60 minutes: Tel Aviv

For any who happen to be interested, 60 minutes recently did a segment about Tel Aviv.
Here is the link: 60 Minutes on Tel Aviv, Israel

As I sit here cuddled up under a blanket at the end of May (I shake my fist at you, Sweden!), I am getting genuinely excited for the move and the new adventures. I can hardly wait to feel so hot that I'm ready to pass out. And then just at that moment I jump into the ocean water. Ahhhh. Just hoping that peace prevails. Rob's on that.


Stuff kids say

Today, Michael was learning how to climb a tree.  At one point he got stuck, and he turned to me and said "Dad, I'm difficulting."

Anything that happened in the past happened "lasterday."

The other day he saw the word "Too".  He said "Hey, its T-hundred."

Ella has a new high-pitch shriek she likes to use.  It's way worse then it sounds.



He's already got her working for him.

A couple months ago we had some friends over who have a baby a little older than Ella. When they left, Michael became hysterical, sobbing and screaming, but he was too upset to understand. After a few minutes, we could make out some words between the sobs - ELLA! sob, sob STAY! sob sob sob WITH MOMMY! And we finally could piece together that he got the babies confused and thought they took Ella. It melted my heart.


Ella, 9.5 months

This one is dedicated to describing Ella beyond just how nice she is.

She loves to claw my face. She loves to munch on my face. She loves to try to poke out my eyeballs. One of the few things in life that really gets her steamed up is when she is trying to examine my eyeball with her fingers and I shut them. Serious anger!
Face scraped up, compliments of klutzy mom.

She is really careful. She is crawling, pulling herself up, balancing standing for short spells, and walking with the push-wagon. And, yes, she has accidents. Some days she looks like she walked through a war zone. But, when Michael was that age, it was like an accident every 5 minutes, and so I thought that was just normal. Turns out, there are carefuller models of children! I think he hit milestones earlier than he should have, out of sheer determination, and was a serious hazard to himself. Ella sort of figures stuff out first and then does it and actually pays attention to what she is doing and fares pretty well. I'd say this has produced about a 90% reduction in the rate of accidents compared to her older sibling. I am really not supposed to do this comparison stuff, am I? Sorry, kids.

Last week we went on a hike and I rolled my ankle and fell face forward with Ella in the Baby Bjorn. I always feared that was bound to happen. I broke most of the fall with my hands and elbows but she still scraped her face. I felt so awful! I was hurt and so Rob wanted to carry her the rest of the way for me, but I wouldn't let him because I needed to hold her to comfort me. She and I have a backwards relationship that way. She is always making me feel better.

She loves music and really gets going bouncing along to it.

She loves to clap and will clap back anytime that I do.

She likes to wave and say "hi" in the sweetest sounding baby voice.

She is generally pretty mellow, but she goes bonkers with excitement for cats and dogs.

She sort of does the sign for dog and butterfly.

It's still pretty easy to take stuff away from her without too much fuss. Luckily, because Smalls often gets stuff out that she shouldn't have. It is a good thing my kids came in this order.

She probably ate about 3 tablespoons of food total today. We are not making much progress with weaning. I try so hard not to worry about it. But trying not to care is just not the same as not caring, is it?

Still no teeth.

A couple nights ago she started wailing about 10 minutes after I put her to bed. She had reached to the tissue box on the nightstand and batted it to its side so she could pull out all the tissue through the crib slats. There was a massive wad in her mouth and dribbling down her chin and wet chewed wads all over the crib and tissue everywhere. Since she didn't choke I guess it was kind of funny. Before she started screaming I could hear her making happy little coos, but little did I know how much fun she was having. I keep her crib empty otherwise so I thought she was just thinking about unicorns. It made me feel like an idiot for not noticing that she could possibly reach the tissue....it turned out funny but could have been bad.

She loves to play "where's Ella?", or basically me throwing a blanket over her face.

When crawling around, she often pauses, sprawls out her body to lay down for a minute like she's just taking a little chill, and then resumes. 

She likes getting sprayed in the face with water. I thought all kids hated that. She laughs.


What is, What isn't

What is: Tel Aviv, Israel. A second tour, back-to-back with Stockholm. Late this summer. For two years.
What isn't: USA. Kitchen sink disposals. Taco Bell. Target. English. Family. Friends. Home.

When I think about what is, I am mostly happy and excited.
One, I can hardly wait to be in a sub-tropical climate with beautiful, warm, surfable beaches. Not a soul in Sweden doesn't have at least a whiff of envy over that.
Two, there will be fascinating differences in culture that will be interesting and educating to experience.
Three, I will learn at least some Hebrew and that will be fun. I'm already working on the Hebrew alphabet and it's good brain food for a full time mom. I am not overly ambitious about this goal though, so we'll see how far I actually get.
Four, warm beaches.
Five, middle eastern food is oooh-so-good. Shawarmas, baby! Shawarma is the new taco.
Six, warm beaches.
Seven, a vast array of ancient historical sites nearby to visit. Jerusalem, for starters, is just an hour's drive.
Eight, warm beaches.
Nine, Rob has promised me some hired help. This feels a bit against my nature, but I think I'm going to force myself to try it. Just, you know, to have that part of the experience of life abroad, and not to deprive myself of the joy of any housekeeping.
Ten, warm beaches.

That is a nice little list I might need to tape to the fridge to look at when my mind starts to wander over to what isn't. I was just starting to make a big "what isn't" list, but that is no good. The only difference between the things that would be on my list and winning the lottery is simply that I never expected to win the lottery. But, winning the lottery, having a taco in my hands right....*now*, and coming back home to live, are all equally pointless to ache over. Even so, I've been expecting for the last three years to be moving back to the US this summer, and so rewiring my brain isn't instantaneous no matter how philosophical I get. (The unexpectedness of going to Israel this summer involves the greatest misunderstanding of my life....) I like what is. I like what we are moving on to. But, the tragedy of expectation! What isn't keeps muddying the waters.

Anyway, we have a couple months left before leaving Sweden - the birthplace of our two children and totally "home" for our family. Then on to a month or two of vacation in the States in July and August. And then on to Israel. My head is spinning.



This is the Swedish holiday where they have massive bonfires all over the place. It happened to be the most gorgeous night!
   We celebrated at Torsvik on the west end of Lidingö. It has a beautiful view of the archipelago that is Stockholm. 
Below is what I captured trying to take a picture as the fire just got started. It is so typical Smalls to go through this whole gamut of emotions in like 10 seconds flat, so I think this montage is telling.


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