Week 4: can you feel the heat (6/3-6/10)

Levi’s food love update:
Tomatoes, plums, tea biscuits, watermelon, Chummus, and challah!

And, a more detailed breakdown of the week:

Memorial day weekend in US means that we get to take a long weekend while everyone else here leads a normal work day! As I have mentioned before too is that Sunday is the “Monday” of Israel so we like to do family day on sundays so we can take advantage of wherever we go being empty– so, we hopped into a 15 minute taxi and went to the Jerusalem Biblical zoo. I am not an animal lover (at all) (sorry to my animal loving people), but it was a completely different and loving experience getting to be there with Levi. I watched his curious mind explore animals, and we made sure to spend a little bit of time by each section teaching him about all the different environments that each species need — pretty cool actually.

Note: giraffe pants

I do have to say, though, that the best part of the zoo were the views! It is located on top of a cliff and each step overlooks the Jerusalem hills, lots of trees, and houses from afar. it has that “classic” Jerusalem feel that you see in the movies:: here is my yoga time:

After we hiked throguh the zoo (walked around 4 miles just there!) we went to the Malcha mall and treated oursevles to kosher Mcdonalds!! Glatt kosher! We also got some takeout chinese food because Y NOT.

Whenever we pass the bakery Levi kicks his legs and wild and gets excited because he knows borekas and danishes are nearby. Funnily enough, he was not in the McD’s, not even the french fries!!, so dada got up and went to get him some pastries. He munched on that while we devoured our happy meals.

In NYC life I made it a habit to take Levi on a walk to the park to ride the swings in John Jay park,  or to do yoga with me while he sits in his stroller or I hold him.  While we did this almost everyday for the first few months of his life, then it turned cold and going on morning walks just to get out for 20 minutes wasn’t “worth the bundle”. But here we are in the prettiest town I have ever been with a park across a quiet street. So in the morning, Levi has his bottle and usual boreka w/fruit for brekki, and then we head to the park for his morning “greens”.

He plays in the grass, crawls around, and goes in the swing yelling and pointing at the “adult” swing next to him knowing that I will be by his side. I love this time because the majority of the city is at work and the park is empty. Because he spent so much time in his stroller yesterday I want him to get a lot of free time and to be on his schedule. He wakes up at 7am, and takes nap1 at 10-11:30am. When he wakes up we walk to get coffee, do some light errands and exploring, play in the park more, until his 3pm nap. It’s memorial day so Josh has a light workload for the day and we get to have family time. We sit outside by Ben Yehuda for a Schwarma dinner, and do a little supermarket run to stock up after eating everything over Shabbat.

We go to a mommy and me music class at the OU center – he loves it! The teacher sings mostly in english, not what i was expecting, and there is a big range of “mom types” in there so I feel very comfortable. Lots of youngish looking moms — some in sleeveless, some in hair coverings– and I find that i fall somewhere in the middle in my skirt, short sleeves, and openly frizzy and natural hair. The time goes by quick so I stayed a little after for Levi to play with some of the other kids, reading books, and soaking up the environment. I cant stop “soaking up the environment” here! I have fallen in love with a place. It has made me fall in love with my boys all over again, everyday. When I leave the music class I find myself smiling as I walk home. This is a different feeling than ever — I want to keep walking, and keep talking to Levi about the blue sky and green desert looking plants that are all around us. It has been a couple of weeks but I still can’t believe we are here. Josh is back to work so after Levis’ afternoon nap I take him out to a random side street I found somewhere near the shuk and Nachlaot. We find a restaurant/bar and sit and people watch while munching on veggies and some wine. I put my phone in my bag and talk to Levi, read him books, and pointing out the sky and all the people around us. I Love seeing all the different types of jews walk up and down the street- and as soon as I think Levi needs to “Get moving” I join the evening crowd in walking through the streets. I love that we have started to feel more like locals everyday. My hebrew is OK– could be better, but there are some people that have told me they are impressed with how i speak it without even living there. I guess it really is all about perspective……

Levi wakes up early, closer to 7am, and we see the weather is getting really hot so decide to take an early morning stroll to the kotel. (again, ThankGd always on the same page about that!) We stop and I find a hub to do yoga while Josh gives Levi some snacks — a yogurt, and of course a cheese boreka. We make it to the kotel and this time I take Levi on my side with me so he joins me in prayer. My prayer turns to meditation as I have that same inner smile just by solely being HERE. i love it HERE, at the kotel, looking at the wall which stands for history and what the Jewish people have been through.

Josh tells me about his conversation with an older Israeli that explained to him that when he first came to Israel in the 50’s, most of the area was occupied by Arabs and you really had to be careful where to walk. It is amazing how accessible so much of Jerusalem has become for Jewish people. (bly eyen hara, without an evil eye!) I can’t stop saying this today but I love walking these streets!! Of course Levi is here to teach us the lesson of them all, though — and that is that in Jerusalem all you really need are your toes, and a boreka::

On our way back from the kotel we all get a freshly squeezed OJ, our family favorite. After Levi finishes his entire juice i feel a sense of “Every little thing is gonna be alright” because his little body now has vitamin C and natural water and sugar from the fruits of the land! Around early afternoon it got really hot outside **heat with love**, so we snuck into the King david and went into the pool!!! It was soo refreshing. I brought wine in a water bottle, ;)…
The rest of day is filled with playtime in the apartment and the park, and homemade Ravioli — our first use of the stove since we arrived!!

Thursday JUNE 7TH:
Drumroll please….  happy 3rd anniversary to us!! We paid some shekel to stay at the Hotel Yehuda and use their pool/lunch all day. If you know me, you know that I love to take advantage of stuff – we waited for after he got a good morning nap (thankfully he did thanks to our morning sprints around the park!)– and were able to be at the pool from 12-6pm!! We treated ourselves to pasta, salads, and pizza – and even got free french fries from this guy sitting next to us, we leanred he was getting married the next day (probably the reason he didn’t want the fries) – also pretty cool that we spoke to someone that will share a wedding anni with us, and his last name was Levi! Gotta love when Hashem sends random and cool connections. I have always been one to seek for “connections” in my life, and I have been feeling extremely grateful that lately especially during my time in Israel i truly feel the presence of G-d. I almost did not want to type that because I never want to loes that feeling – but then again, maybe by typing it I will hold on to it forever…
Anyways – we spend the day at the hotel, brought a blow up pool raft for babies and spent the day between the pool and the kids area where Levi was able to be free!
I have been finding that each day he needs more and more “free” time, yet he is such a good boy during stroller days!! Because he is so good in stroller days it makes me want to make sure there is not too much of that time and in the past few days I aim to make a lot of the day active rather than sitting in cafes feeding him bread so i can “relax”… as I was doing a lot more in the beginning of the trip.

Friday, June 8th:
Levi got to hang with his little Balsam girl cousins – Rotem, David, and their daughters came to Jerusalem for the day. We played at our apartment, hit the park, and had brunch by the shuk. When they left we stocked up for Shabbat – agreeing to a light Shabbat dinner and a heavy dairy lunch! Thankfully Joshua and I are on the same page always for food, too! We are blown away by the fresh kosher cheese here in Jerusalem and just can’t get enough. In NY I try to stay away from cheese because it is directly connected to a pimple appearing. The first few weeks (i didnt want to even say it) but I was eating endless cheese and my skin seemed fine, but this week 3 red pimples appeared on my face.. no bueno! Going to work on drinking more water and not overdoing the cheese.
One of the best parts of being in Jerusalem, which I am confident I am not the only person to say this, is the feeling the city gets on Friday afternoon AKA Erev Shabbat.
The streets go from parents busy shopping, chasing their kids in the park, talking loudly on the phone, being honked at by busses because everyone is rushing to cross the street to the most serene sounds of birds whistling because all else becomes silent. You can practically smell the peace.  I never thought” peace” would be something you can smell, but in Jerusalem it is. You smell the flowers and the grass, and the quiet that has become by 6pm is the scent of pure magic.

Really though! magic! 

I find that we take full advantage of the fact that Levi is still “little Levi” because when he is a little big bigger we will need to create more structure around Shabbos, keeping it consistent, with heartier and better planned out meals. But for now we can do WHATEVER WE WANT! I sometimes try to manipulate and plan Levi’s naps, and I get pleasently suprised when he seems to go with it. Or maybe it is that pure magic that Erev Shabbat has, where Levi has been napping from 4-6pm, so that when he wakes at 6 we walk to the kotel. I get dressed in all white – a new tradition I want to take everywhere with me — and push the stroller along with the thousands of other Jews through the streets. All of a sudden the silence turns into men walking to Shul and houses radiating good smelling food. We are in an area with lots of students and “young people”, so we see a ton of religious “youngsters” holding bags and heading to their friends houses. It feels like the entire city just got zapped into another mindset, a completely different zone. No buses are running and there are hardly any cars on the street. People are now walking slowly, a vast change from Friday AM, headed to either the Kotel or their family/friends for Shabbat. Our walk to the western wall includes walking by all the nice hotels, so we get to watch all the internationals all dressed up in heels and suits to have dinner at the King David or David Citadel. I love wearing my head scarf on Shabbat because it makes the holiness begin even before I light the candles. I will probably elaborate on the (insert: synonym for magical) feeling I get while lighting the Shabbat candles here in Jerusalem.
The peaceful sounds of the stroller bumping up and down in the old city leads us to a jam packed sunset time at the Kotel. We are here at the same time of all the birthright groups, so the entire old city is overwhelmed with large groups singing and dancing, socializng and praying, all to bring in the Shabbat. I am in love! again! with the feeling of being with J+L as Joshua once again shleps the stroller down the stairs so we could get there. and alas! we made it to the Kotel just in time to be a part. With Levi on the edge of his stroller I see enchantment in his eyes!!
And here i am left with no words that can describe how I feel when I seperate from my husband (for 20 minutes, sharp) so we can pray in the men/women area, respectively, while being overwhelmed with Jews from around the world on the same mission, to touch the wall.
The first week I was nervous that Levi was overwhelmed by the amount of people, and the heat, but the power of Jerusalem is that it always seems to fit all of these people without feeling squishy. Also once the sun goes down there is a cool breeze – even on days that the temperature is in the high 80s! I even thought of my mom that would have been unhappy i didnt have a “light sweater” for Levi, so I will be sure to bring one next time. Probably for myself too ;).
It is in the moment of emotion that I understand Shlomo Carlebach when he said “On Shabbat something happens to the world – the world becomes infinite again”.
Image result for shabbat quotes


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Week 3: Daze of our Levs (5/27-6/3)

It’s a new week and I am excited because Levi is on a normal sleeping schedule so I can maybe find an hour or two to be solo. (not that I am one to say I a break, more that alone time is the time I can take to breathe and work on the ultimate goal of slowing down my mind…)

{Beach hair}

So far being in the streets of Jerusalem, and its beaches, in itself has had a secret power. I feel the constant need to smile, to inhale, and of course then to exhale. I want to pause each moment and even as I use all my might to push the stroller up a big hill, it is still a time that makes me want to his ‘pause’. These streets have made their way into my soul and I do feel my mind is quieter. I have not even connected my US telephone number to my iphone (Which we paid for, #haha) because I am so attracted to this feeling of being away from all of it. whatever “it” is. I start to miss my family, especially my siblings kids, but being in a peaceful environment is compensating. I am grateful that by 3:00pm my time I am in communication with family, and we are able to feel like we are hanging out just by using Facetime. It is great how little it takes for me to feel a sense of happiness here. Perhaps because it still can feel like a vacation, and because the weather has been hot and sunny everday, but also because I am totally hooked to the feeling of being somewhere with meaning.

the Mamilla roof for sunset

The streets have meaning, the buildings have history, and most importantly all the people walk with a completely different “swag” than what we feel in NYC. The moms are proudly with their kids during the day, the dads are even more proud to be in the park with the kids after 4pm once their work day is over. Parents are engaging with their kids, running after them through the green grass… something about the air here must be more attractive than being on an iPhone. The sense of freedom I feel from the kids around me in itself make Israel seem like a foreign country to me. It is intimidating in a way to hear all the Hebrew, but I love knowing that each day I get more used to it…

I am starting to feel that “present” feeling I talk about in the thoughts page. I watch as Levi feels more attracted to the grass and the leaves each day. I bring a ball for us to play with to the park but sometimes he is happy to sit, cross legged, and study a leaf. There is no greater feeling that taking this time to learn the lessons of nature that seem so much clearer here than what I am used to…

I have not really been one to ever take time to feel one with nature, until I found yoga. So, there is even more reason within my to have a few ??? mixed with 🙂 moments while I sit here appreciating feeling the grass itch and see a bug or two in the air.

As the week goes, for the first time Levi and I walk to the Old City just us 2. Definitely not the same without strong dada shlepping the stroller up/down the stairs for us — we actually had to look for ramps…
This is the part of Jerusalem that we walk through to enter the Western Wall, AKA the Kotel. I wonder what attracts me so much about walking to the old city of Jerusalem.. there is a sense of bliss that fills my entire being with each step I take, for once the stroller wheels become louder than any thoughts in my head.
Benjamin Disraeli: “The view of Jerusalem is the history of the world; it is more, it is the history of earth and of heaven.”
We sit at a cafe and end up chatting with my sister on the phone for a half hour. I try to explain to her that there are no words for the feelings I feel, and even as I sit here to type I am going to save my feelings for the “mama thoughts” part of my site, and try to keep this “blog” part as factual, just to make sure I don’t lose you in emotion.

To steer away from how I feel and focus on what we have done this week:
-I went to a yoga class, fully in hebrew! the yoga studio, Inspire Jerusalem, had a similar vibe than what I am used to in NYC… except the teacher was exceptional, better than I have had in years! And that is with not even knowing 1/2 of what she is saying, lol. I caught on to the flow of the class because it is thankfully the type of practice that is similar throughout the world! I sat next to a window and got to feel the Jerusalem air on me while flowing… It was the first time I wanted to really sit and concentrate on my breath, making sure to take it all in. The class was 1 hr 30 minutes, and afterwards I met Carly F. for a drink at the First Station which always has lively music and lots of people which was fun.
-Levi and I took a Sheirut to Tel Aviv and we went to see Estee’s apartment in Yaffo, and then went to the beach with her and baby Aluma! I am so happy my cousin Estee has really become a beautiful mama, Levi and his ltitle cousin got good sand time in.

levi, aluma, beach, june 2018

It was a long day and Levi has changed a lot and started to scream a lot. I mean screech. I don’t even want to put this (hopefully) temporary habit into words because I want it to pass so I will leave your imagination run by what a screaming 1 year old is. Thankfully everyone at the Tel Aviv beach seemed used to it as this entire country seems to be geared towards babies. Estee and I had some beer, Levi ate loads of watermelon, and we sat in the shade enjoying the day, watching the clear Mediterranean.

The next day was the type of day where my mother instinct of letting Levi have the day to play and B E after a hot day at the beach kicks in.  The three of us have lunch near Machana Yehuda, and we wind up making a late lunch/early dinner in the park… consisting of tomatoes, cheeses, bread, and wine for the parents. Each day Levi crawls further away from us in the grass. He goes speedier too every time. I am not only starting to see his personality develop, but I am learning as a mom what it means to help your kid be independent. (i am sure i really have no idea what that really means but I am thinking maybe this is the start). I know because he looks back every few minutes that he knows either dad or me are nearby watching. He turns back and smiles as us while squinting his eyes from the bright day and I can hardly contain how his face makes us feel!!!

It is that same face I get to see when we sit at the shore and wait for the crashing waves…  and that same face is what starting to play hide and seek with ME while we sit poolside. 



Week 2: na’amastay in Jerusalem (5/20-5/27)

Getting through the jetlag was fun(ny). For the first two weeks, our days were spent with food shopping to make our apartment filled with food/snacks to give it the home feel, walking around, sitting and trying out the nearby cafes… our nights included late night dinners and strolls, realizing how lively the streets of Jerusalem are on any given weekday. It is awesome to see couples, families, strollers, etc out and about throughout the evening. But we were really focusing on making sure Levi gets his sleep. He would take his “Afternoon nap” from 530-830pm, and we would then go out for dinner and get home by 11pm. So we really got lots of “night life” in during those beginnings weeks.

If there is one thing i learned in the past 13.5 months of having this angel in my life it is that: SLEEP IS IMPORTANT. I have never been one to “need sleep” (or so I thought), so learning the value of sleep is a major part of #motherhood, for me.

Related imageSo now, 2 weeks into our journey, Levi is sleeping 8:00PM-8:00AM, our night life is cut short and we are starting to feel more like “locals”… our nights went from wine and dine out on the town to folding laundry and doing dishes while dada works since he is on US working hours of 4PM-1AM. So, the night time is when I practice being the #housewife I want to be. Something about having a big space, garden air, and a washer/dryer in the apartment encourages me to clean happily. I love making this space perfect for the boys.

An average day is like this:

Wake up, bottle in bed with mama dada, get dressed and ready for the day. Breakfast consists of a cheese Boreka, a yogurt, and a fruit either a banana or a plum.
We hit the park and let Levi crawl around in the freshly cut green grass. Across the quiet street from our apartment is a park that is always filled with moms, dads, and babies. Levi loves to mingle and crawl around and already has made many israeli GF’s under the age of 3, and over the age or 65. He gets a morning swing time while mama does yoga and dada does work.
Then we head to our new favorite coffee spot, “Lechem Shel Tomer”, (bread of Tomer), for a pastry and an iced coffee.

We take a family walk to the shuk and occasionally go to the kotel when time allows. The thing that I love about Josh and I is that we are always down for the same thing. It could be 90 degrees but we both feel that we want the streets of the old city to be a part of our hearts, and of course Levi’s, so when one of us suggests the Kotel walk, the other hardly ever argues with it.
We make it back to our apartment by 11AM for Levi’s morning nap.
While Levi naps, Dada does work and Mama cleans up and does yoga. Occasionally I hit that park across the quiet street and get some meditation time in, my only alone time of the day.

1PM comes and it’s time lunch time for Levi, which always is based around tomatoes – his favorite. We have tomatoes, cheese, bread with jam, more cheese, cucumbers, sweet potatoes and of course CHUMMUS. We enjoy lunch and then go for a walk. We have discovered our neighborhood and love Rechavia.

RECHAVIA is a neighborhood about a 25 minute walk from the old city. Our address here is Sokolov St, right off of Jabotinsky street. For israel goers, it is right near the Inbal,  outside but near the German colony. It is filled with houses and apartments of old Jerusalem stone, lots of French speakers, and a variety of moms with young babies. I feel very comfortable here because I am shabbat observant, and I wear sleeveless and do not cover my hair. In some super religious parts of Jerusalem I am not sure i would feel so comfortable — just like in some very “hippie” parts I would feel the same– so where we are is “right in the middle” on all fronts. It is a young feeling neighborhood with anywhere from moderately to very observant crowd. The park is always filled with parents (yes, dads too) with their strollers and all the strollers are a name brand that I recognize which usually means a large part of the crowd made Aaliyah. (i think) i talk to moms here and there but since we are only here temporarily I do not go out of my way to make “friends”. It is nice to work on my Hebrew with the local moms but I just try to soak my time up by focusing on Levi and focusing away from anyone other than him. #obsessedmom.

We do some sort of long walk or adventure to a local park or water hub and end up back at our apartment by 4pm. Dada starts work (7am NY time), Levi naps, and Mama catches up on her phone. (unfortunately this is the reality….) I really never use instagram while we are walking or out on the town, but I do need to find a means of staying in touch with my friends family and realities from home. I spend time on the computer planning our trips, and by the time Levi wakes at 530pm I feel that I got a few things done. But just as any mom will say: no time flies by faster than nap time!!

Early evening Levi and I let dada be home to work and head out on our own. Sometimes I take him to a cafe and give him his dinner there while I sip on a glass of wine. We love to people watch, we love to walk, and we spend time ‘facetimeing’ or catching up with our family at home. We are home by 7 for dinner time, bath time, family time. We sing songs, read books, and do the nighttime bottle so Levi is asleep by 8pm. I sometimes go on a walk, and then we have a late dinner together with some wine and our garden door open. These are the moments we dreamed about and spent months planning while living in NYC. The feeling of “living life normally” all while being in Jerusalem. Every time it gets dark I feel a little sad that the day ends, but Josh is here to remind me that I am doing a good job in taking in each moment! I do yoga in the apartment, making sure to get in at least 10-15 minutes a day.

On Sunday we rented a car and the day went like this:

Car pick up from “Sixt Shlomo” on King George street. (across from the David Citadel).
We drove close to 2 hours to reach Zichron Yaakov – we felt like we entered California – it is up in a mountain and is a Jewish neighborhood amongs palm trees, mountains, and wineries. We had lunch at Tishbi– it was delicious.
Then we drove through Ceaserea, and landed at a secret beach of Hof Dor. it was beautiful. The water was clear as glass and very calm- a hot day with no wind, so hardly any waves.

I took Levi in and he swam! It was fun for us to see our toes through the water, something that definitely does not exist in NY/NJ. I love the ocean, Josh is from the ocean, so the love of water is definitely something we instill in Levi.Related imageWe spent close to an hour playing with the sand by the shore. (with lots of sunblock of course). The beach closed around 4pm so we drove down about an hour of the shore to Netanya.
Netanya is another Jewish neighborhood that looks like California, and is filled with French and I think Russian Jews that have money and made their home here. The apartments on the beach remind us of Bal Harbour, and the 50 Kosher restaurants and bars that are feet away from the beach remind us of Lincoln road. We can’t help but make comparisons between where we are, and what we know.
For dinner we have bread, pasta, and we enjoy the sunset over the ocean, while I am sure to get my yoga in while breathing in the beautiful view.
At 10pm we get into the car, Levi falls asleep, and we drive back to our home in Jerusalem…. it was a full and beautiful beach day.