Israel im Yeled Gadol

March 11th, 2015 § Comments Off on Israel im Yeled Gadol § permalink

My father gets up and dressed before I’m out of bed. I look at him. Blue and white checked button-up shirt, buttoned all the way to the neck, a black t-shirt peeking out. Long pants. He’s ready for a day at the office. 

Only today we’re hiking in the desert. 

I made him at least put a light color t-shirt on underneath (“But my gray t-shirt is dirty.” “So? We’re hiking in the desert!”)

And then:   

Peter: Don’t let me forget! I need to take my hearing aids out at the Dead Sea.

 Me: Okay. (Pause) You do know of course you absolutely, very importantly don’t get your head wet?!

Peter: You don’t? 

Me: No! Of course not!

Peter: It’s a sea. You don’t just go swimming and get your head wet? 

Me: No! It’s too dangerous. Did you read up on this trip at all? 

Peter: Yeah, but it’s a sea. What’s to read? You swim. 

 Me: Don’t swallow the water, either.

Peter: Okay, okay. (Two minutes later) So what’s Ein Gedi?

Sigh. I gave Peter my guide book. 

Israel sans Yeledim

March 9th, 2015 § 1 comment § permalink

We’ve reached that point in the trip where I’m not hungry for breakfast, but how can you not eat breakfast here? It’s. Just. So. Good. 

Peter and I spent hours at the Museum of the Jewish people (not a single “I’m bored” from either of us), visited the Palmach Museum (no one got scared), and walked all over (neither of us uttered, “Are we there yet?”). 

You know what’s in my purse? My wallet. A camera. Notebook. You know what’s not in my purse? Kindles. Half a melted chocolate bar. A Bamba wrapper. That rock that just looks so cool and some leaves that will be perfect for an art project back home. My bag is light and not sticky and easy to carry. 

Sigh. I miss my babies.

We are off momentarily to explore (on foot) Rothschild Boulevard, the Haganah Museum, and the Carmel shuk. Maybe at the shuk, I’ll buy a chocolate bar and let it partially melt in my purse. You know. Just because. 


Skidding to Israel

March 6th, 2015 § Comments Off on Skidding to Israel § permalink

Some people like to thank God when they get to Israel. I need to thank my husband. Not for rearranging his schedule to deal with child care (I was gone approximately four hours when Adam had to leave work to pick the boy up from school because he had a fever). But because I literally (yes, literally) wouldn’t have been here without his expert travel advice (he should work for a travel company!).

My plan was to take a 12:20 p.m. JetBlue flight to JFK, where I’d meet up with my dad (whom I shall once again call “Peter,” as his name is Peter; unlike my sister, the Tweedle Twirp, Peter has nothing to hide). We’d have plenty of time before our 6:45 p.m. El Al flight to Tel Aviv. Except the night before New York was getting some major storm warnings. So I did the only reasonable thing: I started to panic.

I spent most of the Purim Megillah reading frantically refreshing to see if the forecast had changed. I didn’t like its forecast so I surfed to other weather sites to see if I liked their forecasts any better. I didn’t. Either 2 to 4 or 3 to 5 inches of snow predicted, but with ice and wind.

The next morning, the forecast changed to 4 to 7 inches. Panic increased. But when I checked the JetBlue site, flights were fine. “It looks okay,” I said to Adam.

“There’s a 10:40 flight. Get to the airport early and see if you can get on it,” Adam said.

That set my panic off again. “But I don’t have time! Do you think I need to? What do I do if I don’t make it?”

Adam checked Amtrak for me. “All the Acelas have been cancelled. But you can still take a regional if you miss your flight.” Which would be cutting it pretty close. “You could rent a car at Logan and drive to JFK.” The flaw in that plan is that if the weather was too bad for airplanes, it would be too bad for me. Remember, I don’t drive in the white stuff.

I ate breakfast as fast as I could, hoped I didn’t forget anything (I did; my bathing suit), and I flew out the door two hours early. I was at the airport by 9:30 a.m. The 10:40 plane ended up being full, but as I was second on the standby list, I got a seat (and even one of those “roomier seats” you’re supposed to pay extra to have).

You know what’s fun about JetBlue? Those in-seat airplanes. Where you can watch CNN. As you fly to JFK. In a snow storm. As they air live coverage of a plane at LaGuardia that skidded off the runway.

And they tell you interesting facts. Like: do you know how they determine whether a runway is safe for landing? First, they go out and look at it. Second, they send trucks out on it to see if the skid. Very reassuring. 

 But I made it to JFK with serious hours to spare. I had lunch at an airport diner. Answered e-mail. Enjoyed a beer. Started a new book. And the El Al flight left about an hour late at 7:45 p.m. 

 And that 12:20 p.m. JetBlue flight I was going to take from Boston? Well it left Logan at 8:57 p.m. and arrived at 11:01 p.m., about when I was over Nova Scotia, enjoying a glass of Israeli Cabernet Sauvignon. 

 All hail my travel guru. Onwards to Israeli adventures.

A Tale of Two Blogs

March 2nd, 2015 § Comments Off on A Tale of Two Blogs § permalink

I’m struggling with this idea of having two blogs. I know it’s a bad idea—everyone tells you not to do it (and after six years of owning a Mac, I JUST learned how to make an em dash. Excitement!). However, I’ve been told I need to have a social media presence as an author (please say that word with a slightly drawn-out, British accent), and I was able to obtain the domain, which is the name I’ll be writing under. This domain, the, is a leftover from our wedding almost 13 years ago. Not quite the professional demeanor I’m hoping to portray.

Also, I’m pretty sure I don’t want those who find my blog through my writing (I know, I know! Cart before the horse. Blah blah blah) to be able to look back on all the toddlerhood escapades of Doodle Boy and Sweetie Pie (remember when those were their names, rather than Doodles, Pie, or just the boy and the girl?), and more importantly, all my bourbon- and gummy bear–fueled parenting (I can make an en dash, too!).

On the flip side, I assume most people come here for my snarky take on my life, and don’t care at all about my writing research, my genealogy research, my writing life, my reading life, etc. So I keep that separate blog. Occasionally, though, the question comes, what do I blog about on which blog?

I think what I’ve decided is (and I may change my mind; I do that often) if it’s snarky and family related, it’s here. All else will be there. Two blogs may not last long, but I shall see where this whole writing thing takes me (could be a fad, you know. I’ve only been doing it for thirty years, so it may not last).

What this boils down to is, if you’re looking for all the details about our recent family trip to Cuba, head on over to the other blog at for all the (not terribly salacious) details. The trip was fascinating and I don’t have much snark to impart about it.

I will say that the quote of the trip does go to my boy. “Can we not go away anymore?” he asked.

“We don’t have to. I had hoped to go to New York in the spring, but we can skip it,” I told him.

“New York is okay,” he said. “American cities are okay. I just don’t want to go to another country.”

“How come?”

“Because we go to another country and it’s all history, wars, and art. I’m just tired of it.”

That’s what happens when you disconnect a middle schooler from the Internet for an entire week. To see what else happens in Cuba, hop on over to the other blog.

Back with more snark as it happens.

Coming Home

February 24th, 2014 § Comments Off on Coming Home § permalink

We arrived at Newark at 4:20 a.m., after I sat in a middle-middle seat, between my two children for twelve hours. Pie had her head on one leg, the Boy has his on the other, and my butt was numb for about a good four hours while they snoozed. The rest of the time they watched TV and kept me running to the back of the plane for snacks for them. It worked out, though. One snack for them, two for me.

We arrived home at 8:30 this morning. Adam showered and went to work. Pie decided to go to school. Doodles wanted to stay home so he finished up his homework and practiced his viola.

And me? I accidentally opened the emergency gummy bears.

Note to Adam: We need more emergency gummy bears.

Re-entry is hard.

Ess, Bubelah, Ess!

February 11th, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink


The way I see it, as a tourist, the biggest problem with Israel is that there are only three meals in a day. I know when most people think of food, they think Italy or France. But out of all the countries to which we’ve been, hands down Israel is my favorite eating, and it has the food I most often try to replicate at home. The fruits and veggies are so fresh (and they are only available in season here); the breads are scrumptious; the sauces are tantalizing.

On our first night here, we met up with cousins. The kids, despite the language barrier, hit it off immediately. Ignoring age, the kids paired up by gender: 8-year-old Pie with her 11-year-old cousin and 10-year-old Doodles with his 8-year-old cousin. Apparently there is one thing that can cross all age and language barriers and Pie and Girl Cousin found it: Rainbow Loom (although in all fairness, Girl Cousin’s English is quite good). Doodles and Boy Cousin played chess and ran and discovered they both know all the words to “What Does the Fox Say?” (joy for the rest of us). Fast bonding for the two of them, and both kids are eager to see their newfound Israeli cousins tomorrow.


Giggling cousins


Rainbow loom: maker of friends

That first night with the cousins, we went for pizza in their neighborhood. Pizza, right? It was amazing. The mom was disappointed that Boy Cousin wanted such a boring pizza, but we were fascinated. We’d never eaten pizza with corn on it, but it was delicious. Turns out it’s a super common topping here, probably like mushrooms for us. They also put sauces on their pizza when they get them, either a hot sauce of a tomato sauce.


Pizza with corn

At almost every hotel in Israel, breakfast is included. The spread of Israeli breakfasts are fabulous, and I have to remind myself that there will be two other meals in the day. Israeli salad, vegetables, fruit, fish, bread, eggs, cheese, so much food (but never, mind you, meats, because all the hotels are kosher and you cannot mix milk and meat at a meal). Even my food adverse son is able to eat, as yogurt and, yes, puddings, are always available for breakfast.

What I eat:


Bread, fruit, Greek salad, fish, avocado egg salad

What the boy eats:


Egg, bread, chocolate and vanilla pudding

And then just on the streets and in the markets, where the piles of fresh food and pastries tempt you at every stall.


Spices in the Carmel Shuk


Pastries in the Carmel Shuk


A bread and egg concoction that both children ate while seeing Old Jaffa


Pomegranates in the Port Shuk

On about every third corner is a fresh juice stand, where they have just about every kind of fruit and veggie possible. I swear, before I leave, I’m going to have a kohlrabi juice. The woman at the stand said it’s quite good.


A just-moment’s-ago squeezed grapefruit juice

And finally, tonight, the kids weren’t hungry for dinner, so I took the opportunity to indulge in my beloved eggplant, which no one else likes. I had heard of a dish called Sabich, and I was determined to try it. The stall was about a mile from the hotel (ha, Duchess! Even in my quest for food, I’m wracking up the steps!), and it was worth every step. I. Love. This. Food. The pita is incredibly soft. And inside it is fried eggplant, potato, hardboiled egg, hummus, tahini, veggies, and spicy mango sauce. The guy who made it was super friendly, and made sure to make it spicy for me.



I’m already plotting how to ditch the family again and go back for another sabich before we leave Tel Aviv. Now I’m full and exhausted. I’m going to go to bed and dream of sabich.

Where in the World Are Doodles and Pie?

February 8th, 2014 § Comments Off on Where in the World Are Doodles and Pie? § permalink

Okay, I won’t keep you in suspense. They’re in Newark airport, where they spent five minutes doing homework before switching to iPods to watch movies.


We are waiting for our “secure gate” to open. That should give you a hint. And, no, we’re not headed to Sochi.

I have been walking the terminal from end to end in order to bank steps, as I’ve had a nice FitBit lead on the Duchess all week and I want to end on a high note, as I’ll have a very low step count tomorrow. We get on the plane in about an hour and land at 4:20 pm tomorrow, so unless I pace the plane all night, she’s going to take the lead. (And I’m not above pacing the plane all night.)

By the way, what is up with Newark trying to mislead guests into thinking this is New York? Big “Welcome to New York” signs. Lots of “I Heart NY” gear in the stores. If I were traveling from abroad, expecting to step out into New York, I’d be pretty pissed.

And we’ve now hit the point where the kids are about to fall asleep in the airport, meaning they’ll be up all night on the plane. Good times!


Okay, see you guys on the other side.

Doodles Can’t Read

August 30th, 2013 § Comments Off on Doodles Can’t Read § permalink

I asked my son to read me the weather report but he said he couldn’t. What exactly is he learning in that school of his?


Ice Ice, Baby!

August 28th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

Minke whale and puffin on the menu


Gullfoss Waterfall


Helicopters over Reykjavik


Toto, I don’t think we’re in Boston anymore!

Hello, Iceland!

Where in the World Are Doodles and Pie?

August 26th, 2013 § Comments Off on Where in the World Are Doodles and Pie? § permalink

Off on another grand adventure! This time to…


Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with travel at the pieces of my life.

  • Who I Am

    I read, I write, I occasionally look to make sure my kids aren't playing with matches.

    My novel, MODERN GIRLS will be coming out from NAL in the spring of 2016.

    I mostly update the writing blog these days, so find me over there.

    More about me and my writing.

  • Where to Find Me

    jenny at


    Follow Me on Pinterest


    Writing Blog: Jennifer S. Brown

    Photo Blog: jPhone Jenny

  • Archives

  • Meta