Monday, August 31, 2009

The 200th!!!

Well, in the eloquent words of my sister, "Hello - blog?" I know I'm overdue. It's because I've been thinking about how to make this 200th blog the most special, the most wondrous blog for my loyal readers.

That is a lie. The reason I haven't blogged is because by the time I finish detangling one child's hands from the other one's neck, only to have to do it again, in reverse, five minutes later, I am plum worn out!

But, here I am.

Baila - I am sorry the tote bag has not reached you yet. I am immediately contacting our VP for Mailing Made Up Crap. Dadz - are you on the case?

Diana - this is going to seriously affect the case for North American aliyah. Don't tell me they sell shoko b'sakit also!

And welcome to Loyal Reader #47, Tamar, of (Don't worry, I'm not invited either.)

Last night we had Yaakov's gan orientation. The ganenet seems very sweet, although Yaakov told me, "I don't love this morah, Mommy." His first day is tomorrow. I drop him off at 8:00 and pick him up about 8:07. You know, to let him get used to it. I continue to be amazed, however, at the abundant lack of information disseminated at these orientations. For example, I have yet to receive any sort of school calendar. I guess I will continue my tactic from last year, which is to ask about a week before the chag how long the vacation is for, except for Pesach, when vacation starts the week before the chag, so you have to ask the question two weeks before the chag.

Anyway, Yaakov is super jazzed about bringing aruchat eser to gan, although slightly less jazzed that I was not going to let him bring chocolate spread every day.

Moving on... in honor of our 200th post and our upcoming one year aliyah-versary, I thought I would answer some burning questions that people have asked us this past year.

Q. Would you prefer to prepare 70 pita sandwiches for the birthday party, or make five platters of vegetables?
A. The sandwiches, please.

Q. If you are traveling from New York to Israel, going at approximately 5,000 liters per hour, and at the same time, your lift is traveling backward, from Israel, to Italy, at approximately 80,000 kilograms per hour, for how many days will you need to sleep on an air mattress?
A. Only about eight days - stop kvetching!

Q. Would you like to sign up for our Shufersal credit card?
A. No, thank you.

Q. Shalom, mah shlomech?
A. Hakol b'seder.

Q. Can I take chocolate spread for lunch, Mommy?
A. Only on Fridays.

Q. Are you sometimes frustrated by the largeness of the toilet paper packages and the smallness of the coffee cups?
A. Yes, although the toilet paper does get used up eventually, and if you sip your coffee reeeeeaaaally slowly, you can pretend it's a large.

Q. I'm hungry again, Mommy!
A. That is not a question.

Q. Do you find it riotously funny when Israeli ads use English words and phrases but they say it with an Israeli accent?
A. Actually, I do!

Q. If your daughter in gan chova, comes home with a long, detailed letter having something to do with plants, do you recommend glancing at it quickly and then adding it to the ever-growing pile of crap on your dining room table, which triples as your home office, your mail room, and your stunning, museum-destined Collection of Plastic Water Bottles? Or, do you think you should read the entire letter carefully, because it is probably telling you to go buy a plant for a planting project and if you don't, your kid will be the ONLY ONE WITHOUT IT?
A. You should definitely read it, but hopefully the ganenet, who knows how intensely clueless you are, will tip you off to the letter's contents before the big planting event.

Q. Do you think it's healthy for children to to watch endless hours of movies during HaChofesh HaGadol?
A. Until their eyes are literally stuck to the screen, and they need to bring it with them to the table, the bathroom, and bed, lest they cause permanent damage, it's allllll good.

Q. If you were to print out this blog, how many pages would it be?
A. I don't know, but I heard from someone who did it that it's over 200 pages celsius.

Q. What happened to all the water in the Kinneret?
A. Yaakov used it up washing his hands.

Q. What has been the best part about living in Israel?
A. Shoko b'sakit. Do you not listen to anything I say???

Q. You are not allowed to ask the questions.
A. Sorry.

Q. Can you give us some advice on what to do in Israel if your car has a flat tire, your internet is broken, or the iriyah is closed because it's a Thursday in August?

A. Call Donny!

Q. Would you like to sign up for the Shufersal credit card?

A. No! Go away! How are you everywhere?

Q. Can you remind me again why "aliyahbyaccident" is NUMBER ONE in "traifin'?"

A. Because we used "traifin'" very frequently, for no purpose whatsoever, throughout the blog.

Q. How very fascinating. Can you tell me what other search terms have led to new readers of "aliyahbyaccident?"

A. Why yes I can! In addition to traifin', aliyahbyaccident is nearly #1 for

"ahava aaron and ephraim leibtag" (Watch out guys. Somebody out there is looking for you...)

"osek patur form"


"Kibbutz Gezer"

"how to spell mazel tov in Hebrew" (the answer, by the way, is מזל טוב)

Q. Is there anything you'd like to say to your Loyal Readers on this Momentous Occasion of your 200th post?

A. Thanks for sticking around....on to shana bet!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Please, just tell me what time school starts!!!!

A very special aliyahbyaccident welcome to my other Dad, Loyal Reader #46, UnRealDad! Thanks for joining AND leaving a comment! Dadz - as VP of Gift Distribution, please make sure to send Dad one of our unique aliyahbyaccident pocket protectors.

Baila - I do believe the "camping" you speak of, with the much sharing of the bathrooms, does not make you "Israeli," just "grumpy." Although, come to think of it....

And to Tziona, thank you for your offer, but unfortunately the magic only works IN the Kinneret; witness the various near strangulations we experienced in the car, driving home, a mere few minutes from the Kinneret.


This week the kiddies have been enjoying their kaytanah. Yaakov's favorite activity by far was the day they made Chocolate Covered Cornflake Delight. Which he proceeded to eat. With his hands. In the hot car. By the time we got home, he looked like he had been touched by that kid from The Chocolate Touch. As he looked up at me, with a big, chocolatey grin on his face, he said, "You know what Mommy? We made chocolate on our corn flakes today."

"Oh? I couldn't tell."

"And you know what Mommy? I very very like it!" he added helpfully, with visions of endless chocolate corn flake breakfasts dancing in his head.


Last night was FIRST GRADE orientation!! Wow! In the words of Yaakov, we sure are bigger! We found out who Ariella's morah is (Moriah, who looks just like her gan teacher, Maya), who her friends are (reunited with Aiden, of course), and which "aleph" she's in (shtayim, in case you were wondering. There are 4 alephs. Each with about 33 kids in it. That's a LOT of anecdotals.)

So after finding her classroom, the teacher promptly kicked out the parents. I like her already! The way they organized it, the kids all sat in their classrooms and did an activity with the teacher, while the parents (and assorted siblings, with varying attention spans, ranging from 5 seconds to one minute) sat outside for the parent meeting. Ariella, for her part, enjoyed the activity and explained the whole thing to me afterward, barely even pausing for breath. She's cool like that.

For my part, I was hoping to get some "tachlis" questions answered. How does the first day work? What is the "seder hayom" - what does their day look like? Are there any other uniform rules beside the school shirt? When do chugim start? Is there tzaharon (the afternoon program, since school ends at a shocking 12:45) on the first day? When do they bring in all their school supplies?

But instead, we first listened to a presentation from the "yoetzet" - a school counselor/psychologist type. While she seemed lovely and I'm sure her presentation was very worthwhile (and for the five minutes I paid attention, I did understand the Hebrew. Go me!), I was nervous that she was wasting Yaakov's precious few seconds of attention span on fluff, rather than answering what time does school start the first day???? (I was throwing nervous glances at Yaakov's rapidly shrinking bag of grapes, hoping they would last until the end...don't eat so quickly Yaakov....savor each grape....)

So after her thirty minute presentation, which included some baffling activity in which the parents had to write something in their weaker hand (yes, there was handing out of numerous sheets and pencils to over 100 parents), the principal got up. Good, I thought. Now I'll find out what time school starts on the first day. But no. First we had to hear the five guiding principles of the school. The grapes were long gone, and I gave up actually sitting on a seat, instead choosing to stand in the back and let Yaakov run around, racing himself. ("Ready, set, GO!" he announced, before taking off). Finally, after the principal's principles, she started talking tachlis. At this point, the children were beginning to emerge from the classrooms, seeking out their parents. "Oh," said the principal, "it seems the children are finished. Okay, let me get through this quickly... schoolstartsateightthefirstdaythereisaceremonyatnineifyouwanttocome-"and the rest I missed, because Yaakov needed to pee, and then I saw the tzaharon people sitting in the lobby, and realized I owed them some more money ("Here's my checkbook! Keep my kid in school past noon!!")

So school starts at 8:00 on the first day. That's all I needed to know, thank you very much.

PS Our next post will be the 200th post! Please leave a comment, letting the staff know what YOU think we should write about. If we choose YOUR idea, you can win an authentic aliyahbyaccident toothbrush!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The End of Vacation :(

Well, vacation has come to an end. Sunday was Donny's last day off. I found an end-of-August kaytanah that had two last-minute openings, so we shoved the kids in there as quickly as we could. Originally, I thought I would just have them start on Monday, since Donny was off Sunday for one last DOF (day of fun.) However, during one of the more vehement name-calling sessions (Ariella and Yaakov's, not mine and Donny's), Donny and I had a sudden realization: We could send them off to kaytanah on Sunday, and have our own DOF!! It was a good move. They had a fabulous time at camp, and Yaakov didn't even cry, because he had his protector with him - the indefatigable LaLa.

Donny and I headed out to Jerusalem to buy ourselves a challah board. When we got married, lo these many moons ago, we received very little in the way of Judaica. Our current challah board was handed off to us by Elie and Leezy, who received so many when they got married that there were rejects for the poor sister and brother-in-law. However, lovely as it is, it's one of those HEAVY stone contraptions and has very nearly broken many a toe. So we decided that after nine years of marriage, it was time to invest in a new challah board. Also, Momz and Dadz offered to pay for it as an anniversary present! Yay! Let's buy three! And a new TV! And a house! We found a very beautiful challah board. But of course, in the Jewish version of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," once we had a challah board, we absolutely needed the matching knife. And since we had such a beautiful board and knife, how could we resist a new challah cover? And once we're already getting a challah cover, we should really buy ourselves.... a decent menorah. Because we finally threw out our greasy, cheap-o menorahs after last Chanukah.

Don't worry, the shekel stops there. We returned home, packages in hand, picked up the kids at 1:00 from kaytanah, and headed out to the Rock Park. First, we picked figs and ate them. Great fun! Then, Ariella announced it was time for another hike. The children found stalks of long grass, which they declared must be wheat, and spent the next hour inventing games with their "wheat." They wanted to harvest a lot so they could sell it to Shufersal. After they tired of poking each other with the wheat, we went to Mega, where we bought food for dinner - steak and homemade french fries, courtesy of Donny - and Ariella LOST HER FIRST TOOTH!!!! Last night, the Tooth Fairy left a shekel under her pillow. Luckily, she showed the Tooth Fairy exactly where her tooth would be resting, so he could know the precise spot on which to place the prize.

Today, everyone was back to a routine. Yay, another routine! The beginning of nearly every week this summer has been the beginning of a new routine for us. First kaytanah, second kaytanah, home with Mommy, vacation, third kaytanah. We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of September 1st. When REAL routine begins (at least until the chagim arrive, about a week later). Actually, I am eagerly awaiting September 6. This is because Yaakov has gan for about 5 minutes during that first week of school. You know, so he can get "used to it." This is a child that has been in school full time since he was 4 months old when we plopped him in daycare from 8:00 - 4:00. The child that last year, about 30 seconds after disembarking from the airplane, found himself in a full day of gan, at which he knew nobody and did not speak the language. But you're right. He needs to ease himself into the school year. Otherwise, heaven knows what might happen!

But we have nearly survived our First Israeli Summer. Despite the heat, the lack of summer programs which extend beyond three weeks, and the heat, we made it to the end of August. And we had some excellent fun along the way, mostly involving VACATION with plenty of ARTIKS.

Now, we are flattered by Arica's designation of us as "Real Israelis" because we slept in a tzimmer. But, I fear, we fall short of that standard. For one, we did not stay in a tzimmer with six of our best friends. And second, we did not stay in a bed and breakfast tzimmer. The true Israeli tzimmer experience includes unlimited maadans, an omelet, and lots of olives for breakfast. So let us all say together, "Next year, in a bed and breakfast!" Amen.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My First Phlog

(Photo blog, for those who don't know.)

Here is our first Israeli Vacation, told in pictures:

On the way to our tzimmer in Rosh Pinna, we stopped at Park Menashe. The kids played,

while Donny did the Manly Barbeque Thing.

Afterwards we had an intense game of baseball. It was very close, but Yaakov broke it wide open in the seventh.

After arriving in Rosh Pinna, we couldn't wait to get started. However, we made sure to start off every day with a healthy breakfast, usually involving chocolate milk.

(We're proud that the children are developing, if nothing else, good restaurant habits.) They needed the energy for our daily activities, including water hikes

swimming in the Kinneret,

and collecting, sorting, and washing rocks. Especially Yaakov's favorite, the "teensy teensy wocks."

Our days could be exhausting.

especially the day we took a super intense (30 min there, 45 min back) hike to the Hexagonal Pools. (Don't worry, swimming was definitely allowed, although the water was too deep for the kiddies. Donny and I, however, had great fun taking turns swimming to the little waterfall.)
But even during the longest and hottest of hikes, there was always the promise of ARTIK (Hebrew for ice pop) at the end to keep our energy up. During our vacation, ARTIK = LUNCH.

We celebrated our accomplishments with dinner out. Warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream tastes even better after a day of trooper-ing around Israel.

Sadly, though, our vacation had to come to an end. As construction is not yet finished on our house in the Kinneret, we packed up our things and headed back to Modi'in, stopping for one last nutritious meal on the way.

I will end with a Yaakov story:
Those of you who have young children, or who used to have young children, or who were once young children yourselves, understand the dire importance of said young children NOT NAPPING in the car, lest the nap inhibit their ability to fall asleep later. Notwithstanding the fact that our children seem to stay up till the wee hours of the night, nap or no nap, we did NOT want Yaakov falling into a deep car sleep at 4:00 PM. On the first day, as we were driving up and Yaakov was nodding off, we passed a gas station. "GUM!" I exclaimed. Yaakov immediately snapped to attention. So we pulled over and bought the kiddies some gum, a rare treat. And it worked - Yaakov happily chewed away, going through an average of one box an hour, and did not fall asleep. Monday we overdid it - he ended up chewing so much gum throughout the day, that when we needed it to excite him out of his nap, he sleepily mumbled, "Don't want more gum." We then made it an explicit policy that the gum was only to fend off unwanted naps.
Scene: Tuesday night. Donny and I are in our room, reading (Donny) and blogging (me), while we patiently wait for the kiddies to succumb to sleep so we can watch a movie (Slumdog Millionaire.) Ariella has given up the fight and is sound asleep in bed. Yaakov wanders into our room, sucking his thumb and clutching Blue Blanket.
Yaakov: I want gum.
Me: What do you mean?
Yaakov: 'Cuz, 'cuz, 'cuz, 'cuz [he has a bit of a stutter] YOU said I could have some!
Me: What are you talking about?
Yaakov: I'm falling asleep! You said if I got tired I could get gum. So I need gum now!
After picking ourselves off the floor, on which we had been rolling in a fit of hysterical laughter, we gently explained to a very disappointed Yaakov that the gum was only so we wouldn't sleep in the car; we would be more than happy if he fell asleep now.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Close Enough For the Katushyas

Welcome Emily and thanks for reading! Or should I say, "Hevaynu shalom hevaynu shalom!"

Today our activities could be summed up by this: "Look at all this water you can't swim in!" We began our morning with a simple breakfast at home - cereal for Donny and me; cereal, and then Milkies, for the kiddies. (Haha Kate - and you thought candy yogurt was bad.) We packed up the car and headed waaaaay up north, to the Golan Heights.

Allow me to digress for a moment on Israeli vacation habits. There were some families from our shul also vacationing up north this week, and one of them very kindly invited Donny to go over to his house this past Saturday night to give us some vacation tips and activity ideas. Now, this family found it extraordinarily odd that we were vacationing all by ourselves. As in, not with an entire caravan of other families. Apparently, that is what's done here. You go with at least one other family to your "tzimmer," or you all rent tzimmers close to each other and then you do stuff all week together.

For me, personally, vacation is a time that our own little family can be together. I also - unfortunately for my writing career - had a very happy childhood, a highlight of which was our annual summer vacation. Once or twice, we vacationed with another family, which was great fun, but for the most part, it was the 5 of us, hanging out, having a good time, foraging for kosher food at random local supermarkets, (especially exciting when we found those packaged "baked goods" or an ice cream with a random, flyover state hechsher on it), and occasionally fighting, with Dadz consequently threatening to "turn this car around RIGHT NOW!" if we didn't stop. So for me, vacation means family time. Also, I can't imagine having to deal with multiple families' needs and schedules. There is a group from our shul of SIX families vacationing together this week. That is a whole heckuva lot of coordination. Coordinating two kids with their various bathroom trips and snack needs is proving quite enough for me.

The other thing we have learned - and I promise, the point is buried in here somewhere - is that vacations are highly regionalized. So if you are renting a tzimmer near the Kinneret (or in it, if you are so lucky to find one), you do Kinneret activities for the entire time you are there. You do not, under any circumstances, head up to the Golan Heights to look for fun. That is an entirely different vacation. And vice versa. We, however, are Americans; we do crazy things like road trips, where we may even visit multiple states in only a week or two. Our Israeli friends can't even imagine something like that. Excuse them while they go lie down. Oh wait, it might be a while, they have to coordinate it first. We'll just move on.

So anyway, even though we were staying in the Kinneret area, we had the audacity to head up even norther to look for more fun. We got on route 90 and kept on driving, waving to our Lebanese friends a few miles away. We passed fun signs like "Careful! Mines!" and "Do not enter! Border up ahead!" that were tacked onto barbed wire fences. Our first stop was Tel Dan, where we had a healthy morning snack of popcorn (frankly, it was all downhill for Yaakov after that), and then hiked to the "wading pool." The water was ice cold, but for some reason, even though Donny and I couldn't stand it for more than three and a half seconds, the kids had fun running around. We finished the hike, Yaakov and Ariella scrambling up wet rocks and over tree branches like the troopers they are, and headed back to the car. ("Heading back to the car" became a running theme of the day.)

NOTE: Anyone looking to visit parks in Israel: There is a membership you can purchase, which they do not like to tell you about, but it's good for a year and you get in free to all the parks in Israel. We are now proud owners and thanks to our "Head back to the car and go to another park" program, we've already made money on the deal.

So after Tel Dan, we attempted to visit the Banias. While I have distinct memories of doing water-related activities IN the Banias, both Banias parks we went to (one is the park, one is the falls) had a distinct you-may-not-touch-the-water policy. In fact, the first Banias Park had signs all over announcing "Fire - prohibited! Barbeque - prohibited! Swimming - prohibited!" Might as well add "Fun - prohibited!" But we did some hikes and saw some fishies. The final park of the day, Nachal Snir (pronouced sneer, like the attitude), had another wading pool, which proved to be great fun. There was even a mini-waterfall which Ariella, brave soul that she is, stood under. The water was freezing again, but slightly better than the morning park, so Donny and I stayed in for a full five seconds this time.

Dinner - schwarma at a random hole in the wall store in Kiryat Shmonah.

So to sum up:
Park membership - good.
"Do not enter the water" signs - bad.
Wading pools - good.
Kids that love to hike - very good.
Kids that seem impervious to extreme heat or freezing water - even better.
Kids that are sound asleep by 7:30 - still wishful thinking.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dispatch from the Kinneret #1: We Swim in the Kinneret

Welcome to Loyal Reader #45 Lanie "Time to Update My Blog" Kellman!

Comments Roundup:

Cheryl, I don't think my own brother even reads my blog (sniff, sniff). He is a rabbi now, with many more important things to do. For instance, I hear he's planning to turn the walls of the shul into a giant "Magic Eye" mural! (For all of you KJBS members: Just kidding! At least I think.)

To my good friends MomzRealDaughters: Mazel tov on the birth/bris! May he grow up to Torah, Chuppah, Maasim Tovim, and Loyal Readership! (Though not necessarily in that order.)

OneTiredEma: We are so very sorry that we are not home this week to welcome you properly to Modi'in. Please accept this, on behalf of myself and Baila:

Welcome to Modi'in!!! Yay!!!

Well, I am sending my first Dispatch from the Kinneret:

First, I will start with a funny Ariella story. On Shabbos, as I planning to take my usually unsuccessful Couch Nap (unsuccessful because it is a delicate balancing act between making sure they don't fight, but also don't sleep, which means that I usually don't sleep), I warned them very explicitly that for the next half hour - I have low standards - they were not allowed to either fight or fall asleep. However, what I did not say was, "You are also not permitted to wake me up in order to ask random irrelevant questions." At 12:50 I put my head down on the couch. At 1:10 I heard that dreaded word, "Mommy?"
Okay, maybe if I ignore it, it'll go away.
"Mommy?" Darn, still there. Close eyes harder. Must reenter realm of semi-consciousness.
"Mommy, I have to ask you a question." Ok, last attempt to ignore Inquisitive Child.
"Mommy, I have to ask you a question." Yes, clearly the reason I am not answering you is because I don't hear you. Good idea to ask again. And again.
"WHAT?" I grumble to Inquisitive Child. "What is sooo important that you had to wake me up? Did you need the number for the ambulance because your arm is falling off? Or is someone here with a suitcase full of cash and you wanted to know if you can accept it? (The answer to that, by the way, is always yes.)"
"Mommy, what ocean did we cross when we came on an airplane to Israel?"

The next day, when Inquisitive Child wanted to know what ocean our lift traveled over to get to Israel, I said, Wait, let me fall asleep so you can WAKE ME UP in order to ask that.

But really, we love her inquisitiveness. Just not when we're sleeping.

So yesterday began our First Vacation in Israel. We are currently in Rosh Pina, at a "tzimmer" which turned out to be a very nice little two bedroom that is clean and cute, with a garden, and THREE cable TVs (ensuring endless discussions of why we can't pause the shows), and a construction lot next door. The construction workers, however, are NOT on vacation, so the noise and action started quite early this morning, much to Yaakov's delight.

Yesterday we stopped at Park Menashe on our way up and made a barbeque, which we generously shared with the local fly population. We got to our tzimmer around 5, at which point the kids parked themselves in front of HOP (the Israeli kids' station) and Donny went out to buy some necessary victuals.

Discuss: Why, with endless TV channels and kids' shows, does Yaakov insist on watching his "Yuval Hamebulbal" video that we brought from home? (And all day today, in the midst of our Fun, he kept asking if it was time to go back and watch Yuval.)

This morning, we went out for breakfast - ahhh, the joys of vacationing in Kosher Country. No more schlepping pots and pans and preparing food and worrying about our next meal while gazing wistfully at the non-Kosher folk who can just eat out anywhere. We then headed out to a water hike at the Kinneret. Yaakov and Ariella were real troopers - they walked the whole time and Yaakov only needed to be held at a few points where the water reached his chin. We looked for fishies and generally enjoyed the wetness of the activity. After, we celebrated our trooper-ness with ice pops. (i.e. lunch)

You're probably thinking, could the day get any better than this? A hike in the water, how cool! But I am here to tell you that it did. We drove a little bit to one of the Kinneret beaches and went swimming. Swimming in the Kinneret ROCKS! (Literally and figuratively). The water was the perfect temperature, and we swam around and experienced merriment for over two hours. I am actually thinking of building a house right in the Kinneret. You see, this was the first two hour stretch we've had in a while where no one said they hated anyone else, called anyone "stupid man," (Yaakov's insult of choice), pulled hair, hit, or caused disturbances of any kind. So I'm thinking, hey if we actually LIVE in the Kinneret, they'll be well-behaved all the time! It's a fool-proof plan!

After the swimming, the kiddies entertained themselves by looking for "smooth" rocks. For Ariella, this trip was especially exciting because she learned a while ago in school about the Kinneret, and how we have to use less water because the lake is getting smaller. She asks all the time: "Is this water from the Kinneret? Is the water we flush from the Kinneret? How about this water that I'm drinking now? And this water?" Then, whenever we mention water conservation, she places the blame for Israel's water crisis squarely on Yaakov's shoulders. "See, Yaakov, it's because you use so much water when you wash your hands. Now there's none left in the Kinneret."

Her impression upon seeing the actual, live, Kinneret waters?
"Mommy," [dubiously] "this sure looks like a lot of water."

We finished our day with some not bad pizza at a local mall here (take that Owings Mills, Towson Town, and Garden State Plaza!)

The one downside is that though the children are exhausted by the end of the day, they express this by forcing their little overtired bodies to stay up very late, alternately playing and fighting, instead of collapsing in their beds and letting us watch a movie and eat popcorn and Milkies. I think it's because our tzimmer, while it does have stunning views of the Kinneret, is not located in the Kinneret. Gotta see what we can do about that. they have finally, after much cajoling (us) and crying (them) fallen asleep. Time to take back the TV and watch anything but Yuval HaMebulbal.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dude, that cloud looks like an elephant!

How many of you can say, "Thursday was fun. I rode on a toilet!"? (I am hoping here the answer is no one.) But more on that in a minute.

First, let me offer Cheryl and Arica a cup of coffee while they catch up. Glad the blog is bringing people together.

In response to some of your comments, which have been plentiful lately:

Momz - it always said that. Keep up.

TRN - yes, this is a question I often ask myself. I am relieved when I get home and the groceries are organized according to section (well, except for the random bag.) However, the bagging and carting race is not good for my nerves. What do you think, Loyal Readers? Do you prefer bagging yourself, which is more work but produces better results, or a hired "bagger," who relieves you of the work but puts 5 bottles of seltzer in one bag, and a lone package of tissues in another, and your eggs underneath the canned corn?

Risa - the Hebrew teachers teach us the wrong stuff on purpose. It's a conspiracy, man! They think it's funny. Then they call their friends back in Israel and laugh at us.

But back to the toilet.
Yesterday began our "Chofesh HaGadol." Donny began his vacation, and we took the kids to Beit Chalomotai, this fun water park/Gymboree type place. The kids had a blast. There were water slides and other water shpritzy things, then a bunch of "dry" activities, including a massive jumping around area with a ball pit and climbing apparati (which, yes, in case you were wondering, Yaakov DID pee on. I could write a tour guide book soon, "Peeing by Accident: Yaakov's Guide to the Best Places To Let Loose." One of the stranger activities they had was this contraption which rained down balls on you - it looked like it hurt - and then the kids ran around, gathering up the balls and putting them back into the contraption, which whoooshed the balls back up to the basket, where they rained down on you - ouch - and then you start all over again.

But by far the STRANGEST ride in the place was the Toilet Ride. It's sort of this mini go-cart ride, indoors, where you sit on yes, a toilet, and ride around the little track for about 3 minutes. The kids each needed a grownup on their john, so Donny and I got to ride as well. The ride, of course, is called "Cocka-meeka." (Can you imagine a ride in America called the "DoodyMobile????") Israelis are such a creative people!

Today we went to the beach. We had much fun getting wet and sandy and sticky. The lifeguards are very vigilant. They make sure no one goes out too far in the water, and call people out who are not following the rules. I'm not sure who it was, but let me tell you, "Adoni" and "Geveret" are in SUCH trouble! They were getting yelled at all morning! Plus they never seemed to know where their children were. Some people should just stay home, you know?

I would also like to thank the two dudes next to us who were thoughtful enough to bring their cigarettes and their bong. When Ariella and Yaakov started dancing around on the mat and laughing hysterically at stupid jokes, we figured it was time to leave.

Sunday begins our vacation to the north. If Donny can get the wireless card to work on my computer, I will hopefully be sending dispatches from the Kinneret.

Also, a happy birthday to my sister-in-law, Ayelet (that's Rebbetzin Leibtag to you Chicagoans), and my Aunt Deborah, and a "Happy Anni-grocery" (to quote Tani) to Leezy and Elie! Five years, for those of you who are counting. In Israel, 5 years is the Shoko Anniversary. (For 10 you get shwarma. I'm looking forward.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Beginning of the Three Weeks

Welcome to Loyal Reader #44 - Altmans! Glad to have you with us!

I would also like to give a shout-out to the entire Popper "Life, Universe, Everything" Fanbase. Aliyahbyaccident's new motto: "More Poppers Read Aliyahbyaccident than Any Other Blog." What many loyal readers probably don't know is that Sara and Shmuel were our VERY FIRST "shidduchbyaccident."

To new reader homeshuling: To be honest, the last time I heard the word "yalkut" was when some Hebrew teacher in the US taught me that word. Here, in the land of Real Israelis, it's "tik," all the way.

Leezy - it has not been six days since a blog entry, even if you're using some weird Australian counting method. The "Friday" date on top of the post indicates the day I started to work on the blog, by noting down the inane things happening in my life. (Recipe for an aliyahbyaccident blog post: 3 cups inane things + 1 tablespoon embarrassing DADZ story + healthy pinch, oh what the hell, a whole quart, of sarcasm + 43.5 poofahs.) The last blog post was actually published Sunday night, Standard Israel Time. So it has only been THREE days since a blog post. I accept your apology in advance.

This week has been the beginning of my own personal "3 Weeks" - the 3 weeks in between camp/gan - hereafter referred to as "gamp" - and school. It's not too bad, because Donny is taking off a week + 2 days - starting this Thursday, and not going back till a week from Monday. And we're going away next week to swim in the Kinneret. So, really, it's just 4 days this week, 4 days the week Donny abandons me, and then 2 days of the week after that. Then school starts! But really, who's counting? (Me! Me! For the love of God, me!)

Also, I decided this was a good time to take on a massive writing project, thinking, "Oh, surely the kids will be good for a few hours every day and let me get some work done!" Reality check: Every time I sit down at the computer, some invisible button is pushed and hair is pulled, people call other people stupid, and fuse beads spill all over the floor. Multiple times. Now, lest you think I'm a completely evil, neglectful mother, we have been doing an "activity" every day - the pool, going on the train and meeting Daddy for dinner in Tel Aviv, food shopping, running school-related errands - but even the best activity is over in 3 hours. Leaving me many, many more hours of bored children than I care to think about. So while I thought my week would look something like this, in reality, it is more like this. I have prayed diligently every day for well-behaved children. My personal plee goes something like this: pleasebegoodpleasebegoodpleasebegood

And while I figured, hey, at least the money I'll make will help finance our vacation, in reality, the money is going to fiance Bribery Toys. It's like Santa stole my credit card.

Now, some of you may be wondering - wait a minute, did you just count "food shopping" as a "fun activity" to do with the kids? Yes, I did, and I'm proud of it! Think about it. It gets everyone out. We get shoko b'sakit. This week - read it and weep, Baila - Ariella and I even beat the kupait!! Yes, she was slowed down by the need to call her manager and ask about every single item. ("This is a nectarine. What's the code?....Okay, now I have another, let's see, nectarine. What do I do with that?...Got it...And...oh look, another nectarine!") But that does not matter - we won!!!! And, in addition to the exilaration of victory, food shopping provides us with a wonderful chance to observe the local flora and fauna of Israel (in the form of frozen peas and chicken cutlets.)

Tomorrow, though, Donny will be home, and he can answer the eternal question, asked by children since the dawn of time, starting with Cain, who did not receive a satisfactory answer and then decided to go out and kill his brother: "What are we doooooing today?"

Friday, August 7, 2009

Do you have a clue? Cuz I don't.

So many new Loyal Readers to welcome!

Welcome to LR #40, Chana, LR #41, Laurie, LR #42 Shmuel "I Have to do Everything My Wife Does" Popper, and LR #43, ViKa! Glad to have you all on board! If any of you googled "traifin" or "Bais Yaakov pee" and wound up on this blog, you get extra poofahs!

We had Yaakov's mesibat siyum on Friday. It was held at the Maccabim Ritzy Country Club Pool Center. Maccabim, a suburb of Modi'in, is the "Connecticut" to Modi'in's "Riverdale." Yaakov was SO excited about his "mee-Shabbat siyum." So of course he celebrated this excitement by sitting in Daddy's lap the entire time and refusing to participate in the little performance. He did deign to come with one of us when it was time to get his present. (Very awesome, by the way - a t-shirt with all the kids' pictures on it, a photo album with pictures from the whole year, an "official" gan portrait, a folder of his "work" (the sponge painting is truly a masterpiece in its own time), plus a beach ball and floatie things.)

After the performance - which was adorable, but way less adorable when your own adorable kid isn't participating - we all headed over to the kiddie pool area. Suddenly, Yaakov let loose! He had the most fun I've ever seen. (He also let loose in other ways; hey, it's the kiddie pool, what do you expect? I was sitting on the edge when suddenly I saw him crying in the pool. I ran over to him. "Mommy, I was calling you! I said I had to make! And now it already came ooooouuuutttt!" He was so sad, and did not at all understand why it was that I could not hear his pitiful little wails over dozens of screaming kids. Later, when I asked him if he needed to go, he told me, "Nope, I already maked on the floor.")

Anyway, he was playing with his friends and one of his morahs even got in the pool with them. He was having an absolute blast. We took an ice cream break, then he continued to play. Ariella had a great time as well, and it was only 3 hours later when I realized that no Shabbos food had been cooked that we dragged their pruny little bodies out of the pool.

It was funny to watch Yaakov switching between Hebrew with his friends and English with us. At one point, he started talking to his friend Linor in English. "Yaakov," I said, "You need to talk to her in Hebrew."
"I AM," he replied in exasperation. "I said to her, [in a slow, exaggerated voice] Li-nor-y do - you- want - to - play - with - me?"

The Blind Leading the Blind, Israel edition
At the end of the school year, I always write a thank-you note to the kids' teachers, and have the kids draw a little picture for them. As a teacher in my former life, I understand that it's nice to feel appreciated at the end of an entire year's work. (And no, a 4-colored pen with the words "Thanks for everything!" scrawled on it, while a nice gesture, does not cut it, appreciation-wise. "Your kid would still be crying under the table, shredding his paper and munching on toothpicks if it weren't for me!" I want to scream. But I don't.)

So this year, the challenge, of course, was doing these cards in Hebrew. We did it for Ariella's teachers, and for Yaakov's. Both times, I wrote the rough draft, and then Donny looked it over and edited it. Both times, we discussed having a "real Israeli" look it over to correct our creative use of the Hebrew language. Both times, we nixed the idea, presumably, we said, nodding righteously, because we want the teachers to see that it's really "from us." But in reality, we're just too lazy.

It's quite comical, Donny and I asking each other Ivrit questions.
"Do we need a "lamed" or a "bet" after this word?"
"Do people actually use this phrase today, or was the last person who said it old enough to be canonized?"
"How do you conjugate this in the past, with 'they?'"
So we sit there, happily, obliviously, scribbling away, hoping that between the two of us, we've managed to create at least a few non-mangled sentences. It's as if someone shoved us into an operating room to perform open-heart surgery.

"Is that a vein?"

"Dunno. Maybe an artery?"

"Is it supposed to be moving around like that?"

"What's that piece over there?

"Should we call in a 'real doctor?'"

"Nah. This way the patient will know it's truly 'from us.'"

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Traifin' up the traifin'!

Lots of exciting things happening here in Aliyahbyaccident Land! (It's the new amusement park I'm developing; all the workers speak gibberish, it's always freakin' hot, and you are constantly being charged a 2 shekel fee. For what, we don't tell you. But don't worry - there is unlimited SHOKO B'SAKIT!)

First, we are now NUMBER ONE in traifin'! There was really no need for the title, but I wanted some extra security.

Second, we are just racking up the Loyal Readers! Whoo-hoo!

1. Loyal Reader 36, SHANA, as it turns out, is none other than my long-lost cousin (and friend), Shana "Eh?" Leibtag! Welcome Shana! You are already a Capital Letter Loyal Reader, because you are now one of my "followers." Don't worry, we don't chant weird things or wear robes. That's why I like "Loyal Reader" better than "follower;" sounds less cultic. Everyone together now: aliyahbyaccident, aliyahbyaccident. Ommmmm. Ommmmm. Downward Stray Cat. And....breathe.

2. TRN - still waiting on your identification and your joinership of the LR Club!

3. Big Welcome to Sara "Has Lots of Blackmail-Worthy Info On Me, So I Won't Give Her An Embarrassing Middle Name" Popper!

4. And to Ari "There are Cities Outside of New York?" Kellman, whose blog you can follow here, although now I've outed him because everyone will see he hasn't updated since May.

5. And finally, a welcome to Shani "My Former Babysitter Now Don't YOU Feel Old" Berger!

Together, this brings us up to THIRTY-NINE Loyal Readers! Almost time for a mid-blog crisis! I am using waaaaaay too many exclamation points in this post! Somebody stop me! Seriously! Okay. That is better.

And Israel's guest blog post is racking up the hits. I think he's at approximately five gazillion. I can almost smell that iced coffee.... I can only assume it's the combined efforts of aliyahbyaccident Loyal Readers that has boosted his bloggership up this high. Thanks everyone. I would use an exclamation point, but I'm not allowed anymore.

PS Welcome to OneTiredEma and her OneTiredFamily, who recently made aliyah and will be joining us here in Modi'in very shortly.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Traifin' up the blog

Welcome to a new lower case loyal reader - so-called because he/she read ALL OF THE archives, though he/she has not yet become a Capital Letter Loyal Reader - TRN! TRN and SHANA....of SHANA, please identify yourselves so we can properly welcome you and send you your aliyahbyaccident pencil case! (Just in time for the school year!)

Deep thought for the day: Freelance writers have a lot in common with Victoria's Secret models - both are jobs you can do in your underwear.

New Blenta News (that's blog yenta, for those who already forgot. Sheesh.) Courtesy of SiteMeter:
1. Thanks to Don't know who you are, but thanks for adding me to your blogroll!
2. Someone apparently googled "traifin'" and ended up on aliyahbyaccident. After a little sleuthing, I determined that aliyahbyaccident is the second site to come up when one googles "traifin.'" This is good, people, but we can do better! Let's try to make aliyahbyaccident NUMBER ONE in traifin'!! (Hence the title of this post.)
3. Apparently, googling "pee accident picture" is yet another way to find this blog! Amazing the lengths people will go to in order to read aliyahbyaccident!

Somebody stop her!
This morning, Ariella noticed an irony about the Jewish calendar. "How come," she asked, on the way to kaytanah, "every time there's a chag a bad person tries to kill the Jewish people?" I tried to explain that it's sort of the opposite. It's not that we had a chag, therefore a bad person came and tried to kill us. It's precisely because the bad person didn't succeed in killing the Jewish people that we have a chag. Next question: "Who wanted to kill the Jewish people on Sukkot?" Which led to a discussion about chagim that are d'oraytah, and d'rabanan, chagim which are about boring things like wheat, and chagim about exciting things like magical oil, chagim which we celebrate because it says so in the Torah, and chagim we celebrate because we were not destroyed. And then there's Pesach, which just has a little bit of everything. I'm sure I completely befuddled her.

Then we went back to talking about movies which could really happen, and movies which couldn't. My head hurts.

An Aliyahbyaccident Team Effort!
Okay, people, listen up. We have a chance to be of HELP to a fellow Loyal Reader! I know it is not the usual way of aliyahbyaccident to help; "mock" is more up our alley, but we're excited for a change of pace. Israel Weisser, of the famous Weisser family, has entered a blog contest. For all of you loyal comment readers, you know that Israel is not only witty, but intelligent as well. So let's go, team! The more people that log in and read the post, the more points Israel will receive. And then he can WIN!! Win what? Win a, um, ....Israel, what will you win? But it doesn't matter! Go! Log! Read! Israel promised me an iced coffee if he wins, so let's all help him out!
Go to 5 Israeli Job Search Survival Tips and enjoy!

PS By the way, Israel if you win, you owe me an iced coffee.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Attack of the Backpack

Israel has been overrun with tikkim (backpacks, for those of you that didn't graduate ulpan.) They are EVERYWHERE. No matter where you look, Dora, Spiderman, Hello Kitty, and Barbie are staring right back at you. When we ordered Chinese last night, they wanted to know if they could interest us in the lemon chicken, or a Bratz tik. (Oh, and characters are HUGE here. Even huger than in America. It was not easy to find a non-charactered tik for Ariella. Since I told her that this was going to be a tik to last for more than one year, I encouraged her to find something non-charactery, so that next year, when she decides that Strawberry Shortcake is soooo not cool, we won't have to argue about it and we can argue about something else instead, like why kids can't get washed in a washer and dryer.)

Of course, the characters are about 5-10 years behind American trends, although I was reassured, at least, to not find any "Thundercats" or "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" on the tikkim. Dora, though! Dora is HUGER than HUGE! That chick is everywhere! Videos, underwear, school supplies, backpacks, cereal. You can even buy Dora toilet paper! (No, you can't.) I happen to find Dora videos hugely amusing, because in Israel, the cute, spunky, Hispanic kid is teaching the kids English. ("Oh no Boots! The squirrel is going to get hit in the head with acorns! And he doesn't understand us because he only speaks English! We have to tell him 'Waw-tch owt!' Can you say that with me? 'Waw-tch owt!'" I laugh. It's funny!)

School supplies in general are a really really big deal. Stores love to get in on the action. In America, I felt it was pretty simple. Ever since Staples took over Shapiro's on Reisterstown Road, and gel pens replaced salami, you went to Staples for your school supplies. Every year. Here, every store that might possibly be construed as a "school supply" store jumps in. ("Um, we're a dry cleaners." "Shut up and put out some pencils, man!") The stores clear off their shelves of everything non-school related and in its place you can find pencils! Binders! Markers! Paper! Nylon stockings! It's sort of like the office supply store's answer to Pesach.
[Inside an Office Depot]
"Katzav! Are those batteries on the shelf?"
"Uh, yes."
"Do first graders needs batteries??? I think not! Take them off immediately and put some more Barbie folders there! Pronto!"

In other news....
Risa, re your comment - kappayim! I am awarding you the very first Aliyahbyaccident Wish I Had Thought of That Myself Award!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Major Shout Outs

Welcome to Loyal Reader #35, Sarah, of "SabaSarah!" Glad you were able to make it! Sarah has some Hungarian blood in her, and now I know the correct way to tell someone you don't speak Hungarian: "No frere jacques Hungarian." We have now moved into our late thirties with Loyal Reader #36 - SHANA....of SHANA. Welcome to our club!

Now, some of you may remember a while back, when aliyahbyaccident was chosen as a "beloved blog." The rules of the game, according to Baila, are to pass along the award to another blog. After some heavy thinking and soul-searching, I have decided to give this award to the mother of all aliyah blogs, my inspiration, and the reason we will never live next door to Nafi and Lisa: Arica "Factor" Saltzman! If you want an actual account of life in Israel - unlike this cynical snark-fest - hop on over to saltzmanlife. Arica, like all Real Israelis, is spending this summer in America, so you can get a first-hand perspective of an olah of 3 years faced with 8 weeks of non-stop Target-shopping. Fellow olim, make sure you have a napkin handy to wipe up all the drool. (I, personally, was salivating over Arica's ability to buy LARGE cups of coffee at Dunkin' Donuts.) So Arica, attach this picture to your blog to accept our formal recognition for the services you provide.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish a happy birthday to my little brother, RABBI Aaron Leibtag, now the morah d'asrah of an actual shul with real people in it. (He can now retire the Little People Shul he's been playing with since his days at YU.) Since he is an important rabbi with a flock to tend, I will refrain from sharing with you 27 years of embarrassing anecdotes I have stored up. Really. I'm not going to share any stories. Not a one. Not even about the time when he.....See? I'm serious this time. Now that aliyahbyaccident has gone INTERNATIONAL, I have to be careful about whom I embarrass. Who knows how far the story about how he used to stick a red and white striped umbrella down his back, pretending it was his rifle, will travel? Oops. Sorry about that, Aars. No more, I promise. But to my Loyal Readers - don't worry, Dadz is still fair game.