Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Around Israel

Some important facts from our travels to Israel. 

1. Our family slept for about five hours on the plane coming home. That meant that, when we finally went to bed last night, we'd slept a total of five hours in the span of about 45. That is not enough. Especially for children. Garrett slept for 13.5 hours last night. He got the most. I got the least with 10. I'd have slept longer if I wasn't awoken by my four-year-old who had, in his deep state of sleep, wet his pants.

2. I didn't actually eat this...
But it really does have more to do with the fact that I ate a chicken kabob, salads, pita chips, french fries, fresh fruit and cake and didn't feel the need to also eat the lamb/mutton kabob than the fact that it looks like a giant dog turd on a stick. Also, I don't like lamb when it looks like normal stew meat. I especially don't like it when it resembles poop on a stick.

But if you think this didn't prompt a rather long conversation about deep frying it and selling it at the fair, you'd be wrong.

3. My boys ate these. Because they rock. The owner of the restaurant came and asked me, "Can I bring them pasta instead?" I said, "No thank you. This is what they ordered. They're happy with it." His eyes nearly bulged out of his head. He couldn't believe that they wanted it. I should have had him hang around for the part where Matthew asked me to scoop the eyeballs out of the fish's sockets so that he could eat them. And then he did. Because of course he did. When my youngest son is making a living by winning eating contests, you can tell everyone that I predicted it here first.
4. This happened.

Also on the list of ailments included my airplane vomit, Matthew throwing up on the bus with absolutely no warning whatsoever. He just leaned over and vomited on the seat. And a raging sinus infection that included me waking up one night with the entire left side of my face so hopelessly plugged that stuff was leaking out my eye. I kid not.

5. This photo show the tooth that my son lost on the very last night because he was ridiculously determined to loose a tooth in Israel. It came out the last day we were there. We didn't actually spend that night in Israel and he was somewhat demanding that the tooth fairy come while we were on the plane. But, due to the fact that he doesn't believe in the tooth fairy and she wouldn't be able to fly at that altitude anyway, he had to wait until last night for his money.
The more interesting thing about the above picture, however, is our son's new found obsession with Judaism and, in particular, the practice of wearing a kippah. Or, in Yiddish, a yarmulke. His grandparents were going to buy him a shirt but we'd already bought him a shirt and he insisted on this kippah. He now parades around the house wearing it as though he made a religious conversion while we were gone.

6. Finally, for today anyway, I leave you with this.

That's the list. Those are the four things that are, apparently, the most offensive things at a holy site. It's like one of those standardized tests where you have to choose groupings of things that go together. Except in this test I FAIL because HUH? I mean, are knives okay? Gerbils? Hookahs? 

It amuses me.

If you're wondering, I had to walk all the way back to the bus when I found out that I couldn't take my gun.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Burgers in Israel

Dear Israel,
I need some sort of explanation.
You offer some sort of burger that you refer to as the "Big America" which is all fine and good and my husband says is delicious. What I don't understand are the seven different ways you offer it. There's the regular Big America which is really just a normal hamburger. Then, you have decided to choose six different regions to represent for variation on your burger.
I have no idea what the differences are on these because you list their "uniqueness" in Hebrew which is Greek to me. Not really, it's Hebrew to me. Which means I cannot decipher a single bit of its meaning.
We've got the Texas burger, the Broadway, the Miami, the Vegas, the Chicago and the New-York. The New-York burger (not sure why we're hyphenating between New and York) has a chili pepper above it, suggesting that it's significantly hotter than the rest. Is New York known for its hot hamburgers? Because it seems more logical to me that the spicy burger would better be represented by the Mexican flavors found in Texas or the island cultures of Miami.
This isn't my biggest source of confusion, however. If you're going to choose six locations in the United States to represent in your Big America Burger line, you could have included something from California, or the northwest, or the deep south. What the heck is the difference between the New dash York burger and the Broadway burger?
I love myself some Broadway. Probably a lot more than the next girl. But giving them their own burger? It boggles the mind. The Hollywood burger, maybe, would have made more sense. I can't imagine that there are ingredients on that sucker that are only represented by a theatre district.
It seems like it would be similar to me having a line of Israeli falafels and naming one of them the Jerusalem and another the Temple Mount. Not that I really think that naming a falafel "Temple Mount" would be appropriate.
But, seriously. What the heck?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Israel Photo Dump

Just a photo dump. Because our Internet is still spotty. And I'm tired.                    

Flip flops on the white powdery sands of the Mediterranean Sea.

Boys in front of the ruins of Herod's indoor pool.

Joppa. (Of Jonah fame)

The Valley of Armageddon.

The boys with their Grandma at Megiddo.

Garrett & Matthew with their Grandpa ('s head) at the ruins of Beit Shean.

Swimming at Gan Hashlosha. This place is, hands down, one of my most favorite places on earth. Natural spring. Directed by walls and tunnels and wading pools. Super incredible.

The boys pretending to use the "bathroom" at the ruins of Beit Shean.

Me. Drinking the "right" way at Gideon's Spring. Although, who are we kidding? I would have totally left with the crowd when Gideon told anyone who was afraid to hightail it home.

Tel Dan. Northern Israel.

Our family in Nazareth.

Garrett at the Sea of Galilee.

Matthew at the Sea of Galilee.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Day in the Life

What this looks like.

Day 2 (Which, for us, was Thursday)

3:00--We're all wide awake, proving that jet lag is very real and very obnoxious. The boys giggle in their bed. We toss and turn in ours. A man stands outside our room talking loudly in Hebrew.

5:00-- After insisting that we all stay in bed and at least "rest" we get up.

5:50-- We check out of our Tel Aviv hotel and call a cab. We've arrived a day early and it is now time to go meet our group at the airport.

5:55-- Our cab arrives to take us to the train because a cab plus the train is only like 100 shekels but taking a cab straight there is 230. The trunk is tiny so we end up with large amounts of luggage in our laps.

6:55-- The train arrives. We try to board. It's crazy busy and we're throwing luggage on and tossing kids in and Troy realizes he's not going to make it. So he dashes down to another door. The boys and I are unsure as to whether or not he got on. The boys insist he didn't. I'm hopeful he did.

7:05-- The doors open. Within three seconds Troy is standing there yelling, "I'm here!" He grabs bags and kids and we're off.

9:00-- We've collected our group. Bags have been loaded on to the tour bus.

9:30-- We head to Tel Aviv. We're very close to our hotel. I wonder why I didn't have the bus pick us up as it drove by. After Tel Aviv we visit Joppa. Yes, as in, "JONAH, GO TO NINEVAH!" "Um, no, God. I would rather catch a boat from Joppa to ANYWHERE ELSE." That Joppa. We explore.

11:15-- We go to Caesarea Maritime which is one of my most favorite places ever because it is beautiful and there are ruins of a theatre and a swimming pool. We explore.

1:15-- Lunch. Chicken salad on pita bread. Mediterranean pasta salad. Cucumbers. Yum.

2:25-- Aquaduct ruins.

2:30-- Begin driving to Mt. Carmel.

3:15-- We explore various places at Mt. Carmel before heading to our hotel.

5:00-- We arrive at our hotel, a kibbutz on the Sea of Galilee. It's beautiful. We settle in and take the boys to the pool.

6:45-- Dinner.

8:00-- The boys are sound asleep.

9:30-- Troy and I are sound asleep. (Although I will spend most of the night wide awake attempting to breathe and fight the 101 degree fever I start running.

6:20-- Alarm goes off. I still have the head cold but not the fever so I hop out of bed, ready to face an eleven hour day of touring Israel.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Our Flight

Oh how I've been trying to get a moment to write about this trip. But there has been THE HEAD COLD FROM HELL and also THE VERY BAD INTERNET CONNECTION.

First things first. I totally puked three times on an international flight. But let's back up.

I woke up on Tuesday morning with the still nagging sore throat and decided I should take myself to urgent care to make sure I didn't have strep because I did not want to find an Israeli doctor and I also did not want to infect an entire batch of international travelers. Turns out the strep test was negative. Approximately twenty minutes later, we were on our way to the airport.

By that night, as we ate dinner at JFK, my throat was no good very bad awful. I was glad I had visited the doctor for my 120 dollar peace of mind. We boarded the international leg of our flight. It took off. We watched movies. They served a meal. Because everyone needs second dinner.

I ate some pasta and a few crackers and cheese. When we'd finished eating, I situated Garrett on the floor with blankets and Matthew and I curled up on three seats. Troy was across the aisle. Garrett and Matthew quickly fell asleep. I did not so much. I thought about how my throat hurt like I was attempting to be a champion sword swallower. I thought about how my ears hurt and my head hurt and my body hurt and I was freezing. Or I was burning. And I was probably running a fever.

Then I thought about how my stomach was feeling upset. A little.

A lot.

I couldn't do the two things I always do when my stomach starts to hurt which are...
1. Lay on it
2. Guzzle Pepto Bismal.

So instead, I found myself, hours in to an international flight, kneeling on the floor of the restroom, clutching the sides of the toilet, hurling the contents of my guts. DO YOU PEOPLE KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO THE FLOOR OF A BATHROOM DURING AN INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT? It gets covered with pee that does not belong to me. Not that I would want to kneel in my own, because I would not but it is exponentially better than someone else's. AND DO YOU PEOPLE KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO THE TOILET ON AN INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT? It gets covered with other people's pee. And the trash can overflows with paper towels and all manner of guck. Yet, there I was, practically curled up on the floor like it was my bed. WHICH IT WAS NOT BECAUSE EW!

And I threw up.

Not a half hour later, I threw up again.

Then again.

Until I stopped throwing up and I just wished I could and I wanted to die right there suspended halfway between the United States and Israel. But I didn't.

I just kept on living.

It is important to note that my children were rockstars during our travel. I kind of knew they would be because they're really awesome like that. They're good travelers. I'd packed toys and candy and all manner of fun things to bribe them with along the way and I never used any of it. They were that good.

We finally landed. We made it off the plane, through baggage, and to the passport line with me darting into bathrooms along the way to try to throw up more because I wanted to. I needed to. But I could not.

In the passport line I curled into a tiny ball on the ground. No joke. I'm kind of surprised they let me in to their country given that I might very well have been bringing the BLACK PLAGUE right in. We made it through the line and through customs and all the way outside the airport and into Israel which Garrett declared, "Looks just like our country." And in all reality, he's mostly right.

We waited for a train.

I fell asleep on the ground. In a ball.

I thought I would never feel well again.

But then a crazy thing happened, my stomach just stopped hurting.

All was good.

Except that the ear, throat, head thing turned into the WORST HEAD COLD OF MAYBE EVER IN MY LIFE and I am still suffering through that. But I will take suffering through a head cold any day over hurling the contents of my guts into an international toilet.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Today I...

Today I...

Cleaned three bathrooms
Volunteered in Garrett's classroom
Filled the van up with gas because no one wants to come home to an empty tank
Picked up Matthew from preschool
Entered all of our passport information into the Delta website
Cleaned the kitchen
Printed four boarding passes for SLC-JFK
Worked with Matthew on his shapes, letters, and numbers
Cleaned two bedrooms and a playroom
Made Matthew lunch
Printed four boarding passes for JFK-TLV
Chatted with a friend for a half hour
Cleaned the family room
And the living room
Made lunch for tomorrow
Made dinner for the family
Picked Garrett up from school
Made an appointment with an orthopedist for when we return

(not in that order)

(partial list)

My husband...

Took Matthew to school
Went to the office
Mowed the lawns
Helped Garrett with a bunch of his independent study work for tomorrow and Wednesday
Visited the bank
Went back to the church for a meeting

So it was a busy day.

But I think we're ready.

Our flight leaves SLC at 11:15. We fly to JFK, have a three hour layover, and then head to Tel Aviv. We're supposed to land in the afternoon on Wednesday, which will be early, early morning to us.

I'm hoping that my next blog will come from halfway around the world.

See you then.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Three Sleeps

My house is covered in luggage.

The boys are packed.

Troy is mostly packed which is a shock to end all shocks and I didn't even ask him to do it. He just pulled out his bag and started filling it up. Several days ago. I'm not sure what's gotten into him.

I'm mostly packed.

I have snacks packed for those days when I am the boys are sick of lamb. And chickpeas.

I have treats for the exhausting 20+ hours it is going to take us to get there.

Our passports are packed because we definitely wouldn't make it very far without them.

The camera batteries are all charged. For all the cameras. Which is a total of four.

The boys are counting down "sleeps" and are down to three.

Holy Land, here we come.

Friday, October 11, 2013


My poor kids have the severe misfortune of being raised by a woman in possession of a theatre degree and a man with a degree in youth ministry.

We hear the words "spirit day" and "dress like a superhero" and we go a little crazy.

We think outside the box.

We dress our kid like this.

He gets all into it at home.

 We pose him, sure, but he enjoys it. Stares at himself in the mirror, even.

Then we get to school and he wants to button the shirt back up, take off the glasses, and pretend it isn't spirit day. Who does this child belong to? A younger version of my husband. My father. I don't know but it isn't me.

At least he'll put the costume on. I think he left the outfit intact long enough for everyone to see it.

If nothing else, all the parents loved it.

My theatre degree is buried in a drawer somewhere, fading and collecting dust. I honestly cannot tell you, at this exact moment, where, on earth, that 85,000 dollar piece of paper is. What I know is that I'm using every inch of that baby to raise these boys.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What I Want

It's a dreary shade of fall outside my window.

I'm wearing jeans, a long sleeve shirt and a sweater.

I'm wishing for the days, just a month or two ago, when tank tops and shorts were the clothing items of choice.

Within an eighteen hour period, two different people posted this to my Facebook timeline.

Apparently I am rather transparent about my disdain for winter. And my love of flip flops.

I know there isn't snow on the ground yet but Old Man Winter won't stay away for long. So for the next six or seven months, my flip flops will stare mournfully at me from their rack on the back of the door.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Scary Dreams

Last night was a first.

Up until now, Matthew had never, I repeat NEVER, ever, come into our room in the middle of the night. Not when he was first learning how to sleep in a big boy bed, not when his airway was being mostly blocked by tonsils and adenoids, not ever.

His big brother is a different story. That kid's going to be wandering into our room in the middle of the night and begging to sleep on our floor when he's thirty. I'm sure of it.

Last night, my youngest boy had a scary dream. He traipsed into my room, stood on my side of the bed and asked if he could get in. We have a rule about that sort of thing. It starts with ABSOLUTELY and ends with NOT. But that's because his brother would spaghetti arm octopus his way all around the bed until his father and I were no longer even in it if we'd let him. And it would happen every night. This, like I said, was a first.

Also, I was barely awake and kind of thought I was dreaming the entire thing. Dream Mommy is so much nicer than Fully Awake Mommy. I pulled the boy up onto my torso. I was stretched out on my back and he nestled his head down onto my chest, his legs finding spaces to nest between and around mine. He instantly fell back asleep.

So did I, apparently, because, for the next two hours, I proceeded to have dreams where my diaphragm was compromised and I found myself unable to fully inhale. I'd wake up enough to realize that this was happening in real life but not enough to do anything about it. After a couple hours of inadequate air intake, I woke up to find him awake and staring at me. "Do you want to sleep on my floor?" I asked, hoping beyond all measure that the answer would be yes.

He nodded, climbed out of bed, laid on top of a long, decorative pillow, and fell right back to sleep. I covered him with a fuzzy green blanket and promptly resumed slumber.

This morning I asked him what his scary dream was about. It involved robots with heads that popped off. This was, I guess, terrifying. "Doesn't that sound so super scary?" he asked me.

"Not to me," I said honestly. "To me that just sounds funny."

Sunday, October 6, 2013


I have a confession to make. I have the ability to be fully engaged in a conversation--listening, speaking, comprehending--while still hearing at least one other conversation happening near me. What this means is that, if you've spent time around me, I've probably heard one of your conversations without you knowing it. I'm not trying to eavesdrop, my brain just picks it up. So don't say bad things about me, unless you want me to hear.

Yesterday I was at a day retreat. As I was mingling with the women, I found myself talking to a woman who was raised in Hawaii. This led to us talking about Oahu and Kauai and Maui and surfing and Bethany Hamilton. I relayed the story about my seven-year-old surf obsessed child waiting in line for hours and hours to get Bethany's autograph.

On the other side of the table, at barely more than a whisper, a woman said to her friend, "Her son wanted meet that old ice skater?"

My attention was focused on the woman from Hawaii, who was in the middle of saying something, so I didn't want to shift my attention to this other woman, but I almost laughed out loud.

Bethany Hamilton. Dorothy Hamill. What's the difference?

Aside from a couple of decades, frozen water versus salt water, and blades versus boards.

Now I have the funniest image in my head of my seven-year-old son begging me to sit in line waiting for the autograph of a figure skater who is older than his grandmother.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday Six

1. It is cold here. As in, high of 51 on only the 4th of October. As in, snow in the mountains. Brrr. I'm gonna fix up my husband's resume real nice like and send it to Florida. And Mexico. And the South Pacific.

2. My son climbed into the car after preschool and announced, "You never kiss my chubby cheek anymore." If you think I didn't remedy that problem right away, you're wrong.

3. Israel in eleven days. Let the packing anxiety begin. Oh, who am I am kidding? The packing anxiety began about two months ago. It just wasn't until today that I realized we don't have enough underwear to go without laundry services for almost two weeks.

4. I really love my son's first grade teacher. Yesterday I went on a field trip with them. Garrett didn't realize that they still had an a hour and a half of class when we got back. My typically stoic child had a meltdown in the classroom. He was clinging to me and sobbing. I pulled him in to the hallway and tried to get him to settle down. Eventually, his teacher came and knelt down next to me. "What can I do to help?" she asked calmly. We were able to transition him from my side and she guided a sniffling seven-year-old into the room.

5. Said child is weird because, apparently, he was just fine and dandy after that. I don't get him.

6. I am speaking tomorrow at a women's retreat. After that, regular posting will likely resume.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


I dreamed a dream the other night.

I was exhausted from a solid day and a half of running a women's retreat, listening to them share their hearts and their tears with me, battling a strange stomach ailment, worshiping with all I had, and failing to sleep much at all that first night.

So on Saturday night I dreamed a dream.

Earlier in the evening, my friend showed me a picture of her wiener dog. That's going to be important in about twelve seconds.

I went to bed at 1:00 am on Saturday night. My voice was already showing signs of years of smoking despite the fact that I've never taken so much as a puff. Or a drag. Or whatever you call it when you smoke a cigarette once. Because. No. But the point is that my voice was done and I was exhausted.

Still, I couldn't turn my brain off because of all the CRAZY MIRACULOUS that God had done in that place that day. The victory was for my friend but God had used my mouth to speak words and used the speaker's mouth to say THE SAME WORDS at a different time and stuff like that just does not happen all the time. And when it does it's as if God is saying, "TAKE NOTICE!" So I was letting my mind dwell on the praiseworthy which is all fine and good but, at some point, it really needed to dwell on some rapid eye movement sleep.

Eventually I fell asleep because eventually I woke up and remembered that I'd dreamed a dream.

There was a little old man. He was little. And old. And very slow. He asked me to help him burglarize some dude who appeared to be in his mid to late thirties. Although, I only ever saw the younger guy sleeping so it's hard to say just how old he was. Why is it that our dream selves are perfectly willing to go along with completely cockamamie plans? 

Because of course I was willing to hop into the passenger seat of the little old man's car--which was my first mistake because he was probably pushing 90 and should have had his license revoked--and be an accomplice. 

The little old man and I crept quietly in to the younger dude's second story apartment building. I collected all the prescription meds while the little old man procured the victim's wiener dog. Next thing I know, I'm riding around town with a lap full of drugs and a dog at my feet. That's when I started to second guess my actions. Up until that point, I was perfectly fine committing crimes but, suddenly, I was overcome with gripping guilt. I looked down at the dog and felt so terribly sorry for his owner. I looked at the little old man and felt so sad for this lonely criminal. There, in the passenger seat, I wrestled with what to do. 

Then I woke up.

And when I told the story I accidentally said, "I'm sure I dreamed it because Cory sent Christina a picture of the weenie." 

It took me a couple of seconds to realize that I needed to clarify that the picture was actually of a dog.

Maybe our retreat needs a disclaimer. What happens at the women's retreat stays at the women's retreat.