July and our gastronomic tour of the Holy Land (or at least a small section in the middle)
Starting with the Maayan update:
She's started using more and more complete sentences, or at least complete phrases. Some 'cute' common ones:
"I don't want to" (timed perfectly with her 2nd birthday), "I don't know" (her default answer for everything), and just this morning she said, "Yes Mommy, I do". She can now say the entire alphabet, though she often trails off at certain points. Instead of the letter 'I' she'll often go right from H into, "I know my ABCs..."
She also stops sometimes at the letter 'R' and says, "R, Arielle, Dov (friends of ours who she's fond of). Letters aren't all she's good at though, she's also getting pretty good at her numbers, getting as far as 14 (all the way from 1!)
Maayan loves building with her blocks, pretending (her newest is pretending to sleep, we think she learned it in her Music class), 'reading', and identifying and imitating animals.
She also had her 2 year old checkup today, but you'll have to go to the end to read about that.
Ok now for what we've been up to...
The weekend of the 14th, my parents took my brother Michael's son, Shai, to the Rye Town Hilton for Shabbat. On Sunday, we drove up and joined them at the pool for a fun few hours of family, swimming and sunshine. A nice way to start off my very last week of work...
...because Friday the 20th was my last day of full-time work at Sutherland Capital Management (I'm still consulting part-time).
That Shabbat we went to the Upper West Side and stayed with my parents. We realized that it was the first time we've been on the West Side for a regular weekend since we moved!
Lanie's father was in town for the weekend for work, but stayed in a hotel for Shabbat. On Sunday he came to my parents where we hung out for a little while before going back home and taking him to one of Maayan's local hangouts, the playground sprinkler. We drove Saba to the airport and said our goodbyes. Though we knew we'd see him again in a week in Israel!
The next Sunday we had a busy party day. We'd packed most of our stuff for Israel the night before, so Sunday was all party-time.
In the morning our friend Sarit Glass made a Chanukat Habayit/surprise birthday party for Brian. It was great to see and hang out with a lot of friends that we don't see often enough. Thanks Glasses!
From Bergenfield, we headed to my Uncle Jeff and Aunt Nancy's for a retirement (For me)/early birthday (for Maayan) party.
We'd spent the weeks leading up to our Israel vacation prepping (read:programming) Maayan for the long flight. By the time the big day came, she knew that we were going on an "airplane", that she'd be wearing her 'Jammies', and that she'd have "Bobby" (pacifer) and "Teddy", and would go to sleep...we were all set!
The flight there was pretty good. We took off an hour late, and b/c of Israeli's obsession with cigarettes (duty-free), the cabin lights weren't turned off until after midnight; 4 hours after scheduled take-off. So while Maayan was well behaved, she didn't sleep more than 4 or 5 hours (maybe we should buy her some eye-shades). She also kept rolling off the seat since she moves a lot in her sleep, so Lanie and I (mostly Lanie) had to stay half-awake to make sure she didn't fall on the floor. Lanie even slept sitting on the floor at one point. For anyone who's ever flown coach, you know that isn't an easy feat!
Once we got to Israel, tired, but in decent shape. We headed to pick up our rental 'car'. It took a while to get the 'car'; the Avis guy was literally wandering around the lot looking for it. The reason I keep putting 'car' in quotes is that I'm not sure that our Hyudai Getz was large enough to warrant being called a car. It took almost 15 minutes just to jam our stuff in. There were at least 4 decals, the kind you'd put on a matchbox car, that said "fun" on the car. Maayan was simultaneously sitting in the back and front seats!
Arica and Josh's directions were great, Maayan fell asleep on the way there. We brought her into the house in the car seat, and Danya & Jordy were very disappointed. Once Maayan woke up and we got settled, we all went out to dinner in Modiin to a steakhouse that had nothing on their menu. I think Josh had to order 5 times before he ended up with something on the Children's menu that he didn't even want.
We barely made it through dinner awake, and the next morning Maayan woke up at 2am for the day. We kept her in our room watching the same Mickey DVD over and over again, and took turns sleeping in her room.
Needless to say by the time it was morning for normal people, we were exhausted. When Maayan finally collapsed, she napped for 3 hours when we actually woke her to try to get her on a normal schedule.
Arica took us back to the Ligad Center (where we'd had dinner the night before) where there was also a play place with inflatables (they love those things in Israel). Maayan, Danya and Jordy had a great time playing in/on the water ones, and there might have been some classic Saltzman meltdowns when we had to go.
For Dinner we ordered pizza, but not just any pizza. This pizza was made on Malawach, a thin puff-pastry like Yemenite dough...YUM!
On Thursday, Lanie and I got up at a normal time, but we woke Maayan at 11am! But, after that morning she was on a normal schedule for the rest of the trip. We went out to lunch in Modiin to celebrate Arica's __th birthday. Afterwards we had some handmade Ice Cream for dessert.
We came home and blew up and played with the beach ball sprinkler that we bought for the Saltzmans.
Dinner was Burgers Bar, ordered in.
Friday we took Maayan to her very first Baseball game. Granted it was an Israel Baseball league game, but she has to start somewhere, and it might as well be at the bottom :-) I was in Josh's car, and we stopped on the way to pick up some famous Friday falafel.
Take me out to the ballgame, take me out with the crowd,
Buy me some chick peas and sesame paste,
I don't care if I never get back...
Of course I grew up with the guy running the concession stand at the game, and also saw a couple other people I knew at the game.
Unfortunately Modiin lost the game, but it was fun nonetheless. Maayan managed to eat from the time we got there until after we left, so I think she enjoyed her first 'baseball' game more than anyone else.
For Shabbat, Lanie's parents, who were also in Israel, but staying in Yerushalyim, joined us at the Saltzmans.
On Motzei Shabbat Arica, Josh, Lanie and I went out to dinner at a cafe in Modiin called 'Koreh Bakafeh' while the Cohens babysat.
Sunday was Maayan's birthday, Happy 2nd Birthday Maayan! Lanie, Maayan and I went to Kanyon Malcha in Jerusalem with Arica. While Lanie and Arica shopped, Maayan and I found a sketchy couple standing in front of Burger King renting a fleet of little tikes cars on steroids. They attached 4x4 wheels and a push stick/steering column to those classic red and yellow kids cars and rented them out by the hour. It kept Maayan entertained for about 45 minutes, so it was worth every Shekel.
We went to Pizza Hut to celebrate Maayan's birthday. Not so nice of us considering she's allergic to milk, but they had fries, so she was in heaven. (have you noticed the food theme yet?). Back home we had a small birthday party for Maayan with the eggless pareve chocolate cake that Lanie made.
Saba and Savta gave Maayan a bubble blowing pig which all the kids enjoyed playing with.
Monday, Lanie, Maayan and I went to the Monkey Park in the nearby Ben Shemen Forest. Shockingly enough, while there, we saw lots of Monkeys.
For lunch we drove to Modiin and picked up the slowest fast food we've ever had at Burger King. Maayan was asleep in the car, but she got a crown anyway.
That night, the Cohen's great family friends, the Geldmans, came in from Efrat for a BBQ at the Saltzmans. Even MORE very good food, including some expertly skewered chicken kebobs.
Tuesday was Lanie and my day alone. We left Maayan in Josh and Arica's VERY capable hands and headed out to Jerusalem. We started with brunch, of course, at Cafe Rimon. Walked to the Kotel for Mincha, back to Me'ah She'arim and Machane Yehuda for some shopping and then back to town to have coffee (or in our case, really expensive Diet Sprites) with Lanie's friend Tali.
We went back to Chashmonaim for Maayan's bedtime and then headed out to the Azrieli Center in Tel Aviv for dinner at Bruno's. Nice restaurant with A LOT of good food.
Wednesday was our last day in Israel :-( so we packed up, had Falafel for lunch (if you're going to have one meal twice in Israel, it almost HAS to be Falafel, no?). From lunch, we headed back to Yerushalayim to the Cohen's hotel to swim. Afterwards we went to Little Italy for dinner.
We flew back that night. The flight home was MUCH better, everyone got some decent sleep. Now we're home, I have one week left until school starts and a LOT to do.
That brings us to today. Maayan had her 2 year-old checkup today. She's finally growing! Both out AND up. She's now in the 25th percentile for both weight and height, and the Dr. was very impressed with all of Maayan's tricks.
I think that covers everything and if I left anything out, who would know anyway?!