Monday, November 30, 2009

Bird Sighting

It was a magical moment.

We had just finished Shabbos lunch, and contrary to my usual plan of heading straight into my bed and not coming out till it was time to make Shalosh Seudah, I decided that the whole family could do for a walk.

So we headed out, and walked down our block, Mr. NMF pushing the stroller with NBD inside. Our block is covered with olive and pomegranate trees, and we amused ourselves by pointing out the various new and old foliage all around us.

We walked into a pretty block, with shade and gorgeous flowers, when I stopped short.

"Is that a hummingbird?" I said. "I've never seen a real hummingbird outside of the zoo before."

There in front of us, flitting around, was a gorgeous iridescent hummingbird, with blue and green plumage, trying to suck out nectar from some pink flowers.

A compatriot, in dark colors of brown and black, joined him, and we just stood there mesmerized, watching the two of them flit back and forth. It was a sight to see.

What a perfect Shabbos afternoon.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Skipping Stones

This Thursday night, I was getting supper on the table, when my husband called me over. "NBD is crawling," he said with a smile. I ignored him, as she couldn't possibly be crawling. She's been getting all over the house lately in many other ways, but according to her doctor, since she's been standing for a while already, it was more probable that she would walk before she crawled.

But Friday, NBD proved me wrong, as she crawled towards the garbage can as I was making Shabbos, pulled herself up, and started to pick out yummy things to eat from it.

I didn't know whether to just stand there laughing, or get her out of the dustbin before she ate something nasty.

I called my grandmother, hoping to share the news. She was happy for us- but spent her conversation reminiscing.

"They grow up so fast, " she said. "This is the best time of your life- enjoying the babyhood and toddlerhood of your kids. Take advantage, don't miss a minute. Every milestone, every step, it's something that kids do, and just as they don't miss it, you shouldn't either. Rejoice with every stone met, and cherish every second. Because all too quickly they're all grown up."

It's true, you know. The time flies so fast- she was a newborn so recently. Looking at her, makes me feel old, because she's achieved so much in such a short period of time.

It's like that with all of our lives. When we are little, we can't wait to be big. When we're big, we can't wait to be grown up. When we're grown up, we can't wait to get married. When we get married, we want to start a family.

All these milestones, they pass us by so quickly. I guess like all of us, I have to learn to step back, and really watch for them, and enjoy them. Because like my grandmother said, all too quickly, she'll be grown up, and those stones will have flown by, as quick as skipping rocks on a pond.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rewind and Review

I thought today might be a nice day to review some of my really old post from way back when. After all- BOSD is celebrating her 1st birthday- go on over and wish her a mazel tov- so I figured that I'll bring up some lost treasures that my readers (if I still have readers, given how sporadically I've been posting lately) might enjoy.

Creepy Crawlies- What to do when your food starts looking back at you, Israel style.

Go Fight Egged- How the bus company has taken over the world, literally.

Sundays- That day of the week that has taken on new meaning in the Holy Land.

Hechsherim- I'm a religious fanatic (just kidding), and as such, I have a stamp on my product saying so.

Shabbos and Neighborhoods- Kind of like Mr. Rogers, just he's American and I'm Israeli.

Tis The Season- A bit of a Chanukah backtrack- after all, it is the season now yet again!!

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Arrgh. Y'Hiyeh B'Seder

Man. I wish there was an American equivalent of Y'hiyeh B'Seder. Because, heavens above, we need it. I mean, is there a colloquial English word or words that express that utter nonchalance and relaxation that Israelis exude when saying those words?

It's like nothing can ever go wrong, ever. I mean- it'll all be okay. Always okay, all the time. That should be the new Israeli radio station. "Always Okay, all the time. Y'hiyeh B'Seder."

"Geveret, no worry. It will be there on time, y'hiyeh b'seder."
"Geveret, no worry. The bomb shelter is only four blocks away. Y'hiyeh B'Seder."
"Geveret, Y'hiyeh B'Seder. I know that there is a nuclear missile heading towards us, but no worry. We will be fine."

Just today I had a contractor- who I've called an estimation of about 300 times- that's a rough estimation, not an exaggeration, and told about my deadline- November 30th- say to me, "Don't worry Geveret. Y'hiyeh B'Seder. All will be done before Chanukah."

When informed that Chanukah comes after November 30th, I got a "Don't worry. Y'hiyeh B'Seder."

Traffic? Y'hiyeh B'Seder. Terrorist attacks? Same response. How about international relations? "They all crazy. Y'hiyeh B'Seder."

I'm telling you- either I'm nuts, or they are. But one thing's for sure. Not everything is Y'hiyeh B'Seder.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

OII #19- Of Bus Drivers and Brissim

So, this past Friday, I had the privilege of attending a very good friend of mine's son's bris. She lives in my neighborhood, but the bris took place in the center of town, the better to accommodate her relatives that were arriving from all over Israel.

As required, I prepared Shabbos ahead of time, and left my house to take the bus to the center of town to make it in time for the bris. The simcha was lovely, the joy heartfelt, and the main participant wailed his way into the covenant of Avraham Avinu.

I waited till a neighbor was ready to leave as well, and we walked to what we thought was the correct bus stop. After watching our bus pass us by, we realized that with all the changes Egged has instituted, changing the route and stops of our bus was one of them, and we walked to the next bus stop to wait yet again.

We hopped on the bus, and it started heading towards Geulah area. Now for those who know, Geulah on Erev Shabbos is one of those places that can literally be called a madhouse. People are dashing everywhere, cars are honking, buses are essence, I was glad I was on a bus already rather than being outside.

So we headed towards Yechezekel, and passed by the edge of Nechama Bakery. We were stuck in literally bumper to bumper traffic. Our bus driver stops, opens his window, and yells out to a worker standing outside the bakery. Quicker than our eyes can see, the guy runs into the bakery, pulls out an already wrapped challah, and runs across the traffic to give the challah to our bus driver. The driver counts out the correct payment, hands it to the bakery worker, and resumes driving (that is, if you can call traffic driving). All this so our bus driver and his family can have challah for Shabbos.

Now how's that for Only In Israel!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Finances in Israel

I've been having an on and off debate with Mr. NMF about cheaper places to live. I am convinced that once we have several kids, Israel will come out far cheaper as of living expenses, than America. This is for the simple reasons of health insurance and schooling.

But until we have several children, which really does work out cheaper? America? Or Israel?

I mean, I sit down and figure out my budget (thanks Orthonomics, for helping all the Jblogosphere, including me, with that) and basically, I can come up with a few categories. Then I figured the best way would be to compare the average living style in the US with Israel.

Of course, that sparked a debate, as I am originally from Out-Of-Town, and proud of it, while husband is from 'New Yawk'. Is living out of town cheaper than living in the big bad city? What if I were to go outside the box all together and suggest living in Australia, as his chavrusa is starting to contemplate. It seems they have a very good kollel down under, that basically pays for one's living expenses.

So, in these categories- which do you think is more expensive- America or Israel. If you pick America, please state Out Of Town versus New York/Lakewood, and tell me why!

Oh, and for our family, we'll pick an average family with 2 kids who are not in school as of yet. (One can be in a gan/preschool, if you like.)

So, drumroll please. Here are the categories:

Health Care
Clothing and Sundry (especially for 2 kids, who do ruin their clothing, despite all attempts to prevent it)
Holidays and Special Times of the Year (ie Pesach)
Schooling (assuming babysitter or gan/preschool for at least one child)
Utilities: Gas, Water, Electric

Any more things I missed?
So whaddaya all say?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Manners versus Convenience

I'm a usually very well mannered person, at least I think so. The times that I've been caught drinking straight out of a bottle (a 2 liter one) seem to make that fact obsolete, and I did send out my thank you notes for things rather late, but on the whole, I try to be respectful of others.

Yet, here is where I hit a bump, or snag, if you will.

You see, I'm a mommy, and I love being one. But I also have a brain, and I'd like to use it. So when I see all these shiurim advertised around my community, for convenient times and close location, I'd love to attend one, and get my gray cells working.

But, NBD is a baby, and does have that wonderful tendency of babies to be extremely self absorbed, causing her to interrupt what ever I may be doing at the moment to ask me to be involved in her life. And I'm happy to do so.

Yet, that means I can't attend shiurim. Most speakers and listeners HATE to be interrupted, especially by a complaining baby. In fact, some shiurim request that you not bring children at all, simply for that reason.

There is one phenomenal shiur in the neighborhood, given by the local Rebbitzen that requests that children attend- and no one minds if my kid starts complaining, or wants to nurse right in the middle of the shiur. Which is great for me, since I love being able to hear some words of Torah.

But, why can't I violate the mannerly thing to do and head to other shiurim, and just leave if NBD makes a peep? Is it wrong and uncouth to bring her to a shiur if I assume that in the middle she probably will disrupt? For, the second she disrupts, I will take her out. But at least I'll get to hear something!

Are words of Torah worth being unmannerly?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chana and Rachel

I dunno. Maybe it's Rachel Imeinu's yartzheit (anniversary of her death) (I wrote this back then but was too scared to publish it!) that brings this up in my head. Maybe it's a friend, discussing with me Chana, or a rebbitzen, discussing with me Rachel. And, truthfully, I don't deserve to speak of it at all.

I'm blessed with a daughter, who I love more than anything in the world. But some have to travel long hard roads to have children, if G-d wills it.

There are very few who blog on the internet (at least in an open blog) as being Orthodox Jews and infertile. Probably they don't want to air their kishkes in a public forum.

ATIME has an internet site, Imamother has a group, and probably there are more anonymous people out there who are going through this.

I've gained a lot from reading one blog, about Serenity and now, her wonderful son, Baby O.
And my sensitivities have changed, quite a bit. So thank you, Serenity. I'm giving you a shout out that you should have lots of nachas (that's parental pleasure and pride) from your little one!

Beezrat Hashem(with G-d's help), all those who don't have children yet soon will. I wish them all much blessings, joy, happiness, simcha, and much hatzlacha.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Check Out My Wedding

Go head on over to the Jewish Wedding Info to see a glimpse of what my wedding was like. I guest posted there.
It's interesting- I've never posted on anyone else's site before- so I'm wondering who would read it, who would think it's overrated, or what comments it would generate. After all, a site like the Jewish Wedding Info gets a lot more hits than plain old Israel Chronicles!

So check it out, and let me know what you think!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I'd Like a Cuppa

Cuppa joe, cuppa tea, cuppa cocoa; these hot drinks are the ones getting me through winter right now.

I know, for all those experiencing the gorgeous weather outside we Israeli's call winter, I guess I have no right to sit down to an exquisite cup of hot chocolate with a marshmallow for extra flavor.

But, as my family has been sick, and I'm still nursing (it's not mine- but it's needy and won't leave me alone) a cough, one of those hot drinks are the ones keeping me going.

Israeli tea- Wissotsky , is the foremost company- at least by it's indomitable presence on the shelves, and the first one to arrive in the search results from Google for Israel tea, is delicious, and well marked- unlike Celestial Seasonings, which drive me nuts trying to determine if it is caffeine free, or not. (Why do I worry? Caffeine isn't good for me, no matter how much I like it.)

They have all sorts of flavors- although not in the abundance I was spoiled by Celestial, but they have the delicious Israeli flavor of Nana- or mint- as only Israel can produce it.

Ask my Moroccan friend, she buys pure Nana leaves, soaks them in some solution, and puts them directly into her cup of boiling water. Add some honey, sugar, or Nutrasweet solution, and what you've got is fit for a queen.

Hot chocolate is my choice for late nights- either made with freshly boiled milk, or a pareve version in just water if I've recently eaten meat. But either way, nothing beats a cup of that hot cocoa for a freezing wet cold night, when all you want to do is huddle under blankets for hours.

Coffee would be my favorite, but as much as I try, I can't get my coffee to taste like Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, or even Aroma- so I've given up.

So, enjoy your cuppa, and let's wait out this winter, until spring comes again, and we can go back to enjoying our 'Arctics' (that would be Popsicles) and ice cream yet again.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Delicious Shomron Zucchini Kugel

Recently, I went to my husband's family in the Shomron and enjoyed a beautiful Shabbos by them.
They made a major effort to accommodate me, and make me feel welcome.

My husband's aunt made delicious and delectable food, so much so that about two weeks afterwards, I found myself, although not pregnant, craving her zucchini kugel.

So, I called Aunt Shaindel up, and got her delicious recipe for zucchini kugel. She remarked to me on the phone that my husband must have put me up to this, because he loved her zucchini kugel for ages. I responded that surprisingly, it was me who wanted it, but if Mr. NMF likes it too, that's an added bonus.

Forgive me if there are some odd amounts in the recipe- Aunt Shaindel doesn't measure anything, so I developed the proportions on my own. Just keep playing with it until it tastes delicious!

Aunt Shaindel's Zucchini Kugel

4-6 large zucchini, cut into slices
2-3 onions, depending on taste, cut into slices
2 cloves of garlic, crushed, or a teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 a cup of oil
1 stick margarine
2-3 eggs
1- 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1-2 Tbsp. curry powder (or more, if you like curry!)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place the cut up zucchini, onion, and garlic into a bowl with water, and boil until soft and mushy. Strain out the liquid, and place into bowl. Add to the bowl the oil and margarine while the mixture is still hot from the boiling process. Then add the eggs, bread crumbs, curry powder, and spices. Mix up, gently (you don't want something mushy, but you should get a loose mixture) and pour into pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or 160 degrees Celsius, for at least 20 minutes until the tops turns a golden brown.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Things to Do While Sick

So, things just keep going around. By things, I mean viruses, bacteria, and all those stuff that make our lives just ever so joyful.

NBD was sick last week, for five days. Doc said it was just a virus, but boy, do those things last a long time. I caught some sort of cold, which lasted for about 3 days, yet I'm still sniffling and nursing a cough. And now, Mr. NMF has been laid low by something that forced him to leave yeshiva, which means he's really sick. It brings to mind this poem by J.A.P. about husbands and sickness.

So. What to do while you're sick. Or at least, what to do while your family is sick, besides for cooking extra big bowlfuls of 'Jewish penicillin', a.k.a., chicken soup. (By the way, although research has proven that chicken soup does help alleviate the symptoms of a sickness, it doesn't actually cure it. Although, it does help quite a bit!)

The way I see it, if you're really sick, you can't really do much more than sleep in a comfortable bed. If you're semi sick, you have just about enough energy to read a good book. I highly recommend Lawrence Kelleman's book on chinuch, 'To Kindle a Soul', for all those looking for something new to read. If you have the energy, you can use a computer, or call people who you haven't spoken to in quite a while.

But, what it comes down to is this: my household just doesn't function 'well' when they are sick.

Something that has nothing to do with the title of this post- ProfK has an excellent take on the Fort Hood shooting- I myself read immediately on Fox News that the shooter had said "Allah Akbar"- but it took until about page 5 (and let's face it, who reads that long) on the NY Times to get that point across. "Don't jump to conclusions.", Obama says. Well. I'm not jumping, I'm just meandering slowly towards them. Oh, and the New York Post is meandering too.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jewish Heroes

Wow. Through the Jewish Federation, they selected 5 'Jewish Heroes' that are going to get 1,000 dollars towards their work, and that could be selected to win 25,000 dollars.
When I first got this email, there were 400 nominees, and then it got narrowed to 20, then finally, these final 5.
These people make differences in people's lives every day. Honestly, I am so amazed and wowed by some of the work that they do. I know a few people personally who have told me in confidence how they have benefited from Keren Simchas Chassan V'Kallah, and others who have joined a Friendship Circle.
Here's the video on who was chosen:

It makes me reexamine my own life. What am I doing to help the Jewish world at large? What can I contribute?

One of my neighbors takes out time from her family of 7 and leaves them on Erev Shabbos for a couple hours, in order to distribute Shabbos candles at the local marketplace to those who would probably not have lit candles otherwise. She makes a difference, even with her limited time.

Any ideas folks? For a mom of one, with most of my energy going towards my family and home, what can I do to make a difference in the lives of others?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

OII #18- Israeli Soldiers

My eyes started to tear as I told my mother over the phone what happened to me today, and her eyes started to water too. No, it wasn't something sad, but something touching. And something so routine that probably many take it for granted.

I got on the bus today with my daughter, heading out to pick up something in a neighborhood far away. I grabbed her tight, got the driver to punch my ticket, folded my stroller, and sat down. There was an empty seat next to me, and a woman across the aisle was also sitting, an empty seat next to her.

After about two stops, a young Israeli soldier boarded the bus, carrying his gun, his ammunition pack, and a giant duffel bag, probably containing all that he was taking back to his base after a brief trip home to see his family and do laundry.

He unloaded all his gear while still wearing his gun, and placed it on the floor next to my folded stroller. Meanwhile, I recognized that he probably wouldn't want to sit next to me, so I moved over to sit next to the woman with the empty seat next to her.

He looked up, saw what I did, and smiled. He then proceeded to sit down.
I have no idea what prompted me, but I looked at him and wished him quietly, "Hatzlacha Rabba". He smiled again, and nodded his thanks.

He then proceeded to spend the rest of the bus ride, until I disembarked, playing peekaboo with my daughter from across the aisle, making sure my stroller and his gear didn't roll their way across the bus, and generally acting so chesedik and kind to every single person on the bus who passed by. Like the elderly women who he helped with the shopping cart. Oh, and the other woman who he helped off the bus with her stroller.

I'm telling you, he was such a stereotypical example of an Israeli soldier, down to the kindness and all. Our boys, our young Jewish boys, head out to the army at such a young age, but they have such hearts of gold.

When I told this story over to my mother on my next bus ride, she started to cry. She reminded me of an even older story that happened with me as a young one and a soldier as well.

When I was a little child, about 5 or so, my parents went on a trip to Israel. They got on a bus, and a young soldier proceeded to play games with me at that age, just like this soldier did for my daughter. My parents were so touched, and showered so many blessings on his head as a result. I have a picture, as a young child, of me with that soldier, both of us smiling huge grins.

The soldiers of Israel- our brothers, sons, and fathers. May they all continue to be safe, well, and protected.

It Was SUCH a Chavaya

Cue the typical seminary girl's voice, "It was SUCH a chavaya, you have NO idea..."

Interesting. I was once a sem girl, believe it or not, and yes, I did my share of searching for 'chavayot' or 'experiences' that I could write home about. You know the type, like visiting Tzfas and getting followed by someone who thinks he's Mashiach, or heading to Kever Rochel on her yartzheit and getting squished (note to self: I am never doing that again.), or going to the Kotel for Birkat Kohanim and getting squished yet again (note #2: second note #1.) .

But am I, the person I am now, a chavaya? An experience? It seems so.

I hosted two guests for Shabbos that I had no clue who they were. A neighbor, who happens to be one of the sweetest and kindest families I know, offered an invitation to two girls who he never met before in his life, and they took him up on it. So, the neighbor called me to see if I had sleeping space for sem girls, which I did, as my guest room was free.

When I asked them what brought them to my neighborhood, and to that neighbor in general, she responded, "Didn't you go on chavayot when you were in sem?"

Well. It seems I am now 'an experience". Something to write home about. Frankly, I didn't know I, or my neighbors were that interesting. I don't know whether to be insulted or flattered.

Either way, they had a nice time over Shabbos, and I and NBD both have colds/flu. So there you go. I should put out advertising: "Nice guest room available in a family that's a definite chavaya. A must see experience to tell all your friends about when you get back."