Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Travel Time

I cant believe it. Seven hours from now I will be getting in a cab to the airport...we had a wonderful time but it's time to go. As much as I would like to stay "forever", I am also looking forward to going home, which for now is New York. The past weeks we have been leading a pretty nomadic existence and it's time for the kids and the adults to be back in their routines and schedules.
So I am definitely looking forward to some "normalcy" and the upcoming start of school, although I am not necessarily looking forward to our flight tomorrow. The whole thing will probably take between 18-20 hours door to door...that's the price you pay for a fun vacation I guess.
Will report on our travel adventures from the other side. Also has some great family pictures to share...stay tuned.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Winding down

We just moved 3 suitcases, 1 duffelbag, 2 carry ons, 3 children, 1 stroller, 1 carseat and one large bag of food from one apartment to another. I am a tad exhausted but happy that we made the transition pretty smoothly. We had to leave the apartment we were staying in and are spending the last 2.5 days in Israel at my sisters place (shoutout to her and her husband for graciously welcoming us into their home).
I can't believe our trip is really winding down and coming to an end so soon. Not really looking forward to getting on a plane and hoping by Thursday all airports will be back to normal.I am thankful that we missed two natural disasters while we were away- an earthquake and Hurricane Irene though they seem to have both been on the milder side.
 I do think it was a really productive trip for all of us. We spent lots of quality time together as a family, and also with our families who live here. It was nice for the cousins to get to know each other and play together.
We also got to visit fun places in Israel- last week's highlights included a tour of the Belzer Shul (sans kids) and Shabbos in Beit Shemesh. This week we took the kids to the Jerusalem Zoo and to the Gush Katif Museum. I don't think they really understood what was going on, but my husband and I were very moved.
Tomorrow we are taking family pictures. I am pretty excited about that. I would love to get a nice family picture as well as some pictures of my siblings and their kids. I can only hope the kids cooperate and we get some nice shots.
Speaking of pictures, here are some from Belz. It's pretty impressive. And the history of Belz and its shul is fascinating as well.
Outside the gate

The Aron Kodesh

The chandeliers

A view of the building- all 20m and 14 stories of it

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Down Syndrome Blog Posts

Shavua Tov from Jerusalem. We had a lovely shabbos in Beit Shemesh, our last one in Israel for this summer. Right now my thoughts are with the NY metro area and the storm they are awaiting...I am kind of happy that we are not there and hoping that things will not be as bad as expected.
Just wanted to share two interesting Down Syndrome-related blog posts. I could relate to a lot of what these women write, although I don't agree with everything. Still some food for thought though.So without further ado:

- Top 5 Things that I Like About Having a Kid with Down Syndrome by Dooze

- Sheva at My Shtub on accepting your children, the good traits as well as the weaknesses

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I have been pretty good about taking pictures on this trip. Although as someone pointed out to me, I am usually not in them. That is the problem with being the designated photographer, it always looks like you weren't there for all the fun.
Sunday we went to a farm near Beit Shemesh with some cousins. The kids loved the waterslides there and went horseback riding too. I was impressed that they were all brave enough to get on a horse. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of A, because my sister-in-law has it on her camera.
Y on a horse one-handed...impressive :)

M on a his round, although you can't really see his face

A on a tractor ride to see the beautiful view

Monday we went to the science museum which was ridiculously crowded, Tuesday we hung out at the local parks and today we took the kids to a pool. I did not bring my camera because I did not want it to get wet although I wish I had caught a shot of M lounging in a pool chair. Too cute.
I am also happy to report that the kids are starting to show more safety awareness about the pool, so spending time near water is not as anxiety-inducing as it has been, although we definitely still need to be very watchful.
My husband and I have also been trying to take some time for ourselves, since it is our vacation too. We went out to dinner once this week, he took some time to go shopping and to the kotel and I spent a morning wandering around the shuk area and town, just taking in the local Jerusalem flavor.
I have also had some time to meet old friends for coffee and I have to say it is so so nice to catch up. These are people I am not in touch with as much I want to be, but when we get together we have such a great time and I feel like I can talk to them about almost anything and have great discussions on "life'. Makes me realize how nice it is to have close friends and also wish some of them lived a bit more local.
People have asked me what it's like to be here with the ongoing tensions in the South. We are definitely reading the news and keeping up to date, but the funny thing about Israel, for better or worse, is that life goes on. People keep working, maintain their routines and even go out at night. Everyone is trying to just live their life and it feels normal to be part of that culture, even if just for the time being.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The fun continues

Wednesday was another adventurous day for us. I had found out about mini-golfing at a mall in Talpiot and we thought the kids might enjoy it. We did have a lot of fun, once we finally found it! First the cab driver took us to the wrong mall, then once we were in the right place, we still couldn't find the roof top the golf course was set up on. Several false starts later we were finally there and ready to play!
The kids went from super cranky to super excited pretty quickly. They wanted to play golf just like their Abba. While we had to supervise them to make sure they swung the clubs safely, they looked pretty cute.

Of course, there comes a time when the kids get overtired and need to go home NOW and we need to get better at leaving before they cross that threshold, but all in all it was a fun expedition.
That evening my husband and I headed out to the Wine Festival at the Israel Museum for the second year in a row. For 70 shekel you get a glass and can taste as much wine as you want. Of course, being pregnant I wasn't exactly first in line for the Yatir and the Carmel Reserve but I did savor a little Champagne. And the gardens of the Museum are a beautiful setting for an event. We even managed to snag a much coveted couch for a few minutes.

Thursday and Friday we decided to take it easy and stay local. A and my husband went on a little "date" to Geulah Friday morning. It's always nice to give the kids some quality time and attention on their own. After a quiet and restful shabbos, we are gearing up for another week. We don't have specific plans beyond tomorrow but I kind of like it like that...go with the flow. A bit of a change for my OCD, control-everything personality but that is probably good for me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Family Time

The theme of our trip has definitely been family so far. We met my parents for breakfast, went swimming at their hotel's pool twice and also saw them on several other occasions. Today I got a babysitter for a few hours and I spent some quality shopping time with my mom.  Not to mention the siblings and cousins we have met at parks or for dinner.
The other side of the family is not being neglected either. Yesterday we saw my husband's brothers and their families and had a fun dinner/playdate with them. We might be having a Sunday BBQ with them as well and are definitely on the calendar for the last shabbos in Israel.
All these get togethers are definitely fun although they are a bit exhausting- trying to coordinate everyone's schedule and getting everyone together in the same place at the same time. But it is totally worth it. All year long I miss having that accessability, the ability to just pick up a phone, get in a cab and see my siblings or parents. Some people are fortunate enough to have close family nearby all year round but for those of us with siblings and parents spanning several countries and continents, it is a bit more complicated. For me, my mom stopping by with a latte or grabbing some pizza with my siblings is a real treat, one I try to savor and enjoy while it lasts.
In the Old City of Jerusalem

Grabbing pizza with my parents

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The long overdue update

We have been in Israel over 72 hours and somehow I have not managed to blog about all our fun experiences.
First of all, the flights. Some highlights include:
-Y. losing patience while waiting for the flight to start boarding. So he made a run for it and made it past security and halfway to the plane before the stewardess and I caught up with him. He is fast. I have to say that not much frazzles me when it comes to my kids behavior  but I found this a very embaressing episode because a planeful of people saw this little exchange play itself out.
-M insisting on pulling our carry-on through Heathrow airport on our stopover, even though it was bigger than him and he was running on three hours of sleep. We let him do it for a little while but eventually took the suitcase away because it was taking too long and holding up other people, which led to some howling.
-Our  seatmates on both flights were very nice and pleasant and did not seem to have a problem with our kids. Which just shows it is all about attitude!
-The kids themselves were pretty well behaved. They slept a bit, watched some movies on the iPad and annoyed their siblings at various points, but all in all were about as good as can be expected on 2 flights and a trip that took about 18-19 hours door to door. M had some crying jags on the plane and in the airport but that is to be expected when running on no sleep.
- I was surprisingly patient and held it together for the duration of the trip so yay for me. I had my own little meltdown later that night, when we were finally settled into our apartment, I was super exhausted and the kids were totally hyper and refusing to go to bed. Again, some crying is to be expected when running on no sleep :)

Here is an overview of some of the things we have done here in the past few days:
-We spent a nice shabbos with my parents, two sisters and their respective families. The cousins got along nicely except when M. climbed into my 6 month old niece's crib and woke her up from her nap, thereby ruining her sleeping schedule for the day (sorry again!). Thankfully he did not hurt her.
-Three outings to local playgrounds...what else :)
- My husband and I attended a Yaakov Shwekey concert held at the Sultan's Pool right outside the Old City of Jerusalem tonight. The concert was enjoyable but the ambience and location really made the night. It was so beautiful sitting outdoors, listening to good music and seeing the Old City all lit up...hard to describe.

I am really happy to be here (definitely worth the expense and the long trip!) and looking forward to many more fun adventures...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Good Shabbos

As usual I'm posting close to shabbos, this time from the Holy Land! We had an adventurous and long trip but we made it and are very excited to be here. It was definitely worth it. Looking forward to spending shabbos with family. Will report more details after shabbos. Enjoy!

Monday, August 8, 2011

We are gearing up for Tisha B'Av. I have been drinking water all day although I am not sure how much that will help. Fasting while taking care of kids is very difficult. Fasting while pregnant and taking care of kids...well, we will see.
I have lined up some babysitting help for the morning and am planning on staying indoors all day. That will probably mean lots of video time for the kids but that's what G'd created videos for :)
Once we get through the fast and hopefully even get into the spirit of the day a bit (again, not an easy feat when home with little children), it will be laundry marathon so we can leave to Israel on Wednesday night with some clean clothing. I have been hoarding quarters so I can use the big machines in the basement of our building.
In other unrelated news, check out my blog post on The Birthfocus Blog. I write about Y's little trip to the ER a few weeks ago and connect it to my doula work.
Wishing everyone an easy and meaningful fast!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

World Breastfeeding Week

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, which actually ends tomorrow (apologies for being behind schedule) I am posting some links to articles about breastfeeding. Being pregnant, I can't help anticipating what it will be like to nurse yet again.
My feelings are overwhelmingly positive- it is a wonderful way to bond and connect to your baby, it is free and easily accessable. I love the ability to go out anytime and not have to worry about bringing along bottles, snacks or other accessories for the first six months. It is an amazing feeling to know that you are nourishing a child and that all the cute babyfat they are accumulating- the cheeks, the chin, the thighs have come from you :) Not to mention all the health benefits babies get from breastmilk.
At the same time, as easy as it is, it can sometimes feel limiting because the baby relies solely on you. Unless you are pumping, it is all you all the time and going out for an extended period of time without the baby needs advance planning. So does trying to sleep more than 3 or 4 hours stretches at a time in the beginning. Not to mention moms who have problems with their milk supply or who have to cut foods out of their diets because their babies aren't tolerating them. So it is not always simple and straightforward. I saw a quote on facebook that said: "While breastfeeding may not seem the right choice for every parent, it is the best choice for every baby"
I believe that to be true. While it may be hard for us mommies sometimes, it is definitely the right choice for your baby.
Click here to see some Tips for Breastfeeding from Brio Birth, a childbirth education organization.
Also check out Dr. Sears' website- He is a pediatrician for over 30 years and a father of eight children. His site has great information on pregnancy, birth, children's health, discipline and lots of other great topics. Worth a look is his extensive section on breastfeeding and its benefits- Why Breast is Best.
Lastly, for more info about what exactly World Breastfeeding Week is, check out their official site.
That should be more than enough talk about nursing for now- but feel free to comment with more info or links if you have any!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Home Sweet Home

We have been home since Sunday night but it took me a while to get my act together again.
We had a really wonderful and relaxing week in Florida with our in laws. In fact, we were so busy having fun that we barely took any pictures! I have a few on my husband's phone so I will try and upload them later this week.
It was nice not to have anywhere pressing to be- school, camp, appointments or otherwise. We did try to do two activities a day, but did not really get stressed out about timing. Some days we got out by 9 30 or 10, others not till 11 and that was fine. We saw some parks, a zoo, the beach and had lots of pool time. Admittedly, taking three small children  near any body of water can be scary at times, but with my in laws there too we had enough pairs of hands to make sure everyone was safe in the water.
I really felt that the kids enjoyed and that we were creating positive memories of spending time together as a family.
Traveling with kids is always a challenge although they were pretty well behaved for the most part. On the flight home, we were sitting next to a man who was annoyed at the kids for just being there. He was irritated before anyone had even done anything. The people in the row in front of us were not much better. At a certain point, M had a little meltdown because he was tired and I was getting dirty looks from people sitting near me. The man sitting in our row stomped off to complain to the flight attendant. I did feel badly that we were bothering others but also felt that kids will be kids and I cannot control them or make them stop screaming. I was doing the best I could in that circumstance.  Furthermore, there was only about a half hour left to the flight, so it's not like they were going to be stuck with us for much longer. Eventually M settled down but as soon as the flight landed, the man took off running for the exit.
Truthfully, I don't really care. A few months back there were suggestions about having child free flights and while some people thought it was outrageous, I think it is a great idea. Those who want a silent flight should be able to have it. But until such flights exist they are stuck with me and my children. We paid for our tickets the same way they did and so we are entitled to be on the plane, noise crying and all.
We arrived home Sunday night at 9 30 pm to a nasty surprise. Our fridge/freezer had broken down while we were away and our whole apartment reeked of spoiled food. We spent our first hour home throwing out garbage bags full of spoiled chicken and meat (I keep my freezer well stocked and it was a mistake in this instance) and other gross food. I then cleaned out the fridge and freezer with Clorox and washed the floor well, while continuously spraying lots and lots of air freshener. It did take a few days for the smell to fully go away. My friend recommended baking soda and it actually made a big difference!
 Thank goodness, our super brought up a temporary replacement fridge on Monday morning and they were able to fix the fridge by Tuesday already. These are the perks of living in a well managed building.
This week has been spent  getting things in order here and preparing for our next trip- we are leaving to Israel next Wednesday already. If anyone reading this is considering robbing our apartment while we are away, be aware that  we have friends who will be staying there. It is actually reassuring to me that someone will be here in our absence. It's just good to have someone keep an eye out in case your fridge decides to die or anything else happens that needs immediate attention.
This week is also World Breastfeeding Week, and I will try to post some related links to that tomorrow. For now though, I really need to get some sleep!