Saturday, April 30, 2005

William had to ride this train 3 times... 21 Shekels! Posted by Hello

Friday, April 29, 2005

Another Week in Israel

We made it through Pessah (Passover) and are now well into the week of unleavened bread. We got an invite at church on Saturday to do Pessah dinner at the home of a member. It was a nice offer and we couldn't refuse, although it meant driving for an hour to get back out where our branch meets in the evening. Plus, the Seder (passover dinner) doesn't traditionally start until 8pm, so it was a LATE night for William. We were invited by the Hansens. Brother and Sister Hansen are American but their children speak Hebrew more than English since they were all born here. Their youngest is 9, I think. He tried to do the speaking part of the Seder but got reprimanded for going all the way back to Adam (not that we had any clue what he was saying) when they only wanted the story of Moses. He spent most of the evening upset and bawling in his room or at his side of the table. With other people taking over the telling and leading in the songs, it only took about an hour, which
we were assured was an absurdly short amount of time. Generally, the ceremony lasts from 3 to 6 hours and often involves a lot of drinking of wine. We did grape juice and missed several of the specified drinking spots. William spent the entire hour flipping over and over through the pages of a book about trains (luckily in English so I could tell him what they were when he pointed and asked). Then, we had a nice dinner of chicken and potatoes and salad and everything was nice and salty. Oh, the one strange dish was cooked yellow squash served cold in a runny tahini sauce. I wasn't sure what I thought of it.

The whole week after Passover is a holiday week for the Israelis. Our little park has been over-run. In fact, thy have barricaded the side and you have to go through a security clearance just to enter. Security people with large automatic weapons wander through the crowds. And there are crowds. Yesterday, Tiffany brought Tyler and Brooke and we all went to the zoo there at the park. Admission is free for the week, so we couldn't pass it up. Of course, neither could anyone else. It was pretty crazy. I decided it might be worth the 30 shekels just to go when there aren't so many other people there. The other problem is that the zoo is built on the side of Mt Carmel. You go in at the top and work your way down, stopping to look at the animals as you go. Then, you get to the bottom and have a long, uphill climb in front of you with a stroller and tired child to push. I decided then that it was worth 30 more shekels to come with daddy to push the stroller. Other than that, it was a nice little zoo. We saw bears and camels and a tiger and lots of birds and various smaller animals. William enjoyed it.

Meanwhile, hotel breakfast (which I heard tons of wonderful stories about) during this unleavened bread time is getting a little boring. They have the same things almost every day. I tend to go for the bell peppers stuffed with shredded carrots and cabbage and steamed in a cream sauce. Good, but it gets old. Then, there are scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, some sort of fried matzo cakes (matzo is the one type of flour allowed right now) and sometimes little fried cabbage and carrot cakes. There's salad but no dressings right now (I don't know why). There's usually fruit and William always eats an apple that we cut and peel with a table knife. He had a blast last week when there were strawberries a few times. And lately there are little dry sweet cakes that I don't like much. I look forward to the pastries and toast and variety of breakfast foods you get when you can use flour and let things rise. Luckily, the pizza place and the sandwich shops are 'non-kosher.' We found a great bagel place down the street and a good sandwhich shop. And several times over the past week we've eaten at Bowden's. I made them Lazy Perogie Casserole one night and then Potato & Chicken Mustard Vinaigrette Salad. Both were hits.

Well, there's the latest news. I'd better get working on my talk for church on Saturday while I'm here at Bowden's with access to the internet.


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Israel, arrival

Again, the flight wasn't bad. The one bad thing was that we'd had to check out of the hotel at noon and then our flight wasn't until 10pm. We were able to store some bags at the hotel, so that was OK, but William and I didn't get our afternoon nap. William fell asleep at the airport after driving me and Kip nearly insane and making me reconsider any plans I had about future travel with children. He woke up for the first part of the flight and then went to sleep again. But I wasn't able to get comfortable on the plane and thus got next to no sleep at all. We got in at 5:30am Israeli time and drove to Haifa. It was Saturday, which is the Jewish sabbath, so when we got to the hotel we were informed that there was no real check-out time on the sabbath so they could not tell us how soon our room would be available. I was beginning to feel sick with exhaustion and all I wanted to do was crash somewhere and sleep for about 24 hours. This news did not make me happy.

Instead of crashing at the hotel, we headed to Bowden's apartment. They are another Intel family from Oregon and kindly offered to take us in until the hotel became available. I was curious about the branch we'll be attending, so instead of taking them up on the offer to sleep on their guest bed, we followed them on the 1 1/2 hour drive to church. I slept much of the way while Kip drove and finally realized he was also really tired.

Church was interesting. There is a lot of diversity, so everything was presented in English, Russian and Spanish, or sometimes just Hebrew and English. I had a major struggle staying awake through the second hour, but luckily they only do 2 hours, so I was saved.

We spent the afternoon at Bowden's, waiting for our hotel to call. They finally let us check in at about 8pm. Our hotel room is quite nice. We have a king size bed and 1 1/2 bathrooms. William has a crib in the sitting room. The kitchen is desperately small. Oh, and they left a note requesting that for the duration of Passover, we not bring in any outside food. Technically, Passover starts Friday, but our hotel seems to be dragging it out a little - like a whole extra week. What this means for us is that we aren't supposed to have things like bread and pasta and alcohol in our rooms. I can live with no alcohol, but I'm not too excited about giving up bread and pasta for 2 whole weeks. I've decided to try to be creative and create Passover-worthy meals for next week, but I refuse to start that until Friday. Until then, I'm cooking my pasta and eating my sandwiches if that's what I want. We'll probably do some eating out next week, but even local restaurants won't be cooking non-Passover food. They say that McDonalds has a way of making unraised bread buns but they taste disgusting. The pizza place must have some plan for dough, but I can't guess what it would be. And what about the sandwich shops and the bakery down the street? I'm beginning to think this isn't the best time to be a non-Jewish visitor to Israel.

Meanwhile, William is doing well. There is a great park with a carousel that William adores and a huge play structure just down the street from our hotel. There's a zoo behind it, but admission is about $7, so we haven't gone in yet. We'll check it out when daddy can come. He likes the Bowden's apartment (who wouldn't - it's the top floor of their building with a GREAT view of the sea and city) and their 2 kids, 3 years and 18 mos. So we're getting adjusted pretty well.


The flight across country and ocean went much better than I had feared. William slept for 2 of the 4 hours to Chicago and then suffered only a short-lived melt-down before collapsing on my lap on the flight to London. We left the US on Monday afternoon and arrived in London about 11:00 on Tuesday. Kip's annalysis of London is this: transportation heaven. From the airport we took a train to downtown London - Paddington Station. William loved the train. For all our sightseeing we took the "tube" or metro system. Again, a lot of fun for William. On Friday, our last day there, we spent the day riding a double-decker tour bus and a tour boat up the Thames. William loved it all. While riding the boat, Kip made William laugh and laugh and I realized, looking into his open mouth that he has his two-year molars. The top ones are pretty far in and the bottom ones are recently broken through. Who knows when that happened?! I'm guessing this means he's not ever going to get his bottom incisors, but that doesn't seem to slow him down any.

While in London, we stayed in a silly little hotel right by Paddington station. They upgraded our room assignment when we arrived, sending us from the main hotel off to a separate building down a narrow alley that only a European would dare drive through. We had our own flat! It had a full kitchen and a cozy sitting area with a double bed at the far end. Then, upstairs it had a second double bed and a set of bunkbeds and a bathroom. It was really very comfortable for the three of us. The one drawback was that the underground lines passed directly behind the house. Paddington station is fairly centrally located in London. There are a LOT of trains that go through on all the different lines. And they all seem to pass through or stop at Paddington. I would guess that a train went by that place every 30 seconds. Some slowed and stopped at the stations, others seemed to tear on by and nearly pulled our flat down with them. William actually liked it, often stopping whatever he was doing to say "choo choo" when one went past and then to ask for more. I was able to assure him there would be plenty more in just a minutes time.

While in London we visited the Science Museum (where William enjoyed the water-play station for much longer than I would have wanted him to), the aquarium (which was interesting for a little while), and made frequent visits to the play structure at Hyde park, as well as the bus tour the last day.

I'm a cutie! Posted by Hello

Riding the express train Posted by Hello

Riding the ferry on the Thames Posted by Hello

William was thrilled to meet Thomas Posted by Hello