Saturday, February 27, 2010

March is coming

For the month of March, I have decided to take on a little project.  

Each day when you come to my blog, I will have a picture of the day posted (and let's be honest, I'll probably have a thing or two to say, also).

I am doing this for two reasons:

#1 - To make sure I document some of the random, yet favorite pictures of mine that I have stored away and have never used.

#2 - To cause me to look at my life here in Jerusalem with a new eye.  I have been here long enough that it all seems very normal to me.  It's hard for me to notice the little things anymore.  I think that by doing this, my eyes will see things that they haven't in a while, and I will take pictures of things I wouldn't have otherwise.

The pictures most likely will not largely consist of historical sights.  I may sprinkle some of those in there, but it will also include daily life with my children, or details of my neighborhood.  I guess I'll just see where this takes me.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A good deal?

As I've mentioned before, groceries are quite expensive here.  We spend roughly 3-4 times as much on food here than we did back home.

But one surprising thing is that produce is a little bit on the cheaper side because almost all of it is grown locally.  If you can find a little produce shop in your neighborhood, it's even cheaper than buying it at a regular grocery store.  

Shortly after we arrived here we discovered a little hole-in-the-wall corner shop that we could find things that we didn't see anywhere else (like BBQ sauce, or refried beans, etc.).  Then after we had been here for around a year or so, a friend of Tom's told us that said hole-in-the-wall has a huge produce sale every Monday, where they put every kind of produce imaginable out front, and it's all half price!

Today I walked the kids down to this little shop and bought our produce for the week.  It never ceases to amaze me how much I can get for so little there.  I bought:

A bag of tomatoes
4 bell peppers, red and yellow
2 oranges
3 cucumbers
2 containers of strawberries
A bag of apples
2 yams
1 artichoke
1 large zucchini
4 carrots
5 onions
A bag of basil
9 avocados

I never could have taken a picture of the whole lot, but I wanted to show some of them in the picture above.  I love pretty produce.

Do you want to know how much it was?  I know my sisters are reading this, yelling in their heads, "Yes!", so I'll tell you.

Approximately $15.00.

I can barely get 2 gallons of milk for that price.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

More walking...

Part two of our rampart walk, this time looking in on the Old City.




This is the top of the wall above Damascus Gate (the Old City entrance that's pictured in my header).


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Views

A friend and I walked the Old City Ramparts recently.  

So. Dang. Cool.

*Ahem* Part one: I give you the walls themselves and some new views of Jerusalem outside the Old City walls (I assume we all know by now that Jerusalem's Old City is surrounded by walls... life inside the Old City and outside the walls are quite different).

The current ramparts were rebuilt in the 1500's.  Practically new by Holy Land standards.  It was cool to see what the "old" walls were like up close.


Not only that, but... allowed us to see some amazing views of modern-day Jerusalem, as well.  The above picture is West Jerusalem outside Jaffa Gate.

 This view shows the north end of East Jerusalem where we live.

The tower on the upper left is the Hebrew University campus that Tom goes to.  The building in the distance on the right is the BYU Jerusalem Center.  The beautiful building that stands out in the middle is the Rockefeller Museum.

  East Jerusalem. 
The wall up on the right side of the horizon is the separation wall cutting right through it.

Stay tuned, folks.  I also have about a billion pictures I took of the Old City on our little walk.  Okay, it wasn't a little walk.  We walked for hours and I barely had enough energy to blink by the time we were done.  But nothing beats walking the Ramparts.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Inside Jackson's head

Jackson and I went to the store the other day, which is probably about a half a mile away.  On this particular day, it took us a whopping 45 minutes to get home!  He was in his own little world.  And he insisted on carrying that dang bag of apples. *sigh*

Look how cute I am in my track suit.  I am stoked.  Mom is even going to let me carry this bag of apples.

I wonder if Mom will notice if I start running the other direction.

I get nervous about steps, so I better lift my leg up really high even though this is a completely level surface.

I'm really moving now.

Where is that Call to Prayer always coming from?

I can do this.  I can hold on to a bag of apples, my binky, a graham cracker, AND drink from my sippy.
P.S. My mom is a sucker for letting me have my binky any time we go to the store because she knows that if she doesn't, she'll regret it. MUWAHAHA.

Man, I am gooooood lookin'.  Cheeeeese.

I think I'm just going to drop these apples right here and let them all bruise because they're getting a little heavy for my taste.

Better yet, I'll put them in the stroller.

Nope, I found another spot to put them on the ground.

No Mom, you can't go get the apples.  I will stand here and block you if you try.

Yes, I know I'm supposed to pick them up.  I'm stalling.

No matter how fast I run, I can't catch that dark cut-out of me on the ground.

Yes, Mom, I'm still cute.

I finally made it.  But man, my arm is tired.  I think I'll just drag the bag of apples along the sidewalk.  No one will notice, and I'll still have the satisfaction of carrying them all the way home and taking as long as possible to do it.

Congenital Heart Disease Week

Go read THIS post today.

It will only take you a moment.

Let's learn from others' experiences.

Knowledge is power.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Everyone should have friends as awesome as mine. They watch my kiddlets so I can go explore ancient ruins in the Holy Land with my sweetheart, Tom (who I have officially been married to for 7 years now - how lucky am I?).

We were finally able to go see the ruins of Qumran near the Dead Sea. We went with a visiting group of scholars from all over the world that were here with the Bible Lands Museum for a conference. Tom was asked to help staff the conference, so when they made this field trip I was allowed to tag along.

Most scholars believe that Qumran was a religious settlement that dates as far back as 150 BC. Many inhabitants lived strict monastic lives - completely devoted to their God. All of them would have been strict in their observance of the laws of ritual purity, and all of them would have been male.

These zealous believers sought spiritual perfection. They were required to abide by very strict rules, and if they didn't obey, they were kicked out. One interesting note - the wilderness where John the Baptist would have spent so many years would have been very near here, so it is likely that he would have passed through, or even spent time studying here.

This would have been the primary entrance for people coming from the North.

The following two pictures show a couple of the ritual baths they had throughout the settlement. The plaster on the steps is original. In fact, 99% of what you see of these ruins are exactly the way they were when first discovered.
"They labor with great diligence until the fifth hour after which they assemble themselves into one place. And when they have clothed themselves in white veils they bath their bodies in cold water. And after this purification is over, they meet together in an apartment of their own...while they do in a pure manner into the dining room as into a certain holy temple." -Josephus
They would have cleansed themselves at least twice a day, often several times more.

Qumran is famous for the surrounding rocky mountains where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. In the late 40's, a local bedouin began discovering the 11 caves that contained around 900 scrolls total. You can see a couple of the caves in this picture.

The scribes of the scrolls wrote with sharpened reed pens and ink on parchment sheets that were sewn together. When a scroll was completed, it was rolled up and tied with straps made of leather and then placed in clay jars. (The scholar who gave us the tour was quick to point out that not all of the scrolls found would have come from the Essenes that lived in Qumran. Many could have come from different time periods and/or different parts of Israel).

The Qumran settlement is amid one of the harshest environments in Israel. It took a lot of planning on their part in order to construct an environment conducive to daily living in such a dry climate. There was a very complex system of aqueducts and cisterns in order to channel the runoff water from the mountains and store for year-round use.
One small section of an aqueduct that wound its way throughout the settlement, with some remaining cover rocks still in place.

This is an enormous cistern/reservoir they used to store water. I wish I had something else in the picture to show how big it was. It was many stories deep. This was one of several cisterns found at the site.

This is the remains of one of two large kilns found - one was for making their own pottery, and one was for making their own bread. Things were set up in order to be very self-sustaining. They even found "100,000 date pits and an apparatus for the production of date and honey."

Ever wondered what the "pot" would have looked like 2000 years ago? :)

Looking down on several rooms.

Touring in the desert is interesting with a husband who hates the sun. :) Tom is using my sweatshirt to drape over his head and neck.

This area was a huge communal dining hall which is very unique to these ruins (with a hazy view of the Dead Sea in the background). A nearby storage room held over 1,000 neatly stacked dishes. The communal meals were a central event in the daily life of the community. Before gathering in the dining hall they would cleanse themselves in one of the ritual baths. One of the signs explained it further: "An aura of sanctity enveloped the dining hall which also served as the meeting hall. Each member of the sect was served a modest portion of bread and cooked food. A priest conducted the meal and after he pronounced the blessings, the community ate in silence."

There is a lot of debate over how many people would have dwelt here. The estimates range from 12 to 200. The reason it is so debated is because some believe that everyone would have resided right here on site, others believe they would have lived up in the mountains (in caves), and others believe they would have dwelt in tents.

Looking down on one of the caves, down on the left. This particular one was man-made.

Last but not least, after we were done touring we ate at a restaurant overlooking the Dead Sea and Jordan, and watched the moon rise.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ant farm

I have always wondered where the desire to own an ant farm would come from.  I mean, ants?

Well, my home has recently turned into one huge ant farm, and my kids love it.  Luckily, they are teeny tiny ants, because if they were big, I would be even less okay with it than I already am.


I don't think I've ever seen ant hills inside a home before.

When you've got this kind of entertainment, who needs TV?