Monday, 25 August 2014

like Hundertwasser

I like Hundertwasser. His colourful art and his great, unconventional architecture.
A while back I bought a book for children about Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
Since daycare is closed this week and I have two days with my kids, I decided to do something that includes Hundertwasser-art.
His paintings often include spirals. This morning we went for a walk and looked for spirals in nature (an interesting thing to do- even for grown ups!).
This afternoon, while Yotam was sleeping, we made some Hundertwasser- inspired-art ourselves.

The girls painted with watercolour a background. Then we made spiral flowers using glue, yarn and fabric stripes. I already prepared myself for a break in the middle of the project- but they were so eager to continue and managed to work surprisingly long. :-) Nothing like a successful activity...

Sunday, 24 August 2014

another Sunday

I disconnect myself from the news on the weekend. I can't deal it and need breaks from all those bad news. Then it's usually like a slap in the face to read the news after the weekend (weekend being Friday/ Saturday here in Israel).

News of a 4-year old dying from a rocket while running (not fast enough) to the shelter. (Only this makes me so sick to the stomach that I lose my appetite. The age of my daughter…), men being executed in Gaza because they "apparently" collaborated with Israel, rockets now also from Syria and Lebanon, a father seriously wounded while pushing the last kids into the shelter at the daycare and sheltering them with his body, sirens all over the south- all the time…

Another family came to stay with us. They have 5 kids and so far they held out tin the South but they needed a break badly. Especially the younger daughter is traumatized.

If you want to look at the good part of this war (and how can there ever be a really good part about a war)- we met some truly great families and gained new friends and I am happy we could give them some shelter from the rockets and the threat of the tunnels. I am praying that nothing bad will happen to them.

One week from now the new school year should start. But as things stand right now it does not look good. They might delay the start. There's no way kids in the south could go back to school while rockets are still hitting the area. In addition to this- those kids had no summer holiday whatsoever. Spending weeks in the shelters. The lucky ones could afford some days away in hotels. Others were lucky to get shelter for some time with family/ friends and strangers.

My daughters told me that they want to go to live in Switzerland because there are no rockets. I asked them if it would not bother them to leave their friends… well they did not like this idea that much. 
Of course I do think about it from time to time. On the other hand you can't just leave everything. If it will get really bad for us here- this might be an option (if there are still flights…. Enough that they will shut down the airport and there will be no way to escape except maybe by sea.). 
And, to be completely honest, I am not sure it will be that good with all the anti-Semitism in Europe. Do I want my kids to be called "dirty Jews" and worse? (Even if they are not Jewish according to the Jewish law, because I am not)…

Let's hope this will finally end!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

peg board and tape road

During the football world cup, Neomi got interested in the flags of different countries. During the same time I had this idea for a peg board. I painted a wooden board black, added some nails and created some sheets. In the one above you need to connect the flags with a rubber-band to the name of the relevant country. There are endless possibilities for this board. I made some sheets with practises for learning the alphabet, counting, shapes...
It would be great if I could laminate the sheets because the paper is getting creased and tears easily after multiple use...

We have three quite big boxes of Lego. They are usually stored in our store room because we don't have a lot of space. From time to time we take them out. Right now the kids (and we grown-ups as well) are almsot everyday playing with them for hours. The other day they needed a road. but the actual lego-parts consist of only 3 road parts. I gave them tape and a marker and they added their own road on the floor.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

and here we go again...

After a few days where I started to get out of my "on-hold-mode" and actually started to think and plan a tiny bit ahead again, we are back to news of rockets and sounds of fighter-airplanes....
The news updates that started to look almost empty and with a new item maybe once an hour are back to updates almost every minute... 
(source "y-net")

Iron Dome intercepts rocket above Kiryat Gat area 
(11:15 , 08.20.14)
Three rockets explode in area of Eshkol Regional Council 
(11:15 , 08.20.14)
Code Red sirens sound in Hof Ashkelon, Eshkol, Sha'ar HaNegev and Sdot Negev Regional Councils 
(11:01 , 08.20.14)
Two rockets explode outside community in Eshkol Regional Council; no injuries 
(10:56 , 08.20.14)
Flight from Stockholm to Tel Aviv cancelled following renewal of rocket fire 
(10:55 , 08.20.14)
Code Red sirends sound in Eshkol 
(10:49 , 08.20.14)
Sirens sound in Kiryat Gat and Regional Councils of Sha'ar HaNegev, Be'er Tuvia, Hof Ashkelon, Yoav, and Lakish 
(10:43 , 08.20.14)
Rocket explodes in open area in Eshkol Regional Council 
(10:39 , 08.20.14)
3 rockets explode in open areas in Hof Ashkelon Regional Council 
(10:38 , 08.20.14)
3 rockets explode in open areas in Hof Ashkelon Regional Council 
(10:17 , 08.20.14)
Code Red siren sounds in Hof Ashkelon and Sha'ar HaNegev 
(10:08 , 08.20.14)

My heart is heavy...

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

frozen chalk

We love to play with liquid chalk. This time I added a twist to it (I got the idea from here). I added baking soda to the cornflour and water. Instead of food colour I added water colour. I then filled the mix in a ice cube tray and froze it.
The frozen chalk melted quite fast on the hot pavement.
I gave the kids a bottle with vinegar and a pipette. They drizzled the vinegar on the chalk and because of the baking soda the chalk began to bubble, fizzle and sizzle- not as much as I actually thought, but still quite fun. maybe I will add more baking soda next time.

To make the chalk, you need:

- 1 part cornflour
- 1 part baking soda
- 2 parts water
- watercolour or food colour

Mix everything and fill ice-cube-trays. 

For the "sizzle": vinegar. Maybe it could work also with lemon juice- I would have to try this. The smell would be nicer :-)

Since one hour we have another cease fire and it seems to be quiet. Let's hope this one will last. Otherwise it starts to be ridiculous. Why to agree to ceasefires if you just start shooting all over again...

Sunday, 3 August 2014

a strong voice for peace

Today I post parts of an article Achinoam Nini (Noa) wrote for the newspaper "Ha'aretz". Achinoam Nini is a famous Israeli singer. There were times I could not get enough of listening to her songs and beautiful voice. She is known as a strong voice for peace.
The whole text is much longer. I added the link but you need to subscribe to read the whole of it (you can do so for free if you want to read only this article).
It's such a strong message and we need voices like this now more than ever.

With the Taliban tactics of Hamas on one side and the F-16 bombers of the Israeli army on the other, these people (The Gazans) are clamped like walnuts, crushed by the thick metal jaws of blindness and stupidity. The death toll is rising and rising – for God’s sake, how much longer will this go on?
My heart goes out to the families of the victims wherever they are. I am happy to have a strong Israeli army to defend me against those who clearly state that their aim is to slit my children’s throats. But I do not want to use my sorrow and fear as a shield against human empathy and clear thinking. On the contrary, I want to do the opposite.
I want to stand in the middle of the rink and speak my truth.
There are only two sides, and they are not Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs. They are moderates and the extremists. I belong to the moderates, wherever they are. They are my camp – and this camp needs to unite. I have nothing whatsoever in common with the Jewish extremists who burn children alive, poison wells, uproot trees, throw stones at schoolchildren and are motivated by brainwashed hate and acute self-righteousness.
Violent radical Islamists terrify me. The pictures of how they torture and behead, kill and destroy – their indescribable cruelty and abominable treatment of women are horrifying to say the very least. But their wrath is directed not only against me but against the moderates in their own society, thus making us all brothers in arms.
Just as I urge the Arab moderates wherever they are to do everything in their power to shun extremism, I have no intention of blinding my eyes to the responsibility that must be taken by my side for the fiasco that is now occurring. Radical Islam is a dangerous phenomenon that must be dealt with not only by Israel, but by the entire world. And in the Muslim world there are more moderate voices; there are partners for dialogue. Have we done everything in our power to reach out to them?
The answer is no.
Only dialogue from a place of respect and empathy can save us. Only a concerted effort to strengthen the moderates and thus marginalize, as much as possible, the radicals can afford us some hope.
As much as we in Israel justifiably despise Hamas, it does not look like this group is going anywhere. Have we seriously considered the conditions it poses for a cease-fire? Many of them make sense. Why not attempt to alleviate the suffering of the Gazans, enable them to flourish economically, return dignity to their lives and gain a 10-year cease-fire? Ten years is a long time.
Young minds can be opened; even modest prosperity can be the catalyst of change. Why assume automatically that these years will be used only to strengthen Hamas’ military power? The conditions include international supervision. Maybe the years will create a reality in which Hamas, with a younger generation of leaders who see a different horizon, can be drawn into the political circle in a way that will finally enable dialogue?
I ask myself: Why don’t we surprise ourselves. Netanyahu, you are known to be a clever man: Why not go 180 degrees, change the rules of the game, think out of the box? Welcome Abu Mazen, strengthen him in the eyes of his people, think up creative solutions with him, stop the building in the settlements, support the unity government, open Gaza and enable commerce with international supervision, embrace the Palestinians’ aspirations alongside our own, welcome international intervention, especially by the Arab League, and gain a real ally against the waves of extremism. Checkmate.
Have we really made every effort to do all this before sending our young men off to die? Sadly, we have not. No one is dismantling the Israeli army anytime soon, and it should remain strong. But why are we so stubbornly refusing to take this calculated risk and instead choosing to sacrifice our children? It is beyond my comprehension.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014


Like everywhere in the world and like in every country, the people of Israel are a diverse lot. There is no such thing as "THE Israeli". 
Like there is no such thing as "THE Swiss" or "THE German", "THE American"- not even "THE Jew" or "THE Christian" or "THE Muslim". We are all a mix of a lot of things. One might be a painter, a Christian, a wife, a biologist and a French at the same time. While I am a mother and a Swiss and an Israeli and a book reader and an office worker and a gardener and much more at the same time…

I think it would help a great deal, if we would look at others that way, if we would not put someone immediately in a labeled box according to his nationality, faith or even political views. 
We would sure find common things in each other. 
The love for lyrics, music or nature. The interest in education, sports, cooking or science. To like to hike or farm or sing.

So like everywhere else we have in Israel painters and bankers, grandfathers and cooks, thieves, bikers, woodworkers, gardeners, kids, Jews, uncles, writers, poets, musicians, technicians, Christians, bus drivers, Muslims, shop owners, runners, teachers, scientists, horse riders, dancers, liars, nuns, chess players, farmers, bar men, pilots, lovers, babies, vets, immigrants, lawyers, nurses, mothers, students…

We have people who love to bake, talk, swim, play the flute, read books, cook, play video games, chat on the phone, kiss, hike, knit, grow vegetables, run marathons, sleep, smoke cigarettes, party, pray, shop, sing, drink wine, tend horses …

We are human. We are humans.

Even if there are people in this world- especially now and in growing numbers- that like to portray the Israelis (and Jews for that matter because too many times they don't make a distinction) as heartless monsters, as bloodthirsty kid-murderers and as evil invaders.

Believe me- I know not one person in my surrounding that is not sick and tired of this conflict (It does not mean that there are no people who think differently and it does not mean that Israel can accept an unconditionally ceasefire.).

We all would prefer to have peace and to make plans for the future.

I feel quite low. Yesterday evening I walked endless circles in our house, crying. I looked at our sleeping children and I cried some more. I try to keep up a good spirit- especially for our children- but sometimes I can't. Too many depressing news. Too scary to think about certain things…

Monday, 28 July 2014

loose parts

Helen discovered a tin box with "loose parts"- mostly geometric shapes and Hebrew letters from wood and plastic.

No one played with it for a long time. In the day care she loves to play with loose parts and with her newly discovered tin box, she happily played for quite a while- creating shapes and pictures and orders.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

parenting during these days

Although we are not in an actual war zone, our children are very much affected by what's currently happening in our country.

We do not watch any news on TV in their presence. We hardly listen to the radio while they are around. But they do hear and see and imagine things. And with a house full of "refugees" they are confronted with other aspects of war- like what it means to leave ones home.

I and my husband need to work, so we do not necessarily have more time for their needs- maybe even less.

I can see the change in their play. The water"guns" (do not look at all like guns… maybe water-pumps is more accurate) turn into rocket-shooting things. Simple wooden blocks in the daycare turn into a defense system against the rockets.

They ask questions about the "iron dome" (Helen calls it the "golden dome") and how this defense system works. Helen was very sad/ disturbed because one of the families had to leave their dog behind- but the father of the family will bring the dog today after he will finish his turn on tending the cows there. That calmed her a bit.
Neomi is asking who is trying to kill us and shooting rockets at us. We explain her that the rockets are shot from Gaza by a group called Hamas. We explain her that not all people in Gaza want to kill us- and yes- our army is dropping rockets in Gaza that are causing a lot of dead people and destroyed houses- and yes- we would like to have peace too…

It's no easy task to explain those things to kids. We try not to go into too much detail and too many explanations. We try to figure out what they know and try to put things into an order. We try to give them a sense of security. "The soldiers are protecting us". I think it's important to keep things fairly simple. Otherwise it can lead to more insecurity.

More than ever I see how important it is to have a fixed daily routine. It helps the kids to feel safe and gives them a sense of stability. That has been missing a bit during the last week with the arrival of the families from the South. Instead of coming home to a quiet surrounding after daycare- there are suddenly many more kids running around. Instead of doing something with the kids (go to the swimming pool, craft, read stories etc) or instead of them playing something for themselves, we got sucked up into quite chaotic afternoons and dinners and the kids went to bed way later than usually. Yesterday it just got too much. Helen started to cry hysterically because of something small and could not stop- she even started to be very aggressive until I had time to sit quietly with her on her bed, hug her tightly and talk to her. Neomi started to be very rude with me and I just felt completely drained out. We took the kids to the grandparents for dinner and managed to get them to bed a tiny bit earlier.

I need to focus much more on the kids needs and feelings in the next days. 
So what, if the apartment is messier than ever and dinner is a fast thrown together meal. I also hope that the families in our house will settle into a routine. Almost all kids started to be integrated into the Kibbutz day cares in order to give them some stability back and be in contact with other kids their age. Of course we hope that they can soon return to their homes.

That was a long post....

Monday, 21 July 2014

More thoughts

We are almost constantly following the news although there is a lot of the same. Discussions, analyses, interviews. Pictures of tanks, pictures of soldiers, pictures of families fleeing parts of Gaza, pictures of tunnels, pictures of I-don't-want-to-see-it-anymore and pictures of I-am-sick-of-it….

Young men from our Kibbutz are in the army. Young men from our Kibbutz have been drafted. Friends of us. Family fathers. And believe me- no one is keen to go.

A friend of my nephew died. How young they are. Merely just boys (Although they would not like to hear this, I guess). When you are 18, 19, 20 you feel very much adult. But looking back, you can see how young they actually are. Their whole live still in front of them. Now to be thrown away- for what exactly? That's the dilemma I have. We can't go on like this. But is there no other way? Did they try everything? Is there even another way with an extremist group like Hamas?

I look at our small boy- only 2 years old, stomping happily around, playing with his wooden train, "fixing" things with tools from his father- will he too have to go to war when he will be 18? God help us. My heart hurts.

My husband and I cleaned out the 3rd and last apartment in our building yesterday after the kids went to sleep. Today two more families are supposed to come and stay with us. I think it was meant to be that we can not build (yet)- like this we can take in all those families and give them a shelter and help them and their kids. We have now 6 families in our Kibbutz from a Kibbutz that is situated right near the border with Gaza. Only very few people remain there to tend to the chores. Families with kids all fled.

One conversation yesterday evening:
My kids and the kids that already stay with us for a few days brought the newly arrived kids to our house. The newcomers looked around and one said: "Wow- this is an organized house (well, it surely is NOT), look they have a real sofa and toys. It's a real home!" Another one said: "Because they are living here. They are not on vacation like us."
And this after "only" 2 weeks of sleeping on matrasses on the floors, of making do with the little they took with them. How must it be for children that are refugees for much longer? Like all those Syrians?

God, be with all those families that run away from the South. With the ones that still stay there and live in bombshelters. With the families in Gaza that have nowhere to go. With the refugees from Syria that have also nowhere to go and are stuck somewhere. With the Christians of Mossul that had to flee the IS and everyone else that is being terrorized by IS. What kind of world are we living in?