Monday, May 30, 2011

En Route to the Airport!

The day has come - we're almost off to Israel!

My experiences: Amidst some chaotic packing, I review the trip itinerary over and over, trying to process all the logistical details and contemplating the fact that the trip I have so long held in my head will soon be playing out in reality, in some more logical order of space and time.

And without further ado, what you have all been waiting for, my itinerary!

Day 1: Arrive in Jerusalem
Day 2-5: Jerusalem
Day 6: Natanya, Caesaria
Day 7: Wine Tour with
Day 8: Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi
Day 9: Shavuot at Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi
Day 10: Ein Gedi/ Dead Sea
Day 11: Modi'in
Day 12: Shabbat in Modi'in
Day 13: Holon, then down to Be'ersheva
Day 14: Mitzpe Ramon
Day 15: Tzuba
Day 16: Tzuba, back to Jerusalem
Day 17: Avnei Eitan (via Tiberias)
Day 18: Day trip to Ein Zivan
Day 19: Shabbat in Avnei Eitan
Day 20: Tel Aviv
Day 21: Tel Aviv/ Back home!

You will be proud to know that I just did that by heart, just to test myself. Whew! I think things are under control...

Ayelet's experiences: She's a little bewildered as to why she's being ignored, as I dart past her trying to put away various items that I've forgotten or that she's moved. I can tell she's ready to be on the road and on our way (from the fact she keeps saying "Outside! OUTSIDE!!!")

And now, I'm off, to the outside and the other side... the Israel side!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What’s it like to be a mother? (Belated Mother’s Day Thoughts)

Of course, it’s a lot of hard work—when you think you’ve ended the day, only to discover there are no clean bottles, only a pile needing cleaning. It’s a lot of messes that Ayelet mostly creates, like when she threw the potted plant she “gave” me (via daycare) for Mother’s Day on the floor—the one that came with her handprints on a poem about how I sometimes get frustrated with her, because she’s so small, but soon her hands will grow bigger, and I won’t remember the small hands at all!
It’s kind of funny, to see her discovering the world—like the Shabbat lunch when I looked over at the kids’ table and saw her downing the juices of a bowl previously holding pickles (she looked rather relieved when I handed her a glass of water). It’s kind of funny how she wrinkles up her little nose, the exact same way I did when I was a baby, or so I’m told.
It’s such a miracle, to hear her little voice developing a vocabulary—even though no matter how many words she learns, the one I love the most is, “IMA!” It’s such a miracle finding tiny baby diapers in the back of my closet and realizing how much she’s already grown.
It’s kind of scary that she has wants and opinions, especially when those opinions opt for “ELMO!” when I could already play the role of Elmo in that video or “OUTSIDE!” when a trip to the playground wasn’t on the agenda.
It’s kind of scary, because while planning a trip like I’m planning, I have to realize that no matter how “kid-friendly” I think I’m making it, I’m really just doing it for myself. How can I presume she’ll even like the “kid-friendly” parts at all? I remember the first time we put her in a swing when she was an itty-bitty baby and she just sat there staring at us, like, “This is supposed to be fun?” Or that first year when we put her in a Purim costume and she was screaming her head off. I want Israel to be fun, but honestly I can’t really know how it will compare to, say, an empty soda bottle, or Ima’s purse to walk around with, never mind “ELMO!” (let’s not set our sights too high here).
As far as I figure it, the best I can do is strike some kind of a balance between my desire to roll full steam ahead through my fast and furious itinerary and Ayelet’s desire to toddle the other direction, holding my purse, an empty soda bottle, and pushing her own stroller too while she’s at it—and somehow turn that into teachable moments where we learn about each other, Israel, and the big wide world around us, and have a good time, too, while we’re at it.
And that, in a nutshell, is what it’s like to be a mother.

Monday, May 2, 2011


My husband, who was born in Israel, when subjected to listening to me hobnobbing on the phone with various hotels, expressed his disapproval of my pronunciation of “yesh.” I say it really old-school (i.e. learned in Hebrew School): “yeish.” All that did was make me terribly self-conscious about my yesh’s. “Yeish, er, yaish, ahh, yesh!” I would say, while the person on the other end of the line waited – rather impatiently, I imagined – for me to just get out with it already.
After frequent experimentation, I’ve found as a general consensus that Israelis are much more receptive when I at least attempt communication in my broken Hebrew. I’ve gotten my grammar corrected, I’ve had people finish sentences for me, and yes, there is the occasional switch to English (Her name was Harriet! She spoke fluent American English! Of course she’d switch to it!), but in general, I get more patience and less of the feeling that I’m a gullible tourist out of those with whom I at least try.
You can chalk it off to coincidence but... Top occurrences that happened in English that never happened in Hebrew:
  1. From a man: Getting chatted up. “Wherre in the U – S arre you? Oh, I know someone in [insert random place nowhere near where I live here].”
  2. From 2 women: Being told really curtly that they’re busy now and I should call back later.
Top Hebrew-only experiences:
  1. Being told by the guy who I was told could take me around the Golan (who I was theoretically willing to pay to do so) that it would be better for me to rent a car.
  2. Genuine surprise that I’m calling from the US – every single time. With the rather simplistic and highly accented state of my Hebrew, I’m not sure what this says about the minimally acceptable level of Hebrew of Americans in Israel. Nothing good. Then again, at least I won’t be alone.