November, 1998 Kislev, 5759
Its been about a year now since our last newsletter. We thought a Chanukah greeting would be a good opportunity to reach out to you all. We had a very nice response to our last newsletter, including a barrage of E-mail from all over! Weve had trouble keeping up with the responses. Thank you for all the mail and letting us know your news. Though we seldom get to see some of our friends and family, the mail back and forth helps us feel close and in touch. If you are planning a move, please send us an updated address.
Bed & Breakfast
We are now in our 3rd season with our Bed & Breakfast, and without a question, business continues to get better, thank G-d. We have earned ourselves a nice reputation for our small-scale operation. We now have repeat customers. Some
Hannah and Chayim
people have postponed their trip to Tzfat until we had a vacancy. Weve met some many very nice and interesting people from all over the world, and have become friends with many of our guests. Then it gets difficult to charge them money, because we enjoy their company so much! One of my biggest concerns with the Bed & Breakfast is our childrens making noise and disturbing the guests. However, David and Hannah are usually a big hit! Theyve learned how to "charm" the visitors. They help me serve breakfast in the morning. So far, nothing has been dropped! The children have often been included in family pictures and videos that our guests have taken in our courtyard. We keep a guest register book in the room for our guests to sign. So many times, weve seen written how adorable our children are.
David and Hannah in Our Courtyard. Behind them is a sample of Simcha Layahs gardening.
How Adorable Are Our Children?
The children are doing very well, thank G-d. David turned 4 on October 31, or on the 27th of Cheshvon (which fell on November 16 this year), according to the Jewish calendar. He surprised us by growing quite tall this past year. We havent measured him, but we noticed that hes the tallest among his peers. Hes even taller than or the same height as boys a year or more older than he. I started getting suspicious when his size 6 clothes started getting a bit small on him. I find this amusing, considering David has not so tall parents and grandparents. Were enjoying this while it lasts... David may be tall in stature, but very sweet in demeanor.
He completed his first year in Cheder, and is in the midst of year number 2. The boys only get a 3 week summer vacation, which is good both for David and for us! He is generally very well-behaved around the house these daysexcept when school is not in session. Then he gets into such mischief!
He had a very successful year last year. David still loves going to school, and we're impressed with all he is learning. I think he now enjoys the learning more than the short bus ride to and from his school. He has been one of the top students in his class and well-liked by his Rebbes (teachers). By last Chanukah, David had completed the Hebrew alphabet, then began learning all of the vowels, and beginning reading in Hebrew. By the end of the year, they reviewed everything they had learned. A very good structure. The one concern of Davids teacher is that he is very quiet. Im sure this will change as his Hebrew improves.
In bubble suits in rare 8-inch snowfall. Chayim got to use his snow shovel!
David presents himself as a profound thinker with a delightful and inquisitive nature. Hes got a great memory, and were impressed with how he links ideas of past, present and future. He recently saw a picture taken in Alaska during the winter, and remarked, "Oh, look at the snow." David saw snow only once last winter. He also thought the grayish white fluffy stuff in the sky was snow. I explained that those are clouds. Here in Israel, we dont see clouds like that for more than 6 months out of the year. Davids reply was, "The airplane goes in them in the sky!"
Davids behavior is improving as he is maturing, which makes him a pleasure to be around. Hes also got a wonderful sense of humor with a nice, rich laugh.
Hannah is quite different than David in both looks and personality. People tell us all the time now that David looks just like his father and Hannah looks just like me. Hannah was the epitome of sweetness until just a few months ago when the "terrible twos" set in early. Of course she is still a sweet little doll much of the time, but what a strong-minded, feisty personality we discovered in her. She doesnt just say "no," but "I dont want it," or "Dont do that." Quite a large vocabulary. She's a very strong minded and determined young lady who can hold her own against her older brother any day!
Hannah seems very mature for her two years of age. She speaks very well with complete sentences. We chuckle, though, at how she sometimes confuses the consonants of words. For example, when she's finished with her meal, or all done making on the toilet, she'll announce, "I'm minished." Also, when we say goodnight in Hebrew, it's "Laylah Tov." Hannah says "Laylah Toes." She tries very hard to speak in sentences like all the big people do. So, when shes at a loss for what word comes next, she fills in the blanks with, "uh-uh-uh..." So we sometimes get sentences sounding like this: "The cat uh-uh-uh fell uh-uh-uh the wall uh-uh down uh-uh-uhthats funny!" (Giggle, giggle, giggle.)
|Chayim with Hannah, and David with Simcha Layah, Observing the Spectacular Water Falls in the Banyas, here in the Galilee|
Picnicking with Chayims Parents in the Banyas last April
Hannah loves animalscats, dogs, birds, etc. She also loves babies. She knows to rub them gently, and brings them their bottles, pacifiers or toys. She loves to sing, and can really carry a tune. She likes to get involved with whatever Im doing around the house, which makes it almost impossible to get things done around the house when shes around. Im very pleased that she is in a morning play group with a few children her age. She loves going to play group and requests to go even on her days off.
As siblings, Hannah and David are very good friends. They do everything together and share very nicely. On the other hand, they also want exactly what the other hasespecially Hannahand then the fireworks begin. The usual form of punishment is time-out, and if I dont know who the culprit is who caused the problem, I put the toy they were fighting over in time-out.
Though they fight, it is very obvious how much they love each other. Hannah calls David "Davidie" and he calls her "my baby Hannah." A new game they play is "horsy"David crouches down so Hannah can climb aboard, and she rides on him on all fours around the house.
Several months ago, David cut off all of Hannahs hair in the back of her head. This took place when I was in the shower and Chayim was busy in the other room. We heard lots of giggles from the two of them and were pleased at how nicely they were getting alonguntil Chayim came to see what was so funnyhe didnt think it was! David had gotten a hold of our hair cutting kit that we had strategically placed high on a top shelf behind our bed. He had figured out how to stand on the headboard and reach the kit through the utilization of another object. Of course, moments later, David found himself sitting in his time-out chair!
Trip to the Philippines (written by Chayim)
Hannah with Simcha Layah at the new home of her father in the Philippines. Behind them is the guest house where we stayed in May, 1998.
Simcha Layahs father settled in the Philippines just last year, and he held a family reunion there last May. We were fortunate to be able to go. Our trip was very interesting. South and around the Arabian peninsula, by way of Bombay, we spent one night in Hong Kong on the way with Simcha Layah's brother and cousin. The next morning, Simcha Layah was surprised to bump into all her relatives from the U.S. on our plane to the Philippines. We had led her to believe they were coming later.
We flew directly to Cebu, in the Philippines, met her father there, took a 1 ½ hour ferry to Bohol island, then drove for half an hour onto the smaller island of Panglau. His property is on the south, beach-front, in the midst of a poor neighborhood (families and farm animals in shacks).
He built a small house first, which he lived in until his bigger house was ready. We stayed in the small house. He has an outdoor pool with diving board, Jacuzzi, and kiddy pool, a boat, and 2 sea-do's. He dug a canal, so the boat and sea-do's have access to the open sea even in low tide. It was very hot and humid, so the air conditioning was a necessity to us. We brought most of our food with us, but we also had local fruit, vegetables and fish.
We spent Lag Ba'Omer there with a bonfire on the beach, and Shabbat mostly by ourselves. We went to an open-air restaurant Saturday night (we only had Coke) with live music (big and small guitars, banjo, and voice), and shopped in town for great bargains.
We had a good time swimming and boating, including David and Hannah. What impressed me most? The servants. We were allocated 2 servants just to clean our house and our clothes and to take care of our children, which reduced anxiety in everyone, in view of the unfenced pools and open ocean!
Davids First Haircut, when he turned 3, at the Burial Site of Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron. His Abba, Chayim, takes first cut.
Chayim Shifts Focus
Chayim has stopped learning regularly in Yeshiva, and is now pursuing landing a full-time computer programming position. Although our parents and I have all been influencing him in this direction, a Grand Rabbi who lives in Switzerland (the Biale Rebbe) advised him to increase our livelihood, and Chayim is attempting to follow his advice. I like this Rabbi. He's helped us in other matters as well.
He is pursuing a position with a specialized computer music-related company located in Tel Aviv. They have employees working from other parts of the world, so it's not a problem if Chayim works from his office at home. He's currently in contact with the company. Hopefully, they'll hire him soon. In the meantime, hes familiarizing himself with the companys demo programs and Windows 98, and performing various small local computer jobs.
Simcha Layahs Stuff
For over a year now, Ive been the cook for a womens Yeshiva here in Tzfat. This is the same Yeshiva, Sharei Bina, which I attended 5 years ago. My boss, Tova, is the greatesta pleasure to work for. The girls are very nice and quite appreciative, but of course have very different taste, food-wise, from one another. So, one day, I make tofu, and the next, Lasagna. I only prepare lunch, so the job gives me a lot of flexibility to juggle other classes into my morning and allows me afternoons with my children.
Also, because of this regular income, plus monies from the Bed & Breakfast and other catering jobs, Ive been able to save money to remodel my kitchenat last! This major job begins this week. I timed it for the messy stuff to take place while Im away in Florida with Hannah for 1½ weeks.
I thought it was about time I took Hannah to see her great grandmother! We were all fortunate to spend a month with my mother when she visited us here last year. Chayims parents have visited twice since we moved here. My father came after Hannah was born, and we saw him again in the Philippines several months ago, along with his new wife Angie, her son Johnny, my grandmother, both aunts, their husbands, both of my brothers and niece. I even got to visit with my cousin Harold and his family in Hong Kong.
More than 4 years have gone by, and I havent seen Grandma Josephine, and I miss her very much! We actually fly out tomorrow.
Thats all for now. Until next time, we wish you all blessings of happiness, success, and good health.
Simcha Layah, Chayim, David, and Hannah
This Page Last Revised:
August 8, 1999