Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Survivor: Yom Kippur Edition

As a follow-up to my Letter to Hillel, I realized that I must apologize to Hillel, because the truth is, complaining about how yontov falls out is a special part of being Jewish. We're gonna do it no matter what. It's in our blood. (Only on weekends? Good for work, but totally exhausting. Middle of the week? Bad for work and a month of "Thursday nights." Three day yontov? Blearghhhh.)

But back to Yom Kippur: Some Highlights

1. The kids slept in - till 6:00!! Whoo hoo! That meant that by the time Donny left for shul at 7:10, breakfast was finished and the Mommy-I'm-Bored whining had officially commenced. With only 11 hours to go! Whoo hoo!

2. Kol Nidre night we experienced something that we had never seen before - Chag HaOfanayim (Bike holiday). On YK night, there are no cars on the roads. I'm not sure if this is something officially mandated or just accepted custom, but the roads are empty. So out come the bikes! Any Israeli who is not in shul is out on the roads - kids whizzing down Sderot Chashmonaim on their bikes, parents strolling in the middle of the street, little kids in strollers and tricycles. Ariella and Yaakov enjoyed watching the bicycles (yay! an activity!) for a while, until Ariella got jealous. First, she wanted to go out and ride her bike with all the other kids, then she realized she didn't have a bike and begged me for one.

3. I did not get a migraine, which meant I did not spend quality time with my head in a toilet. Yay! Many women rate their YK by how much time they got to spend in shul. My standards are much lower. No puke? Success!

4. The secret to my survival was not getting up from the couch the entire day. I dictated, directed and supervised as well as I could from my perch. I only got up to daven (briefly), help Yaakov with his bathroom needs, and make lunch (fancy meal of noodles and sliced cheese.)

5. The children and I were in pajamas. All day. We were a pretty sight.

6. We survived, through some miracle of the new kitchen toy, beads, bike-watching, me reading LOTS of books (something I could do successfully from the couch), building, cars, more books, Monster with Daddy, Calisthenics with Mommy, and MORE books - but it was a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong day.

7. Very looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong.

8. And the best part of today? It's an ENTIRE YEAR until we have to do Yom Kippur again! Hopefully by then we will have rebuilt the Beit HaMikdash and we will only have to fast till after Mussaf! Amen.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Letter to Hillel

Dear Hillel,

Kol Hakavod on the whole setting up the Jewish calendar thing! Good work! That kind of stuff always gives me a massive headache - I can barely figure out a tip without having to go lie down - so really, I appreciate your hard work on behalf of our people.

I just have one little gripe. You see, this year, Yom Kippur is essentially the third day of a three day yontov. By which I mean the children have been in the house most of Shabbat, most of today, and will be inside just about all of tomorrow. And I am worrying that I spent all of my Good Children capital on Shabbat, when they played nicely together all afternoon and allowed Donny and me to rest. But, unfortunately, there's not enough time to earn more Good Children points between Shabbat and Yom Kippur. So I worry.

We're trying to do as much coloring/errands/videos today, but let's be honest, the main item on today's agenda is: Kvetch to Mommy. Plus, because of the time change, they've been up since 5:30, so though it is only 10:00, we've already been through two videos, food shopping, and coloring books. Yikes! What will they be like tomorrow at this time? Throwing cars off our mirpeset to see if they can fly? Rolling each other up in toilet paper?

So, please, next time the Sanhedrin convenes, will you please bring this up? I am confident that the creative minds behind "lo adu rosh" and "Adar Sheini" can come up with some workable solution. For now, though, would you mind coming over tomorrow and entertaining my children? I'm sure they'd be up for a couple rounds of "Calculate the Leap Year!" or "Predict The Next Pesach that Falls Out After Tax Season!"

Thanks for your attention to this matter,

Your humble servant,


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mom of the Year

Baila's and Kathleen's comments made me think - we all sigh that we'll never win Mother of the Year, and yet, who is the one in charge of giving out that elusive award? Certainly not our kids, we'd never have a chance if they were in charge (except for you, Momz! Your children would of course nominate you! We love you! Please don't leave my book at home!)

I've never heard of a Mother of the Year Committee; there's no big televised awards ceremony; People magazine never does a special on "Best & Worst Dressed at the 2009 Mother of the Year Awards."

So, I hereby nominate myself as President of the Mother of the Year Committee. But I think it's too much to ask that the nominees be excellent mothers for an entire year; I think "Mother of the Week" is much more manageable. And even then, you only have to be a good mother on one of the days during the week.

Without further ado, I hereby present the winner of the First Aliyahbyaccident Mother of the Week Award.....
[drumroll, please]
Baila! 'Cuz she took her kids camping. With tents and everything.

And the runner-up is......
[another drumroll, please. Thanks. That's the last one.]
Kathleen! Because she's thinking of making aliyah so her children can forge a close, special connection with shoko b'sakit. (By the way, it was close, Kathleen, but Baila and I have a blong-standing relationship.)

Didn't win this week? That's okay - that is precisely the beauty of the Mother of the Week Award. A new winner every week! Stay tuned for next week's winner and runner-up. And if you would like to nominate yourself or a fellow reader/mother, leave a comment below.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Breakfast Nazi

We have a Breakfast Nazi in our house. He goes by the name of "Yaakov," though in the morning, I refer to him as "General Hans von Stupidmeister." Hans has very specific rules about his breakfast, and woe to the parent (that role is played by yours truly) who doesn't follow them to the letter. Also, as part of the game, Hans can change the rules at the last second, and then yell at you for not following the new rule, even though you had dutifully obeyed the original one.

Here are some of the Breakfast Rules, as dictated by Hans. Violation of the rules result in being called "stupid."

1. Hans must eat at the picnic table. DO NOT SUGGEST he eat at the big table with everyone else.

2. Hans not only can take out every single box of cereal, in fact, he MUST. Regardless of whether he plans to eat from it or not.

3. Said boxes of cereal must be placed ON THE FLOOR next to the picnic table, except if Hans decides they are to be placed ON THE PICNIC TABLE ITSELF. Get it right, Mommy!

4. NO ONE ELSE may eat from the General's cereal. (Ariella and I are forced to make mad dashes to the picnic table, grab the cereal, pour it into our bowls, and then return it to its spot amidst Hans' indignant howling that we took HIS cereal. Attempts at explaining that these cereals are for everyone are unceremoniously rebuffed.)

5. Hans likes cereals mixed up. Or not. Sometimes, after he requests two cereals together in his bowl, he begins the indignant howling again, for how could Mommy have been so STUPID as to mix the cereals in his bowl???? ("But Hans," I mutter helplessly, "You just said you wanted them mixed up." "No I dinn't, Mommy!")

6. The General prefers his cereal dry, without milk. (This is a rather recent development, and has seriously thrown off my milk-purchasing calculations.) Today, he asked for some milk. I poured the milk and we had a pleasant discussion about how the milk raised the height of the cereal. After one bite, Hans yelped, "Mommy, this cereal is WET!" I was then forced to dump out the offending Cheerios and pour a fresh, DRY bowl. (Throwing out Hans' uneaten cereal is one of my painful morning tasks.)

7. Hans enjoys a morning stroll during breakfast. Even though Mommy is exhorting him to eat so he has enough time for all the bowls he will want (and then not finish), Hans pays her no mind. He takes his time, taking frequent breaks, and then is VERY UPSET when suddenly it is time to go and he did not finish his breakfast.

8. Mommy then needs to make Hans a baggie of cereal to take in the car, which he knows he is allowed to eat only until we reach gan, at which point he places it in a special, predetermined spot in the car to await him upon his return trip home.

The only rule of mine that we manage to keep (not without a good deal of chasing and limb-flailing) is that getting dressed happens before breakfast. Go Mommy! Score!

Now, some of you good parents out there are probably shaking your heads and saying, "You must be firm, but kind with the children. Explain to Hans in no uncertain terms that this is not how we eat breakfast, that he must sit at the table and finish everything he is given before asking for more. Do not give in to his unreasonable demands! You are the mother! Set boundaries!"
(Good parents set boundaries; less good parents cower in fear of the Breakfast Nazi.)

In my defense, flimsy though it may be, the goal of my morning is "happiness." I need the children walking out of the door with smiles on their faces, happy and excited to go to gan/school. Starting the day with a fight about breakfast is a slippery slope to crying-fests and idon'twanttogotogan-itis. So I give in. Does it work? I don't know, but when I drop the little boy off at big boy gan, he races me down the hill and gives me some fabulous hugs and kisses, and then waves goodbye. With a smile. Ahh.....Yaakov has returned.

Friday, September 18, 2009

All Manner of Good Things

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers - Loyal and loyal, family and friends, sisters and sisters, commenters and lurkers, those of you I know in "real life" and those who are virtual acquaintances, obsessed readers and occasional readers, Israeli readers, American readers, and Hungarian readers ("Como esta?"), readers who laugh at the blog and those who shake their heads (and I apologize to all those whom I've offended through my occasional blasphemy and constant snark), readers who blog and readers who read, readers who have received their promised aliyahbyaccident gifts and readers who are still waiting (alright, I admit, that second group is slightly larger than the first....)

So to all of you, I wish a year of happiness and health (no diseased sticks! or at least fewer!), a year of success in school, work, and house-hunting, a year of stumbling upon heretofore undiscovered large wads of cash, a year of reaching great new heights in parenting those cute short people that live with us (or at least one whole day without anyone calling anyone else "stupid"), a year of not confusing "her" and "you (feminine)", a year where the good guys win and the bad guys lose and no one blames the good guys for winning, and a year with all manner of good and wonderful things, and the chance to appreciate it.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Moms and Maps. And Ratatouille.

Scene: Ariella and Yaakov are watching Dora. A map is singing, "Ani mapah, ani mapah, ani mapah." Over, and over, and over again. (They sure do love their repitition, those folks at Dora, Incorporated.) So then I start warbling, "Ani eema, ani eema, ani eema," over and over again.
Ariella: Hey, I know why "Eema" sounds like "mapah!" It's because mommies and maps both tell you where to go!

A big welcome to Loyal Reader #53, Libby "Penny" Lane! (Am I the first one to make that joke, ever? Am I?) Thanks for joining!

I had a hard time cooking tonight. Because Yaakov stole my cookbook. And wouldn't give it back. And it's not because he's secretly planning my big birthday dinner of Milky and Shoko b'Sakit. See, when looking for a recipe on Sunday, we came across a picture of rataouille. Now, it happens to be that the rataouille in the cookbook looks just like the rataouille that is made at the end of the movie, Rataouille. (Do you think this post will help me become #1 in "ratatouille?") Yaakov was super excited to see a picture of actual, live ratatouille. Well, not live, that would be gross, but you get the idea. He promptly grabbed the cookbook and has been gazing longingly at the picture ever since. During breakfast (which, Sabba, you'll be happy to know he eats at the picnic table every morning without fail, even if Ariella and I are eating together at the big table), he noticed that I had had the audacity to move the cookbook from its perch on the couch to, get ready for this, the kitchen! He scolded me in harsh terms, then marched into the kitchen, retrieved his cookbook, found the page, and propped it up on the couch so he could stare at it whilst eating his breakfast.

He's been begging me to make the ratatouille, but not only is the recipe a complicated one, but I am about 99% certain he will absolutely hate it. So I have no intention of doing this for him, much as I do love him and his fuzzy hair. Today, I was despairing that I would have to keep the cookbook on the couch and run from the kitchen to the living room every five minutes to see what was next. However, I convinced Yaakov that since the recipe I needed was on the facing page, if he wanted, he could come with me into the kitchen, bring his beloved ratatouille picture, and continue to look at while I cooked. He acquiesced. So nice of him! Maybe I should make him some ratatouille...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tiny Chair Torture, Contd

This blog is dedicated to a Loyal Reader who wishes to remain Anonymous - we'll just call her "Michal" - who came out of hibernation to email and chastise me for not blogging recently. My apologies to Michal, to all my sisters, real and otherwise, and to the rest of my Loyal Readers.

Some highlights from the third week of school:

1. A strike by the assistant ganenets on Sunday. This meant that gan opened only at 8, not 7:30, when the main ganenet arrived,BUT ONLY ON THE CONDITION that she could find some hapless volunteer parent to assist her and thereby meet the required ratio of 2:3billion in the classroom. And some Abba from our gan was crazy enough to volunteer! I didn't stay long to find out what happened, just ditched the kid and left. (The tzaharon was business as usual because they are private, not run by the city. Also, big kid school wasn't affected, just gan.)

2. The strike ended Sunday night. Yaakov was at gan at 7:32 Monday morning.

3. We had Yaakov's parent orientation thing last night. Two hours + tiny chairs = painful tushy. As I predicted, it was all very mannerly and organized until we hit the hour point, at which time everything the ganenet said became fodder for nuanced discussions, questions, and analysis. EXACTLY what I wanted to be doing at 9:30 at night. They were lucky I came clothed; usually it's pajamas or bust after 4:00.

4. I was the only REAL English speaker at the meeting. The other "English" speakers are those annoying ones who speak perfect English and perfect Hebrew, rolling their "r"s and saying their "w"s as needed. Although when it was my turn to speak about my child, I did manage to make a joke that everyone laughed at (at least I think that's why they were laughing), even if I did also say that Yaakov pushes me on the door (instead of "out of.")

5. Ariella helps the Israeli kids with their homework.

6. Ariella and Yaakov have become our Va'ad of House Hunting. (The search doesn't officially start until acharei hachagim, but I've always liked being early for things.) "This house was good Mommy," was one of Ariella's analyses, "it's close to gan and shul. But the garden is very small. And there are a lot of stairs." Pretty much our thoughts exactly.

7. Random thought: So Yuval HaMevulbal, with whom you are all now familiar, is on ketchup containers. I started to think about the whole putting-famous-kids'-characters-on-food phenomenon. I understand the Wheaties thing, back in the day. Wheaties are healthy. Michael Jordan is cool. Therefore, eat some healthy Wheaties under the beaming gaze of Michael Jordan. Great! And I understand Dora on yogurt. Again, cool character, more or less healthy food (depends on which country). But ketchup? And frozen pizza? Do our kids really need more incentives to eat this stuff? Food companies, let me be straight with you: We're buying the ketchup. And the frozen pizza. Fret not. This conversation never occurs:

"Oh, Yaakov, I know you don't like ketchup. But here, have a piece of broccoli to go with it! And look - Yuval is on the ketchup! Now do you want some?"
"Donny, I was at the end of my rope. The kids just refused to eat pizza! THANK GOD they now make frozen pizza with YUVAL on it! The kids are just so excited to eat it!"

You get the idea.

End of my random thoughts for the night.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Welcome to Loyal Reader #51, David Ginsberg!

And yes, Rena, you have moved out of "Loyal Reader in Abstentia" and are now accorded FULL Loyal Reader (#52) benefits! Look out for the aliyahbyaccident Elegant Foil Sukkah Decoration coming your way in the mail!

Last night we had Ariella's first grade parent meeting. This was my first time being on the parent side of Open School/Meet the Teacher/Sit in Tiny Chair Night. For seven years I was the nervous, dry-mouthed teacher, spitting out my little shpiel and hoping no one asked questions and/or complained too much. ("The homework's too hard! The homework's too easy! I don't like the way you teach subtraction! That's not how I learned it, and you see, I am a very successful doctor/lawyer/Wall Street exec/tax evader! Also, why do you teach script? I just type everyting and as yuo cna seee it alwys works ot wlle!")

But for the most part, my parents were well-behaved. (Not MY parents; the parents of my students. My parents are a whole different story.) Most of them were just itching to get out of my presentation because they had twelve other presentations to attend. The English teacher and Hebrew teacher each had twenty minutes (that's forty altogether, kids. See? My method works also.), and that was it. They generally refrained from asking too many questions, mostly wanted to hear what my homework policy was, and should the occasional parent become belligerent, Milly was always patrolling, making sure nothing got out of hand.

Well, folks, welcome to Israel. First of all, the meeting was scheduled for an hour and a quarter! 6:30 - 7:45. How much is there possibly to say??? Donny left work at 4:00, was home a little after six, and I ran out to grab a good spot in a little chair. Ariella's teacher, Moriah, is super-sweet and really on top of things. So far, we're happy. The parents gathered, and filled out a questionnaire about their kids ("What does your child like?" Winning. "What makes your child sad?" Not winning. Cynicism aside, though, Ariella is so super-thrilled with first grade and the work and the morahs and the activities, that for the question, "What do you hope for your child this year?" I could only write that "Her love of learning should continue!" Amen. Now back to our regularly scheduled snark.)

And yes, I filled out the questionnaire in Hebrew. And I understood all of the presentation that I paid attention to. So after a few quiet writing moments, we all went around the room, saying our names and child's name and one thing about our child. I said that Ariella likes to draw, play Tag ("Tofeset") and ask questions. The first part of the evening went swimmingly. Moriah explained her philosophy (be nice, have your things and come on on time), talked about what is emphasized in first grade (niceness and vowel sounds), and the daily schedule (something, something, lunch, recess, and more something).

But as the evening wore on, the parents got punchier. These two smart-ass dads in the back kept asking obnoxious questions and making jokes. Then at 7:30, the thing is half over (yes, only half, we weren't dismissed until 8:10), this one mom walks in. Moriah was in the middle of explaining some school policy about sicknesses, and this mom, before she even sits down, starts arguing. Loudly. And belligerently. Well, things soon spiraled out of hand, and every time Moriah tried to get out of her mouth, someone interrupted and it became VERY LOUD.

Now, my attention span is about the same as a first grader's (well, not Ariella's; hers is longer than mine) so I was already fidgeting, looking at my watch, and generally not paying attention. I tuned in and out the last half hour, but the deafening roar in my ears made it hard to hear what Moriah was trying to say.

You have to give her credit, though. I was in tears just imagining myself as the teacher. Moriah took it in stride. She "shniya'ed" with the best of them and was very patient, even with annoying Angry Late Mom, writing down everyone's concerns ("The bathrooms aren't cleaned often enough!") and promising to take them up with the powers that be.

Now, before I continue to poke fun at school, let me add this disclaimer that we are actually very happy with the school and teacher. We've been very impressed with everything so far, starting from the day we visited last January, to the individual meeting Ariella had over the summer, to the first week of school. And the school's emphasis on the arts is perfect for Ariella. So we're thrilled, especially considering the state of education in Israel, that she is in this school.

But that doesn't mean there's not what to mock:

1. Homework. This cracked me up. As a teacher, we had to be super super super careful that every piece of homework the kids did was marked or graded somehow. Parents checked. Certain things we went over together as a class, but a lot of the work was handed in and thoroughly checked, usually by my super-efficient colleague, Rachel "Nope I'm Still Not a Loyal Reader" Rosenthal. Not so in first grade here. Moriah's policy?

"I check that the homework is done. That's it. Checking that it's correct? Your job, parents."

Now, you have to understand, she is one teacher alone in a class of 31 kids. So it makes sense that she can't spend half her morning collecting workbooks and putting little smiley stickers in them. But I laughed. Because I think I would be placed in the stocks if I ever said something like that at SAR.

2. "Kochav Nolad." Every week, a different kid in class is chosen as the "kochav nolad," and basically they get to talk about themselves all week and it's all very special. When I was in first grade, with Mrs. Goldberg at Beth Tfiloh, we had something similar called "The Big Knish of the Week." It was simple. All the kids wrote and drew something about the Knish, and at the end of the week, the Knish got this cute little booklet with all these nice letters and drawings. Of course, the boys in the class, with whom I had as little to do as possible, didn't have much to say. So all during the week, kids like Mark would come up to me.

"Hey. What's your favorite color."
"And what do you like to do?"
"Swim and read."

On Friday, Mark, and about a dozen other boys' paragraph would sound something like this:
"Gila is nice. Gila has blond hair. Gila's favorite color is red. Gila likes to swim and read."

So I figured Kochav Nolad would be similar. But no. First, the child and parents prepare a paragraph in writing all about the child. Then, the child and parents pick a few pictures, post them onto a large posterboard, which, of course, needs to be purchased by the parents, and then the child and parents write a few sentences about each picture. Every day, after the morning meeting, the Kochav gets to go up in front of the class and talk about one picture. At the end of the week, on Friday, the child does a twenty-minute activity with the class. That has been prepared in advance by, of course, the parents.

Oy. First grade is going to be lots of work. For me. At least I don't have to worry about color-coordinated clips.

Today Ariella had a playdate with a Hebrew speaker from class. When I picked them up from school, I asked Nitzan if her mother had told her ahead of time that she was going home with me. Now, what I thought I said sounded normal, like:

"Nitzan, did your mother tell you you are coming home with me?" I realized, though, that with my lilting American accent and broken Hebrew, it was probably akin to someone saying to Ariella:

"Areee-ella. Deeed your muzzer tells you dat she were coming hoooom weez me?"

So I forgive Nitzan for the slightly strange look she gave me.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Big One?

Well, Dadz requested "a big post" for our one year aliyah-versary. (Apparently, the 200th post didn't "do it" for him, as it wasn't published "bo bayom.") Depending how you count it, the anniversary is either today (Sept. 7, when our flight took off) or tomorrow (Sept. 8, when we actually landed in the Holy and Very Hot Land.)

Personally, I consider September 7 the anniversary date, first of all because it's Donny's birthday - 32, if you were baking him a cake and needed to know how many candles - and second, because all summer long we told people, "We're on the September 7th flight. We're leaving on September 7th. September 7th is the day we leave." So that date is indelibly etched into my brain, sort of like my due date with Ariella (for a while after she was born - on the 11th - I actually kept telling people her birthday was the 4th because that date had been ingrained in me for so long.)

Anyway, so happy aliyah-versary to us, and to the Klein fam, and happy 2nd aliyah-versary to Baila and her crew, who came on the same flight, just one year earlier. I should come up with something witty, yet profound to mark this occasion, but all I can come up with is something treacly, yet dull. So until I think of the Great Idea, one that encapsulates our first year as Israelis perfectly, one that reflects on our past and ponders our future, I will regale you with what might be the FUNNIEST ARIELLA STORY OF ALL TIME.

[Scene: Friday, in the car, driving to the Music/Cow/Sometimes Cow/Where Did Hell Did the Cows Go? Park. Donny and I in the front seat, kiddies in the back. Ariella is gazing thoughtfully out the window.]
Ariella: Mommy, did Adam and Chava [read that with the correct Hebrew pronunciation, please] need to use their clickers? [Editors note: "Clickers" is what Ariella calls the blinkers in the car. You know, 'cuz they click.]
Mommy: Huh?
Ariella: Well, they were the first people in the world. No one else was there. So who did they have to tell they were turning?

I couldn't laugh out loud, because Ariella has let me know time and time again that she does NOT appreciate being laughed at, and I can't blame her, it's just that sometimes she says such cute things. (Like, "When is Moshiach going to come?" "I don't know." "Well, look it up on the computer!")

But back to the car and those darn clickers. I was doubling over with laughter on the inside. It was just so clever! First, we explained to Ariella that cars are a rather recent invention. "So how did Adam and Chava get around?"
"Horses, donkeys, camels."
[Mouth agape.]

Of course, the essence of the question is one of those can-I-cut-down-a-tree-in-the-forest-if-no-one's-looking? kind of things. Kantian philosophy aside (I have no idea if it's Kantian, but it seems like an intelligent thing to say), I was just imagining what Ariella thought Gan Eden must be like:

[Scene: Adam and Chava, tooling around the Garden of Eden, in a Hummer - hey, there was plenty of oil to go around, and tons of free parking. Adam, of course, is driving, thereby setting the precedent for men for the next millennia. On the radio: The News. Weather report: Hot, with continued sun. Breaking news: Sale on Fig Leafs at New Navy. Come to our Grand Opening! And a warm "Welcome to the World" to our new creepy crawly friends! Enjoy the humans' food!]
Adam: Hehheh, why did they put this clicker in the car? It's not like anyone needs to know that I'm turning right! In fact, I'm going to put my right blinker on, and then turn left. Haha! Isn't this fun? Wheeeee!
Chava [rolling her eyes]: Day 21 of the Blinker Game. We've got to get cable hookup.
Adam: Well, dear, we're almost there.
Chava: I've heard that one before.
Adam: No, really, the Tree of Life is right this way.
Chava: I'm pretty sure we're headed in the wrong direction. Maybe we should stop and ask for directions.
Adam: You'd like that, wouldn't you? Well, haha on you - THERE IS NO ONE ELSE!!! Hahahahaha. [Pause.] Wait a minute - didn't there used to be cows here?
Chava: We definitely saw that tree before. The fruit one. See? There's a snake right there, chewing on a nectarine, same as when we passed it FOUR HOURS ago. And by the way, your leaf is caught in the door.
Adam: Arggghhh! That's the fourth one this week! Thank God - hey, there, Big Guy! - they're on sale this week. And no, you're wrong, I'm pretty sure that's the Tree of Knowledge.
Chava: I don't think you're right. Listen to me, for once! Hey, the snake is waving to us! Maybe HE knows what to do! Let's get out and ask him.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thanks for the love!

Well, first of all, I would like to thank everyone who helped break it wide open in the comments section - an unprecedented FOURTEEN comments in honor of our 200th post! Wow! Some of you posted multiple times, (you know who you are), but still, it's an honor to have readers like you.

And welcome to our LOYAL READERS 49 and 50 - OneTiredEma, and her devoted husband, Taxman! (Yes, he has a cape, but no tights. Superpower? Extensions, of course.) We have reached our goal with time to spare!

And, in an emotional moment for those of us here at aliyahbyaccident, not only are we climbing the search engine ranks in "strudel walla," but, folks, we are nearly number one in NIVIM!!! A proud time, indeed.

On the school front, as one of the most famous NIVIM goes, "We just might be seeing the dry face at the end of the crying tunnel." (Huh?) What I mean to say is, Yaakov, while still clinging to me this morning and sobbing, was sobbing slightly less hysterically, and while, yes, the morah still had to physically detach him from me and carry him to a play table (and that kid is heavy), I noticed that today, for the first time, there were no actual tears running down his cheeks. So yes, folks, in a few months, he may even march into gan not crying! Today, despite his problematic tzaharon, I decided to just have him stay, because, honestly, I needed him out. For longer than five minutes. And in the end, it seemed fine. Well, despite his little accident on the playground. That's what the extra clothes are for, right? He was quite happy when I picked him up, very excited about the shnitzel he had for lunch and that they got to play in the chatzer "two times-es, Mommy!"

We then went to pick up Ariella from her tzaharon. Yesterday, the first day she stayed for tzaharon, she was very flummoxed about what she was supposed to do and ended up calling me in tears. Today, everything was under control. She had a great time. She loves school. She loves tzaharon. She loves her morahs. She loves work. She loves homework. She wants to stay in first grade "forever, Mommy."

When we got home, she finished her homework (!) and we tried to prevent Yaakov from falling asleep on the floor at 4:45.

After dinner of frozen pizza and corn (don't worry, I heated them up first), the kiddies entertained themselves by dancing to Yuval HaMevulbal, and then it was time for sleep. So, all in all, a rather successful first week of school (well, we still have tomorrow, but with a chocolate sandwich for aruchat eser, what could be bad?)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

In no particular order, some thoughts about school

First, a welcome to our 48th Loyal Reader: Federico Gabriel! Hola! Glad to have you on board! (By the way, I have set a goal for FIFTY Loyal Readers by the time we reach one official one year aliyah-versary, which is either September 7 or 8, depending how you count it. Come on, everyone!)

Random thoughts from the beginning of the school year
1. My Israeli friends are surprised that English-speakers want to give their children English language enrichment.

2. In our three school experiences (gan chova, trom trom, and 1st grade), each one has had a different "lunchbox" rule that they spring on you the first day. Must have lunchbox, must not have lunchbox, must put lunchbox in cart, must keep lunchbox in tik.

3. Ariella needs to bring a towel in her backpack. For al netilat yadayim. Now that is efficient!

4. "Balagon" IS The "yarid" (I think it means "fair") for chugim. To wit: They only give out the sheet with the times/costs/days of the chugim at the fair, thereby depriving the parents and children the opportunity to discuss it in a calm fashion, the night before, and figure out what to sign up for. (As you can imagine, I found myself in a crisis state at the yarid, with an exhausted boy, who has been schlepped to waaaaay too many school-related things lately, crying pitifully and hanging onto my leg. Especially after the booth for the cooking chug did not allow him a third trial cookie. Of course, I called Donny.)

5. By the way, Israelis can't conceive of a world in which the chug list is handed out the day before.

6. Trying to coordinate school/tzaharon/chugim has usurped most of my brainpower lately. Which is why when Donny comes home I am usually curled up in a heap on the floor, muttering nonsensically to myself.

7. Ariella's only complaint from the first day - not enough hard work, and no homework. Israel - watch out!

8. Ariella is now the de facto translator for the new olah in the class.

9. Put up one finger if you want to talk, two for the bathroom, and three if you need a drink.

10. Un-highlight of the first two days - Yaakov clinging to my neck, sobbing hysterically as I attempt to extricate myself and leave gan. Listening to his shrieks all the way to the car. I try to console myself that at least I know he loves me, contrary to what he tells me the rest of the day.

11. "Yaakov [who had a b'seder day, in the end], who made you feel better when you were crying?" "A cookie."

12. Tomorrow is Yaakov's first "full day," including tzaharon. The same tzaharon, which I found out today, that is riddled with problems. The teacher is terrible, the assistant is lovely, but won't continue working with the aforementioned terrible teacher. [The tzaharon staff is different from the morning gan staff. Don't even ask. Sometimes I miss SAR - drop off at 8, pick up at 3:15. Easy.]

13. Amusing moment: Ariella came home telling me about the vowel sounds she learned in school today. The "kamatz" and the "patach" were the same.

14. Today Ariella had homework. She was happy.

15. Ariella's backpack weighs more than she does.

More to come when my brain is un-fried.