Friday, March 27, 2009

Trip to the Mall

I thought I'd share some simple pictures of our day today. I've been trying to notice some of the little things that we have become very used to, that are different from home.

We have a couple of indoor malls we go to here. The one that's bigger and nicer takes a full hour by bus, and I HATE the ride. That bus gets very crowded and people just always seem to be ornery. So days like today where we need to pick up a couple simple things, we go to a smaller mall out in a little settlement called Pisgat Ze'ev. First we walk about a half a mile to a bus stop, ride the bus for less than 10 minutes, and we're there.

Here are the kids on the bus. I've always held Jackson on my lap, but lately he wants to sit on the seat and hold onto the seats in front of him like his sister.

This is what the entrance to all the malls look like. You have to go through a metal detector and have your bags searched. If you're entering the parking lot with a car, you also get your trunk searched.

Very typical security guard out front with his gun. All people in the military here also carry a gun, I think whether they are on duty at the time or not. And since everyone is required to be in the military for at least two years, we see a lot of big guns here.

This is just inside the mall. Every Friday there are flower stands every few blocks or so. They are out for people to buy for Shabbat that starts on Friday night. They are beautiful and relatively cheap. I keep meaning to buy a vase so I can pick up cheap flowers on the weekends. We have one of these flower stands just outside the gate to our apartment. I hear if you wait until later in the afternoon, you can get them for next to nothing.

As I'm typing this I'm thinking of a bunch more pictures I should have taken. While I'm out and about, things feel very normal here now. But when I think of those of you reading from back in the states, I suddenly realize the many other things that are different on a typical day for us.

I'll take more next time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A glimpse of Joni

The other day we had a car to drive to church, but it had been parked under a tree for days, so some birds had left some little (okay, BIG) surprises on the windshield. It was pretty much covered. So as we were pulling out, Joni said the usual prayer to ask for safety. It went something like this:

"Heavenly Father, thank you for this day. Thank you we get to use Jonathan's car. And please bless that mommy can see through all the crap....." And then she ended it. It was awesome.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

One morning as I was getting dressed for the day, just after I put on my jeans, Joni says,

"Hey mom, I like your pants."

Me: "Well, thanks."

Joni: "Not really, though. I was just saying that to be nice."

I guess seeing me in the same pair of jeans almost every day for months is starting to bother her. :)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When we were at the grocery store the other day, she randomly says,

"Hey mom, why are some people brown?"

Me: "Well, Heavenly Father made it so that everyone could be different. Don't you think it would be boring if everyone was exactly the same?"

Joni: "I want to be different then. I don't want to be Joni anymore. I want to be brown."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Joni: "Mom, you better get lots of toilet paper because I did a loooooong snake poop."

Me: "A snake poop?"

Joni: "Yeah. I think I must have eaten too many noodles."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Me: "Um, Joni are you eating your foot?"

Joni: (very annoyed) "No, mom! I'm just sucking on my toe!"

Sunday, March 22, 2009

28 Random Things......

...about the BIRTHDAY BOY!

There has been a "tag" going around for weeks to come up with 25 random things about yourself. Well, I haven't exactly gotten around to it, so I've decided to come up with 28 random things about that sweet man I call my husband, because today he turns 28.

1. His hair looks completely different every day. I don't know how he does it, but he does, and I like it.
2. He LOVES milk and juice, but he recently made a goal to only drink water. I think I could buy a car with the money we've saved already. It has been two weeks.
3. He loves to exercise. He tries to go on a big run and/or do weight training every single day. And let's face it, he looks gooooood. :-)
4. He seems to pretty much have the Bible and the Book of Mormon memorized. But he freely admits to not knowing the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price.
5. He likes to slap feet. I hear it's genetic.
6. He is a walking jukebox. He constantly has weird random songs that just kind of blurt out at any given moment. And they're always the annoying, get-stuck-in-your-head kind.
7. He is an amaaaaaaazing teacher. Any time he gets a teaching calling, he instantly becomes a favorite in the ward.
8. Besides his family, there is a clear winner as to what he would save in a fire. His books. 'Nuff said.
9. He has two nicknames given to him by my family - "rated R Tom", and "Isaac". The second one is a long story - I'll have to tell you sometime because it's pretty funny.
10. He cleans the house better than I do.
11. He has a secret love affair with pens. He loves them. Really.
12. He loves to quote Seinfeld. He just can't help himself.
13. He secretly wishes he could play BYU football (after the revelation on pen obsession, that doesn't seem real likely, does it?).
14. If there was such a thing as a "towel disorder", Tom would have it. I think he was born this way. It seems to be physically impossible for him to hang up towels in the right place, or to use towels for the intended purpose. I don't know how to explain it, but I find comfort in knowing that Tom's mom knows exactly how I feel.
15. Whenever I make homemade pizza, Tom will have one piece. Then after dinner is done, he'll sneak into the kitchen and eat all the toppings off whatever is left.
16. He was a very strict missionary, almost to a fault. He tried to do everything perfectly every minute of every day. It was maddening.
17. He's in love with his kids. Absolutely adores them.
18. He has an almost overwhelming compassion for homeless people. He will always give a beggar on the street money. I have never once seen him pass someone by. EVER.
19. When he cleans, he doesn't exactly pay attention to where he puts things. Mail in the silverware drawer is an easy example.
20. He has great personal hygiene. He showers, flosses, and brushes at least twice a day. He is always clean and he always smells good.
21. He has had a couple of close brushes with death. But he knows from priesthood blessings that he has been protected for a great work.
22. As previously mentioned, Tom lifts weights regularly. He is very strong. (But he secretly wishes he was as big and strong as his brothers-in-law, Tim and Jared).
23. He doesn't mind being late to things. I HATE being late to things. This has been a problem, but he works hard at doing better because he knows what a big deal it is to me.
24. He is very picky about meat. He was raised eating fresh organic beef off of his grandfather's ranch, and now he can't stand anything less.
25. He will do anything for me at any time. I just have to say the word, and he jumps up to do it. He really is one of the nicest people I know.
26. He plucks his eyebrows.
27. He absolutely adores his family. He's not always the greatest at keeping in contact with them, but he loves them with all his heart.
28. As each of his birthdays roll around, I can honestly say he is twice the man he was the year before. He is my best friend and the greatest companion anyone could ever ask for. I love him so much!!!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A great view

This last Shabbat we went to the Branch President's house for dinner and it was so much fun! He and his wife are service couples here (and we LOVE them), so they live in the Jerusalem Center where the students live. Here is a video taken off of their balcony that overlooks Jerusalem.....

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Special" brownies

My life shifted up a notch today. We are officially the proud owners of a washer and dryer!!! Some GENEROUS people in our branch got them for us, and we will forever be in their debt. As George from Seinfeld would say, "I'm busting!" No more spending most of our Fridays doing our laundry at a laundromat that costs a fortune and ruins half of our clothes! Yippeee!!

We even have a microwave that the Jerusalem Center was getting rid of. Can you imagine? We have a stove, microwave, AND washer/dryer.

But we're still using our trusty ol' toaster oven to do all of our baking. It's a great little appliance, and it works better for most things than you would expect. I've only had one complaint, really. It doesn't make good brownies. I've tried them twice and they come out funky.

I was telling my parents this a couple of days ago while we were talking on Skype, and my dad was on the case. He immediately started googling for a solution. He ended up sending me a couple of links to websites so that I could finally make brownies in my toaster oven.

So once we were done talking I opened up the first link that was entitled "special" brownies. I thought, "Oh, this recipe must be good." It was clearly a recipe for students because it talked about using a toaster oven in your dorm and not getting caught. To my surprise, at the bottom of the ingredient list was "WEED"!!!! These weren't special brownies because they were tasty, or simple, or a recipe that was handed down for generations! My dad sent me a recipe for weed brownies! Tom and I laughed until we cried. When I told dad, he laughed so hard his chest hurt.

My dad will tell you that he didn't mean to send me such a recipe, but I'm not so sure. You see, my dad has always enjoyed putting strange ingredients in his recipes. He is famous for his candy sprinkles that he sneaks into his scrambled eggs. And don't even get me started on the time we found graham crackers and marshmellows in the eggs while on a family camping trip.

Maybe we need an intervention for you, dad. Candy sprinkles is the new gateway drug to marijiana, you know.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Why I believe in MIRACLES

  • I think I am used to being here. The smells, the shopping, this apartment, the people, even not having a car, all feel normal after only 5 months.
  • I killed a spider the other day, before my fear killed me first.
  • My parents are both still alive, despite my mom having leukemia for almost 7 years, and my dad having 7-bypass surgery a few months ago.
  • I hardly EVER drink caffeinated beverages anymore (I know, I know, you've heard that one before - but this time it might stick).
  • We may have a washer and dryer soon.
  • A mammoth cockroach that Tom put in the toilet alive, survived close to 20 flushings over the course of MANY hours (okay, not a miracle in my world, but I'm sure it was in Mr. Roach's).
  • I didn't strangle Jackson yesterday, despite the fact that he made about a MILLION disasters in my house, all in one day.
  • My kids consider Jerusalem their new normal.
  • To my knowledge, all packages that have been sent to us have actually made it here.
  • I haven't died of homesickness for my sisters.....yet.
  • Yoplait makes a strawberry cheesecake yogurt that is darn near close to being as good as the real thing.
  • And lastly (and pretty close to my favorite), my husband cleaned out the fridge the other day.......

Latex gloves, hat, and all.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Big day

Today was a big day for Jackson, but a sad day for the Relief Society of the Jerusalem Branch. They lost the ever-so-handsome Jackson, who they have loved and adored for 5 months. Each week it became a contest between the Jerusalem Center students to see who got to spend the most time with him during Relief Society. That's right, Jackson is officially in the...


Look at that handsome little devil.

They just don't get any cuter.

I'm telling you, this kid knows how to work it. He has all the students wrapped around his little finger. I had several of them come up to me today and ask where Jackson was. They were sad to hear that he is now in the nursery.

Sorry ladies. It is now time for you to step aside and let Jackson work it with the girls his own age.

And trust me, he will.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

I know I've posted pictures before of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but as I was going through all my photos from the last several months, I remembered that there was one specific time that we went there where I took several extra pictures and a couple of videos. So I thought I would share. Just to recap what I think I've said before, this church is the place where a lot of Christians believe Christ was both killed and buried. It's inside the current walls of the Old City. Although the LDS church believes the Garden Tomb to be the correct place, I still find this building to be an amazing place to visit for a number of reasons.

A video of the outside front entrance. The ladder that I zoom in on has been in that spot since the mid 1800's because no one can agree on whose responsibility it is to take it down. The building is owned by several different Christian churches and there have been numerous disputes over different parts of the structure.

Here is the "stone of the anointing" where they believe Christ's body was prepared for burial. People bow to this spot and kiss the stone.

There are a ton of little doors all throughout the church. I find them all fascinating and wish so bad I could just have the place to myself for an hour so I could explore all the different little corners and secrets.

One of many murals inside.

A monk checking the candles.

The domed ceiling in the middle. The "dome of the rotunda" was completed by the end of the 4th century, built directly over the place thought to be Christ's tomb.

One of many alters - each of them seem to be from a different church.

Here is a quick video of the inside.