Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hazy Shade of Winter

The summer is officially over in Jerusalem as it rained numerous times over the weekend. I was awoken at 4:30 a.m. on Shabbos morning to the first significant rainstorm of the season and I just breathed in the scent and enjoyed the sounds. After lunch, while Pidgeon and I relaxed on the couch in the living room, it started to pour again. Our neighbors were outside and their kids started screaming about the rain and we just sat back and watched it come down outside. Rain is definitely something I no longer take for granted living in this Country. I absolutely adore when it rains, even if it soaks me to the bone, because we go so many months without even a drop. Plus, when we were up North last week, everything was scorched and yellow from lack of moisture. I'm hoping the rain up there will help turn the beautiful scenery green.

We had a wonderfully relaxed vacation. With no internet access for 5 days, I went through a bit of withdrawal but all in all it was nice. Our hotel was not the nicest I've ever stayed at; in fact, I had to complain about the initial room they gave us and insist they upgrade us to a nicer room. The first room was a complete dump and there was just no way I could have used such a crappy bathroom. The upgrade was much nicer, and I was happy that this was one vacation where we didn't spent much time at the hotel.

I'm not a big fan of Tiberias, especially not the area where all the hotels are around the Kinneret. I was more than happy to spend all day out on trips and just crash at night in the hotel. We went to Ein Gev, a Kibbutz across the Kinneret from our hotel, for a wonderful fish lunch on the first day we arrived.  The view was picturesque and the food was fresh and good. We got back to the hotel and just crashed. It was a long drive up and we were tired.

The second day, we went to the Marizpan museum and shop. It was in this booklet of coupons we got, and since it was in a Yishuv up North, we figured it was a good activity for a pregnant woman. I hadn't realized how much great activities one can do up North. Unfortunately, they aren't safe for anyone whose pregnant. That meant no rafting, no kayaking, no ATVing, etc. We were limited in what we could do, but we adapted very nicely. The Marzipan museum was a lot of fun. Check out the picture above of marzipan vegetables. After watching a movie and viewing the museum, we decided to make our own marzipan. It was a lot of fun, and even Pidgeon who hates getting his hands dirty, joined in. We put marzipan in molds and walked away with a lot of good stuff. We even got his parents a nice gift box of marzipan and date jam and honey from the Yishuv as a Rosh Hashana gift. I hope they enjoy it. We were exhausted by the time we got back from the hotel, even though we didn't do much in terms of physical activity, so we spent the rest of the day just relaxing, walking around by the Kinneret. 

The third day of the trip was a lot more physical and intense. We woke up early, had a gross breakfast and then drove to Katzrin. First, we went to the museum to learn about Gamla. It was very interesting, and I loved the little crop circle conspiracy up near Katzrin that has archeologist baffled. I told Pidgeon it's because the ancient people who lived in Katzrin were waiting for the aliens to come down. At least he found me funny. After watching a movie about Gamla, we were off to Ancient Katzrin and ruins of an old synagogue. I don't know what sorts of trees or bushes they were growing in the area, but it was a heavenly scent. We walked around, saw a movie about the Talmud, and then went to the synagogue. It was pretty incredible to see how much was still in tact. 

After the synagogue, we decided to go to Mount Bental and this famous "coffee shop" called Koffee Anan. It's on a really high mountain that affords picturesque views of the Golan Heights, Syria and Israel. For some reason, Pidgeon's GPS decided to take us on an unpaved route up another mountain and I swear I was holding on tight and praying that our car would make it up this dirt road. Fortunately, we got to the top and parked without incident. Since there were signs that said we couldn't take any pictures, here's a shot of the Hermon mountain from the drive towards Mount Bental. The walk up from the parking lot to the top of the mountain was not very easy for me, but I made it to the summit. It was as beautiful as Pidgeon described and I have some great mental pictures.

After such a busy day, we drove back to the hotel and since we missed the crappy lunch we decided to go to Decks. This restaurant has a tremendous reputation as THE best meat place to eat at while in Tiberias. It didn't live up to its hype, although my butcher's cut piece of meat was very juicy and well done. Pidgeon wasn't a bit fan of his fillet though, and we felt for the steep prices the portions could have been a bit more generous. But, it was certainly better than the hotel food, and the view of the Kinneret was gorgeous. 

I was so tired that night that I apparently passed out in the middle of a conversation with Pidgeon. Oh well, that's what happens when I shlep my preggo self up a freaking mountain for the view. 

Our last full day in Tiberia was a lot of fun. This time, we decided to go check out the Hula Valley nature preserve. I had expected it to be much smaller and thought we would walk around. Little did I know that there was scant shade and that it was a 10 km walk. I asked Pidgeon if he thought I could do a 10 km walk and he laughed at me. So, we decided to spend some money and rent a golf cart. For the first time all trip, Pidgeon let me drive him around, and it was a lot of fun. My belly barely fit behind the steering wheel and it was stinking hot outside, but we were able to see some Cranes, Pelicans, pomegranate trees, beavers, buffalos and lots of bees. I was dehydrated by the time we got back to the car, but it was a good time. 

Since we were pretty far North, we decided to go even farther and went to Pidgeon's family's favorite fish restaurant in the entire country. Dag Al HaDan has a great reputation and for good reason. It's a quaint fish restaurant literally on the Dan river, in the woods, where they fish in the morning and then serve it up fresh when they open. We picked a shady table next to the river and the ducks kept coming out of the river to quack and beg for food around our table. I had some whole wheat bagel that I wanted to throw their way but Pidgeon said it wasn't a good idea. So, I just took pictures and enjoyed the rustic nature of the place. We both ordered the fresh fish; Pidgeon got drum and I got the denise. The waitress brought the whole fish, cooked, to our table and then filleted it in front of us. It was fascinating to watch and I now know how to properly fillet a fish. Fortunately, my denise wasn't that boney and with the garlic butter sauce it was delicious. I could have sat there forever, in the woods, surrounded by nature, eating fresh fish and watching the river flow. But, it was getting late and we had a long drive back to the hotel. We passed by Pidgeon's old army base on the way back and we stopped to take a look. Obviously, we couldn't get too close, but it was interesting to see where he spent so many years in the army.

I was happy to get back to the hotel and I spent a few hours just packing us up, showering, and relaxing before a crappy dinner. I was really happy when we woke up Thursday and headed back to Jerusalem. As much as I enjoyed the vacation, I yearned for the comforts of our own apartment. My bed, my pillows, the internet, my VOIP phone. The drive back was nice and uneventful, with only one pit stop on Kvish 6, and we got home with plenty of time for me to do some Shabbos cooking.

This weekend was very relaxing. We did a lot of sleeping, which was good since we're both really tired from the trip. We're looking forward to a short week, with Rosh Hashana around the corner. I have some baking to do for my in-laws for a meal we are going to on the second day of Rosh Hashana. Since it's also my English birthday, I am trying to figure out something special to bake so I feel like we're celebrating. It won't be my annual G&I birthday cake from Queens, which I've shared with my younger sister ever since she was born (we have the same Hebrew birthday although our English birthdays are 2 days a part) but it will at least be something to mark the occasion. 

Well, it's already 1:30 a.m. and I should probably try to get some sleep. The alarm is going off at 6:45 a.m. tomorrow morning since the IKEA guys are coming over to assemble all the furniture we bought. I'm looking forward to the new closet and dresser in our bedroom, although both are pretty much reserved for Pidgeon's stuff. I'm hoping with these new additions to the room that we'll be able to be less cluttered. We'll see.

Shavuah Tov from Baka!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

On Holiday

Let's go away for a while, you and I, to a strange and distant land.......Holiday, far away, to stay on a holiday, far away, let's go today in a heartbeat!

I'm so excited that we're going on honeymoon #2 today! When we planned this trip months ago, I told Pidgeon I didn't think I was going to have the strength at the end of my seventh month to get on a plane. Good call on my part. I'm pretty tired these days and my energy is waning daily, so I'm excited that we're going on vacation in Israel. I haven't been up North since 1995 (although, my trip in 2006 with my folks to Amuka and other grave sites to pray for a mate doesn't really count since it was all in one day!) and I'm hoping to see some turtles this time! 

We were very lax in our planning of this trip and, aside from two restaurants we want to eat at, we have zero plans. Unlike last year, when we spent 5 days languishing by the pool at the Dead Sea, there is so much more to do up North. I told Pidgeon I wouldn't mind taking the wooden Christian boat across the Kinneret. There are a lot of Christian sites up North and it might be a good thing for me to experience if my friends Jules and Julie ever make it to Israel to visit us. 

Shabbos was very relaxing, which was nice. I ended up not sleeping well Friday night and somehow, fell asleep in between courses at lunch. Pidgeon ended up finishing lunch without me and, when I woke up at 3:30, I was happily surprised to see that all the dishes we done, the food was put away in the fridge, and the table was clean. What an amazing guy I have, no? 

Our plans for last night were supposed to just be getting ready for the trip. I had a huge load of laundry to do and, since there were some items there that I wanted to pack for the trip, I loaded up as soon as Havdala was over. We relaxed a bit on the couch when all the commotion took place outside.

Basically, the neighbors directly across the street from us have not one but two 30+ children with a mental illness. Unfortunately, they don't always take their medication as prescribed, and when that happens they both tend to get violent. They've both attacked women in the neighborhood in the past, which is one of the reasons I'm very cautious about how I walk in the neighborhood. Anyway, as we were sitting on the couches and relaxing, we heard one of them attack a woman near the house. The Father came outside to try and diffuse the situation and, since I definitely don't understand Hebrew when it's screaming, I called Pidgeon over to watch and translate. The women were yelling that he attacked and hit them, while the Father claimed nothing happened. Since I only heard and didn't see what happened, we stayed inside and kept out of it. The police showed up a few minutes later and went from house to house asking about the incident - although they didn't come to ours. I made sure to SMS our neighbor, who had a baby last month, to be careful going out tonight since the neighbors weren't on their meds. She got back to me right away and reminded me that he had attacked one of her friends not once - but twice! Usually, when this happens, they arrest him and put him in an institution. Since the two women who were attacked left (I heard them get into their car and leave), the police didn't take the boys away. I'm just really hoping that both of them get back on their medication and soon! It's not a fun situation to have directly across the street from the apartment.

Anyway, I guess all the excitement got me in the mood for some comfort food, and all I wanted was ice cream. I literally called around to see if ANYONE would deliver ice cream. Aldo on Emek Refaim said they weren't delivering on Saturday night, and Fro Yo on Ben Yehuda doesn't deliver period. I even called Babette to see if they would deliver, and they said no. Same with Waffle Bar on Derech Beit Lechem.

Pidgeon offered to go out and pick me up some ice cream, but  I didn't want him to leave the house. But, the craving got so bad, that I was able to be convinced (it wasn't hard) to get dressed and go to Waffle Bar.

It was good to get a small walk in and the ice cream was yummy! I'm actually not such a fan of waffles, but it was pretty decent, and Pidgeon watched me practically lick my entire plate clean! 

Satisfied and full of sugar, I skipped home and then tackled 2 hours worth of packing and organizing. I was so wound up on a sugar high though that I couldn't fall asleep before 2:30 a.m. You can imagine how wiped I am now that I've been up since 8, but we're hoping to hit the road fairly early so we can get in some time up North today too.

Well, I'm off to get ready to go! Wishing everyone a wonderful week!

Yom Tov from Baka!

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Rhythm of the Night

I would have updated the blog yesterday but I was a complete dishrag from our Wednesday at Ikea in Netanya. My Mother-in-law picked us up at 11:00 and we were off. We got there in decent time and we immediately went to work. I had the catalogue in advance, so I already knew what we needed, and we were very methodical in our shopping. No dilly-dallying around the room displays, just straight to what we were looking for. There were so many people around that I was in a bit of a daze, but between Pidgeon and my MIL, I thought I had everything under control.

And then, we got to the area with all the dressers, and my MIL saw the dresser her client wanted (she's an interior designer). After reading the label, she discovered there was only 1 left! So, she left her cart and raced downstairs to get it before anyone else claimed it. Meanwhile, I spied the dresser I had picked out for our bedroom. I sent Pidgeon over to write down the number and it turns out, there were only 3 left! So, he too, raced after his Mum to try to get us one of the remaining pieces.

Thus leaving me, stranded, with the carts and a lot of shopping left to do on that floor. I also had to special order the closet. We picked out a really nice closet, but I wanted different things inside. So, I found the man wearing the Ikea t-shirt who worked in that area, and we ordered the closet. He then printed out the receipt and told me that I needed to pay for it on that floor so they could pull all the pieces together by the time I was ready to leave. I had an hour before that closet could be ready.

With the under my belt, I continued shopping, and it was on to the computer desks. We were looking for this white, narrow cabinet with a pull down door that could hold the computer screen, large modem, printer and other items. Since the computer room is really cluttered, this was the perfect solution to our spacial issues. Yet, for some reason, I could not find it anywhere. Finally, after looking at every single piece of furniture in that section, I found it! I immediately called Pidgeon, who was with his Mum and and had gotten her the last dresser and discovered they only had our dresser left in black. So, I told him to get it since it would at least match the bed end tables, and they were going to come upstairs to meet me again. 

So, I joined the line waiting to pay for the pre-ordered closet and this woman literally comes up behind me and cuts right in front of me. I looked right at her and she says, faux surprise, something like "oh, are you on line?" Ummm, yeah? Do you not see my big ass place holder belly jutting out in front of you? Well, I nodded and smiled, and she backed up just a little bit. Enough for me to make sure I didn't lose my place. Anyway, I ordered and paid for the closet and then went to the food court to wait for Pidgeon and my MIL.

They arrived shortly thereafter, Pidgeon pushing the huge cart with 8 big boxes on it. I had my MIL's other shopping cart and we still had to wait an hour for the closet to be ready. So, we sat down with some Ikea cuisine and indulged in salmon and string beans and I literally drank four cups of Pepsi Max. After we were a bit satisfied, we went downstairs where the real shopping began.

I picked up another cart, and the three of us just filled it in. I picked up some napkins for Yom Tov (3 packages), an egg frying pan since the one I bought in August 2006 has seen much better days, 3 black decorative pillows (25 shekel each!) for the new beds that were delivered this week, four mattress pads for the beds in the apartment, this laptop pillow so that Pidgeon can comfortably use his laptop without me yelling at him to "protect the boys!", a toilet bowl brush, this great big shaggy black rug, a garbage bag for the kitchen (which was completely broken when we tried to assemble so they're sending us a new one), a box of straws for the hospital, a pretty desk lamp, and a new laundry hamper. At this point, the carts are really packed and it's getting hard to push it through towards check out. Pidgeon is at his breaking point as we now realize we've been shopping for 5 hours! My MIL had plenty of energy though and she was just chugging along. 

Finally, we get through check out and we head over to pick up our closet and arrange for both delivery and assembly. This was the most stressful part of the entire shopping experience! I had to shuttle between both stations to set up everything up and at that point my ankles were swollen to mythical proportions and killing me! Well, after an hour dealing with those stations, I finally had it and went to sit down and relax. After six hours, we finally loaded up my MIL's tiny car and were off.

Somehow, we missed the turn onto Kvish 6 and ended up in Chadera and then, continued further North, until we were at Zichron Yaakov. If we had continued, we would have ended up in Haifa! My MIL was not pleased, but we called Pidgeon's Uncle and got on the right path back to Jerusalem. We arrived home an hour and a half after we should have and Pidgeon and I were both tired and starving. So, we quickly pulled together dinner and I spent two hours trying to rub the life back into my swollen ankles.

Needless to say, when I woke up early yesterday to deal with deliveries and workers, I was a mess! I ended up staying in bed as long as possible because I just felt so worn out. It was a good thing I did, because we went to a wedding last night that was unlike any I've ever been to in my life. I certainly needed every ounce of energy in my being to make it without passing out from exhaustion.

So, this was what Pidgeon called a Chiloni wedding. The Rabbi was Yemenite and he did the entire ceremony. There was no badeken, the bride and groom entered the Chupah area together, they walked down an aisle laced with pyrotechnics, and then stood underneath the Chupah with all of their family present. The Rabbi was a bit insulting when he said he had to say everything in case the Chattan didn't know the prayer. Also, he was the only one to do all 7 Brachot, which was very foreign. And, it wouldn't be an Israeli wedding without some politics involved and the Rabbi waxed poetic about his views on Jerusalem as the Capitol of Israel. Throughout the ceremony, 90% of the guests milled around, smoking, drinking and chatting. You could barely hear that there was a religious ceremony taking place. Plus, you could count the Kippot on one hand, and those who didn't normally put one on didn't for the ceremony. I thought that was very weird, as even our non-Jewish relatives put on a Kippah during the ceremony. 

And then, the groom smashed the glass, the pyrotechnics went off again and the DJ played "This is the Rhythm of the Night." That's when I started laughing my ass off because, of all music to select after such a momentus life event such as marriage, they chose this song? The guests didn't even hang around to greet the Chattan and Kallah -everyone made a bee line for the exist to get downstairs to the dinner you would have thought the place was on fire. Well, we joined the herd and of course, didn't see a table for us. So, I let the Israelis in our party wrangle and we managed to secure the table right next to the kitchen door. It wasn't the best location on earth, but it was good for my needs as I couldn't really do much dancing anyway. We were joined by a set of Grandparents babysitting for one of the "bridesmaids" and her little sister. They were all pretty miserable about the situation, and I was lucky enough that the bridesmaid sat next to me. I was ok until she started waving around both sets of knifes. 

Since the wedding started pretty late, we had to leave before the main was served in order for me to do my shot. The dancing looked like a lot of fun though, not your usual "simcha" dancing but a lot of mixed, heavy on the drum and bass, dancing. The bass was so loud that the baby was freaking out inside of me. I don't think the baby liked it too much so I spent a lot of time trying to rub my belly to try to give the baby some comfort. It didn't really work.

Right before we were getting ready to leave, they called the Chatan and Kallah to the dance floor for their romantic dance. Oh, and did I mention that they had a camera on a crane over the dance floor that was both recording for the video and projecting what was going on onto 8 TV sets behind the DJ's? That was fascinating to me, it was like being in some 80's music video. 

So, they play some cheesy Canadian pop song that the bride and groom dance to and then the fireworks again. Now, I was ok with the pyrotechnics when we were outside, but the indoor ones made me VERY nervous. And, sitting at a table full of architectural engineers and builders who are well aware of building violation codes, it was no surprise to me that what was going on was illegal. Anyway, just as I stood to leave, the confetti shot out of canisters around the bride and groom and covered the dance floor. Everyone "oohed" and "aahed"  - I thought it was the end of some pagent.

But, I was so enthralled by the entire experience, I got home in such a great mood. I had a really fun time and am looking forward to our next "Israeli" wedding. Since it's 2 days before my due date - P"G - I'm hoping I hold out. Fortunately, my MIL is my doula and will also be at the wedding, so if I go into labor or my water breaks, I'll have plenty of people there to help me through it!

Well, today is going to be a pretty relaxing day. We have a birthday BBQ for my MIL this afternoon and then I have to come home and finish cooking for Shabbos. Fortunately, I made the chicken and kugel yesterday, so all I have to do is grill the steaks, make the brisket and some ratatouille. 

Shabbat Shalom from Baka!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Epi-No

This is called the Epi-No. We learned all about it in our childbirth education class last night and, my lord, but the things women will do to try to control their own labor and delivery! Let me rewind.

(Cousin Neil, please stop reading this post right now. It will be graphic and uncomfortable for you and so I'm giving you the heads up. Come back tomorrow)

I actually enjoyed class last night, which was a first, because I felt like it was productive and I learned new things. That, and the list of items to take to the hospital was pretty interesting and somewhat creative. In the middle of going through the list, and as all the pregnant women are feverishly jotting down every single word, Joani asked us about almond oil.

We stared at her blankly. What's the story with almond oil? She was surprised we hadn't covered it last class, so she stopped the laundry list of hospital items and went back to the delicate area of the perenium (I spelled it wrong but it's the area between the anus and vagina - the thing that stretches to let the baby come out).

Apparently, there are things women can do in advance of the labor and delivery to actually make this area more pliable. First, at 36 weeks, we should fill a plastic washing cup with 2 cups of boiling water and 1 tsp of rosemary. Then, we should insert the cup into the toilet (don't spill out the contents) and sit on it for about 5 - 10 minutes. This should be repeated for 5 days and the steam should help loosen up the area.

My sweet, sweet, adorable husband thought that I was supposed to use this to steam my face (or to drink, like a tea). Isn't he just so cute? I smiled at him as Joani was explaining what to do and lovingly patted his cheek. He got it once she spelled it out for him, but it was just so adorable that he thought it was for a different body part.

Then, Joani told us about rubbing almond oil into the area. This she said is actually difficult to do while pregnant, and one can ask ones partner to do it, but she wasn't a big fan of that either (it turns the area into a mechanical part as opposed to sexual).

So, the option is to buy The Epi-No. It's called that because it's supposed to help a laboring woman avoid an episiotomy (when the Dr.'s snip the area between vagina and anus to help the baby's head poke through). This is very painful for the woman, and then there is lots of stitches and it's not a pleasant part of the childbirth experience (unlike contractions right?)

Here's how it works. See the light blue dildo shaped balloon thing at the end? Well, you're supposed to insert it into the vagina hole, pump it up like the Dr. does when taking your blood pressure, make sure it doesn't burn or hurt but just that the area feels "stretch", leave it in for a bit and then use your pelvic muscles to push it out.

And, if you want to purchase this fantastic piece of pre-labor equipment, it's about 480 shekel (roughly $137 when the exchange rate is 3.5%). Fortunately, Joani sells them herself so no need to go into every SuperPharm in Israel asking for it. Something that might be a bit embarressing to ask for over the counter (and you though condom shopping was bad!)

Well, I told Pidgeon that I'm just going to take my chances and just say no to the Epi-No. I think he was a bit relieved.

And then, this woman in our class, asked if it was okay to borrow her friend's Epi-No.

No, no, no, no, no!

Joani was pretty disgusted by the question and kindly, but firmly, said that she wouldn't recommend it. It was gross and, in her mind, felt like sharing a used tampon.

I think, at this point, all the men wanted to jump out the windows of the room. But, in their defense, they all held it together beautifully while the women in the class were horrified.

This pregnant woman persisted and asked if it was okay to use if she just put on a condom.

OK, seriously now? There are certain things in life we just don't cheap out on people. And, The Epi-No is definitely one of them. If you want it, and you think it will come in handy, scrape together the cash and get one. I was going to hand her 100 shekel right then and there because I was just so surprised she was willing to consider sharing.

Would ya share a friend's dildo? Honestly, unless you're in porn, those types of "toys" and "things" should be for one woman only.

Fortunately, class ended shortly after the Epi-No demonstration. Pidgeon was absolutely wiped and was happy we only have a couple more classes left. I got home and called my little sister to tell her about the class and to try to cheer her up. She works for Lehman Brothers - enough said.

So, I got her rolling on the floor with the Epi-No story and then the creative items we needed to pack and she nicely added an essential item that should come in handy. (E-mail me offline if you want to know what it was, I think the Epi-No is enough graphic for today).

And, of course, I was unable to sleep last night. I literally roamed the house from 2:00 - 4:30 a.m. I called some friends in the States, but Pidgeon heard me and woke up and I didn't want him to be awake since he has a busy day today, so I hung up, crawled into bed and stared into space while he slept. I finally passed out around 5ish and then our alarm went off at 6:45 and I was up.

I packed Pidgeon his lunch, got dressed, logged on and waited for the Mei Eden guys to deliver 2 more big bottles of water. I'm hoping it will be enough to get us through the Chagim since they don't deliver again until the middle of Succot. As soon as he left, I crawled back into bed and napped for 2 hours. Fortunately, Mom was in the office early and woke me up so I didn't completely sleep through the entire day.

Well, since I napped for longer than I should have today, I have to double time it to do my work before the day starts in the States.

Wishing you all Yom Tov from Baka!

Monday, September 15, 2008

New Fall Routines

This is the broken leg Teddy Bear from Gund, a fantastic stuffed animal toy company in the States. I absolutely love their bears, they are made from the absolute yummiest fabric that makes you want to snuggle up. Well, unfortunately, Gund doesn't make a broken arm Teddy Bear and that's what my 3 1/2 year old niece did yesterday. Imagine our surprise when my sister called at 10:00 p.m. and asked us to switch on our Skype because my niece wanted to talk to us. Well, we were both thrilled since any opportunity to talk to our nieces and nephews in the States is a fun treat. We were already in PJ's so we spent a minute getting "camera ready" (which professionally for me usually means hair and make up but personally means Tzniut clothing) and when the camera loaded there she was! In a cast, in a sling, completely zoned out on drugs.

She didn't really look at us during the entire time we were on the screen because she was busy trying to open up her popsicle with one hand. And, since she's a lefty and it was her left wrist that broke, she was having an even harder time.

So, my sister told me to tell her the story of how I broke my wrist when I was little, and I launched into my rendition. It was summer, and camp had only been in session a couple of weeks. They took us to a roller skating rink for a few hours and my friend and I decided to hold hands while skating around the rink. We were hit by this inspiration to skate into the center of the rink cause that's where all the cool kids were doing stunts and stuff. While we were crossing the rink, one of the instructors was showing off for one of our camp counselors and he was skating backwards but not looking. He literally skated right into our linked hands and down we both went. And that's when this very large woman skated right over my wrist, shattering it instantly.

Well, there was no question that this wrist was broken, it blew up like a balloon. So, they "packed" it using a faux cardboard sling (this was the early 80's people, I guess having a first aid kit would have been too much to ask!), a huge bag of ice and then this nice man in a van with a TV drove me all the way home to Queens. When we pulled up in front of the house, there was Daneel and my Dad, waiting for me. They quickly put me into the old red Oldsmobile (the boat/vehicle that I would later learn to drive) and Daneel drove us to the Orthopedic surgeon in Forest Hills while my Dad tried to stabilize my arm in the backseat.

What I remember, clearly, was the fact that they hadn't paved 147th Street yet. It was a mess of bumps and potholes and it was TORTURE driving up the block. I guess it was really just a preview of what was to come. I don't remember waiting long in the waiting room, but I do remember sitting there through X-rays with the heavy vest protecting my internal organs. And then, the Dr. said it was broken and he needed to set it and cast it.

Here's what they don't tell 7 year olds. That setting a broken bone is used an a terrorist interrogation tactic. They were smart enough to warn my Dad that it would really hurt and then, he twisted my wrist so hard and "fused" the bones back together. I screamed bloody freaking murder, it was that painful. I was shaking for hours afterwards because it hurt so much. The casting part was kinda fun though, all nice and cold and slimey.

As always after a big, medical affair, Dad took us out for Baskin and Robbins on Main Street and then Daneel dropped us off and I spent the rest of the afternoon watching TV in my parents bedroom.

My niece was pretty fascinated with this story, and then I told her about all the great presents I got from my family and friends. Mom was working in the City and she came home with this white, stuffed rabbit that had satin rainbow striped ears and played Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I LOVED this stuffed animal and I think I slept with it for a long, long time. Of course, once the excitement ended, the pain began and I needed the music to try to make me feel better. I told my niece to make sure Savta sent her a good gift, but I wasn't too concerned, my Mom's pretty good that way.

Well, I could tell by her glazed expression that she was pretty doped up on whatever they gave her at the hospital (how come I didn't get anything when I broke my wrist??) so, after we hung up, I went looking for a stuffed animal to send her. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any broken arm bears. There were tons of broken leg bears though, which made no sense to me because most kids fall and use their arms to brace themselves (as my niece did when she slipped off the monkey bars at the park). So Gund, if you're reading this, please make a broken wrist/arm teddy bear for all the millions of kids out there who break their arms every, single day.

I settled for the Boo Boo Book and shipped it, gift wrapped from Barnes and Noble. There's a picture on the cover of a kid with a cast on its arm, and the book has a section about broken bones. I'm going to leave the stuffed animal purchase to my Mom, it's much more meaningful that way.

Well, Pidgeon and I are in a new routine, and I have to say that the 6:45 a.m. wake up call is really rough. Especially since I work in the States, and so my hours are US hours, which means I don't log off my computer before Midnight. The good thing is that, at this point, I can still take a cat nap at 2:00 p.m. and be up before it's 9:00 a.m. in the States. Yesterday was the first day of this new routine, and I thought I would take advantage of the crisp, morning air and go for a walk to the supermarket. We were out of milk and I wanted cereal for breakfast, so I waited until it was 8:00 a.m. and I knew the supermarket was open, and I hiked my way to Falcon on Derech Beit Lechem. It was not an easy walk, as I'm carrying all my baby weight in my belly and butt. It was hard getting my legs moving, but I did manage (although huffing and puffing). I spent some time at the supermarket, just walking up and down the aisles as I'm wont to do when I'm food shopping, and I indulged myself in a couple of things.

I paid, packed a few bags so the weight was evenly distributed, and then headed home. I was surprised to see that there was relatively few people out. The bus stops were crowded, but that was pretty much it. I thought, since there are schools in this neighborhood and lots of kids, that Baka would be buzzing. I guess I got the wrong memo, cause the streets were pretty deserted. As I was walking down the block towards our apartment, I heard someone calling from behind. I turned around, and there was this 16 year old kid carrying a gardening tool. It was a pretty grungy tool too. He asked me in Hebrew if I could please let him tend my garden. I told him that I didn't have a garden. He begged me to let him tend the garden and again, I explained that I didn't have a garden.

And then he started to beg me for money. And he started following me. I told him I'm sorry but I didn't have anything to give him. Well, blame it on my New York City insticts coupled with being pregnant, because I just kept eyeing that gardening tool in fear. Finally, I stopped in my tracks, told him no and Lech (walk away). I made it very clear that I was not continuing down the block until he walked far, far away from me. He crossed the street, walked through the alley and then disappeared. I was pretty shaken up though. I walked home as fast as my pregnant and swollen legs could carry me, and then made sure he hadn't followed me once I got to the building.

I thought I was being paranoid. Maybe I was. Had I not been pregnant, I probably would have been less frightened and more stern. But, all I could think about was this kid being refused money and just taking a whack at me with that gardening tool. When I later told my Mom the story, I mentioned that I would have had the same reaction had I been living in my old neighborhood on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, walking down Main Street in her neighborhood of Queens, or even shopping at a strip mall in South Florida. The fact that I was in Baka, Jerusalem, Israel didn't factor really into my feelings of fear.

Well, I've made the decision that maybe early morning jaunts aren't such a good thing for me. I think 5:00 p.m. would be better, as that's when loads of people are still walking around and the neighborhood really is buzzing. Lord, but sometimes I really do miss Manhattan. I used to walk to my office in Rockefeller Center from my apartment on 74th and Columbus. It was a fantastic walk in September, when the weather in the morning was nice and cool, and I would plug into my iPod and just go. I loved how I felt getting to work, the walk invigorating and waking me up, and preparing me with the enegy to meet my day.

Without my walk this morning, I'm relying on the two slices of mango and two slices of pineapple I just downed to give me a sugar boost to get to work. Today, I have to finish my paper for my final class at Bar Ilan. I need to have it mailed by Thursday in order to meet the deadline. Plus, I have work work for a client that I must get done before we have out childbirth education class tonight.

I think we're learning about different birthing positions and breathing today.

Pidgeon, I know, is definitely looking forward to learning how to breathe!

Yom Tov from Baka!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Laughing in my Sleep

Apparently, I woke Pidgeon up last night because I was laughing in my sleep. It was a cackling laugh too, so I must have been dreaming about something funny yet evil. Too bad I don't remember the dream! Dreams about our baby being half salmon/half human and potentially dinner for a group of friends I remember, funny/evil dreams you can forget about. Oh well! 

We were supposed to go on a double date last night. The plan was to meet up at the bowling alley and I was exhausted. I get pretty wiped from 5-9, then catch my second wind and am wide awake until 2:00 a.m.  So, at 8:00 p.m., I pulled myself together, got dressed, packed a pair of socks into my purse and went into the living room to wait for Pidgeon to finish getting ready. And that's when the phone rang and our date called to tell us that their babysitter cancelled last minute. From the sounds of it, they were really, really upset and angry about the last minute cancellation. They spent 30 minutes calling around and trying desperately to find a replacement babysitter. At 9:00 p.m., they called to tell us that they'd given up. I told them not to be so upset about it and that we would definitely do it another time. I guess I don't understand where they're coming from. They have two children under the age of 3 with one more on the way. I guess they really needed the night out. 

I was pretty hungry at that point and hadn't been out of the house in almost 2 days, so Pidgeon decided to take me to Emek for a quick dinner. Now, I had promised my parents I wouldn't eat out anymore because of the whole puking evening two days ago. But, I figured how bad could an Aroma tuna salad really be? Besides, I had cooked a cauliflower kugel and a meatloaf for Shabbos and just didn't have the strength to make something else for dinner. I'm really going to have to think about buying a freezer and cooking in advance of baby, otherwise Pidgeon is going to be eating a lot of Branflakes and skim milk since I doubt I'll have the strength to make us anything.

Aroma was pretty empty last night and we had a nice time. Then, we went to Super Moshava so I could do my favorite activity - walking up and down the aisles of a Supermarket. I found these packages of MealMart ready-to-eat food, you know the ones I blogged about a while ago that will be given to soldiers as rations in the event of (g-d forbid) another war. I quickly ran to show them to Pidgeon and he wanted to buy one to eat, but it's not on the diet, so I think he was pretty disappointed. I then found genuine Hershey's syrup and was soo tempted to buy the bottle so I can make myself some chocolate milk. But, it was 20 shekel and we're on a budget and a diet, so I left it back on the shelf and was just happy knowing it was there. We ended up picking up some Philadelphia cream cheese, an orange juice, some more cheese sticks for Pidgeon and 2% strawberry frozen yogurt. We had a bowl of the frozen yogurt when we got home and it was really yummy. I didn't get to sleep though until 2:00 a.m. and when Pidgeon's alarm went off this morning at 7:00 I was not pleased.

He left the apartment very quickly because we're having some problems in our new car with the gear shift. Apparently, it's SUPER sensitive mechanism, so we have to be careful when we move down gears. We're really not these heavy handed people so I don't know why it keeps breaking, but we're still under warrantee so they fixed it for free.

Afterward, Pidgeon ran my pre-Shabbos errands and brought back some whole wheat Challot from Pe'er and breakfast from Bagel Bites. We've been to Tal Bagels, Bagel Bites and the new bagel store on Emek (forgetting the name). At the end of the day, Bagel Bites has the best bagels. And, I'm not just saying that because it's closest to our apartment. They're really decent bagels. 

By the time Pidgeon returned, I had the chicken done. I roasted another whole chicken that cost us a bit more than 5 shekel (we bought it at Falcon and not SuperDeal) with balsamic vinegar, red wine, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. It smelled amazing once it was done, and I cooked it one hour covered and one hour uncovered. The skin is now nice, brown and crackly but the meat is still very juicy. I hope it tastes as good as it looks. While it was cooling on the stove top, I made a leek and portobello mushroom soup for first course tonight. We're really going light for dinner, so I felt we needed something else as a starter. I've never made this recipe before but I found it on Epicurious and hope it's tasty!

I then grilled two steaks for tomorrow lunch. First course will be a grilled steak salad with a balsamic dijon mustard dressing. At this point, I'm wiped but have to deal with the chicken and wash all the dishes. So, I took the BEST invention ever and set to work on quartering the chicken.

I cannot stop praising these poultry shears. They are absolutely amazing, you'd think the chicken bones were fabric it just glides right through them. I also never learnt how to properly quarter a whole chicken, but I figured it out pretty well if I do say so myself. Within minutes, I had four pieces of chicken and two wings cut off. I also cooked the neck too, and left that together with the chicken. Hopefully, it will taste as good as it looks!! If you need a pair, and you live in Jerusalem, go to 4UGifts on Derech Hevron and ask Sara for the poultry shears. It will save you tons of money in the end!

Well, I was trolling the blogosphere yesterday and came across this amazing baking site called Bake or Break and the photos literally had me drooling. With Rosh Hashana coming up, I'm thinking about baking something to formally usher in a sweet New Year. Now, all I have to do is figure out which recipe I want to try first as they all look so great!

I'm off to finish tidying up before Shabbos!

Shabbat Shalom from Baka!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

7 Years Later

I know this day comes every year and yet, for some reason, it always creeps up on me. We woke up this morning early, Pidgeon had work and I had to get a heads start on tidying up the apartment for our new cleaning lady. I spent a lot of time this morning trying not to think back to seven years ago, to the morning of September 11th, to my own personal experiences. But, it was really hard not to go back there, so I let myself remember.

The first thing that I always think about was the weather that morning. It was my perfect, Fall day. The sky was blue, the air was crisp, you could smell the change in the seasons. I wished Zaydie a good morning, grabbed my jean jacket to kept away the chill, my CD player with a new disc in it, and raced towards the bus. As always, there was that one spot on Grand Street where you got that perfect view of The Twin Towers. I don't remember if I paused to notice, like I had the first time I moved down to The Lower East Side. I had grown numb to the scenery and, since I was in a rush, didn't take any time to admire the view. I boarded the bus and and headed towards my job in Rockefeller Center. It was early, before 7:00 a.m., and I was in charge of getting to the office to prepare to put out a press release. I wonder sometimes, had it been just a regular day, with no press releases to issue, what time would I have been on the bus? How close to the office would I have been before the first plane hit? Where would all the rest of my co-workers be had I not asked them to come in early. Especially Vicky and Schuyler, who took the Path into the World Trade Center where they switched to the uptown F train to Rockefeller Center. Would they have been underneath the buildings when it all happened?

I remember Loreto, our Irish secretary, meeting me in the kitchen where I was making a cup of coffee. I remember walking into my office, putting on my computer, calling Mom to say hi, and trolling the internet for gossip. I don't remember what I ate for breakfast.

The rest of my team arrived and we eased into the morning. It was a typical day at the office: we reviewed the press release, went over media lists, split the pitching. Loreto called to tell me that a plane slammed into one of the Twin Towers. I was shocked. It was such a clear day, how could that have happened. I went into the conference room and turned on the news on the huge TV. I sat there and watched. The rest of the office joined me. People would walk into the office and just come straight into the conference room. We sipped at our coffees and ate through out bagels.

And then we saw the second plane hit. And we all knew it wasn't an accident.

I remember thinking about my sister, whose new job at Lehman Brothers was in one of the Towers. I quickly called my Mother to find out where she was that day, and breathed a sigh of relief when I was told she was in New Jersey training. She ended up stuck across the river for two days. 

The day was chaos, even for us way up in Rockefeller Center. Rumors were rampant, we heard we were a target because we were in the media center of the US. The building alarms rang out. I had to go to the bathroom. I begged my friend Julie to wait for me. I sat on the toilet and prayed nothing would happen while my underwear was around my ankles. We joined the people walking down the stairwell - evacuating the building. There was a bomb scare. It made no sense, but that's what it was. 

Julie and I spilled out onto 48th Street between 5th and 6th. A woman my age, from our office but in another group, was in a terrible panic. She ran out of the door behind us and rammed right into an older woman. The woman went down, she kept running. Julie and I looked at each other and didn't stop to help her up.

What kind of person was I for not helping her up?

We went to Wolf's on 57th and 6th, which no longer exists but my friend Kate's roommate was the owner. Julie and I stopped at the Sports Authority on the corner, so I could buy sneakers. It was the one day I was wearing heels and we both realized we would have to walk home that day. At least I only lived on the Lower East Side, Julie lived across the river in Brooklyn. 

I remember being shocked that the man at the Sports Authority charged me for my sneakers. Didn't he realize that the world had just come to an end? That soon money wouldn't matter? I paid the bill though, and Julie and I went into Wolf's. We were joined by Kate and Schuyler's friends and we sat, numb, and watched CNN and Fox News Channel. We stayed that way until after 5:00 p.m., when we heard the subways were running again. Julie and I left and got onto the first available downtown F train. The last stop was Delancey Street. Perfect for me, a long trek still for Julie. She had to go home to feed her dogs so we parted way at the base of the Williamsburgh bridge. She joined the hundreds of thousands of people hoofing their way out of the City. I crossed Delancey and walked down to Essex and Grand, and hung a left onto Grand towards the apartment.

The streets were littered with papers. I didn't realize what these papers were until two days later, when everything really sunk in, and it dawned on me that these were memos and work documents from the two towers. They had blown over to Grand Street. 

I forgot about Zaydie but figured he was at shul, where he usually went, to daven mincha. I didn't think about the week to come, how nothing would move below 14th street except for rescue workers, how the supermarkets would be bare, how our neighborhood would be silent because of all the loss. 

7 years is a long time, but for these memories, it's not long enough. May the World never see such hate and destruction ever again.

May the survivors and the families of the victims continue to heal.

And while I might be 6,000 miles away from New York City, I hope that I'll never forget what happened on September 11th.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hummus, Lafah and Contractions

From 4:00 a.m. - 5:30 a.m. this morning, I got freakishly closer to Mommyhood. To explain, I have to go back to Tuesday night's childbirth education class. As you know, we're taking a class with Joani THE anglo doula expert of Jerusalem. She came highly recommended as both a doula and educator, so we shelled out the 600 shekel and joined her Monday evening class. What usually happens in this class is that she lectures, we ask questions, she pauses to answer her cell phone in case someone is in labor, we nosh and we learn. We are in the class with 8 other expectant couples - most are due in November - with one due at the end of October and another one at the end of December. The group is very nice, it's informal, and our husbands are certainly getting an education.

This week's class was condensed by 2 hours because Joani had a birth, so she did a bit more lecturing and we did more listening and less asking of questions. What I really found interesting was the parts about contractions. She went around the room and asked each of us if we're experiencing Braxton-Hicks (the contractions that don't indicate you're in labor but just prime your uterus for the real thing). I was pretty sure I hadn't had any of these based on what people were describing and then Pidgeon told her that sometimes my stomach is hard in some places and soft in others and so she said that was Braxton-Hicks. I don't think we explained the sensation well to her because what he's really feeling is where the baby is lying. Basically, if it's hard, that's the baby and if it's soft, the baby ain't there. So, I just figured I'm one of those ladies who is either 

1) not in tune with her body and doesn't know when I'm having contractions or 
2) just haven't had any Braxton-Hicks contractions

And then Joani told us about this great test for determining if you're really in labor or if you're having false labor. She said, once I feel the contractions, to drink some alcohol. If, after a few hours, the contractions stop then it was false labor and I basically just got a nice buzz going during the contraction. If, however, it stops for a bit and then starts up again, I'm really in labor and it's show time. 

Well, I basically told Pidgeon I'm going to spend my nine month drunk cause I'm going to take a shot of scotch each time I get a contraction to see if it's real or not. (Note, Joani recommends using white wine and not scotch. But, since I'm allergic to red wine and just can't stand the taste of white, she said scotch was ok. As long as the alcohol content is above a certain percentage, I can go for it. Obviously, depending on the percentage, I have to figure out how much to drink).

So, I was pretty happy when we walked out of the class Monday night because I had my new how-to-deal-with-labor game plan. 

Fast forward to last night. Pidgeon and I were both busy all day yesterday with work. I had a press release I had to get to a client and Pidgeon was working on his final project. The only thing on our schedule was to go to Chasdei Shmuel and put a 35% down payment on the baby stuff we ordered. Pidgeon, in the interim, had a dentist appointment and so when he got back in the late afternoon, we quickly ate some lunch, I got dressed and we drove to the Charedi neighborhood. We removed some items from the list at the suggestion of both of our parents (they keep saying people will buy us presents, but I don't have such good friends here who are willing to shell out 900 shekel on a baby swing) and then I used my American Express for the deposit.

A number of years ago, when my older sister and my older cousins were all getting married, my Zaydie (ZT"L) told my Mom and Aunts that he wanted to pay for his future Great Grandchildren's cribs as a baby present. At the time, I was no where near getting married, and I think my little brother was in his pre-pubescent stage. But, Zaydie dolled out the cash for each of his 9 Grandchildren and gave them to his daughters to put away in the bank. At the same time, he also gave money for each of us to buy Sterling silverware as a wedding present, and that too was put away for those of us not ready to walk down the aisle. I knew this money was in my bank account and I've been careful all these years not to spend it. So, when we walked into Chasdei Shmuel and put the 35% down payment on all the baby items we purchased, it made me happy to know that my Zaydie was the one who bought the crib. And, P"G, every time I look at the crib it will be a reminder that Zaydie is still a big part of my life even though he's no longer physically here with us.

As you can imagine, I was a bit emotional after Chasdei Shmuel, so I asked Pidgeon if he wanted to go out to eat for dinner. He was thrilled and I was thrilled cause it meant that I didn't have to cook another meal. We went to Emek and found a great parking spot and then went to a restaurant we've been to MANY, many times in the past year.

We sat down and I didn't really need to look at the menu, I pretty much knew what I wanted to eat. I ordered a hummus with chopped meat as an appetizer, while Pidgeon had the stuffed eggplant to start. Then, I had the fried chicken pieces, a side of french fries and steamed vegetables while Pidgeon enjoyed a skewer of steak, a skewer or chicken, okra in tomato sauce and steamed vegetables. I chased my meal down with a Fanta and Pidgeon had Diet Grapefruit juice.

All foods we've eaten before. At this restaurant. Many, many, many times.

We finished dinner at 7:00 p.m., got back to the apartment full and satisfied and slightly exhausted. I poured myself a cup of orange juice and took my pre-natal vitamin and my iron pill. We then logged in, downloaded the first two episodes of the second season of Gossip Girl and had a chill night. At 11:00 p.m., I did my Clexane Shot and we were both asleep by 1:00 a.m.

I woke up at 3:45 a.m. in a cold sweat, thinking I needed to throw up. Its been a while since I've felt that way and I thought maybe something else was going on. But no, I definitely needed to vomit. I quickly removed my bite plate and put it away in the case, moved the shower rug in front of the toilet, and just let things go. Since Pidgeon normally sleeps like the dead, I didn't shut the door to the bathroom cause I didn't think he'd hear anything. I was wrong. He jumped up in bed about 5 minutes into me being sick and was very alarmed. He wanted to call his Mom and ask her what to do. Then he wanted to call Terem (24 hour emergency care clinic in Jerusalem) or the hospital. I told him to call my brother-in-law, the Pediatrician, who was for sure awake at 9:00 p.m. in Cleveland. He picked up the phone and called my brother-in-law, who basically said Why the heck are you calling me? Call her OBGYN! and I was not happy with that response. So, in between heaves, I took the phone and told him that I thought it was just bad food poisoning. He said, just to be on the safe side, I really should talk to an OBGYN since I'm B"H already in my 29th week.

Well, I hung up unhappy with his advice (I just wanted to puke everything up and then get back to bed, I wasn't thinking about anything else being wrong) but we called Terem and they told us to call the Maccabi (my health care provider) nurse. She gave Pidgeon all these directions about drinking water and boiling water and putting ice into it, etc. It didn't really sound so helpful especially since any water I was drinking in between puking, I ended up puking. So, Pidgeon again wanted to call and wake his Mom, but I asked him to hold off for a bit longer. I then told him to call the Dr. on call at Wolfson Medical Center. Since we're both members of the Medical Center, I didn't feel too bad about making that call. Fortunately, the Dr. got back to us right away, and Pidgeon talked as I wretched in the background. His advice was very good. He said not to drink anything if I was just throwing it up. He said to monitor my vomiting and if it continued past a certain hour, I should come into the morning clinic to assess the situation (i.e. if I needed an IV fluid drip). It was now 4:30 a.m. and I wasn't letting up at all. My throat at this point is absolutely burning, my esophagus on fire from all this disgusting stomach acid and vomit, and I was really wiped. 

And that's when I had my first contraction. It was 5:00 a.m. at this point, and the contraction was not pleasant. At first, I didn't realize it was even a contraction. But then, about 3 minutes later, I had another one. Now I was ready for Pidgeon to call his Mom. He woke her up and she was very alert and had some great advice. She asked if I had Pramin in the house - which I had since I needed it during my 1st three months of puking. She told Pidgeon to call the Dr.'s at Shaarei Zedek, explain my situation, tell them I was having contractions, and ask if I could take a Pramin to help stop the vomiting. Pidgeon somehow managed to get a nurse at Shaarei Zedek on the phone, she gave him the go-ahead with the Pramin, I took a pill and slipped into bed. 

The Pramin worked and my vomiting finally stopped! But, the contractions didn't, and I had 3 more in the span of 15 minutes. Pidgeon wanted to call his Mom again and bring me into the hospital, but I told him to just give me a few minutes to relax and to see if it would just stop on its own. Obviously, at this point, the alcohol test was out but boy did I want a shot! We both dozed off and, when I woke up a few hours later, was thrilled that the contractions were done.

My dreams, on the other hand, were super disturbing. I dreamt that the baby had salmon DNA and that my friends were trying to eat it. I was running, and running to stop them from eating our baby and just kept screaming that our baby wasn't a salmon but was a baby. It was so weird, I blame the vomiting and whatever poison was in my system for the messed up dreams. You can imagine how happy I was to wake up out of that dream this morning!

So, now I'm in bed. Our Ikea trip was cancelled for today, but Pidgeon and his Mom went to an interior design trade show in Tel Aviv. I think it was good for him to get out of the house, he would have just gone stir crazy staring at me in bed. I was feeling a bit better when I woke up this morning, and was even able to keep a cup of tea down. Pidgeon's Mom suggested I put in some sugar, even though I really try to avoid sugar in general, and I complied. She then told me I have to figure out a way to get some salt into my system today. I might just make myself some powdered soup mix, which isn't the healthiest but is loaded with sodium. Other than that, I'm just taking it easy.

It was a big scare for me, though. And, even though the Dr. at the Medical Center said "At 29 weeks, you can deliver a robust baby", I'm just not ready for this one to come out yet! I think this baby still needs 11 more weeks to do what babies do in the last few weeks of pregnancy. 

Well, I'm pretty tired, so I'm off to take a nap. 

Yom Tov from Baka!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Blackout 2008

This morning, Pidgeon and I woke up to the Great Baka/Talpiot/German Colony Blackout of September 2008. OK, so it wasn't exactly like the one I experienced living in Manhattan during the summer of 2003, but it wasn't fun nonetheless. Around 10:30 a.m., I went to boot up my computer and noticed that my computer wasn't charging. Well, I've been having some issues with my Apple charger and so I thought it finally crapped out on me. So, I walked to the bedroom and looked for a replacement charger. I plugged it in and nothing. That's when I thought maybe the outlet fuse blew. So, I went to the fuse box and everything was up. Confused, I decided the workers last week must have messed up the outlet and so I walked towards the couch and plugged in to that outlet. Nothing. That's when I realized that something bigger was going on. I looked at the TV and saw the cable was out. 

Ahh - the light bulb went off and only the one above my head because - we have no power! 

So, I went to wake up Pidgeon, who is a lazy bum and decided to sleep in. He opened an eye and told me to stop being a drama queen when I said we were experiencing a blackout and he needed to call the electric company to determine how large of a blackout it was. So, he groped for his phone and I went outside of the apartment to check the lights in the building -which also didn't work - and reported back. We decided to call our neighbors to see if they were having the same issues. They were. We called the electric company and - sure enough - there was a recording that Baka, Talpiot and the German Colony were all experiencing power outages and they estimated we would all be back online by 1:00 p.m.

Great. Just when I actually have a ton of work to do, this happens. Well, I decided to wash the dishes cause at last the water is working, and thought back to my emergency items. I made a mental note where the candles were, I double checked that the batteries were working on my flashlight and I realized we had no water left in the house. So, I told Pidgeon he had to go and buy us some water, because lord knows when the lights would be back on.

Well, Pidgeon got a great big laugh about my "overreaction" and told me that Israel wasn't experiencing what New York went through in 2003. Whatever. I told him he couldn't have breakfast cause I wasn't opening up the fridge, and offered him a pear that was ripening on our kitchen counter. I don't think he appreciated that too much. We called his parents to see if they had power, since I really did have a deadline for a client, and they told us to come over. Well, we decided after Pidgeon got dressed and davened that we would go, even though the workers will still supposed to come to finish work in the apartment.

By the time Pidgeon was wrapping up his Tefilin, the electricity had come back on. Yea! I was thrilled, I really didn't want to drop in on his folks and do work. I like my home work station better, it's more comfortable, and I really didn't want to cancel the workers. It's time construction ended in this apartment!

Well, Pidgeon left to run some errands after I let him open the fridge for some cheese, and the workers showed up. I was reminded that I couldn't offer them any water since it's Ramadan, and so I let them get to it. Within a half hour, they were done! The ceiling in the bathroom has been painted and is now shiny and white, and the broken drawer was fixed (they left a big hammer back there the last time they were fixing the wall in the room - 6 months ago - and that's why the drawer wouldn't close!). I told them I'd settle up with them next time around since I hadn't expected the work to be finished so quickly today and have about 50 shekel on me. They were fine with that.

Once I got them out of the house, I sat down to work on that client press release when Pidgeon called from his errands. Turns out the package I've been waiting for was finally at the post office! Yea! I couldn't wait to see what my friend Tamara bought me while she was home in Portland.

I reminded Pidgeon to pick up batteries for the radio  (hey, this reminded me that you always should be prepared, no matter what!) and some vitamins at the pharmacy and then went back to work while he was doing errands. I had just sent the press release to the client for approval when Pidgeon returned, with the box.

My friend Tamara is so amazing! She sent me a book about the baby's first year, an adorable magnetic note pad of a pregnant lady for the kitchen, and loads of cute baby clothes! I told her what we're P"G having, so she bought very specific things, and I thought the newborn slippers were just adorable. Plus, she bought a pair of matching hat and socks, which would be great to bring the baby home from the hospital in. I left her a message saying how much I loved and appreciated her, and then I packed it back in the box and hid it underneath the bed. 

Well, I'm going to have to stop updating now as it appears I'm losing my internet connection yet AGAIN today. So frustrating!

Yom Tov from Baka!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Bowling Birthday

TGIF!! I am so happy that it's almost Shabbos. I never thought I would ever say that, I used to dread Shabbos while single and living on the Upper West Side. By, ever since we got married and packed our weeks with work and errands and just life in general, I've learnt to appreciate Shabbos. 

It was a very busy and exhausting week. Wednesday, we were still heavily under construction and the apartment was just covered in pulvarized wall and dust. We ran some errands and then, once all the workers finally left, I got into the shower and got dressed to Pidgeon's first cousin's 11th birthday party at the bowling alley in Talpiot.

We were an hour and a half late, so we didn't make it in time to actively bowl, but it was a lot of fun. It reminded me of our birthday parties - back in the day - at Jib Lanes in Queens. Each of us had a party there, and mine was especially fun! We bowled then went to the back room where my parents had pizza and a birthday cake. I got some good presents that year and I still have some pictures of all my friends bowling and having a fun time. I think we took up about 5 lanes too, everyone we invited came! I don't remember what the goody bags were that year,  but knowing my Mom they probably had a lot of chocolate and candies in them.

After the bowling evening, we went to Anise on HaPalmach so I could buy some stuff we needed for the house and our new diet. Also, I bought that Nettle tea leaves and some Raspberry Leaf tea leaves, as recommended by our childbirth education class instructor. We also found Whey protein powder, which is a key ingredient in this non-flour "graham" cracker crust recipe I found online. I saw limes at the fruit and vegetable store on Derech Beit Lechem yesterday so I want to make pidgeon some "key lime" pie that is "kosher" for our diet. We also bought some fake sugar for baking, which I'm sure we will burn through in no time!

We got home late and I started cooking a quick egg scramble for Pidgeon and waited for my friend Slightly Mad to come over. We had a much needed girl's chat, which was great fun for me! Pidgeon enjoyed it too, and tuned us out during the appropriate times.

Yesterday wasn't as busy as Wednesday, and less crowded in the apartment as construction finally winds down. I spent 20 minutes with the contractor telling him where to hang which picture, and the apartment just looks so much nicer with some photos up! Pidgeon was out on errands in the morning, and when he got back we decided to run some errands for me. We went to pick up some fruit and vegetables to get us through the day and then we stopped by 4UGifts to try to finish off our registry. We literally have 129 shekels left and I'm waiting on the rolling pin I ordered about a month ago. We did manage to get two dairy casserole dishes that I needed desperately and this thing called Dish Wish which is incredible! It's basically thicker than a towel and functions as a drying rack for dishes. Since we are VERY limited in counter space, I only have one real drying rack but needed something else for milchig dishes. Enter Dish Wish! We bought another one yesterday since we've been really using the first one and it's getting a bit grundgy. I think I'm going to have to wash it very soon!

I ended up cooking a great dinner for us last night. I made salmon, a broccoli cheese and pizza spice "casserole" and a goat cheese salad with artichokes and endives. It was yummy! I was ready to get to bed much earlier than expected, but we decided to watch Hancock online. I was happy, once the movie was over, that we didn't shell out the dough to see it in the theatre. Now, I'm a big Will Smith fan and have been seeing his July 4th movies pretty regularly since Independence Day hit theaters way back when. But, he needs to sign up for better movies, cause this one was a stinker.

We went to sleep so late last night, that it was no surprise to me when I rolled over and saw it was Noon! After four late night pit-stops to the bathroom (damn that Nettle tea!!) I was pretty wiped. I woke Pidgeon up and decided to make us some whole wheat pancakes for breakfast since it's our Hebrew 1st anniversary. The new recipe I tried was absolutely delicious and we polished off 15 pancakes between us! It was that good. I think I'm going to make another batch early next week and leave them in the fridge. Pidgeon likes to eat them as a quick snack and it's healthy for him, so why not.

Well, I'm off to finish this new mix I'm pulling together for Pidgeon's brother. He's in from London and is a big runner, and when he told me what music was on his iPod, I was pretty shocked. The guy is listening to music for 15 years ago and not because he likes it, but because he doesn't have anything new! So, I'm pulling together a great mix with tunes from The Fratellis, Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, The Strokes, Kings of Leon, Damone, The Kaiser Chiefs, etc. I'm hoping he'll enjoy this mix as much as his old one.

Shabbat Shalom from Baka!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


It's day three of construction and, once again, I'm under siege and trapped in my bedroom. The fumes are getting to me, and I don't feel so great since it's hot and I've shut off the AC. There is no way I'm running the AC with them painting, I have all windows open and am hoping when it cools down later it will air out the place. Last night, we breathed in so much crap that we both woke up this morning with sore throats. 

Yesterday started off slow. We let in the workers and tried to get back to sleep, but they spent hours drilling holes out of the walls. They drilled a huge hole behind the front door for the new electric panel they're putting in. This panel will include the Shabbos clock for the AC unit, so we don't have to run it 24/7 over Shabbos. That left about a 2 inch coating of dust and crushed up wall all over the kitchen, living room and dining room. They had covered the living room furniture, the wall unit and the coffee table but I guess they removed the covering before they finished with the work because everything is just covered in white powder. Forget my kitchen or dining room tables. And, the dishes I left in the sink yesterday was full of both food residue and wall, so it took me an extra long time to wash up last night. I tried to keep a level head and remind myself that this is to be expected with construction, but it still got my blood boiling. They also carved out another huge hole in the wall next to the bathroom for the new electricity panel that will have to go in there too. It's a mess, and it's frustrating, but at least they're making some progress.

We had an insane afternoon/evening and I vowed to never book so many back-t0-back appointments like that again. It's too much. First, I kicked Pidgeon out of the house around Noonish when I realized he was getting some terrible cabin fever from being locked in our bedroom. He ran an errand and picked us up some lunch, which lifted his spirits a bit. We had a 1:30 p.m. appointment with our new OBGYN but she was running 2 hours behind and we didn't leave the house until 2:30 p.m. She saw us an hour later and we both stumbled over each other trying to fill her in on our situation. I purposely didn't point fingers to say that I was unhappy with my current OBGYN. There is no reason to bad mouth any Dr. to another one, I just told her we needed someone who was going to take a more active interest in our care. She was absolutely wonderful, until she said that she had made a decision to no longer deliver any new patients.

I literally started crying right then and there and Pidgeon pleaded our case. I guess our "plight" broke her, because she said we would be the absolute LAST couple she would take on as a new case for delivery. I could have kissed this woman, I was so happy. So, she had me hop on the table and did an ultrasound to take a look at our little babes. And, for the first time in ALL of the ultrasounds we've had, we got a clear picture our the baby's face. Beautiful. I started crying again just looking at this gorgeous little baby growing inside of me.

Pidgeon had a hard time making out the picture, but with some coaching from the Dr., he finally got it. And he screamed in shock! He thinks the baby looks like me. Then he told the Dr. that the baby has my nose - which the Dr. actually agreed - and we all just watched the baby sleep. It was so special. I have the print out and have to glue it into the ultrasound album I've been keeping.  We just started the third trimester and the next 3 months are going to be so hard - I think I'm just so excited and ready for the baby to be here already! 

So, after such a wonderful meeting with our new Dr., I made another appointment and then Pidgeon drove me to my next Dr. appointment. We parted ways for an hour while Pidgeon did some work and I filled my shrink in on the latest. She was pleased and admitted that she was really concerned about our previous Dr. It was nice to know she was on board with our decision, and I had a pretty good session with her. It was over about as fast as it began and I was exhausted but hauled myself to the corner to wait for Pidgeon to pick me up. I literally stood on the corner for 5 minutes when 4 separate cabs stopped and honked to see if I needed a ride.

Typical. When you don't need a cab, there are 4 just waiting for you. When you need a cab, you can't find one anywhere!

So, Pidgeon picked me and we drove back to the apartment for a quick dinner. We literally had just enough time to boil water, throw in a package of whole wheat pasta, wait 11 minutes until it was cooked, mix with tomato sauce and some red kidney beans and scarf it down before we had to get out of the door for our next appointment. I just wanted to crawl into bed and go to sleep but it wasn't not going to happen, we had our first 3 hour pre-natal childbirth preparation course. Fortunately, the course wasn't far from our apartment, although we did arrive a bit late.

And, since I hadn't listened to our instructors direction on how to get to her apartment, we went the long way and ended up hoofing up four flights instead of taking the steps. I was puffing when we walked into the room but we found seats and relaxed while she started the class.

The course is extremely diverse with 7 couples (including us) almost all due in November. There were two "Charedi" couples from Har Nof, both anglos, and one "Charedi" couple also anglo but living in San Simon. The rest of the group wasn't "dati" and all the women were anglo while the men were all Israeli. And then there was us. I loved the mix and thought it was very refreshing, and the class was pretty interesting and very open. We were able to ask all of our questions - and boy did we all have so many - in a very comfortable setting. The worst part of the whole night was that we got stuck on the lawn chairs and my ass was asleep by the time we got a break. That wasn't very fun. I had also sweat through my pants and was drenched from my waist down to my ankles. It was gross, but unfortunately it's my norm these days.

We left there around 10ish and managed to drag ourselves back home. I was so tired, I just ignored all the mess in the house and crawled into bed. Pidgeon brought me my shot and I did it from bed. Somehow though, we still managed to stay up until 1ish and I'm so shocked since I thought it would be an early night for us. Well, I guess the Midnight phone call from my sister in Cleveland didn't help. But, I was so happy to hear from her that I didn't care about the time difference. The kids ALL go back to school today in the States and I'm just thrilled that the summer is over!

I love September people. I love the Fall. It just makes me a happy person. Now, all I need is for the Jerusalem weather to cool off enough for me to comfortably walk around in sweats and a long sleeve t-shirt, and I'll be a very happy lady.

Well, I'm off to see how the painting is coming along. 

Yom Tov from Baka!