Friday, June 30, 2006

A blend between reality and fiction

"Do you smell that," Veev asked me.

How could I not, I thought. The smell was awful. I wonder if anyone is dead in here, I said aloud, only half kidding.

There was an old lady who lived in the house, and maybe the younger people left for the weekend, and the old lady was supposed to leave, but she never made it.

It could have happened.

So we walked around the house, sniffing and smelling, trying to uncover the source of the malodorous scent.

I shoudl say here, that Veev and I were not at our home. We were in New Jersey, where we always have to remind ourselves that it does not smell as nice here as it does back in Michigan. To put it politely.

But anyway, this scent was way beyond typical New Jersey aroma. This was something.
Something frightening.

And then it hit us.

There was no one dead in the house, a quick room to room search was enough to make us believe that.

The smell that we were smelling, was a diaper. Not a clean diaper. I used one.

Not recently used, either.

And probably, if there was one rouge diaper laying around the house somewhere, there was probably more. Maybe a whole pack of dirty diapers just sitting and smelling.

We went up to our room, and put our clothes away. I should add that our hosts are very lovely, very nice people, and we have stayed here numerous times before. But this time, they were away for Shabbos, and far enough away to not smell the offensive odor.

I asked my brother in law, a real life EMT for New York City, if he could come by and save us. Maybe he could track us down. But there was only a short time before Shabbos, and he wa in the middle of a different emergency.

So he suggested I call Hatzaloh.

Ten minutes ago, Two ambulances and three cars carrying five medics rushed the house, and within minutes, found the offensive diaper. The house has returned to its typical New Jersey scent.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Tonight at my parents' house in NJ, Youngest was cleaning up her emptied-out carry-on bag. I told her she should put back what she didn't need and neatly place what she did need to the side where Savta's toys are. I think I wasn't clear enough for a four year old because, pointing to her re-packed bag her next question was, Is this stuff going to be sold?

I think Saba and Savta now get how tough this has been on the kids.

Monday, June 26, 2006

And the winner is...

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I was told that the manual I spent a year writing was up for an award in the Technical Writing category. The award dinner was last Thursday, and Veev and I got dressed up and went to the Oscar's for business communicators.

There were three levels of awards given in each category. They offered an Award of Excellence (First Place), an Award of Honor (Second Place) and an Award of Merit (Third Place).

There was also an Best of Show, which went to the best piece in the entire category (In my case, Technical Writing was a sub category to Writing), so there was one Best of Show for writing, plus three awards for each individual category.

I hoped we would win the Award of Excellence, but when they read the awards off, we only won an award of honor.

After the dinner ended, my former manager talked to the people in charge of the event, and pointed out that there seemed to be a math error on our scorecard.

When they re-tallied up the numbers. we had won the Award of Excellence.

I e-mailed the organization asking if they had a logo I could put on a web site, and after some back and forth, they emailed me two logos, one for the Award of Excellence, and one for Best of Show.

And after a few phone calls, by my former manager, I found out that we not only won the award of Excellence for Technical Writing, but won the Best of Show for best written piece overall.

Which, if you're an underappreciated writer like I am, is pretty darn cool.

Goodbye Again, Part 2

As it turns out, I had no I idea what I was complaining about in my last Goodbye post. The Goodbye parties and other farewells didn't bring me to tears even close to what was going on here last night. I had to say an actual Goodbye to an actual person who had meant a lot to me for the past 12 years.

I was merely a child when I started dating his big brother, and so was he, though a little younger. We e-mailed each other every day when e-mail was a fairly new concept to most computer users, and cost money every time you hit "send". He told me about his life in 7th Grade, his friends and, most importantly, his family. Most 13-year-olds have at least some negativity towards their parents and siblings, but not this guy. So I knew I needed to meet him in person, and when I did, he didn't disappoint.

We have remained best friends over the past 12 years, and here are some of the highlights, although some of it will be private jokes:

1. Drive-by embarassment
2. "Garbage can/7-11" education
3. Driving lessons
4. The Heidi-Bowl on Thanksgiving
5. Sports Illustrated and me
6. Holding our newborn every day for two weeks
7. My "brother-in-law robe" with the hood
8. "Babysitting" at our house
9. Adopting my aunt and family in Israel
10. Marrying my new "sister"
11. Giving me a beautiful nephew
12. Making my kids cry for 10 years
13. Making me cry last night

I love you and will miss you so much...

Friday, June 23, 2006

My oldest just got a little older

My oldest turned ten years old today. More than any of my other children, it is through him that I mark time. It was him who first said Daddy, looking directly into my eyes, through him that I made the transition into adulthood.

When I turned ten, my mom gave me my own key to the house. From that day forward, I was allowed to be in the house all alone. For my oldest's tenth birthday, we are moving him halfway around the world.

And it is him, I know, more than anyone else, who will determine the success of our Aliyah and shape the experience that we will have living in Israel.

Because of everyone in our family, it is my oldest who has the most to lose by the move.

It is our oldest who is at the top of his class, who can understand and process information quickly and effortlessly. And who will be thrown into a public school class setting that is taught in a different language, behind in some subjects, in a position in the classroom that he has never known.

It is our oldest who is giving up friends that he will only be able to keep with great difficulty. Keeping in touch will be easier for Veev and me. We have full access to the communication tools that will allow us to keep in touch with people we are leaving behind; we can type quickly and easily, video conference with family and friends, and call people back home at will.

But he is at a point in his life where communication will be challenging. Shooting off a quick email to his old friends will be difficult for someone who types 3 words per minute. At his age, not all of his friends are online, and they have never tried to keep a long-distance friend going.

Veev and I have done this before. Moved from one place to the next, leaving behind old relationships and moving forward into new ones. We know that we will meet friends, build relationships, and get involved in our new community. We know that there are some friends that will be lost to us by distance, others that we will continue to be in touch with. Bouncing from one Yeshiva to the next, one city to the next, has taught us through experience that some bonds disappear with time and distance, while others can remain strong even with only minimal tending.

It is a lesson that he will learn one day, soon, but a lesson that will exact a heavy price on him.

I think he will do well in Israel. I think his apprehension about moving will dissolve the day he finds a kid in the neighborhood who has a baseball glove, or who wants to shoot hoops. Or even better, has also dragged a huge baseball card collection across the Atlantic.

But I worry about him. Ten is not that old that he can't adjust to his new surroundings. He will learn the language, but will he be resilient enough in those difficult first months, as he makes the transition from popular kid to new kid.

He is quiet and thoughtful and sweet, traits that might not translate well on an Israeli playground.

But he is athletic and smart and has a few dirty jokes up his sleeve, talents that could help break the ice as he finds new friends.

I think this year will be the most challenging of his life, and we are betting that he will turn 11 stronger and more resilient than ever. With a new set of friends. And a new language. And a new home.

I hope it works out. For him. And for all of us.

Monday, June 19, 2006

To my Dear One

Eleven years have passed today
SInce we started long ago on our way
We've hit some bumps, some upward hills
We've even managed to pay some bills

But the best thing about marrying you
Is that when I'm sad and feeling blue
You make me laugh and I feel alright
The darkness does seem to get bright

I can't even remember my life before
You've become part of my family lore
My siblings feel like you were born with us
You have really succeeded to earn their trust.

The kids all love it when you come home
Your good mood always sets the tone
They love you, they like you, you are a great pop,
And when they get out of hand, you can get them to stop

In short, nah, I get it's been long
WIth you is where I'll always belong!

Tell Me Why Not

For the past year and a half, since we began telling people we are moving to Israel, we have been asked why we are going. Last night, our friends made us a gooodbye BBQ, and I talked about the reasons we are making Aliyah.

And in short, it is because after watching family and friends successfully make aliyah, we looked at our own lives, and decided that we could make it in Israel, and it was the place that we wanted to raise our family.

But I have long felt that the question was the wrong question. Instead of me being asked why I am making Aliyah, I have left unasked the question of why those who choose not to move to Israel make that choice.

We all believe that Israel was given to the Jews by God. We all believe that our ultimate destiny as a people is to be and live in Israel. Every day, we daven multiple times and ask Hashem to gather us from all corners of the world and take us to Israel.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons not to move to Israel. But this morning I ask all of you the question.

Why aren't you moving to Israel?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Goodbye Again

So now the tally is: one goodbye Kiddush, one goodbye assembly, one goodbye staff meeting, three goodbye/birthday parties, one Mesibat Aliyah, one official friends goodbye BBQ party.

Tomorrow is the goodbye Cousin's Club. This week is the goodbye doctors' and dentist appointments, the goodbye dinner with my best friend, the goodbye week of camp, and the goodbye to our Shul on Shabbos.

Next week is the goodbye to Detroit, the goodbye Kiddush in YI of Passaic, followed by the goodbye Yankee game, the goodbye Mets game, the goodbye BBQ with NY friends, the goodbye day of hanging out with Bostoners, the goodbye family dinner in the restaurant.

And then the goodbye at the airport.

Doesn't this seem like too much for any normal person?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Saddest Day

Drive A Thon 4 is going on right now. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was not able to participate on this wonderful tradition. However, th guiys are sending pictures back, and you can follow their exciting journey on the official Drive A Thon blogsite,

Thursday, June 08, 2006

To Whom it may Concern

I'll break the code of silence towards anonymous posters this one time. This is for you.

You're right. It makes no logical sense to move to Israel. If you ask me what the reasons are for not going, I could list fifty. That's the easiest thing in the world to do. But if you ask me why I AM going, I'll tell you the same thing I told my parents when I wanted to marry Air 11 1/2 years ago. When I'm away from Israel I'm empty.

And while I know that financially, educationally, and politically it's harder there than here, I also know that living there is the Emet. It's real life. It's the goal.

Just like falling in love with and marrying the right man at the wrong logical time, it's about what is in your heart.


The clock was approaching midnight as I sealed and wrote #57 Household Misc on the top of the box. I put my black Sharpie down on the counter, and Making Aliyah Phase 1 Packing was completed. 57 boxes full of non breakable clothes, books, sheets, toys and kitchen items had been packed.

The movers were here all day yesterday, taking furniture apart, packing it, and preparing it for its journey across the Atlantic. The day brought us news that our Washer/Dryer got damaged on the trip from Chicago to Detroit, leaving us with two options, according to the people who gave us options. Bring it as is, hope it is cosmetic damage only, have the replacement part shipped to Israel to fix, and then make a large insurance claim shere we might come out ahead, or hold up the shipment, have the new unit delivered on Friday, and delay the delivery a week.

We took option two. And although the delivery will be delayed a week, it works out in our favor as it would have arrived in Israel on June 28, a full week before we arrive, and required us to pay storage fees.

Packing is exhausting, draining work. Its not only the boxing, but the sorting and choosing. This goes. This stays.

We found some fun things late last night, as we hit the bottom of our storage closet for the first time in years. Letters that were written in notebooks and never sent, lyrics to songs and poems that we liked, letters to each other that we sent. There was a ticket stub from our first date to the circus, and a journal entry from Aviva where she wrote about the sink-peeing incident.

We found our high school class pictures and the random thoughts and ideas that we had back when we were younger.

It has been an interesting experience, this packing. One that I would not want to go through again, but one that has long-term benefits for our family.

Last night, after the movers left for the day, we brought the kids into the house, where everything that they defined as home was now boxed up and waiting to leave.

"But I liked my room," cried my daughter, and then one minute later, there was was, climbing on the bunk bed in her brothers room, now suddenly a climbing toy with the mattresses removed.

And then this morning, a forty-foot crate was outside our house when we pulled up.

Our stuff is making Aliyah.