Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bubby and Zaidy!!!!

Our poll has now closed and we would like to thank everyone who voted in it. After intense analysis of the results, we have come to the following conclusions: Most people think we're crazy.
There is a new poll starting today, so be sure to vote!

In other exciting news, I received my temporary driver's license on Thursday! Yipppeee!!! This is actually a big relief, because the whole week I was pretty sure they were going to call me up and say, "Oh, we actually made a mistake - you really FAILED your test. Please contact your instructor about scheduling your 30,000 lessons that you need to take now." So it was a big relief to hold the temporary license in my hand. Only one step left - go to the post office, pay some money, and then in a year or two, I should receive my PERMANENT license. This has got to be the most expensive license in the history of licensing.

This Shabbos was very exciting in the Rose household - Bubbyzaidy are here! Donny went to the airport early Friday morning to collect them. They are renting a car but needed Donny's expert navigational skills to get back to Modi'in. So they got here around 9:00 and then Leezy, Elie, and Netanel came for breakfast and we had a Gala Reunification Ceremony which involved lots of hugging and Dadz stuffing himself with rugelach, because, as he pointed out, "You can get eggs in America." After L&E left, Momz and Dadz stumbled, bleary-eyed to their bedroom to recover from the flight. I understand as I am STILL recovering from our flight 3 months ago. And Dadz never misses an opportunity for a NAP.

Friday night everyone went to bed pretty early, but I did spend some quality time on the couch with PEOPLE that I have missed very much. No, not "people," PEOPLE. be reunited with my favorite magazine. There was much to catch up on - did you know Obama won the election and Courtney Cox Arquette used Botox but swears she's "over it?" - but I had to read them quickly because Leezy and I divvied up the magazines, and I have to be finished my half by next week so Momz and Dadz can take them to her. By the way, since we are on the topic of Friday night, I want to let all my loyal readers know that I made a chicken soup again, and this time there was no beet or weird-smelling parsley and Donny rated it a 10/10.

Shabbat morning Donny and Dadz went to the Nice People Minyan and Momz and I took the kids "late" aka 9:45. The brilliant minds at Dimri make sure the Shabbat elevator is working only at times that are convenient for no one, so when Momz and I needed to schlep the kids and the stroller down five flights of stairs, the Shabbat elevator was not Shabbat-ed and we indeed had to schlep down the stairs. Brilliant! Luckily there was another awesome kiddush this week, so I got to eat Yerushalmi kugel, Dadz had some of his beloved herring, Donny drank, and Yaakov shoved Bissli into his mouth. We went to the Shabbos park and hung out for a while, then headed back home. Luckily, the Shabbat elevator was working for the trip up, and it was at the lobby just as we walked in. Donny took the stairs and the rest of us piled in. We waited until the doors closed and then....nothing. This is normally the point in the elevator trip when you start to, how do you say it, MOVE. But nothing. We were starting to feel slightly panicked, like maybe something had broken and we would spend the rest of our days in this tiny elevator, munching on tissues and calling for help but everyone is stuck outside the building because they can't remember the stupid code so no one hears us. And then hundreds of years later they excavate the building during an archaeological dig and they shake their heads and say, "Why did Dadz think he was going to need a sweater UNDER his sports jacket? It's freaking 75 degrees outside!"

To avoid this awful fate, Momz invoked pikuach nefesh privileges and "ACCIDENTALLY" pressed a button, just to see what would happen. She hit 7 (we live on 5 - come on Momz, can't you accidentally press a little more accurately?) and we indeed moved up to seven. As it turns out, we got into the elevator mere moments before the Shabbatedness was being turned off, so the whole "not moving thing" was because it was no longer on "pikud Shabbat." Haha! Gotta love those Dimri folk!

We had a nice lunch, then Momz and Dadz stumbled, bleary-eyed to bed, where they slept off their remaining jet lag. Dadz specifically did not want me to make fun of how he slept the ENTIRE afternoon, so I won't mention that here. I will only say that it was really no different than any Shabbat afternoon in DadzWorld, except that the nap was shorter because minchah was at 4:00. Also, speaking of Dadz, he wants everyone to know that the reason he never comments on the blog is not because he's a bad father. It's because whenever he tries to comment, poor guy, the site asks him to "register" and this is very confusing for him so he stumbles, bleary-eyed from the computer and goes to take a nap. Also ALSO (sort of like P.P.S) you should all know the reason I make so much fun of Dadz is because there's just so much material, but that I do love him very much, but there is just SO MUCH material!

Tonight Momz and Dadz headed out to Bet Shemesh to visit with the Kleins Jr., after receiving extensive, exhaustive, detailed driving instructions from Donny.

By the way, Donny is now V.P. of Polling, so any and all complaints, comments, or compliments should be sent his way.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


To my American readers: (Erev) Moadim L'Simcha! Have some turkey and cranberry sauce for me!

Today in ulpan we learned about adverbs. I love adverbs. In English, my feeling towards adverbs is somewhat neutral. But in Hebrew? Love, my friends, love. Why is that, you ask? Because in Hebrew, adverbs do not change depending on masculine or feminine, singular or plural, past or present, or future, paper or plastic. They just are. So "besimcha," for example, is happily, happily, and happily, no matter what! A man takes out the trash....besimcha. Many women sit while their husbands take out the trash...besimcha. Yesterday, Ariella and Yaakov trashed the living room in order to make a train on the mirpeset....besimcha. Get the drift? I am considering speaking exclusively in adverbs. I haven't quite figured out how that will work, but I anticipatedly totally clearly and happily. Understandably?

I would like to thank all the people who voted in our poll, especially the one brave person who voted "Yes, I have peed in the park and I am PROUD OF IT!" We don't know who you are, but when we find out, we will surely make fun. Keep an eye out for our new poll, coming your way in the next few days.

Today Donny had a Microsoft-sponsored day of fun. It involved going to workshops and using one's body as a musical instrument. There was tapping, clapping, and rhythm. Luckily, Donny is Mr. Smooth when it comes to rhythm and movement, so he was practically leading the workshop. Haha! I am laughing so hard right now drool is starting to puddle at my feet! Donny! Dancing! Rhythm! It kills me! It's like imagining Dadz hosting "What Not To Wear" instead of defining it. (By the way, in case you were worried, it's safe to make fun of Dadz again because by the time he reads this my Suitcase of Goodies will be safely in my hands. Hehe.) Or like me saying, "No, I'm not really in the mood for a chocolate milkshake." What is this world coming to? Anyway, the important thing is that he (Donny) got a steak for lunch, so who the hell cares about dancing. Steak!

In other exciting news, Momz and Dadz are coming on Friday! We are all very excited. Ariella has been making signs for the door all week. Today we got the guest room ready and started the apartment-cleansing process, which will end just in time for it to begin again. Yaakov is looking forward to the visit as well. When I asked him who was coming, he said, "Bubbyzaidy!" And then I asked him what he was going to give them ("hug" or "kiss" being the expected responses). He replied, "Treats!" Because Yaakov lives for "treats" and he can't imagine a better gift for his beloved Bubbyzaidy then some of those precious, sought-after "treats."

I know this is short but I wanted Jonathan to be able to read the whole thing. Plus, I have a cold and am feeling sort of foggy and whoa, you know what I mean? Oh, and by the way, I PASSED MY DRIVING TEST!!!!!

Some Thanksgiving thoughts for you: "turkey" is hodu but "Hodu" is India. Discuss.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Shout Outs and Updates

First of all, a shout out to Abba "Sabba" Rose who is dogged in his pursuit of recipes using citric acid. He emailed me today that he recently used citric acid in the preparation of hummus ("chummus" in Hebrew). I hope it came out well - think of us when you dine on your citric-acid-infused delicacy.

Another shout out to Dahlia "Dahls" Rosenblatt Gardin, who I had no idea was a loyal reader until she made a comment regarding the blog on my Facebook page. Welcome to the blog, Dahls! Dahlia and I go waaaaaayyyy back, to the days of side ponytails and New Kids on the Block, and even further back to the days of those ridiculous t-shirt clips and "Jem and the Holograms" (does anyone remember that?) and even further back to things that are so far back I can't even remember them anymore. Anyway, there's nothing like Facebook and blogging to reunite friends.

A final shout-out to Leezy "Bensky" my mate down in Australia. G'day, Leezy! In response to your question, you have a year to drive on your foreign license before they throw you in Driving Prison (where everyone in front of you is going 20 miles an hour and all you have to listen to is "Hello, Everybody" from the Music Together CD over and over and over). So you have a year to procrastinate, but if you want to buy a car, you need an Israeli license. In other words, if I wanted to buy a car? I could TOTALLY do that. Why? Because I PASSED MY DRIVING TEST!!!!!

The other exciting part about PASSING MY DRIVING TEST is that our "klitah" (absorption) is basically complete. Friday night, we whipped out the Nefesh b'Nefesh post-aliyah poster, which has about thirteen different items of things you must do upon arrival. We are happy to report that, aside from the small, teensy detail of being able to speak Hebrew, we have done all of them! Bank account? Check. Gan? Check. Arnona? Check. DRIVER'S LICENSES? Double check that, baby. So that's it. We've been absorbed.

Today, Ariella was the one home sick. She wasn't really sick, but she had a bad cold so I let her stay home. We went to the doctor, but no diseased stick for us, thank goodness. (And in case you were wondering, Yaakov does not, in fact, have strep). She actually had the same rash on her face that she had two weeks after we got here, but the doctor this time said it was nothing and just keep it moisturized. So we stayed home and played and were pretty bored, to be honest, and we are looking forward to going back to gan tomorrow. Lisa and Michali came over for a little visit, but otherwise Ariella and I had to entertain each other. I think it's good to have these days once in a while because then she's sooo excited to get back to gan!

In another example of our absorption, Yaakov declared that the hamburgers tonight were very "ta'im."

Remember, only a few days left to vote in our poll, and don't forget to add yourself to our "Loyal Reader Club"!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

DRIVING TEST and other sundry items

First of all, thank you to Donny for filling in the past 2 posts and keeping everyone updated as to my driving status. By the way, did you hear? I PASSED!!! WHOO-HOOOO!!! GO ME! I PASSED!!!!! YIPPEEEE!!!!! The truth was I was trying to be covert and evasive about my driving test. I didn't want anyone knowing I was about to take my second test for my fear of failure was overpowering. I especially didn't want Momz to know, knowing that she'd have nightmares all night and not be able to sleep, awaiting the results. However, my cover was blown when Donny posted on the blog Thursday night, after I went to sleep. So I would also like to personally thank everyone who added their prayers and good wishes and I think I can tell you that they definitely worked. (Also, the poll? Donny's doing as well. Have to be careful letting the husband near the blog.)

For those of you who want the play-by-play: Knowing that my two weeks of penance were over, I called my driving teacher on Thursday (this now being Week #3.) I had been waiting all week for him to call and reschedule the test, and he hadn't called yet. I didn't want to bother him, because he said he would call me, but I was starting to get antsy. As Donny so wisely said, "She who pays driving teacher 350 NIS in order to use his car for a ten-minute driving test, can call up said teacher without fear of recrimination." So I called him and he said, "Oh, has it been two weeks?" Not that anyone's counting, but YES! He said to come tomorrow, on Friday, at 10:00. Luckily he had an earlier slot at 9:00, which was good because traffic on Friday's can be crazier than Israeli banking fees, and I figured the earlier I got this test over with the better.

Anyway, Friday morning approached. (Cue scary music - Jaws, Elmo's World, whatever does it for you.) Both kids had gan (Yaakov has gan only on alternate Fridays), and then Donny and I drove around a little to get me in the "zone." I was very zoned when I dropped off Donny and drove to the testing site. It turned out I was going to be taking the test with two other people, a couple who were also new olim. I had heard about this from friends in ulpan - that you could take the test with other people in the car. I didn't know if this was good or bad. I figured it had to be good, because it was the opposite of my previous testing experience. That test was BAD; ergo, anything different had to be GOOD. In the end, I think it did work to my advantage. Basically, there were 3 of us in the car. The first person drove around for a few minutes, pulled over to the side, the next person got into the driver's seat, etc. One advantage of this method is that the test was shorter. Donny's test was closer to 20 minutes; mine was less than 15. I went last, which was also good - as much as I wanted to get it over with, going third gave me time to see what the instructor was like, what kinds of streets he was taking us on, and I mentally drove with whoever was driving to get even further into the "zone." At this point I was so far in the "zone" that they were going to have to tie lots of undershirts together and lower it down into the "zone" so I would be able to climb out. Anyway, it was finally my turn. Luckily, the traffic wasn't too bad and I was super super super careful. Stop signs, you can't stop me now! (In a manner of speaking.) I yielded, stopped, turned, went into the left lane, switched to the right, made sure everyone was buckled, looked both ways, ran over zero pedestrians. The tester only yelled at me once, and even I was pretty sure I couldn't be failed for it. (We were on the local highway, 443, and I had turned from the left lane so I was driving in the left lane, and forgot to switch to the right lane. He yelled, I apologized, we all felt better.) Finally, we drove back to the testing site. The instructor then apparated. Seriously. They're not allowed to tell you on the spot if you passed, because apparently once a tester told the guy he failed and the guy shot him. (Having had similar feelings myself, I can't say it's totally out of line to have instituted this rule.) Anyway, the tester says goodbye, swishes his cloak and disappears, then later in the day calls your driving teacher with the results, and then even later in the day you actually find out the results from your teacher.

So I got out of my car, checked with my instructor that I would hear the answer before Shabbos, and left. Then Donny took me out for a cautionary pre-celebratory breakfast. I was waiting for my phone to ring all morning. My teacher said he would call after 1:00, but when it was 1:10 and I hadn't heard from him yet, I called. Again, didn't want to bother him, but "She who pays driving teacher a total of 700 NIS in order to use his car for two ten-minute driving tests can call up said teacher without fear of recrimination." Anyway, I called. "Break out the 'champayn-ya' [champagne in Hebrew] - you passed!" said my teacher. Then Donny and the kids and I did a little dancing around the apartment and there was joy and light in all of Modi'in.

For those of you tuning back in now after that long digression, there is some other news other than that I PASSED MY DRIVING TEST. Seriously, though. I mean, I did most definitely PASS MY DRIVING TEST but other things have been happening in our lives as well. Not as exciting as me PASSING MY DRIVING TEST but still, we should discuss. First, the poll. I am pleased that so many people have responded to the poll thus far, and I believe there are still a few days left to participate. Don't worry, the answers are anonymous, so for those of you who want to click "yes" but are afraid I shall mock you in my next post, fear not. Complete and total honesty is all we ask for. However, if you would like to share some embarrassing stories, we'd like that too.

Meanwhile, we found a really nice shul and had a wonderful Shabbat lunch with a family of one of Ariella's friends from gan. The shul we went to has two advantages:

1. It is close by.

2. I PASSED MY DRIVING TEST. (Sorry about that.)

3. And the people are NICE!

Like, they came over to us, introduced themselves, schmoozed, etc. It's mostly Israeli, with a few Anglos, but everyone was so warm and welcoming. We met the rabbi - also strange, an Israeli shul with an actual rabbi - and lots of kids from Ariella's gan are there, so she was happy. Plus, there was a kiddush, and they served AWESOME Yerushalmi kugel, made from actual Yerushalmis. It was DELICIOUS. Almost as delicious as PASSING MY DRIVING TEST. Our hosts were davening at shul (this is the guy Donny met at the Planting Day), and after shul the thing to do is go to the Shabbos park. So we hung out for about 45 minutes, the kids had a blast, and then we headed over to our hosts for lunch. (Ariella told me we were going to "O-el's" house, and there were two O-el's and she wasn't sure which one this was. As it turns out, there are ZERO O-el's in her class. There is a Yoel (our host) and an Orel. But close enough.) The kids played nicely, and they had also invited Aiden's family for lunch. Everyone had a great time. The funniest part was when we were discussing the kind of bentching they do in gan, and Ilana (Aiden's mom) asked Aiden to sing the bentching, because it was different than what she was used to. So Ariella and Aiden got up, stood next to each other, and in perfect Israeli Hebrew sang their bentching songs. We were all cracking up at the two little sabras.

Today, Sunday, I had planned to skip ulpan because Substitute From Hell was going to be there. (Luckily I was in ulpan on Thursday when our teacher mentioned she was going to out and "Sylvia" would be there on Sunday.) Good timing, because of course Yaakov woke up sick. Hey, I can't complain - I had three completely healthy weeks, plus I PASSED MY DRIVING TEST, so really, I can't ask for anything more. We went to the doctor, got another diseased stick, and picked up some just-in-case-antibiotics. Ariella has had a bad cold for a few days, so I'm sure this is not the last time I'll see the inside of a doctor's office this week....

My newest Supersol quest: Now that they have baking soda a-plenty, I have focused my energies on garbge bags. In our lift, we randomly had a box of garbage bags, which have lasted until now. But, alas, they have gone the way of the garbage and now I need to buy more. In my experience here, garbage bags come in two sizes: Too Small and Too Big. They come in many colors. So far, we've tried black, green, light green and blue, with the results being too small, too big, too big, and too small. Next week: Stay tuned for ORANGE.

The Five Year Old Gets Homework: That's right folks, our little gan chova-nik comes home with weekly homework sheets. She's been bringing home these parsha sheets the past few weeks, but Donny and I figured they were just questions for discussion. In any case, whenever I would ask Ariella a question, it was clear she had no idea what was flying in the parsha. My sense is at this point she's picked up necessary phrases at gan (like "Bo" "Lechi" "Ani rotzah" and "kachah") but is not understanding any of the content being taught. So when it comes to parshah, she's as clueless as the fish in the sea during the mabul. We just politely send back the parshah sheets, as naked as the day they came home. This week, Ariella said that Morah Maya told her it's fine she hasn't been doing the sheets until now, but she really should start doing them at home. Homework time for the Roses! So on Friday, Ariella sat down with Donny. "What was the purpose of Migdal Bavel?" Blank stare. Donny explained the story to her, then worked on articulating the answer. Ariella being Ariella, she wanted to write the answer herself, in Hebrew. "Haym," Donny said, "Hay. Mem sofit." Oh boy. Check back with us Pesach time - we'll probably be on the third question. However, though it was slow going at first, after question number 2, Ariella conceded to doing dictation. We got through five of the seven questions when Ariella decided she had had just about enough of this. The questions were not so simple, and they mixed up pshat and drash in a way that made her father quite peeved.

Anyway, as you can see, our adventures continue, even though there will be no further driving adventures because I PASSED MY DRIVING TEST. (I swear that's the last one.)

Also, I would like to publicly acknowledge our Official Loyal Readers Club: Madam President Shira, Momz, Yael, Leezy "Bensky" and LISA. You, too, can become an Official Loyal Reader! Just click on the link on the side of the page! Free t-shirt to all who join! That's a total lie! But join anyway!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Gila Passes Her Driving Test

Did you see the title? Gila PASSED!

... and for the Roses there was joy and jubilation, delight and gladness. (Yaakov is still jumping.)

Your prayers worked!!!

1 Billion poofahs to: Madam President Shira, Laurie, Momz, Yael and LISA.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Your Prayers Needed

Although I am known (or not known at all) as the "silent partner" in aliyahbyaccident, I can be silent no more. Today, Gila needs your help!

Gila will be taking her driving test for a second (and final!) time tomorrow ("Friday") morning at 9:00 AM.

In the greatest poofah giveaway in the history of the world, I hereby announce that I will award 1 Billion (Billion! Unbelievable!) poofahs to each loyal reader who posts their good luck wishes to Gila on her driving test.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More unmentionables

Ok, there is something that has been on my mind for a while, and we will discuss it here. Again, those of you who are of delicate constitution may want to skip this paragraph. We will call it "Peeing in the Park." This occurs when children, usually little boys, decide to use the neighborhood park as their personal toilet. I'm not talking about once in a desperate while. I'm talking ALL THE TIME. This week, I was at the park on two separate days, and I saw no fewer than 4 children going to the bathroom on the grass, sand, pebbles, what have you. They don't even bother going to a corner or hiding at all. Nope, just right there, out in the open. I was starting to feel bad for invading their personal space. Now, I do understand those moments when your kid just has to go and there's no bathroom around for miles, and what are you going to do? But you can alleviate most of those incidents by heeding to the old adage, "Go before you leave." These families seem to do the opposite:
"Once upon a time, there was a family. They were sitting in their apartment, playing Monopoly. Suddenly, little Katzav said, 'I need to go!'
'Quick!" said his mother, gathering the sweatshirts, "Hold it in until we can get to the park!"

Anyway, moving on to things not toilet-related, since I know that we have spent a lot of time on that the past few days...First of all, I would like to respond to Sbad's comment and note that I will go out with you any time for some Fefsi. I think it would be pun! Ha ha.

So there are new people in Dimri. We got an email about it a few days ago. When I first saw the email, I thought, "Well, good luck to them. Dimri sure isn't the place to be if you want a warm, caring, community kind of feel." Then, a thought began to bubble up inside of me. Maybe, just maybe, I could be the warm, caring, community-minded sort of person! Could I do it? Could I be that friendly person? As it turns out, the answer is, "Yes." Today, I called them up, and since they only arrived two weeks ago they were all home in the middle of the day. Ariella and I stopped by on our way to her chug. We brought cookies and cupcakes. Alright, not as useful as a chicken dinner, but it was something. I felt bad I didn't know they were here earlier because they only got their stove and oven today and so did not have a working kitchen for two weeks. Anyway, we schmoozed for a while. They have a 3 year old son and a 10 month old daughter. Their son was ecstatic to talk to someone who spoke English. All in all they seemed like nice, fun, normal people who we might try to be friends with. See, fellow residents? It's not so hard to be friendly!

Today Ariella drew a picture. In the picture was a little boy, like Yaakov, who was two and a half. He had hair. There was also a girl, five years old, like Ariella. She had a ponytail sticking up. And there was a taller person representing Mommy. See the problem? Daddy, who happened to come home "early" tonight (and when I say "early" I mean just in time to rile them up before bed so they're crazy and crying when it's bedtime) saw the picture. "Where's Daddy?" he asked in surprise. "Daddy's not in the picture because Daddy's at work," Ariella answered. Absolutely textbook. Well, it'll be something for the psychiatrist's couch in twenty-some years.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Crockpots, Coffee, and Underwear

On Monday, I decided that one hour of ulpan was just enough for me! So I left early and decided to go to Kiryat Sefer to do some shopping. In addition to my hunt for baking soda - WHICH, by the way, I FOUND on Monday at Supersol and even though I have approximately 2 metric tons of baking soda from Lisa, I had to buy one from Supersol because it brought closure to my month-long hunt - I have also been searching for crock pot bags. You'd think, in this country of Jews, crock pot bags for cholent would not be so difficult to find. However, if you thought that, you'd be wrong. I figured I would return to Kiryat Sefer, the scene of the crime where I actually purchased the crock pot. Surely they will have the elusive bags! I dragged Lisa with me, because I did not want to violate my own personal commandment: "Thou shalt not travel to Kiryat Sefer unaided." However, the paper goods store there did not have the bags, and neither did the big supermarket. (And when I say big, I mean it. Not just that the store is big, but everything sold there is meant for very large families. You can't buy a package of toilet paper there with less than 48 rolls.) However, disappointed as I was in my crock pot bag search, I did find the good sponges that I love so much that Supersol just doesn't carry. So it wasn't a total loss. I got sponges. Plus, some underwear.

Underwear, you say? Yes, indeed, because on the way to KS I got a phone call from Ariella's gan that she had a little accident and needed a fresh pair. Lisa and I raced back from KS to gan, where I found Ariella happily playing in the sand, and not, as I imagined, huddled in a chair in the corner, cold and wet and crying. She looked at me quizzically and said, "Why are you here?" I gave her the undies, asked her what happened - she missed, ma la'asot? - and then went back to join Lisa in the car. Since we had an hour to kill, we of course went out for coffee. And some cheesecake. Sponges, undies, and coffee - a killer combination.

A P.S. to the toilet story. For those of you who don't like these mildly inappropriate tales, please skip this paragraph and move on. But you'll be sorry... Anyway, Ariella has told me before that the girls' toilet in gan is missing the seat. So she has to sit on the rim. I figured that might have been a factor in her accident, since there is a lot of coordination involved in using these toilets. Today I asked the assistant ganenet what the story was with the toilet. I figured I could just go to Home Center, buy the toilet seat, and install it myself if that would help. However, the ganenet insisted that everything was b'seder. She said it was deliberate that the toilet was missing the seat - apparently it is like that in many, if not all, ganim. She said the reason is for sanitation - the plastic toilet seat is more conducive to germs and harder to clean, and without the seat the toilets are more sanitary. She said the bathrooms are cleaned twice a day and the kids are big and don't need toilet seats. At this point I thought maybe she misunderstood me and thought I was referring to those training seats you put on the toilet for little kids. Either way, she was emphatic that the bathrooms were in pristine condition and there was no problem with them. If any of you loyal readers have heard anything about the Seatless Toilet Special for Ganim, please let me know.

Today I got a lot of exercise. This is because I was carless. This is very hard for someone like me who is used to a car. (Read: spoiled.) Last time I was carless, they took it for a test and returned it two hours later. Today, it was due for "tipul" (maintenance). I figured they could pick it up from me during ulpan, and return it before I needed to leave ulpan. This time, though, they needed it for the entire day, to take it into Yerushalayim (Jerusalem, J-lem, etc.) So they came to meet me in Buchman (the neighborhood where my ulpan is, about a 40-minute walk from Dimri), took my car, and did NOT, as Donny had promised, give me one to use in the meantime. So there I was, stuck in Buchman, without a car. Luckily I got a ride home with someone, so I had just enough to come home, do some laundry - whoops, can't do laundry, they've shut off the water - and walk to Ariella's gan to pick her up. We walked back with Aiden, stopped at a park, stopped for ice cream, and got home just in time to get the stroller and go back out to pick up Yaakov. Phew! That sure was a lot of walking! Better have a very large bowl or plate or helping of something very unhealthy to make up for that!

In ulpan today we read a little article about Abraham Lincoln. Israel doesn't know what to do with silent letters, such as the "L" (the second one) in Lincoln. So they pronounce it "Lin-ko-lin." Israel, this is not acceptable. Learn the correct way to say his name! We don't go around calling your former prime minister "Menachem Be-GIN" because "that's how we would say it in English." No! We defer to your pronounciation and call him "BAY-gin." I hereby call on the Hebrew language to formally recognize silent letters and stop with this "Lin-ko-lin" and "sal-mon" silliness.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Shabbat in Ho-Sha-Ya

First of all, for those of you who were wondering, Ariella's first experience of being Ima Shel Shabbat was a rousing success. She was soooo excited after gan about how she got to hand out the siddurim and give out her cookies. Plus, of course, wearing the Shabbat crown. Meanwhile, Yaakov is corrupting the youth of Israel one by one. On the Fridays that he has gan, they make challah. Ofira, the ganenet, told us that the first time they did this, Yaakov announced: CHA-lah! Now, all the kids call it CHA-lah instead of cha-LAH. Just bringing a little bit of America to Israel...

Anyway, we then got in the car and drove to Hoshaya. And drove. And drove. Hoshaya is beautiful, but very far away, even from itself. We eventually arrived and Sharon and I had a joyful reunion. (History lesson: The Sariels were in Riverdale for 2 years and Sharon and I taught 3rd grade together at SAR while they were there.) Donny went out for a quick tour of Moreshet, a neighboring community, before Shabbat. Friday night the kids and their bag of candy went to shul with Donny, and Yaakov took great pleasure in running wildly through the streets. He sure does like to run in streets, that boy.

[For those of you who would like a Sariel update: Sharon took off last year to be home with her baby. Now she is teaching first grade at a school in a nearby yishuv. Eli is teaching in a bunch of places and working on finishing his PhD. The kids are in 3rd grade, 1st grade, and gan, plus the baby. Eli makes an effort to talk to the kids in English so they won't forget it. They understand English pretty well. Sharon and I reverted back to our old standby - she spoke in Hebrew and I spoke in English. They are currently renting out what amounts to someone's attic in Hoshaya and looking eventually to move to a different community up north into a bigger space.]

Friday night Yaakov ate his weight in meatballs, we caught up with the Sariels, and then went back to the apartment we were sleeping at. A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door, and in walked some long-lost Leibtag cousins. They spell their last name a little differently: A-S-H-K-E-N-A-Z-I, because Ashkenazi is, in fact, their actual last name. We were trying to figure out the family connection; apparently there was some remarriage a few generations ago and the Ashkenazis are step-cousins. The husband, who is the one who's related to us, remembers going to Akron for a Leibtag bar mitzvah many years ago. The husband and wife and their kids lived on a kibbutz for 20 years and then moved to Hoshaya. It is always fun to meet olim and hear their stories, and it is also fun to meet long-lost cousins, so this was double fun.

Shabbat morning, Donny davened at the 7:30 minyan and then we took the kids to a park for a while. It was really beautiful there, and the Hoshayans use the "small stone" motif for their parks instead of sand, and the kids enjoyed putting the stones on the slide and then sliding down. The Sariels had another family of olim for dessert, and another family for seudah shlishit, so we really got to talk to different people and hear their impressions of Hoshaya.
Bottom line: Hoshaya is gorgeous (have we mentioned that?) It has a really nice community feel, plus the streets are closed on Shabbat. But, it is very far away - it is still an hour to Haifa, but by car fighting traffic instead of on the train asleep. We got a taste of this traffic on motzei Shabbat:
The city planners decided to install traffic lights in the middle of what is basically a highway. So twice we were stuck in traffic for 20 minutes because of traffic lights. Not pleasant. Also, Hoshaya has little to no amenities, in terms of doctors, supermarkets, etc. And there are very few English-speakers there. Donny has suggested we stop checking out communities because every time we go for Shabbat, we decide it's very nice, but no thanks.

Yesterday, I returned to Supersol to retrieve my credit card papers before they could start charging me fees. Apparently, and I'm sure this does not come as a surprise, they charge ridiculous fees just for the privilege of having a credit card. So I got my papers back and left quickly. Then, I went in search of a dry-cleaners. Luckily there is one not so far away, in Kaiser. I made it there without incident, but when it was time to go back, I looked at the map and decided the easiest way was to simply turn around and go back the way I came. I do this often. I don't like trying new routes. The streets are very windy and turny in Kaiser, and I was afraid if I decided to try something "new" I would end up completely lost and having to click my heels three times and wait for a nice old man in a hot-air balloon.

Later in the afternoon, I took the kids for flu shots. It was actually easier than I thought. We got to the Maccabi building at 3:50, because they reopen at 4:00. We were the only ones there. At about 4:05 I knocked on the "flu vaccine" door. A nice lady answered, but got very distressed when she saw I did not have the correct "pinkas." (Remember that word?? One of my all-time favorites!) Anyway, at tipat chalav, where they do well-check ups and all the other vaccines, you get a "pinkas chisunim" - a booklet of all the vaccinations. I only had the vaccine sheet from America. Luckily, she was able to decipher it and told me I should get it transferred to the PINKAS next time I go to tipat chalav. I agreed that I should definitely get the correct PINKAS! Because there's nothing like a good PINKAS! She gave the kids shots, it was all over in about 5 minutes, and then, to reward the kids for their Bravery and Honorable Conduct in the Face of Adversity, I took them to Big Apple Pizza. They each had a slice, some chocolate milk, and then played for a while. (The pizza store has a big outside play area with cars and a seesaw, etc.) I think they would say it was worth the shot.

I apologize to everyone, especially Sharon Sturm, for not having posted earlier.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Credit Cards

First, I would like to publicly apologize to DADZ for making fun (in a loving way, of course) of him in yesterday's post. True, Dadz is not so technologically-savvy, but neither am I, to tell the truth (Dadz and I are still trying to figure out how light bulbs work) so I really should have more consideration for the poor man. Anyway, it's not like I told the story of how he didn't know how to rewind a movie "without having to watch the whole thing backwards" and because no one was at home to help him he called me in my dorm at Stern. I mean, that would have been REALLY embarrassing! I have also refrained from discussing his unique, one-of-a-kind (thank God for that) style choices. Anyway, I digress. Dadz said he is considering throwing the Gila Rose Suitcase of Goodies overboard. So I am issuing this public apology in the hopes that I will still get my stuff in two weeks.
Digression: For those of you loyal readers, you may be wondering what, indeed Momz and Dadz could possibly be bringing for us. After all, you say, "Didn't Gila spend the ENTIRE month of August shopping for clothes and such, basically signing over her remaining paychecks from SAR to Children's Place and Target?" And the short answer, is "Yes, I did." However, as the famous saying goes in Hebrew, "Tovim Hashnayim min ha'echad." No, wait, wrong saying. Anyway, the bottom line is that somehow, there are still more things I need. Books for Ariella. Sweatpants. Puzzles. I don't even remember what else - we'll find out in 2 weeks!!

So today, I signed up for a credit card by accident. Now, there are a lot of things you can do by accident. Spill a cup of milk. Run a stop sign (yes, that's how I failed my driving test). Make aliyah. However, certain things in life need premeditation. Like, you don't just buy a house by accident. You don't get married by accident. And generally, you don't sign up for credit cards by accident. But this is my story. I was in Shufersal, and the lady checking me out started yammering to me in Hebrew. Usually all they ask is for your Supersol card and if you want to pay "ragil" or "tashlumim." (I still don't really understand the difference but I always say "ragil"). So she starts talking about something, which I gathered was the Supersol credit card. I politely declined. However, she must have reared in the Israeli Lady Pharmacist school of customer service, and she would not take no for an answer. Before I knew it, some other lady had taken my credit card and teudat zehut and I was answering questions and signing things. I kept trying to decline but they wouldn't let me. Finally, when she started asking what day I wanted the deductions taken from my bank account, I said, "I really want to ask my husband." Played the poor dumb wife card and proud of it. She said that I should come back to the customer service desk next week and BE SURE not to FORGET to come back! I said of course and then left with Ariella and our packages before I accidentally bought a house or something.

Ariella and I started our English chug together this week. The famous Morah Rita from SAR gave us lots of good ideas to help Ariella progress, in her English. As part of her lesson, Ariella wrote and illustrated a story. I will relate the story here, followed by a translation:
"The that wet to the sprnct. This gi had tlvtopgrd. HHTHHTHTH."
[The girl that went to the supermarket. No idea what that second sentence is. Hot hot hot hot hot!!! (Because there was a hot towel.)]
She is enjoying the chug very much.

Yesterday, I had a very pleasant experience at the iriyah and the Maccabi building. If I were to write a story about it, it would go like this:
"There was once a girl named Gila. She had to go pay her arnona (property tax bill) at the iriyah, because the bill came late and she was afraid that with the mail system in Israel, the check would arrive sometime in July. So she went to the iriyah. She waited a total of five minutes. A nice lady took her check and then showed Gila how next time, she could pay over the phone, with a credit card. (How awesome is that, by the way?) Then, Gila went to the Maccabi building to find out how to get flu vaccines for her children, and to get an internet code which would allow her to use the Maccabi website. Everyone was nice and helpful and Gila went home happy." See, boring story, right? But as we have discovered, boring story for you = success for me!

Yesterday our HOT (HAWT in Hebrew) wasn't working. HOT is the company with whom we have telephone and internet. So I was not a happy camper. After being on hold with HOT for half an hour, someone finally got on the phone and confirmed that, indeed, our phone and internet were not working. Nothing like some good, old-fashioned, validation! Apparently there was a problem in the area, and they said it would be fixed all by itself, which, miraculously, it was. The end.

Tomorrow Ariella is Ima Shel Shabbat, and there has not been seen happiness like this in all the days of the world. We bought cookies at Supersol today and she cannot wait to go be Ima tomorrow. She is going to wear her white shirt, because the Ima Shel Shabbat should be pretty. After that, we are headed to Hoshaya for Shabbat. This is another northern community. We are checking it out but also using it as an excuse to stay with our friends, Eli and Sharon (pronounced Shuh-RONE) Sariel. They are Israelis who were in Riverdale for two years. Sharon and I worked together at SAR, and they returned to Israel last summer. We are looking forward to another exciting Shabbat experience.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Slow Day (thank the good Lord) so I will use this time to talk about dust

Today, as the title indicates, was a slow day. Thank God! I love slow days! All my days should be slow and boring! In the morning, I got to "see" Australian Leezy, thanks to the miracle of Skype, and even got to see my blurry niece and nephew. I don't believe they are blurry in real life, although I can't be totally sure since I've never actually seen them. Skype is truly a wonderful thing. We got to see Aunt Deborah this week as well, and I'm working on Dadz to get Skype at his office. First he has to find the "on" button on his computer, but I am confident that once he does, it'll be a hop, skip and a jump....and a few more hops....another jump...just one more skip....and we'll be ready to find the "in-ter-net." He can even decide whether to use Firefox or Explorer; what's the difference, it's all Google anyway to Dadz. (This refers to an actual quotation from Dadz: "What do you mean, Google is creating their own browser? Don't they have that now? When I open the internet, Google is right there!")

So dust. There is a lot of it here. I refer here to the famous chazal: There were 10 kabins of dust given to the world. 9/10 of those kabins were given to Israel. And 9/10 of THOSE kabins were given to Gila & Donny's apartment. Dirt and dust enters my apartment by the truckload, or should I say Croc-load. Then, it mixes with drips of water - you know, when you do the dishes, the water from your hands drips on the floor, or when kids have wet feet after the bath? That water - and creates what scientists call "mud." The floors fluctuate between "dirty" and "filthy" despite my efforts to sweep and mop ("sponga" in Hebrew). And the brooms are just not aggressive enough against the grains of dirt and dust. I'm starting to think they're actually in cahoots with the dust motes. I mean, you sweep, and the brooms sort of lovingly caress each bit of dust and hold onto them for dear life, so they all stick to the broom and then end up...back on the floor. And Arica "Factor" Saltzman tells me, "You think it's bad now? Just wait till it starts raining! Then it's REALLY bad!" Well, I sure am looking forward to that! It sounds like some kind of fun! However, I do get a great deal of satisfaction from scrubbing the floors before Shabbat, safe in the knowledge that for 3 whole minutes - right after I've mopped, while the kids' feet are safely tucked away in the bath, and Donny's in the corner "fixing" the Vonage ("Can you [crackle crackle crackle] beeeeeeeeeeep....") - my floors will be sparkling clean. Ahhh....breathe in that chemical-based floor cleaner and exhale slowly. It's a beautiful sight.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Shabbat and other random thoughts

We had a lovely Shabbat in Kiryat Shmuel, which I found out is NOT the same as Kiryat Motzkin. I guess using them interchangeably is sort of like being one of those New Yorkers who think Baltimore and Silver Spring is the same place. Anyway, our hosts, the Hershtals, have a very cute house in Kiryat Shmuel. Donny and I slept in the guest room downstairs, and they planned on the kids sleeping on a futon mattress in their kids' room (they have a 5 year old boy, a 3 year old boy, and an 8-month old girl, who did not get to be part of the fun.) I wasn't sure if the whole concept was going to work, but by the time 8:00 rolled around, the four big kids were all BFFs and happily tramped upstairs for their first ever sleepover. Ariella and Yaakov were pretty cute together on the mattress; of course, Yaakov was the last one asleep and fell asleep on, you guessed it, the floor, wedged between the mattress and a bookcase. (We moved him, not to worry.)
One of the big plusses to Kiryat Shmuel is the playground that we visited on Shabbat morning. On the ground, to cushion the inevitable falls, was that fancy rubberized stuff - NO SAND! Score one for Kiryat Shmuel! Shabbat afternoon, the Hershtals invited many of other Anglos over so we could meet more people. (KS is the kind of place where when we asked how many English-speakers there were, the Hershtals responded by listing every one of their names - i.e. not a lot.) The people were incredibly nice and friendly. The downside to KS is that it's very far away - it's on the train line to Donny's office, but it was a solid 2 hours from Modi'in, because it's north of Haifa. The housing market is also kind of small, especially for the kind of American-sized mansion we are looking for. So there is a lot of potential, but the verdict is still out.

On Sunday, we received a call from our favorite Australian sister, Leezy! Even though with the time difference I think it is, in fact, already 2009 there, she was able to find a few moments to call us. I even got to hear Dov "Dahv" Bensky in the background. For those of you keeping track, it has been 4.5 years since we last saw Leezy. There also currently exist a nephew and niece which we have never laid eyes on, except in Facebook pictures. This is sad. We miss you Leezy!!!!!

Some funny Ariella stories. Yesterday, for the first time, she wrote the entire aleph-bet! I was so proud of her, because in September, she recognized only a few of the letters, and couldn't write them at all. However, her "hitkadmut" in Hebrew comes along with a little backsliding in English - after writing the aleph-bet, she decided to write her ABCs. She has known how to write the alphabet for at least a year and a half, and even started to read a little over the summer. However, when she wrote the alphabet it was...backward. Not only were the letters going from right to left, but some of them were actually mirror images. Oy! I need to start a little English chug with her before things get too bad. Speaking of chugim, she started attending an Ivrit chug last Wednesday. The chug is especially for new olim in gan chova. She LOVED it, because now she has ulpan like Mommy, and it is even in my ulpan classroom.
Another funny story: On our Pesach tape (it is ALWAYS Chodesh Nissan in our car), they include the song, "Go Down Moses" with an introduction about how it is also a song about slavery. Ariella started asking me about the slaves, and I explained to her how the black people were slaves, and they sang this song because they wanted to be freed just like the Jews had been freed. Silence. Then, "So first the Jews were slaves to Pharaoh in Mitzrayim and then the black people?" No, the black people were slaves in America, many many many years later. Silence. Then, "So how did Pharaoh get to America?" Oy vey. Historical context is lost on the very young. (And on many third graders, I might add. "So, is King John still alive today?" one child asks. "Yeah, he's about 80," responds another.)

Many of you in America have probably been inundated with Christmas advertising since about mid-August. Well, it seems we have a similar problem here. The week Sukkot ended, I was in Supersol. Guess what they had out? Sufganiot! I thought it was just a one-time thing, but they've had them out every time that I've been there. I guess people all over the world just want to look forward to the next party.

In another Supersol episode: Last week, I wanted to buy ground meat. There was a sign at the meat counter which said if you want ground meat, "ana panu laktzav." I puzzled over that. Ok, ana = please. Panu = turn. Katzav was stumping me. I remembered the word "katzav" from the back of our Kokoman cereal. We looked it up one Shabbos - it meant "dance" in a hip-hoppy, rhythmy sort of way. Clearly, there was only one thing to do: Turn around in the aisles, dancing rhythmically, preferably flapping my arms and singing (I made up that last part, but I figured it couldn't hurt) and then they will give you ground meat. Luckily, I tested my luck and just asked the butcher for ground meat instead. It worked, and he didn't even give me a dirty look when I didn't break into a dance. When I went home later, I re-looked up "katzav." It turns out that "ketzev" means rhythm. "Katzav" means...butcher. Logical, but much less fun.

Today in ulpan, I was able to show off a little of my "Israel at 60" knowledge. Thank you, SAR! We were reading a text ("text" in Hebrew) about Theodore Herzl ("Hair-tzel" in Hebrew). I would just like to publicly thank whoever was involved in the "Personalities" group of the "Israel at 60" project at SAR (Full disclosure: I was one of them) because I sure knew my stuff! That "Personalities" group did some comprehensive research, and here I am referring to the four facts that I put on the back of Jeopardy game cards. In addition, in the book today, there was a picture of Herzl, and I was correctly able to label the picture as "Herzl" and not "Chana Senesh" "Nechama Leibovich" or "Rav Kook."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Two Posts in One Day!

I thought I was done blogging for the day, because all that was left was picking up Ariella, going to Supersol, getting Yaakov, and then the regular evening routine of dinner, bath, and bedtime/wander around the apartment and fall asleep on the floor. Regular stuff. I figured I would post next after our Shabbat experience. HOWEVER, I had a very harrowing plant-buying experience that I would like to share.

First, in response to Leezy's question: Yes, they did do projects out of recyclable materials at SAR. I think what I was trying to say was that here, it's out of necessity. At SAR, they had the means to buy the newest, state-of-the-art art equipment, in addition to using boxes and paper towel rolls, etc. Here, they really have to make do with what they can get for free or donated. (There was a looooong list sent home at the beginning of school asking for all kinds of supplies and services to be donated to the gan.)

**** Public Service Announcement ****

Jonathan, if you are still reading, Leezy would like to know how to use citric acid to clean her urn. She asked this question in the "Comments" section but since you don't even check your own voicemail, you probably aren't checking the comments on this blog. So if you are reading this, please get in touch with your sister and help her with her urn.

**** End of Announcement ****

Also, 30 million poofahs are hereby awarded to Saba, for noting the use of citric acid in stuffed cabbage. This is an authentic recipe, in that his mother made actual stuffed cabbage and used actual citric acid in it. Correct me if I'm wrong, Momz and Jonathan, but I don't believe you have ever actually made "lollipops" or "paneer." So Saba gets an extra 5 poofahs.

One more item to take care of before we can move on:

Leezy asked a number of questions in the Comments section. Normally, I would answer these personal questions in an email to Leezy. However, since she posted the question in a public forum, I will answer them here, plus you all know so much about my personal life anyway, boundary lines are disappearing like crazy. So here we go:

1. We took care of your citric acid question above.

2. We do have skype! And a webcam! Look us up - I am gila.rose. Original, no?

3. No, I can't tell you any more about Shabbat! I've told you all I know! We are staying at a very nice (at least I hope) family and once we've gone, I will surely have more information to share. For now, it's just Kiryat Motzkin. Shabbat. Roses.

4. Donny and ulpan: Donny is doing ulpan "on the job" which means he's not really doing ulpan since everyone at Microsoft speaks excellent English, and furthermore, they all want to practice their English with him. However, there are many situations during which he is called on to speak Hebrew; we called these moments "ulpan by accident." For example, the people at work who deal with the car leasing program and the cellphones spoke only Hebrew, plus a few people at work have taken it upon themselves to be Donny's ulpan teachers. So his ulpan by accident seems to be working so far. The aliyah people have discussed opening up a night ulpan, but come on, who is going to come home after a long day of work and voluntarily spend more hours sitting in a classroom practicing their hifil and hufal?

Now to the planting.

On Sunday Ariella came home from gan with a very wordy notice and a business card from a nursery (plants, not children), offering 10% off for Gan Shoham families. I said to myself, "Gee, I should really read this note and see what it's all about," at which point I put it on the table, promptly forgot about it, and ate a Milky. Also on Sunday, there was a note taped to the gan door also having to do with planting a garden and a meeting that was happening on Friday.

On Monday or Tuesday, I said to myself, I really should read this note now. Maybe there's something I have to do. But the gan method for letting parents know about important upcoming events is to plaster a sticky note to the children's shirt, with a message scrawled on it. For example, before Yom Kippur, there was a sticky note that said make sure to bring in coins the next day for kapparot. So I figured if there was something I needed to do, buy, bring, or boil (you never know) I would be apprised of it via the very effective Sticky Note Method. I skimmed the sheet and saw it was something about planting, a nursery, the environment. It seemed very flowery (pun intended) and not too important. I surmised: They're starting a planting project in school, there's an optional meeting about it on Friday, and they're giving us a gift of 10% off at a nursery if we want to do planting with the children at home. B'seder, I thought, then promptly forgot about it and ate a Milky.

Now we come to Thursday. Ariella comes out of gan with a scrap of paper with something scribbled on it. Uh-oh, I start to think, a small scrap of paper - that means something important. This whole planting thing is probably not what I thought it was. Meanwhile, Morah Maya (who I swear has the fastest Hebrew this side of Kvish Shesh. It's not only my pathetic Hebrew - when I talk to Yaakov's ganenet, she has much clearer Hebrew and I never have trouble understanding her. With Maya I feel like I'm running a race and always losing) runs after me. "Did you buy her plants?" Huh? "Didn't you read the note we sent home this week?" she says, aghast. And now I had to admit that I only read part of it. "Ahhh," she said, her eyes alight with understanding, "you didn't understand it." I couldn't explain that I figured it was one of those random notices, like kids get by the pound at SAR. ("The PTC is sponsoring a speaker!" "Buy flowers to support Israel!" "Be part of the chocolate sale!" You know, the notices that the very good and involved parents read and act upon, but I just throw out?) So Maya starts to explain inveryrapidHebrew that the children and parents are going to be part of a planting project ("pro-yekt") tomorrow and chaval if Ariella can't be part of it. I needed to go to this random nursery in Shilat (a shopping center a few minutes away) and buy the necessary items, and then a parent (I hereby nominate Donny!) needs to come in on Friday and do the planting with the child.

Yonah Wolf, father of Aiden, Ariella's best buddy in school, was also there. I looked at him and said, "So, wanna ride to Shilat?" We then got the kids in the car, ran back home to get the business card with the 10% off on it (a gift - yeah, right), and then headed out to Shilat. Shilat is a very strangely set up shopping center. There is a main area, and then there are tiny little dirt roads shooting off in every direction, with little random shops down each one. Imagine the parking lot of 7 Mile on a Thursday night, with twice as many cars and half the space, and dirt instead of pavement. So of course our nursery is not in the main, easy-to-access area, but down a dirt road, filled with tiny, narrow, two-way streets complete with trucks bearing down on you from the opposite direction and honking at you to get out of the way, but where can you go because there are cars driving behind you and cars parked on both sides of the road and you have to drive backwards up a windy hill all the while using one hand to talk to Lisa so she can tell you where the heck this nursery is, and eventually you find it.

We went in, found the things we needed to buy (4 potted plants, 3 bulbs, 2 of which need to be soaked overnight before planting. Being a parent in Israel is definitely a full-time job) and left without incident. Of course when I got home and looked more closely at the note, I saw that I was supposed to take Ariella on a tour of the nursery and:

1. Ask Ariella questions about the kinds of plants, how they are grown, note the similarities and differences, and then write a 10-page term paper complete with a bibliography and fancy cover.

2. Take a picture of Ariella at the nursery.

3. I did neither #1 nor #2.

First, I would like to suggest to Nefesh B' Nefesh that instead of finding me an adoptive family, find me a fellow Gan Shoham parent who speaks some English and can help me navigate the ins and outs of this school. I think that would be far more helpful than finding people to invite us for lunch on Shabbat. For example, an adoptive gan mother would have said on Sunday, "By the way, make sure to read that note carefully because there is a planting project on Friday - if you have any questions, call me." They could also help parents acclimate to the culture and expectations of the child's particular gan. Like, "Don't send noodles for aruchat eser." So now Nefesh B'Nefesh has my two-cents, or approximately 9 agurot.

There are a couple things about this whole incident that are jarring to someone who is used to American Jewish day schools. There is a level of involvement that I am not used to. In SAR, maybe the parents would have been asked for a few dollars to help offset the cost of a project, but probably nothing would have been expected of parents except to show up and help plant. Obviously, this is because tuition at SAR is many jillions of dollars more than at Gan Shoham; I understand why the gans need to do what they do, it's just that I'm not used to it. Also, there is this strange phenomenom in Israel of Fridays, where parents are home and kids are in school. So any parent activity is naturally going to be on a Friday, which to parents working full workweeks is akin to asking them to come in to school on a Sunday. Of course we want to participate in the projects and parties, but I can foresee that it can get annoying when you keep spending your one errand-and-taking-care-of-stuff day at your child's school. When Donny mentioned to someone at work how he likes the whole kids in school on Friday thing, the response was, "Just wait until the Friday activities start." Ahhh, now we are enlightened Israeli parents.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Presents, recycling, weather, and exciting upcoming events

Donny has safely returned from Turkey. We are glad to have him home. He had an excellent three days of living in a hotel, going to meetings and eating tuna from a can. Modern-day Turkey is not known as being a bastion of kosher food or other Jewishness. In fact, their slogan is, "There's nothing we love more than American Jews! Especially American Jews living in Israel!" He came back with presents for everyone: A motorcycle for Yaakov (more Ben Gurion-ish than Turkish) and a beautiful scarf for Ariella, which she brought to gan today and I am sure will quickly become snagged or torn or damaged in some way, because beautiful scarves are not meant to be dragged down the slide or buried in sand ("Maybe we can grow more scarves!"), and I am even more sure when such damage occurs there will be great heartache in the House of Rose. Next time, I told Donny, just get her a chocolate bar. As for me, I received a beautiful new router, so that Donny can continue to "fix" our Vonage. ("Can you [crackle crackle] [static static] now?")

Recycling: As many of you know, Israel is woefully behind on some sort of national recycling program. They do have large wire contraptions outside of apartment buildings and supermarkets where you can place empty water bottles. I'm not sure what is actually done with the water bottles. I think someone way high up in the government is saving them up to build a HUGE representation of the Taj Mahal. Or maybe Dimri Towers. In any case, that's about the only recycling that happens here...or so I thought. The other form of recycling takes place at gans all around the country, or at least in Ariella's gan here in Modi'in. (Remember, I frequently make sweeping generalizations based on my own personal experiences.) Ariella comes home with projects and pictures made out of recyclable materials. I don't think they are doing this in order to teach a unit on the environment, I think the schools are just strapped for cash and use every resource available. For example, a lovely rendering of all the numbers 0 - 100 (which Ariella actually did one day this week in gan - her teachers were very impressed, and Ariella asked me, "What does 'kol hakavod' mean?") will be done on the back of a memo. Other more involved projects are done using cereal boxes. We have started bringing in our empty cereal boxes, since we go through approximately 3 hijillion a week, to gan for use in their projects. I heartily applaud this movement. Why throw out the cereal box, when you can bring it to gan, use it for a project, ooh and aaah over said project, and then, three weeks later, throw it out? Might as well get as much use out of old notices and boxes as you can.

Weather: Last week (in case you forgot, it was the week of sick children and failed driving tests), it turned cold and rainy. I figured, ok, it's fall/winter now, and we switched all the children's clothes, a very exciting afternoon activity. This week, however, the weather returned to the low eighties. Can you believe that? So while you all are freezing and wearing sweaters and winter coats and tights (tights - ugh, although now that it's November it's allowed), we, occasionally, might wear a long-sleeve shirts instead of short-sleeved ones. And maybe we'll put a sweatshirt in our backpack, just in case. The truth is, it's been very windy, and in the morning and evening it gets chilly, but our whole perspective on "fall" and "winter" has changed. Ariella keeps asking me when the leaves are going to turn different colors and when it's going to finally be winter. The Israeli mentality has already turned to winter, though, and even during these warm days, all the kids are going to gan in long sleeves, pants, and sweatshirts.

Today I ditched ulpan. Bad, I know, but we had a substitute the past 2 days, and she just wasn't up to snuff. Plus, no one in ulpan wanted to do anything fun, like switch names or drop all our books at exactly 9:20. So what's the point of having a sub? I instead elected to stay home, clean, bathrooms, do laundry, and blog. I think it's been time well spent.

Upcoming Events:
So some of you have been asking about our future plans. And I am not referring to whether or not we will be wearing a sweatshirt tomorrow. I am talking about where we are going to live. Since Donny is enjoying his job in Haifa, we are looking to make a move up north so we can be closer to the office. He does like the daily train ride (read: nap), but it is quite long and makes it harder for him to get stuff done. Please don't ask me what kind of "stuff" - it's been over eight years and I still haven't really figured it out, other than "go to meetings all day." Anyway, being near Haifa would hopefully be a good move, because then Donny can, in theory, come home for dinner on occasion and see his children more than once a week. So we are in the process of researching northern communities. This Shabbat, we travel to Kiryat Motzkin aka Kiryat Shmuel (not sure why it has two names - figuring that out is one of our goals this Shabbat.) Kiryat Motzkin aka Kiryat Shmuel is very close to Haifa, so much so that it in fact is IN Haifa. It is a dati community within the city of Haifa. We will report back on our findings at the beginning of next week.

For discussion:
If the apartment becomes dirty approximately five minutes after I've finished cleaning it, do you think it will become clean five minutes after I make it dirty?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Citric Acid - A Hot Topic

First, a few updates:

Husband: Still in Turkey

Son: Asleep in his bed, I believe, although I don't want to check and find out I'm wrong

Driving Test: Still failed

I would like to award 30 million poofahs to the following people, who found recipes using citric acid: Jonathan "500 Words or Less" Rose, and Momz "What I REALLY Do All Day is Comment on the Blog and Make Funny Faces Into My Computer Camera At My Grandchildren" Leibtag. (Yes, she has a very hard time fitting that onto nametags.) Anyway, you are all invited to come over next week when we dehydrate fruit and make lollipops with Uncle Jonathan! The following week, don't miss our Paneer Party! (BYOSS - bring your own stone slab.) To the other comments re citric acid: I would like to award Yael, Leezy, and Cheryl with some consolation poofahs - 25,000 for commenting, although "Cleaning Urns and Washing Machines" does NOT constitute a recipe.

I would like to note here that I am enjoying the more interactive nature of the blog, with all of the fun and helpful comments from loyal readers such as yourself. In addition to being fun to read, they also provide fodder for my next entry, since I can make fun of - I mean integrate - the comments into the post. So keep commenting, and don't forget to keep track of your poofahs! I am glad to also be doing my part for tikkun olam, as I am bringing together people who haven't spoken in years. Witness the heartfelt conversation between Leezy "Alisa" Bensky and Jonathan Rose. (See: Comments) Reconnecting a long-lost brother with his sister! It's like one of those after-school specials! And I would like to mention here my good friends, former classmates, and loyal readers Shana and Sbad, who I haven't been in touch with since the late '90s, (the years of nivim, coat sales, and jumping out of the window during Spanish class.) It's nice to know you're still out there!

Anyway, in other news....
We had a very exciting dinner with the Balsams last night, minus the fathers, because, as Ariella said, "Nafi's at work and Daddy's at Turkey." The children entertained themselves by dressing up and Yaakov gallantly played Prince Charming to Michali's Cinderella when he helped her put on her high-heeled shoe after it fell off. Lisa and I also learned an important parenting lesson, which will surely be included in my book: If you want your children to eat dinner, don't cook it yourself. Dinner, even if it's pease porridge in the pot nine days old, is always better when served by someone else.

Tipat chalav actually called me back today, and scheduled Yaakov's second Hep A shot for December 9th. I was able to conduct the entire conversation in Hebrew (ok, basically, she just wanted our Teudat Zehut numbers, but still...). The woman was very friendly and helpful.

We met friendly people in Dimri! Sort of! So there is this Communal Aliyah Program in Modi'in, which gives new olim money and and other helpful things, though not as helpful as money. One of the helpful things they are supposed to do is connect you with a "big brother" kind of family that will take care of you. Well, we never got our "family" in the beginning. It turns out, you just need to wait two months! Today, I got a call from a very nice lady who lives in the next building who was calling to check in and see if we needed anything. (She actually thought we had just made aliyah this week, because she only got our name and number on Sunday. It's the thought that counts, people!) Anyway, she seemed nice and she has a son in the adjacent gan next to Ariella's. So maybe we'll have a friend!

The success of the Poofah Program has given me pause (what the HECK does that mean?) and made me think that I should perhaps write a book on teaching techniques as well. I am accepting comments for the title of my book. Some ideas so far:
1. "Get A Clue" (Which works well because it can refer to students, parents, or administrators)
2. "The Holes Go On the LEFT!"
3. "Why Does He Keep Pouring Soup? And Other Musings"
4. " I JUST Answered That"
5. [Your idea here.]

Monday, November 3, 2008

Driving test, baking soda, husband, mosquito bites, and poofah update

Driving Test: Still failed

Baking soda: Still missing at Shufersal; luckily Lisa came to save the day and brought me lots and lots of baking soda. It would be enough to fill a sandbox, if it wasn't already filled with vanilla sugar ("with cinnamon!") Sbad, I did look in the spice aisle, and I saw a promising container with white stuff in it, but it turned out to be "citric acid." I am hereby awarding 30 million poofahs to anyone who can come up with an actual recipe that calls for "citric acid."

Husband: In Turkey. I neglected to mention this previously. Donny left for Turkey on Sunday, for a business trip. Definitely more exotic than Seattle, where his previous business trips took him. I mean, in Turkey, you can get all kinds of cool stuff! ....hmmmm, wait, I'm sure I'll think of something... Delight? Rugs? Coffee? I'm personally hoping for a nice burka. Anyway, Donny is having a lovely time in Turkey, although there isn't much to eat other than the sad little tuna cans he brought, but we know he will make up for the lack of eating when he returns to the Land of Milk and Honey. (Here I am referring to the Microsoft office in Haifa.) He returns to us on Wednesday.

Mosquito bites: There are mosquito colonies (do mosquitos live in colonies? Flocks? Villages? Townships?) that are dedicated to torturing Ariella and me. For some reason, the men (and here I am including Yaakov as well, despite his penchant for clomping around in his sister's dress-up heels) do not seem to be as attractive to the pesky little buggers. (I had a burning desire to use stronger language than "pesky" but this is a family-friendly blog and so I will keep the strong language to a minimum, but because I am on a computer, I can say this: &%$^#$%%##%% mosquitos!) The mosquito bites actually wake me up in the middle of the night because they are so horribly itchy. Some days, every brain cell is consumed with the bites. Gotta scratch. Stop scratching them! Gotta scratch. Stop scratching! And so on. Today I noticed that I had three on my face. I put some anti-itch stuff on my face, and when I went to use the bathroom during the break in ulpan, I looked in the mirror and noticed the cream had dried and was flaking all over my face. I sure was a pretty picture! Why am I telling you this? Because Momz bugs me until I blog and I didn't really have anything to say tonight, and as I was typing I was scratching my face off (Stop scratching!) so now you know all about it.

Poofahs: Hereby awarded to "Sbad," Lisa, Momz, Yael, and Sharon "Anonymous" Sturm. To answer Laurie's question, no, there is no reward for poofahs. The reward is in simply collecting the poofahs and watching your collection grow.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Update on driving test: Still failed

In case you were wondering, no, I did not magically pass my driving test over the weekend. the failure from Thursday still remains. This is very sad, not to mention nerve-wracking and panic-inducing. The reason for such intense feelings is that if one fails the Israeli driving test a second time, one must take 28, that's TWENTY-EIGHT, two tens plus eight ones, driving lessons (at 120 NIS a pop), a WRITTEN exam, in HEBREW, plus ANOTHER driving exam. I am using a lot of CAPITALS to emphasize the IMPORTANCE of NOT FAILING again. Hence the panic. In the meantime, I need to wait two weeks, for that is the law of the land. "Those who fail must wait in penance for two weeks, contemplating their failurehood, until allowed to retake the test." (For those of you who want all the harrowing and gory details of my test, you may email me privately and I may or may not decide to share them with you. Let's just say it was not my finest hour. Or, rather, my finest three minutes, because that's all of the test I completed.)

Anyway, the good news is that both kiddies went to gan today! One whole day of gan! The one good thing about Ariella being home basically all week is that she was VERY ready to go back to gan and told me what a good day she had. On Friday, she still wasn't feeling 100% but she was desperate to go to gan because she didn't want to miss the Shabbos party, and she had already missed the Rosh Chodesh party the day before. She was not happy when we told her she should stay home and get better. So today she was relieved to not have to stay home with "mean and boring Mommy." (It's my official title; I'm thinking of having it put on a t-shirt.)

Tomorrow we return to Supersol, aka Shufersal. We continue the hunt for baking soda. This hunt began a few weeks ago, when I realized, that, in fact, I needed baking soda. There was none to be found in Supersol or any of the other stores I checked. This strikes me as odd. Baking soda is not the kind of thing that can be "out of season," can it? Are there baking soda bushes out there in the Galil that are sensitive to climate change? I am down to my last few teaspoons of the precious substance. In the baking aisle, there is plenty of baking powder, and enough "vanilla sugar" to fill a sandbox. I'm not sure what the Israeli obsession with vanilla sugar is. There are always large quantities for sale, and they come in varieties, such as "vanilla sugar with cinnamon." Also in abundance are cornstarch, ground coconut, and poppy seeds. I would like to know how Israelis can use these exotic ingredients in their cooking if they CAN'T BUY BAKING SODA.

I will keep you updated in our baking soda search, which may very well end in Lisa's pantry.

Poofah update:
I would like to hereby award 23,500 poofahs to: Momz, Donny, Laurie, and Shira, who left comments on the previous post. Keep up the good work! If anyone else is feeling jealous and would like to earn themselves some good, old-fashioned poofahs, feel free to comment! I am now offering 20,839 poofahs for the next 5 commentors.

Now, I must go on my nightly Yaakov search, to see which floor of the apartment he has chosen to fall asleep on, then pick him up and transfer him to his bed. Every night is a surprise!