Whirlwind year

Apologies. A very long time, no post scenario happening here.

I think it’s safe to say it has been an incredibly busy, emotionally challenging year.

I’m about two weeks away from delivering our fourth baby. Much excitement and anxiety is building in the house as we prepare to welcome our first girl to the family. I’m not really sure how to do girls. Hope she can teach me.

This year I’ve spent mostly pregnant, gagging, whilst at the same time raising our Golden Retriever pup, Matilda. Hectic is one word to describe it. We had already said to the kids we were getting Matilda before we found out I was expecting. I definitely wouldn’t recommend doing pregnancy and toilet training a pup at the same time. There was much dry reaching to be had for many, many months. The good news is, our main goal for getting a pup was as a therapy dog. Although she won’t be trained as one, she is doing a mighty fine job of helping our boy to smile on the days that he normally wouldn’t have smiled. To have Max walk in from school all tense and angry, and then just smile and laugh because Matilda adores him and instantly gives him cuddles, makes all the dry reaching and poop cleaning worth it.

In among the craziness of raising a puppy, being pregnant, working through issues with schools and struggling kids, we survived yet another Gaza war and riots. It was a tense time in Jerusalem, very little sleep was had, and really it still is intense. I’m definitely grateful for great security people, sending warnings of places and situations to avoid. Whilst I no longer feel vulnerable, I still need to remain alert to all that is going on around me. No time for relaxing. I will say again, this place has changed me.

It turns out, Joel’s position won’t be extended, so as of next March he will no longer be working in his position, and we more than likely won’t be living here in Jerusalem. Whilst there are positions available in Jerusalem, I feel like I’m done with this place, ready for a new set of challenges, preferably at a more relaxed, less intense pace. We will wait and see where we end up. This of course will bring a whole new challenge to navigating life. Learning how to prepare and transition the family and myself from one country to another again, but with older, more aware kids this time. Stay tuned….

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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