Zooey update: four months

We’re in the States on a family visit and Zooey turns four months.

The themes of the last month include:

  • Very social smiles turn into very surprised sadness quickly… a rainbow of emotions.
  • Sisters in your face… Cosby show style…

  • Coos and coos and coos – there’s a lot to say, apparently.
  • Also bubbles and drool. A lot of bubbles and drool.
  • Wearing baby scrubs and otherwise modelling outfits your siblings never got through

  • Chub thighs. So proud of those.
  • Your second trip abroad in your lifetime. Ten-hour flights? No problem.
  • Desperately trying to figure out what will make you ok with sitting in the car… new car seats… mirrors… siblings’ singing… a creepy doll staring at you? Nope nope nope.

Tenufa and community work: giving new meaning to ‘Shop Till You Drop’

In this summer of ‘mom camp’, where volunteering became a theme last week, I want to share another kid-friendly volunteer opportunity, this time in the Jerusalem area.

Where else but on Facebook did I learn about a brand new initiative from Tenufa: Shop Till You Drop. I highly recommend and want to add that the second event of its kind will be held in Talpiot the Wednesday, August 10th. Read on to find out more…

Tenufa is an Israeli non-profit organization, which helps change the lives of Israelis living in poverty, in 7 cities across Israel. Our highly trained professional staff provides critical repairs that range from repairing leaky roofs and moldy inner walls to replacing broken kitchens and electrical systems, at no cost to the families. While our professional repairmen repair the homes we bring in Social Workers to help the family face their challenges; thus our intervention becomes a means to repairing the family.

We participated last Wednesday, the first time they had done the supermarket shopping event. The activity was essentially built for kids to get involved in a very familiar chessed: providing food and household necessities for individuals and families Tenufa has worked with on their home renovation.

Families meet a Tenufa representative at Osher Ad, a major Israeli supermarket chain (or, the ‘Israeli Costco’), and receive a shopping list designed for a specific family who, with one week’s shop taken care of, really gain a lift. Based on the amount the family is willing to spend, they shop for their list around the store, crossing off items and, if deemed appropriate by an accompanying social worker, add on a special item or two.

The activity was totally appropriate for my 7 and 5 year old, who could identify the items by either reading or looking at the printed pictures on the list. They spoke to the reps and learned about what kind of kindness this was and how it was a help to people who needed it.

It went by a little quick, but the kids totally got into it and were excited to be in a supermarket (always, for some reason, a carnival) and to be helping a family nearby.

The second half of the program is joining the social worker to actually deliver the shop. We left the packages outside the door, and the social worker, who the family knows, was in touch with the family directly about taking it in after we left.

To get in touch with Rena, the representative in charge of the program, contact her here.

A very veggie Israel Volunteer Opportunity: Leket Israel

If you haven’t met already, I want to introduce you to Leket Israel. Founded in 2003, it’s an organization I’d heard a lot about but didn’t really experience until I went to volunteer with the kids earlier this week.

Here’s the backstory:

  • Israel witnesses 35% food loss each year – that’s 2.5 million tons of food – 50% of which is suitable and could be passed along to those who need it.
  • By the way, that food is worth 8 billion NIS.
  • And 75% of that loss is fruits and vegetables.

Here’s what Leket does:

The organization makes an effort to save as much of this lost food as possible – by partnering with businesses and organizations like the IDF, restaurants and food manufacturers, to transfer extra or unused food to families that need it. The food is distributed to 190 NPOs operating around the country in providing resources for poverty-stricken citizens.

In 2015, 140,000 beneficiaries received food, food donated was valued at NIS 147 million, and 15,930 tons of food was supplied.

Here’s the volunteer opportunity:

Aside from donating or being in touch about potential partnerships, the main way for us to volunteer is Project Leket – joining Leket staff in their fields near Rehovot or in the north, and picking the season’s ripe crops. Groups or individuals are welcome to participate. My kids were 7 and 5 when we did it, in the dead heat of the summer… I asked the guide when the best time to bring kids is, and she said October – when the citrus is ready for picking and the weather is way friendlier.

The kids had a great time picking tomatoes. Working together, getting our hands dirty, we filled three boxes, and they were really proud of it. And they had a lot of questions about why food is wasted, who this food goes to, and how much food they’re getting.

All in all, I recommend this as a family activity. Be in touch with Project Leket by emailing leket@leket.org or calling 09-744175 to reserve a date and time to visit the fields and participate in this great initiative. 

Summer of mom.

I’ve been having the best time and I want to tell you about it.

But first, a disclaimer – there’s a lot of grief out there – sanctimommies and all that – but I’m being completely honest, no-holier-than-thou, and you can trust me because my kids haven’t really had lunch in a couple weeks and just today the seven-year-old watched 3.5 consecutive hours of unsupervised youtube clips, and that’s the 513586th time in 513586 days.

I’ve been having the best time just being a mom, constantly. I’m on maternity leave, and this has been the most fun by far. The last two I spent job searching, and the first is the first but it’s different. This time, I’m getting to spend the summer with my two older kids in what we’ve dubbed Kaytanat Ima (mom camp), since we aren’t sending to any official (and expensive, jeez c’mon) camps.

And every day I start out so grateful that I get to spend the day with my kids, and I’m  not stressed about work, and I’m not checking my phone for emails, and I’m not cursing out a perfectly nice work colleague. I’m not debating how to handle a ‘crisis’ and I’m not taking care of anyone I didn’t give birth to.

I’m not doing any of that while trying to hang with/feed/bathe/love my kids.

Also – I’ve been making dinners, like full food groups dinners.

I’m asking what they think about stuff, we’re discussing life, we’re laughing over stupid jokes, we’re making up songs, we’re cursing out the drivers in front of us together. We’re seeing new parts of the country we hadn’t seen before. We’re doing science. We’re doing good deeds and volunteering. We’re getting wet. We’re learning how to photoshop. We’re uncovering fairies. We’re learning new skills together. We’re making snow happen in July. We’re painting while wearing socks. We’re seeing our first movie in the theater together. We’re spending hours playing with 6-shekel flashlights. We’re enjoying coffee together. We’re poking a storm trooper in the eye.

I don’t want it to end, this may actually be the first time I’ve felt it like this. Whole picture, not just I don’t want to leave my little baby. But I think part of it is I work myself too hard so when it’s time to play, with no work in site, I can appreciate it to a degree I’ve never felt around my kids before. So the contrast has made these past months so much more wonderful.

Part of it, is of course, their ages.

And it’s killing me that it has to end eventually, at least in part. I’m not going to dwell too much on that right now because I’m still feeling rainbows and kittens from two paragraphs ago.

Tell me, how do I keep a taste of it for the long haul?