had homework to do. The first thing that always happens to me in these situations is that I get a pit in the middle of my stomach. Oh dear Gd, I think, what do I have to do in Hebrew this time?

So, Yehuda showed me the page of "homework" that I had been assigned. Yehuda has a project right now where he is writing things about his birth, his development, and his family. We, the parents, were given a detailed page where we were supposed to answer questions about our child. Normally, I would think that this was a great project - what fun to explain what I love about Yehuda! But, in Hebrew? Well, that just makes me want to tear it up into little pieces.

I sat down next to Yehuda and tried reading the first question. My Hebrew really is somewhat passable - but, of course, I had no idea what the question asked. I asked Yehuda to explain it and then, with a deep sigh, I explained to him that he was going to have to help me to write the answers. He quickly grew annoyed, and I knew that I wasn't going to get anywhere.

I understood his frustration and didn't want to push him. After all, what 8 year old wants a parent who can't complete a second grade project without the help of her child?

Oh dear....so...how was I going to get these questions answered by the next morning? Sure, I could go to a neighbor's house, but I just don't have the energy for that type of activity right now. I always have Google Translate, and that would allow me to muddle through the questions and to write grammatically incorrect, and quite laughable, answers, but I didn't want Yehuda to feel embarrassed by me. What is the immigrant parent to do?

After stewing about this through the early evening, I got an idea. When Yehuda went to bed, I grabbed Matan and explained to him that he had something he had to do. Together, we sat at the table and he explained what each question meant. Josh and I discussed our answers, and then Matan, our ten year old, wrote all of the answers down for us.

Haha! Success....we had beat the impossible system, well, at least for one more night. Victorious, I returned Yehuda's work to his backpack and breathed a sigh of relief.

Ah, the life of the olah mommy. Never a dull moment.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Go Nefesh B'Nefesh!

Another great video from Nefesh B'Nefesh! Summer arrival season is coming and Nefesh B'Nefesh is getting everyone in the spirit. And, oh, by the way, check out the famous family at 1 minute, 15 seconds! Enjoy!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Ben-Yehuda Would be Proud

Last night, I took Matan and Yehuda on an adventure. Every year in Israel, they have “The Week of the Book” all over the country. It’s a fantastic series of events which includes lectures by Israeli and international authors, a number of huge book fairs and other activities. I arranged for a babysitter for the three little boys so that we could head out before Josh got home from work, and we took off for Jerusalem.

The entire time at the fair I was thinking about Ben-Yehuda. No – not the street that has a ton of foot traffic and great shops – but the man. Eliezer Ben-Yehuda.

The Jerusalem part of the book fair was held in a huge park in downtown Jerusalem and featured thousands – and I mean thousands upon thousands – of books. All in Hebrew. There was Harry Potter next to “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie;” the complete works of Shakespeare coupled with “Moishe Goes to Town” and so on. Every type of Israeli that you could possibly imagine was at the fair, snapping up books left and right, and even sitting in the aisles pouring over their various finds. The atmosphere was as festive as a circus, a circus of literacy and a love of books.

So, while enjoying the atmosphere and ambiance, I reveled in thinking about Eliezer Ben-Yehuda. Ben-Yehuda is considered to be the father of the modern Hebrew language. In 1881, Ben-Yehuda made his way to Palestine and settled in Jerusalem. He made it his life’s work to develop a new language that could replace Yiddish as the means for everyday communication in the Holy Land. Much, I’m sure, to his family’s chagrin, he demanded that they speak nothing but Hebrew in the home. He was an ardent Zionist – and an ardent defender of the need for a universal language to unite all Jews.

And somehow, miraculously, it worked. Just ask my kids.

100 plus years later, here we are, in our own homeland, speaking a language that lay dormant for thousands of years and that was never used as a practical, everyday form of communication until recently. Ben-Yehuda’s frustration and dogmatic insistence has paid off. I’m always amazed when I listen to my children talk in Hebrew, or when I watch them reading this crazy collection of symbols (how do they read it without the vowels?). They are living, breathing examples of the revival of a dream – and of the fulfillment of a mission. They are speaking the language of all of our most Holy Texts – speaking it every single day as if it’s the most casual and normal thing in the world.

And there we were at the book fair, surrounded by… drenched in… and basking in books in Hebrew.

Hebrew - and Israel – are alive and well, thank you very much Helen Thomas and so many others like you. We are here to stay and we prove this each day in this vibrant, amazing land that we are continually building and cultivating for ourselves, for our children and for the future of the Jewish people.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

A Baby Miracle

I'm feeling blue and frustrated about the Flotilla disaster, so I've decided to write about something lovely and beautiful.

Last Friday, we went to an amazing brit. The parents have four beautiful children, all of whom were conceived after years of IVF treatments. For anyone who has dealt with infertility issues and who has been through treatments, you can imagine what a commitment of energy, time, money, anxiety and hope these treatments must have been. While they hoped to have more children, they had come to the conclusion that they weren't going to do more treatments. Financially, physically and emotionally taxing, the treatments had taken their toll and it was enough.

And then Hashem intervened.

Jump back about a year. The mother and I joined a diet group in our community a little over a year ago. This is a diet program that has become wildly popular in our area and that has shown drastic and fantastic results. My friend lost quite a lot of weight and felt great.

At some point, at a routine doctor's visit, the doctor surprised her with some amazing news. They were pregnant. After years of trying, of tears, of shots and of medical intervention, they were now, miraculously, expecting with no intervention whatsoever. It turns out that her fertility issues were tied, in some way, with sugar intake and issues and that her diet had changed that for her body.

She delivered a bouquet of flowers to our diet group leader that very day, explaining that she had made this miracle baby possible.

And so, on Friday, we celebrated their beautiful brit, welcoming Adiel into our Neve Daniel family and into the world.