A World without walls
everyday life while homeschooling overseas
A grove of olive trees on the shore of the Sea of Galilee
_ What a weekend! We started our weekend off with a bang—by going to church. We had district conference this Saturday, and it was quite the surprise! As we were walking in and trying to take our seats, whom should we see, but PRESIDENT UCHTDORF!!!!!! HI!!!! We had NO IDEA that there would be an apostle there, let alone a member of the First Presidency! It was a GREAT conference; all the talks were wonderful and it was just so cool to sit in that room, with an apostle of God, and to see Jerusalem out the window! Oh my! Amazing! It was so peaceful and happy. I absolutely love going to church and being reminded of who I am and what I need to do to find peace and happiness in this life and in the life to come. After the conference, everyone brought their lunch to eat there at the Center, and as the kids were eating (Devin and I were standing by them, since there were only 4 chairs at the table we were sitting at), Pres. Uchtdorf and his wife came over and said hi to us! (He actually said our lunch looked really good—I’m sure it was just a nice thing to say since all we had was some cold leftover roast chicken, melon, tuna salad, and veggies…hmmm, that sounds really good when I say it, but it sure didn’t LOOK so nice! Ha!) We got to shake his hand and talk for a minute before he and his wife were pretty much mobbed by everyone else. That was pretty special for us. I’m sort of sad that I didn’t have my camera, but I just feel so silly asking for a picture with apostles. Same reason I never had a picture taken with Elder Holland when he came to Cameroon, even though we got to be with him quite a bit (Devin was the ‘official’ chauffeur). It’s a nice memory that, to me, would feel cheapened by a hectic photo shoot. Probably just me. I’m a little crazy.
We decided to leave soon after eating, as we had a long way to go! Dev and I decided to take a weekend trip to Galilee! We drove up next to the Jordan river (Hi, Jordan!!) and ended up in the city of Tiberias. Since it was still the Sabbath, we decided to do a ‘holy site’, as has become our new habit here. We went to the Mount of Beatitudes. We made it 15 minutes before they closed, which was ok. It was POURING rain and windy, so we couldn’t really meander about and ponder the beauties and history of the place anyway. :) We walked around a bit and enjoyed the lovely flowers (when we weren’t running for cover); we went inside of a church there and looked around a bit. Mostly, we just enjoyed the view, and the feeling of knowing WHERE we were! We read the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 with the kids and asked them if they thought it would have been a nice place to sit and listen to the Savior’s teachings. They said no, but that was probably because it was raining and cold.
We then drove over to our little B&B that Devin had booked. It was such a cute place! It reminded me a lot of the movie ‘Leap Year’. If you’ve seen that movie, this room was like all the places where she (they) stayed. The kids thought it was great. It was very cozy—our own little ‘house’ in the middle of nowhere! I’d stay there again, though.
Honestly, it has inspired me with a new vision of the future: Devin and I will buy a giant piece of land somewhere, grow an orchard, build a huge Victorian mansion-esque building made into a B&B with themes of awesome old-school movies (Somewhere in Time, Anne of Green Gables, Pride and Prejudice, etc.), and people can come and stay and we’ll make their food if they want to order it ahead of time, they can pick their own fruit if it’s that time of year, we’ll have chickens (I know, they smell…) and strawberries…and during the day I’ll work at a library because I’ve decided I want to be a librarian. We’ll hire our grandchildren or siblings’ grandchildren to work the B&B/farm for us so they can have ‘experience’. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? *sigh*
Anyway, we all enjoyed our evening and everyone actually slept through the night! WOW! The next morning, we had a lovely breakfast there at the hotel. The couple who own the place were very cute. The husband is the ‘chef’ and everything is cooked right there for you. So fun! Seriously inspiring…
Then, we were off! We actually had no idea what we wanted to do. I wanted to go further north to some waterfalls. Devin wanted to see Mt Carmel and Mt Tabor. I wanted to go on a boat ride in the Sea of Galilee, too. So, off we went searching for a boat ride. Unfortunately, everywhere we went, they told us to go somewhere else for a boat ride. L We saw bits and pieces of places and the kids were really stir crazy. We went to Capernaum, but didn’t end up going in because the kids started a rousing game of tag in the parking area and were running into people, so we felt like another sacred site would be less effective at this point.
Instead, we drove down the road a bit and I noticed a walking trail along the shore of the sea, so we stopped the car and went for a walk! As we walked along, we saw that it was called The Gospel Trail. Cool! So, we walked on the Gospel Trail. I’m cool with that! It actually started to warm up, too, which was nice. The walk was lovely with beautiful views, lots of flowers, and a very peaceful feeling. It was nice to let the kids out of the confines of the car and let them just be themselves and run and yell without bothering anyone. Kids need time to be kids. All that energy has to be let out!! That is the key to happy kids (and happy moms)!
After running on the Gospel Trail for awhile, we drove down to Tiberias to see if we could find a boat ride (and some lunch). We found a great place for lunch called Cherry. They had EVERYTHING!! The kids had pasta, pizza, calzones; Devin had a salad; I had St. Peter’s Fish (Tilapia), and it was all absolutely delicious!!! I highly recommend the place! You won’t find it on a GPS, but it’s there, so if you’re in Tiberias, go there and eat their food. Mmmm… We did some shopping after eating (found some cool Jerusalem placemats, postcards, a Frisbee, and sunglasses for everyone). Then it was off to find a boat ride. Again. Sadly, all the boat rides we found were only for large groups, and our family didn’t count. It’s funny that everyone’s jaw drops when they see how many kids we have (are they ALL yours??—although, there are lots of other people who have more kids than we do, so I don’t know what they’re getting all worked up about…), but they don’t think we’re big enough to constitute a group boat ride. Ah well. We did find a small boat (speed boat) that the owner was willing to take us out, but they only accepted cash, and we didn’t have any shequels…just dinars and credit cards. Doh. So, we didn’t get to go on a boat ride. Sad. The kids were devastated, especially Andrew who just sobbed the whole way back to the car. Poor kid. Me, too, Drew.
We got in the car and decided to head to some ruins down the road called ‘Bet She’an’. They were pretty interesting. The best part was the play that Devin and the kids put on for me (Devin danced like a ballerina across the stage—he was the tooth fairy—it was ADORABLE!! OH, how I love that man!!), and the Roman Toilets. Ha!!
We tried to get up to Nazareth to see it, but traffic was really bad, so we decided to head home through the Jezreel Valley (yes, the future Armageddon site—did you know they even have the Armageddon National Park there?????) which was very beautiful. We had to take some side roads to get home, as the GPS kept trying to take us on a toll road which we’re not really allowed to take since we don’t have the toll sticker on the car window. It was an interesting trip home… :D But, we finally made it, and we are all EXHAUSTED. But then, we usually are. You’d think we’d get used to this pace we set for ourselves. It’s nice, though, that everyone drops like flies at night every night because they’re so tired! Hooray for outings that wear us out!
The other day when the kids and I went to the Western Wall Tunnels, we stopped into the information center at the Jaffa Gate and found that we could get a Combo ticket which includes the North and South Ramparts Walks, Zedekiah's Cave (aka King Solomon's Quarry--or King Solomon's Mine?? Ooooohhh...), and the Jerusalem Archaeology Park/Davidson Center. So, I got a combo ticket. Yesterday, we did the Northern Ramparts Walk and Zedekiah's Cave. The walk is really cool! You get to walk all along the top of the Old City Wall along the battlements! We 'shot' arrows through the slots and looked over at the view at each and every watchtower. We had a great time!
Eating our pastries walking through the Muslim Quarter
After our HOUR LONG walk (may have been even longer...) over the walls of the city, we headed back through the city to find the exit at Damascus Gate so we could find Zedekiah's Cave. It's this super awesome cave right below the city wall between Damascus and Herod's Gates. The kids LOVED it!! Peter was SO MAD when we finally had to leave! They ran through and explored and found 'houses' and 'caves', and saw Zedekiah's Tears and thought that was really cool (they're called Zedekiah's Tears because when the Babylonians came to take over Jerusalem, it's said that King Zedekiah went and hid in this cave, but cried when he realized that there was no way out and he was trapped...then they found him, captured him and his family, killed his sons before his eyes, then poked his eyes out. Those guys knew how to do it, eh? Gross).
Unfortunately, we had to book it back to the car. We were parked on street/meter parking and I had a little trouble with it. We found a spot no problem, and I found the meter to pay for parking. It was 5.50 NIS per hour, which is fairly reasonable, I suppose. So I put in 3 hours. Then, I thought that maybe I should put in 4 or 5 just in case, so I did. Apparently, though, they only let you pay for 3 hours max, because even after I put in all that money, it only gave me exactly 3 hours. It stated how much I had paid, but still only gave me three hours. I was so ticked!! So, we were down at Damascus Gate and had to get back to Independence park in 12 minutes... Oh dear. The kids were tired and dragging, Peter was mad because he didn't want to leave the cave... I carried Peter on my shoulders while I almost ran back to the car. The kids did a pretty good job keeping up for being SO tired! We made it back in 25 minutes. It was a long walk. :) No ticket, thank goodness. We spent the rest of our day doing nature journals, drawing pictures, doing some iPad apps, and reading.
Today, we were up and out of the house just before 9am! Wow, eh? We found some GREAT FREE parking by Zion's Gate (I'm not revealing my source!) and we ran up to Jaffa Gate to do the Southern Ramparts Walk.
The reason there are 2 walks is because you can't walk on the wall over the temple mount. So you can go from Jaffa Gate to Lion's Gate, which is the last gate before the temple mount, or you can go from Jaffa Gate to Dung Gate (love that name) which is the last gate on the other side of the temple mount. So, the kids and I walk ALL around the entire city of Jerusalem ON the walls of the city! Pretty cool, eh? We ended our walk today at Dung Gate, and right there is the Jerusalem Archaeological Park/Davidson Center. It's a really cool spot. It has ruins of houses, arches, stairs to the temple, etc. Also part of the Park is the Umyyad Palace, which is the other temple-like building right across from the Dome of the Rock. It was a great spot with lots of places to explore, tunnels to walk through, and pillars to walk on (don't think they were really supposed to do that...).
Inside the Davidson Visitor's Center there were some displays and things to look at, plus a movie talking about pilgrimmages to the temple and what it may have been like during the Second Temple Period (Herod's temple). The kids enjoyed the movie so much, we watched it both in English and Hebrew (ha ha). I think they were tired and ready to sit.
After we finished exploring, we were all really tired. Honestly, if we didn't have those combo tickets, I would not have gone into town today. We are all EXHAUSTED. We spent another 3 1/2 hours walking constantly today and we are just tired. We walked back through the city to Zion's Gate so we could get back to the car. On the way, we found some people selling some very lovely fruit, so we got strawberries, passion fruit and grapes. When we got home, we added that to some peaches, honeydew melons, apples, pears, and oranges that we already had in the fridge and we had ourselves pretty much the BEST fruit salad EVER for lunch. SOO yummy! And it was so big, we had leftovers so that we could eat fruit salad with our roast chicken and corn on the cob for dinner tonight! Mmmm... You just can't beat eating fresh fruit salad with fruit you picked up off the street in Jerusalem... Holy fruit, Batman! He he he...
Yesterday was the Israeli Independence Day, so Devin had the day off of work. We spent the morning Skyping with our parents, then headed off to the park. The park was just getting into the swing of things--full of people, tents, grills, cotton candy, loud Arabic/Hebrew music, balloons, impromptu soccer (aka football) games... It was so fun! Everyone was celebrating just like we Americans do on the 4th of July. For some reason, it just really struck home how people are people no matter where we live, what religion we are, ethnicity...doesn't matter. We're all people, and intrinsicly, we're really all very much alike. We are all God's children, and we really are brothers and sisters. I don't know why a city party at a park made me philosophize about that, but it did. It was a lovely epiphany.
Peter looking over the balcony, hoping for more planes!
We enjoyed the park for a bit, then we headed off to look at the city from a high promenade view. It was so pretty! The kids and I decided we are going to go back to that spot some time and have a nice picnic there. Maybe that time I'll remember to bring the camera. It was pretty cold and windy. I was the only one who had brought a jacket, so I ended up giving my jacket to Andrew and my scarf to Claire. They were then fine and ready to play tag and hide and seek on the hill, whereas I was shivering! Ha! Oh well. We ended up heading home and having a lovely BBQ and watching a movie, because that's what you do on holidays! While we were watching and grilling, there was a cool fly-by right over our house! Some military planes were flying in formation super low over the city. It was so cool! We really enjoyed it! And just as I remembered to get my camera and take a photo, they flew off. Oh well. We still had a great time watching and listening! Hooray for some family time.
Today, the kids and I headed out on another new adventure. I had made reservations to go on a tour of the Western Wall Tunnels! So, we headed out and made our way to the Old City all on our own. Good gravy...I don't know why doing new things is SOOOOOOOOOOO hard for me, but it is. When I know I"ve planned something that I've never done before, I make myself sick worrying about it. In the past, I would either chicken out at the last minute or BEG Devin to come until he finally gave in and took off work! Ha!! Well, I've had to overcome that quite a bit in the past month. While Devin was gone, I had to find lots of things for us to do to keep us occupied. I even drove to Petra all by myself with all the kids! Whew! Here, Devin doesn't have the luxury of time off. And if I don't give myself a little kick to the backside, we won't see anything! So, I'm learning to do new and scary things...and finding that they're really not so scary! And if they are, well, they're still not worth the ulcers I give myself.
Anyway, it was definitely an adventure finding everything, but it was SO much easier than I had anticipated!! We made it to a shopping mall near Jaffa Gate and just parked inside the mall parking. The elevator led us up to Mamilla Ave which is just a long sort of strip mall that's lined with sculptures that are for sale. We REALLY enjoyed looking at all the sculptures!
We got to Jaffa gate and went to the ticket info center to chat with the lady there about the Ramparts walk, etc., that we want to do in the future. While we were talking, the kids found a bunch of televisions displaying all the different tours. That kept them very happy while we paid for tickets and talked about tours available. :)
Then off we went to find the Western Wall! As we were traveling to the city, I had a long discussion with the kids about sacred, special, reverent places. We talked about what we do (and DON'T do) at these types of places. How we walk quietly and be respectful of people--how we don't play tag or scream. They really did a great job. They didn't do any crazy running through the Western Wall area. Andrew only did his high-pitched-Roman-Candle-esque cry once, and that was because he slipped on some slippery stone ramps that we were walking down to get to the entrance. Totally understandable. On the tour, the kids were really good, too. I was a little nervous since I knew it was a guided tour, which meant we were going to be in the dreaded Large Group. It was 95% adults (there were 2 other kids that looked about Josh's age). The guide did a great job telling all the history in a very interesting story format, and since it was all mostly review for the kids, they listened very well. I was impressed with how well they did, especially Peter. He only got angry and asked to go home once. That's pretty good for him!
The tour was great--very informative and interesting. The feeling of being right next to that famous wall was awesome! And I now know the reason why the Western Wall is so special! I always thought it was just because it was the actual wall of the ancient temple, but it's not. It's the outer wall of the temple complex. But the reason why it's so special is because of the temple itself. No one was allowed in the most sacred part of the temple (the holy of holies) where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, except the high priest. However, everyone knew how important and sacred that was. The temple was built East to West, and the Ark/Holy of Holies was situated at the back (the western-most side) of the temple. So those who wished to be close to that area, pray toward that special and sacred spot, would stand at the Western Wall to be closest to it! That makes complete sense to me now. And you can truly feel the reverence and peace of the spirit of that place. I could tell the kids did, too, by the way they comported themselves. A great experience.
After the tour, we made our way through some more shops (I had no idea where I was...) and found a nice looking pastry shop where I got the kids some cinnamon rolls, pain chocolate, and a GIANT sesame bagel. The streets of the Old City are maze-like, but very fun. We actually really enjoyed walking around in them. It wasn't terribly crowded, either, so that made a difference. We walked out of Damascus Gate, then had to circle around the city to get back over to Jaffa Gate and the mall where we had parked.
Peter threw a fit because Josh at the pain chocolate, so I had to carry him on my shoulders all the way back to the car, but I usually expect the end-of-adventure-it's-time-to-go-home-now fits, so I didn't mind so much. I knew he was tired as we all were. We came home, watched a documentary on plants, and I finished making dinner. Now, the kids are in bed, resting up for another day of fun tomorrow! :)
Visiting BYU Jerusalem! Thanks, Sister Judd! :)
Going to church here in Jerusalem is such a special experience! The place where we attend is over on Mt Scopus, so we overlook all of the Old City--the view is spectacular! Today, there were a LOT more people than last week, and it lasted the full 3 hours (plus some) instead of 30 minutes. But it was amazing! The prelude was by this fantastic organist, and a choir sang 'Come Thou Font'. Wow. There were some great talks, and I think it's just so amazing to partake of the sacrament while looking at the city where Jesus lived, died and was resurrected! One of the students sang 'O, Divine Redeemer' and WOW, it was so gorgeous! An amazingly special experience. Then we were able to watch the Sunday Afternoon session of General Conference (for those of you who don't know what this is, every 6 months our church leaders broadcast a conference where we hear them speak. It's wonderful and uplifting.) where I was reminded about the importance of being kind and showing love to others. I love conference.
After church, some members invited us to lunch. This wonderful family lives a few houses away from my in-laws in Orem, Utah! They're here at the university as teachers. Very cool. We enjoyed a lovely lunch with them, then all the kids (they have 5, plus our 4...) sat down to watch some Sabbath flicks, and we got an insider's tour of the BYU Jerusalem Center. Such an amazing and lovely place. I'd love to go to school there!! :) We had a great time with a special family, and all the kids whined a lot when we said it was time to go! :D
Since we had to pass through the Old City anyway, and since it's the Sabbath, we decided to stop by another Sacred Site. So, we went to the Garden of Gethsemane. It's a very special place. There were LOADS of tourists there, and you could hear all the cars and buses zooming past on the road, but that couldn't cover up the fact that that is a special place. The feeling of peace is very strong there. The olive trees are definitely ancient--don't we wish they could truly speak and tell us their story?
Well, life never stops at our house, does it? I guess it really never stops at anyone's house, if you think about it...
Anyway, today I had made reservations to go to an Archaeological Experience... In other words, we got to be Archaeologists for a day! We went to the Emek Tsurim National Park where they've kept truckloads worth of dirt from a not-quite-legal excavation of the Temple Mount, and we all get to help sift through it! There's stuff in every single bucket of rocks, so you don't go away disappointed that you didn't find anything. We found shards of pottery, small fragments of glass, a few bones (eeew!), flint and marble pieces, chunks of mosaic pieces, and a rusty old nail! Good times. The first hour of our 'experience', the guide talked about the history of the area (the kids are going to be experts--Josh even got some applause when he answered a question correct that no one else caught! The guide asked why Herod was called Herod the Great if he was so mean and cruel, and it was because he was such a great builder.) and then explained why they had created first the National Park and then the public 'sifting experience'. Fascinating. Seems those who basically control the Temple Mount decided to do their own excavation so they could use some of the underground chambers as a new mosque--but they didn't do the excavation properly--with hand tools and careful digging. They brought in bulldozers and tractors! **GASP!!** I guess they were in a hurry. They had over 40 truck loads of priceless dirt just dragged out and dumped all over! So, people got together (this is a long story made short, by the way) and said, "Hey, this could have some good stuff!" and they started trucking it over to this place and now they let people help out in the dig. So, we got to play with dirt and rocks from the Temple Mount today!
We parked up at the top of this big hill that was straight up from the site. There was a great view of the whole Old City and Temple Mount from the path we were walking on. Beautiful. The kids were super excited. Andrew kept yelling, "LOOK! it's the Dome of the Rock!! That's one of the Ancient Wonders of the World!!" Then, their attention was drawn to the bees searching for nectar/pollen in the flowers. Then, they found mini snails on the stairs/rocks/plants and started to collect them. Andrew found a snail that decided it liked his hand and slimed its way all across his fingers. gross. He decided he wanted to take it home as a pet. Unfortunately, while we were walking up the path, he walked through a pile of giant red ants and it freaked him out and he dropped his new pet snail. Sad. So, we came home pet-less. Whew.
Today, we had quite an experience. We went to The Time Elevator. I was looking for something that would give a nice overview of Jerusalem history for me to springboard off of, and man, was this ever IT!! The sad thing, though, was that they didn't allow children under the age of 5 to go. Poor Peter. Devin met up with us (luckily it's almost across the street from the US Consulate), and he and Peter went out to lunch while the other kids and I had a crash course (um, literally) in Jerusalem history!
We got to sit in these super cool 'roller coaster' seats and they moved with the movie (think 'Star Tours' technology of Disneyland fame). Hold on tight, kids! :) Andrew and Claire weren't sure about it at first, and Andrew kept saying how he was so scared, but they quickly adjusted and were completely enthralled! Chiam Topol (Tevieh in 'Fiddler on the Roof') was the 'tour guide' and did a marvelous job. Love that guy. We fell down shafts, crashed through walls, flew through burning cities, went on a treasure hunt through a mine (SOOO fun--like a roller coaster!) and we even 'fell' into a pool--and they sprayed water on us from above! Ha! Claire thought I was spitting on her. Cracked me up!
Seriously, this was such an amazing treat! It was a quick journey through history and a very insightful (and respectful) look at the history of this city through Christian, Jew, Arab and secular eyes. The kids want to go back again. Of course they do.
After the Time Elevator, we went exploring at the park nearby and found some fun places to play for a while...that way Peter didn't feel so bad that he couldn't join in on the Elevator fun...
Tonight, Devin and I got to go on a little date, so we headed over to some sites that we figure the kids aren't going to be able to be patient (quiet) enough to see. We saw the Western Wall. There was one point as we were descending that I wished I had brought the camera (totally forgot it...doh!!) where we looked on the Wall with the Dome of the Rock floating above it. Wow. So beautiful all lit up--and such an amazing historical spot. There was such a peace there. I loved being in a reverent place where people were praying all around us, and those who weren't praying were respectful of those who were. Beautiful. If only we could all be so kind, respectful, reverent and tolerant all the time. Much of the world's ills would be solved. A lovely experience that can't really be captured on film, but will stay in my heart.
Um, not a rose... An Orange Blossom!
Yesterday, I must admit, was one of those 'trial of faith' days. Sunday night I got hit with something and I was up most of the night super sick. Monday morning, I wasn't much better. However, the show must go on, right? I've discovered when I take a 'day off', it's much more stressful than just biting the bullet and going out.
So, out we went! We had the Wohl Rose Gardens on our next list of things to do. I drove to a nearby park where I knew there was free parking, but it was chock full. Doh. So, I decided that since the garden was free, I'd just park in meter parking. Well, I only had 50 cents. I put the 50 cents in as I was curious as to how much time that would buy me...but 4 minutes wouldn't even get us across the street. :/ So, I pushed the red 'exit' button, and it took my money! Dumb meter.
We drove up to the park entrance and everything was meter/pay parking. I was getting so frustrated as I had no way to pay! Finally, I drove up to a restricted section hoping some nice guy with a big machine gun would come and help me out. He did. I rolled down my window and asked if there were somewhere where I could easily get some change for meter parking as I had none. He told me to go to the stop light, turn left, and immediately on the right is a big FREE parking garage! Hooray! Then he told me to have a nice day. Well, I hope he has LOTS of nice days for giving me that little golden nugget of info!
We found the parking garage easily. The problem was that the entire thing was in Hebrew, so if you had no Hebrew language skills (like yours truly) you'd just pass it by. I drove bravely in, asked the people for a little help figuring out the ticket thingy, and in we drove like we owned the place! We found a nice parking spot after driving around a bit (I admit, I was a LITTLE worried we'd be paying afterall, since the ticket was totally undecipherable to me) and we unloaded ourselves and prepared for a nice park day. Unfortunately, it took us 30 minutes just to figure out how to get OUT of the building!!! HA!! All signs being in Hebrew and the universal picture, it was a little confusing. According to the signs, there were two ways to exit. We took the wrong one. We were led up some back stairs and to a door that was locked. Dang. Luckily, no alarms sounded, and we weren't locked into the stairwell. We got out and found another place with stairs and elevators that looked more promising. We went to the wrong level (um, down instead of up) and found ourselves at a dead-end in the bowels of the parking garage...so we turned back around and retraced our steps back to that promising elevator place and went up this time. We found the way out after some twists and turns. Whew. Then we were very turned around and had idea where we were, so we just started walking. Luckily, it was the right direction. We found our way to the park! Hooray! We celebrated by sitting on some benches and eating the lunch we had packed.
The Rose Garden itself was very pretty. There was a 'Garden of Nations' that was very cool. Many countries had donated roses from their own lands to put in this garden, so there were different sections (ie England, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, etc.) and each section looked a little like that country's garden may appear (with little walkways, trellises, fountains, etc.). Very pretty. The kids loved smelling the roses. Yes, we stopped to smell the roses that day.
Happily, we made it home later without incident, and I have a free parking garage to add to my arsenal. Woot!
Today, I'm feeling much better, thank you. I got up and did a quick exercise routine outside before Devin left for work at 7. It's nice to have the sun up so early. The kids created a haunted house for me while I was in the shower, so I got to enjoy their creativity again (I don't think I mentioned the magic show they made for me yesterday as I was groaning in pain and trying to motivate myself to get up and be productive). :) They're so much fun!
After I was thoroughly frightened by them (Zombie-Andrew has a grip), we did some morning school routine (math/history readings) and then we were off to the Bloomfield science museum! Obviously, this is no Smithsonian nor Heureka (Finland's super awesome science museum), but it was a fun diversion. We saw some cool electricity exhibits, optical illusions, water exhibits, etc:
But the favorites were a big 'ball toy' (for lack of a better name): They had iron rebar soldered together into this big wire-y contraption and you rolled balls all over it along pathways. The pictures explain better than my words...
They spent a good two hours on that thing--it really never got old! Then, the looked out the window and what did they see? (Not popcorn) A giant sandbox with cool sand toys! Luckily, it was a windy somewhat cold day, so all the myriads of kids who were there (on school field trips--just like us!) didn't particularly want to hang out in the sandbox. So, these guys spent another few hours driving dump trucks around and paving 'roads'. They had a ball! They made their 'roads' all over and were very proud of their accomplishment!
When I walked outside to see them, I was hit with the most astounding and lovely smell. It was sort of like a strong lilac. I asked the kids if they knew the source of the smell and the all pointed at the orange trees planted all over the sandbox area! Wow. I've seen perfumes/soaps, etc., touting the orange blossom scent, but I don't know that I've ever smelled a real orange blossom. Oh, it was lovely. I'd wear that, for sure...
After 5 hours of being at the museum, I had to literally drag them all out, kicking and screaming. You'd think they'd be tired by then, but no, they were wishing for more! sheesh.
So, we came home, I popped some fish in the oven, and we ran over to a nearby park so they could run some MORE. I told them they could only have 15 minutes, because Devin would soon be home. They were not deterred. They WERE however, angry when I told them that time was up! Ha!!! But, they had a special treat: on our way home, Devin's shuttle drove by and dropped him off. Peter was SO excited to see daddy get off the van! And the other kids had seen him and hid behind a wall so they could pop out and yell 'SURPRISE!!" and attack him. They're very good at that.
It's been a lovely day. It's nice to not feel sick any more. I'm not sure what it was. But, I'm ready for some more adventures tomorrow! Woohoo!
So...Saturday is the Sabbath here. Just another confusing twist of the weekend for us! It was so difficult to change to Friday when we got to Jordan. I'm just starting to adjust to it, and now we're switching days again. However, it's still sort of the same as Jordan, since we have Saturday as the Sabbath, and then Sunday as the 'weekend' day. So, it's not too bad. Just a little off in my mind.
We went to church at the BYU Jerusalem center. We got there a little late, and when we walked in we were greeted by 2 things: The first was the fact that there were very few people there (I somehow expected a group of students or something...); the second was the view! WOW!! Behind the stand where the speakers, etc. stand, there are huge windows that overlook the Old City of Jerusalem. It is a magnificent view. I was in awe. Well, we got into some seats and sang along to the opening hymn, had sacrament, then someone got up to announce. They said, "And now, our speaker will be (so and so--I don't remember who)". My first thought was, "Oh no, this lady is going to speak for a full hour!" She got up, spoke for 15 minutes, and then they closed the meeting!!!! That was it!! Apparently, all the students were off on a field trip to Galilee, so they only had a SUPER shortened meeting. The kids were hilarious: Andrew kept yelling how it was the BEST CHURCH DAY EVER! (ha ha) Peter cried because he really wanted to go to his class. Claire and Josh were totally taken aback, but just said that now it was time to go home and watch a movie! ha!
We all wandered about the grounds of the center for a bit, then we decided that since it was the Sabbath, we should go to a holy site. So, we went and found the Garden Tomb.
It was very lovely. The people who run it are super nice. They gave the kids little 'mystery' maps where they had to find the important spots, name them and then color them. They all took to it and searched dilligently for the different spots of interest. It was just so amazing to see THE tomb. To see the Skull Hill of Golgatha. I can't even describe in words how blessed I feel to be in this part of the world right now! History here--in all it's religious and secular aspects--is so tangible!!
The rest of the Sabbath day was spent at home. The kids wrote in their journals about the day and things they've done and learned this week. They're writings and pictures are so insightful. I just love these kids. Claire wrote about how it's so funny to have church on Saturday now, and she has deduced that maybe there's a different church day in every country! :D Andrew drew a great rendering of the Garden Tomb and the Old City Wall. Josh wrote about how fascinating everything is and how cool it is that he gets to see it! At family scripture time, we read about Jesus being crucified and laid in the tomb, and it just brought so much more meaning!
Today being our 'weekend' day, we started it out as most weekend days. The kids got up and watched cartoons while Dev and I took turns exercising. This is a glorious place to run! the sun is up early, the day today was warm, there is a little park with a jogging trail near our house--I ran for awhile, then put myself through my taekwondo paces. It felt SOOOOO good!!! After that, we took the kids and went grocery shopping at a local supermarket. I find that it's easier to take the kids grocery shopping now. Maybe it's because I'm with them ALL the time, so I'm used to their presence, or maybe they're just growing up... but it's better. They're much more helpful. Since the local supermarket is pretty small, it's also hard to lose them...and since everything's in Hebrew, and there's not much that's imported, there's less temptation for the kids to throw junk into the cart! :D We had a great time and hopefully we have everything we need now for the next week or so...
When we got home, poor Devin was dying for a haircut, so he left to find a barber while the kids and I chilled at home (I'm in the middle of a really good book that I'm having a hard time putting down). Andrew wasn't feeling very well, either. He told me he had a really bad tummy-ache. He was in the bathroom for a VERY long time, and after he got out, he said, "Mom, I think I may have had a diorama!" It was almost impossible for me to keep a straight face on that one, and tears streamed down my face as I tried to keep myself as serious as possible. Poor kid. He had a diorama. I wonder if maybe I should have corrected him and said 'diarrhea' is the word he wanted, but it was just so cute!!
When he got home, though, it was time for an adventure!!
Claire shows the depth of the water...
We decided that our first family adventure at Jerusalem would be the City of David and the Hezekiah's Tunnel!! So, that's where we went! We found the place without too much problem--the GPS usually gets us fairly close. I didn't know that The City of David was a National Park!! Soo cool! We looked at some of the signs, and it said that in some places of the tunnels, the water level is up to 70cm--that's thigh high on me. We weren't sure about that one. We brought our water shoes, but not our swimsuits! We talked to the lady at the ticket counter and she said it would probably be fine, but that we'd probably want to carry Peter for some of the way. I think we were a little hesitant at first, but finally, we figured since we took the time to get there, and it was a hot sunny day, we should just do it! So, we bought the tickets and walked to the entrance of the tunnel!
We popped on our water shoes and got ready for some fun! At first, the tunnel was a well-lit cave of sorts. The kids were pretty happy about that. Then, at one point, there was a guy selling flashlights. There was a sign that said that watershoes and flashlight were required in the tunnel. So, we bought everyone a flashlight--a super cool little keyring that has City of David and a harp on it--and got ready for more adventure! Just a little ways more, and we entered the real tunnel: complete with almost waist deep water gushing down! Oh my. Devin carried Peter, Josh plunged in, and I was left with a terrified Andrew and Claire. I grabbed their hands and sort of dragged them--kicking and screaming--into the water! After about 15 feet, we went up some stairs of sorts and the water stayed at a pretty steady 5-6 inches for the rest of the way. Now, the kids LOVED it!! They smiled and giggle and shone their little flashlights all around. We saw mini stalagmites and cool cave formations that happen with limestone (found out later that we were right in guessing it was limestone...we're so awesome...) and trudged through the narrow tunnels where sometimes we all had to duck and sort of crabwalk through! We had an absolute ball!!! On a scale of 1-5 stars, it gets 6!! Pretty much the best outing ever!
We ended at the Pool of Siloam (the pool where Jesus told the blind man to go wash and he got his sight back--the very one!) and the kids played in the water and had an absolute ball. We couldn't get Peter and Andrew to get out! We talked to a guy in a shop just above the pool for awhile. Josh got a little Widow's Mite coin and a special box made from Olive Wood to keep it in. Claire bought a beautiful shawl. Andrew bought a lovely bracelet to give to Claire--SO SWEET!!!! He touches my heart every day. Such a sweet and thoughtful boy. The little shop owner told me that he considered my sons as men and he loved them--that they were gentle, intelligent, well-educated boys. I agree. He knew just the right thing to say to a mom! :) But, hey, I agree, so what can I say? :)
We left the shop and walked out, past a pool that was part of Solomon's Gardens, and rode a shuttle back up to the entrance. We were going to see a 3-D movie about the City of David, but it was closed for the day--and that was when I realized that it was almost 5pm! Ha! Whew! What a day! So, we drove ourselves home and the kids ate ice cream while Devin and I made hamburgers for dinner. Of course, the kids all had to do a quick shower--not sure how clean the water was in the tunnels..... :) It was such an awesome experience!! And tonight, for scripture time, we read the account of when Jesus put the clay on the blind man's eyes and told him to wash in the Pool of Siloam, which he did and regained his sight. The kids were wide-eyed as we read this, since they had BEEN there! Hooray! Soo amazing! Then we read a little about Hezekiah's Tunnel--how he was king during the time of Isaiah and used the tunnels to keep the water away from his enemies (the Assyrians--whom we just finished studying about). The kids were spellbound as we read about the man who built the tunnels we had walked through and enjoyed today. Hands-on learning is so powerful.
And now, that book I can't put down is calling my name.
A plant experiment we're doing
Another lovely day…although, today did start off a little ‘off’. It was very cloudy and VERY windy this morning. The wind stayed all day, but the clouds went away by mid-morning. We had a lovely morning learning about the Persians, then we headed off to the Israel Museum. This museum is leaps and bounds better than the Bible Lands museum! First off, it’s HUGE!! They had a special exhibit on King Herod’s Herodium that was super cool and had ALL the kids (including Peter!!!!) entranced!!! It was pretty awesome! Then we spent another hour wandering around the archaeology wing of the museum and looking at all the cool stuff on display there. Peter just liked wandering around and going up and down the stairs…and looking for skeletons! We went to the ‘youth wing’, but the regular exhibit had ended yesterday! The kids were really disappointed. Then, the guard guy said if we stuck around for another 20 minutes or so, they were going to open up a new exhibit. Well, we saw some little art computers off to the side and worked on those for awhile, then about 5 minutes before the exhibit was supposed to open, about 10 LARGE school groups of teenagers showed up at the building. No way was I going to try to maneuver us through that mess! So, we left and went to the Dead Sea Scrolls building, which was also super cool! We walked through a cave/tunnel to get to where they store the scrolls. That was really neat. Josh kept saying how cool it was to see the ACTUAL Dead Sea Scrolls, and I agreed! Peter just liked walking up and down the stone steps and walking around in circles. J Then we walked around the sculpture gardens a bit. That’s always hard to do, since the sculptures are rather strange and meaningless to kids (and, let’s face it, most adults) unless they can climb on it, and these all said, “Do Not Touch”. So, that was a short walk. Besides, it was super windy. We spent 3 hours there with hardly a complaint. That makes it a winner in my book!
One of the hard things about these really nice museums is that they don’t allow cameras. I suppose that’s ok, since I had forgotten it today, anyway, but it’s still sad that I couldn’t get pictures of the kids marveling at the different exhibits. I just love watching them learn! They’re just soaking things up! We were reading this morning about the Persians. There are some great stories! We read about King Cyrus conquering Babylon and Croesus (both really hilarious stories—if you don’t know them, you should look them up) and Claire pipes up and says, “For some reason, I just really like history!” Me, too, Claire…me, too.
Another fun thing about having the kids here, they help me do all the housework! It’s SO much easier to give everyone a toilet to clean and a sink to wash—in 15 minutes the bathrooms are livable again and I was able to do the dishes at the same time. Gotta love the benefits.
Of course, after they help me, they're always rewarded...so we went to the park by our house and played!
In front of the Bible Lands Museum
Today, we enjoyed some hands-on learning about the difference between fruits and veggies. It was fun to talk about what a fruit is and what a veggie is. We made up a little chart and dissected our fruits and veggies to decide whether they really were fruits/veggies! Andrew was so surprised to learn that cucumbers, tomatoes, pumpkins and squash are all fruits! And that carrots and potatoes are really roots! Good times. It made for a nice snack, too.
After our fruits and veggies, we read some books and some history (finished up the Assyrians today) and decided to go to The Bible Lands Museum. It was definitely interesting! We roamed around and saw a lot of the history of this place, and it was SO FUN to see the kids be so excited to see ancient names that they recognized (Canaanites, Babylonians, Mesopotamians, Phoenicians, Egyptians). We got free audio tour thingys (looked like walkie talkies) and the kids really loved punching in the numbers and hearing the person tell all about what they were seeing. My favorite was seeing a model palace for a king of Assyria that we had read about just this morning! And seeing a Papyrus painting of Cleopatra, along with mosaics, mummies, engravings, coins, sarcophagi, and scale models of palaces and cities (Jerusalem, Babylon, Giza). The kids really enjoyed themselves for a good hour. That’s pretty good for a museum! And I was so proud of the way they were so interested in everything and behaved themselves very well. (They acted much better than the school-group kids that kept passing through.)
After our sojourn to the Bible Lands, we came home, ate lunch, and watched a Plant documentary (David Attenborough can’t be beat for his super awesome documentaries!), and went off to play at a park. So nice. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous. So, the kids played for a bit: they climbed a fence and used some modern art as a 'slide'... Then we all played tag and enjoyed the lovely weather. The sky is just so blue, and there’s a cool breeze… you just can’t beat it! We’ve gotten into the habit of eating out on our big balcony. So nice. Honestly—there’s just nothing better than eating dinner while you look over a view of the city!
Who Am I?
As a Stay At Home Mom of 4 wonderful children, I have the amazing opportunity not only to home school them, but to do so in many different places! I am married to the most amazingly wonderful (and handsome) man in the whole world! Together, we seek out, every day, that Joy in the Journey that makes life exciting!
by Dan Brown
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