Sunday, January 30, 2011

Big Astronauts

Matan and Yehuda recently discovered an old copy of the Tom Hanks movie, Apollo 13. My dad sent it to us years ago and we never got around to watching it. So, they dusted it off last night and started watching it. Boy, did they have questions. Why didn't one of the astronauts get to go? What's it like going to space? Which part did Papa Jack help to create when he worked for NASA? and on and on and on....

Yehuda had obviously been thinking about the movie a lot today, because he declared at dinner that he knew that at least one of the astronauts survived.

"Really," I said, curious to see what he would say, "How do you know?"

"Well," he explained, methodically, "I recognize one of the astronauts from the movie, Big, so I know he must have survived."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Simple Pleasure of a Lost Ball

I have always enjoyed my work, and I get a great deal of satisfaction out of it. With that said - I am loving my maternity leave.

In addition to my sheer joy at spending everyday with Yakir, I find myself so much more relaxed when I'm not balancing a million things. I'm sure every working mother out there (and many working fathers) can relate. During my work day, I'm constantly taking stock and juggling. "Ok," I think to myself, "when I leave work I have 37 minutes before the first kid gets home. Can I fit in a grocery shopping at Rami Levi? How about a quick walk? Oh, but there is laundry to throw in and dinner to make." It's a never-ending list of unfinished tasks and choices.

Now, however, I feel like I've won the lottery of time. I actually have downtime and extra time to juggle the flurry of tasks at hand each day. Dinner is made in the morning, the grocery shopping is completed, the laundry is finished, and the house is cleaned (ok, the last one isn't true...but it sounded good as part of the list).

This sense of relaxation and time affords me the opportunity to engage in activities that I would, otherwise, pass up.

For instance...

Yesterday, Yakir and I went into Jerusalem to meet a friend for lunch for her birthday. (What a pleasure!) I was supposed to pick her up at a certain location in Gilo, and I had about 10 minutes to kill while waiting for her. While driving slowly and aimlessly around Gilo, I entered a quiet side street. On the corner was a large school, filled with boys playing during their recess. I watched as one of their balls jumped the 10 foot fence, and went ambling down the street in front of me.

The boys all raced to the gate, looking with desperation and aggravation at the ball sailing hopelessly away from their school. It started down the hill, and I decided that I would go after it.

So, there we were, Yakir and I, charging down the hill in our car after a bright yellow, worn ball. While driving, I was thinking to myself, "What in the world am I doing? and why?" The sheer act of driving behind a ball, waiting for it to stop, made me laugh.

Finally, the ball came to a stop underneath a car. I got out of my car, crawled under the parked car, and retrieved the ball. I could hear a roar of excitement up the street, as the boys were all craning their necks to see the crazy lady saving the day!

With ball underhand, I got back into my car, turned around, drove up to the school, and threw the ball over the fence to my adoring fans.

And that ten minute experience made my day.

Normally, I wouldn't dream of having the time for such a silly enterprise. I realized afterward that someone from the school would probably, eventually, have left the school grounds to retrieve the ball. I, however, took those extra few minutes that we rarely take, to make a few kids happy and to make myself feel good.

And that, really, is what it's all about.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mommy Fashion

This morning, I put on a warm and woolly sweater to deal with today's cold air. As I was preparing for the day ahead, however, I realized that the sweater absolutely wouldn't do. Not because it clashed with the rest of my outfit, or because it was too dressy or casual for the day's activities - but because of one little word that rhymes with "inner ear."

Yep, you guessed it (or maybe you didn't...) YAKIR!

I had to giggle as I realized that my fashion these days is 100% dictated by one thing, and one thing only - a 14 pound little guy who sleeps most of the day.

Why is that?

Well, the sweater in question has a zipper down the front, and Yakir manages to hurt himself quite often when he smashes his head into the zipper or the clasp. Furthermore, the sweater, while cozy on the inside, is quite rough on the outside. And it just didn't seem like a sweater that he would want to cozy-up to all day. And so, I put it back into the closet, saying goodbye to it for this winter.

And that made me think about how so much of my fashion and my actions these days are dictated by this little man.

What's my favorite possession at the moment? It would be a close fight between two items.

The first is my UGGs. My in-laws gave them to me for Chanukah. I, as the uninitiated, barely even knew what they were when I unwrapped them. Since then? I don't think they've left my feet more than a dozen times. I love them. I love them for their warmth and their comfort - but I particularly love them because I can slip them on. After all, how is a new mom with a baby dangling from one arm, car keys in another, and lunch-boxes, coats, and more in the third arm supposed to sit down and tie her shoes?

And so, I love my UGGs. I am usually a pretty discerning person when it comes to matching colors. My shoes always have to match with my clothing and my scarf almost always picks up some of the accents as well. Now? It's UGGs all the way - and if they don't match, well, the benefits of slipping on cozy shoes far outweigh the consequences of wearing mismatched items!

The other item that I can't live without is my Kindle. I don't know if this is a big marketing point for Amazon, but the Kindle actually allows me to read while nursing. Imagine trying to use your hands to balance and assist a baby - while also trying to turn pages and hold a book in your hand. The Kindle is brilliant. I can place it on the couch and continue reading, hands-free! Certainly, there are other reasons that I love my Kindle, but the ability to use it with only one, or no, hands is definitely high on the list.

At some point, I will have to rejoin the world - wearing work clothes, thinking about my appearance and looking dignified. For now? It's all about what feels cozy to a 2 month old, what slips on quickly for a harried mom, and what allows me to function hands-free!

Here's to Mommy Fashion at its best!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Heroes in their Midst

Yesterday was quite an interesting day with my children. In the morning, while they are getting ready for school, I will often take a look at email and at CNN to see what's happening in the world. I was talking to Josh about the shooting in Arizona, when the kids started asking questions. While we don't go out of our way to share tragic news with the kids, we certainly don't hide these events from our older boys. Particularly when things happen here in Israel, we find that it's impossible to shield them. I will purposefully not tell them about a terrorist attack or something that occurred the day before - and then they'll come home from school bursting with far more information than I even had to offer myself. I've learned that it's better to confront these events head on and to talk through the facts with them so that they don't get sidelined by the gossip and misinformation.

That's life in Israel.

So, as they listened in to the events that occurred at the supermarket in Arizona yesterday, they were completely confused. Why, Yehuda wanted to know, hadn't someone standing nearby simply killed the shooter? When I explained that few people in America carry guns on them, they said, "Why?"

(Pictured are U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, space shuttle astronaut Mark Kelly, in an undated photo. Mrs Giffords is fighting for her life in an Arizona hospital after being shot in the head at point blank range. May she have a speedy recovery.)

These are children who know that terrorist-driven tractors get stopped by heroic citizens who happen to be walking by. Terrorists killing high school students get stopped, not by the police who have been called to the scene, but by a young man who hears the gunshots and comes running. This is their life.

Our children are being raised with the understanding that they will need to know how to use guns and that they will, undoubtedly, carry them to protect themselves and those around them. It's quite a responsibility that they are being raised with - but it's their reality.

I was struck by their perspective and by how incredibly different it is to be growing up here than in America. Why, Yehuda wanted to know, didn't someone come to the rescue and kill the shooter? He simply could not understand.

Then, when I explained that bystanders courageously tackled the shooter to the ground and waiting for the police, Yehuda wanted to know why the police didn't simply kill the shooter when they arrived. Stumbling over my words, I tried to explain about due process and fair trials and all sorts of things...but the confusion in Yehuda's eyes remained.

Then, in the afternoon, Amichai, who is six, came home bursting with information about Ilan Ramon. They are learning about space in Kindergarten - and there was Amichai telling me how Ilan Ramon was the first Israeli astronaut and how we should be so proud of him. Amichai explained that the space shuttle broke apart as they tried to return to Earth and about how Israel grieved. We spent the afternoon reading a book that we have about the Torah Scroll from the Holocaust that Ilan Ramon took to space with him, and watching YouTube videos of their mission.

At first, I tried not to cry while watching the videos with the children. Seeing Ilan Ramon's beaming face and anticipation as he set off into the space shuttle, and then watching it break apart was too much for me to contain my composure.

Watching image after imagine, however, I thought to myself, "Who needs composure? The kids should see me cry - they should know how touching sacrifices made by people like Ilan Ramon are." And so, I sat there crying as they clicked on video after video in their search for interesting images.

In the book that we read, Ilan Ramon describes how he took the Torah that was saved from Bergen-Belsen up into space with him. He took it, he explains, to remind the world of what happened in the Holocaust and to show that such an event would never have occurred had the State of Israel existed. And to show, full circle, that with a strong state of Israel that could send a man to space, an event like the Holocaust would not be allowed to happen again.

May our children grow stronger each day, learning to live with the incredible responsibilities they are being given in this country and learning to incorporate Ilan Ramon's teaching and those of so many other heroes into their lives.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Maternity Leave

Were someone to ask me right now what I do all day - this would be my answer:

Need I say more?

Boker Or

I was struck this morning by the most ubiquitous expression. While dropping my kids off at school, I said, "Boker Tov" to someone walking by. This means "Good Morning" in Hebrew and is offered anytime that you see someone during the morning hours.

In response, he said, "Boker Or." "Boker Or" is the typical response when someone says "Boker Tov." It's general meaning is to wish someone a good morning. The direct translation, however is "Morning of Light." When saying "Boker Or" you are wishing someone a morning of light.

What a beautiful way to start the day.

What a lovely way to wish someone a good morning.

May you have a day of light today...a day of productivity...of beauty...of vibrancy.

Boker Or Indeed.