Cultivating Empathy

There are many values and traits that I hope to teach Eden through my actions. At this stage, Eden seems to be both a parrot and a sponge in equal parts. She loves repeating what we say- I think she is reviewing sentence structures and new words in head (yes, I think my child is a genius)- and she just seems to absorb everything so quickly, remembering tiny details from her books and from our daily routine that I barely notice. We work on things like sharing and patience and taking turns. I also try to emphasize the importance of caring for others, and looking out for their needs. I don’t think it’s been a conscious effort (there are probably a gazillion and one books I could/should read on the topic), but something that is just part of everyday life here in our little home. And it is awe-inspiring how little 2 year old Eden already seems like the most empathetic and caring person- I think she takes after her dad.

Last week we saw a man cutting down parts of a tree and I told Eden that it was a little bit sad, but it was okay because the tree would grow new branches. She repeated this line to me several times a day everyday for the following week until it became a household joke- “the man is cutting down the tree. It’s very sad.” “Yes, Eden it’s very sad, but it’s ok because the tree will grow back.” Yesterday when she saw her friend get hurt, she ran to get him his pacifier and gave him a big hug. Today she held her dolls tight and told them over and over (and over and over and over and over) again that “it’s okay.” She seems so attuned to my own feelings and comes to give me hugs when she sees that I am a bit sad. How amazing are these little people? How am I so blessed to have such an empathetic and bright little girl? At some point everyday I just find myself staring at her in wonder, trying to grasp the reality that she is actually mine. That she grew inside my body and that I gave birth to her a little over 2 years ago. And it is the most awesome thing in my universe.

And since I forgot to post them before, a few pictures of my superstar from her birthday party (Eden is still singing happy birthday to herself on a daily basis)
IMG_7098 Really want that scratch on her nose to heal already!! Any tips on how to get toddlers not to pick scabs?? We’ve tried absolutely everything!
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And this is the birthday cake that Eden I baked together for her party! My first-ever attempt at anything Martha Stewart.
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Destination: Vietnam+Cambodia

We love third world countries, but were cognizant that traveling to the poorest country in the world that has bad roads and no medical system in place was probably not the best of ideas. Usually, at the end of each of our trips, an idea for a new destination pops into my head. And that’s where we usually end up going. On our way home from Morocco, I started dreaming about Vietnam and Cambodia. We thought about Laos, but after speaking to friends that have been, decided to stick with Vietnam, which is more developed and touristy, with a quick trip to Siem Reap to visit Angkor Wat in the last week of the trip. So we booked tickets! Next step: planning our trip.
Some Morocco highlights (I was 3 months pregnant!)- and yes, I know this post is call destination: Vietnam/Cambodia ;)
IMG_2128 Summitting the highest peak in northern Africa in the Atlas Mountains. 4167m!
IMG_2169 Full disclosure: we couldn’t walk for the next 2 days.. But it was totally worth it.
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The souks of Marrakech
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Djeema el-fina.IMG_2272 See the stork on top of the minaret?
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View from our hotel room in Essouira. And my favorite picture from the trip. One of the best parts of Morocoo for me was the colors. The vibrant reds and yellows in the markets seemed to have lives all of their own. The color of Essouria was blue- both calming and confidently strong at the same time. A statement of passion, but a controlled and determined one. Blue.
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Pier.
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Grateful

Things that I am grateful for this winter:

  • washing machines
  • hot water bottles that Binny puts under my sheets 5 minutes before I crawl under the covers
  • Eden’s sweet, sweet smile when she wakes up in the morning
  • fresh bread from Teller Bakery
  • flowers
  • flannel sheets (specifically these ones that are currently on my bed. Best birthday present ever from our parents!)
  • sunshine
  • love
  • strangers on the street who are smiling for no apparent reason
  • emotionally heartfelt blogs that heighten my appreciation for life (and make me cry)
  • dog owners who stop mid-walk so that Eden and I can “ooh” and “ah” over how cute the dog is
  • just the knowledge that theoretically, I could hop on a plane at almost any given moment to escape the cold

What are you grateful for?
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Images via and via

In the Neighborhood

Over the years, I have lived in several neighborhoods in Jerusalem. I love the thrill of getting to know the nooks and crannies of the areas around the place we have made our home. Binny and I have recently started talking about where we are going next. We have always thought about leaving Jerusalem one day and with my last semester of school starting in a few weeks, it felt like the right time to think about our next move. (Any ideas or suggestions for locations are very welcome.) As I walked with Eden to daycare this morning, I took the time to notice some of my favorite things about the corner of the world that we have called home for the past almost 5 years.

  • Knowing which side of the stairs is easier to bump a stroller up (wisdom shared by a sweet old grandmother).
  • The people who I regularly see everyday. I don’t know their names and in many cases, we have never exchanged even a single word. But we smile and nod at each other every day. There is one elderly woman who calls me “Eden’s mom.” She loves telling me about her grandchildren and always has a special smile for Eden.
  • Being able to recognize new faces working at one of the local markets. And knowing where to get the freshest bread and the most beautiful flowers on Fridays.
  • Forgetting my wallet at home, but still being allowed to take what I need from the grocery because they know I will come back to pay later.
  • Learning the quickest routes to get to where I need to go if I am in a rush, as well as how to make the walk long and leisurely on gloriously sunny days. And knowing on which paths I need to keep an extra eye out for dog poop.
  • Knowing which side of the street to walk on to get the best shade in the summer and the most sun in the winter.
  • Knowing where the cats’ favorite hangouts are- Eden gets a kick out of seeing them jump into and out of garbage cans.

These days, I love how Eden takes note of all the things we pass on our daily walks. She points out to me where construction workers are building a new house, where there are big puddles from last night’s rain, where the pizza store is, where there are trees with pine cones, and she also knows to tell me when we are “almost there.” It doesn’t get much better than watching Eden learn our neighborhood and getting to experience my own surroundings through the eyes of a two-year-old (still cannot believe that my girl is 2).

Eden is Turning Two (!!)

Dear Eden,

Tomorrow is your second birthday! I have no idea where the time has gone. It is beyond crazy that an entire two years have passed since you came into our life. You are obviously over the moon about your upcoming birthday and have been singing happy birthday songs to yourself all week. Your teacher at daycare told me that you stood up on a chair in the middle of the playground and belted out at the top of your lungs “happy birthday to Eden! happy birthday to Eden…” (in Hebrew). And when we ask you how old you are going to be, you say “2 years old!” You can just tell how proud you are. And you also tell us, “And cake and balloons and a surprise!” Think someone is excited for their birthday?

Tonight we baked this cake for your birthday. And we bought strawberries to put on top because you love strawberries. I have never seen you so excited before. You had an ear-to-ear grin the entire time we were making the cake. Before you went to sleep we picked out a special birthday dress for you to wear to your party tomorrow. Your beautiful blue eyes were sparkling with excitement and your cutest toothy grin lit up your face. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so excited before. It is so fun to celebrate with you now that you understand what is going on and appreciate all of the festivities (remember last year’s birthday?).

Oh, baby girl. You are so stunning and smart and funny. My heart often feels like it’s exploding with all the love I feel because you are so extraordinarily unbelievable and I cannot believe that a little human being so awesome and gorgeous and smart and sassy came out of my body. Thank you for all the joy you add to my life and for making me a mother. We are so excited to celebrate two years with you!

I love you to the moon and back,
Ima

This is the day we took you home from the hospital
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And this is you, today, very very very very very very very very excited to see your cakes baking in the oven!
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I love you, Eden.
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Hair

Having a baby changed me. I think the biggest physical manifestation of this change (well, aside from the huge stomach and the actual baby) was my decision to chop off my hair a few months after Eden was born.

I went from this:
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To this:
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At the time, it was kind of a relief. My hair was all post-partum and falling out all over the place anyways and it was annoying to clean up. And it was really heavy. I remember sitting in the salon chair post-chop and thinking that my whole neck felt lighter, like it didn’t have to work as hard. It was easier to manage and wash, which all seemed great at the time since my life had been taken over by nursing, laundry and figuring out how to get Eden to stop crying. With all of the new-ness and figuring things out from scratch that I was going through, my hair seemed like one less thing to worry about. I remember saying things like “Everyone should try this at one point in their lives.” And I got lots of compliments. How great it looked. How brave I am. But now that I feel like I kind of have the taking-care-of-baby thing figured out (on most days), I kind of miss my hair. I would be so curious to hear about changes other women made post-partum to their physical appearance. The upside of this whole thing: hair grows back!

Happy Weekend!

Things I love: flowers and when Binny makes me breakfast on Friday morning. And this weekend included both of those! Flowers during the winter in Israel are definitely that one thing that brightens up the winter for me and keeps me happy. Daffodils, ranunculuses and anemones are my top three favorites. So I am a very happy camper this week with both anemones and daffs on my kitchen table.

The weather this weekend was almost summery! It was warm enough to strip off those wintery tights and leggings. Except when I looked down at my legs, I realized there was no way I could go outside sans tights before a visit to the waxing salon. Eek. But I mean, really, who waxes/shaves their legs in the winter, anyway? Right?! And with a rainy week coming up it looks like my legs are going to keep their au naturale look for a bit longer… That’s going to stay a secret between me and my opaquest tights. Happy weekend!
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