If you miss what you’re leaf-ing behind…

I discovered a place where you can stroll on Erev Thanksgiving and feel for a second like you’re home in North America: Gan HAPa’amon in Jerusalem.

The leaves are colorful, noisy, and abundant. You can crunch them, kick them, and show your kid a lil taste of motherland in just a few steps. While learning colors.

This just made my aliyah.

I swear to the power that makes this universe run, this telephone conversation just happened (in Hebrew).

Note: This was the first time in nearly 7 years of aliyah that I have ever used the word מעולה on the phone to someone in a feedback survey of their customer service experience. 

“Hi! I’m calling from מרכז שירות נתן אקספרס. You recently had a tipul done for your Ford Focus.”


“We just wanted to know how the car is doing. Is it driving well? Is everything to your satisfaction?”

“Yes… you guys were great…”

“Good to hear. We’d like to hear your feedback on the experience.”

“Oh… sure. It went well. My husband was the one at the shop, and he said dealing with you guys was great. All in all, we were very pleased.”

“So glad to hear!”

“Actually, you were the first service we’ve used ever, since our last car was an Eldan lease. So, it was all really wonderful. Thanks.”

“Excellent. Be in touch if you have any questions or needs in the future.”

Yes, ma’am.

By the way, they gave us a free car wash with the bill for new brakes. Hey, if you’re gonna get ripped off, why not get a free car wash, too?

[Merkaz Natan Express specializes in Ford/Mazda, and is located on Derch Beit Lechem. Phone ’em at 02-6733538]

If the shoe fits (and isn’t older than your aliyah…)

On my bucket list, which I tend to revisit before or after having a kid, is to run a marathon. I know there are all types, all distances, but I want to get to the point where I can run together with a giant group of people and feel togetherness. 10k, 20k, 548626mm, whatever.

It all started sometime in the late 80s, early 90s; it was color war. We’d reach the mega race at the end of the series of races. Our team needed one more kid to do the major lap around the entire grounds; it was a rushed and last-minute decision. One of the head counselors looked around and then settled on me. He asked if I could run. I said ‘sure.’ Who can’t run? They psyched me up and sent me off. It felt amazing. I was flying. And we won. And ever since that, I have loved running and have always wanted to do it right.

I’ve made some failed attempts that ended in bad knees. But this time, I’ll do it right.

And it starts with not wearing shoes that are older than… my aliyah (coming up on seven years!) Or older than my college degree (yikes).

First stop: Tel Aviv on March 30th, 2012. Who’s in?

(By the way, the shoes are from Al Derech Burma, off the 38 near the entrance to the 1, between Beit Shemesh and the highway. Professional biking and running shop, where they test your feet to fit you. The owner is American-import Chaim Wizman, he’s really… wise. Highly recommended and the prices weren’t as painful as expected (500-700 NIS range.)

The snail and the sleepyhead.

The latest word I have learned from my son: חילזון. Snail.

In their ‘autumn curriculum’ they’ve been teaching about the usual Israeli fall topics: rain… clouds… raindrops… leaves… rain… and snails (?!).

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a snail here in Israel.

Anyway, the teachers have been getting a kick out of my son because apparently he’s really taken to the חילזון lessons. Pointing his little fingers out of his head. Crawling on his  belly. When the gananet asked a question to the group – “What’s something we see in the סתו?” – he immediately answered, “chilazon!”

It’s all well-and-good. But what’s unfortunately lost on my lil 2.5-year-old nature enthusiast is the fact that at night, after we’ve put him to bed, and I’ve sat near him for 30-50 minutes waiting for him to fall asleep lest he cry out for me in fear, I end up crawling across the floor of his bedroom, creeping slowly slowly, quietly and steadily,

just… like… a… snail.

Bebe update: Seven months.

You’re sitting in my lap right now, sleeplessly staring at the screen while I write to you. So we’ll do this one together.

Apropos, you’re going through a separation anxiety phase. Hey, it’s a little bit mutual; it’s not easy not being around your smushy smile whenever I want. It leaves me wishing I could give you so much more.

But you enjoy your daycare, you enjoy playing on your own (much of the time) and you enjoy… pretty much everything. Your generally positive ‘outlook’ on life is inspiring… and appreciated.

And you’re ambitious, too. You’ve got the sitting and crawling down, and for weeks you’ve been working on lifting yourself up, holding the coffee table. But as modestly as you make these strides, you gracefully take the falls…

Unless they are really harsh, in which case your ability to scream – well, like a little girl – terrifies me. Not that you’re hurt, because with a cuddle you’re fine. But that, well, you scream… like that. I didn’t know that stereotype was true.

Also, I’m not gonna lie to you, B. I’m enjoying dressing you up more than I thought I would. You’ll do whatever you want, style-wise… not worried about that. You do come from a line of women who go that way. But for now, I can enjoy a little ruffle here and red sparkle there.

Ok, and while we’re on the girl stuff… Bebe, you gotta stop pulling my hair!

Todah, dentist.

Just came back from Koala’s first time at the dentist. I’m pretty sure I managed not to project any of my own dentist dislike onto him, and maybe got him a lil too excited for it, because when we walked into the office reception he was SO EXCITED DENTIST IMA YAY!

Then we got called into ‘the room’ and I watched his face go from WHOA DENTIST COOL to oh… dentist… um, I think I have to take this call, I’ll catch up with you later…

Can’t blame him, it’s a room filled with ‘furniture’ that look like they’re going to stick you with pins and nails and then swallow you whole.

Anyway, it was all of 30 seconds. She wasn’t the friendliest pediatric dentist, and fairly impatient for the field she’s in… After speeding through the instructions in Hebrew, I calmly explained in English, ‘let’s open our mouths together so big so she can see our teeth.’ Look, if he was a native-Hebrew speaking 2.5 year old, I think he still woulda been freaked at her very rushed, very stereotypical Israeli demeanor.

Anyway, she turned him around, forced-opened his mouth and checked the teeth while he stared at me as if I had betrayed him (which I did; I should have asked for a few seconds to get him to do it himself, he would have – just another ‘I should have’ in a long list of my pathetic immigrant passiveness).

Then she somehow had the box of toy prizes in his hand before his face could go back from red to pink. As she filled in his fresh chart, she went on and on about what a gibor he had been.

And I couldn’t help but think… Gibor? Really? You didn’t even let him be a gibor! Just another example of what I and a lot of immigrant friends see as the incredible amounts of spoiling that goes on in raising kids here.

And isn’t this all just so indicative of society here: Scary process, don’t stop to calmly explain, give it a second before giving up on the diplomacy, use force and call everyone a gibor…


Maybe the gibor bit is, in the end, deserved: as we left, Koala gave her a very sweet, polite, American, ‘todah dentist.’