Thursday, July 30, 2015

Batman, Bands & Bookcases

While I’m no Tiger Mom, and my kids aren’t over scheduled, they do have a lot going on during the school year. They go to school until about 3 and then most of them have after-school basketball, judo, art and other activities. And this means that they are generally on the go and occupied.

When summer started, I realized that my younger four kids would all be getting home from camp at 1:30. And then what, I thought to myself? In the heat of the day, we weren’t going to be hanging out at the park. We weren’t racing to get to a pool or to do any other activities out of the yishuv that cost money. So, while trying to quell my panic, I tried to imagine what in the world we would do for three to four hours each afternoon before it cooled down enough to go to the park.

As the last day of camp wraps up today, I am in awe of my kids and proud to see how they’ve spent their afternoons. Yes, they asked to be on the computer some of the time and they tried to sneak in videos and electronic games. But for the most part, they just hung out. And relaxed. And played. And did art projects.

When was the last time that most of us let kids just be kids…and learn to chill in their own homes and relax? The month was a great lesson in bringing life down a few octaves and in learning to be in our own home without over-stimulation.

Here are some of the things we did.

Zeli, who loves art projects, unearthed an art activity book that I used with Matan about 13 years ago. And in the afternoons, he made penguins.

He made a bookcase that now sits in the hallway for all of his special books.

Perhaps not the prettiest bookcase, but made with heart and soul!
And on and on.

Eliav and I played games. We love Perpetual Commotion, so we played that a lot. We played a bit of Sudoku. And he checked his email and practiced his English writing by responding to family emails.

Amichai loves to cook. So he whipped up some great lunches. We had pancakes and French toast. We had potato salad and mashed potatoes (ok…no one said it was healthy food… but it was food!)

And he also found tutorials on YouTube for drawing and made this:

And Yakir? Well, Yakir is just Yakir. And that means that Superman, Batman, Wolverine and every other man ever invented visited our house this month. And when they weren’t visiting, he was playing with Lego, blowing bubbles and jumping rope .

And then there was the afternoon when they decided to create a band. I think the video speaks for itself...

Here are a few more videos including solos!

We have a little inflatable pool, and I didn’t even take it out this month. They just learned to hang out...and it
 was quite beautiful.

Were there moments when they were screaming at each other? Throwing things? Having tantrums about wanting the computer and wanting some activity?

Well, of course.

But that’s all part of the learning curve and the process.

I look forward to seeing if we can sustain some of this feeling of down time during the school year.

We’ll see how it goes. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

And the Shofar Blows

There were so many amazing and awe-inspiring moments yesterday at the Nefesh B'Nefesh arrival ceremony. But the one that was the most inspirational for me was to watch my oldest son, Matan, with his Israeli friends. Matan arrived in Israel at the age of four.

Here is Matan waiting to board the flight to Israel! (July 13, 2004)
At our Nefesh B'Nefesh ceremony, he befriended a soldier and refused to get out of his arms. And I mean for hours. He stayed with the soldier, smiling, through the entire arrival ceremony. I have often thought about how fun it would be to find this soldier, and to tell him what a big impression he made on Matan (and how many years of laughs it has provided for us).

Yesterday, Matan came to the ceremony with friends to help in the process at the airport (moving the mountains of luggage and escorting new olim to their waiting cabs). Most of his friends didn't even know what Nefesh B'Nefesh was. As we waited for the first van to arrive, bringing the Olim from the plane that had just landed, I turned around to find Matan and his friends dancing and singing imbued with the spirit of modern Zionism. Matan was high on another kid's shoulders as they excitedly waited to greet the Olim and to share in the joy of Aliyah.

I thought to myself - that's my little boy, the one who arrived here without a word of Hebrew. He never once complained during the entire year in four year old nursery school that he didn't know what was going on. And today, that four year old is a 15 year old fully Israeli teenager, bringing his friends to the arrival ceremony and dancing and singing to welcome other new Olim to their home.

If you've ever wanted to imbue your kids with a true sense of Zionism, of the promises of the Jewish people being fulfilled in our time - bring them to a Nefesh B'Nefesh arrival ceremony. There is nothing like it in the world.

Where else in the world is the airport packed with people blowing shofars, yelling for their friends, and dancing in the aisles to meet and greet new immigrants? Where else are people throwing candy and delivering packages to kids as they arrive, while people dance the new arrivals through the doors to the airport? This is Zionism alive and well, with the help of Nefesh B'Nefesh, in our day.

Be part of it. It's simply amazing.