Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Picture of the Day #31 - Easter is coming

Well, I made it.  I successfully posted a picture every day for the month of March.  Sometimes I was a little late, but hopefully with the time difference, those of you in the States were none the wiser. :)

Easter is almost here, so with that in mind I would like to end the month with a picture of my children walking in the Garden near the Tomb, holding hands.

This Garden has been a place of much peace for us.  I have felt the Spirit many times here.  I like to think that the Garden saw my family grow in ways we wouldn't have if we hadn't come here - hopefully each time we visited, we were better people than we were the time before.  

I know Christ lived and died for us, and that He rose on the third day.  I know He loves us and wants us all to be happy.  I pray that may be the case this Easter season as we think of Him and all He has done for us.

P.S. I'm still going to try and post a lot during these last 3 months, but probably not every day.
P.P.S. Happy Birthday little bro.  Love you.  Miss you.  Thinking of you.  :)

Picture of the Day #30 - The field

As I mentioned several days ago, we went to the place where David slew Goliath.

It makes me sad that there are a lot of religious people who don't believe that this event actually took place.  I believe that it did.  It gives me courage to know that God can give us strength that we wouldn't otherwise have on our own.  When we're armed with faith in God, we can slay any Goliath in our lives.

This is most likely where it took place.  The brook where he gathered the five stones is to the right of this picture.  The Philistines would have been gathered to the far left, and the Israelites to the far right.  So David and Goliath would have met in the middle, so, right about here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Picture of the Day #29 - Salads

We rarely go out to eat here, but we really enjoy it when we do.  One thing that is different about restaurants here are the "salads".  Very often the main dish will come with two or three side salads.  In the States, a side salad usually means a bowl of lettuce with a few veggies on top, and tossed with a dressing of choice.

Here if you order something with three salads, it means they're going to bring out a basket of fresh pita along with an assortment of things to eat with it.  In my experience, some of the common salads would be hummus, some kind of vegetable doused in vinegar, and the third one is a wild card.  It could be tahina, something spicy, or dips that look similar to a runny salsa.

The other day we ordered Jackson a "yellow cheese sandwich" that came with fries and three salads.  At this particular restaurant, the salads came on the same plate as the main dish instead of separately before hand.

His cheese sandwich came on a very crusty bun completely covered in sesame seeds, which is fairly common here.  They really like them some sesame seeds (Middle Easterners, not Jackson - he wasn't a fan).

He's using the hummus as his "dip-a-dip" (which is what he usually calls ketchup or fry sauce).  The other two salads are purple cabbage swimming in vinegar, along with some onions swimming in an extremely spicy red sauce.  Jackson was brave enough to try all three, but hummus was the only one he stuck with.  The cabbage was too hard to eat, and when he took a big bite of the red stuff he started shaking and yelling, "Is spicy!  Is spicy!"

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Picture of the Day #28 - Mountains!

A beautiful view from the mountains we went to the other day to find the stalactite caves.  Winter and Spring are the greenest times of the year here because that's when we get rain.

Picture of the Day #27 - Stranded

The other day we all went to the Old City with some friends, and then the kids and I came home without Tom because he had to go get some things done.  We rode the bus home and just as we got to our apartment I realized that Tom had the house key.

So the kids and I were stranded outside for 3 HOURS.

I let the kids go to the little store by our playground to pick out some Cheetos and a sucker.  Have I ever mentioned the peanut flavored Cheetos they have here?  Blech.  The kids seem to like them but they are not good.  Trust me on this one.

We spent the rest of the time at the playground, which was fun for a while but the sun was going down and it got colder and colder.  The kids would take turns sitting on my lap with my arms wrapped around them in an effort to warm them up. 

It was a loooooong three hours.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Picture of the Day #26 - Green stuff

No, I'm not talking about money.  There's none of that around here. :)

In Arab markets here it is very common to see Muslim women sitting on the ground on the side of the walkway with bags all laid out in front of them with fresh "green stuff" to sell - fresh herbs, leafy greens, and right now they're selling fresh green beans and peas.

Today I captured a couple of examples while we were out and about....

It's often so cheap that we feel guilty about how little we pay.  The first time we bought a big bunch of cilantro for a shekel we almost went back and gave her more because we felt like we were stealing.

Picture of the Day #25 - David and Goliath

Today for playgroup we went to the place where David slew Goliath, and played with sling shots.

My friend and I tried to explain to our kids on the way home what a unique experience it is to do something like that on a plain ol' Wednesday morning, but we're not sure they reeeally understood.

They definitely enjoyed the sling shots, though.

I have a lot more photos of the day, but this will have to do for now.  It was definitely one of my favorites.

We felt so spontaneous today.  When we were half-way home, we saw a turn-off to go see some magnificent stalactite caves.  We had no idea where we were going, but we drove up into the mountains until we found it.  If I was an outsider looking in, I would have wondered what these two crazy moms were doing driving all over the mountains of Israel without a clue in the world what they were doing.  But dang, it was fun.

And now I'm fried.  Tom has told me at least 100 times tonight that I am sun-burned.  Okay, honey, I got it.

No rocks were used in the making of this photo.  You think I'd give my 2 year old a rock and a sling shot?  Sheesh.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Picture of the Day #24 - Running video

I frequently get comments about Jackson's funny run. People keep reminding me that I should capture it on camera before he outgrows it. Here he is running home from the grocery store.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Picture of the Day #22 - Birthday Video

Happy Birthday Tom!

We love you so much and we hope you have the best birthday ever!

Amy, Joni, and Jackson

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Picture of the Day #21 - Singing with a view

Our Primary singing in church last week.

So cute.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Picture of the Day #20 - Cemetery

This picture is taken from on top of the Old City walls, looking down on a Muslim cemetery.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Picture(s) of the Day #18 - Love birds

Oh heavens, if we believed in arranged marriage.....

Look at her hang on his arm!  How adorable can it get, I mean really?

Although I want this handsome little man to be mine forever, I wouldn't mind if he got snatched up by his beloved "Zo-zo".  I love Zoe, but Jackson looooooves Zoe. :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Picture of the Day #17 - Tension

For those of you who follow Middle East news know that there has been some added tension the last several days.  A lot of rioting has taken place in nearby neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, and also in and around the Old City.  Hamas is calling it a "day of rage".  


Something that often happens when something is going on is we hear a lot of helicopters.  This morning was no exception.  I was starting to think Israel had 500 helicopters flying around today.  But when I went to pick up Joni from school, I realized it was mostly the same one or two flying around in circles, most likely monitoring the rioting activity.  I snapped a picture of one while it was making its fifth circle in less than ten minutes.  Round and round she goes.  

For hours.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Picture of the Day #16 - Produce market

The corner market where I like to get our produce.  It's all half off on Mondays.  LOVE it.
(talked about it here)

P.S. Hanan, I changed it.  I'm so sorry.  Can you ever forgive me?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Picture of the Day #15 - Outside

My mom informed me that I wasn't showing enough pictures of my neighborhood and the average things I see day to day.  So here is what we look at each day as we come out the door of our building, which is actually in the back of our complex.

This cute little Arab home has somehow managed to stay alive, completely wedged in between a bunch of dormitory housing for the university.  Take notice of the fence in front of it, how it looks like it's supposed to keep them in their property because of the angle at the top.  But there are a couple openings, one on each end of their property, where they come and go as they please.  I would love to talk to the person who made the decision to spend money on that fence.  Was it just to appease Israelis living in the dorms and give them a weird sense of security?  That's my guess, but who knows.

There are dormitory buildings all around the other side of the house, too.  They are literally surrounded.  I wish I could speak Arabic because I would love to talk to the people who live there.

On a side note, seeing their clothes hanging off to the left made me think of something.  I don't think I've ever mentioned that it's unusual to have clothes dryers here.  Most people who have washing machines hang all their clothes out to dry.  Which for some reason also makes me think of the weird way they mop their floors.  I'll save that one for another day.  It will baffle your brain, trust me.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

PIcture of the Day #14 - After church

All bets were off after church today.  The kids love to go out on the lawn of the Jerusalem Center and stretch their little legs that they've been holding still for three hours.  I figure that since it's one of the only times Joni sees grass all week, I might as well let her enjoy it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Picture of the Day #13 - Cross

A cross at the British Cemetery near our house.

The Christian population has become quite small here.  I think it's somewhere in the vicinity of 2 or 3%.  So although we, as Latter-day Saints, don't normally have pictures or statues of the cross, I did find this one a little comforting in a country where I am so clearly in the minority.

Shabbat shalom. :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Picture of the Day #12 - Wheelin' and dealin'

A little shop in Bethlehem.

You know you look like an easy target when a shop owner sends his kids out to practice their haggling skills on you.  This has happened to us several times, usually in the Old City.  I'm not sure if it's hilarious or sad that I can buy a hookah from a 9 year old.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Picture of the Day #11 - Snails

Jackson with some friends at playgroup today.  They gathered about 40 snails and proudly lined them up along a wall.  You should have seen Jackson's surprise when he realized they were alive.  Hilarious.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Picture of the Day #10 - Sallah

Muslims perform ritual prayer (salah) five times a day.  Here is a man doing so in the middle of a parking lot, on his prayer rug.  Occasionally you see people even pulling over to the side of the road so they can face the direction of Mecca (qibla) and pray.
This is one of the aspects I have loved the most about living here.  I love seeing people who believe very strongly in the faith that they follow, and who are not ashamed to practice what they preach.

I see the same thing among Jewish people.  They read the Torah (first five books of the Old Testament) very regularly, and know it from front to back.  I love to watch them read the Torah while riding the bus or at the Western Wall.

There is a lot to be said about the Middle East, and Israel specifically, but one thing that isn't talked about enough is what good people live here.  What you see on the news back in the States is not representative of the every day Palestinian and Israeli who want nothing more than to be safe, raise a family, and practice their religion.  They are GOOD PEOPLE.

I will always admire them for that.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Picture of the Day #9 - Gethsemane

Looking down on Gethsemane.

The South Garden is just to the left of the lower church.  The North Garden is further to the left from there.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Picture of the Day #8 - Quick trip with the girls

Today some friends and I took a little trip out to Bethlehem to meet one of our friends that lives there to have lunch together.  It consisted of five Americans, one Palestinian, one German, eating at a Chinese restaurant.... in Palestine.  It was awesome.  *sigh*  My life is going to be so boring when we're done here.  I will also miss my Israel friends so much.  They are my sisters here.  I have a couple pictures of us all at the restaurant, but in one of them a head is cut in half, and in the other one someone is blinking.  So I'm going to be the good friend that I am and post this picture of Jackson and I across the street from the restaurant, standing in front of the Separation Wall so everyone can enjoy the pretty backdrop.

P.S.  When I write these posts I do them the night before, so when I say I went there "today" it really means I went there the day before.  I feel like I'm being dishonest and/or confusing if I don't clarify that. :)

Picture of the Day #7 - IDF

One day we headed to the Western Wall and were taken by surprise when it was more crowded than we had ever seen it, and there were a LOT of Israeli soldiers everywhere.

After watching things for a while we decided that it must have been some kind of induction into the military or something.  They all looked extremely young and we think we missed some kind of program because as we were showing up, they were cleaning up hundreds of chairs.  Although the soldiers were large in numbers that day, it is very normal to see members of the military here - it is mandatory for all young adults to serve in the IDF for 2 or 3 years.
The whole thing reminded me of when you take a young LDS adult to the MTC to serve a mission.  There was lots of hugging, some crying, and finally the parents walk off in one direction, and the soldiers gather together in another direction.  This picture is of one of those groups.

Do you think the guys on the left are looking at me?  I didn't think so at the time, but now that I look at the picture, it makes me feel a little nervous.  Maybe I should be more careful when taking pictures of 18 year old kids who have just been given huge guns.  

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Picture of the Day #6 - Mosque

The Mosque of Omar in Bethlehem, built in 1860.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Picture(s) of the Day #5 - Tantrums

I cannot possibly do today's picture of the day justice with one measly snapshot.  

You see, Jackson is our second child, but he is unlike our first in a lot of ways.  Joni wasn't a huge tantrum thrower as a toddler.  She had the occasional meltdown, but I honestly can't think of one real tantrum from her.

Oh, how times have changed.

You know Jackson loves food, right?  Combine that with pure stubborness, and you have a lively combination.

Take today for example.  We went to the grocery store (are you sick of hearing about my grocery shopping yet?) and at the checkout they gave me the option of buying three bottles of dish soap for a shekel.  


Then came one problem.  When we got outside the store and Jackson saw them, he was convinced they were applesauce.  He grabbed one right away and tried to run off with it.

I tried to get him to come back, but the more I tried, the farther away he ran (which, thankfully, is unusual for him).  I finally chased him down, ran back to the stroller on the main sidewalk (where a guy was creepily looking around in my basket), and strapped Jackson back into the stroller.  

The screaming began.  And oh, how this boy can scream.

He paused at times to pout and cry.

As he cried to get out of the stroller, and screamed to eat "applesauce", I tried to tell him it was soap.  Then he started screaming for soup.

Then it was back to...


He kept screaming as I walked through the Student Village dorms area, and of course there just happened to be way more students out and about than normal.  I won't try to describe the dirty looks I got.  I also won't lie and say I didn't secretly wish them all their own screaming toddlers one day.

By the time we got home, I told (okay, barked at) Tom to please wash Jackson's hands in the sink with the new dish soap so he could see for himself that it wasn't applesauce OR soup.  

Jackson got completely drenched in the process, and changed into some dry clothes.

Then sat down at the table and ate a bowl of Cheerios like nothing ever happened.

For those of you who are new to this blog, yes, that is really what my kitchen table and chairs look like.  

Don't judge.

Pity, but don't judge.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Picture of the Day #4 - Sunset

The sunset out my bedroom window.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Picture of the Day #3 - Sleeping

I love this picture.  This man was sleeping outside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, with crowds of people all around him.  He is beyond adorable.

Reminds me of my adorable dad.  He can sleep anywhere, too.

A little side note I just have to share.  Remember my post on grocery shopping here?  Well, today while I was at the grocery store looking for a checkout line to get in, I stumbled upon a line that had a woman putting all her things on the belt, and then behind her cart (get this!), there was a HUGE pile of food lying on the floor.  Yes, folks.  This person had no cart, so he was just coming back to the line every so often to put his things on the floor to save his place!

I immediately started fishing for my camera but then the guilty party returned.  It was a soldier with a big gun, and I chickened out.  I sheepishly got in the line next to him, hoping he wouldn't telepathically know that I was about to take a picture of his food and make fun of it on my blog.

He stood there in line for a few minutes, and then just as it was his turn, he turned and left the line again!  By that point I already had a lady behind me, who quite frankly, was being rude and trying to cut in front of me.  I couldn't let her have the satisfaction of having my place.  But it would have made a hilarious picture.  

In my humble opinion.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Picture of the Day #2 - Rub-a-dub-dub

In case it's not obvious from his bulging biceps, this is Jackson showing us his "muscles" during bath time today.  See those tightly clenched fists?  Yup, that's where the power comes from.  If you still don't believe me, checkout the tension in his neck.

Monday, March 1, 2010