Sunday, November 30, 2008
With all that to choose from, I should probably be able to come up with something profound and meaningful to sum up the month.
You know what though? I've still got laryngitis (I've at least returned from "frog" back towards "sexy truck driver", so I guess that's an improvement), my head feels stuffed full of cotton wool this morning, and I seem to have developed some kind of asthma-like hacking cough that drove my husband to the couch at 3am to go along with the rest of it. On top of that real life is definitely intruding - I need to get Itai to the dentist at noon, take Maya for passport photos this afternoon, fill out all the myriad forms the US government in its infinite wisdom now requires for passport renewals, and fold several loads of laundry. Oh, and squeeze in a few hours of work, too, since the rest of this week is looking just as crazy.
Profundity just doesn't seem to be on this list right now. Drivel I can do. I'm good at drivel. Meaningful prose? Not so much. Not today.
Like I said, an ending not with a bang but with a whimper. A whimper and a smile though. There is that.
Till next year.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
We often take what we have for granted. The simple gift of being able to sit together with friends and share a meal. The safety to let our children play outside. Having food for our family and clothing for our back.
So many are without, and so many others would try to take away even what little their own neighbors do have to promote their own evil agenda. Where will it all end? Haven't we learned the futility of hatred and violence by now? Where will it all end?
Sometimes, all you can do is grieve for those lost or in pain, and be thankful that you were spared.
And maybe, just maybe, look around for some small thing that you can do to make someone's life just a little bit better.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
What can I say, hope springs eternal.
Wish me luck.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
And this lovely one came from Dawn, who made my head swell with her kind words about my blog and my photography. I'm going to pass it along to Stacey from Is There Any Mommy Out There? whose writing can make me keel over with laughter or well up with tears, AND, she's just packed up three young children and taken them to live on Saipan for three months, to Leora from Here in HP, whose blog runs the gamut from deep thoughts about religion to recipes to lovely photos and original artwork, and to Elizabeth from Planet Nomad and Grace at Sandier Pastures for sharing glimpses into their lives in far away places so different from my own. Grace has just received a new camera, too, and is becoming quite the shutterbug.
Happy reading :-).
PS I know someone else tagged me for a meme about two weeks ago, but for the life of me I can't remember who it was. Speak up and remind me, would you? I'm not ignoring you on purpose.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Tell me this isn't the coolest thing ever - I took this picture out my kitchen window, looking up at the outside wall of my patio.
I've seen these guys around for the past few years but I've never been able to get a picture before. I have no idea where they come from, whether they're just wintering here or here all year round. I do know that parrots are definitely not native to Israel. They may be former pets that someone decided to release, or perhaps they wandered off course (do parrots even migrate?), but either way, what fun to look out the window and find three parrots sitting right there on your balcony.
PS For those wondering, you have my husband's inability to keep his grubby paws off of my keyboard to thank for the title of the permalink.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Boy oh boy do we have an appropriate picture for Thematic Photographic's "broken" theme this week.
On the bright side, I did at least learn how to do a frame around a photo without resorting to importing it into Power Point...
So there you have it. "Broken".
Poor kid. Not only does he have to deal with a broken arm, he's got to put up with the having the mamarazzi hot on his trail too.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
From this morning:
I've just spent the past hour reading Maya's sensory evaluation (short version - her issues most likely do not stem from sensory processing difficulties, but may very well be a sensory integration issue, in any case the cause is most likely emotional/psychological, not neurological).
However, and this is a big however, the report is full of factual errors and flaws that I will have to have corrected. I'm upset and angry too, because most of the errors make Jay and I out to be utter morons, and if the O/T heard things this way then she obviously thinks we're capable of it. Not to mention that these factual mistakes cloud the ultimate evaluation. Things like "Maya is neophobic. She is very limited in what she is willing to eat.... Maya insists on a set number of bottles of chocolate milk before bed."
First off, Maya no longer gets bottles.
Second, I have never in my entire life put anything other than breast milk or later cow's milk in a bottle, certainly not chocolate milk.
Third, she only gets about 1/2 a very small glass of chocolate milk in the morning, and none at all in the evening.
Fourth, even when she was still getting her "two bottle of milks" (milk! plain milk!) before bed, each one only contained about half an ounce! Yes, she had two because it was her comfort item and very important to her and the psychologist felt we shouldn't try to take them away until she was ready, but it's not like she was guzzling down gallons of milk - she hasn't done that in over three years! I'm not an idiot - obviously she wouldn't be interested in eating a lot if she were being given huge quantities of sugary chocolate milk, which is how the report makes it sound.
The report also goes on and on about "cognitive difficulties". Maya has been through a huge amount of testing over the past two years, and the one thing all the professionals have agreed on is that her difficulties are NOT cognitive!!! Yes, she has a lot of challenges and no, it's not been an easy path, but the one consistent encouragement we've gotten is that Maya has extremely high cognitive abilities which will be a tremendous help to her as she works to overcome these challenges. The overall O/T report was also a lot more negative about her future compared to all the other professional evaluations (psych, speech, Child Dev Agency, etc.) that have been carried out.
Obviously I will insist on having the report corrected and the findings reevaluated accordingly, but I'm so angry and frustrated and am definitely calling the skills of the O/T into serious question. I feel like we've contributed a great deal to this effort, both in terms of time and money, and we got back crap in return. Oh, and the icing on the rotten cake of my morning?An hour from now I have to go meet with Maya's preschool teacher to receive her official IEP (personal plan) for this year. It will hopefully be pragmatic and not have any major surprises, but still. It will, yet again, lay all of her "deficiencies" and "problems" right out there in black and white. Again.
This is not shaping up to be a good day so far...
Then from this afternoon:
All the other reports we've received over the years have been much more accurate, including the IEP I just got from her teacher - this one was spot on. It identified all the same strengths and areas needing work that we have, set appropriate goals and targets, and is utilizing appropriate means to work towards them...
The O/T report is just simply a piece of crap put together by a woman who is either unforgivably sloppy or else utterly incompetant. I spoke to a (geriatric) OT friend of mine a few minutes ago who strongly suspects that this woman is not qualified to carry out this evaluation and bets that she is not certified for it, since apparently very few O/T's in Israel are. (Money-grubbing much?) For the cognitive problems, she suspects that she has mixed up (!!!) "cognition" with (sensory) "perception", which is an area where Maya does struggle. She (Maya) certainly does NOT struggle with cognition, a fact which was just confirmed AGAIN in black and white in the school report, and by the teacher's discussion of providing her with advanced work in various areas to best meet her capabilities.
At least the school meeting went well and left me feeling positive and empowered again. I knew all along that Maya was in the right place getting the right supports, and this just emphasized that I was right.
Now to go take something for this headache and then to pick up my gorgeous and very unique daughter.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
One and a half million sons, daughters, husbands, wives, mothers and fathers, neighbors, and friends.
One and a half million US service members have put their lives and families on hold to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some believe in the cause, others don't, but they all believe in their duty to serve and protect, and have made tremendous personal sacrifices to do so.
Over thirty thousand service members have been physically wounded, but many more have experienced less visible but no less traumatic psychological wounds. Numerous veterans are returning home suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, with all that that entails, including increasing rates of suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, homelessness, and domestic violence.
These traumatic affects of conflict, left unaddressed, could have far-reaching negative consequences for the individuals affected, their families, their communities, and our entire country.
I've spoken to you before of Survivor Corps’ work among those affected by war around the world. They are working just as hard to help the less obvious victims of war in our own backyard - our veterans.
YOU CAN HELP!
Survivor Corps has shown time and again that community reintegration is a key factor in victims' overcoming this trauma. Survivor Corps is building peer support programs at the community level. These programs bring service members and veterans together for mutual support and encourage both individual responsibility and collective action to help others in need. Survivor Corps' alternative “treatment” can be made readily available in all communities, even those beyond the reach of traditional military or government centers of support.
Click Here to read more about Operation Survivor and to see what you can do to help.
We failed them after Vietnam. We owe it to those who suffered then, who continue to suffer now, to learn from their legacy of pain and isolation and do better for those who struggle now.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
This guy wiped out about three seconds after I shot this
Notice the cables?.
Friday, November 14, 2008
The theme for Carmi's Thematic Photographic this week is rows. Living in an urban neighborhood I was really taken with this one. After all, the manmade environment is full of rows and angles. As I walked over to pick up my son from school today I saw rows everywhere - rows of steel rebar rising from a new apartment building, rows of shops, a long row of cars belonging to waiting parents, rows of trees evenly spaced in the median of a boulevard. All very urban looking. Edgy.
To enter, you open an old wooden gate, its rows of planks battered and faded with age.
Rows. They're everywhere, if you look.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
This morning I did what everyone should do every once in a while - I ditched work and household responsibilities for a few hours to go out for breakfast with a friend. In my blog fodder post Hannah from A Mother In Israel jokingly suggested that I should meet her for breakfast and then blog about it, so I did.
In a somewhat unusual twist of fate Hannah is actual a real life friend turned blog friend - we knew each other for years before discovering that we each had a blog. These days though it seems like we talk more through our blogs and e-mails than face to face, which is a bit silly since we live just 20 minutes apart.
It was high time to rectify that, and how better than over a yummy breakfast.
Standing next to a display of amazing-looking cakes that we didn't actually eat. (And if you could see the butt that I oh so subtlely cropped out of this picture you would understand why, though I really hope I don't have that many chins in real life! Gak! I am SO getting serious about this whole diet thing.)
Hannah with food that is in fact ours.
This place bakes the most amazing rolls. Even my breadmaking husband can't get enough of them.
All in all, a delightful morning.See, you never know what kind of good things could happen when you answer Robin's request for blog fodder ;-).
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Amidst all the hoopla of a major national election and all that entails, it is sometimes easy to forget that democracy is about a lot more than just electing a president. It is also about electing all those people who actually keep things functioning - the ones who make sure the schools run well, that the garbage gets picked up on time, that your streets are filled with endless construction "for the good of the town" for six months before any election...
Today municipal elections are being held all over Israel. Citizens throughout the country are choosing their mayor and town or city council members. It is a two-pronged system - the mayor is chosen individually and the council is chosen via list. You vote for a list of candidates (members of a particular national, or often strictly local, party). The number of candidates receiving seats is determined by their proportional share of the vote. Since it is almost unheard of for any one list to receive a clear majority, the actual government is made up of whatever coalition of various groups the new mayor (or prime minister, since our national government is a coalition one as well) can cobble together.
Elections in my small city are surprisingly acrimonious, with poisonous mud flung in all directions as everyone tries to grab that piece of the pie. It bothered me more until someone explained to me years ago that these same men (for yes, they're all men at the top of the list in this town) have been fighting and slinging that same mud at each other since they were schoolchildren. The accusations on all sides are serious, and I'm sure the truth lies somewhere in between, but at least this year I felt my vote was clear. The incumbent may have a lot of enemies, and he may or may not have a penchant for strong-arm tactics, but so far it's all rumor and innuendo, and I haven't seen anyone else behaving much better. At least this guy is fixing the things that *I* believe were wrong with the city - the schools are vastly improved, particularly ours, the town's infrastructure has been upgraded, there are now flowers everywhere, a lot of dead weight was culled out of city hall (that one right there created half the enemy list), things here are BETTER than they were. The city LOOKS good now, inviting, like a place that you would want to live, and sure enough people are noticing, and coming. There are new restaurants, good ones, sprouting up like mushrooms. People are actually coming here from other towns to go out for Friday breakfast now. Imagine that. When I moved in about thirteen years ago there wasn't a cafe to be had, and now I have my choice of about 8 within a reasonable walking distance. The quality of the special education services too has surprised me for the better at every turn.
Whether I love him or hate him is irrelevant though. What is important is that I put my money where my mouth is and exercised my civic duty to vote. Not just for the big sexy national elections, but for the little ones that in their own way have just as much, or more, influence on my day to day life.
So I voted this morning. Or rather, my son did (yes, he of letter-writing fame). Which you would see here if he wasn't so impatient to vote that he stuffed the two envelopes into the ballot box and started to move away before I managed to snap the shot. (Yes, they let him go behind the curtain with me. He read the slips of paper, chose the correct ones, put them in the envelopes, sealed those envelopes, and then stuck them in the ballot box - by himself, as his proud mama looked on.)
You can't see him actually cast
Any questions? Go ahead and ask 'em. I'm still welcoming blog fodder after all, despite my burying my request under new posts.
Monday, November 10, 2008
I think someone had better get a mop, because I just melted all over the floor.
A few minutes ago Jay told Itai it was time to get ready for bed. He said he needed a few minutes, he had to write something first. We figured it was a stall technique but let him do it anyway. This is what he wrote:
(translated from Hebrew)
Dear Daddy and Mommy,
I love you very much, and I love to play with you very much, and I love to hug and kiss you very much, and I love to hold hands with you.
- decorated with a Cupid's heart, and then dated at my request, because you bet your booties this one is going into the "never ever ever throw this out" box
PS Keep the blog fodder requests coming now ;-).
So dear readers, what would YOU like to see more of in this space over the next few weeks? What burning questions are YOU dying to see answered?
Okay then, since we're all in agreement (see how smoothly I assumed the sale there? Must be that marketing training in action.) - fire away.
You ask, I'll answer.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
We often take for granted that which is right under our nose.
I changed my perspective.
Step out of your comfort zone. Look harder. Look differently. The biggest change comes from within.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
I'd probably be able to come up with something, anything, if I'd spent more than 3 hours of today actually awake, but since I didn't this is what you get.
Off to go make more tea.
PS I have the best husband in the entire world. He has gone above and beyond in the parenting department so that I could sleep the weekend away.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Dona nobis pacem - grant us peace.
A noble sentiment to be sure, but is it really what we should be focusing on? Should we really be sitting still waiting for this elusive peace to be granted to us, or should we be reaching forward, inch by inch, day by day, stretching out our fingertips until we can take hold of it and clasp it tightly to our breast?
Today of all days, when the world is still reeling with joyful tears and the belief that a new day is dawning, we need to stand up and be counted.
Peace does not come to those who do nothing. It doesn't come to those who sit home waiting for others to act. It doesn't come to those who dwell on hatred and fear. It doesn't come to those who look for differences instead of commonalities.
Our words, our actions, our trust, our belief can set us on the road to peace. It is not an easy road. There are many who seek to prevent us from reaching the end, but there is safety in numbers. There is hope in numbers. There is ABILITY in numbers.
Together we can make it happen. Together we can show the naysayers and the non-believers that it can be done. Together, we MUST make it happen. For us. For our children. For our neighbors. For their children. For ALL the children.
YES WE CAN.
Don't wait for peace to be granted. Put aside your doubts and fears and reach out and make it so.
Peace will come, and let it begin with me.
Come with us. Join the Blog Blast for Peace. Do it now.
Words and Music by Tom Paxton
Peace will come
And let it begin with me
We need peace
And let it begin with me
Oh, my own life is all I can hope to control.
Oh, let my life be lived for the good,
Good of my soul.
Let it bring
Peace will come
And let it begin with me.
Click here to listen to a short clip from Tom Paxton's Peace Will Come.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
It's a new world today my friends. A beautiful new world, full of hope and promise. Let us use it well and BE that change we've been so desperately hoping for.
Congratulations President Obama!!!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
It's so trite as to be almost embarrassing. It's one thing to let a song take you back, but to be totally blown away by the radio's latest must-play hit? That's never been me. I'm not a top-40 kind of girl. I'm all about classic rock, folk music, the Grateful Dead, music with history, a sense of place and time. But there I was, minding my own business, listening to my car radio (thank god Maya is finally outgrowing her insistence on children's music All! The! Time!) and Kid Rock's (Kid Rock's. Good lord.) All Summer Long came on.
I sat there in the car listening to the words, and they just blew me away. Not because they were so meaningful, or lyrical, or poetic. They're really not. But they were singing my own past back to me. The details are a bit different, I grew up far from Northern Michigan and its lake, I've never even seen a walleye, let alone caught one, and the song was more likely to be Stairway to Heaven than Sweet Home Alabama, but it was my life. My history.
I started laughing when I heard the chorus, remembering how we too spent our days, and our nights, doing the same things, with the long-haired guys and the girls in skimpy bikinis (oh to be that thin again) drinking that Jack Daniels straight out of the bottle that my best friend used to hide in the back of her closet. And all the rest. Yeah, that too. We weren't hard-core delinquents, at least not most of us, but we did know how to teeter right on the edge of the line, sometimes falling one way and sometimes the other. We had the world by the tail. We were so arrogant. We were so clueless. We may not have been half of what we thought we were, or known half of what we thought we did, but damn, we did have a good time. It was a hell of a ride.Nostalgia is a powerful force. It dulls the edges. Wipes out the hard times. The tears. The fear. Of course it wasn't all good, but that's the thing about time. It softens things. Hides things. Makes you forget. You lose touch with people you once cared deeply about and persuade yourself that it doesn't matter.
It does matter though. It isn't life or death, but it is an anchor. An anchor to who you used to be. I haven't been that rebellious teenage girl in a very long time, such an incredibly long time, but she's still in there somewhere, still a part of me. The shit she pulled, the trouble she got in (or avoided - I was pretty good at the avoidance part), they all combined to form one of the basic building blocks of Robin. Of who I am today, far removed though it seems from the Robin that was.
As I sat there listening, and remembering, I began to think about M, my best friend all through junior high and high school. The one I'd swap bras with (before she got boobs and I didn't, and yes, it does seem gross now, but we were 13 and didn't always remember to wear one when we were going out), the one I'd double-date with, and sneak out of the house at 2am with (M, if you're out there, remember Officer Cole's hat?). The one who was right there with me as I was "tryin' different things" and who was still there to pick up the broken pieces of the ones that didn't work. The one who didn't stop me as I left to go on a date in my slippers - because she too was walking out right next to me in hers! The Be Fri to my st ends. (See, I told you this was going to be a lot of self-indulgent and overly sugary crap. Can't say I didn't warn you.)
M and I went different ways many years ago, and as tends to happen we lost touch. I'd think about her sometimes and wonder where she was, but her mother had moved away and M was living off the grid somewhere in Vermont, ungoogleable except for an outdated reference to Semester at Sea (her, not me). Still, I'd try on occasion as the years went by, but I never found her, and the few other friends I'd kept in loose touch with had no news either.
As I sat there the other day listening to Kid Rock (oh god, there he is again, I sound like a starstruck 14 year old) sing about the good old days I started thinking about her again, about everyone from back then, and decided it was time for my biannual attempt at googling. Except this time, I got a hit. Her name was right there in black and white. She had a Facebook account. I promptly shoved my principles back onto a high shelf (I'd deleted my Facebook account when they'd forbid pictures of nursing mothers - see the Great Virtual Breast Fest button in my sidebar) and signed up for an account, and two minutes later there she was. We've just gotten back in touch now, and haven't really had a chance to talk yet, but we will, and it's good to be back. It feels good to be back.
You can't go home again, but sometimes it's awfully nice to visit.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Up until now I've been doing all my post-processing on Picasa - a freebie download from Google. It's fine for what it is, quite good actually, but it's incredibly limited when it comes to more serious
I CANNOT WAIT to get my grubby little paws, and my photos, in there and start playing around.
Oh wait, I said that already. Nevermind.
Anyway, stay tuned, who knows where this madness will take me.
Yippee!!! *Robin runs around the room like a crazy person*
PS Apparently somewhat sour but very fresh red grapefruits can leave a taste remarkably similar to cloves in your mouth. Who knew.
PPS For those following along, the fire in the flat downstairs apparently started because they forgot a pot on the stove. Good thing their mistake didn't get anyone hurt.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Every year I think about doing NaBloPoMo, and every year I've had houseguests, work deadlines, or some other kind of domestic issue that would make it impossible. This year November nothing major is looming (famous last words I'm sure) so I've decided to take the plunge and commit - 30 posts in 30 days. I suspect it will be harder than it looks.
So, jumping in...
The Sunday Scribblings prompt this week is "scandalous". How appropriate, we had a bit of a minor scandal around here this week.
There I was the other day, sitting at the table working, minding my own business, when I suddenly heard a lot of yelling over a megaphone coming from the street down below.
I looked out my kitchen window (on the 8th floor) to see that there were FOUR firetrucks and an ambulance in my parking lot! Holy crap. I started to head downstairs to see what was happening but when the elevator door opened it was full of smoke and so was the stairwell, so I went to check on my neighbor's kids, who are watching their house while they're parents are away, and then promptly turned around and went back into my flat. I then called the head of the building committee who told me that a flat on the 2nd floor was in fact on fire! Yikes. (Scary and sad for them, but thank goodness it didn't spread beyond their own home, though I'd guess their neighbors' homes are smelling a bit barbecued today, since the hallways and lobby still reek of burned plastic. Hey *lightbulb moment*, maybe that's why I've been having all these breathing issues this week. Note to self: god you're dumb.)
Oh, and buildings here are made of concrete, so fires are fairly rare, and when they do happen they rarely spread beyond the individual apartment. I saw that the people on the ground were calm and doing a lot of standing around, so I wasn't at all concerned that the fire would come up 6 stories. Also, when I called the fire department to ask whether they wanted me to move my car out of the way they didn't tell me I was in any danger or to evacuate.
Just so you don't all think I'm insane for heading back inside.
This is the sight that greeted me when I looked out my kitchen window. My car is the gray sedan that's blocked in by the ambulance. (Ignore the weird blurring in the photos - we had anti-pigeon netting put up a few weeks ago. It keeps the flying rats off of my laundry, but I really hate what it's done to the view.)
(Here's a gratuitous shot of a cute firefighter, because why not?)
So where's the scandal in all of this commotion? Well, years ago, before we bought our flat, the previous owner's kids apparently decided to play with fire, literally, and set half the patio and a nice chunk of the building's exterior on fire. As if that wasn't enough, a notice was posted on the message board in the lobby just a few weeks ago reminding people that throwing LIT CIGARETTE BUTTS off the balcony was in fact a fire hazard. (Gee, you think? Sad, but I'm guessing that someone felt a notice like that was necessary. Asshats. The throwers, not the notice-poster.) So, now that someone's apartment has in fact caught on fire (no, I don't know whose, though I'm sure I've been in the elevator with them at some point) everyone is wondering - are they the throwers, do they live below the throwers, was it negligence or some kind of innocent and unfortunate electrical malfunction. I admit, I'm not above a bit of curiosity, I too plan to ask the head of the tenants' committee, who happens to live next door, what he knows next time I see him, under the guise of "making sure the building's infrastructure hasn't been damaged" and "do they need anything", of course. I'm not completely without feeling or neighborly spirit.
And I think it's definitely time to sit my son down for a "what do you do if there's an emergency" discussion. Yikes...
So there you have it, a little excitement and a little scandal. Never a dull moment around here...
Update: I just found out the fire started because they forgot a pot on the stove. Lovely.