I’m back!

Truly, I am! Grab yourself a cuppa, take a seat and enjoy the rollercoaster with me.  Below I’m pretty honest AGAIN, with how I have actually been, not just about the experience I’m having, but how I am in general, emotionally and all of that. Don’t feel you have to read, but if you want to, here it is:

After weeks or months of feeling unbelievably stretched (mostly in motherhood land), I took the initiative and booked us into a resort for the weekend.  It was the best plan, soul restoring.  We went to a resort at Jericho.  Although the average temp was about 40 degrees, our resort welcomed us with three pools (including a toddler pool and a pool with a water slide), a park, great food, a massage, and my fabulous men.  We all had the best time.  It has been months of struggle town for me to be honest.  I just haven’t had a moment to really think about it, let alone verbalise it.  I’ve felt constantly stretched and felt like I’ve had a fingertip above the water and that’s it! Although, I love it here, I have been stretched beyond what I could have ever imagined.  My only down time has been my Arabic classes, which I love, but I wouldn’t say it’s relaxing or restoring for an introvert.  Joel has been giving me some time to myself, don’t get me wrong, but I just needed to STOP and that I did! It certainly hasn’t helped that Cami still isn’t sleeping through the night, and has now started teething and waking loads at night with pain.  Whilst I feel sorry for the little guy, I’m a bit fed up with that.  Then, we have Maxi who is constantly having reactions to foods at school and home, even after I’ve given school specific instructions, lists and even a food box of safe treats for Maxi.  They gave him red jelly at school today.  Who does that?! I then end up being verbally abused by my 4 year old from the moment we get into the car whenever he doesn’t agree with me or something doesn’t go his way.  It’s heartbreaking and hard.  I know it sounds a bit over the top, and maybe it is, but living on little sleep and multiple times daily being told he doesn’t like me, to go away, trying to hit me, lashing out at JJ and spitting at me is just not fair, and not really what I signed up for!  Nor is the frequent pant wetting and pooping either. Most toddlers go through this stage, I know that, but no amount of love, consistent consequences, etc helps, whereas other toddlers do have some self control by the age of 4 to stop themselves (James is quite spirited too, but usually a warning is enough for him to pull his head in, not Max).  It’s only when those foods get taken right away from him that he settles down and isn’t so verbally hurtful and impulsive. I do try extremely hard to remain calm and not react emotionally to Maxi’s outbursts, but it is really hard to not take his rants personally, and by the end of the day I’m emotionally exhausted which isn’t helpful for anyone. Anyway, there’s my rant, thanks I have now offloaded, moving on.

I do have to say the food is SENSATIONAL in this place, SENSATIONAL! I’m not really missing food from home yet.  I just miss my people.  I did have a homesick day the other day.  It came after having a grumpy bugger at church kick me out because Cami was squealing.  I know, just rude.  I understand he couldn’t hear, I was doing my best to settle Cam who was in pain, and he was starting to settle, yet the man came and rudely told me to leave and go to another room outside across from the church.  Normally, I’d be more than happy to move, but given the tone he used and my desperation to sit in Church and listen to a sermon, I was really upset, walked outside to Joel and cried ‘Joel, I just got kicked out of church!’ It was then that I realised just how much I miss St G’s and how we will struggle to find another church like it.  I then just got homesick, missing all my people at home.  I’m feeling better now, and don’t worry, we will be going back to the church next week.  I’m guessing the guy just needs a little more love and hugs in his life, it was probably his last straw and unfortunately it had to be me.  Good thing I’m stubborn, I’ll be going back there.  It’s actually a beautiful church, nice people, great service and music, AND they have Sunday School…all in ENGLISH! Ilhamdilla!

Some things have been a struggle definitely, but I still continue to love this place and am grateful for the opportunity and experience.  Everyday there is always something new to learn. My misunderstandings about the make up of people in this country has been smashed.  I didn’t quite get around to doing some pre reading about the place before I came, so I’m not so in the dark anymore.  For those of you like me who don’t know much about the battle over this land, Jerusalem is a place that is hotly fought over by the Palestinians and Israelis. The Israelis want to say Jerusalem is theirs and the Palestinians want to say it’s theirs. There is an ongoing battle.  In my understanding (correct me if you think I’m wrong), the Israelis have more control over the land.  The US and Israel are still buddies so Israel get lots of money, weapons etc from the US.  Therefore, Israel is largely run by the Israelis,  apart from parts of Jerusalem that are still owned by the Palestinians.  There are constant legal fights about who the land belongs to.  Both parties pay taxes, but most of the money is spent on the West of Jerusalem making it look pretty while the east don’t even get mail delivered, the roads are poor and the houses are unkept. You will find in some houses in settlement areas, Israeli settlers have tried to take over Palestinian houses.  What you end up with is the Palestinians living in the back of the house and the settlers living in the front.  It’s craziness.  You will also find some Palestinian villages surrounded by the wall the Israelis put up complete with checkpoints.  Due to the unkindness of the Israelis doing this, the wall is the least of the problem for the Palestinians.  The real problem is the wall separates the Palestinians from their farms and olive groves, so they have to get special permits to visit their property and go through horrid checkpoints everyday.  Olive trees also take a while to grow and many have been cut down or cut off from their owners.  It’s really sad.  So, there is my VERY basic understanding so far of what is going on.  I just don’t have time and energy to read at the moment, but when I do, I’ll be reading up on my local politics etc. I have a list of books to get through!

So how are we? Keep reading if you are interested in how the kids and Joel are going…

Joel – is having a massive week of work getting ready for the Director General visit.  Joel’s Arabic is awesome.  The guys at work only speak to him in Arabic even though they know English.  Joel is taking lots of opportunities to experience night life in Jerusalem, catch a soccer game or two and be social 🙂

Cami – is incredible.  He is already walking along furniture, pushing furniture along while he takes steps.  He is a gorgeous little man.  The minute someone is laying on the ground, he loves to go and climb over them and attack them.  Cam says ‘dada’ and blows many raspberries.

Maxi – apart from the diet thing, Maxi is shining at school.  He amazes me everyday with how quickly he is learning.  He is already doing reading activities that I wouldn’t normally see kids doing until kindergarten.  He can hear letter sounds in words and spell three letter words out to me.  We are really proud of him. Socially, he still struggles a bit, but I’ve decided to take the opportunity over summer to teach him some social skills.  Looks like summer holidays is going to involve some fun casual homeschooling because he needs lots of help with fine motor skills too. Other than that, he is a little ray of sunshine at the Sunshine School.

James – James is going through the gorgeous stage of role-play.  He has started role-playing with his duplo people and cars.  James is loving Sunshine School.  He will go up to the next class next term which I think he will love.  James is doing well with toilet training.  Whenever he is home he is mostly in undies.  I don’t do any actual training really. He will just randomly come and tell me when he has used the potty.  occasionally I will remind him, but he’s pretty independent.  So far, I’ve never had to sit with him or read to him while he is on the potty.  He knows where the potty is and that’s it.  I am loving this approach!  Jimbo is in full swing with being a feral, demanding two year old, but he is still SO cute!!

That’s us, I’m off to Arabic!

Busy adventures

I have barely had a moment to stop.  This past month feels like it has flown by and I haven’t really had a chance to stop and reflect.

My Arabic is still improving slowly, but with ear infections and vomiting bugs ripping through the house I had to miss a few lessons which has put me quite far behind the rest.  It’s now just embarrassing attending classes given how far behind I am.  Not to worry, I guess that’s life, part of riding the roller coaster.

I’m still absolutely loving our new life.  It’s hard to see people at the end of their four year stint ready to leave because the tension has gotten too much for them.  It’s a bugger seeing people at that point when I’m clearly in the ‘honeymoon’ of our posting.  There is definitely a constant flow of tension in the air. The constant checkpoints with Israeli soldiers there to either make or break your day depending on their mood.  Seriously, Joel and I sat there for about 5 minutes at the boom-gate waiting for guard to open it.  We beeped a few times, he even looked at us, but was determined to annoy us or make us go to a different checkpoint.  Guess he didn’t realise he was dealing with two of THE most stubborn people.  We stayed and eventually he opened it and waved us through without even bothering to check our passport.  Some army guys at the checkpoints are incredibly rude and others happy, laughing and enjoying life.  Basically though, they are just there to make life hell for the Palestinians.  Even when they speak Arabic, they completely refuse to speak it to the Arabs.  It’s ridiculous!   The feelings of tension definitely lessens when you go away for the weekend or even just for a day to another place.  Joel and I are determined to not let it dampen our spirits.  We pretty much go out of the city for at least a day each weekend.  Last weekend we went to the beach at Tel Aviv and it was AWESOME.  A different beach experience to Lilli Pilli though.  It was more like Thailand with loads of sunbeds, a massive clock, a waitress bringing you drinks and snacks, and music playing through speakers.  Needless to say, it was still really relaxing and refreshing.  Can’t complain really!!

Joel is currently helping our Arabic teacher apply for immigration to Australia.  The hard thing is, she doesn’t realise just how hard it is to migrate to Australia and we don’t think it’s our place to tell her. Joel has been having heaps of fun meeting lots of new friends (yes Sarah, Joel has not surprisingly well and truly taken over my friendship count!).  DFAT has had a guy from Brisbane here on a short term mission for about 3 months.  I think Joel will be bummed when Mark has to leave, they have been getting out and about lots together.  Joel’s work is going well.  I went to a Turkish bath with all the women in the office the other night.  It was SO much fun.  Lots of relaxing and dancing to Arabic music whilst sitting in saunas.  Pretty damn awesome.  They were really nice women.  In fact, I still haven’t met a horrible Palestinian person.  They are all so lovely, friendly and earnest.  I’m still yet to meet a nice Israeli person.  Sounds horrible, but true.  They were even refusing to talk to Joel and Mark the other night because they weren’t Jews.  Very sad!  Needless to say, I’m sure there are nice Israelis out there and I WILL find one damn it.  It is quite funny really.  When we go out over the West of Jerusalem (the Israeli) side (we live in the East with the Palestinians), whenever you go somewhere and find someone nice, you think to yourself wow this person is really nice.  You then realise they are a Palestinian after all, just working in the West.  It sounds bitchy, but so far, so true.  I’m keen to try to remain balanced in views of both sides, but goodness our lovely Jews are making it hard for me!

I have already had an encounter with the Police.  When I was out driving, I may have cut across 3 lanes of traffic to get to my exit lane having to brake somewhat at the last minute.  This driving was not dangerous at all, I promise, and the lanes were all empty except for traffic further back that I wasn’t affecting.  Well. I turned off and a motorbike drove up beside me and I thought ‘what’s the problem? Leave me alone!’ next thing the bike goes past me and I see flashing lights at the back.  Thankfully our lovely Israeli Police just gave me a talking to and sent me on my way (phew!).  I certainly didn’t argue seeing he was holding a massive rifle over his shoulder (as do all police and army dudes in Israel).  Guess I’m not used to Police presence because there is barely any in the East where I live.

I’m having heaps of fun with my Arabic teacher.  We have become good friends, and even spent yesterday morning cooking Arab food, which was all really tasty and easy to make…Hooray!  Next week, we are having a girly night.  Phew, I’m really missing my girls.

Feralness has hit the house with JJ constantly having demanding tantrums complete with physical violence towards anything that gets in his path. JJ and Maxi are both tired as their school term is coming to an end for the year.  Most of the kids in Maxi’s class will be graduating (Max won’t be because he is much younger), so his class have been practising for weeks to have a graduation performance complete with capes and graduation hats.  So cute! Both boys will then have 3 months holidays which makes me feel stressed every time I think about it. The summer months get very stressful with the heat, so most families leave Jerusalem for the summer break and return later.  I AM GOING TO DIE from either heat stroke or the kids will just wear me down and out.  I’m worried!!! For those of you who pray, this is a MASSIVE prayer point, for those who don’t pray, pray anyway, God WILL hear your prayers, the more the merrier!!!!

I’m off. xxx