Thursday, November 13, 2014

Twins Are So Easy

This is the title of my latest book on parenting. However, taking care of the twins is really getting in the way of being able to write it. Since at this moment they are currently napping, I will take this opportunity to check in with my Loyal Readers. Because you know what they say, "Blog when the baby sleeps!"

So here I am. See me? No, over here on the couch, under the pile of freshly washed onesies that are patiently waiting to receive their next installment of spit up. (Because you know what they say, "Do laundry when the baby sleeps!") I'm in between the lone baby sock (get used to the single life, kiddo) and the pacifier wedged into the cushions. Oh and also, a pencil. And a random flip-flop.

Since we don't have much time (I can sense babies beginning to move from Not Sad to Sad), I will answer a few FAQs for you.

Q. How are you doing?
A. Tired. Veryveryvery tired. To paraphrase Princess Buttercup, "I shall never sleep again." However, everyone is healthy and happy, or, if you're one of the twins, healthy and occasionally, Not Sad. So we are thankful for that.

Q. Are they identical?
A. Unequivocally not.

Q. Do you have time to shower, even?
A. Putting on deoderant and brushing one's hair IS considered a shower in many cultures. Or it should be. I'm working on that. "Brushing is washing!" is a thing they will say in this culture.

Q. Can I bring you some-?
A. Yes. Whatever it is you want to bring, I'll eat it. Because you know what they say, "Eat when the baby sleeps!"

Q. Were you shocked when you found out it was twins?
A. I'm confused. Why the past tense? "Omigod there are two of them" is something heard frequently around the house, especially in the evening, as we are playing another round of Baby Whack-a-Mole. (Note: No actual whacking involved.)

Q. How are the other kids doing?
A. In short, the big ones are mostly helpful. The 4-year-old, well, let's just say his attachment to Mommy hasn't improved since the arrival of the twins. But really, who can blame him? Does anyone pour cereal, turn on the TV or brush his teeth with quite the panache of Mommy? It's an acquired skill, honed after years of (forced) practice. Also, rest assured that no one has felt any need to put their various issues or angst on hold until Mommy gets more sleep.

Q. Are you nursing?
A. This is possibly the most popular question, after the identical question. To answer, I give you a quote from one of the children: "Mommy, ever since you had the twins, you've been walking around half-dressed." So yes. And yes, I have nursed both at once, but not, ahem, discreetly. So avert your eyes. Currently we're at about 85% nursing and 15% bottles. Of formula. Because "Pump when the baby sleeps!" is NOT a thing they say. Bottles meant I had to hand back my Crunchy Granola Mom Trophy, plus they took away their offer to honor me at the Annual Crunchy Granola Mom Grass-Fed Organic BPA-Free Dinner & Co-Sleeping But that's okay. Because the bottles help me keep my last remaining nerve, which I need in order to deal with aforementioned spit-up and angst.

Q. "Is there another baby in there?"
A. Luckily, this is not an FAQ. This question was posed by Nadav, when they came to visit me in the hospital. First, as he walked in and saw the baby nursing, he exclaimed "EWWWW! What is the baby doing to you?" Then he examined my stomach and decided there must be a third baby Mommy is hiding in here. Now, he has declared that the tummy is no longer so big, but it IS "mushy v'gam floppy."

So you see, Twins: They're So Easy.

Okay, Sadness has been reached. See you all later.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Introducing, For the Very First Time (on this blog)...

Shoham Chen (שוהם חן) and Sivan Vered (סיון ורד). Shoham is in green and Sivan is in stripes.

Born Sunday, September 28 in Tel Aviv, at 12:55 and 1:05 PM. Shoham was some amount of kilo (2.7?) and Sivan was a little more than that (3.1?)

You may find it ironic, after my previous post, that they allowed us to take even more children home from the hospital. However, we have learned from our mistakes, When the tipat chalav nurse was going on about vitamin D drops and not giving too much because it causes kidney problems, etc., we told her cheerfully, "Of course! Drop not dropper, that is our motto! Ha! Haha!" And in this neighborhood, before an English magazine has a chance to even drop to the floor in prime leg-breaking position, it will be scooped up by a celebrity-gossip-deprived neighbor. And really, what are the chances of us replicating the booster seat debacle a third (and fourth) time? (Don't answer that.)

So no worries, these children are in very good hands. (Ariella's and Yaakov's).

Anyway, we are looking forward to sharing with you in the Continuing Adventures of Raising Our Children and Trying Not to Screw It Up Too Badly. (The alternative, though admittedly less catchy, title of "Leave Me Alone So I Can Read the Paper.")

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sorry, Kids! I Promise We Didn't Mean To!

I am not a dog person, in case you were wondering. This does not mean that I AM a cat person, or other such nonsense. I am also not a gerbil, hamster, guinea pig or goldfish person. I am not even a plant or flower person. The only living things I can reliably keep alive are my children.

And even then, it's touch and go sometimes. For example, Nadav has reminded me on an embarrassing number of occasions, as I'm getting him ready for bed: "Ima? Lo achalti dinner." Whoops! Forgot to feed him dinner. Again. (Note: There usually was dinner on the nights in question. The problem is that Nadav isn't ready to eat when it's ready, and then I forget that he never ate. Or it's a Friday night and I am hellbent on "Get-him-in-bed-before-candlelighting-so-we-can-eat-like-mensches" and I consequently forget to, you know, feed him.)

However, starvation is an easily rectifiable solution. Especially when children are old enough to announce they are hungry. But we have a long and rich history of accidentally harming our children in other, more creative ways. Today, I lay out my sins before you.

Let's begin around 11 years ago.

Formula? Who Needs It?
Ariella is 8 months old and eating a lot of solids. 3 meals a day, in fact. She had been getting bottles, but now, I figured, it was time to stop, right? She's eating like an adult, so why does she need stinky baby formula?

Over the course of the next month, her babysitter mentions how constipated and uncomfortable she is. Momz notes that Ariella seems thinner than usual. We are already firm believers in Parenting Through Winging It, so no alarm bells go off. But: It comes time for her checkup. And: She has gained no weight since the last month! How can this be????? The doctor starts asking me about her eating habits. When I tell her, she stares at me. "She needs to be taking three 8-oz bottles a day. Until she's a year old." Whoops! We start up the formula again. She gains weight, she poops better and is an altogether happier child. (Luckily this was before memory kicked in, so she can't add it to the list of reasons to be angry with us now.)

Slip & Slide
Yaakov almost got away unscathed. Except for the time we left a magazine on the floor and he slipped on it, breaking his leg. Whoops! At least it was a manly magazine ("Adventure") and not something wimpy like "Family Circle."

Nadav, it should come as no surprise, has born the brunt of our carelessness. You'd think by our third time around the block, we'd be better at this. Well, let me reassure you that we found all sorts of new and wonky screwups. Skipping formula and leaving magazines on the floor are soooo 2003-2007.

Vitamin D: Mmm, Mmm Good
For some reason, I had never had to give vitamin D drops to our other kids (or maybe I was supposed to and never did? Would that surprise you? Didn't think so.). So I'm giving him the drops, tra-la-la. Also, I notice that he's peeing. A LOT. "Haha, our little pisher, isn't that cute?" I say to Donny.

I mention to a friend that I need to get to a pharmacy to get more drops. "More drops?" she's astonished. "How are you finished your first bottle already?"
"Well, a dropper-full every day, you go through it."
Turns out I was giving him like 10x the amount of vitamin D. Hence all the pishing; his kidneys were working overtime to get rid of it. Luckily the doctor said just to stop for about a month and then pick up again. But this time, with a twist: Try not overdosing him.

Buckle Up!
When Nadav was about 2, he would occasionally need the booster seat (the kind that attaches to a chair) for height, in order to reach the table, but he didn't really need to be strapped in. Except, of course, that he's Nadav and insists on weird things, like making a color chart so he can decide which shirt to wear today. One Saturday night, during havdalah, he was sitting in his booster. Which I had plopped on a chair, not bothering to attach it. But he was going to do havdalah properly, dammitHe demanded to be buckled in AND have his tray attached. So, if you are picturing this, we have essentially incarcerated him in his booster. Which, careful readers will remember, is NOT strapped to the chair. The next step, of course, is he reaches forward to get some grape juice. He then topples over from the chair, but can't land on his feet or right himself due to all of the restraints. So, strapped into his booster, he lands on his face, gets a bloody mouth, cut lip and tongue, a trip to Terem and a visit to the dentist the next morning.


The best part of this story? The exact same thing happened a year later! Did we learn our lesson? It seems not! Luckily the fall wasn't as bad so we avoided the Terem/dentist trips.

Good for What Ails You
Nadav finds some children's chewable Tylenol. Gets through about a pill and a half before we realize and yank the remaining crumbly, slobbery, pink  mixture out of his mouth. We call both our local friendly pediatrician (who was vacationing in Eilat then, natch) and Poison Control. No lasting repurcussions. Although he does have an extreme fondness for pink medicines. Hmmmm.

Curious Minds
This one is all on him. Nadav finds a little spray bottle of some perfume lying around in our car. He puts it up to his face, asking, "Eich zeh oved, Mommy?" And then attempts to find out the answer by spraying himself in the eyes. WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!! "It works like that, Nadav." Many unpleasant, screeching eye washes later, he was fine.

Till the next time, of course.

Now one lesson we can takeaway from this, besides boring ones like "Don't leave magazines on the floor," "Read dosing instructions carefully," "Always strap the booster onto the chair" is that at the end of all of these stories? The kids are just fine! Take heart, parents! Like us, you too can screw up abysmally without causing (too much) lasting damage for the little ones! Like the popular saying goes, "Parenting. It's sooooo easy!"

Now it's your turn. Feel free to share the times you accidentally caused harm to your children. (Or is this just us?)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

In Which Donny Bravely Faces Back to School Night

What follows are the transcripts from our whatsapp conversations.

Gan meeting, Sept 2.

I am filling out information. [Good.]

What is Nadav's teudat zehut? Oh, and his Hebrew birthday? [I tell him]

They want to know who his friends are. [Ellie. Joe. Yuval. Rafi]

What are his interests? I wrote "To be funny." I think that covers it. [NO! No you cannot just write that! Write: Puzzles, cars, playground, games]

I'm putting you down for a committee. It's called חשיבה על פעילות הדנית* [What?? What??? Don't you dare! Did you hear me? You take my name off RIGHT NOW. Put yourself down!]

Just kidding! I put myself down.

*As far as we could tell, this translates to "Thinking about Danish activities." Maybe pastries?

School meeting, Sept. 9.

Tuesday night was a marathon school meeting. Donny went straight from work and took the first shift (third grade) and I took the late shift (sixth). The 3rd grade meeting was called for 6:00.

6:10 My whatsapp beeps. However, I'm busy making dinner so I can't get to my phone.

I bet that is Donny. He has no idea where the third grade classrooms are or what the teacher's name is. Well, he'll call in a minute when he sees I haven't responded.

6:12 Phone rings. "Which third grade class is Yaakov in? Do you know where the
classroom is? Who is his teacher?"

Donny finds his way to the classroom. Whatsapping ensues:

Eveyone is filling out sheets. [Probably information sheets. Use Lisa and Momz as emergency contacts]

The teacher is talking. You should feed Yaakov breakfast in the morning.

Email the teacher. Don't call. Call if you must, but don't.

I'm volunteering you for the va'ad.


I didn't.

I think I'll tell her I don't give her permission to take pictures of Yaakov.

She wants 100 shekel for the va'ad. I'm offering 50.

Hmmm. She won't take 50. Suggesting tashlumim.

Now she's reading a poem. It's about candy. I think our children are the candy?

There is candy art. Did Yaakov bring it home?

No, it's here, waiting for us.

Okay she won't accept tashlumim either. You'll have to pay 100.

And email, don't call.

Done. Coming home.


Later, at the 6th grade meeting, I did not have to text Donny once. #justsaying

But the most important takeaway is that we are now finished being oriented. Hooray! No more small chairs for another year! If you need us, we'll be celebrating with some Danish activities.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hello? Is Anyone Here?

Readers, it has been a long time.

First, I made the conscious decision to stop posting because of all the Unfunny Things that were happening this summer. The three boys, the war, sirens. Then as August crept on, I made no conscious decisions at all. This is because my brain cells had fled for cooler climates. If you would look inside my head, the only remaining thoughts were "Me hot" and "Feed children. Again." Those two semi-coherent thoughts spent their days floating around lazily in the cavernous space that once contained my brain.

But now the war/operation is ... over? I think? There's definitely a cease-fire? Which brings up the question - why don't we just agree to a 1,000-year cease-fire? Then no one dies, no one sends rockets and we don't have to deal with like, solving anything. [This will be a cornerstone of my platform when I run for prime minister. My platform will consist of Confrontation Avoidance and Changing all the Highway Signs in Israel to Include "Modiin." Because I don't want to have to figure out if I need to head to "Afula" or "Tel Aviv" "Jerusalem" or "Beer Sheva" in order to get home. I want clarity. Every sign on the highway will be legally required to include "Modiin, This Way." You're welcome.]

So I guess ceasefire = we can return to our irregularly scheduled blogging program. In the meantime, I will catch you up on the highlights of summer:

1. Camp. Careful though. Did you blink, sneeze, or use the bathroom? You missed it! Now camp's over!

2. Mommy camp. TV, pool, fight, eat, TV, repeat. BUT - no waking up children, making lunches or doing homework! So it has its moments.

3. StayCation. In which we finally realize that the highlight of hotels for our children is the ability to eat sugar cereal every day for breakfast. So we decide to save thousands of shekel and just buy sugar cereal for them to eat HERE. The advantage is that HERE also includes good beds and not having to wash laundry in a tub.

4. My phone gets stolen. But I get a new one, so in the end it all works out.

5. We lose internet for a few hours. The Rose family stares at each other in horror. Without internet, there is no computer or TV. Everyone makes a mad dash for Mommy's phone. But Mommy gets there first. What shall we do now? Talk to each other? Read? Clean up? Confusion reigns. We rush to light some candles but then realize we DO have electricity, plus it's the middle of the day. So we blow them out. Luckily the 'net returns soon and happiness is restored.


7. School begins. And while "Hot" and "Feeding children" still take up an inordinate amount of space in my head, the other brain cells have slowly, cautiously begun migrating back. ("Let's see if she'll recognize our potential instead of just using us to figure out how to disentangle the children from each other and creative ways to say 'Stop it!!!!!'")

So, welcome back! How was your summer?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Highlights and Revelations

Part Three: There was ice cream.

Other highlights from our trip:

Versailles (“Ver-Sails”). Visit this place, and you will totally understand why the French Revolution happened. If there is a word that means supercallifragallistically gaudy, Versailles is it.

These people had antechambers. You know what antechambers are? Rooms that exist just to be rooms! They serve no other purpose than to be a room you can go in before you go into the next room. Sometimes, there were antechambers to antechambers!

Each room had intricate paintings on the ceilings and furniture covered in gold, but that isn’t even the best part. The Versailles palace also contains a separate palace so that if you just need to get away from the palace, you have another palace to go to.

This second palace was given to Marie Antoinette and there was a lot of information in French about her. I’m not sure about the whole story, but all I know is that you cannot, in fact, buy just her head in the gift shop.

Louvre in a Nutshell: Massive Museum, Teeny Mona Lisa. Seriously. It's as big as my framed diploma. And you can't get within 10 feet of it because of all the other tourists and their cameras pushing each other to get close. If Leo had just made it a mite bigger, it would have been easier on all of us.

Arc de Triomphe (“We Surrender!”) and Eiffel Tower (“Migdal Ayfel”): These represent two entries in our ever-growing list of “Tall Buildings We Have Not Ascended.” Don't worry, there are selfies to prove we were there.

Haagen Daaz restaurant. You read that right. An entire restaurant devoted exclusively to ice cream. Two floors plus outdoor seating, with fancy wait staff and everything. As part of our QKE vacation certification (Quite Kosher Enough), we felt comfortable eating Parisian Haagen Daaz. Sadly, most of the menu items came with a baked good, which even for the lax standards of QKE is NQKE. But we found two exquisite cookie-free desserts: I ordered one that had five scoops of ice cream surrounded by fresh raspberries, strawberries and whipped cream and are you drooling yet???? Donny ordered a scoop of ice cream in an espresso (I told you he got into it). We sat in rapturous, heavenly-ice-cream-eating-induced silence, until it was broken by:

The Amcha. Aka fellow Jews/Israelis. Funny because when you're in Israel, you say “Israelis!” in a mumbly, exasperated grunt, but while in Paris, you say, “Israelis!” with a cry of excitement. This particular amcha – an Israeli woman – interrupted our bliss to ask a question on behalf of her French-speaking charedi sister. The sister was wondering if it was okay to eat here, and when her eyes alighted upon Donny’s kippah, she felt we were safe people to ask. We explained that the ice cream itself was kosher; stay away from the cookies. QKE FTW!

We enjoyed our other encounters with the Amcha during our trip. In one restaurant, we had a choice of speaking to the waiter in French (“?como estas?”) or Hebrew. Naturally, we jumped at the chance to speak Hebrew. Did you read me?? We were HAPPY and GRATEFUL to speak Hebrew. Someone please tell my ulpan teacher. We also got chance to converse with the Amcha during our stroll around the Jewish Quarter. We passed numerous falafel stands including one that –and let me tell you, it hurt to read this – proclaimed its falafel “The Best in the World!” Um, excusez-moi, Paree? Clearly they have never been to Ofer’s. Or any other falafel stand in all of Israel. Please, Paris. We don’t claim to have awesome macarons. (As TZ-carrying Israelis, we’re not even sure that they qualify as dessert, lacking as they are in yeast dough and chocolate). So just stay away from our falafel.

Then, suddenly, it was time to leave. Pack up our stuff, say "A I R P O R T" really slowly to the cab driver, and head off into the sunrise (the only time we saw sun). All in all, the trip was amazing, but it was also great to come home. To the fam, the world’s actual best falafel, and even to Hebrew.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Things the French Like and Do Not Like. Also: War!

Welcome to Part Deux of "Gila & Donny Take Paris (But Then Give It Back Because It's Cold and Rainy and No One Speaks English)"

Things the French like:

Pharmacies. There are about 3 pharmacies per block (“rue”) in Paris. I do not understand why Parisians are hurting themselves all the time. Perhaps they are falling down the stairs in the Metro system.

Espressos. They really love their dark, bitter coffee drink. Even Donny and I kind of appreciated it by the end. Donny more than me, though, I’m still a milk girl. Examples of espresso-lovin': McDonald's ads feature an Egg McMuffin next to an espresso. Nespresso ads also feature espressos only. Not a milk frother in sight. (We got to see lots of ads during our numerous hikes to and from the staircases in the Metro stations.) If you order an espresso, they make it for you using the fancy coffee maker. Order a latte (“hafuch”), and you get coffee from a machine. 

Mumbling. How to speak French: Find a word. Place all the sounds at the back of your throat and gurgle them out.  

Things the French do not like:

English. English is not as beloved of a language as we anticipated. In fact, in the Louvre (“Mona Lisa”) which is one of Paris’ top tourist attractions, the little descriptions next to each piece of art are written only in French. But, we were ok with this because it allowed us to make up our own stories about every painting.

Being Audible. When we asked the nice lady in the amazing kosher chocolate store the name of a certain kosher bakery, she said ... something. I couldn’t make out any recognizable vowels or consonants. See, “Mumbling,” above.

English. The French simply do not appreciate how easy it is to speak in English. Even the people in the hotel did not like talking in English. And they DUB grown-up movies! And TV shows! I turned on the TV in the middle of an episode of Greys, and there was Bailey, yelling in fluent French! It was tres (totes) disturbing.

Surrender. This brings us to one of the highlights of our trip, the War Museum.

The War Museum: Fancy Uniforms and: Jews? What Jews?

First, let’s just say that the existence of the EU is nothing short of a miracle, considering that for hundreds of years all these guys did was kill each other and hold grudges about it. But, only at the War Museum can you get a real French perspective on all the battles. Each battle is commemorated with: guns, knives, paintings and uniforms.

I like guns and knives so that was pretty cool. Adding the paintings of war scenes was a bit strange, but I’ll admit that I enjoyed it. But, the uniforms.

Conversation, circa 16th century:

“Jacques! 1517 called! It wants its uniform style back. Forget your red uniform with gold trim and silver buttons. 1518 is ALL ABOUT the blue uniform with the red trim and gold buttons!”

We were very curious to see what the French had to say about World War II. (Like, “What did they wear?”) Here's what we learned:

The word for “surrender” in French is “resistance.” It turns out that the French fought bravely throughout the war. (And they had very nifty uniforms. In a modern sense, of course.) Especially brave was Charles de Gaulle (“Sharle the Gew”) who spoke bravely about bravery from London.

There was no discussion of French life under the occupation, but I suppose that makes sense after all that brave fighting. But, then it occurred to us: What about the Jews?

Clearly, after fighting bravely for so long, the brave fighters returned to Paris, only to have this conversation:

“Where is Shmuelik? Have you seen him?”
“I could have sworn he was just here yesterday.”
“Huh. Now that I think about it… didn’t we use to have a lot of Jews?”
“Ah. You’re right. I think we did.”
“It sure looks like they left in a hurry. It appears that they didn’t even have time to turn off the gas in their houses of worship which appear to have been completely destroyed in a terrible accident.”
“Strange. You think they would have fought bravely, like us.”

But these were brave fighters. They certainly would have hopped right into their Renault (“Rue”) tank and bravely travelled east looking for Shmuelik.

“Let us grab a quick espresso and be on our way. We need not worry that our extreme tank will break down, as I’m sure we can find an out-of-work German mechanic who could fix it for us. If we hurry, we can follow safely behind the Americans who are only here because they raised a lot of money with E-bonds and have not in any way taken away from our bravery.”

Then, as they bravely followed behind the Americans liberating the concentration camps: “Shmuelik! There you are! You look very hungry. Baguette?”

To be fair, at the very, very end of the World War II exhibit, there was a single wall dedicated to the concentration camps and the Final Solution. This one had English that went something like this: 

“Thereusedtobe76,000JewsinFrance. Theyallgotdeported. Only3percentcameback.” And then, “To learn more, visit our Shoah Museum!" 

Join us tomorrow, or whenever I remember to post, for our final installment: Highlights from Our Trip. (Here's a clue: It rhymes with "dice bream.")