Tel Aviv in Pictures

Tel Aviv was never my favorite city.  It’s big – huge, by Israeli standards.

It’s grey.

It’s polluted.

It has lots of people.

It’s full of cigarettes, and therefore, it stinks to high heaven.

It’s full of high-rise, modern buildings.

In short, it’s a modern metropolis.  If I liked modern, metropolitan cities, I would live in New York, Los Angeles, or Toronto.  I happen to dislike big, grey, modern cities.

I also happen to think that even though Tel Aviv has a character all its own, a unique stripe of Israeli society, it doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the country’s unique style.

Sometimes, I think that Tel Aviv is a New York-wannabe. Or maybe a London-wannabe.  And in my opinion, that’s a shame.

Israel is unique in so many ways, and there is no reason to copy another country’s culture.  I like Israel, for all its identity issues,; anything that is SomethingElse-Wannabe, is not something that I’m going to fall in love with.

Navigating Tel Aviv isn’t easy, either.  Even native Israelis get lost in that metropolitan maze (except, of course, those born and bred in Tel Aviv and its environs).

There is one Tel Aviv train station (I don’t remember which one) that, if you leave it to the left, you end up in one city, and if you leave it to the right, you end up in another.

Another train station, Tel Aviv HaHagana, has a similar issue.  If you leave one way, you end up on a busy street near government offices.  If you leave the other way, you end up in a mall.  And if you mess up, you’re stuck.  Unless, of course, you want to pay for a cab.

While we were in Tel Aviv, I took out my camera and started taking pictures.  It slowed us down somewhat, but Yitzchak managed to put up with it.

One thing you can definitely say is that the Tel Aviv municipality has worked hard to make this area pleasant for pedestrians and pleasing to the eye.

There are enough benches here for a class picnic,

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but no shade.  It looks like the municipality is trying to change that, though, since in this kikar, there are

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lots of trees, each with a bench underneath.  They’re young trees right now, but it makes you wonder what will be in ten years.

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Following what I said about modern cities, this unique building gives you the feeling that if you could only climb up onto that bottom step, you’d be able to take the stairs to the top.

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Just outside the courthouse is a long row of motorbikes.

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Every time I passed by, I wondered if this was a general parking lot, or if these motorbikes belonged to all the courthouse workers.

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The city did make sure to gives us some shade, after all.  A long block of sidewalk was lined with trees in a small dirt “garden”, so that we wouldn’t forget what nature looks like.

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Cutting down on traffic, exercising, and keeping the air clean seem to be values to be encouraged.  The city has created a bike rental stand.  Pay, take a bike, and return it later.

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Of course, there is the ever-present line of bus stops, a must-have for all large cities in Israel.

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And to end off the post, we can’t forget a picture of the skyline – any skyline.

Since taking these photos, I have learned how to compensate for over- and under-exposure.  There are more Tel Aviv photos, though, so check back soon.

What do you think?  Does Tel Aviv sound like – and look like – a place you’d want to visit or live in?  Or are you like me, and prefer smaller, quieter, cities and towns?

Social Media and Me

Since social media first came out, I’ve hated it.

I don’t have Facebook, and never missed it.

I don’t have Twitter, because I think it’s dumb.

I don’t have Pinterest, because honestly, I don’t see the point.

I don’t have WhatsApp, and I never quite understood why everyone else does.  (Admission: Until a few months ago, I thought its name was WhatsUp.  I still call it WhatsDown, though.)

And why would I want to stick a name tag and personal pictures onto my Gmail account?  I don’t.

I do have LinkedIn.  I don’t know how much it’s helped me, if at all, but I signed up because I figured it would help me network and find a job.  It hasn’t, at least not yet.  But since so many experts think that LinkedIn is useful, I keep hoping that it will find me something.

Even though I’ve been active on online forums for over ten years, somewhere inside, I’m still a teenager, scared of stalkers who take their stalking offline.

I don’t post pictures of my kids – or myself, or my husband – on the net.  Recently, I shut down my Geni account, and changed all our names to anonymous or blanks.  I have no idea what my extended family thinks of that move – and honestly, I don’t really care.

I do what I do – and don’t do what I don’t do – after a lot of thought and consideration, and I really don’t care whether my decisions are applauded or booed.

Honestly, when people ask me about social media, most of them raise an eyebrow at the fact that I am completely disconnected.  In many ways, I feel like my technological skills are ten years behind.  I feel like a Bubby.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  To this day, I don’t know.

But, Yitzchak is on the same page.  He also is completely off all social media.

Lately, though, I’ve had to make some tough choices.  As you probably know, I’m not continuing at my teaching job this year.  That means that when the school year starts in less than a week, I will be at home.  Shlomo will go to gan, at least the first day (he doesn’t want to go back, but I told him he needs to try one day, and then decide).  And I will be home, with Tova.  We don’t do daycare.   Not if there is another viable option . . . even if that option requires a sacrifice of money, convenience, or career.

I’m happy about that.  It really is what I want to do, deep down.  I’m just worried about whether or not I’ll want to find another teaching job in a year from now, and how that would go, if I chose to take that route.

But what not teaching also means is that I need to replace my salary.  Ideally, Yitzchak would be earning on his own what the two of us earn together.  That may or may not happen, and it may or may not happen in the next few months.  Really, we just have to work hard and pray.  In the meantime, though, I still need a salary.

I know that if this freelance business thing succeeds, I won’t have to go back to teaching.  The question is more if I’ll want to. Honestly? I’m scared that Tova will be ready for gan next year, and, being a good parent, I’ll send her just because she’s ready, even though technically speaking, there’s no reason to spend the money.  Then I’ll be stuck at home by myself, running my own business and making eleven thousand shekels a month (okay, hopefully), but in desperate need of company.

Last time I stayed home, I was creating and editing educational materials.  It was great, except that my boss’ budget wasn’t big enough that he could promise me steady work.  Luckily, it was enough at the time, and we managed.  Now, though, I’m not up for that level of uncertainty.  I will still be working with him, but I need other clients, as well.

Freelancing, whether teaching, writing, or editing, is a tough field to find jobs in.  So, when I saw on one site, “If you can’t find your ideal job, create it,” it really clicked with me.

After a long bout of cold feet, nail biting, nervousness, and thinking “Oh my G-d, I can’t believe I’m doing this.  Is this me?  Am I NUTS?” I took the plunge.

I am now a freelance writer.  In six days, it will be official (because my teaching contract will be up).  I am going to make this work, and I am going to be one of those high-earning success stories, having to turn down clients because my business has been more successful than I’d thought possible, and I want to leave more time for my family.

What all this means, though, is that my attitude towards social media will have to change.  To build an online writing business, you need to network and reach people online.  You need to be easily searchable, both in Google and in social media, because otherwise, clients the world over will have a hard time finding you. Even if they do manage to find your site, they’ll be nervous about being one of the first to work with you, or about hiring an unknown writer, when there are more well-known, personable writers to be found.

I think it was Sophie Lizard who wrote that, “People don’t work with websites, they work with other people.” Or something along those lines.  So, you have to show that you’re a person.

And so, with a lot of tummy flip-flops, and a lot of nervousness, I came face-to-face with the social media monster that I’ve successfully managed to avoid since its inception.

I took the ghost Facebook account, faceless, nameless, postless, pictureless, that I had made for the sole purpose of being able to read Facebook links, and I put a picture and a website.

I made Twitter and Pinterest accounts, added a picture, name, website, byline, and found people to follow.

And when my first guest post came out the day after I sent it in, I shared it.  So far, it has gained me a single Twitter follower, and four LinkedIn “likes”.

I think what my compromise will have to be, is that I post and share my writing when it comes out.  Soon, I will make a logo; after that, I will probably get someone to draw a caricature of me, and use the caricature on all my social media accounts, instead of an actual picture.

This is actually why I haven’t been posting too much in the past week.  Instead, I’ve been pouring my time and energy into getting my freelance writing business off the ground.  It isn’t easy, but I’m on a roll, and I believe that with enough motivation and hard work, I can land a couple of high-paying clients within the month – enough to easily replace the income I was earning as a teacher.

I’ve also been trying to teach myself to put only one space between sentences, instead of two.  What this usually means is doing “Find and Replace,” when I’m done writing an article.  Most of the time, this does the trick.

Wish me luck, because I think I’ll need it.

And don’t worry.  I’m not leaving this blog.  I will still continue posting here, on a schedule as regular – or irregular – as I have been until now.

When my site is up, and I feel like I can be proud of it, I will place a link over here.  Until then, sit tight, and keep reading. :)

UPDATE: I wrote this post a few days ago, on August 26.  I don’t know that I’m super-proud of my site yet, but I have 2 pieces published and two more scheduled . . . so I’m taking the plunge an waving my  anonymity bye-bye.  You can visit my writer’s site here, and of course, if anyone you know (maybe even you) is looking for a quality freelancer, I’d love it if you recommended me.

Yair Lapid: The Confused Hypocrite

I have no problem with stating that a community, institution, or person has gone wrong.  And so when the chareidi draft exemption was canceled, I was happy; I believe that this is a good thing.

When the yeshiva budget was cut, I kept quiet, even though deserving yeshivot did not get their money, either.  Even though, at the time, it meant our income was cut by about a third.  Even though the money that we were supposed to get, we never saw.

When they cut the child stipend, I didn’t blink.  I think they’re right.  I think that complaining about it shows a lack of understanding of the dynamics.

When Lapid pushed for 0% VAT on new houses, I was mad.  This is a dumb exemption that causes more problems than it’s worth, has a lot of loopholes, and leaves many deserving families out.

When the decision was made that only families with two working parents could receive a daycare subsidy, I jumped with joy.  Do you know how many years I’ve wanted them to pass such a law?  And all they required was that the father either learn in university OR work ten measly hours a week.  And then, slowly, the criteria would toughen up.

In 2013, one of the major bills that Lapid was pushing to pass included limiting the number of ministers serving in a given government to 18.  His main complaint was that prime ministers sometimes “make up” ministerial appointments in order to placate party leaders.  Lapid said that there should be no minister who doesn’t have a portfolio, and I think he’s right on that point.

One of the results of this bill was an increase in the number of deputy ministers.  A deputy minister earns less money than a minister, and therefore, more deputies and less ministers means that the government is spending less money.  This was the desired result.

All well and good.

Except now, Lapid has just exposed himself as someone not with the public’s welfare at heart, but with an anti-religious agenda at heart.  Don’t get me wrong.  He was never a friend of religious Jews, and has worked all along to make our lives more difficult.  But as long as what he did made sense, I kept my mouth shut.

Now, he is contradicting himself.  Suddenly, we shouldn’t have deputy ministers, if there is no minister above them.  He is saying this, by his own admission, so that Yaakov Litzman, and Tzipi Hotovely, will have to be appointed ministers or step down.

So now Lapid took the case to the Supreme Court, and won. Great. Tzipi Hotovely will become Foreign Minister.  I have no idea what Yaakov Litzman will do.  And while I do agree that being deputy minister simply for the sake of not having to swear allegiance to the State of Israel makes me slightly sick, there is no reason to make a big deal out of it, if he’s not doing anything wrong – and he is doing you a favor by not demanding more money.

Plus, I believe in putting your money where your mouth is.  Litzman is a decent minister, and he is doing exactly what he claims to believe in.  He doesn’t want to swear allegiance (I’m guessing because he doesn’t want to swear, but maybe because he’s just not willing to be that loyal to the State), and he happily gives up the extra income he would have otherwise had, to live by what he thinks is right.

People can talk and talk.  But you know what they really believe, by what they do with their money.

Lapid, leave Litzman alone.  I can almost guarantee you that by being a confused hypocrite you have just cost yourself seats.  We’ve seen that you’re not too smart, that you like to make radical changes without thinking, and that you’re not exactly helping the “middle class” who you promised to help.

But now?  Did you really have to take your mask off in front of everyone?

On the other hand – it’s better that way.  Now everyone will see you for who you are.

A Difficult Decision

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I saw this caricature on Arutz Sheva, and it was just too good not to share.

It’s in Hebrew, so I’m translating it for you.

In the upper right-hand corner, it says, “A Difficult Decision.”  (Hence, the title of this post.)

Underneath that, just above the gun, it says, “Either you let me murder you . . . or I’m going to commit suicide!”

The gun itself is labeled, “Hunger strike.”

And beside the Facebook icon is the name of the artist – Yossi Shachar.

This pretty much sums up the hunger strikers’ behavior, and I got a kick out of how precisely the caricature had nailed the situation and given it an appropriate image.

The Cricket

cricket, house cricket, bug, insect, pet bug, pet cricketI’m not sure when he joined us, but for the past week at least, we have had a cricket living somewhere in our house.  Since he was practically invisible, and I happen to like cricket noise, I told Yitzchak that we should let him stay.  After all, he is harmless, isn’t he?

Cricket stayed.  When Shlomo sat on the toilet last Thursday night (at 10pm, if you were wondering, but he asked to make a poop, so we kept our mouths shut), he asked what the noise was.  I told him it was a cricket, and then he went to look for it – to bang the wall and tell him to go out.  I explained that the cricket was nice, and we could let him stay.  And so, Shlomo decided that the cricket was nice and could stay.  After that, every time he heard the cricket, he got excited.

Well, this morning I saw a bug on the floor in Shlomo’s room.  I didn’t know what it was, but it was a huge black bug.  Not having Yitzchak beside me, I stepped on it, despite my misgivings and worries that it might be Cricket.  After I smushed it, I felt bad – almost certainly, this was Cricket, but by then it was too late.  Here I note that even though I love cricket noises, I had never actually seen a cricket in real life, and I had always imagined them to be green.  I have a brother-in-law who is a entomologist; bugs are not my thing, though, and I was never interested in looking at them.

When Shlomo’s bedtime rolled around tonight, I mentioned to Yitzchak that there was a smushed bug in Shlomo’s room.  Yitzchak went to check, and indeed, the smushed bug of this morning was Cricket.

I felt bad, and Shlomo was sad.  He wanted to see Cricket.  He saw him, and said, “Remember when I hit the wall?  He’s not moving.”  He wanted to hit Yitzchak, because he thought it was Yizchak’s fault.  When I came to tuck him him, he asked me over and over why I smushed Cricket.  I said I had made a mistake and thought Cricket was someone else. We were both sad together.

And now he wants another cricket.  Hopefully, we will be able to find one.  I’m not sure, though, how far we are actually willing to go in order to find a replacement.  Mostly, I asked if he wanted to find another one just to make him feel better.  But I never actually promised we would actively search.

I can’t believe I actually suggested my son adopt a pet bug.  For that matter, I can’t believe we are all mourning a cricket.  He wasn’t a pet or anything . . . he just happened to be in our house for a few weeks.

But maybe he was a pet, because we came to really like him.

One thing is sure: The lesson that Shlomo learned from being nice to Cricket, and from seeing that he was a victim of a smushing mix-up, is probably worth having another cricket in the house.

I think my animal-mercy has gone a bit far, though.  I had mercy on the pigeons and let them stay outside our laundry room window.  Now, in return, I find feathers on the floor of the laundry room and bathroom . . . every single day.  Gross.  And they sometimes manage to hang on to clothing and are transferred to other rooms.  I think we either need to invest in a screen for that window, or I need to work on encouraging the pigeons to find another home.  How to encourage them to find another home, without encouraging Shlomo to yell, bang, and scare birds, is going to be a challenge, though.  And it is this challenge – of teaching him empathy towards other living things – that caused me to have mercy on the pigeons in the first place.

In the meantime, crickets are harmless.  If another one comes to live in our laundry room, we will happily welcome him.

Toss the Characters Aside

Maybe we are weird.  We don’t like writing on clothes or accessories.  We don’t like characters of any kind.  Except Thomas the Tank, and even that took us a while to make peace with.

When Mom first started buying stuff for Shlomo, she bought almost exactly to our taste.  98% of the things she bought for him, I would have bought myself.  The other 2% of things were tolerable, even if they weren’t great.  When Shlomo was about 18 months, or maybe 2 years, old, that started changing.  Slowly, of course.  At first, I was still using most of the stuff she sent.  But little by little, that changed.

There started being more words (those I still usually tolerate), more characters (I’ve tolerated most of these, too), and more black-and-red stuff and synthetic stuff (these I usually can’t stomach).

When Mom came to visit last summer, she brought a Dusty stuffed plane, and three or four Dusty books.  And a Thomas book, too, but Diesel was naughty and Shlomo thought that it was funny – so even though Diesel changes his ways at the end, the book went to China.

Last week, I spoke to Mom, and her newest thing is Mario.  She redecorated her basement, not because she had to,  but because she wants to have an apartment for us for when we visit (??  Um, when we were there in your little apartment when Shlomo was a baby, it was great).  And she made Shlomo a Mario room.  Mario?!  Seriously?!?  She said, “He doesn’t have to know who that is, if you don’t want him to.”  I said, “That depends; it’s limited, and it doesn’t always work.”

I tried to think of a way to politely tell Mom that we don’t like this American pop-star, movie-character culture.  Honestly, I think she should understand; when raising their kids, she and Dad had a lot of the same opinions.  Somehow, grandkids are different.  So I said, as nicely as I could, “Ummm, Mom?  Yitzchak and I are kind of anti-all-characters.  Like, except for Thomas, because he’s pretty old and he has morals.”  To which Mom replied, “Mario is as old as Thomas and he teaches some things, too.”  I said, “Yes, well, Mario wasn’t written by a reverend who put tons of morals into every story.”  On that point, she had to agree.

There are a few problems with these characters, Disney and otherwise:

  1. Children identify with them very strongly.  This means that children learn from everything these characters do, and every little thing becomes increasingly poignant in their minds.
  2. If that weren’t enough, an entire industry has been created that revolves around persuading children that they need things with these characters on them.  Clothes, backpacks, toys, books, blankets, dolls, building blocks, Lego sets – anything and everything is a valid target for “characterization.”  This creates an unncessary, unhealthy, and undesirable obsession.
  3. And in addition, this obsession severely limits imagination, free thinking, and creative play.
  4. Instead of learning to buy simple, quality items, and make them last, children become obsessive and insistent on having everything include their favorite character.  In other words, it feeds the “me” culture, which is a culture that, personally, I see as not only egoistic, but destructive as well.
  5. Since chances are that each child will obsess about a different character, passing things down can become a problem.  If you want more than two or three children, not being able to pass things down the line becomes an even bigger problem.
  6. Most of these characters come with language issues: lines that they always say, ways (not necessarily respectful) that they say things, and sometimes swear words as well.
  7. Even if a child does not have television or video games in his house, his friends probably do, and so television, movies, and video games featuring the chosen character start to fill the child’s time, and head, replacing more valuable, genuine aspects of childhood.

And therefore, we heavily censor.  We were given blankets and sheets with Thomas, but in practice, only the very-benign bottom sheet shows; the pillowcase and top sheet are stuffed away, and two blankets are covered by the bottom sheet, making a mattress on the floor of our room.  We do not have TV, movies, or video games, nor do we have friends who have them.  In fact, our son is the odd one out, the only one who has a Thomas character anything (Dusty, unfortunately, is more common).  We do have books, and Thomas toys, but the moral is good and we are fine with it.  Diesel, as we said, got put up high.

Dusty, characters, planes, blankets,

Anyone want a Dusty toddler bed comforter?

But the Dusty – oh, the Dusty.  The small plane stays; the stuffed plane is advertised to be given away.  Two puzzles will either be swapped, if I can find someone to swap with, or simply hidden or donated.  The books – I will choose one, the one with the best lesson and the least stupidity (Dusty books are dripping with stupidity and bad lessons), and the rest will be donated to the library.  The comforter and pillowcase he has never seen; the sheets are pretty benign, and they are in use, but soon I would like to get rid of them, because despite their benign-ness, Shlomo has recently identified the planes on them.

We may be weird, we may be obsessive, but please, do not send us anything with characters.  Because from now on, please G-d, I will simply give it away.  The world is full of bad teachers; I don’t want any in my house.

1000 Pieces

Last year, Shlomo’s ganenet expressed concern that he was not yet doing 24 piece puzzles independently.  I didn’t think it was a result of anything except a lack of interest (Why should I bother working hard?  It’s not that interesting . . .), but I agreed with her that it was probably worth checking out.

A few months after that, Shlomo, who up until then hadn’t been interested in puzzles for more than five minutes at a time, suddenly discovered a whole new challenge.  He took out the puzzles that we had, and started working on them, alone and with us.  I even tricked him into putting together 12 of the matching-set things, that are two pieces each.  I had to help him and encourage him a bit, but most of them he did on his own.

From there it continued, on and off, until at some point a few months ago, I realized we needed harder puzzles.  We had a 24 piece and a forty-eight piece.  I looked into getting a few 100-piece puzzles, and when Mom asked if there was anything I thought Shlomo would enjoy or want, I told her to get a couple 100-piece puzzles.  She was surprised, to say the least, and said that in her opinion, 100 pieces was too much, and we should stick with 48.  I said yes, 48 is a bit of a challenge, and 100 will definitely be tough at first, but in a couple of months 48 would be easy and the 100 would be doable, independently.  She shrugged, and bought 100 pieces.

And . . .  Shlomo does them, sometimes with help, and sometimes almost by himself.  They are a challenge, but they are a challenge on his level.  And Yitzchak and I rediscovered our own love for puzzles.  The first few nights, after Shlomo went to bed, we took out his puzzles and did them together, challenging ourselves and each other to go as fast as possible and to see who could do the most pieces.

Which is when we got the idea to buy ourselves a nice, grown-up puzzle of 1000 pieces.  I went online and found Puzzleland, and we went through the grueling process of deciding which puzzles we actually liked, and then each of us ranked them from 1 to 10, and Yitzchak assigned points to each number, which were then added up so that each puzzle had a number of points that reflected its standing on both of our lists.

We ended up with my number 1 being his number four, my number 2 being his number five, and vice versa, with our number threes the same (I think).  In the end, we decided on a ship at sea (his #1, my #4), but also decided to go to the store (despite the risk of it not being in stock), instead of ordering online.

Well, it turned out that the store near us didn’t have the ship puzzle in stock.  But, they did have the hot air balloons (my #1, his #4), and so we ended up getting that one instead.

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And while I was checking out, they told me that they were having a sale, and I could get a second product at half price.  At first, I wasn’t going to go for it, because we hadn’t budgeted it in.  But when they suggested a roll-up puzzle mat, I decided to go for it.  Hey, it is an investment, right?

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Actually, what really prompted this purchase, besides for our love of puzzles (which maybe would have been content to wait until we had a little more money) was the fact that we can never find a babysitter, and don’t live near family . . . which means we almost never get time just to ourselves, that isn’t dominated by household tasks.  And honestly, a cup of tea with a piecec of cake doesn’t give us a long enough distraction from chores, so that we can just sit and talk.

So the puzzle was a way to give us “date” time, and honestly, since it is reusable and doesn’t cost us the time and energy needed to find a babysitter; the stress of getting out at the end of the day, when everything is hectic and all we want to do is sit at home; and wondering how our kids are doing (and if the babysitter could actually get them to the bomb shelter within 90 seconds, if there were a rocket attack);  it’s a pretty good deal.

We did a lot on Thursday night (more than we had planned to do, and therefore went to bed later than we had planned to do), and then took it out for a few minutes on Friday afternoon.  That was a mistake, because Shlomo wanted to help, and got frustrated and slightly careless.  So the new rule is: We take out our puzzle only when Shlomo (and Tova) are sleeping.  Except that today, we broke the rule: We wanted Shlomo to nap, and Shlomo wanted to help with the puzzle.  So we made a deal; he helped with the puzzle (he chose to do some of the grass), and then he went to sleep . . . and we finished the puzzle.

Was it a waste of money?  We don’t think so, but only time will tell.  I do think that we made a mistake by allowing all the toys in this house to be Shlomo’s (or, children’s) until now.  Now Shlomo has to digest the idea of Ima and Abba having toys that aren’t for children.  We probably should’ve done this sooner, if only for the educational value.  But I guess we’ll see.

Now the question is, do we buy a second puzzle (and alternate), or do we just do this one over again?

A Box of Jewelry

I wrote this post on August 11, 2013 (or maybe August 18, 2013?).

We are moving, and because we are moving, we are also packing.  On the top shelf of my closet I have a lot of bags.  One of them contains jewelry.  I hardly ever wear jewelry, but people buy it for me anyways.  It’s one of those things – you don’t know what to buy a girl, buy her jewelry.  Doesn’t work with me.  And somehow, it doesn’t matter who the person is, or the fact that, if they would think, they would realize that it’s been years since they saw me wearing any jewelry (wedding ring and nursing bracelet excepted).

At any rate, Yitzchak was packing my shelves.  He brought me the bags, and when I got to the one with the jewelry, I said, “I wonder how much money I could get if I sold all this stuff.”  Yitzchak said, “I was wondering the same thing, but don’t sell it, it sounds really bad.”

No, I wouldn’t sell it, because a lot – or most – of what I have are gifts.  Just like I can’t give any of it to my sisters, because most of my jewelry were presents from family members, I can’t sell my jewelry, either.  Don’t get me wrong – I do have a few pieces with a lot of sentimental value, that I would never want to sell.  But most of what’s in the box, I don’t wear.  Or, I wore it in grade twelve and haven’t touched it since.  Or something like that.

I wonder if my jewelry is worth enough to cover a mortgage.  You think so?

Obama, You’re Really Chatzuf

First you get involved in our elections.  Then, you get mad that all your funds, representatives, and organizational tactics didn’t work – because we managed to outvote you.

You sign a deal that carries a great deal of immediate danger for the entire Middle East, yet, you do not live here in the Middle East, and Israel and most of our neighbors are against the deal.

You then allow Kerry to threaten Israel that if Congress vetoes the deal, it will be Israel’s fault, and Israel will suffer.  How, exactly, will it be Israel’s fault, and why should we suffer?

After that, Senators are put under pressure to support your decision, regardless of what they themselves think.  MoveOn, a federal committee, cuts funding to those senators opposed to the deal.

You insist on threatening the very basis of democracy, by not allowing Congress to veto the Iran deal, and insisting, through force, on doing what you want to do – even if 6 out of 10 Americans oppose it.

You know, I thought that America was a democratic country, and a country that encouraged democracy.  May I ask why the leader of a so-called democratic country is acting in a way that is explicitly against democracy?

And then you have the chutzpa to get angry at Bibi for “interfering in American issues,” when first of all, it is not an “American affair,” but a Middle East affair first, and a global affair only second.  It is not an American affair at all; America is included with the rest of the globe.  And second, you had the audacity to interfere in our elections.

And you say we are interfering in your affairs?

Obama-rama making a speech, you have a lot of chutzpa.  I think maybe you should apologize to us, because your chatzuf actions and speeches are unacceptable, undemocratic, and unjust.

Oh, and that worry that if we don’t go through with the Iran deal, war will ensue?  We’ll have to fight a war with or without the deal . . . don’t you think it’s better to fight a non-nuclear Iran, rather than a nuclear one?

Mastitis

In honor of breastfeeding support week, I share my (hopefully finished) mastitis story.  Let it be known that in over a year of nursing Shlomo, I did not have one case of mastitis.  Even when I changed his feeding schedule from every 3.5 hours to every 6 hours, in one day.

However, Shlomo did not have tongue tie, and Tova’s tongue tie apparently still leaves its marks, even after we clipped her tongue.  On one side, she nurses too hard.  A few months ago, when we were going through a super-duper-stressful period, I had no energy to correct her latch, didn’t care about the pain (because I had much more important things to care about), and soon, instead of just reddish-purple lines, I had actual cuts in the nipple.  And they just got deeper.

No surprise, then, that a few weeks later, I ended up with my first case of mastitis (in the doctor’s words, the germs were having a discotek in my milk ducts).  At first I thought I was simply engorged, but then it didn’t get better, there was a red spot that changed size, disappeared, and came back, and I felt really sick.  When I couldn’t lift my left hand, and had a fever of 38.5, I took myself the next day to the doctor, who gave me a miracle drug: Augmentin.  Within twelve hours, I was feeling worlds better.  Within 24 hours, the pain was almost gone.  Within 48 hours, I was practically good as new.  This continued for two weeks, and then I ran out of antibiotics . . . but the deep cuts were still there.  Sure enough, about two weeks later, there I was back at the doctor, with my second bout of mastitis.  This time, the doctor didn’t believe it right away, because I had come too early, with not enough clear symptoms.

He sent me to a surgeon and told me to take Tylenol.  I managed to freak myself out about IBC, but the surgeon checked everything, including my shoulders and neck, and didn’t find anything (thank G-d!).  The next week, still suffering, I went to an after-hours clinic, where the doctor still didn’t think I had mastitis, and told me to see a breast surgeon, but gave me a week’s worth of antibiotics “because I said it was getting worse”.  Well, the Augmentin worked magic, again.  And I got really scared that a week wasn’t enough, and I was in for a third bout, as soon as the antibiotics had worn off.

Unfortunately, I was right.  However, thankfully, this time the red spot was huge (in a different spot, but same breast) and unmistakable.  I also got a different doctor, because it was my regular doctor’s day off.  This doctor was younger and more laid-back, and when I asked for three weeks of antibiotics so that the cut could close, he gave them to me, telling me that maybe I should take probiotics because three weeks is a long time.

I went home (I had to nurse), and Yitzchak ran out to the pharmacy to fill the prescription . . . except that he forgot the prescription at home.  The pharmacist told him to go into the clinic and ask another doctor to print it out.  Well, as it turns out, the last doctor of the day to leave was our amazing, much-loved pediatrician.  When she saw that I had been given three weeks worth of Augmentin, she was in shock.  Yitzchak says that her expression said, “This guy should be sued!”  She couldn’t touch the prescription that he had given me, so she gave me one herself: 10 days of Augmentin and a lanolin-based nipple cream called Rafael New Mother’s Ointment.  She said that after the ten days were up, there are ways to keep the mastitis at bay.  I guess some of those are natural remedies, but I didn’t look them up.

What I ended up doing was that two days after I finished the antibiotics, I fished out the old prescription and sent Yitzchak to fill it.  The pharmacist wrinkled her nose at a prescription for antibiotics that was nearly two weeks old, so Yitzchak explained it, and she gave me 11 more days of antibiotics (10+11=21).  Very soon, I was too stressed to remember to take them twice a day, and eventually settled on one a day, at night, with my vitamin.  So far, so good.  Except that my nipple is still not healed, and it’s been more than three weeks.  Hopefully, by the time I finish my one-a-day regimen, it will be healed enough that I don’t get mastitis again.  I actually thought it was getting better, but wouldn’t you know, in the past two days, Tova has managed to make it worse again.  I don’t think the cut is as deep as it used to be, though, so maybe, just maybe, there is hope.

Lessons:

  1. Don’t get lazy about proper latch.  Even when you’re super-duper stressed.
  2. Tongue tie, sore nipples, cracked nipples, and mastitis are all connected.
  3. Thank G-d, if antibiotics work, it means that there’s nothing more serious.

By the way: Every woman should have an annual breast examination by a qualified surgeon.  Some women should be examined every six months.  And yes, this applies even to twenty-year-olds.  Because, prevention is the best medicine.  You can do these examinations when you are pregnant or nursing; just inform the surgeon of the situation.