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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hummus = Hum-MESS

Emphasis on the latter syllable.

After a few days of dehydration and lack of rest which had affected mommy's tenuous latte supply, we are back in action. And I noticed that all the pressure on me to take either a bottle or sippy cup or straw cup is off now as mommy and I won't soon be parted for long runs. Thank goodness this marathon is over.

Nevertheless "they" (my parents) still continue to ply me with solids, or semi-solids, such as hummus, bananas and rice cereal. And I love hummus, as you can see.

"Lunch is on me," reads the bib. Apt.

Got hummus?

Despite my shade of blond, I'm a bona fide
Middle Easterner.

We had a reunion dinner tonight with Anna, mommy's running soulmate during 42 grueling kilometers of the Jerusalem Marathon. I liked her instantly as well. From across the table I batted my eyelashes at her at an Armenian restaurant in the Old City. Hope to see her in NY some day! 

I indulged in some more hummus while at the restaurant. Actually, I cried for more hummus. Mommy would get too busy talking and I had to gently remind her to feed me. Thus, no pictures as mommy's fingers were too sticky to touch the camera.

Anna and mommy basically treated the marathon like an extended
Zumba class: Lots of hyperactivity and wanton cheering. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Daniel Spins his Wheels

Mommy has me going in circles. Literally. In her latest attempt to "entertain" me while she tries to get some work done, she has employed the exer-saucer. (Thanks Dee, Bess and Simmie!) In other words, I am confined and safe and entertained for a short while, but also hands-free so mommy can use two hands to type on her laptop.

Barely touching

The reason it has come to this, me in the exer-saucer:

Me and Lucie, my partner in crime...
...conspiring to keep mommy from working. 
Or are we arch enemies vying for our own spot on mommy's lap? Hm.
Now if only we had another computer, a dedicated line meant solely for the daily Skype-a-thons with Mimi and sometimes GongGong with occasional appearances by Zia Emilia. (Those names are a mouthful!) Then mommy would definitely have more time to herself on her laptop to do some work.

Actually I'm liking this exersaucer. It beats being on my back, which is how I spend most of my day.

Meanwhile, when Lucie isn't vying for mommy's lap, she's attacking birds on tv. Silly cat, doesn't she know tv isn't real? I'm a baby and even I know that!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Daniel Meets the Mayor

Sealed with a kiss. I am loved :)
No, sorry, we don't have any photos of this auspicious moment. But I really did meet Mayor Nir Barkat at a food festival in the Old City on Sunday night. There I was innocently strolling along with Grandma as mommy and abba buzzed around to the various food stands when the mayor, fresh off a little "presser" to kick off the city-sponsored festival, walked by. I had to stop him and thank him for the wonderful marathon he put together for us, so I did.

Ok, well mommy did most of the talking. So exuberantly did she talk, in fact, that she did not even remember or attempt to speak in Hebrew. He knows English well, thank God. But mommy, still on her runner's high, effusively and giddily thanked him for the race and told him what a great job the city did organizing it. Of course, the first runners probably weren't thanking him since some of them ran to the wrong finish line (the full marathon finish line was a separate one from the half and the 10K). But three hours off of their pace, all kinks sorted out by then, mommy didn't care. She slowly made it to the correct finish line with me, the wind beneath her weary wings, on that last 100 meter dash.

That night, abba also had his 15-minutes of stardom being interviewed by an Israeli TV channel about the festival. So giddy were we all (or so used to the fame perhaps, ho hum) that we didn't even find out where it would be aired.

Now that mommy has slowly started coming down off that endorphin-induced runner's high, we have a semblance of a routine going on here at home. Today while sitting amid my toys, mommy and I just looked at each other and shrugged, "What now?" 

There should be counseling for people like us!

Well we do have another marathon coming up. It is called "open heart surgery." Fresh off the marathon prep, we got a call from the surgeon's office with a date for my big day. May 3. So another few weeks of training (and praying). I guess we have our next milestone laid out for us. And as with our last one, the marathon, I know we will have many others running with us and helping to carry us over the finish line on this one as well. And that means you!

Maybe the World Series will be my next goal.

Aside from her hobbling on a hurting right foot, there is little evidence of the marathon and it is fast becoming a distant memory. Muscles and bones are healing and I'm happily carrying on with my routine and all the attention that I love and receive. 

Incredibly, donations are still coming in to Shalva for our run! One was a matching donation, promised by our good friends Donna and Craig, upon successful completion of our marathon. We forgot about that motivation, but they didn't! Way to go!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Marathon Debriefing with Daniel

So this is the day after. When I awoke this morning pining for some food, abba came to get me, which was odd since it is usually mommy. And he brought me to mommy - in bed. I'm noticing a pattern - mommy isn't walking much today. My legs feel just fine after the big marathon yesterday, so I don't understand what is ailing her. 

Me crossing the finish line with mommy and Anna!! 

That fake grass that we ran on to the finish line was deluged upon the previous night as all the rain left in the sky poured down upon Jerusalem. Mommy said it was like running on a water bed, the hardest part of the course!

Post-marathon shout outs. Oh where to begin? So many were involved in this epic life moment. Do I begin with Mimi and Fran who actually stayed up till 3 a.m. EST praying for our survival plus watching the live feed on the Jerusalem Marathon website? Or the friends in the UK who unknowingly grabbed the baton when the NYers went to sleep and the sun rose over the British Empire? Or Ohan who donned his volunteer police uniform and helped usher us along the route? (What a surprise that was to see him!!) 

Or Barry and Alisha who waited HOURS for mommy to finish the race and welcomed us at the end of the line? (Barry ran the 10K and Alisha walked the entire city beforehand to find mommy along the way and cheer her on.) Or Jason who ran an extra half marathon (which makes a full) just to find us on the course and coordinate the photo-finish ending? Or Susanna, Shiri and Bethany and all their children who inspired us at the halfway point? Or Nadia who also found us along the way and promised "shana haba b'Yerushalayim" - next year in Jerusalem!? 

Or Anna, our new BFF, who ran the entire race with mommy with an endless supply of energy and exhortation? Or abba who juggled my whole morning routine alone, traversed the entire city with me and traipsed through mud puddles to arrive at the finish line as the most supportive husband and father EVER?

Or all of you who were with us in spirit and with your encouraging comments and posts and prayers? Or those of you who continued to give to Shalva on behalf of our run even while the race was going on? That was just amazing and I'm sure it telepathically inspired mommy as she ran.

Ok, I think I just unwittingly covered most of the shout outs. I'm sure I'll think of many more as the day goes on, but seriously, we could not have run this alone and we are every so grateful for all the support.

Mommy wrote a first-person article on the marathon for work so here she is relaying the event in her own words: 
Jerusalem Marathon Brings City to Life for Thousands of Runners
As we rounded the bend around the perimeter of Hebrew University somewhere between kilometers 33 and 34, we came smack into a view that panned east over the Judean desert with clear skies that revealed a rolling landscape all the way to the mountains of Jordan.
“This is my Gu!” 
Anna and mommy coming through Zion Gate
Yelling and pointing to the stunning vista, my newly found friend and running partner, Anna Yevzelman, referred to the energy gels that had gotten us to this point in a grueling, but breathtaking marathon course.
It was scenes like this, so frequently appearing along our route, that renewed our vigor and determination as we took part in the first ever Jerusalem Marathon on March 25, 2011.
Anna, from New York, was - along with me - running her first marathon. This was her second time in Israel, her first in more than a decade. I live here and see many of these views every day (the course even went by my apartment!), but Anna’s unfettered enthusiasm helped me to see these dazzling landscapes as if for the first time. The streets were swept clear of the traffic that marks modern Israel and laid bare the ancient stones that are always there, but easy to miss in the daily bustle of the city.
The setting of Jerusalem distinguished this race from every other in the world. While Jerusalem is arguably the most difficult city marathons worldwide, it is also probably one of the most beautiful courses and definitely the most unique.
We spanned 5,000 years of history over this 42-kilometer course. From the Knesset, the seat of Israel’s modern government, to Mount Zion, the seat of Israel’s ancient government, to the United Nations headquarters, and promenades from both southern and northern vantage points, we had an unparalleled tour of the city, its mountains, valleys and the residents that came out to cheer us along. 
During the course we heard snippets of several languages - Italian, French, German, Portuguese and Polish, to name a few. A South African team ran together. Elite runners, most of them from Kenya and Ethiopia, led the pack. Long-time Jerusalem runners likened the city’s first marathon to going to their daughter’s wedding - the excitement was that high and the preparations that intense leading up to the big day. 
Many multi-marathon runners ascended to the city for this race (there were 10,000 participants total in three races: the full 42 kilometers, the half marathon and a 10-km race), and many of them were shocked at how difficult the course proved to be. 
Two Italian runners circling Hebrew University with Anna and me told us that this was by far the most difficult city marathon they had run due to Jerusalem’s hills, but the stunning views made it worth it, they said. 
Punch drunk at 30k on Jaffa Road. No they are NOT walking.
Another pair of runners, brothers from the U.S. who have run the New York City Marathon multiple times, agreed that the Jerusalem race was an emotional and spiritual experience, virtually connecting them to the land.
“Running in the Old City? You just can’t beat this,” said Marc Dwek. “This was my best marathon ever, not time wise, but the whole experience, the whole package.”
The Dwek brothers (along with Anna and I and about 70 others) were running to raise money for Shalva, an organization in Israel that helps children with special needs. Another Shalva runner, Jerusalem resident Efrat Benn, ran the 10K and expressed my sentiments exactly:
“It was an opportunity to fall in love with Jerusalem all over again, a way to see the landmarks and scenery through new eyes,” she said. “It is Jerusalem at its finest.”
Besides training, I had prepared for this course by finding some inspirational quotes to spur me along. And naturally the most apt words were from the Bible, written in this very land. 
“With my God I can scale a wall.” Psalm 18:29 - to help me deal with the infamous “wall” that plagues marathon runners usually at the 20th mile.
Then there was this gem (my paraphrase): “Who do you think you are O mighty mountain? Before (me) you shall become flat ground!” Zechariah 4:7 - my retort to the hundreds of inclines, hills and outright mountains we encountered.
Of course two from Isaiah, ever so fitting for this international event:
Isaiah 2:3 “Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” 
Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”
And lastly, Hebrews 12:1 - “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Despite a bombing in Jerusalem that killed one woman just two days before the race and right across from the city’s sports festival, the race took place as scheduled. Mayor Nir Barkat told reporters that his goal is to “put Jerusalem on the international marathon map.” 
He may have succeeded. The race was a hit among many of the runners with whom I spoke. Barkat, a multi-marathoner himself, ran the half marathon this year, but hopes to run the full  next year, already on the calendar for March 16, 2012.
Anna and I didn’t run to set any records, but we were running soul mates from the outset with the same pace and same goals: to survive, to beat five hours and to thoroughly enjoy ourselves while doing so. 
And in the end, 42 kilometers later, all goals achieved, we finished the race with huge smiles on our faces, smiles that miraculously never waned during (and despite) 42 kilometers. The city never let us down.
Now the question is, I feel good enough for my day at Shalva tomorrow, but will mommy?

Friday, March 25, 2011

We Came, We Saw...

... We Conquered!!!

More later from a very stoked Team Daniel...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shout-outs and Pre-Race Jitters!

A new and unwelcome turn in the weather, just in time for race day.
Ok, so I’ve upheld my part of the bargain in this Team Daniel effort - I slept through most of every night all week long, including and especially last night. My mission in the marathon effort was to allow mommy to sleep. I think I did pretty well this week.

And let us hope that the pouring rain is getting itself out of its system today so race day can be a tad drier! It is literally deluging out there and the temps are in the 40s suddenly. Brrrr!

When I awoke this morning mommy told me that in exactly 24 hours she would be heading toward the starting line for the big race. So in light of this being the eve of the big day, it is time for some shout outs to all of you who have played such an important role in this effort.

First and foremost, thank you so much to all of you who so generously gave to Shalva. I am a personal beneficiary of the services of Shalva, so I take it personally that you contributed and I personally thank you. I also loved all the advice and encouragement you gave to me and mommy ranging from the personal messages of hope to practical advice such as wrapping her knees and wearing sunblock!

The final count is 10,560 shekels. I begin with shekels because it sounds very impressive. In dollars, we are talking almost $3,000. Also good. And amazing to me was the range of donors from various continents. It makes me feel loved from around the world - from all the way to Down Under and Kiwi Land, to England and all across the fruited plain of the USA. Of course, also many Israeli friends as well, even a cosmetician who heard about our run while mommy was getting waxed.

(If you gave and didn’t get a thank-you email from me or mommy it is is because we don’t know or weren’t informed that you gave and it wasn’t credited to my account, so let us know please!)

Another huge shout out goes to Uncle Matt and Aunt Majda who were the leaders of “Operation Get Mommy New Sneakers and Bring them to Israel in Time for Race Day.” As timing would have it, thank God, Aunt M was coming to Israel at about the time mommy realized her old sneakers were racking up way too many miles  and that they wouldn’t do for race day. So Uncle and Aunt M&M went shopping for mommy and then Aunt Majda ferried them over the Atlantic. A godsend.

Also Mimi, GongGong and Zia Emilia deserve a shout out for all the support they have been to me and co. over the months, not just weeks of marathon training.

Then of course, there are the fun-filled packages sent by Aunt Beanie, Uncle Richie and Cugina Cristina, one of which we received today. (Thanks!)

Plus the shout out from cousin, Miss Cris’s class, P.S. 254 - Rosa Parks Schools in Richmond Hill, NY, ...

... and Donald Duck, Winnie and many others (not all pictured here). I hope to visit you guys some day in Orlando!

Thanks also to Cheryl and Bob from PA who sent me such nice gifts (including to Shalva) and made possible this series of irresistible pictures of moi:

Jerusalem is all dressed up for the event. We are all amazed at the level of professionalism that has suddenly rocked the Holy City (if you’ve lived here you understand our cynicism). The signs are slick and informative. The finish line is all ready and dolled up as is the entire park where the race ends. And the sports expo at the convention center is very impressive.

Here I am at the expo. Tres exciting!
Thank you all for participating in the poll! The iPod was the clear winner, but the flip made a good run at the end. The votes for phone were admirable, but I think that will be the first to go. Mommy is wavering between carrying nothing or her flip video. Here’s the deal, she told me, she is ever the reporter and writes and records in her mind all the time. Sometimes her loud thoughts even drown out music (bye bye, iPod). So she might feel regret if she doesn’t get to record this historic moment.

Oh and she lost her sunglasses yesterday! Well, if this weather keeps up, she won't need them anyway. 

We'll update you in a few hours. Start praying now!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Writing on the Street

“You have been weighed in the balance and have been found wanting.”
Daniel 5:27


Less than 48 hours until the marathon.

Mene mene tekel parsin. This was the writing on the wall that appeared in the Persian palace at the time of Belshazzar. Daniel is the one who interpreted the meaning of the writing. I am named after this ancient sage and well, great minds think alike. I’ve been quoting this to mommy in the last few days as the writing on the street has ominously appeared in various locations around Jerusalem. Will mommy be found “wanting” during this run? Let’s not dwell on that. 

(P.S. Check out my new poll! Voting must be done before the race if your opinion is to count :))

The writing to which I refer is the kilometer markers for the marathon. We’ve been seeing the markers for the past two weeks, eerily laying out mommy’s fate for March 25. She will be near our own apartment at 14 kilometers and then leaving the area at 21 kilometers, exactly halfway through her run. Gulp.

I know my training is going to kick in with aplomb, however. My long-run training has involved leaving the apartment, being placed in my stroller and navigating the way as abba strolls me to meet mommy. I’m a pro. Although the weather may present a challenge. Abba and I haven’t trained in the cold and rain and that is forecasted as 40 percent likely. 

This brings up a new concept I am learning in my young life: relativism. Apparently the idea of a perfect day has different definitions according to each person and time. While abba and I are looking for the return or our faux summer days, mommy is okay with the cold and rain.

Another relativism - Mommy runs in miles, because there are fewer than kilometers, but the race is measured in the metric system. The question I have is whether I will be a metric person or a typical American. My mother is American so metric baffles her, but Abba and the rest of the country (and world for that matter) relate in metric and Celsius. Maybe I’ll be fluent in both. For now I’m just confused.

Anyhow, it will give mommy something to do while running - converting kilometers to miles and then figuring out  minutes per mile. If you run for upwards of four hours, even math can be exciting I guess. 

Unsuspecting but cognizant that something was about to go wrong.
Here is another relativism: This is supposed to be good for me. A shot to inoculate me against RSV. I don’t know if the means justifies the end in this case. Ouch!

Not nice.

Completely uncalled for.
We made our last visit (ever I hope) to the clinic where I get my RSV. On the brighter side, we were accompanied by the gracious and courageous U.S. Sgt. Jason Everett who is in Jerusalem simply to run the half marathon. He took his leave from tour of duty near Kabul to coincide with this race. Almost as odd as mommy who is running her first marathon. Nevertheless, he is very cool, and I’ll probably be spending a lot of time getting to know him waiting at the finish line for mommy. Ho hum.

Yet another relativism: We are carbo-loading this week - mommy’s dream come true and abba’s worst nightmare. Mommy = Italian and loves pasta and bread. Abba = meat eater and does not consider a meal complete if there wasn’t meat nearby. So the line-up this week is: Sunday - pasta; Monday - Thai noodles; Tuesday: pasta (and steak, courtesy of Tony’s cravings); Wednesday - risotto con funghi; Thursday - pasta. No Atkins in this apartment this week although abba did manage to sneak in some steak!

Risotto con funghi, made by abba under
supervision of mommy as I ate my dinner
This diet is taking its toll on all of us about now. After a couple of days of withholding, I took an apocalyptic dump today rivaling world events.

Speaking of apocalyptic events, in case you were wondering, the news coming from Jerusalem today will not affect the race. The show will go on.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Daniel the Party Animal

Perhaps this seems backwards, but before ever being privy to long road trips in a car, I’ve been overseas twice in an airplane. This past weekend we rectified that and jumped in the car to head for a wedding in Tel Aviv and then a weekend retreat at a kibbutz near Beer Sheva.

This was my very first wedding in my life. Congratulations to Donovan and Merav! My parents adorned me in my Springboks rugby jersey (the South African team for my American audience - watch Invictus) in honor of the groom. 

Am I missing something here?

And even I got to eat. Mommy foraged at the buffet table for edibles for me and fortunately the spinach was mushy enough for my gums and the same shade of green as my jersey. 

Afterwards, on this faux summer day in March, we jumped in the car again and headed south, perhaps the furthest south I’ve been in my life, to a weekend getaway where we met up with lots of friends. The weather was warm and delightful, the views were green and farm-like, the quiet was refreshing compared to the hustle and hysteria of Jerusalem and Mordor.

But most of all, the best part for me, was the constant attention that I received. 

Majed teaching me the intricacies of mobile phones
(after he learned all about his new phone from abba)

There are benefits to being the smallest and youngest member of a group. I must take advantage as long as this lasts. And boy did I milk it this weekend. I got passed around like a hot potato. I had  women and men fighting over me. I just glowed and basked in the spotlight.

I apologize for all the "almost alike" photos, but mommy
can never decide which ones not to use.

This weekend was the holiday of Purim and in Israel that means, basically Halloween. Although it is a biblical holiday celebrating the story of Esther, everyone dresses up. Short of any massive waves of creativity, my parents dressed me as a rodent, albeit a cute one. Abba picked out all of our costumes (I was busy consuming mommy’s time as she was the only purveyor of attention for me last week). Apparently my father is already getting me used to being a teenager and being abjectly embarrassed of him.
A rodent yes, but a cute one

How did Elan grow his hair into an afro so fast?

Someday this will come back to haunt us all.
This was followed by yet another Purim party, back in Jerusalem, at abba’s place of work. I was redressed as a mouse and we attended the party, which was replete with a deejay and wild dance music. It was a lot of fun and it made me realize, I am quite the party animal.

However, all this partying has left me with a touch of laryngitis: 

And for more Purim photos (because mommy still cannot resist):

Cat and mouse games

Copy cat! Or copy mouse?

Really? Mice do not suck their thumbs?

And the winners of the Purim costume party!