Koala update: Six months.

I’m not going to lie; it’s not always easy to write the praises of parenthood and the cutest Koala in the entire world when said Koala is trying to push one of the hardest substances of the body through his gums.

Last week and the present one are probably the most challenging I’ve faced so far.

We started dropping Koala off at his metapelet (day care) last week as I started working in the office part-time. About this experience: Labor sucked, pushing was hard, the brit was disturbing, sleep deprivation is rough on the soul, but nothing thus far has actually depressed me.

Until last week. You’re dropping off your baby at another woman’s home. No matter how smiley, lovely and recommended she comes, it is absolutely heartbreaking to show up at 3:30pm to a happy, well-fed baby who barely looks you in the eye. As if he doesn’t recognize you. And stays that way for the rest of the week.

I’m not sure how to put all that into words that can clearly describe how heartbroken that made me. I guess you just have to do it. Or rip your beating heart out from your chest.


Aside from that harrowing experience, things are (literally) moving along for Koala. Before we left for our New York vacation, he was doing his slow thing, chilling. Wasn’t a huge fan of tummy time.

And then he met Grandma.

Now he hates to be on his back. And he needs to be playing all the time. And he can get from the blanket I put him down on to the rocking chair and pick a fight with it in about five minutes.

And, hey, don’t put your bet down on the rocking chair. He’s more than doubled his modest birth weight; the shared genetics are starting to peek through.

He’s eating solids, too, which do their share. Like his mama, there’s no gradient of development. One day it’s Boob 7/11 and the next we’re trying the apple/banana/pear slushie.

Did I mention the teething? Oh, the teething. Just as hard on the sleep as the jet lag. Since we left to New York, there is no more sleep pattern, it’s a haphazard mess. First jet lag in New York. Then jet lag back here. Then congestion and coughing. Then it’s like childbirth in his infant gums (seriously, someone told us they’ve studied it and the pain is comparable to childbirth).

But thank goodness for Crocs, right? He got a pair of baby Crocs and – that’s my boy – uses them to teeth.

My very favorite thing of all, though: the laughter. So much of it. I know where he’s ticklish (the spot at the top of his back is my favorite). But that’s just cheap laughter; the best is when your song and dance pay off.

And even in the most depressing times, when all you want is to be friends again after separating for the first time in six months… And you’re sobbing next to him, tears clouding your vision… And then you hear – chuckling. Then it’s laughing. Borderline cracking up while your face is buried in your hands. Because to a baby, mama’s big, heaving, despairing cry is another funny face.

And you know what? You’ll take it.

So here we are. Six months. A lot has changed. A lot is changing. And we’re friends again.

Welcome to parenthood.

So this is it, huh?

You get through a really hard week. You get invited out for both meals for Shabbat. You  breath and say, hey, we can go out the whole day Friday! You make plans together. You prepare everything the night before.

You get woken up too early on Friday. Your kid is sneezing and coughing and snotting and miserable.

You go the doctor at 8:00 am. He smirks and welcomes you to parenthood.

You take home your child and do your best.

You grab an hour out in Jerusalem, just as the sun begins its descent.

Your kid is feeling much better just as Shabbat comes in.

You hope it lasts the weekend.

פיצונקה would like your attention.

Since moving to this area, we’ve watched local restaurants come and go. They usually aren’t kosher or attention-grabbing enough to get us interested. And the latter is probably mostly why they don’t survive.

To service (and survive) the Matte Yehuda area, I suppose you have to be pretty damn good, considering you’re competing with an evening out in Jerusalem – the big city with lots of choices – as opposed to a little local eatery with nothing else around it.

There are a few that thrive though, or evolve enough to thrive. I’m hoping the following is one of them.

In the last month or so, we’ve seen signs crop up along the country roads and yishuv entrances advertising פיצונקה (Pichonka), a kosher meat restaurant in nearby Nes Harim prepared to serve pareve brunches on Fridays,  parties of 300, deliveries in the immediate area, and a complete and robust menu. They are even daring enough to lure Jerusalemites outside their paradigms.

Intrigued, we decided to check it out last night; surely it takes beitzim to open a higher-end restaurant in this economic climate in the backwoods of Jerusalem.

The place was already on the way to getting an A+ before we walked in. Location is great for us country folk and close/far away enough to make it intriguing for Gushniks, Beit Shemeshites and Jerusalemites. The venue is nice on the outside, and very classy on the inside. Spacious with two outdoor areas. And you don’t have to worry about parking.

The food was really excellent, but more than that, the menu choices were intriguing and well thought-out. The kind of thing where you choose what you want but you know you’ll be back again to try the other things you didn’t order. I’m not a food critic, so I won’t go into depth, but my husband is qualified and we can say we’d go back there (food-wise) before other places in Jerusalem (especially Emek Refaim). Check out theirrecommendations (more importantly, the photos of the recommendations).

Perhaps the most impressive thing, so rare in Israeli restaurants: a good, appropriate soundtrack. Seriously. The sound system was set up properly, small speakers in different locations instead of blasting a couple huge ones in one corner. The music was light and the level was right. Never underestimate how your venue’s music could turn off your customers.

I’m talking to you, Israeli bar owners.

Prices were decent, or as expected. See them on the menu. In my opinion, it’s worth not eating out for a while so you can save for a real quality meal and pleasurable experience in the hills instead of wondering why you fork out your cash for mediocrity in Jerusalem.

Here’s hoping it actually survives its first year and sticks around a while.

Question of the week.

Q: What’s it like being back at the office?

A: I feel like a freshman in high school.

Everything is new; it’s still school like middle school was, but it’s bigger and more complicated. And there’s more home-work.

And I’m tired all the time from waking up at 6 am to get everyone out the door in time to ride the traffic and get into my office.

Sometimes I wonder how the seniors will think of me. Did I miss drool on my shoulder? Did I get milk everywhere?

Were they better at it than me when they were freshmen?

How fast can I get lunch down my throat so I have time to catch up on overdue assignments?

I miss my baby; he’s having fun with another girl and I have to try not to think about it while reading stats or writing documents.

And it’s all so new and overwhelming; I know yawning during meetings isn’t nice; but it’s not you, teacher, it’s me.

And as weird as this sounds, expressing milk locked up in my office, with occasional door-knocking – I feel like an awkward teenager trying to work out a tampon in the bathroom stall while the cool girls are standing by the mirror putting on lipstick.

Did I forget to pack all my textbooks… milk… to take home? Nope, gotta turn back and get the rest of my stuff. Now I’m late and my ride won’t be pleased.

The days I become a mom.

Not that the 36-hour labor, trash can filled with diapers and various milk stains across my good t-shirts don’t give it away, but today I really do feel like a mom.

Note: Every so often there comes an activity that gives you infant flashbacks and makes you realize you are, indeed, a mom.

But today… Today, I Sharpied my son’s name on his stuff that is going with him on his first trip to daycare tomorrow.

For six months I was fortunate enough to be a work-at-home-mom for Koala; between emails and calls and loud typing, we bonded with each other, we consoled one another, we laughed together, we scowled at each other. There were good days and hard days, but on most days I thanked the gods of hormone control that post-partum depression passed over me (no lamb’s blood required).

But there comes a time when an Israeli mom just has to go back to work. In the office, in my case.

The search for a metapelet (caretaker) wasn’t that long or complicated; we took references from friends in our area and are putting our trust in that one (Sephardi, charedi sweetheart) basket. So far, I could kiss her, since she is more experienced than me and will hopefully straighten us both out as far as feeding well and sleeping well go.

I feel so uncharacteristically emotional; perhaps I should save it for college.

Or worse, the army.

Yeah, this still happens.

I was driving through the entrance of Beitar today.

Ahead of me was the shiny white glow of the expansive charedi town, speckled with black movement.

Behind me, in my rear view mirror, I could see the remnants of the sun facing Husan, highlighted by the giant minaret cracking the sky.

And I thought, what the fuck am I doing here?

Travel (in snippets).

Our first-ever family vacation is over. Didn’t have much time to sleep or think over the last 2.5 weeks but I did have a few seconds to jot down a few ponderings in 140 characters or less…

To sum up, from finish to start, my first vacation with Koala:

for the love of all things sacred, all I want is SLEEP. Oct 13

he loves his carrots! maybe he’ll turn orange like his momma did at his age. Oct 13

back in the IL. catching up on all fronts. as tired as a mother of a newborn; yes, I’m aware of how tired that is. Oct 13

can’t believe what I’m doing to the grandparent-grandbaby continuum tomorrow. Oct 12

you get everything under control… and then the teething begins. time to join a mommy survival group. Oct 9

never thought leaving family members behind would reach this level of difficulty… but it does when you don’t know if you’ll ever see them again. Oct 9

if only we could buy time… I even have some American money. Oct 9

the family event of the century: survival edition. check. Oct 5

aaaand… we’re on solids. Oct 4

it occurred to me that maybe tickling a baby so he laughs that hard for 3 straight minutes is child abuse since he can’t use a safe word. Oct 2

when in the States, do as the Americans do… baby is eating a lot more on our travels. Oct 1

New York family visit ’09. I can cut the nachas with a knife. Sept 30

Erev Yom Kippur. Gonna do my best. Rock the 5770. Sept 27

flight! baby! vacation! acamoli! see you on the flip side. Sept 24

Who drives a shoe?

A guy driving a high heel on 14th and 7th. And why not?

Although, part of me feels like I’d have been less surprised seeing this in Tel Aviv.

I saw this, um, mode of transportation and thought of a friend of mine who actually gets around with a set of these on her feet. Minus the exhaust.