Yom Kippur

I'm really loving all the extra days Rob gets off during the Jewish high holidays. I'm also finding everything I'm learning about the Jewish faith quite fascinating as well. They have some really great practices, including a 10 day repentance period from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur where they try to reconcile with people they may have wronged and set things right in their lives.
Yom Kippur is considered the holiest of Jewish holidays, and in Israel even secular Jews observe it (sort of, at least). No one drives a motor vehicle. All shops and businesses are closed. We found when we went to the beach that even the elevator was closed! What made it all especially cool is that because everything is closed and there are no cars on the road, people take over the streets with bikes and rollerblades. There was a quiet over the city, and yet when we went outside, it was alive with children and teenagers and adults in the streets. Kids everywhere were forming little bike gangs and riding around having fun. Michael thought it was pretty cool to ride his bike in a lane like a car. It felt magical at night and we couldn't help but stay out a little late.

 During the daylight hours, my brother Troy (yay, our first visitor!) and I rode our bikes on the freeway to downtown Tel Aviv, just for kicks. Having everything shut down and the streets wide open with people truly made it feel like a special day. What an awesome tradition!

 We thought the beach might be crowded, since everything else is shut down, but I guess since no one can drive to get here it was pretty much deserted. Moreso, I think most people were probably pretty busy feasting after their long fast.


Michael's Bday

Michael's third birthday got a little overshadowed by our move. My strongest memory of the actual day centers around the worst grocery shopping trip of my life that took - seriously - four hours. (It involved an ridiculously overcrowded store, trying to figure out what to buy in Hebrew, Michael getting mauled by five-ton shopping carts pushed by some pretty aggressive shoppers, and losing the car in the parking lot.) At the end of the day we did end up going to one of the most amazing parks ever and eating some cake, but I still felt bad about the bad part of the day. So I figured I'd try to help him make some new friends here by throwing him a birthday party 10 days later, once I could manage it.
 He was happy as a lark. We did a treasure hunt, beach ball tag, and a played in a room full of balloons. I'm sad I didn't take a picture because it was pretty awesome. We have a small sunroom where I rigged three table clothes to hang a couple feet over their heads and we loaded them up with balloons. They had fun hitting it with long balloons from underneath to knock them out and then played around in a room full of balloons. It was really fun the night before to watch SNL while blowing up all those balloons. I got super light headed and the jokes have never been funnier.
Of all Michael's birthday presents, I think he has spent the most time playing with the abacus. It's like he is kissing up. It makes me so happy that he has such interest to do math with me. He has always had a natural fascination with letters and numbers so he knows a ridiculous amount (I think) for his age.


Happy 60th, Old Man.

My Dad turns 60 today.  What an old man.  For his 60th birthday I took him and his namesake to some Giants games.  Unfortunately, we somehow forgot to take a picture of all three of us at the games - probably an unforgivable sin to my Mom.  Oh well.  I'm sure it wasn't the last time that 3 generations of Candrian men will hang out at McCovey Cove.  Whenever I ask Michael who his most favorite person is in the whole entire world, he either says "Boo-Pa" (his nickname for my Dad) or "Daddy and Boo-Pa."  Either way, it's a good answer. 

So here's to another 60 years of Giants games and being your grandsons favorite person in the whole entire world (you are pretty high on my list too). 

Happy Birthday Dad.



Amen, George Will. Usually we just post pics of the kids, but this article spoke to me.  This is how I'm going to run my campaign in 2032.   Pretend that the voters are actually adults.

Act like grown ups.



Today and tomorrow Israel celebrates Rash Hashana, the Jewish New Year. So we used Rob's day off to take a morning excursion to Caesarea. Just a half hour drive up the coast, we could go explore the ruins and still be home in time for naps. So, sort of like vacation only way easier.
(Caesarea was built by King Herod from 22 - 10 BC.) 

Michael was in a monkey's paradise, climbing all over the place. I found balancing along walls and climbing around pretty compelling, too. 

Here is part of a massive arena where they used to have horse and chariot races.


Safe and Well in Tel Aviv

Yay! We have the internet now! I've been keeping a journal and decided to back-post some parts here on the blog, just to keep it up a little better at this exciting time in our life. There is just so much to express that I'm almost crippled with deciding where to begin.

Love finally having a yard!
Friday, Sept. 14 - Although we are fine here in Israel, all the current violence at the embassies in our neighboring countries is sickening. It is unsettling to be reminded that such evil is lurking in the neighborhood. I usually like to ignore bad news, you know, learn it and then bury it, but this time I can't stop reading more and more. I suppose it's our proximity and having Rob work at an embassy lends a feeling of kinship.
The worst of it in Tel Aviv was that there were about 70 protesters outside of the embassy on Thursday. But there was no violence and the police showed up and started taking pictures and they dispersed. I was slightly worried because I had appointments there today, but we went and there was nothing at all.
For the most part, I go about my daily life and feel the same as anywhere here. But there are reminders that we are, in fact, in a volatile country . We go to the beach and I feel like I am on a tropical vacation. And then I see a military ship patrol by. And there are often helicopters overhead. There is a lot of public security everywhere. At home, it is great and I love my house. But it is like Fort Knox! There are metal grates on every window – there are huge, heavy ones across two separate sliding glass doors in the living room that feel the most imposing. The house itself is entirely cement. It is completely fenced in, all the way around, a deadbolt even on the front gate (pretty awesome for keeping my kids in the yard, actually!). It is alarmed, with multiple security vehicles on constant patrol ready to respond to anything. We even have a “safe room” with a heavy-duty security door. And radios for a true emergency. And nearby bomb shelters, heaven forbid.
It’s a little ironic that all of that actually makes me feel less secure. I hate the constant reminders of what it’s all for. It’s not actually even dangerous in our neighborhood. Crimes are ones of opportunistic theft and not of violence. So basically it is just to avoid basic theft and to be ready if things did happen to get crazy here. 
But if it weren’t for all these prudent-but-obnoxious reminders, I have felt nothing but entirely safe and well in Tel Aviv!


Outlook good. Very good!

-->We've been in Israel for only 6 days and I already feel like I have friends, Michael has friends, and we have people we can call on if we need it. That is just a lovely, lovely feeling. I can go for a jog with the stroller and end up at several parks, the beach, the Embassy Rec Center, friends houses, two different malls, shopping squares, and who knows what else. It’s nice having a lot of Americans living within walking distance. I’m happy with our house and love our backyard. The people I’ve met in our church branch seem really great. I think I’m going to like it here. And I haven’t even explored the city in Tel Aviv or done major traveling yet! (We live in a suburb just north of the city.)


Profile me. Thanks.

Sept. 9
Day 5 - A really nice benefit of Israelis having their weekend on Fri-Sat and ours Sat-Sun is that shopping and other things are not crowed for us on Sunday. Nice. I went to Ikea today and it was so not crowded but the reason didn’t hit me till I was walking out. I hate crowds so I will revel in this.

The entry and exit doors to all stores and other public places here have armed guards, and they can search you. So far, I’ve been waved through every time. The guard at the mall couldn’t have cared less when I had to go around the metal detector because my double stroller was too big for it. No pat down or search. I have a feeling there is a lot of profiling going on with their security measures, and I have absolutely no problem with that. Profile away, thank you!


Saturday Shabbot

Day 4 - First Saturday church for us today. I like that we are going by local custom and not married to Sunday for Sabbath, but still, it feels weird having it on the first day of the weekend. Israelis have their weekend on Friday and Saturday, and that probably makes better sense but we have to keep the work-week in line with Washington, DC.
Anyway, we got to go to the BYU Jerusalem Center for district conference. It overlooks Jerusalem and we could see The Western Wall and The Dome of the Rock right there from our seats. It felt extraordinary. 

Afterwards was a sack lunch on the veranda and we heard the chant of prayers blaring through loud speakers from a nearby mosque. It’s pretty cool being somewhere so different from home for this tour. At the moment, at least.


Israel, Day 2

Day 2 –
 We went to the beach today in the morning and again at night. Both times Michael and Ella were wildly happy, and so was I. It is a short walk from our house and it is clean and beautiful. The water is a gorgeous blue and warm. Playing in the water at night felt magical. 
Our sponsors taught me a new standard to how to welcome someone to a new home. Beth mopped and organized our stuff, invited some other people over to meet us, cooked us dinner, muffins, and an extra meal for later, stocked our fridge and cupboards, borrowed toys for us to have at the house, and got us a porta-crib for Ella. She thought of stuff for us that in my jet-lagged state, I wouldn’t even have thought of myself. Even took me to the grocery store to help decode it all for me. Oh, and they are letting us use their van for a few weeks. Dang!


Moving Day 1

Sept. 5
Day 1 - I should be raving about our flight, because we all got business class seats (even Ella!) and they were more like the first class ones I’ve seen – with the whole pod thingy and seats that recline completely flat to a bed. We actually got some sleep and it was awesome. BUT we had to do circles in the air for an extra 1.5 hours on the first leg, and then sit on the plane waiting to leave for 3 hours on the second leg. And not even my futuristic-pod-bed could distract me from boiling over that . For THREE hours they were saying we would be leaving momentarily. I was seriously ready to hand Ella over to a flight attendant and tell them to keep her happy while they kept telling us to buckle up without going anywhere. The anger melted once we finally got into the air, but I’m so glad to have that flight behind us.

Boarding the plane at JFK to Tel Aviv was when it really hit me for the first time where we are going. There were several orthodox Jewish men in full attire. I noticed that it made me feel a little intimidated, like I am moving to a place where I will be very different from those around me. In Sweden I felt like I was a Swede. Anyway, I ended up chatting with one of the Jewish men in orthodox dress, and it really set me at ease how easy he was to talk to, reminding me that we are really very much the same. It even got me thinking that in some ways, as a religious Mormon, they might understand certain aspects of me better than the stereotypical secular Swede.  Anyway, the end of all this thought is that I am operating on the premise that we all have a lot in common. Duh.


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