California Bound

Big news! We are moving to California! Mo was offered a job in Palo Alto out of the blue, and if you know us you probably know that we have been trying to move out to the West Coast for about 10 years (since we first met). This is the first time that a viable opportunity has come our way so we are going for it! The timing is extremely difficult because Mo’s new job starts about 10 days after our sweet baby is due. This is totally crazy so the plan so far is to give birth here in Miami, and have Mo go ahead of us to start working. My mom and cousin will come stay for a little while to help us, and then we will head out in early September. Yup, it’s as crazy as it sounds! We are so very excited to go to the Bay area that we are willing to take on this next adventure, and if you know anyone out there you think could help us find a great place to live, please put us in touch!

I will write about more details soon, but in the meantime, I have an ode to Miami that I want to share with you.

Jackfruit on a friend's backyard tree
Jackfruit on a friend’s backyard tree

 

Dear Miami,

I see you and your strip malls, lining the wide roads paved over sand,

shells hiding under your pavement.

I see your trailer parks across the street from casinos,

your traffic jams, everywhere, all the time.

Your poorly stocked libraries, and abundant vibrant flowers and fruit trees.

Your Latin food and music like no where else.

I see your Bentleys and BMWs and Mercedes and Porches, and that’s just at the light in front of me.

I see your street art, jumping off the crumbling buildings with so much color in the sun that my eyes fill up and I can’t think, or over think, or even worry anymore.

I see you for miles, because you are so flat, and so sprawling.

I see your beaches, like I have never experienced before, because you are the only tropical place I have ever been. I feel your white sand and vibrant blue warm water and I know why people vacation here.

I see your strip clubs and worry about the sex trade and human trafficking that I have heard runs rampant here.

I see your people of all colors, shapes, sizes, and styles, and I am so much happier here than in New York. Everyone here seems happier than in New York.

Mostly it’s the sunshine, which I need more than I ever knew. The heat makes me a little crazy sometimes, but the sun on my face never does.

When I walk outside in the early morning or at sunset, and I feel a breeze that was just recently traveling over a warm ocean, I am thankful I got to know you Miami. I never would have known your beauty, or your ugliness, or your strange subtleties if I hadn’t been forced down here by practical circumstances.

I see myself here, in Miami, like I never thought I would.

Love,

c

 

Here are some photos from our latest trip with friends to our favorite neighborhood, Wynwood.

Photo by Ben (we're not mad, the sun was just in our eyes!)
Looking super tough. Photo by Ben (we’re not mad, the sun was just in our eyes!)
City kids
City kids
City kids part 2
City kids part 2
Enjoying the delicious food at our friend's bakery.
Enjoying the delicious food at our friend’s bakery.
Art lover
Art lover

Guys, I'm SO PREGNANT
Guys, I’m SO PREGNANT
City kids part 3
City kids part 3

 

Art Basel and Homeschool Diary

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about language, not in a grand conceptual way, mostly in a direct observational way with my daughter who is just learning to speak. She is learning Hebrew and English at the same time, something that took a bit of convincing to get my husband on board with as the Hebrew half of our parenting partnership. I consider him fluent but he has certain gaps and finds that he talks “around” words that he doesn’t know. I am grateful that he has made the commitment to speak only in Hebrew to Ella because having a second language from birth is such a gift. Thankfully as Mo is speaking Hebrew to Ella, he is looking things up and Ben and I are learning along with her. I have heard that the addition of a second language can cause speech to be somewhat delayed, which we have found to be true. Ben spoke clearly very early and I didn’t know how much easier it was to navigate the toddler stage when I knew what exactly he wanted or was trying to communicate. When I gave it some thought I realized that the absence of much speech with Ella has been keeping her more of a baby in my mind, and I wasn’t always considering how much she understands everything that is being said and what is going on; she just can’t always respond.

Ella has recently started using many new words (in English and Hebrew) which is super exciting! She has been saying la’alot for a long time, meaning “to go up” or in Ella’s world, “Help me up on the bed” or “Pick me up and never put me down!” She also says, “lolo” for loredet which means “to go down” or for Ella, “Take me out of this car seat immediately!” “Help me off the table I’ve climbed onto!” In English she says hi, hello, bye bye, baby, and a recent addition of “Hey buddy!” which I love. A few weeks ago she started saying more, which sounds like, “moh” and was basically her way of asking for whatever she wanted. Then shortly thereafter she added mine, the sound and meaning of which were very clear. This week, she combined the two words into “mone” which seems to mean “I own everything, return it to me now.” I’m joking around a bit, but really it is so fascinating to me to observe the progression of both languages and how things shift and grow.

On a somewhat related note, as I continue to work on allowing Ben to learn at his own pace I am really enjoying watching him discover his interests and the technical skills they entail. The idea is that as he becomes interested in cars or art or building or beaches or whatever, learning opportunities across every discipline arise (reading, math, etc.). For now he is only five, so I don’t feel overly concerned about how much or what exactly he is learning, but so far it is going really well. I consider the past five months of official homeschooling evidence enough that kids truly do want to learn and will pick up every necessary skill when they are ready. Ben has learned to sight read certain words just because he loves books and we read together often. He has learned basic addition out of nowhere, telling me from the backseat, “Three plus one equals four. Four plus one equals five.” He can build Lego sets from the instructions, which no one taught him, he just really likes Legos so he has practiced building them. As he gets older we will have to pursue different ways for him to learn the “basics” and build upon his skills. I’m sure it will include outsourcing with certain classes, as well as more research and study on my part!

I am so thankful for the opportunity to observe my kids as they learn and I am enjoying milestones in a new way because we are together so much. There are moments and sometimes days that are so difficult and moments and days that are so sweet. Here are photos of one of our sweetest days lately, exploring Art Basel in Wynwood on Thursday.

 

I’m working on a post about our camping trip to the Keys, so stay tuned. Happy Sunday!

Love,

c

Catch Up Mash Up

It has been a busy few weeks! I have some photos to share so I’m going to do what I’d like to call a “catch up mash up” – photos interspersed with stories and updates.

We went pumpkin picking a few weeks ago. Here in Florida the word “picking” is used loosely….

Pumpkin "picking" - here in Florida the pumpkins don't grow out of the ground, they come pre-picked from Indiana or somewhere on a truck and little elves distribute them into the fields where they are magically aligned as if they are growing. Then you "pick" (as in, choose) one and bring it home.
The pumpkins don’t actually grow out of the ground, they come pre-picked from Indiana or somewhere on a truck and little elves distribute them into the fields where they are magically aligned as if they are growing. Then you “pick” (as in, choose) one and bring it home.
Miss Ella at the pumpkin patch wearing my favorite outfit.
Miss Ella at the pumpkin patch wearing my favorite outfit.
Not only did this particular pumpkin patch have a bouncy castle, it had a fly wall!
Not only did this particular pumpkin patch have a bouncy castle, it had a fly wall!
Aww yeah.
Aww yeah.
Ghost pumpkins.
Ghost pumpkins.

We brought a lovely pumpkin home, where it sat on the table for a week while Ben asked me every day if we could eat it or carve it or paint it or SOMETHING already. I wasn’t sure what to do with it exactly, since we don’t really do Halloween. In the end I went with the classic route from my childhood and we carved a face into it.

Scooping the goo out of the first pumpkin we've ever carved.
Scooping the goo out of the first pumpkin we’ve ever carved while Ella looks on. I tipped it over so she could see the inside of the pumpkin. She responded with an awed “Oooohhh…”

 

Mo thought Ben carved this. Thanks a lot Mo, my artistic skillz get no respect! (Vampire teeth as per Ben's request)
Shabbat Shalom! Mo thought Ben carved this. Thanks a lot Mo, my artistic skillz get no respect! (Vampire teeth as per Ben’s request, although today he reminded me that he wanted it to have a scary looking mouth, NOT a smile.)
What!? We don't celebrate Halloween, but who doesn't love a good Jackolantern??
We don’t celebrate Halloween, but who doesn’t love a good Jackolantern??

Up next, a weekday visit to a local park I had never been to before. It was both stunningly beautiful and stunningly weird. I felt like I was walking through a David Lynch movie the whole time we were there. We drove through the winding wooded entrance road and marvelled at the fairy tale forest feeling of the place. When we arrived at the eerily empty playground the only other person there was an elderly man in a stained white tshirt doing pull ups on the monkey bars. He didn’t leave within about two minutes, so we did. We walked up a hill, past a cool sculpture, and up some sort of spiral castle made out of coral. At the top of the staircase there was a young man sitting off to the side and a man and his female friend standing with him. The older man started praying loudly, asking Jesus to make the young man the person he was meant to be and to free him from his troubles. His words were much more elaborate but that seemed to be the main idea. I wasn’t sure whether to keep walking up or to turn back, I didn’t want to interrupt them, and frankly the whole scene was pretty strange. Ben loves any kind of drama so he was very curious about what was going on and stood off to the side watching. To add to the David Lynch feel, the whole time a random woman was repeatedly walking up and down the stairs of the castle, silently, wearing flip flops.

Climbing the castle. Ben found many snails clinging to the rocks at the top. One came home with us, lived in a ball jar with some grass and rocks for about 24 hours, then made an escape. I can only assume that he is now living in one of the plants on our balcony.
Climbing the castle. Ben found many snails clinging to the rocks at the top. One came home with us, lived in a ball jar with some grass and rocks for about 24 hours, then made an escape. I can only assume that he is now living in one of the plants on our balcony.
Super cool weird tree.
Super cool tree.
Photo by Ben
Ben wanted to take a picture of us.

 

Ben’s uncle generously offered to have Ben come to the lab where he works in Key Biscayne to learn some things around marine science. While Ben and Uncle Yoni were learning about ghost crabs, oceans, and maps, Ella and I explored a nearby beach.

Busy baby at the beach.
Busy baby at the beach.

Then, because we hadn’t had enough science for the day, we went to the science museum to visit our favorite exhibits. They have a beautiful coral reef constructed inside a huge tank, starfish you can touch, and other micro habitats to marvel at.

Want to touch the fishies!
Want to touch the fishies!

Another day we went to Young at Art, a great interactive museum about half an hour away.

Ben showing off the awesome aboriginal mask he made at our new favorite museum.
Ben showing off the awesome aboriginal mask he made at our new favorite museum.
Flower child.
Flower child.

 

We are on a tight budget this month so we are trying to mostly do activities that are free or inexpensive and avoid take out and careless spending. We made an exception for a coffee at our favorite spot downtown on Sunday.

Start your day with LOVE
Start your day with LOVE

 

My city kid monkeying around.
My city kid monkeying around.
HIPSTER
I’m secretly a total hipster.
This kid wears a hoodie in the 90 degree heat. So serious! This morning he told me, "I look like I'm from New York." I said, "You look like you're IN New York, where it is cold!"
My deep thinker. This kid wears a hoodie in the 90 degree heat. He told me, “I look like I’m from New York.” I said, “You look like you’re IN New York!”
Zoning out.
Zoning out.
Silly girl rock climbing.
Silly girl rock climbing.
Beautiful.
Beautiful.
Movement.
Movement.

Last but not least…

My original lovie.
My original lovie.

I’m working on a homeschooling post for this week and a piece in a real live print magazine! Stay tuned for good things.

Have a great week!

love,

c

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Endless Holidays

Ella in her fort, looking at a book. Oh her sweet face!
Ella in her fort, looking at a book. Oh her sweet face!

 

Ben the alligator. Shape by me, design and name by Ben.
Ben the alligator. Shape by me, design and name by Ben.
My sweeties relaxing together after a long day out. I feel like I won the lottery when I see them do this!
My sweeties relaxing together after a long day out. Scenes like this make me so happy!

 

We are nearing the end of the fall holiday season, Sukkot being the last big holiday until Chanukah, which is actually around the corner. Because the Hebrew calendar is on a lunar cycle and this year is a leap year, Chanukah is early, landing square on Thanksgiving. Fried turkey anyone? Just an idea!

We have been really enjoying the holidays this year. Last year we had just moved to Miami with a baby and we didn’t have many local connections. The weather was hot and we felt a bit adrift This year we were total champs about the hot weather, because it turns out that anyone, including a devoted Northerner like me, can get used to Florida, and we even have friends! During this years holidays we have mostly just been spending a lot of family bonding time. It is the first time I have really had a chance to reflect on the homeschooling experience so far, and to notice how it is affecting all of our relationships.

I find that Ben and Ella are significantly closer and more interested in each other. I think this is partly because Ella is getting older and more interesting and able to engage with Ben, and partly because they are together pretty much 24/7. It has been beautiful to watch them start to enjoy playing with each other independently. As Ben becomes more invested in his relationship with Ella he has also become less likely to bully her or be annoyed by her. He still gets frustrated when she does certain things like pull his hair and he is sometimes jealous when she nurses. Because we have so much more time together overall, I find that he is getting more engaged attention from me and is more satisfied in general. I feel proud of myself for being present and engaged more of the time. It can be a delicate balance, because when one of us is having a hard time we all struggle a bit and compensate for the stress by checking out or with other behaviors that create sort of a ripple effect of distance and frustration. There are definitely ups and downs, some days are easier than others. I also feel like we are all getting in the flow of our basic schedule, even with all the holidays, which brings a certain ease and comfort to everyone.

Before I sign off for another several day holiday break (the last days of Sukkot) I wanted to share a quick story and some photos from the past few days.

Scene: Last night I found a marker with no lid. Ben looked for the lid and couldn’t find it. It still hadn’t been found this morning.

Me: If you can’t find the lid to this marker you are going to have to throw it away.

Ben: (standing next to the garbage, talking to the marker) I’m so sorry…..I did my best…..See you…never again….Goodbye. I loved you….I love you marker. I’m sorry.

I was hysterical on the inside but I didn’t want him to think I was laughing at his moving farewell!

Tashlich in Palm Springs.
Tashlich in Palm Springs.
Whoa.
Tiyul day in Wynwood. Art. Whoa.
Ben after tagging an inflatable sculpture at Giants in the City.
Ben after tagging an inflatable sculpture at Giants in the City.

 

Mo enjoying some coco frio and watching Ella watch the world go by.
Mo enjoying some coco frio and watching Ella watch the world go by.

 

This is SO Miami I can't take it!
This is SO Miami I can’t take it!

 

Our balcony sukkah.
Our balcony sukkah.
Decorations
Decorations

 

Ben shaking the lulav.
Ben shaking the lulav.
This years lulav and etrog.
This year’s lulav and etrog.
Ima and Ella
Ima and Ella
Abba and Ella
Abba and Ella

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shana Tova!

Today is erev Rosh Hashana, which I always relate to as Rosh Hashana Eve (thanks Christian upbringing!) because Jewish holidays always start at night. As with the day leading into all holidays, it is usually filled with cooking, cleaning, prepping, and maybe praying. When we lived in Jerusalem, each holiday would unfold around us in a bustling community filled with others preparing to celebrate together. Here in America life goes on as usual, so it takes a bit more effort to secure the mental atmosphere of a very important day approaching. This year we are hosting some friends who happen not to be Jewish, so we are excited to share our holiday traditions and foods with them. It is an extra incentive to think about and explain why we do what we do and what it means. Each holiday that goes by, Ben is older, more aware, more interested and has more questions for us. As I share my knowledge with him, and find answers to questions that I often don’t know, I learn so many things. Such is life with kids, thankfully!

Speaking of thankfully, at holiday time when my refrigerator is overflowing with beautiful food, and gathering ingredients for a meal is as easy as walking to the Kosher store next door, I think of those in the past who were not free to celebrate these holidays, or did so only with great struggle and risk. I also think of those right now who don’t have the abundance and freedom that we have and I feel extremely humbled and very grateful for this sweet life.

This week I am also very grateful that Mo is off from school and we are enjoying extra family time. On Sunday we took a drive down to meet friends at the Wynwood Walls, an outdoor street art gallery of sorts around the corner from our favorite coffee shop. Here are some photos from our expedition (photo credits to Mo and Ben!)

HULK
taking it all in
DSC_6366
pic-nic
photo by Ben

DSC_6339 DSC_6310 DSC_6334 DSC_6329 DSC_6356 IMG_5894 DSC_6401 Wynwood Walls_Camo DSC_6397 DSC_6234 Wynwood Walls_ShepardFairey DSC_6300 The Wynwood Walls_Doors

 

If you are celebrating Rosh Hashana, or if you aren’t, I wish you a Shana Tova U’Metuka (literally, a good and sweet year) filled with enough and more than enough, what you want and what you need, love in all the places you struggle, peace in all the wars inside and outside, beauty where you see ugliness, and tears to wash away all the dust. Thank you for reading, for your support from near and far, and for coming along on this journey. My mom friends post is featured on the Huffington Post Parents page today which is super exciting!Have a great rest of your week, I’ll be back online on Sunday, when my mom will be here!

love,

c