Category Archives: children

What a difference a decade makes

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Ten years ago today I said good-bye to my family and friends and boarded a plane for the Holy Land. I was about to embark on a journey of life, of discovery, of fear, loathing and love. Ten years on, 3 children, 3 conflicts, 3 homes and a lot poorer I can honestly say that I have some of the best friends I could have ever imagined, I have tasted a life I never would have imagined and I am certainly not the naive small town girl I was back then.

In December 2004 I had been married just 4 months and had lived as a married woman with my husband for 1 week before his visa required he returned to his native land. We had spent the 7 years previous working towards the end goal; marriage, family and a life together in one of our countries.

I arrived to blue skies and bright sunshine, a far cry from the grey, damp, drizzle of the UK and was filled with hope and dreams for our new life together. I was still at the stages of checking my wedding ring finger and admiring the shiny rings. I was excited, but also I was scared. What if I never spoke the language, what if I couldn’t find a job? What if this place was just. too. foreign? It was, not so much now.

Our first few weeks were spent at the apartment of very generous and welcoming friends, sleeping in their spare room and seeing each other every now and then. Husband was, at the time, working as a pastry chef in a newly opened restaurant and that meant long hours, day and night. I was on my own. Luckily our friends lived near Tel Aviv’s large and luscious park and I spent many an afternoon with a book or a journal, marvelling at the sunshine and the parrots and acclimatizing myself to the Middle East. Each morning I rode our friend’s bike to the Ulpan, the Hebrew school for new immigrants (you may remember the comedy of errors that experience was). I met people from around the globe, 1 of which has become a great friend and ally here.

In lieu of my husband the weekends were spent with his friends, one in particular who became my regular date for nights out, coffee shop meetings and cinema trips. Seems like as good a time as any to say thank you, your friendship was and still is invaluable.

We finally found an apartment to rent, close to my newly beloved park and I set about setting up home as a not so smug married. We got a dog, my adored Jesse. We bought furniture and unpacked our belongings from their shipping crates and the first of our UK visitors came to see us in our new life. Once Husband changed jobs his hours became easier and we spent time exploring Tel Aviv, the beach and the benefits of year round sunshine.

There were ups and downs. The language was so hard and the people so aggressive. Many a visit to the supermarket or post office saw me seeking refuge on our balcony, sobbing into Jesse’s fur. But on the up side, Husband and I were finally together, permanently, after our long and international journey. We had a ready-made set of friends from his early army days and I could manage one or two words in Hebrew. We had money in the bank and we wanted to start a family.

A long period of ill-health put paid to the family for a few years but eventually and due to the incredible health system and amazing Doctors here, 4 years later at full health, we welcomed our first child. By this time I was working back in television where I had worked for many years in the UK. Things were on the up. We had a bigger apartment and a wider network of friends including my gorgeous British girlfriends who continue to provide me with laughter and wine and a shoulder to cry on.

By 2010 we were a family of 5. The arrival of twins sent us packing to the suburbs and a child friendly home which is where we reside now. The TV career took a back seat as I faced the challenges of motherhood and three very small people. So now what?

As 2014 comes to a close and I look back on this year and the ten years I have spent here I see that we are on the edge of a new chapter. What that will be, we still don’t know but it seems a fitting time to take stock and count our blessings; our friends, our children, our health and our love for each other that has carried us through the upheaval of moving countries and facing the challenges that a life in Israel brings.

Thank you for your loyal following of my ramblings through 2014 and I’ll see you on the other side, hungover and ready to begin the next stage of the journey.

champagne-toast

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Here comes the rain again

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October in Israel brings Rosh Hashannah, Yom Kippur and my favourite of all the holidays, Sukkot.  You may remember my ramblings about the Sukkah (Succah, Sukka?) that we build in the garden every year. Where we eat, where I spend my evenings quaffing vino and where the kids play.  This year, true to form we decorated with what I can only refer to as Christmas decorations, the kids drew pictures and I, true to form, drank more than my fair share of grape juice.

This time of year in my opinion is when Israel is at its most beautiful.  As the terrible heat and humidity of the summer months begins to lift, the skies become clearer and you can actually see the hills of the neighbouring West Bank as opposed to the heat haze which covers them for 60% of the year.  Beautiful.  The colours of the spring and summer are hard to beat, spring flowers followed by the garish borganvillia and the stunning purple of the jacaranda.IMG_2261 But for me, Autumn tops them all as the trees begin to show their wares.  Olives, oranges, lemons and carob laden the branches and the long awaited ability to get out and about without a) overheating b) seeking refuge under a shady tree or c) wishing we’d gone to the pool instead.

 

 

In the nearby Judean Hills is Park Britannia, a history or nature buffs dream.  As a wedding present some of my old friends bought us some trees in this park and ever since my first visit (to see(!) our trees) it has held a special place in my heart.  A favourite pastime of ours is to head up there on a Saturday, find a quiet spot with friends, explore with the childers and picnic with the ants.

With Sukkot comes the rain, light at first followed by a couple of blustery storms.  The mosquitoes go crazy as the puddles turn into frantic spawning grounds for the little blighters, the childers insist on donning wellies despite it being 30 degrees outside (little blighters) and finally my lawn (the scrappy grass in my garden)  becomes green again.

On a shallow note I should add that the joy of being able to wear more clothes and pull a pair of jeans on again also has its benefits, no more podgy white thighs or burnt shoulders on show.  But maybe that’s just me.  Welcome Autumn you have been missed.

The Great Escape

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When I left Israel at the end of July, I left  sirens and explosions, booms and rattling windows. Now I am back. The sirens have stopped, normal life resumes.
I lived in a bubble for 5 weeks, little or no news, only sporadic social media use, a promise to myself not to read the hate or get involved in the arguments about right and wrong in this age old, never ending fight.

Luckily my bubble was full of parental love, family support, old great friends, gin & tonic at 5.30pm and a bedtime of 11pm. Scattered liberally with picnics, chocolate biscuits, fish and chips, roast dinners and ice cream for the kids every single day. Yes it was a bubble but it was a great big happy bubble (with only a few meltdowns on everyone’s behalf – myself included).

 
IMG_2804I re-discovered a friendship, watched as my kid’s started to converse with one another in English and kept busy, really really busy. As I look back I am amazed by the many incredible experiences my childers had. I could write a guide book to keeping small children amused in Cheshire. Bruntwood Park, Lyme Park, Tatton Park, Torkington Park, Bramhall Park. Styal Mill, Walk Mill, not one but two country shows complete with fairground rides and a pony ride. One trip to North Wales to visit relatives and crab off the jetty, a trout fishing expedition resulting in fresh trout for dinner and a ride on a steam train. A hideous trip to Legoland Discovery (the kids loved it), a walk IMG_2876around Salford Quays, a visit to Jodrell Bank and the Manchester Science Museum and number one son went on a night time bat walk (there are more bats in our garden than he saw). Phew. Where did we find the time? And that’s before we mention the camping trip where they pedalloed and kayaked and slept under stormy canvas, over excitement with the cousins, treasure hunts in the garden after tea, building woodland dens and damning streams.

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All this under the shadow of the situation back home that only the adults were aware of.
This wasn’t real life. It was a holiday, an extra long, extra fun holiday – perhaps I was over compensating for my perceived notion of their fear back home. In reality they had no fear, they don’t understand and even when number 1 son saw a rocket being exploded above his head a day before we flew it was my hands that were shaking, not his. His words, ‘why is it a real rocket?’

The coming back is hard.  Coming back is always hard from any holiday – who doesn’t want to escape reality for a prolonged period? The goodbyes are getting harder and harder.  For a moment at the airport I almost said to my mum, ‘I don’t want to go, don’t make me go’, but the truth is that she wasn’t making me go and I am not a child anymore.  My children and my husband need me to act like an adult and accept real life.  If I want to stay in the UK then not getting on a plane after an extended holiday is not the best way to go about it. But what a great holiday, thanks Mum and Pops x

 

 

Daddy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow

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It’s hot, it’s humid, it’s the end of the school year. Schools are out for summer and the summer playschemes/school camps or as we know them here, kaytanot, are in full swing for the smaller kids. This can only mean one thing for a mother of three younglings; arguing, short tempers, over excitement followed by extreme boredom, in short, stress. So what better way to spend a Saturday but to drive up to the slightly less humid climes of Jerusalem (aka J’lo) to visit the zoo.

The Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem is an oasis of calm on a Saturday afternoon and due to the tensions in J’lo at the moment it appeared that last Saturday people preferred to stay at home and the zoo was all but empty.

Kids love zoos. They love the idea of a zoo often more than the reality of schleping around sleeping animals in cages, so the excitement when Daddy announced we were going was at fever pitch on Saturday morning.

I am not a fan of zoos as a rule but because of the setting, the gardens, the enormous enclosures and the general well-being of the animals (so it appears) Jerusalem zoo gets my vote. The chimps live on an island in the middle of the lake, not a cage in sight, the kangaroos live in an open enclosure, the lemurs walk on a path in front of you and you can pop your head out right next to the meerkats (albeit under the cover of a plastic dome).

Number 1 son said he liked the penguins best, Princess Daughter liked the crocodile and the fish and no.2 son was scared of the snakes, the crocodile, the tiger, I could go on, but liked the monkeys best (takes one to know one?). I liked the fact that the kids were happy, we were in no rush, there was wind (unlike where we live), low humidity (unlike where we live) and apart from no.2 son having a small incident when he fell into the disabled loo, bottom first, we managed to get through the day accident free.

Earlier in the year we went to the Safari near Tel Aviv and I came away feeling that zoos were cruel, people were rude and my shoulders ached because I’d had a small child perched on them for most of the trip. It was fun…up to a point. If you ever need to decide between the two, go to Jerusalem.

Due to the amount of time we were there and the age of our kids we probably only saw a third of the animals. We’ll save the rest for another trip.

With only a few weeks to go before we escape to the UK in August it is trips like this that keep both myself and the children from heat induced hysteria. No. 1 son cried when he realised the day that nursery broke up for the summer that we weren’t going to the UK the following day. If we can fill the next few weeks with special trips and family time hopefully we’ll make it through the July heat and the general exhaustion before we are cooled by Cheshire’s weather and warmed by Granny and Grandpa’s welcome.

http://www.jerusalemzoo.org.il/len/

Remember my Name

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ImageI have always had a bad memory for names and it’s even worse now I live somewhere where the names are not familiar and have no point of reference for me.  Following a visit to Israel I telephoned the house that my Husband-To-Be was staying at and spoke to one of my now very good friends, I had met her and spent time with her only a week earlier but I called her Hagar, her name is Gali.  No they are not similar in any way but the week I had been visiting Israel I had met a lot of H-T-B’s friend’s girlfriends and there was Hadas, Hagar, Gali, Tali, Michal and Michal.  It was very confusing for someone who knew a host of Clares, Rachels, Sarahs and Helens.  You would have thought 10 years on I would have got better.  Not so.  Of course I no longer call my friends by the wrong name but a couple of weeks I made what the French would call a faux pas, the Israelis call a fedeekha and what us Brits would call a balls up.

I was on my daily power walk (yes I am old and I don’t jog) and my phone rang. The name Noa came up.  Noa is a very popular girls name here – not to be confused with Noah with a kh sound at the end which is a boy’s name.  I don’t know anyone called Noa but she was saved in my phone and when I spoke to her it turned out she was one of the Mothers from the twins’ nursery inviting us all over for dinner.  How lovely.  I said great, made a note of the date and kept walking.  A few day’s before the date I asked her to pick the twins from the nursery and I would get there as soon as poss with no. 1 son because I had double booked something.  All good so far, she was sweet enough to deal with my two 3 year olds plus hers and a baby alone for half an hour.  One hour in to our date I received a text message ‘are you on your way?’.  I was so confused.  I am here.  What on earth.  Oh bugger.  I am at the wrong house with all my children and now how do I explain inviting ourselves over, asking for the favour and who on earth really invited us?  Uh oh. I wondered why there was no sign of dinner.

To cut a very confusing story short Noa is the name of the girl whose house we had all invaded and the mother who had invited us was also Noa.  Oops. I eventually explained the predicament and  went to dinner at the other Noa’s house (whose daughter has the same name as my daughter) and all was well. Must remember people’s names, must remember people’s names.

Luckily my name also causes problems for Israelis.  There is no ay sound in the Hebrew language so Katie is often pronounced Ketie or Kitty.  As I am sure I have mentioned before, the Israelis love coffee shops.  The local coffee shop is to an Israeli what the local pub is to a Brit.  Many of the coffee shop chains have a name system whereby they call your name over the microphone when your order is ready.  I have been called Hattie, Kaley, Kitty, Ettie and my personal favourite Titty.  Yes someone called me Titty once.  Go figure. Thank goodness for Katy Perry, I now say Katie, as in Perry.

At a meeting in the early days here a receptionist asked me (in English) who she should say was here and I said, its Katie.  She promptly picked up the phone and said Skatie is here.  My Brit friends still call me Skatie to this day. So you see it’s not just me mispronouncing, messing up, not remembering names but if everyone had pronounceable Anglo name I am sure I would fare a lot better – Chen is an old school friend of my husbands, pronounced Khhhhhhkhhhen.  I really don’t stand a chance.

Is this just me or do any of you have the same problem?

Just add matches

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It’s that time of year again when the air smells of wood smoke, children are spotted pushing shopping trolleys of wood and the fire service are on high alert.  Yes, it’s Lag Ba’Omer which is which is I suppose the Israeli equivalent to bonfire night, minus the fireworks.  You can read all about the historical significance here and you may remember I have talked about this occasion in the past.

A few years ago I used to quite enjoy this holiday but now with the childers it is slightly more stressful.  On Thursday evening there were around 150 under sixes and a number of unmanned bonfires. Perhaps I am a little over sensitive but  trying to keep an eye on our three small childers (especially when one is a runner) in amongst the smoke and burning piles adds to a high level of stress. Add some skewers of charred boiling marshmallow and minus any kind of alcohol for the parents and I needed a lie down by 9pm.

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The childers have been coming home with instructions from their teachers, that you can’t light fires near trees, how you need to keep your distance from the fires and how you need to listen to the grown ups as fires are dangerous. I then saw this mini hot air balloonIMG_2236 being lit by a group of adults whilst surrounded by a group of children, whilst in amongst a crowded field of small people.  Even no. 1 son (age almost 6) commented on how dangerous it was.    I must admit it was lovely to watch it as it rose up into the evening sky but the previous 5 minutes of it falling onto the heads of the small children before it got going had me standing with my mouth open.  Let’s hope it didn’t come down over a dry forest.

 

Never Forget

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It’s a week of armies and war and soldiers and remembrance and the childer’s have reacted in a what I can only call a big muddle.

Their Dad is spending the week in the miluim which is the army service that all males do until around the age of 40 to 45.  He’s training which means in essence walking a lot, usually at night with a huge backpack.  To be honest I don’t know what he’s doing but I know he is carrying a gun and wearing army fatigues which in itself turns my blood cold.  The childers, sorry rephrase that, the male childers in our family think this is rather cool.  Daddy in uniform, with gun – yay.  Hmmm maybe not. Unfortunately for hubby he also turned 40 this week and what better way to spend a landmark birthday than tramping in the desert with a load of other nearing middle age sweaty men.

This week was also Holocaust Day in Israel where at sundown all stores, restaurants and places of entertainment close as a mark of respect for the millions of lives taken in the Holocaust.  The following morning businesses re-open but at 10am a minute siren is sounded throughout Israel and the country comes to a stop.  Everyone stands in silence, where ever they are.  Cars on highways pull over and drivers stand by their cars, buses stop, streets are silent.  It is a moving and awe-inspiring experience that I often believe should be replicated on war remembrance days around the world.

The government and Yad Vashem released new guidelines to teachers on how to answer children’s questions about the siren and what the Holocaust was and for the first time the recommendation was that State nurseries should also be included. So that is where my almost 6-year-old and twin 3-year-olds learnt a little about Hitler, Germany, anti Semitism and remembrance.

In reality when they came home and I asked them what they did at nursery this is snippets of the conversation we had:

Number 2 son (age 3) – we know about Eeeetlerrrr.  He drank poison and died.  He’s dead.

Daughter (age 3) – yes and he drank poison and he was a baddy and he was called Eeeetler.

son (age 3) – and and and and Joan (not her real name) the nursery teacher’s grandpa and grandma had to hide in the woods and he got shot in the leg and there was lots of blood.

daughter (age 3) and they didn’t have any plasters

son (age 3) – and they were on the roof

Me – who was on the roof?

son (age 3) – the soldier who shot him and they  tied his leg with material and they ran away

Me – and then what happened

both – he’s dead, he drank poison.  he was called Eetler.

other son (age 6) – who’s Eetler?

Yes indeed.  That is what happens when you try to tell history to children too young to even begin to understand.   I did  tell them that their teacher’s grandfather was not Hitler, at least I am presuming he wasn’t. I then let the subject drop rather than try to right the story.  I will wait for any questions to explain more.  Right now it seems like they think it’s an adventure story. There was no mention of remembrance or the siren, or paying our respects.

One day later number 1 son had been taught his teacher’s version of the government’s guidelines.  This is what he told  me:

‘Israel was at war with Germany and they used to be the baddies but now Israel is good friends with Germany. Germany put the Israeli’s in the prisons and some of them died and then the English decided to help and they opened the prisons so that the Israelis could go to Israel.  Some of them died and that’s why we have a siren and stand in silence so we can remember them.’

I have paraphrased as it was told to me in Hebrew but the particular use of Israelis and the English ‘deciding’ is word for word.

Since Holocaust day we have had 3 nights.  All 3 nights number 1 son has screamed out and shouted in his sleep – what he is dreaming about I don’t know.  He has told me he doesn’t want me to get old, he doesn’t want me to die, that he doesn’t want to grow up, that he loves his life and his family and he wants it to stay the same forever.  He has told me that when he finishes school he will have to go to the army and he wants to because soldiers have guns.  He also asked what do soldiers actually do and that there are bombs in the ground that blow tanks up. To say his brain is muddled is an understatement.  I think that Daddy is  a soldier at the moment added to the bits and pieces of what he learnt about Holocaust Day have merged and he is trying to make sense of it all.  Interestingly when he asked me why we need soldiers and an army I told him they were there to protect us and keep us safe and he said yes we need to defend ourselves from the baddies. “Who are the baddies?” I asked him (dreading the answer) and he looked at me like I was crazy and said “the other States who want to kill us and the robbers, the baddies” – duh silly Mummy.

I don’t know if his new fascination with death and old age is related to what he learnt.  I don’t know if the fascination with soldiers and armies and wars is due to the absence of his Dad or what he learnt.  I don’t know what he dreams about that makes him sit bolt upright shouting in his sleep.  I do know that it started this week and as a parent I have little or no control over what he has been taught or told in pre-school.  I hope what he told me is all he heard.  As for my babies I can categorically say that I think it is wrong that they were even taught about it at such a very young age.  I think personalizing it with tales from her own family was wrong of the teacher and the fact that they mixed her grandfather and Hitler rather suggests that it was too big a tale to tell.  At the very least the guidelines set down should have been adhered to more strictly and the same amount and type of information should have been given to all nursery aged children.

I didn’t grow up here, I am not Jewish so I have no point of reference by which to navigate the waters of Jewish history. I can only hope that I have dealt with their questions well. To remember and to respect and to never let the facts of the Holocaust be forgotten is incredibly important for everyone, Jewish or not. However, at the tender ages of 3 to 6 children’s imaginations are wild and the difference between fact and fiction isn’t clear.  As they grow they will develop the emotional intelligence to understand, for what purpose do they need to be taught about it now?

 

In remembrance of all those who perished in the Holocaust and during the Second World War.  We must never forget.

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I would love to hear your thoughts on this tricky subject.  Was the government unfair to the teachers? Are the children to young?

 

 

Ten things I didn’t expect when I moved here

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1. 1 day weekends.  Yes you heard right.  Weekends start on Friday afternoon and end on Saturday evenings.  Kids go to school, many people go to work and you only get one lie in a week (if you don’t have small childers and consider 7am a lie in)

2. Shabbat.  You know, the day of rest.  The Sunday that was, when you were young. Closed shops, quiet roads, visiting friends and relations.  In some of the religious parts the roads are closed completely on Saturday here.  For the secular, Saturday means mass exodus to the countryside, beaches or desert for some quality time.  Shame it ends abruptly when the sun goes down.

3. Salaries.  In Israel the cost of living is on a par with the UK, food costs apart from fresh produce are higher and clothing, electronics, household goods are much, much more expensive. Taxes are high and house (read apartment) prices are the same as London.  So how people manage on such low salaries is beyond me.

4. Year round sunshine.  I have mentioned it a billion times before but its worth mentioning again.  Israel rarely sees bad weather which means outdoor living, lots of sunblock (am sporting a burnt forehead as I type) and bikinis from March to December (if you are brave or under 40)

5. School til lunchtime.  This to me is just weird.  I have talked (complained) about it at length here.  As we all struggle to pay the household bills on the crappy salaries we also need to fork out for childcare from 1pm.

6. Everyone has an opinion about Israel.  Everyone.  Before I moved here Tel Aviv sounded exotic and Israel sounded dangerous.  I  am aware of people’s reaction when I say I live here and have learnt not to argue.

7. Food.  Street food is better than most restaurant food in middle England.  Vegetables are fresh and plentiful.  Home cooking is the norm and convenience food few and far between.

8. Israel is tiny.  Teeny tiny and most people live in a teensy portion of the tinyness – few brave living in the desert.  Israel’s population is smaller than the population of Greater London.  No wonder you always bump into someone you know and sometimes it can stifle.

9. Shouting.  Everyone does it. Blame the fiery temperaments, the stress of living in a conflicted region, or the heat and humidity but tempers here are short and it takes some getting used to.

10. Everything is everyone’s business.  “How much do you earn?”,  “How much do you weigh?”, “How much is your mortgage/rent?” to “Why don’t you have/have more children?”, “What did your parents do for a living?”.  All questions I would consider (from a stranger) at best none of their business and at worst downright rude are just plain simple questions here.  My favourite was a few years back when an old man in the park asked me how old I was and then asked why I didn’t have children yet, “because you are too old to start having children now”.  Nice.

Just another winter’s tale

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The sun is shining the temperature is 28 degrees Celsius and whilst Europe and the States is frozen in the grips of a polar vortex or 3 feet under water, the sun in Israel is shining as ever.  No sign of winter here.  In fact it would be fair to say that Spring has sprung and we hardly got a glimpse of anything we could even laughingly call winter.  My childers are so excited by a puddle (invariably caused by a sprinkler system) that full rain wear is donned complete with umbrellas and on occasion, gloves.  Yes, really, I kid you not.

IMG_1472On my return from snowy Switzerland I kept my 3 little ones wholly entertained with picture after picture of snow.  Snow on a tree, snow on a house, snow on a hill, snow on a road. I informed number 1 son that we would again be heading back to the UK for our annual August retreat and he complained bitterly.  I was so upset thinking he didn’t want to go to visit Granny and Grampy but in fact all he was upset about was that we weren’t going in the winter so he could see the snow.  I pointed out that anything is possible and a bit of sleet is not unknown in the Peak District in August.

So there we were enjoying the unseasonably warm weather when January’s lurghy hits us full throttle, in the jugular, so that in the space of one week all 5 members of the family come down with flu or a version thereof.  Other ex-pat Brits here agree with me that it’s the lack of cold that means the germs are never fully killed off, coupled with the use of those germ spreading forms of heating; the air conditioning unit, that results in half empty classrooms, queues at the doctor’s surgery and an uptake in sales of paracetamol.

Not that I am one to complain (uhum), I was ill enough to take to my bed for nearly 2 weeks and visit the doctor twice.  Unfortunately husband and all 3 childers were also ill at some point during this two weeks which led to what I can only describe as one of Dante’s layers of hell.  On one particularly awful Saturday, husband shivering in bed, all 3 children spluttering and whining, I drove them to the beach to let the wind blow some of the germs away.  The sun was bright and the wind strong, just what the Doctor (from 1933) prescribed to blow the cobwebs away.  45 minutes later as I struggled to drag  2 of the 3 back to the car, 2 in tears (me and 1 child), sweating from fever and exertion I decided that yet another kid’s animation movie would not be so bad for them after all.

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Finally we are all recovered and hopeful that we have seen our fair share of sickness for a while at least.  So its back to the grind, goodbye to way too much nonsense TV and able once again to think ourselves very lucky to be living in such an agreeable climate.

Where ever I lay my hat?

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It’s a big year chez nous, 2014.  It’s the year that husband turns 40, it’s the year that no. 1 son starts school, it’s the year that we will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary and it is 10 years this year since I moved to this sometimes not-so holy Holy Land.  How did that happen?  Where did the time go and why after all this time have I still got one foot (and a half) pointing towards home?

Home, where is that?  After all I counted London as home but I lived there only 9 years. While we were travelling I called our tent ‘home’ and I was perfectly happy that we could pick that home up and take it where ever the whim took us.  If home is where the heart is, do I have 2 homes? And more importantly if you have 2 homes do you ever feel truly ‘at home’ in one of them.

This time last year I was 100% going home (to the UK that is).  I was tired of the difficulties of living in a different language, different culture, different religion  I was exhausted.  I was brow beaten and sick of being an outsider.  No longer at the top of my career but instead unable to find work that suited my skills, language or salary expectations.  Most of all I was tired of hearing people say, ‘make more of an effort to settle’, ‘maybe if your Hebrew was better, why don’t you speak it more’, sick of feeling like nothing I did was enough.  Was it all in my head?  Maybe, but I think that as an ex-pat, especially one who moves to a new language and a different culture you always ask yourself, ‘do I fit in?’ followed quickly in my case with ‘why should I have to?’.

So what now?  It’s 2014, a New Year.  Has anything changed?  Honestly I don’t know.  As in the previous 9 years I have good weeks and bad weeks, good days and bad days although the bad is less in occurrence and in intensity. I feel at home here although it is not, nor do I think it will ever be, ‘home’.  I hope to go back some day, whether it’s in 2014 or in a box in the hold of an aeroplane.  If someone would wave a magic wand or give me a winning lottery ticket to set us up in the UK for a couple of years to see how we would like it, I’d go in a shot.  But it’s not just about me.  It’s about my lovely husband who would go where ever I wished if it made me happy (even though he would not really want to go).  It’s about my children, my Israeli children who, like it or not only know this as home and speak to me and each other in a language that I often don’t understand.  As they get older the move gets more difficult, and the looming start of school underlines that fact.

Over on a blog I follow, Expatriate Life,  Judy has often talked about repatriation, about the challenges of repatriating after time away and I think it is this repatriation fear that stopped me from packing our bags and running this time last year.  Really, what do I know about the UK now.  Have I perhaps become too Israeli for England but too English for Israel?  Only time will tell as yet again we write our pros and cons list, we look for options were we to move back.  The key, I think, is no regrets, no looking back in anger, no what ifs or maybe.  When all is said and done as long as our family is together we are home.