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Monday, February 17, 2014

Roll with it

I have finally turned Lital's bottle collection in and collected her money for charity.   We went to the first store together.  The whole point of the mission was just to turn the bottles in so I went to our local grocery the "Super Tov."  Tov=good, plus super is what many groceries are called (Supersal, Super Chesed etc), and of course, it's "super good."  It is a really nice store to have in the neighborhood because they carry many American imports.  You may recall the first year when I was contacting Sunshine to see how I could find Cheez-its.  Well, since I am not a major international customer, I can understand their lack of interest in my plight, but how could they not know that several stores here carry Cheez-its and tons of other American food products that you or your kids have grown to love?  (Cheez-its are baked, not fried!)  If you don't mind paying $5 for a box of cake mix, you can get Duncan Hines to your heart's delight.  Honey graham crackers, Mike&Ike, Skittles.  Actually, many of the candy and junk items that we can get here were off limits to us for not being Kosher in the US.   After tasting nacho cheese Doritos, one of the kids commented "and now we understand why Doritos are so successful in America."  My children clearly all have quite refined taste.

But I digress.  We wandered into Super Tov, and let me say in my defense that I didn't mean to be the person in line who starts to cause a big back up, but I just couldn't understand what they were saying to me.  Nor could they understand what I wanted.  The funny thing is, my Hebrew is getting better, and it's not always a translation issue.  They were telling me that they could only accept the bottles that they carry in the store and I was trying to figure out how I would know which brands of water etc. that would be.  Eventually a store manager type came over and selected two bottles from our overflowing bags.  So that trip was worth 60 agurot or about 15 cents, so that was definitely worthwhile.  Especially after Lital bought a pack of gum.

The next day I took the rest of her bottles to Rami Levi, a grocery chain I frequent more often which is about 8 minutes up the road.  This was more a "whose on first, what's on second" encounter.  It's not that I couldn't understand the Hebrew being spoken, it's just that I couldn't figure out what I was supposed to do.  The guard kept telling me to put the bottles in the large recycling bins in front of the store and I kept asking how I would get the money.  He would answer that I get it at the customer service desk.  It took me several repeats and walk abouts to understand that this was an honor system.  What?  So I hesitatingly put my bottles into the bin (with the confidence that even with adjusting to Israeli economic realities I could make good for the 2.40 NIS that Lital had coming to her) and then made my way over to the customer service desk where I got my cash.  Note to future Olim--you can only get money for the small bottles.  So Lital ended up with 3 whole shekels to donate to charity and I learned about cash back recycling.

In honor of David L. of Elazar, who told me to "roll with the punches because the punches keep coming," I now offer an update on my attempt to start a career.  Since returning from my work trip in the U.S., I decided to change the hospital site for my observation period.  I was pretty much set to start in Jerusalem but I checked out a different hospital in Rishon Letzion, and to make a long story short, though the first hospital did have a french fry machine in the lobby which I felt was a major plus, it just couldn't compete with the parking garage of the second hospital.  In all seriousness,  the logistics of getting to the Rishon Letzion hospital are much easier.  I was hoping the switch wouldn't cause too much of a delay in getting started.  Even though the observation period only pays a small stipend (if I have to hire a babysitter during any of my shifts we will be making about the same) you do have to have approval from the Ministry of Absorption who pays the stipend before you can begin.  Surprisingly, that transfer was pretty painless.  They called a few times just to be sure that I hadn't started work in Jerusalem and today I got a call that my approval had come through.  My second phone call was from the hospital letting me know that I need one more blood test before beginning.  So I have yet another lab draw appointment this week and David, I'm just going to keep rolling.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

T.G.I.F.

Last week we went to a family simcha (celebration) in Jerusalem celebrating our new baby cousin.  I'm a little fuzzy on how exactly we're related but suffice it to say that not that many generations ago there were a brother and sister in a small village in Poland who went out into the world and today their descendants are getting together for joyous occasions in Jerusalem, Israel.  If you will it, it is not a dream.

Anyway, we had recently learned about a great new app that allows you to park in any paid parking spot and just pay through the app.  It's called Pango and I have it on my phone.  Had I remembered that little detail we might have avoided the parking ticket we received for parking in a lot with a broken pay machine.  Yes, Michael is a lawyer by training, and though he did just receive a crash course on Israeli law (more on that in a future post!) I think we'll just pay this one and move on with our lives.  In other words, we are what Israelis might call "friars."

The ticket was well worth it for the experience of getting together with family.  I can't express what it meant to the kids to have cousins here.  We might be distantly related, but the baby was named after his late maternal grandfather, a man that I knew.  He died when I was young but I remember him as a very gentle and kind man.  Incidentally, he was my (step) grandmother's brother, so if you're still following we are related to this family in two ways but it's even too confusing for me so we'll move on.

This week Lital asked for a "mental health day."  Apparently, that is a day in which you skip school and go out for cocoa and sweets with your mom.  I asked her where she got the idee and she replied "from you."  For the love, don't you just hate when your kids actually listen to you??  So,  I am taking my prerogative to rename the day "mom day" and give her a morning off.

My children have pretty much adjusted to the 6-day school week.  A lot of that might be because of the many hours in the day spent on not quite academic endeavors.  If I have to schedule something on a school day (any day except Shabbat), they ask me not to do it on Friday because Friday is a "fun day."  Ironically, many parents do not work on Friday and with kids in school we call it the same thing!

Last Friday,  we went with N on a class trip.  His class finished learning the book of Joshua and we walked from the school to the hills overlooking the valley of Ayalon where a famous battle was fought.  How amazing!  Walking along paths that you read about in the Bible and looking back on thousands of years of history.  Naturally the 10 year old boys were a bit more interested in which snacks each one had brought and digging holes in the ground but somewhere, somehow they history and connection to the land which is basically their current backyard must seep in.