Sunday, December 28, 2008

Chanukah (sniff sniff) comes to an end

First of all, I must publicly apologize to Dadz. No wonder he's been so sad and wandering around with that woebegone look on his face! Many people, apparently, are reading the blog instead of giving kappayim to Dov! Poor Dadz! I beg of you, if you see Dadz around town - which in Dadz's world, consists of "the office" and "Dunkin' Donuts" - give the man some kappayim! In other poll results - Shoshana, stop reading this blog and get started on your anecdotals! And to the poor children who have no dinner to eat - I apologize profusely.

For those of you who are curious and are not friends with Leezy "Alisa Bensky" on Facebook - our new nephew's name is Yisrael Meir. Welcome to the tribe! (For those of you who like this sort of family trivia, Donny and I now each have a "Leezy" and a "Yisrael.")

Now, onto Jonathan. Jonathan was here for a sibling Chanukah dinner (sorry you couldn't be here, Leeze!). He said that he only reads the bolded words on the blog to get the basic gist of things. So we have left a special message for Jonathan in the blog. It is encoded in a way that only Jonathan will be able to read and understand.

So Shabbat with the Kleins was excellent. Tani impressed us all with his amazing ability to 'pin a dreidel - it is quite remarkable. In fact, that is not the only thing Netanel can do. He knows his letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. Yaakov, on the other hand, wouldn't know a "Y" if it came up and banged him over the head, although if it did that, he would definitely pull its hair. But that's ok. Yaakov has many amazing qualities of his own; namely, his ability to consume large amounts of hot dogs. Also, he can say "One second," like he's fifteen instead of two. Also.....well, he's very cute, which is good because the cuteness has to make up for a LOT. Anyway, back to Shabbat....the one very eventful event on Shabbat was that my Pyrex baking dish exploded Friday night! Luckily no one was hurt. I had taken the dish off the hot plate and put it on the counter, and bam, it completely cracked and broke, with large shards of glass flying everywhere. Luckily, Uncle Elie, who is a "Man with a Plan and a Swiffer," sensed a mess was nearby and saved the day with his quick sweeping actions. Yaakov, not to be outdone, broke his glass during the meal. So if you come visit, I recommend wearing shoes.

On Sunday, both kids were home again so Lisa and I took the kids to Neot Kedumim, to get some much-needed fresh air. A fun time was had by all. The kids made candles out of beeswax, and we took a train ride all around the park, the highlight of which was the Chanukah songs they played during the ride. We also saw a large olive press and made our own "kad katans" out of clay. We were very impressed with Michali, who is now toilet-trained and had an accident-free day at the park. Did you hear that, Yaakov? The toilet! Yes, one can actually use the toilet for something other than a receptacle for large wads of toilet paper. It is not only a toy! We did recently bring up Yaakov's toilet seat from the machsan, and he loves to sit on it, and he does very politely ask if anything wants to come out, but the main attraction is the ability to shove half a roll of toilet paper in and then flush. Sigh.

Last night, we had Y&Y, Hanani, and the elusive Uncle Jonathan for dinner. A lovely time was had by all, especially Jonathan, who will subsist off the leftover chicken bits for weeks to come. Ariella and Yaakov entertained everyone, especially Hanani, by running around like crazy people. We also very much enjoyed the variety of sufganiot from Marzipan that the Blochs brought with them, and with those donuts, our sufganiya-tasting contest has come to an end. The winners: Marzipan and Oogat Anglit. Today, Yaakov went back to gan, and Ariella and I are having a quiet day at home. Ariella read some books to me, and soon we will head out the door to our favorite place - Supersol. Question: If I am constantly buying food, how come there is never anything to eat?

PS Jonathan - I hope it wasn't too taxing reading only the bolded words.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Chanukah, oh Chanukah

Well, here we are, in approximately our 100th day of Chanukah, or thereabouts. So much has happened, it's hard to remember it all, it's just a jumble of sufganiot and dreidels. On Wednesday, Yaakov had a half day of gan, so Ariella and I hung out in the morning, and then got Yaakov at 12, picked up pizza and headed over to Lisa's to eat lunch with Lisa and Michali. Lisa was stranded for the day since her husband had taken the car (bad!) and her two older kids (good!) to work for the day. So we hung out for a while and then came back home. Yaakov fell asleep in the car, but he needed his beauty rest to get ready for...his Chanukah mesibah!!!!

After baths and beautification, and the arrival of DADDY at the homestead, we headed out the door. Yaakov's party was called for 5, and then we were going to Bet Shemesh to L&E's for a party/siyum. We got to gan at 4:55, and got good seats right up front. The whole apartment was totally tricked out for the party - "Pimp My Gan" - and it was all very exciting. Then, we waited. And waited. There were two kids who were late, and the ganenet wanted to wait for them, which was very nice, except the other nine kids were running around and/or crying like crazy people for the next twenty minutes. Finally, the show started. And I do mean show. Ophira, the ganenet, had told all the kids to come in a white shirt. I figured they just wanted everyone to be in party attire. But no. That was not the reason. The party started, they turned on the music and off the lights, and they had one of those special lights that makes white things look purple, you know? That was why they wanted the kids in white - for the special effects portion of the evening. First, we danced with our children. Then, the kids were herded into the kitchen and put on their dreidel costumes. Each "act" was complete with its own prop or two, loud music, dances, hand motions, lighting effects, the works. Our son, or should I say, Donny's son, stood there. As he said, it was a flashback to his own childhood when he stood, frozen, at school parties. The party he had been anticipating for weeks was finally here, and he just stood there. (At first he didn't want to leave our laps, but finally agreed to let Ariella walk him to his spot.) He did walk around in circles when appropriate, but he didn't lie down on the floor, shake his various shaky things, twirl around, put his hands up in the air, bang, jump, clap, put his right hand in, put his left hand out, etc. etc. He seemed so totally overwhelmed - poor guy. (The best part was during the sufganiya song. The kids were supposed to be sleeping dounuts and the morot went around and patted them on their heads. Which sufganiya was NOT sleeping? You got - our little Yaakov. Typical, typical.) However, I can't say I blamed him for not participating. What would have been wrong with sitting in a circle and singing "Maoz Tzur" and, Yaakov's favorite, "Kad Katan?" The music was blaring so that you couldn't even hear the kids singing, such as it was. The darkness, loud music, all the parents snapping pictures... Ariella's mesibah was a similarly overblown, technicolor production that was more about "show" than "showcasing the kids." I really respect and admire both kids' teachers, but I don't know what happens Chanukah time - they go crazy with these mesibot! And neither party really reflected what the kids could do. I have to give a shout-out here to the SAR mesibot, whether it was Chanukah, birthday parties, Yom Ha'Atzmaut, etc. They really knew how to put on an appropriate, kid-centered party which allowed the kids to participate individually as well as in the group.

Another interesting aside, since we're being all serious and pontificating here, mind as well get it all over with at once: Many of the frum Christians in America complain that the religion is absent from Christmas these days - it's all about Santa and presents and trees. It seems that there is something similar here with Chanukah. On the one hand, it's the Great Equalizer - all Israelis, dati or not, celebrate Chanukah. Probably more light a menorah than put up a sukkah. On the other hand, Chanukah has become more about the trifecta of dreidel-latke-sufganiya than Bet HaMikdash-Macabees-miracles. At Yaakov's gan party for examle (the gan is not dati; I looked around at the party and thought how ironic it was that we ended up at this gan, being the only dati people and the only English speakers), they did not start off with candle lighting and Maoz Tzur. All the songs they sang were these popular children's songs with a traditional/nationalistic bent - about sleeping sufganiot, spinning dreidels, and one of those slow, put-your-arms-around-each-other-and-sway songs called "Anachnu Navi Et Ha'Or." Yaakov definitely learned the other Chanukah songs and has been singing them at the top of his lungs for weeks (well, he more or less knows the beginning and end of each line, so one of the songs, called "Chanukiyah li yesh" comes out as "Chanukiah [mumble mumble] YESH/doleket [mumble mumble] AISH" and so on. But the focus at the party was dreidels-latkes-doughnuts. I found a similar phenomenom at the Microsoft party we went to on Thursday. Anyway, there are my thoughts, take 'em or leave 'em.

Phew! So many insights, so little time. Back to the gan party. So we left the party a little early to head over to Bet Shemesh, where the Kleins were hosting a family Chanukah party. We got there late, but Leezy was nice enough to wrest some latkes away from her nephews and save them for us. Yum! I don't know about you, but I have a One-Latke rule - I only make them once during the chag. I will, however, eat them as many times as possible, so it was very exciting to be able to eat latkes that someone else made. After dinner, they invited a few men over so Elie could make a siyum. Leezy brought out some desserts - cookies, a big tray of candy, and nuts - to munch on. Yaakov and Ariella actually attacked the candy, like they hadn't seen it in ages, when in fact, they still had a piece in their mouths from two minutes before. (That's another thing about Chanukah here - it's like eight days of Purim, candy-wise. You know those dreidels that they fill with candy? Well, the kids basically had two of those each night. Ariella got one from her party. Yaakov got one from his. We bought to give out to all the kids at the party. Leezy also gave one out to all the kids. Momz and Dadz sent us a big, beautiful package of candies. Then the kids each got one more the next night at Microsoft! I'm surprised their teeth haven't just given up and fallen out.) Anyway, after the siyum, Leezy brought out ice cream and doughnuts, which we attacked like we hadn't seen a doughnut since...Yaakov's party one hour before. We left around 8:00 to head back to Modi'in. It was an exhausting, but fun, night of partying. Chanukah has got Pesach beat as Most Tiring Holiday.

Thursday started off as Pamaja Day - Yay! No one had gan, Donny took the car so he could get the tires fixed, so we were stuck inside, which was not a bad thing. The kids were thrilled to be able to eat in their pjs and play with all of their new goodies. They spent the morning playing with play-dough and eating taffies. Guess I should be glad it wasn't the other way around. The Microsoft party was called for 4:00, and we were taking a 2:00 train. We've been promising the kids since September that on Chanukah, we would take the train and see Daddy at work, so here was our chance. All Thursday morning the weather was gray, cloudy, and drizzly. Then, about 1:15, fifteen minutes before we needed to leave for the train, it started to POUR. I have found that the rainstorms here don't last so long, but when it rains, it's really intense. So of course, when we left to walk to the train station (about a 7 minute walk), it was pouring buckets. We had coats and an umbrella, but what we needed was full-body gear. We've walked there before, since it's right near the mall, but always in dry weather. Therefore, I hadn't quite counted on:
1. The Lack of Sidewalks
2. The Preponderance of Mud.
3. The Rivers running down the side of Sderot Chashmonaim, so every time a car, bus, or even bike drove in the right lane, we got totally splattered with dirty water. We couldn't even move to the side and out of range because of #2.
4. The Need to Cross the Street, and said Rivers. Ariella and I could sort of jump over the river, but poor Yaakov's feet went right into the water, thereby soaking his feet, and mine, by way of splashing. By the time we got on the train, we were all soaked from the knees down. I let Yaakov take off his socks and shoes so I could wring out the socks. I hoped they would dry somewhat by the time we got off, but they stayed just as wet and only got colder. However, the kids had a fabulous time on the train. There are four seats facing each other, with a table in between, so we had room to spread out and eat our snacks. The kids had fun looking out the window, Ariella insisted on knowing what city we were in every step of the way, Yaakov climbed all over the place, and between the snacks, the window, and climbing, they were really great for most of the 1:40 trip. Donny met us at the station with the car (they only replaced two of the tires...sigh...I'm sure I'll end up on the side of the road again sometime soon...) and drove us back to the office. We got to see Donny's office and meet his roommate, Alon. Then we went downstairs to the party. They had tons of activities for kids - Ariella got a sparkly tattoo, braids in her hair, both kids painted chanukiot, got candy (like you had to ask), made some other projects, ate hot dogs, corn, sufganiot and pancakes (yes, that was the menu), and had a generally merry time. We came home, put the kids in bed, lit quickly (another ironic casualty of a week of partying - we've been lighting late every night and skipping the singing.) Then, L&E came over because they're coming for Shabbos. Donny did the food shopping, and we stayed up too late with L&E doing who knows what, certainly not me.

So now it is erev Shabbat. Leezy, Elie, Donny and I just finished scarfing down doughnuts from Ma'afeh Ne'eman (they were "rayk bifnim" but tasty all the same.) The Never-Ending Chag continues! Whoo-hoo! Party! Say it with me: Candles-doughnuts-dreidels-candy! Candles-doughnuts-dreidels-candy! Have a Shabbat Shalom, Chanukah Sameach, and Chodesh Tov!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What do they do at Kibbutz Gezer? (Hint: It's not carrots!)

Happy Chanukah to everyone! Today we continued the sufganiyah rounds, trying to get a sampling from all the bakeries in Modi'in. Our motto is "Eight Days, Eight Bakeries." So far, so good. Sunday, if you recall, was Mega and Roladin (ok, eight days, nine bakeries). Monday was Supersol, and today was English Cake. If I had to give a title to our excursion to English Cake, it would be "Transliteration - Confusing the Heck out of Generations of Children." English Cake, in Hebrew, is also "English Cake." Ariella asked me, "What does 'kuf, yud, yud, kuf' spell?" I told her it was "cake" written in Hebrew. Silence for a few moments as she pondered that. "But Mommy, cake in Hebrew is 'oogah!'" I had to admit that she was right, and I hereby am starting a new political party whose platform is to get English Cake to change their Hebrew name to "Oogat Anglit." While we're at it, we will also attempt to get "Shufersal" to change their name to "Supersol," and work at transferring the currency of Israel to New Poofahs. It's an ambitious agenda, but I am confident we are up to the challenge. After a good nap and a caramel sufganiya, of course. If anyone has a good name for my new political party, please let me know.

Kappayim to Momz! Momz ran into (Sbad, make sure you are sitting) MRS STEINHART of nivim fame! And actually told her the nivim story! If only Mrs. Steinhart knew how far her nivim traveled. From Israel, to Baltimore, back to...Israel. Ok, not terribly far, but you get the point.

Today Ariella and I had a mother-daughter tiyul to Kibbutz Gezer. It's sort of like the Mother-Daughter Banquet we had back in the day at Bais Yaakov, except that it's nothing like that at all. The Misrad HaKlitah organizes events, tiyulim, chugim, etc for olim, and they have a bunch of trips planned for Chanukah. Today, since Yaakov still had gan, I signed up Ariella and myself for the trip. We packed our snacks, got to go on a big bus, and Aiden was there, so all was well. Many of my ulpan posse were there, so Mommy had friends also. When we got to the kibbutz, they had coffee/tea and pretzels and water out for everyone. It was the first day since I got to Israel that it was actually COLD! I mean, we still only wore sweatshirts, and I haven't resorted to tights yet, but it was pretty chilly and windy. They did a short introduction about the kibbutz and then sent the kids off to do kiddie activities and had a tour for the grownups. I started out at the grown-up tour, but after a half hour, our guide hadn't pointed out any mikvahs, cemetaries, or famous battle sites, so I got bored and went to join the kiddies. It turns out they were having a MUCH better time. I came just in time for PITA baking! It was so much fun - the kids got totally covered in flour and dough, and when they formed their pita, they brought it over to this guy who was in charge of this massive fireplace-y thing that was a pita oven. He baked each kid's pita, and they even had plates of olive oil and zatar seasoning to dip it in! We love food! They did some more activities, told the story of Chanukah, did coloring, and then we ate our little picnic lunches and got back on the bus. When Ariella and I got home, after nearly being blown over by the wind in the one-of-a-kind Dimri Wind Tunnel, we collapsed on the couch and fell asleep for a little bit. Fun is tiring! (Just ask Dadz. He's going to need a nap just after reading about other people's fun.)
PS After spending four hours at Kibbutz Gezer, I am still not sure what exactly it is they do. But pita making sure is fun!

Speaking of DIMRI, here is another gem from the great minds that run this place: Saturday night there is a knock on our door. Whenever the va'ad of the building needs to tell us something, they come knocking on our door at a late hour. At this late hour, I am already in pajamas and in no state to answer the door. (Full disclosure: I am often in my pajamas before the hour could really be considered "late.") So Donny answers the door and talks to this guy in the hallway. This time, the knock was about garbage bags. Apparently, even though the garbage chutes on each floor are humongous, roughly the size of a cow, the trash bags are getting stuck in them. Somehow. Don't ask me how. This is becoming a Giant Garbage Problem. So they came by with appropriate size garbage bags. These bags are approximately the size of a sandwich baggie. They could hold maybe one dustpan full of noodles that Yaakov dropped on the floor, but are nowhere near large enough to contain the massive amounts of refuse that the Rose household accumulates on a daily basis. (We also have massive amounts of refuse, but that's a topic for my book on child-rearing.) Now, you brilliant minds at Dimri, you need to buy me a new garbage can to go with the new garbage bags. Seriously. These things are so tiny. I actually bought a new, tiny garbage can, but it doesn't come with the foot thingy we cherish so. Donny, in another BRILLIANT SCHEME, placed the new, tiny garbage inside the old, large, garbage can, so now we can use the foot thingy on the old garbage can while actually placing our trash in new, tiny garbage can. Is this man brilliant or what? Did you hear about his plan for going to the gym? It's mind-blowing, I tell you!

Anyway, I started this post pre-sufganiya, but now I am finishing this post post-sufganiya, and I have to tell you - folks, we have a winner! Oogat Anglit has the most superior sufganiot that we have sampled! Soft, with the right amount of crispness and sugar on the outside, and filling that's more than just a show for the customers. We sampled jelly, caramel, and cream (don't worry, they were "small"). Delicious! The question is now - do we continue sampling from different bakeries? Or will that be a waste of powdered sugar and we should just go back to Oogat Anglit? Readers - what do you think?

PS Don't forget to vote, and if your answer is not shown, (as one Loyal Reader pointed out)consider "Giving Kappayim to Dov!"

Chanukah is here!

Chanukah, chanukah, chag yafeh kol kach....etc etc etc.

Yes, folks, Chanukah is FINALLY here! In Israel, we apparently hold two weeks of Chanukah, since our first Chanukah party was last Sunday and the anticipation has been increasing each night since. I was a little afraid that the actual holiday wouldn't live up to its hype, but have no fear. The level of excitement has risen exponentially all week, culminating in a frenzy of hyperactivity and lots of SUFGANIOT. First, we had a Chanukah party this morning in ulpan. Everyone involved in ulpan, Misrad HaKlitah, or chief rabbi-ing of Modi'in (ok, that's just one person, but still...) came to the party. They served coffee and sufganiot, and Rav Lau spoke and then lit the menorah and we sang. It was very cute and we enjoyed it very much. Parties! Yay! Then, in the afternoon, Ariella and I went to the mall to get some sufganiot (the mall, as we have seen, is a big source of Judaica for us.) It was like a sufganiya factory! Mega, the supermarket with the bakery that was rated #2 for sufganiot in all the land, was bringing out tray after tray of doughnuts filled with jelly, caramel, chocolate, and just plain doughnut. So we bought a sampling from Mega. Then, Roladin, the fancy-ish bakery, had a whole booth set up outside their store just for doughnut purchases! They had every doughnut type and flavor known to man, so we bought a sampling from there as well. Whoo-hooo! Then we picked up Yaakov, and came home to make our levivot! (Latkes, or potato pancakes, depending on your preference.) Yaakov and Ariella even helped transfer the potatoes from the cutting board to the bowl. To top it all off, Daddy came home early, so we got to light together, sing and dance around the apartment, eat our latkes, have a few pieces of gelt, polish off our sufganiot, then, look! there are fireworks outside, and and ohmigod I can't stand all the excitement! Whoo hooo!!!!!!! Go Chanukah! Go kad shemen! Go Maccabees! Menorahs! Dreidels! Miracles! Light! Oil! SUFGANIOT!!!!!!
So as you can see, Chanukah is pretty exciting here - po, if you get my drift.

In other news, kappayim to Mrs. Steinhart! In ulpan today, we were studying more nivim, and of course I was able to finish the pitgam and explain it. Irit, the teacher, asked, "Gila, how is it that you know all the nivim?" I puffed up with pride and explained all about Mrs. Steinhart and Ivrit and nivim. It turns out Irit had a similar teacher, who went to the Mrs. Steinhart School of Pedagogy and made them memorize nivim and perakim in chumash as well. So we doffed our proverbial hats to our Teachers Who Made Us Memorize Things because aren't we so glad we did it, in the end? (No.) I hope that one of the Loyal Readers who might come across Mrs. Steinhart one day will tell her that Irit from Israel says, "Kappayim l'Leah!" (P.S. I then proceeded to fall from glory because I didn't know the next five nivim. Oh well.) However, during our nivim lesson I was reminded of another funny school story, so walk with me, won't you, as we take a short trip down Memory Lane.
One of the nivim today used the word "yated," which means "stake." Years ago, when we were learning the story of Yael and Sisrah, we learned that word, because Yael, the Good Guy, kills Sisrah, the Bad Guy, by driving a "yated" through the guy's head. (He never even saw it coming, the drunken fool.) At the time, the teacher translated "yated" as "tent-pin." However, what I heard was "ten-pin." I never could figure out how Yael came across a bowling pin, and once she did, how she managed to get its rather dull end through Sisrah's head.
Ok, trip over.

Anyway, Donny has been asking me, ever so casually, when I am going to blog about his Great Gym Epiphany. I think Donny feels a little lack of attention on the blog, despite being Minister of Polling. So I will share his Great Gym Epiphany with you all, because he is sooooo proud of himself. [Throat clearing sounds.]
Donny likes going to the gym. However, he is constrained due to having to spend so much time on the train. There is a gym near-ish the office in Haifa, but without a car, it becomes far-ish. Donny was becoming unhappy with the lack of gym situation, until.....the GREAT GYM EPIPHANY! Donny researched and found out there is a gym right near the train Tel Aviv. So he now takes a train to Tel Aviv, gets out and goes to the gym (which is right in the same building! No need to go through any security!), then gets back on the train and goes to Haifa (and the timing works out perfectly! 6:57 to Tel Aviv, 8:53 to Haifa!) It's UNBELIEVABLE! The Great Gym Epiphany! Foresight and planning the likes of which have not been seen in our days! It's freakishly BRILLIANT!!
(Donny - how was that?)

Happy Chanukah to all my Loyal Readers, and of course, a special Mazel Tov to Australian Leezy on the birth of her son, whom we will call Edgar until he is brought into the covenant. We wish to one day be able to meet Edgar, as well as his siblings Dov "Dahv" and Miriam "Miri" Bensky. We love you Leeze!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I was in my car today, driving to ulpan, happily singing along to the Chanukah songs on our new CD, when someone honked at me. Now, you are probably thinking, "This is Israel, stupid, it would probably be a more interesting blog entry if you wrote, ' I was driving to ulpan, and no one honked at me!'" But what was interesting about this particular honk is that my honker and I were both sitting at the red light. I was not driving too slowly, or God forbid thinking about moving into his lane, or God really forbid not accelerating the second the lights turned to red and orange. We were both just sitting there. So I looked over and opened my window, groaning to myself that he was probably going to ask for directions. The last guy I gave directions to is still driving around in circles around Modi'in. In fact, there's a whole group of lost folks who had the misfortune to ask me for directions. Occasionally they run into each other and curse me out together. Anyway, it turned out that this nice man believed that I had a pun-cher. "Pun-cher" is Hebrew for "puncture" which is English for "flat tire." I was on a semi-busy road so I did what any normal person would do: Pulled over to the side of the road and panicked. I am good at that. Especially the panicking part. All of the stereotypes of women and cars? They're talking about me, folks. Time for another hysterical phone call to Donny! It had been a while since the last one; I'm sure he was feeling the void. Unfortunately, though, Donny was at the gym and unreachable. So I did what any normal person would do after panicking and calling Donny: I called Lisa. Lisa told me that I should probably not continue on to ulpan; best to turn around and either drive home to go to a garage. Very reasonable. So I did, praying that my tire would stay intact for the 7-minute drive back home and I wouldn't end up driving on the rims.
FINALLY, Donny finished at the gym and was able to discuss this situation. Since the car is leased through Microsoft, they are responsible for maintenance. However, the Elbar (that's the car company) said that the driver is responsible for "pun-chers." So I drove to the tire guys recommended by Nafi and Lisa. Donny gave me very specific instructions that the guys were only to FIX the tires, and UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES was I to buy ANY TIRES AT ALL. If the tires really needed replacing, then the leasing company would take care of it. So I drove off. Of course, the guy there wanted to replace all four tires. One tire - the one that started all of this - was "k'var met" with both a rip and a nail in it. He did put air in all four, and me, being the typical woman, had to call Donny every two seconds to confer with him. "He says I need new tires."
"Do not buy tires."
"Maybe I should just replace the tires."
"Do NOT buy tires."
"But he says I need new ones!"
In the end, the garage man filled up the tires, put the spare on, and did not charge me anything, so we like this place very much. The next step is for Donny to take the car into Haifa one day and the car people will take care of the tires then. For now, I have three half-dead tires and one as good as new!
After the tire debacle, I headed to ulpan, a bit late, but I am a nerd so I went to class. Then Ariella and I had some intense shopping to do. First, Donny called me because he realized all of our bottled water and seltzers had large quantities of salt. This is because Israelis love unhealthy things. The cereals are basically lumps of sugar mixed with some sort of grain, the dairy is high in fat, and there are bakeries everywhere you turn. And nothing there is "lite" if you catch my drift. But then there was the problem of water. Water is essentially healthy. How, the great minds thought, can we make this bad for you? So they got together the brain trust and decided on....sodium! Lots of it! In water! Anyway, the bottom line is that Donny charged me with the task of finding less-sodium filled water and seltzer. Between researching drinks, finding a soap to replace our beloved "Dial" and waiting in line at the cheese and meat counter, it was a very tiring trip. Plus, I got the checkout lady that likes to harrass me about the credit card. They should really have my picture up at each checkout lane with a sign underneath "Loser - doesn't want credit card" and then just stop harrassing me. Well, this particularly aggressive kupait was not happy with my consistent refusals (although Donny would have been proud - "Do NOT sign up for a credit card.") I think she got back at me by being a touch too rough with my groceries. After scanning them, she didn't push the items down the bagging area to make room for more. She piled everything on top of each other, so things kept falling down and rolling all over the place. It was not by accident, I tell you. She was getting her revenge! No matter. I stood strong. (By the way, today in my Supersol "Random Bag" I had shower soap, tomato sauce, bananas, and garbage bags. I thought of you as I packed it.)

Tonight Ariella had another playdate. This is her second one this week. She had a lovely time and the mother said she understood everything and was even able to speak a little when she needed. The mom thought Ariella was naturally shy. Ha! The language barrier has softened her a bit, but just wait - I am sure she will be back in full force in the near future.

In other funny Ariella story: When I picked her up today, she asked me, "Mommy, is Moshiach coming today?" in a way like you might ask, "Mommy, is it going to rain today?" I told her that as far as I knew, he wasn't scheduled to come today, but you never know. Apparently, during gan, there was something "white coming from the sky" - I think it might have been one of those planes that writes messages, but I'm not quite sure - and when the kids saw it while they were playing outside, they all shouted, "Moshiach! Moshiach!" I tried to explain that the kids saw something strange in the sky and thought it was a sign that Moshiach was coming. "You mean it was writing a sign saying Moshiach is coming?" Never mind, I thought. Anyway, Ariella was disappointed that Moshiach was not, in fact, coming, because she always loves company. Then we had to have the discussion about when he will come, when will be rebuild the Beit HaMikdash, when the first Beit HaMikdash was destroyed. ("I know it was a long time ago, but tell me when - two thousand and what?") So Ariella, for one, is very earnestly and eagerly awaiting the Final Redemption.

Response to Comments Section:

Jenny, of course you can still be a loyal reader without reading the entire blog. Obviously, reading the blog in its entirety is recommended, but not required. There will not be a quiz at the end. And I think the elevated relationship thing can apply to the entire family - since it started with Ariella and Noam, anyway.

ONT - it really has been a long time, so long in fact that I'm not sure who you are. Reveal yourself! And then I'll be all embarrassed that I didn't remember who you are! It'll be fun!

Sbad - only if they are belted and hooded, though. It is the time of the winter solstice, so perhaps it's not a bad idea...

Remember - only two days left to vote in our poll! Our numbers are not so strong this week - if the blog has inspired you to do something other than what is written there, please let us know!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Shoppin' in Kiryat Sefer

Today, folks, I graduated. Can you hear the strains of "Pomp and Circumstance" (Poe-mp v'Circumstantzia" in Hebrew)? I traveled all the way to Kiryat Sefer and shopped myself. Of course, I contacted my Kiryat Sefer guide, Lisa, in the morning, but she was not feeling up to to the trip. I was faced with a dilemma: Need for cheap Chanukah stuff vs Fear of traveling to Kiryat Sefer unguided. I decided to plunge ahead. Ariella finished gan at 11:00 today, because tonight was the gan Chanukah party and they needed HOURS to set up the classroom. After I picked her up, we headed out to do our shopping. Luckily, Lisa gave me directions, and all the stores I needed were in the easier-to-get-to shopping center in KS, and not the other one, known as the harder-to-get-to shopping center. Kiryat Sefer - and I believe "sefer" is derived from an old Arabic word meaning "cheap junk" - is FULL of shopping centers. I mean anything and everything you need, don't need, might need, think you need, or hope to never need, is sold in Kiryat Sefer. It is Tchotchke Heaven! Also, the stores aren't hindered by nonsense like "type." For example, in Eichler's or Shabsi's (depending on your geographical preferences), you can buy kippot ("yarmulkes"), CDs by guys named Shmoopee Yankelbergovich ("His Greatest Hits!"), havdalah sets, kiddush cups, cookbooks ("The Bubbies of Bais Rochel"), etc. etc. etc. However, you probably won't find rechargeable batteries or alarm clocks. Because Judaica stores sell Judaica. They don't sell electronics. However, in Kiryat Sefer, it's all fair game! Need a dreidel, some paper napkins, a clock, and permanent markers? Come to "Chai-C" (actual store name) in Kiryat Sefer! If you want to buy underwear (for men, women, and children of all ages!), a crock pot, and puzzles, visit "Achla V'Something!" I guess it's sort of like Israel's answer to Target, but without amenities like "Starbucks" "shopping carts" or "space."

Anyway, the bottom line is we got two cheapy menorahs for the kids, a Chanukah CD, a PLASTIC sifter (though I am very close, Sarah, to buying the machine thingy that does it for you in two minutes), a puzzle, and of course, some rechargeable batteries. It is very important for me to listen to this CD because I grew up on "I Had A Little Dreidel" and that other song that talks about dancing the horah. Needless to say, they do not sing those songs here. It is somewhat sad that my children will not grow up with the "Dreidel" song, and spend hours on Chanukah trying to remember the words to the second verse. So meanwhile, I have to learn all these new Israeli Chanukah songs. Don't worry, folks, I'm on it. Luckily "Maoz Tzur" is universal. Phew!

In other Kiryat Sefer shopping news, I wanted to get some dreidels. I thought it would be cool to buy some "pay" sevivonim. I scanned the dreidel bin to make sure they were "Israeli" dreidels and saw that they were. Ariella picked two to buy. However, when we got home, Ariella said, "The pay is missing!" And sure enough, they were "shin" dreidels! Oy vavoy! Donny wisely noted, "That's because in Kiryat Sefer, they're saying, 'The miracle happened down THERE, down the road in Modi'in!'" Anyway, we'll keep looking because you don't get any more "Po" than Modi'in during Chanukah.

Apology time: I would now like to take this opportunity to apologize to one of my anonymous fans out there, who I will now only refer to as Batwoman, for nearly blowing her cover. Don't worry, Batwoman, your secret is safe with me.

New Loyal Reader: Welcome to the blog, Lea! Lea, who is a fellow BY graduate and therefore Nivim expert, not only read the entire blog front to back, top to bottom, and left to right, but left a comment as well! Thanks Lea! Be sure to vote in our newest poll and join our Loyal Readers Club! And that goes for all of you!

PS I published the post and then saw that Lea had ALREADY joined the Loyal Readers' Club! Lea, you are receiving 100 Poofahs to start your collection!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Poll Results and Feedback

First of all, thanks to everyone who voted in our poll. It is an AliyahByAccident record - 22 votes! Even if Momz voted 19 times, it's still an impressive showing from our loyal readers. The results show conclusively that most people who voted are Loyal Readers and two people are smart-alecks who answered "I refuse to answer." Those are likely the same people who back in the day, when the teacher took attendance, answered "Not here" when their name was called. We're onto you.

There have been a number of comments in recent posts that I would like to take few moments to reflect upon.

1. Jenny is SuperNanny.
2. Boys named "Yaakov" do not sleep. Should have gone with "Edgar."
3. Children not sleeping is a very emotional subject for our readers. Two of our loyal readers, who are grandparents now, are still traumatized by the nighttime wanderings of their now grown children. One of those children, who is my brother and I will therefore not name so as not to embarrass him, was such a terrible sleeper that his parents still shudder at the thought of the first two years of his life. (He will tell you that he had "headaches" and it wasn't his fault.) Next time you see Dadz, casually mention, "Hey, remember that night you stayed up with [name deleted] all night because he refused to go to sleep? Remember that?" and watch Dadz run away shrieking.
4. Apparently even when children are grown they STILL cause their parents sleepless nights. I don't want to think about that now.
5. Momz has had a Fruit Wrinkle stuck in her teeth since 1984. Ewwww!
6. I should keep a container of nail polish remover in the car for those emergency pre-mikvah sticker removal situations.
7. I am a twit for buying a metal sifter in the first place.
8. Leezy believes I am a loser.
9. Dadz is now caught up on the blog. He had missed a few days of reading, since he was here, providing "blog fodder" (that's actually the name of one of the characters from Star Wars.) I assume, had he figured out how to comment, he would have commented that he was caught up; therefore, I am commenting back on his hypothetical comment. It is very impressive that Dadz had time to read, considering it's almost the fifteenth. Of what, you ask? It doesn't matter - it is ALWAYS almost the fifteenth. Even when it's the sixteenth.

In other news....we continued learning about nivim in ulpan, and there were even a few that either I never learned in BY (can't be) or I just don't remember (very likely.) Irit, the teacher even whipped out an old, worn copy of a NIVIM BOOK! I have found Mrs. Steinhart's soulmate! I can just imagine the two of them, sitting on a porch, sipping coffee, talking only in nivim.
"Tovim hashnyaim min ha'echad."
"Ahhhh, kol hatchalot kashot."
"Acharon acharon chaviv?"
"Emor me'at v'asay harbay."

Ariella's integration into Israeli life continues. She does a "Die!" (= stop it!) like no one's business, and has now started bringing chocolate sandwiches to school. She also likes to make up random sentences in Hebrew comprised of the words she knows:
"Tagidi li shokolad?" which roughly translates to, "Tell me chocolate?"
And Yaakov has never, ever, once, put his Crocs on the right feet. This has nothing to do with anything, least of all the price of tea in China, but I thought it was worth mentioning because I thought of it right now.

Remember to vote in our new poll, and to join our Loyal Readers' Club! Don't be anonymous like Shoshi! Be a proud reader of AliyahByAccident!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sifter Lessons We Have Learned

1. When one buys a sifter, before taking it to the mikvah, one should bring in inside one's house and scrub off the Stickers From Hell. Otherwise, what will surely happen, is that you will be sitting in your car across from the mikvah, kicking yourself for not checking the sifter beforehand, frantically scrubbing the stickers off without niceties like soap and a sponge, searching for that half-finished bottle of water under the driver's seat, then using a combination of said water and spit to get off the stickiness, scraping it off with a pen you found buried under a mound of tissues, and then finally using your skirt to get off the remaining crud. The skirt worked well, by the way. Not that I would know.

2. Do not buy the sifter with the thingy that you have to squeeze with your hand. It hurts.

3. Do not ignore the sticker (yes, the one you furiously scrubbed off in #1) that says, "Don't wash this!" In fact, they are not just joshing you. They mean it. When one washes a sifter, the water turns the little flour molecues that are left in the sifter into dough. Thus, it becomes nearly impossible to reuse the sifter, what with the dough stuck in the crevices. If you ignore the sticker, you will surely have a conversation similar to the following:

Donny [having just washed the sifter, after spending thirty minutes sifting two cups]: Huh. You can't wash sifters. Now all the flour turned into dough.

Me: Oh really? So that's why it said, "Do not wash." Huh.

4. If you DO insist on washing the sifter, do not then attempt to take it apart and clean it. What will happen if you do that, is you will end up throwing the sifter away.

The End

Tiyul and more child rearing tips

First of all, 200 NPs (new poofahs) each to Momz and Jenny, for contributing such fantastic "rock" ideas to the blog. And 195 poofahs to Sharon, who emailed me some very amusing ideas which she chose not to share with everyone else.

On Wednesday, we had an ulpan tiyul. It was a lot of fun. We toured modern and ancient Modi'in. I learned lots of stuff, which I promptly forgot about 30 seconds after the tiyul, so when I tried to impart my newfound knowledge to Donny, it came out like, "Ummmm.....duh.....erg....shumph." Needless to say, he was very impressed. Not everyone in ulpan came on the tiyul, because many of them saw it as an excuse to have a day off. To which the rest of us replied, "It's freaking ulpan! If you need to take a day off, take a day off!" We did not want to miss out on the fun of a trip. In fact, there was a group of us who sat in the back and were really rowdy and loud and shared our Fruit Wrinkles and Cheese Curls. I felt that we really bonded, as a group, on the tiyul. Now we have all kinds of private jokes and stuff, and every so often one of us will be like, "Ohmygod, remember, on the tiyul, when that thing happened?" And the rest of us crack up knowingly and offer more tiyul memories, causing more knowing laughter and really annoying everyone who was not on the tiyul. Ok, I made that last part up, but it happened in my head and it was rather amusing.

Now, we digress from aliyah adventures for the child-rearing portion of the blog. You remember, of course, the title of my book on child-rearing "Leave Me Alone So I Can Read the Paper." Well, one of our children, and I will not mention any names but will simply refer to him as The Boy, has not been leaving us alone much at all. Forget the paper, I don't even have time to read the back of a cereal box. Yaakov - whoops, I mean The Boy - has decided that he no longer needs to sleep. So he spends much of his evening (really, let's be honest, it's night by the time we're done) coming in an out of his room, and we spend much our evening taking him back. We have tried everything - ignoring him, giving him toys in his bed, putting him in his crib (which no longer works as he can climb out), sticker chart (failed because he insisted the chart be lower down on the wall so he could apply stickers whenever he wanted, thereby defeating the purpose of the chart), yelling (mostly me) - you name it, we've tried it, short of putting some Ambien in his toothpaste (he certainly eats enough of it that that would work.) Ariella, the Angel Sleeper, is in bed at 7:00 and asleep by 7:02. When The Boy first started his nighttime wanderings, he knew he was supposed to be in bed, so he would hide from me. If I was in the kitchen, he would be playing quietly in my room. If I was in my room, he was in the corner of the living room. Soon, however, it dawned on him that we were going to let him stay up a little later, realizing the futility of putting him in at 7:00. So he got more brazen - not bothering to hide, asking us for food, wanting to sit on our laps while we ate. We decided he could stay up after 7:00, but his bedtime would be 8:00. However, he was thinking more along the lines of 10:00. We are in a bit of a disagreement about this. Last night, I had a brilliant idea. Yaakov has about 90% of the toys now in his room, due to our desparate attempts to get him to stay there. So I told him that if he came out of his room, I would take a toy away. At first he was really upset when this happened. Then he decided he'd take the consequence of losing a toy if it meant getting out of his room, and went so far as to help us choose which toys to remove. "Take these two, Mommy. Put them on top of the fridge!" So much for that plan. In the end, he went to sleep about five minutes before I did, thereby killing whatever "evening" we would have had. Someone in ulpan today mentioned how his daughter was always climbing out of her crib, so they took a piece of cloth and sewed it between the legs of the pajamas, thereby inhibiting her movement. What a great idea, I thought - forget sewing pajamas, we should sew Yaakov to his bed! I will keep you updated on this issue - I am comforted by the fact that at some point, his wife will be the one marching him back to bed every night and Donny and I will finally have some peace.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Superglue - Don't try this at home

Today started out as one of those days where I was actually thankful that at least I didn't walk out of the apartment with my skirt bunched up in the back or something like that. There were many crises - Yaakov's pants were on backwards (which bothered me much more than it did him) and Ariella forgot her water bottle at school, and when I gave her our fancy water bottle, she dropped it on the floor, it cracked, she cried. Then I grabbed a bottle of water for her but then promptly forgot it on the kitchen table. In the end, I told her to fill up her water bottle when she gets to school, and we found a spare rolling around in the back of the car, which I sent as a backup. Luckily, the day improved from there. Yaakov has thank God been going to gan very nicely these days, giving me a hug and kiss goodbye and then happily marching off to get his chocolate sandwich. And Ariella now walks into gan most days by herself - I watch her from the top of the pathway.

I left ulpan early to have a meeting with Ariella's teacher, just to check in. Here are the results of the meeting.
1. Ariella is smart.
2. Ariella is stubborn.
3. Ariella only wants to speak Hebrew in gan, the result being she doesn't talk much, but she did tell the morah something in Hebrew yesterday, so l'at l'at as they say.
4. Morah Maya is "not worried" about Ariella and thinks she is well-prepared for first grade. This was a big relief. If Morah Maya is not worried, then I say, why should I be? I'm glad to see Ariella's "true" personality coming out - it would be a shame if the morahs thought she was a sweet, compliant, docile little girl all year.

After the meeting, I took Ariella out from gan and we headed over to the mall. Until today, "going to the mall" meant "going out to eat with Donny." Sometimes, for a change, it meant "going out to eat with Lisa." But today we actually spent money on clothing - some leggings for Ariella, very exciting.

In the afternoon, we picked up Yaakov and headed over to Tipat Chalav for his very first appointment. I brought the kids' vaccination charts so they could transfer them to a PINKAS. Yaakov weights some amount of kilograms and is some amount of centimeters - I don't remember. 14 was one of the numbers - probably kilos. He also got 2 shots, and he was very brave, especially when I told him we would go out to pizza for dinner. Of course, we are not done yet with TC. The next step is going to "Bank HaDoar" to pay something or other, going back to TC to pick up the PINKASIM and them making another appointment so they could check his development. Phew! Time for a nap! (Or 3 if you're Dadz.)

When we came back from pizza, the chanukiah was falling apart. Again. This is one of those annoying home projects we got from gan. We are supposed to create a menorah at home and send it in before Sunday. In addition to being bad at Fixing Things, I am also bad at anything resembling Art. Someone in my ulpan gave me the idea of using bottle caps. The first part was smooth - I cut a cereal box and a piece of foil ('cuz Ariella wanted it to be "sparkly"). Ariella decorated the foil beautifully and I wrapped it around the cardboard. So far, so good. The problem started with the Israeli glue. I bought it at Supersol, and it was all they had. Me, a fan of one-stop-shopping, bought it anyway, though it looked a little sketchy, like it was made from a very old, wheezy horse. When I squeezed it to glue the bottle caps to the foil, the glue had separated. Hmmmm. Interesting. It also took a VERY LONG time to dry. Then, later at night Donny glued the candles into the bottle caps. (See, this is supposed to be a kid/parent togetherness project. So we did do it together, just not at the same time.) This morning, Ariella was all excited to take her menorah to gan. When I gently moved the project so we would have room to eat cereal, all the candles fell over, and the glue was swimming happily in the bottle caps. Luckily, she agreed to wait one more day to take it in. Surely, I thought, by the time we get home this afternoon, this glue will dry, right? Ha on me! After returning from TC and pizza to a fallen menorah ("Harachaman Hu yakim lonu et Menorat Ariella Hanofalet"), I was not a happy camper. So I broke out the Super Glue. Take that, candles! But I didn't realize that Super Glue is very liquidy and not thick, and as I turned it over to squeeze it, a few drops fell on my hand and quickly bonded it to the tube of glue. Boy, we are having some kind of fun now! The good news is that the Super Glue seems to have worked, and the candles are erect, for now. Bad news - still covered in Super Glue, and it is NOT a pleasant feeling. I tried nail polish remover (saw that on a website), lotion, soap, water, and many combinations thereof. I guess I'll just have to wait until I shed. I miss Elmer's.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Kapayim L'Dov!

So I can't believe I forgot to share this very amusing Ariella story. I apologize in advance for those of you who heard this story before - feel free to skip to the next paragraph.
On Sunday, we were at the park in Bet Shemesh. After the running around portion of the program, Ariella decided to play school. She, of course, was the teacher, complete with a stick. We were sitting on benches and she was speaking in this mix of Hebrew and English-with-an-Israeli-accent, rolling her r's and everything. She was asking everyone's Hebrew name and writing it in the dirt with her stick. When she got to my father (whose name is Bernard, Bern, Bernie) he told her his Hebrew name, Dov. Well, Ariella found this very amusing. She asked who wanted to get in the line, and Dov, being a good sport, followed along. He had to follow the line she was drawing in the dirt, and apparently he did a very good job, because when he was done, she burst out enthusiastically, "Kapayim L'Dov!" (kapayim = clap your hands). We were cracking up, and for the rest of the evening would randomly shout out, "Kapayim L'Dov!" I am actually still announcing it sporadically throughout the day.

Today was a very rewarding day in ulpan. Loyal readers, today in ulpan, we learned...Nivim! That's right! The very topic I so ridiculed in earlier posts! Our teacher was explaining how "pitgamim" (that's what she called them, but I know nivim when I see them) enrich the language. So that's what I was doing in Ivrit all those years in Bais Yaakov - enriching the language! Thank you, Mrs. Steinhart! Not only that, but the very second pitgam that she taught us was..........tovim hashnayim min ha'echad! Let me tell you, I was the Pitgam Queen - she only had to start the phrase and I was spitting out the rest. Al ta'am v'rayach ayn l'hitvakayach! Kol hatchalot kashot! It was so fulfilling to be able to put those years of memorization to good use. If only they gave out Nivim Certificates...I could work toward a degree in Nivimography....

Today, back to Supersol. More pressure to sign up for the credit card. Not sure I can withstand much more. say no.... (This is your wallet. This is your wallet with a Supersol credit card.)

After ulpan, my internet/phone wasn't working. I had to call HOT, our internet/phone provider and describe, in Hebrew, what the problem was. That part was ok, ("lo ovdim") but then, she started giving me directions, (in HEBREW, in case you weren't sure), telling me what I should do to fix it! Remember Donny's lack of rhythm? Well, I have a similar, if not more severe, lack of Ability to Fix Things. I can barely understand these guys in English. They always want you to unplug and replug and I'm never sure what they are talking about. I end up unplugging everything in the house, including the lamps, all the clocks, and the fridge, just to be safe, and then the problem still remains until Donny comes back and flicks something and then it's all better. But I couldn't wait for Donny to return - I NEED my internet. So I tried to pay attention about which cable to unplug and whatnot. ("Cable," by the way, is "cable" in Hebrew.) I think I followed the directions correctly, although she could have been telling me to take out the white plug, stick it in my ear and then stand on the mirpeset, yodeling, but I'm pretty sure I would have understood "ozen." In any case, she did a little research and found out many people in the building were having this problem and they would send someone out to fix it. Surprisingly, by the time Ariella and I returned from shopping, it was indeed fixed. And I didn't have to put anything in my ear.

By the way, to those of you - and you know who you are, Shoshana Bender - who give me mussar (mussar in Hebrew) for not posting often enough and THEN don't even bother to join the Loyal Readers Club or leave a comment....well, all I have to say to you is, "No Poofahs for you!"

PS Don't forget to vote!
PPS You can still earn poofahs, like Momz and Jenny, if you have good "rock" ideas. (See earlier post).

Friday, December 5, 2008

More 'Rents and Shabbos

First of all, a shout-out to a "loyal but silent" reader. Shoshi, don't worry, I won't give away your identity here, but I thank you very much for your email and it's good to know that you're out there. I am touched that I am now Shoshi's premier internet time-wasting activity, not that I would share that.

Another shout-out to my good friend Jenny Sassoon. The Sassoons were here for Shabbat (more on that later) and it turns out that Jenny has a blog as well! We're like twins! However, there is one minor difference. Jenny's blog actually has a purpose, and she intends to do good in the world through it. Ok, maybe more like distant cousins. Anyway, Jenny is a life coach (and a very good one at that since I shamlessly take advantage of our friendship to get her advice) so if you know anyone who needs some life coaching, or if you're in need of some yourself, head over to Jenny's blog at

On Thursday, we had a pretty normal ulpan/gan day. Apparently there is some massive stomach bug afflicting all the gans throughout Israel. On Wednesday the teachers warned me that it was going around; Yaakov hadn't eaten his yogurt at snack time and they found this an ominous sign. They said to keep an eye out because he might come down with the bug. I figured it wouldn't be too hard to "keep an eye out" seeing as it's sort of hard to miss your kid puking all over the place. Anyway, Thursday morning, I rang the bell at gan and it was like I was thrown back to the Middle Ages in the time of the plague. They opened the door a crack and looked us up and down. You can almost hear what in my mind is John Cleese's voice saying shrilly, "Hath he the signs of the plague?" What they actually said was, "Has he been vomiting? Diarrhea?" When the answer to both was negative, they opened the door wide and welcomed him in with open arms and a big smile. Ophira, the ganenet, had a list of all the kids who were blacklisted from gan until their stomach virus was gone. Phew! However, though we seemed to have dodged the bullet for now, I'm sure, as they say here it's "Rak inyan shel zman" until this comes to YOUR house. Oy.

Later in the day, Ariella and I went shopping. At the checkout line, the woman tried to pressure me into getting the Supersol credit card. She was explaining how the diapers I bought would have been so much cheaper on the credit card. Hmmm, I started to think, maybe it IS a good idea! No, no, don't do it! said another voice (which sounded suspiciously like Donny's). You'll regret it! They'll charge you fees! Say no, say no! So I said no, repeatedly and she eventually gave up, but only because I had put all my bags in the cart and was fleeing out the door.

Thursday night "the grownups" aka Momz, Dadz, Leezy (who, for clarification purposes, is NOT the same person as "Lisa"), Elie, and Donny and me - went out to eat at an excellent restaurant called Buffalo in Jersualem. First, Donny and I had to make a shiva call - Donny's grandfather, who lives in Jerusalem in the awesome retirement home, lost his brother, who lived in Baltimore. So we went to see Zaidy and Sonia and heard some interesting stories from Zaidy's past. Afterward, we went out to the restaurant. Since Momz, Dadz, and Leezy got lost, Donny, Elie and I took the liberty of ordering some food "for the table" while we waited. Nothing like eating while you're waiting to eat. Anyway, the whole party eventually made its way to the restaurant, we ate good food, and general merriment was had by all. The kids were with their favorite Israel babysitter, Melanie, so we knew all was well on the homefront.

Friday we prepared for our Shabbat guests - Robbie & Jenny Sassoon, along with Noam, Tehila, and Hadassah. They arrived by bus Friday afternoon (remember, they are REAL Israelis) and Donny picked them up from the bus stop. We had a most wonderful reunion Shabbat. Ariella and Noam were so happy to be together again, and the 4 "big" kids came up with this really creative game which involved taking our big green snake, straddling it like a broomstick, and running in circles around the house, singing "Mi rotzah rakevet! Mi rotzah rakevet!." This usually ended in Yaakov crying. Poor kid. It's not easy being the littlest and slowest. Don't worry, he made up for it by knocking down their block towers. Anyway, I can't stress enough how wonderful, amazing, fun, enjoyable, and super our Shabbat was. Even if I would write it in bold - wonderful, amazing, fun, enjoyable, super - it would be hard to convey the wonderful-amazing-fun-enjoyable-super-ness of it all. We are looking forward to the next installment of the Rose-Sassoon Chavayot.

Saturday night Momz and Dadz came over for some of Donny's homemade pizza (which is why, Laurie, I was unable to post until tonight.) We hung out for a while, because it takes Donny a REALLY long time to make that pizza. After eating, the 'rents said goodbye to Donny and headed back to Bet Shemesh.

Today was our final get-together with Momz and Dadz. I picked up Yaakov a little early from gan, when Ariella got out, and the three of us headed over to Bet Shemesh to Leezy's. First, the men - Yaakov, Netanel, and Dadz - napped. After they finished their beauty rest, we headed over to this little park right outside of Bet Shemesh. Netanel played in dirt, Dadz, Leezy, and I played on the swings, and Yaakov and Ariella ran around in circles ("running around in circles" is a recurring theme.) We went back to Leezy's, ordered Burgers' Bar for dinner, and then said goodbye to Momz and Dadz/Bubby and Zaidy. (There were tears.) Don't worry, May's right around the corner, folks! Think about it this way - this gives me 6 months to buy stuff for Momz and Dadz to put in their suitcases!

At the playground, Dadz found a very large, smooth, and heavy rock. This being in Israel, we wondered if this was a historical rock. Perhaps, as Leezy thought, it was the very rock on which Yaakov laid his head down and slept. (Yaakov Avinu, not Yaakov Lev, who is rarely caught sleeping on anything.) Or, mayhaps it was the rock with which David slew Goliath. This brings us to the Poofah section of our blog. How many famous rocks, biblical or otherwise, can you come up with? Feel free to post often in the "Comments" section. Each response is worth 30 NPs. (NPs are "New Poofahs" - Donny felt there was massive poofah inflation, so we have now converted the poofah system to New Poofahs. Each NP is worth 100,000 old poofahs. Dadz, a Certified Public Poofah Accountant, can help you figure out your net worth in poofahs.)

Also, you may have noticed that the Minister of Polls has put up a new poll. The results of our previous poll indicate that GILA PASSED HER DRIVING TEST although we're not sure about you folks out there who voted for "predictably" aka "Donny's dancing at the Microsoft day of fun predictably put everyone to shame." Maybe it's because you've never seen Donny get down and boogie. We'll let it go this time. Anyway, if you are a loyal but silent reader like Shoshi, be sure to get out YOUR vote.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Breakfast, Supersol, and Trucks

On Tuesday, Leezy came over in the morning and we all (me, Leezy, Momz and Dadz) went out to breakfast with Lisa. We figure now that we've taken Lisa out for breakfast, we've totally paid her back for spending her summer finding us an apartment, then furnishing it with table, chairs, kitchen stuff, beds, linens, towels, and bookcases before our lift came, (and we still have the bookcase) feeding us for a week, chaffeuring us around Modi'in, and generally being our Comprehensive Aliyah Guide. Two eggs and Israeli salad sounds like sufficient payback, don't you think?

In the afternoon, we went to pick up Ariella. Bubby and Zaidy got to see the gan and meet MorahMayawhotalkedveryfastandwasimpressedwithhowZaidyandArielladidtheparshahsheet. Then, it was off to Shufersal! Well, first we had to make a quick stop at the cellphone store, which is right next to Shufersal, because my charger wasn't working. (After trying the charger in many different outlets at home, I finally took a closer look at the charger and saw that the wire was, in fact, severed. And no, in case you're wondering, taping up with some Scotch tape did not do the trick.) So we stopped in the store, where luckily there were many seats for Momz and Dadz to rest their weary feet. The "take a number" machine was broken, so I went to the nearest person with a name tag on. Unfortunately, the name tag said "Supersol" so that didn't really work out. Eventually a man came and used the sophisticated method of writing a number on a piece of paper. Of course, when it was my turn, the suspicious lady thought I wrote it myself and wanted to send me back to get another number, but no way was she going to talk to me like that! I am Israeli now! So she agreed to listen to my problem. One would think this should be fairly simple. Charger. Broken. Need new one. However, I think my lady was just out of Cellphone Customer Service Training School (after she got sent back for some remedial courses.) She kept asking other workers, particularly her friend Nimrod, what to do. Eventually she figured out that, oh, she should see if they have another of the same charger in stock! Brilliant! She found one pretty quickly, but then spend twenty minutes pachooching (yes, I made up that word) on the computer. I kept asking what the problem was and she assured me that the problem was hers, not mine, but it seems to be that the problem was most definitely mine if I had to stand there while she stared blankly at the computer screen, my new charger just inches away, teasing me to take it and run, but no, waiting, waiting, waiting, while she solves "her problem." Finally, Nimrod indicated that I should just take the charger and run, so I left with my new (free) charger and headed into Supersol with the fam.

The highlight of the shopping trip was Ariella's new outfit. As you may recall, Supersol sells some high-quality clothing. Bubby, enamored by the thought of buying an outfit with your cereal, plus seeing the joy on Ariella's face at the mention of "new clothes" convinced her that she should buy Ariella a brand new sweatshirt and sweatpants. In case you are wondering, "Just how excited was Ariella?" I'll tell you. She had the sweatshirt on before we even finished checking out; she would have changed into the pants too if we would have let her. Within mere seconds of coming in the apartment, she stripped out of her skirt and donned her new, velour sweatpants. Stylin'!

After picking up Yaakov we went to the awesome, hole-in-the-wall falafel store and ate our fill. Then, Momz took the kid to the hole-in-the-wall toy store next to the hole-in-the-wall falafel store. Ariella got stickers (actually, they're stick-on earrings, but I'm not going to be the one to tell her that!) and a puzzle and Yaakov got a brand-new truck! This truck is some high-quality stuff, let me tell you! It comes with "flashing light!" although "sometimes differ from the model enclosed." And don't worry, because "our quality is second to none!" Plus, this truck is "simulating the true styles and making carefully!" with a special function "TV design electromotion running!"
I promise you I am not making these quotes up - they come directly from the box. You know those dollar stores in America with all the cheap toys? Well, the rejects from those stores are sent directly here. But the children were happy, and luckily I caught Momz and Dadz before they put batteries in Yaakov's truck.

Today Momz and Dadz were off to Bet Shemesh, and we reached another important aliyah milestone - our milk bag leaked in the fridge. I was kind of wondering how long it would take until a milk bag got punctured. The answer is "About three months." This is why I always buy lots of milk when I go shopping - because you can never predict when a puncture will happen.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Fun with Bubby and Zaidy

Our fun began on Sunday morning. We had grand plans which involved trains and big parks and meeting Donny and more trains. We ended up with a plan that involved no trains but was still a lot of fun.

Leezy, Deputy Minister (Mistress?) of Fun, decided we should go with all the kids to Park Hayarkon in Tel Aviv. Upon further investigation, we found that this park was on the train line. This had many many advantages, not the least being it would allow Dadz to BUY things, namely train tickets. It also meant that Ariella could realize her lifelong dream of "Traveling On A Train." It ALSO mean that if we went in the afternoon hours, Donny would leave work early, meet us there, and then go back with us. It was a well-thought out plan that we intended to execute with precision and efficiency. So I sent the kids to gan in the morning, since we didn't plan on leaving until 12:30. This turned out to be a good thing, seeing as the 'rents slept in till 10:30 - I would have otherwise had a pleasant morning of Ariella asking me every five minutes: "NOW can I go wake up Bubby? NOW? How about NOW?" While they slept, Leezy and the Tansters came over and we all hung out. Eventually, the parents woke up, Dadz and I went to the mall to buy "treats" from one of the cafes (now you see where I got the "treat" gene from), because, in Dadz' own words, "You can get cereal in America." I then ran to pick up the kids, noting that it was already going to be tight to catch our train, especially with all the gear we needed - strollers, snacks, diapers bags, snacks, drinks, snacks, and many jackets for Dadz lest he get chilly. When I walked in to pick up Yaakov, however, I saw his eye was red and watery. Basically, you never want to see anything on your child's body either "red" or "watery" and certainly not both. The ganenet was of course concerned this was something contagious and suggested we go to the doctor. Duh. It's only my second favorite activity (right after "being charged fees by the bank" but before "giving directions to Israelis in Hebrew"). Anyway, by the time I came home, the various assembled parties investigated Yaakov's eye, and I made an appointment (for 7:00 at night), we had already missed the train. However, about half an hour later, Yaakov's eye had basically cleared up and we realized it was most likely the result of a gan scuffle, probably over the last meatball.

So we decided to head out to everyone's favorite park - The Rock Park from Sukkot! I remembered more or less how to get to the park, but not how to find the exact location we parked at previously. Luckily, I had my expert navat in the car - Ariella. "Mommy, turn down here - this looks familiar. No, not there! Over here!" And she was correct - she identified the precise location we parked last time. She definitely gets her sense of direction from her father and Uncle Aaron, and NOT from me. ("Um, you're in the lobby now? Ok, take the elevator....up, I'm pretty sure....and then it's a left? No, no, definitely a right when you come out....") So we got out and enjoyed the beautiful December weather in Modi'in - a balmy high 70s. Yaakov and Zaidy immediately trekked up the mountain, and Netanel amused himself by running up and down the hill and eating rocks. Ariella and I went scouting, and we found the Path of Rocks which enamored my children so the last time we were here! After returning from their strenuous hike, Zaidy and Yaakov joined us at the rocks. This time, they entertained themselves (and here I include Zaidy in "they") by seeing if they could throw their rocks into the grate which covered some sort of well. Zaidy missed most of his, but he was careful not to hit the children. Then, Yaakov discovered the Greatest Game Ever - find rocks and put them in Zaidy's shirt pocket! Whoo-hooo! Fun for the whole family, especially Zaidy! We eventually returned to Netanel, Bubby, and Aunt Leezy, and then proceeded home. ("No, Mommy turn here.")

Donny took an early train home, and then all eight of us (count if you don't believe me) went out for dinner at the restaurant we took the kids to on Sukkot, because we promised Ariella we'd go back when Bubby and Zaidy came and darned if she wasn't going to hold us to that! We had an excellent dinner and then everyone went to their respective sleeping places.

Monday, the fun continued. The kids went to gan and Momz, Dadz, Donny and I went up to Zichron Yaakov. We wanted to show the 'rents what it was like, as a possible community to move to. After looking around, we decided it was time for food and found a nice cafe to (which was good because Dadz was very distressed that his sleeping in on Sunday morning caused him to miss an opportunity to eat out.) After breakfast, Donny caught the bus to work and the three of us drove back. Hehe. This is where the fun starts. To make a long story short, I was the navat, so you can tell how bad this situation was. We needed to get back by 1:30 to pick up Ariella, and we left with a half hour cushion of time. We took not one but two wrong turns, thereby eating up our cushion. We did eventually make it back to Modi'in, but we were late picking Ariella up from gan, and I tried to leave a message with Aiden's parents to please pick her up but their phone connection was bad so they didn't really understand and Ariella was traumatized that I didn't come but don't worry, she forgot about it quickly because there was important work to be done on her new puzzle. Her new 200 piece puzzle, which she is doing entirely on her own, I might add.

Later, a very important aliyah milestone occurred. After returning from getting Yaakov from gan, I got a phone call from a mom in Ariella's gan. No, Ariella did not hit, bite, kick or otherwise main this little girl. She was being invited over for a playdate! I asked the mom when she would like to schedule this. Next week? Next month? "4:30" she replied. (It was currently 4:15.) Nothing like that Israeli sense of spontenaity! So we headed out. The girl, Shirat, had two other girls from gan over. All of them were Hebrew-speaking, but despite this Ariella made herself at home and kicked me out after ten minutes. I asked the mom when I should return. "7:00," she said with a smile. Alright! I'm loving these Israeli playdates! So Yaakov and I came home so he could scarf down some noodles and destroy Ariella's toys, both of which he did with relish. We returned to pick up Ariella, who was happily munching on French toast and cucumbers, and looked very annoyed that I had the nerve to come and pick her up. So this was very exciting - both that she got invited out and that she had a great time. She's already planning who she's going to invite for the next playdate.

Stay tuned for the Continuting Adventures of Bubby "I Heart Driving in Israel" and Zaidy "Is There a Way to Buy Things, Eat Rugelach, and Nap at the SAME TIME?" Leibtag!