Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wishes Revisited

Well, Ariella did get her candy bag, and I do have now 12 Loyal Readers (Welcome, Ahava!) but things did not go exactly as planned. As a wise man once said, "Man plans and God gives them a stomach virus." He was very wise, that man. As it turns out, believe it or not, that's exactly what happened to Donny. Shabbos morning he woke up with a stomach thing, and had the audacity to blame it on MY cooking. (He thought it was the cabbage soup, which was a brand-new recipe and would have been excellent as a sauce over meatballs and rice but was, I will admit, somewhat lacking as a soup. But I digress.) However, (see, I was going to write "anyway" but I decided to introduce some other vocabulary words to the mix. But now I wrote it anyway. And again! Does that count? Is it like Ariella saying a silly word, and then telling me conspiratorially, "See, Mommy? I was going to say stupid but I didn't. Aren't you proud of me?" Hmmmm). Where was I? Oh yes, anyway, Donny got worse as the day went on instead of better. Which didn't seem like all that good of a sign to me. Some friends dropped by in the afternoon and one of them was warning Donny of the possible shaking and turbulence on the flight. At the words "shaking" and "turbulence," Donny (sort of) politely excused himself from the table and sprinted to the bathroom. By Saturday night, he was back in his favorite retching spot - the couch. (You could almost hear it groaning, "Not again!) It was very clear to all of us that he wasn't going to be getting on this flight.
Now, let me go on record here: Of COURSE our priority is for Donny to get well and we are all VERY SAD for him and wish him a SPEEDY RECOVERY. Do you see that our priorities are in the right place? Good. Now we can take a small moment to mourn about our STUFF! That's right, the stuff that I had been ordering for a month and having shipped to the Bielers, where Donny was going to be next Shabbos. Clothes for Yaakov, a Leapster for Ariella ("What do you mean, Daddy's not going? WHAT ABOUT MY LEAPSTER?????), and some books for me. Oh! My books! [Read that with a small catch in your voice.]
So now, Ahava, you will understand that I will not be blogging about what Donny should bring us back from [sniff sniff] Target. And Leezy, I will address your concern for Donny's work shirts next time. For now, though, a moment of respectful silence. Mostly for Donny. But a little bit for my stuff.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


** Loyal Reader Alert Loyal Reader Alert Loyal Reader Alert **

Welcome to Diane, LR #11! Glad to have you on board as we continue our way through the double digits!

We will begin with a writing sample. Ariella and I have been making our way through the BOB Books. I write them like this - BOB - because that's what they are called. Not Bob Books - BOB Books. Anyway, (question: do you think I overuse "anyway?" Discuss.) these are English books which are geared toward beginning readers. There are five sets, with each set getting progressively harder. We're not talking about the most scintillating plot lines, you understand (Ten men walked. They walked in the sun. The sun was hot. "The sun is hot," said the ten men.) but the skills are introduced in a very slow and structured way and then built upon. Plus, because they are so short, it's easy to read "whole thing!" On Thursday, we read a book about a wishing well. ("Do they have those in Israel?" Ariella asked excitedly.) For her "assignment," I instructed her to write what she wished for. And what do you think she wished for? Moshiach, perhaps? World peace? An end to the water crisis? Nope - "I wish I cen hv sum candes." Simple, concise, direct. And, by Friday night, mostly likely Moshiach will not have come. We will not have found a permanent solution for world peace or the water crisis. However, Ariella will be clutching her bag of Shabbos candy. Fulfillment.

In other kiddie news....
Yaakov insists on a sippy cup of seltzer near his bed every night. On the rocks. When I offered him some seltzer for dinner one night, he looked at me reproachfully and said, "No, Mommy, seltzer is for bedtime." I am also not allowed to "top off." When I tried refilling the mostly full cup one night, Yaakov gasped. "Mommy! Not on top!" Oh no. There can be no seltzer shatnez. Each night the contents must be dumped and refreshed.

Purim is just about starting; Chanukah, the eight day holiday, lasts for two weeks. Purim, the one day holiday, lasts for about one week. My Fairy and my Pajama Soldier Boy are all ready, although I'm a little nervous that with all the pre-Purim activities, Ariella's costume is going to be in tatters by the time the actual holiday arrives. You know, that plasticky costume material that shreds and snags on your own hair as you're pulling it on? Ariella wishes to be "Beautiful Fairy With a Wand," but I may have to convince her to be "Cinderella at 12:01."

Back to the list of "happenings": There is a "happening" - that's Hebrew for "fun event" - on Thursday at the iriyah organized by the Misrad HaKlitah. Friday - a city-wide parade, ending at a park with yet another "happening." All of these "happenings," naturally, call for costumes. On Sunday, right before Purim, Yaakov is having his own "happening" at gan. And I'm sure, since schools are closed on Purim, that there will be a "happening" at Ariella's gan as well in order for the children to parade their costumes. So you see, with all these "happenings," it is necessary to start celebrating a week early. And to reinforce the costumes with duct tape. (It's "Fix-It Fairy," Ariella!)

But there is one person who will be happening-less next week: Donny, aka "Minister of Polls." He leaves for greener pastures in Redmond (aka "Seattle") on Saturday night, returning Sunday, erev erev Purim. The three remaining Roses have lots of fun things planned, "so we won't be sad," culminating in a Shabbos at the Balsams, where Yaakov will be reunited with his one true love, LISA.

Hmmmm....Yaakov gets to spend Shabbos with Lisa, Donny will be missing the hyper, sticky craziness of next week, and I have ELEVEN Loyal Readers...wish fulfillment all around.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fixin' Things

There have been so many amusing moments in the past few days that I will give them to you in bullet-point style (b'signon kadur) instead of my usual, meandering, digression-filled route.

1. After Da-veed of Dimri came on Sunday, he gave me the number of the Kitchen People who will take care of the various Kitchen Problems. When I called the number, they denied my very existence. "You're not in our system. Your landlord is not here. What building are you?" Building 6, or number 47. "No, no, I mean which letter are you? A? B?" Huh? Giving her the coordinates apparently wasn't enough - she needed a letter as well. Well, I said logically, I guess according to the gematria we're building "F." (Yes, I checked, you can all stop counting on your fingers.) "Nope, no one by the name of Frank Rubin [that's our landlord] is listed. Perhaps his name is really Reuben Friedman? I have a Reuben Friedman here." I was fairly certain that Frank does not go by aliases, and if he did, he'd pick something more creative than "Reuben Friedman." "And his wife? Hinda, you say? Perhaps it's really...Anita?" No, no, it really and truly is Hinda. "Well, tell Da-veed to call us. I don't have you here."

2. Da-veed came. It turns out we're building.....D. So much for logic. (Although as Donny pointed out, we are fourth from the last building, and Israelis do read from right to left...)

3. The reason they don't have me in their system is because he gave me the wrong Kitchen People! So now I have a NEW number to call!

4. Our pipe and faucet are fixed, at least temporarily. This temporariness is especially true in the case of the faucet.

5. I went to Kiryat Sefer, where the closest Bank of Jerusalem is, to deposit our rental check. I blanked on the word for "deposit," which is "l'hafkid," and I think what I instead told the teller was, "I'd like to command this check into the account of Frank Rubin." This may help explain why he immediately switched to English. But how does he know that I made a mistake? Maybe I meant to say that. Perhaps I often speak in sweeping dramatic statements: "Check, I command you now - to the account of Frank Rubin!" What's so wrong with that?

6. My gmail was down!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHH! I mean, mine and the rest of the world's, but mine was down more because it was during my waking hours. It was a painful separation but it is now over. Praise be given.

7. I went to Shilav, a baby store, because when I went there last month to buy something, they gave me a 20% off coupon to be used in February on any of their toys. Picked a toy. Went to the register. "Oh," they said, "I'm sorry, this coupon only works on toys that are 100 NIS or more. Would you like to add something?" I checked the price tag. It was for 99 shekel. And 90 agurot. And they were, of course, annoyed with me for being annoyed with them. In the end, I bought a toothbrush for ten shekel. With a smiley face. It flashes. Now, I have one toy, plus one muktzah toothbrush that my children will fight over. Maybe I'll just use it myself.

8. My kid peed in the park. I'm not talking about Yaakov, for that would not be blog-worthy. That's right - I am referring here to my daughter, Ariella. We have reached a new rung on the Absorption Ladder. (Chocolate sandwiches as acceptable breakfast food? Done. Wordless shoulder shrugs? Done. Sponga parties? Every week.) In my defense, I did ask her before we left the house if she had to go, and she said she already went. But by the time we had picked up Yaakov and meandered over to the park, nature was calling. And she answered it. Literally. She was quite unruffled by the prospect of park peeing. Luckily the park was empty. Ariella checked out the shrubbery, then picked a nice tree ("Mommy anyway it's good because it needs water to grow.") She pulled everything down, and not to get too graphic here, but I was actually impressed with her ability to aim, keeping her clothing mostly dry. She finished, washed her hands, and skipped away happily to play with Yaakov, apparently unaware of the major milestone she had just reached.

9. Speaking of milestones.... welcome to Leezy, an old loyal reader but a new Loyal Reader! This brings our Loyal Reader Club to the double digits! Thanks to all of you! I'm getting a little choked up here, actually. Just give me a minute. [Pause] Ok, I'm better now. I think I'll celebrate with a big tube of Crest and a smiley toothbrush.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Return of Ulpan

Toilet Training Update.....Toilet Training Update....Toilet Training Update....

A friend at ulpan lent me a kids' potty training book for boys. I figured, hey might as well read it. Always liked a good fantasy story. Anyway, as I'm reading it, I realized that it's written in British! It's a rhyming book and half the words rhyme with "nappy" or "wee." Now, as we all know, "nappy" is what Dadz takes before and after lunch on Shabbos. And Sunday. And the occasional Monday. "Wee," of course, is what one says when attempting unassisted human flight off the couch. So I've had to modify the story a bit. Yaakov doesn't seem to notice that it doesn't really rhyme anymore; he's more interested in the tushies.

Sunday began ulpan again. A group of us from the first go-around - seniors, if you will - showed up for registration. There were about 25 people in all, including the four of us, people who just made aliyah, and those who were not zocheh to take ulpan in September. Us old-timers received our teudot and grades from our test. I did very well, thank you very much, although it doesn't make me feel any better because I still spend half my day saying, "Mah?" with a quizzical expression on my face only to find out that the person was really talking to the guy behind me, leaving me looking like I'm having an internal debate between the English and Hebrew voices in my head. Anyway, the Ulpan Powers That Be decreed that in order to determine our levels, teudot nonwithstanding, we all needed to do a little writing assignment: Write about yourselves, in the past and future tenses. During this writing assignment, the Menahelet of Ulpan came in and said they would be opening up a twice a week class for those of us on the gimmel level. We continued to write. The Menahelet left, and upon returning, said, "Oh, I've just heard from the Inspector of Ulpan [dah dah dah Inspector ULpan, dah dah dah dah dah....] that there aren't enough students to open up the gimmel class. Sorry!" So we dropped ("will drop") off our beautifully written passages on the desk and left. As it turns out, I should have kept it... We heard, however, that there was going to be an ulpan gimmel/daled opening up in Hashmonaim and registration was going to be on Monday.

Meanwhile, I tried calling Dav-eed of Dimri. (Do you also hear majestic trumpets when I say that? Or is that just my voices again?) Dav-eed of Dimri is the man with the power - the fix it guy for all of Dimri. We've been collecting "problems" for the past couple months - the door to our bathroom gets stuck if you close it all the way (yes, I've locked myself in on more than one occasion), a cabinet door in the kitchen fell off, the mirpeset door is off its track, and every so often a piece of something falls off. Bathtub, cabinet, drawer, door, you name it - we have a collection of Apartment Pieces stashed all over the place. Yessirree, there is some quality workmanship going on here. Anyway, nothing really interfered with our quality of life - not even our inability to close our bathroom door, since anyway Yaakov believes "privacy" includes rather than excludes him. Finally, though, on motzash, our sink pipe sprunk a leak. This has happened before - I believe the last time they fixed it with a couple of band-aids. Now, we decided we really did need our Dav-eed of Dimri. (La, la, la, laaaaaaa!) However, when I called, I was told, "Ani pashut lo oved hayom." Oh well. So much for that. So I did the next best thing - called Lisa and chatted for twenty minutes.

On Monday, I went to Hashmonaim ulpan registration. The teacher told us that in order to discern our levels, we needed to do some writing, so we should write about ourselves, in the past and future tenses... Sound familiar? Told ya I should have kept that paragraph... In the end, she decided that we would meet twice a week, as one group, starting next week. Back to school I go....This is seriously going to interfere with my talking to Lisa time.

We had a Tipat Chalav appointment scheduled for this afternoon, that I scheduled two months ago. Ariella needed her second Hep A shot, and Yaakov needed a developmental check-up. However, while at ulpan registration, I got a phone call. Apparently, the doctor that was going to check Yaakov just up and left, so they cancelled his part of the appointment. Since I had already promised him I was picking him up early for Tipat Chalav and pizza, I schlepped him along anyway. It was a fascinating appointment. First of all, the nurse spoke totally in Hebrew, and I was so proud and impressed that Ariella understood everything, and was able to talk (and talk back) in Hebrew. She did a whole workup on Ariella - height and weight (it was like in liters and kilometers or something, so I'm not sure what it means, but she did tell me Ariella was on the tall and skinny side. Guess she needs more chocolate sandwiches....). She then asked her to draw a person. Ariella started with a house. The nurse gently requested she draw a person. "Ani rotzah gam bayit," Ariella replied, staring the woman down. "She's a character, isn't she?" the nurse said to me. Ahh yes, the real Ariella is starting to emerge. She did eventually do a person, and included face, arms, legs, and hair, but no body. "What about the stomach?" the nurse prodded. Response: Israeli shoulder shrug + "Lo rotzah." Ariella's people don't have stomachs. Got a problem with that, lady? Ariella then returned to her house, coloring in the roof and adding a doorknob, before she allowed the nurse to take away the picture. She then showed Ariella some scenes from a picture book and asked her to describe what was going on, which she did well, I'm proud to say. Then came an eye test, standing on one foot, and jumping. (Not at the same time, though.) Check, check, check. Finally - the shot! As usual, hysterics before and calmness during. What can you do? We then went for pizza - our traditional post-shot treat. Then I wanted to go get Yaakov a Purim costume. We looked at Batman and Superman (too expensive), a policeman (too big), and some animals (too hot.) We ended up buying a gun. The truth is, he's not so into the whole costume thing, unless it involves some fabulous sunglasses and heels, so he'll be perfectly fine with his Tzahal pajama shirt and his cool gun with neon balls inside. Just like the real soldiers!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

House Hunting

On Friday began the official house-hunting process in Modi'in. Luckily, it was an off week at Yaakov's gan, so he was able to come with us and offer his professional opinion of the houses we saw. "I'm f-i-i-i-i-r-r-s-s-t-t-y!" was one incisive comment he made. Also, "I wanna press duh button!" It was good he was there. Our agent showed us a couple of things. The first few we immediately rejected on the grounds they did not meet one of our major criteria, namely, being a house. We are, at heart, suburbanites, and a "large apartment" or "cottage" (which sounds way cuter than it actually is - really just an apartment with steps) is just not going to do it. Finally, the last thing she showed us was a bona fide, unattached, proper, actual house. With a backyard, a basement, the whole nine yards (or about 2.5 meters), including a price tag that will ensure we stay in debt until the end of our days. However, aside from having to sell our children in order to afford the house (something we would never consider, I assure you. At least, I'm fairly certain we wouldn't consider it. Or, if we did consider it, we wouldn't actually go through with it. I think. How much could we get for them?), it was a pretty good house. At the very least it was nice to see an actual house for sale in Modi'in.

This Shabbat was the first one in a while that everyone was thank God healthy. (And for those of you worrying about the pee test - yes! I got to say it again! - all the results came back normal.) It was pouring rain and freezing, at least freezing for Israel, all Shabbat. We heard actual thunder and lightning Friday night, and through my sleepy haze I murmured the blessing one makes when hearing thunder and lightning - "Please don't let the power go out. Please don't let the power go out." Luckily, it did not. Shabbat morning Donny went to shul and the kids and I stayed home in our pajamas. They followed the strict formula which is 1 :) = 2 :( . In layman's terms, that means one part playing together nicely and happily, followed by 2 parts maiming and torturing each other. But they were cute jumping on the couch and singing hokey pokey, so that makes up for a lot. For lunch, we had the New New New People in Dimri. They are a couple who made aliyah a month ago, from South Africa. The wife actually babysat for us last week during the Night of Excellent Sushi. So they came over, we had a lovely time, and we learned if you want to live in a land of slow internet, large houses, lots of crime, and cheap household labor, South Africa is the place for you. We prefer the land of fast internet, "cottages," the occasional war, and free household labor (me.) All in all we had a great time and the kids fell asleep during lunch, so after our guests left we ran, nay, sprinted, as quickly as we could to catch some of that naptime. (We are now currently paying the price for the nap as Yaakov and Ariella have each been out of bed numerous times - my head hurts, my knee is itchy, can I color in bed, can I pee in a cup - but I think overall it was still worth it.) Then, because the kids and I hadn't been out of the house all day, we went over to the Wolfs for a playdate/seudah shlishit. I also had an ulterior motive - since the Wolfs have two boys, the energy level is pretty high, and I was kind of hoping it would tire Yaakov out. Oh well.

Tomorrow I return to ulpan. Maybe. Residents of Modi'in can get an extra 200 hours of ulpan (which is two months), but I have to say, after these last two weeks of freedom (well, aside from sick kids and cups of, you know it, PEE!) it's hard to motivate myself to go back. Also, I've begun my own ulpan - I'm reading Harry Potter in Hebrew. It's quite entertaining, and frequently amusing. For example, "filler" words such as "er" and "um" are translated to "nu." And my favorite line: Early on in the first book, Professor Dumbledore offers Professor McGonogall a "lemon drop." As he says in response to her questioning look, "It's a Muggle sweet I'm rather fond of." In Hebrew, the line becomes, "Can I offer you a Krembo?" That's right, Dumbledore is sitting on the ledge outside Privet Drive, eating a sticky, chocolate covered marshmallow cookie confection. Two or three of them, according to the story. The translators figured, well, lemon drop is a quintessentially English treat. Therefore, we will substitute our own, quintessentially Israeli treat. Although at least they could have written in some wipes or a washcloth so the poor guy could get the stuff out of his beard.

That's all for now. Remember to vote - so far our Loyal Readers have proven themselves to be much nicer than we are, as you can see by the poll results thus far.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Poll Results, Patience, and Pee-ilot

The results, ladies and gentlemen, are in..... For the question, "What should Gila do with her life?" the majority (41%) voted "Write more blog entries." This narrowly beat out, "Tizki l'mitzvot ulma'asim tovim" (25%). However, it did not reach the required 51% mark. Therefore, Mifleget Blog is going to try to form a coalition government, although it looks shaky because Mifleget Mitzvot is essentially opposed to Blog, in that Blog believes in making fun of stuff, especially Dadz, and that goes against everything Mitzvot holds to be true. We may need a recount.

Other news from life AU (after ulpan)....Ariella was invited to another friend for the "Chaver Nechmad" program on Monday. I had one of those confidence-shattering moments when I dropped her off. We went inside, and I was trying to think of something to say to the mother. Each idea was swiftly rejected because I couldn't figure out quickly enough how to say it in Hebrew. ", you're no good, no, can't use you...." So instead, I did what I do best in these situations: Stand there and grin like a fool. If the people of Modi'in ever need someone to play the role of "village idiot" I'm their woman. Eventually, Ima shel Allel ("Mommy it's like, 'Allel, Nirtzah!'") said, "Oh, my English is very good - you can speak to me in English. I am working all day in English." (Did you ever notice that when Israelis speak English in the present tense they often use the "ing" verb?) So we schmoozed for about 45 seconds until Ariella gave me the Mommy-get-out-of-here-NOW glare.

We also went to the doctor after the playdate, because Ariella keeps getting these low-grade fevers every few days for the past three weeks. He suggested we do a blood and urine test. So they gave me a cup at the doctor's office for the pee, which we did at home last night, and then I put the pee in the fridge. You know, to keep it fresh. This morning we took our pee and our hafnaya to the lab, got a number, and patiently waited our turn.

(Digression: Israeli offices are pre-emptive about the notorious impatience of their patients. For example, once you take a number at the lab, you sit down and stare at the television monitor until your number comes up. It can sometimes take a few minutes until your number appears on the screen. They have now put a note on the number machine saying, "Be patient! After you take a number, it may take a few minutes for the number to appear on the screen!" Clearly this is a reaction to angry patients storming the lab and threatening to stuff the little number slips up the technicians' noses because their number is not yet on the screen. Another example of this pre-emptive strike is at the iriyah. They too have a sign which says, "It may seem like it is taking a long time, but perhaps the person in front of you needs our attention. Rest assured that when it is your turn, you will receive a similar level of attention." This is the kind of reasoning that I use with my five year old... End of digression.)

When it was our turn, Ariella howled and screamed, then sat quietly during the actual finger prick. We then took our cup of pee to the Pee Window, where it sat waiting very patiently with lots of other cups of pee. I wonder what they talk about...

After dropping off Ariella at gan, I headed to the iriyah (where I had LOTS of time to study the above sign) to take care of my teudat ma'avar. You're not allowed to get an Israeli passport until you've been here for one year, because they want to make sure you are actually, truly, living in the country, and not just using it as a giant falafel shop on your way to bigger and better things. (Not that there is anything bigger or better than falafel.) So after your three-month aliyaniversy, if you wish to leave the country, you need to get a teudat ma'avar, which lasts for about two years. Now, I don't have actual plans to go any further than Shufersal, but I like to know that should I have a sudden need for a large Dunkin' Donuts coffee, extra cream, no sugar, and at the same time someone hands me a plane ticket, I will, then, be able to hop on a plane, leave the country and get my coffee. And then come right back. Because someone's got to get the kids from gan.

At the end of this day of pee (I'm running out of chances to say "pee" and I wanted to get in as many as I can), Yaakov had "pee-ilot bagan." (Hehe.) There is a "Yom Mishpachah" in Israel - it's even on my random calendar that I purchased at a book store - and both kids are learning about families. Yaakov had a "family day" in gan that started at 4:00. Ariella stood in for "Daddy" on this occasion. We went into gan, bringing our treats (each parent had to bring something), and were instructed to remove our shoes. The kids were all sitting on yoga mats. The teacher, Ofira, does a whole yoga class for kids and adults in her spare time, so she's somewhat of a yoga guru. Yaakov, who was sitting and participating very nicely when I walked in, holding the other kids' hands in a circle and swaying, figured it was all over when he saw me. He immediately got up, ran to his drawer, and started putting on his shoes. Yipppeee! Mommy's here! Time to go home! I had to gently remind him that we were here to do activities with him and that we weren't going home yet. He was less than thrilled to hear this. Anyway, I had forgotten that the note had said to dress comfortably, and my clothing was not exactly the most fitting for an hour of rolling around on the floor. All the other moms were in pants, which was probably less embarrassing on the whole. For one activity, the kids had to pretend to be lions and crawl around roaring. Yaakov played the part of the frightened baboon and immediately lept into my arms. He's got a noise sensitivity, poor thing. (Whenever the toilet flushes, he covers his ears. If we were even close to the point of toilet training, this might concern me.) Then we danced together. Good. I can do that - hold my kids' hands and move in a circle. It got more complicated after that. A tunnel. (I should point out that there was a whole "safari to Africa" theme going on.) A tunnel, let me explain, that I had to form with my body. Us mommies (and daddies) needed to form said tunnel by lying on the floor on our stomachs, then raising ourselves so the children could them climb underneath us. So there I am, tush up in the air, random children crawling underneath me, and Yaakov trying to climb on top. THEN we had to make a bridge! Wow! That year of ballet when I was six is really paying off now! It's sort of the opposite of a tunnel - we had to balance ourselves in the same way, but facing the ceiling. My skirt is, well, let's say there have been more modest moments in my life. Thank goodness for tights. Yaakov was again helpful by attempting to climb me like I was some sort of shaky jungle gym, and then yanking off my scarf. Like I had any shame left, anyway. I'm hoping that the other parents were too engaged in contorting their bodies to notice me. In the end, we did have fun, and then there were TREATS. Plus they sent home all kinds of cute artwork the kids had done. The funniest one was a family collage. The kids took magazines, and found pictures to represent their family members. I was very flattered that Yaakov chose a good-lookin' blond to represent "Mommy." Yaakov, you are now back in my good graces. Just please give me back my scarf.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Parsha sheet - Tread Carefully

I did Ariella's most recent parsha sheet with her. They are learning about Yosef and his brothers. I'm not sure if they actually learn it in class since Ariella always seems to be clueless about the questions when I ask her. But she does pick up and retain the information pretty well. Anyway, the sheet is very intense, especially since Ariella insists on writing the answers herself, so I have to dictate the letters in each word to her. This week we started off with a winner question: "How many children did Yaakov have.....and what were their names?" After twenty minutes of patiently writing down all 13 names - thank the good Lord for "Gad" and "Dan" - we were ready for the second question!

"Which child did Yaakov love best?" Now I had to go into a whole explanation of favortism. "So, you see, Yaakov wasn't exactly the best daddy," I began, throwing ten years of Bais Yaakov education out the window, "Can you believe that he loved one of his children more than the other? Isn't that crazy!" I said, as I watched Ariella trying to absorb the information that her worst nightmare is true, and it is, in fact, possible for one child to be more loved than another child. Uh-oh, therapy here we come. ["Well," she said practically, "Yaakov wasn't such a good daddy and our Yaakov isn't always such a good boy!"] Anyway, she thought she had this answer all wrapped up: "Which child did he love best? The GIRL," she said confidently.

Then I had to launch into a whole explanation about Yaakov's four wives, and how he loved one wife more so he loved her children the best. Ariella was still fixated on Dena. "Which one was her mother?" "Leah," I replied. "Oh," she said, disappointed. Then we went on to discuss how Yosef's brothers hated him, then about Yosef's dreams and how that made the brothers hate him even more, and finally about the coat, which, if it is possible, caused the brothers to hate Yosef EVEN MORE. Ariella's eyes were getting really bugged out of her head at this point. Finally, we get to the best part - "What did the brothers do to Yosef, and what did they tell Yaakov?" Well, we're having some kind of fun now!

"You see, Ariella, the brothers threw Yosef into a pit because they were so angry with him. [Discussion about what a "pit" is.] They figured he would die in the pit. Ha ha! Can you imagine that? [Nervously glancing at Ariella to see if her face is registering horror or understanding.] Then, haha, they told their father that Yosef was eaten by wild animals! Isn't that SILLY? Don't worry," I quickly reassured her, "Yosef did not actually die in the pit! He was taken and brought to Pharaoh in Mitzrayim." [Realization hits.]
"You mean the Pharaoh that was mean to the Jewish people?"
"Well, actually, this is a different pharaoh. This one was NICE to the Jewish people. The pharaoh after him was the mean one."
"What was the nice one's name?" she asks
"And the mean one?"
"I see."

So ended our lesson on the most extreme case of sibling rivalry in history. I am fairly certain that although Yaakov pulls her hair, messes up her block towers, and holds Bunny hostage, and Ariella hits him and teases him, they do love each other and [probably] would never throw each other down pits and then lie to Donny and me about it for years. Although maybe it is a good time for a talk about this. "Pits: Not for your siblings!"

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sibs Night Out

Welcome to new Loyal Reader, Ephraim! Not only is Ephraim registered (ahem, ahem) to post comments, he also joined our Loyal Reader Club (your t-shirt is in the mail). I believe Ephraim is our first Loyal Reader doctor. Ephraim is the leading food-price expert in the entire world. Ask him anything - he'll know the answer. For example: Ephraim - Supersol Branflakes. 15.99 NIS. Discuss.

On Thursday night, we had a sibs dinner party. Well, almost all the sibs. It was Leezy's birthday, so Elie's sister Sara decided we should all go out to celebrate. Sara's good at that stuff - planning ahead, thinking about other people, etc. Unfortunately, Aaron and Ayelet were not able to fly in for the night to join us. We needed to find ourselves a new babysitter, since our old babysitter (although I don't know if someone who babysat for us twice can really qualify as "our" babysitter) no longer babysits. Well, at least that's what she told us....hmmmmm. Anyway, I posted a request on the Modi'in email list and found a great babysitter! She's actually a newly married recent oleh who lives in Dimri! In our building! So she came over and passed the test immediately - within two minutes Ariella was talking a mile a minute explaining the rules of Taki (it's like Israeli Uno) with all its nuances and subtleties, and Yaakov was lugging over the blocks to build a tower. (Taki, by the way.... You know when you buy a new game for your kid and you're excited to play it with them at first because it's new and exciting, and in this case, actually fun? But then one week and 75 gazillion games later you wish you never heard of the damn game??????? And you just want to take all those Taki cards and rip them up bit by bit and then burn them and then bury them in the backyard so you never, ever, have to play again???? So that's where we are with Taki. The truth is it wouldn't have been so bad until Ariella learned the "8, 7, 6" rule. You start off with 8 cards, but when you get rid of the cards, you don't just win and game over. Oh no. You then take seven cards. And when you get rid of those, you take six. And so on. This turns Taki into a VERY LONG game. And when your five year old is obsessed with it and wants to play it twice a day, it makes you want to take those cards and....well, you know.) Anyway, I digress. I digress often. I love digressing. In fact, here I am, digressing about digressing. But now, back to the blocks. We left the children and slipped out the door for our few hours of freedom. After roughly thirty hours in the car, we made it to the restaurant. (One of the problems with driving in Jerusalem is that it's very unforgiving. One wrong turn, and there you are, driving in circles, down narrow alleyways, and in the bus lane for forty-five minutes, seeing the place where you want to be and just not being able to get there.) Anyway, after our tour of the city, we made it to Domo, an excellent sushi restaurant off Ben-Yehuda. We had a great time with the Kleins, the Eisens, and the sushi. We're looking forward to going back again next February.

Now, you may be wondering why I am writing this at such an early hour on a Friday morning. Well, you don't actually know that I'm writing this at such an early hour on a Friday morning. But now that I'm telling you about the earliness of the hour on this Friday morning, aren't you wondering, "Hey, aliyahbyaccident, why are you up so early? Isn't it a Friday morning?" Well, since you asked, I will tell you. It's Ariella!!!!! ARGGGGHHHHHH!!!!! At the very early hour of 5:30, I sensed a presence in my room. A disturbance in the force, if you will. It was my daughter, saying the words every mother dreads. "I want a tongue ring, Mommy." No, seriously, she said, "I don't feeeeeeel good!" I thrust a hand out of my blankets and slapped it in the general direction of her forehead. "You don't have fever. Go take a drink and go back to sleep," I mumbled, turning over in the hopes that she would suddenly disapparate. Needless to say, she remained right where she was. "But my eeeaaaaarrrrr hurts!" she wailed. Grumble, grumble, grumble. Now this is a girl who was on antibiotics from Sunday - Wednesday as I awaited the results of the Diseased Stick Test. When it was negative, I chucked the medicine, but still! Shouldn't that medicine have done something? Do the gods of illnesses think this is some kind of joke???? Anyway, out of bed I got. (See, Ephraim, that's TWO Stars Wars references for you!) We went to the living room, I gave her some Motrin and made a doctor's appointment. (Digression: As much as I hate the lack of rapid strep tests, I LOVE the automated appointment system. In New York, I would sit there with the phone in my hand starting at 8:25, and then at exactly 8:30 I would call repeatedly, willing them with every fiber in my being to pick up and have an early appointment available. Now, I make appointments at all hours of the day and night. An important advantage when running an infirmary, as I seem to be doing lately. End of digression.) I was determined not to give up on this first flu-free, kid-free Friday in a while. After the doctor's appointment, since she didn't have fever, we packed her off to gan. The doctor prescribed antibiotic drops for her ear, which let's just say are about as much fun as a never-ending Taki game, if you get my drift.

Friday night, Donny took Yaakov to shul. Ariella elected to stay home. I was reading People magazine (which arrived via Leezy via Uncle Abie via Momz and Dadz) when all of a sudden, the lights went off. Just like that. It was about 45 minutes after Shabbos started, or about 7/8 of the way through People. I went into the hallway. The hallway and stairs lights were on. Our neighbors came out. Their apartments lights were off too. So was the entire building. In fact, all of Dimri had lost power, along with chunks of the rest of Modi'in. Now, I know you are very worried. "But Gila," you say, "I know that your cholent is slowly congealing, your milk spoiling, and your frozen chicken thawing, but what about the lights in between the buildings? You know, the green, green, purple, and pink lights that go on every evening and that you have to pay for with your va'ad habayit money? Did those lights go off also? How tragic!" People, Loyal Readers, kindred souls, rest assured - the Between the Building Lights stayed on! Yes! Apparently they run on some kind of emergency generator! What a relief!

Anyway, Donny and Yaakov came home early because Yaakov was falling asleep in shul. We moved our table closer to the doorway, to get some of the hallway light. Dinner was fine, since the food was still hot, and we played, "Fit the Words of Humpty Dumpty to Random Jewish Music." After about 2.5 hours, the lights went back on. There were a couple of halachic issues. This isn't a halachic blog, in general, especially since we live in Israel now and are exempt from all other mitzvot. Wheeeee!!!! Ahem. Anyway, one issue was that our water had cooled, and then reboiled on Shabbos, so we had to forego our tea and coffee. We paskened, however, that the cholent was ok, since it was sort of dry to begin with and stayed pretty hot in the crock pot. The refrigerator had been set to Shabbos mode so the lights wouldn't turn on, but then when the power went back on, the refrigerator "forgot" it was on Shabbos mode. We "reminded" it in a creative manner involving Yaakov and some tape.

Shabbos morning I was hit by an Israeli child. No, not one of my Israeli children. A random Israeli child at shul who was threatening to steal my kids' candies. There were two of them, these pint-size, "r"-rolling bullies, a little boy and a littler girl. But don't let their size deceive you. They were vicious! My kids held their own, so then the little girl came up to me and slapped me! Their mother, who was about six inches away from me the whole time, eventually noticed and took her children away. (Her book on child-rearing must be called, "Go Bully Other Kids So I Can Talk to My Friends.") However, the little boy kept coming back. Eventually, he saw that the candy bag was unguarded, so he made a dash for it and grabbed it. Ha on him! The only thing left in the bag was GARBAGE. Na-na-na-na-na!

Anyway, due to the sibling get-together on Thursday night, we got lost, but we did not get "Lost." Now, we are going to go get "Lost." See you soon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Go Dadz!!! And Likud! And Kadima!

*** I would like to dedicate this post to Dadz, Commentor Extraordinaire. And to Momz, for "behind every great commentor is a woman who helped him figure out how to do it in the first place." ***

When I saw Dadz's (question: do you think it should be Dadz' or Dadz's?) first comment - "HELLO" - it was reminiscent of early-man-using-fire-to-make-shadow-puppets. Fun, but not really accomplishing much. HOWEVER, he then posted again! A second time! With an actual comment! Related to the blog! A full sentence! In all CAPS, but I expect nothing less. I am so proud right now I could weep. How far we have come from the days of Aaron-please-set-my-voicemail-message-for-me. "Hi, you've reached Dadz's, or Bernie's, cell phone. Please leave a message, and he will get back to you as soon as possible." No joke. (No, I do not think that Dadz is actually able to record his own voicemail message yet, but you get the idea.)

Today was my first day post-ulpan and post-illness (bli ayin hara, poo poo poo, throw some salt, pepper, paprika, whatever, the whole darn spice cabinet over your shoulder). I exercised in the morning, for the first time in months. The dust metropolis that has flourished on the elliptical was a trifle testy that I was displacing it, but the inhabitants got over it and went to congregate with their friends behind the dresser. I ran some errands, did laundry and other stuff and before I knew it, it was time to go pick up Ariella. We spent some quality time coloring together. Suddenly I got really tired. You know when that mid-afternoon exhaustion that hits? All of a sudden I couldn't keep my eyes opened. I told Ariella I was going to put some laundry away, then went into my room and collapsed on the bed for a few minutes. I was hoping Ariella would be too engrossed in her coloring to realized I had disappeared for longer than it takes to put away some underwear. (It's not totally unrealistic - if she is either coloring or eating ice cream, she is so entrenched in the zone it can be very hard to get her out.) Unfortunately, she came a-searching. "Why are you sleeping, Mommy?" she demanded. I futiley pretended to be searching for something under my pillow. "I'm not sleeping! Oh, no, not me! I was just looking for something, right here, under the pillow...." Well, she didn't buy it and requested my immediate presence in the living room. Thus chastened, I quickly followed her out.

I must say Israeli elections are a little anti-climactic. In America, the day after the election the newspapers all declare, in supersize fonts reserved especially for this occasion, the NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES! Well, except for the debacle of 2000 where no one won and that crazy lady with the thick eyebrows picked our next president. In general, though it is very exciting and enthralling. This morning, however, I woke up, and hurriedly checked the websites to see which party had won. And the results are.... No one won! Everyone won! Both Livni and Netanyahu (that's Netan-yahoooo! for all the former BY'ers out there) claimed that, "The people have spoken. And they chose ME!" "No, ME!" "I said, ME!" "Why you little...." "Oh yeah, well YOU are a little...." and so on and so forth. In other words, we don't have a winner, both parties are scrambling (newspapers love to use that word) to make a coalition. First one who gets a working coalition gets to be prime minister! On your mark, get set....Go! It's kind of like gym class, where the captains got to pick their teammates, and the cool kids always get picked first. So Yisrael Beiteinu, they're like the coolest of the cool. Everyone wants them on their team. Poor scrawny Green Party, sitting in the corner, picking his nose, last to be chosen. And then there's Shas, who's kind of popular, so you want him on your team, but he's just going to take your lunch money in the end. And so on. Democracy, as Donny says, is the clear winner.

I actually think there is some conspiracy behind this. See, if the majority party (or parties, in this case) can't build a lasting government, they'll call for new elections....and everyone gets another day off!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Election Day: Fun for the Whole Family!

*** This blog post is dedicated to Ahava "Register And Stop Posting Comments Anonymously" Leibtag. For her braveness in starting her own business and in getting her allergy shot. *** (If you are interested in a post dedication, leave a comment at the end of the blog.)

Today was Chag HaBechirot. Ariella and I celebrated by sleeping on the couch together. At least this time, I got the big one. And thank God she felt much better when she woke up. We had a hearty breakfast of cereal. Eventually even Donny stumbled out of bed, showered, ate, and then we got ready for our Day of Democracy. The voting system here is highly advanced and technical; I don't know if I could even explain it to laypersons such as yourself. You know how back in like sixth grade, if you were having a class vote, the teacher would tell everyone to lay their head down on the desks, close their eyes, and raise their hand for the choice they wanted? Well, voting in Israel isn't quite that sophisticated yet. Basically you go into the school, and they tell you which room to vote in. I think more thought and analysis went in to figuring out which room each resident should go to than the voting process itself. Once you get into the right line, you wait your turn. Then you go into the room, two people at a time. They find your name and take your teudat zehut (This way, Comrade.) You then go to a desk, on which they have erected a large cardboard box. So that you have some privacy, you understand. Behind the cardboard barrier is another cardboard box, this one with neat little compartments and filled with slips of paper. On each paper is written the symbol for the party. (It's not bad enough that there are approximately 300 hijillion parties, but each party has a code consisting of a letter or letters. So you have to remember your party's code, although luckily they wrote the code AND the party on the slip of paper. And of course, to the average idiot, such as myself, there doesn't seem to be much logic behind the symbolism. The "lamed" party is not "Likdud" but "Yisrael Beteinu." Likud is, naturally, "Mem Chet Lamed." Ichud HaLeumi is "tet." And so on.) Then you take the slip of paper of your choice, put it in a hermetically sealed envelope, which you hermetically seal by ripping off the backing of the sticky part and sticking it shut, and then put the envelope, now very tightly and hermetically sealed, into ANOTHER cardboard box at the front of the room. This box has a convenient slit at the top for your envelope. You have to be very careful to put ONLY ONE slip of paper in your envelope or they will NOT COUNT your vote. That would be like trying to vote Republican in New York. There were a few things that bothered me. One is that I felt it was kind of wrong of Meimad, the Green Party, to be using slips of paper. At the very least their slips should have been made out of paper that is a mininum 60% post-consumer recycled product. Also, there was a pencil on the desk behind the voting booth, such as it was. What is that pencil for? I asked myself. Donny, who had voted in the municipal elections in November, never said anything about writing something. Not wanting to ask a question and get myself in trouble - maybe they'd rip up my teudat zehut, or make me cut up slips of voting paper - I sent Ariella over to Donny's desk to ask him. He did not seem to think we needed to write anything. Should I sign my name on my slip? Certify that I am the person who is voting, and I choose Likud? (Yes, we voted Likud, aka "Machal" and we are Israelis so there is no such thing as "Not your business" so I don't mind telling you.) Should I write a little note of encouragement to Bibi? An email address? A poem? (There once was a family from Dimri/Whose building lit up oh-so-shimmery/They went out to vote/Should they have written a note?/And then they had quite a dilemma-ry.) In the end, I wrote nothing and hope that my vote is counted. It's kind of cool voting and knowing that your vote actually means something, since Israel thank God does not have an "oo-nee-ver-sita electoral-eet."

Anyway, after voting we headed out to Maale Adumim for our monthly (in theory) get-together with the Sassoons. We met at the famous Maale Adumim Mall. They had a little kiddie play area, plus a show for kids, so Jenny and I bought sandwich makers and talked and the men parented. After an hour of playing/show watching, the kids were getting antsy. We went to the awesome bread bakery and bought these warm bread thingies with melted cheese in the middle. Mmmmmm... The only downside was that there was nowhere to sit, so we attempted to go outside to a little park. However, it was a very windy day and from the time it took us to go outside and cross the street, Yaakov practically got blown away and Robbie's glasses were thrown from his head and shattered on the ground. We thought, hey, here's a great idea! Let's eat INSIDE the mall! So we did. We headed back home around 1:30, and had enough time to rest, an important component of a vacation day. Around 5:00 we headed over to the Balsams for dinner. And a surprise show. After eating, the adults were herded into the bedroom on the main floor at Nafi and Lisa's house. We were told to sit on the bed. The lights were dimmed. The music turned on. Ariella gave us all cards. Moshe took them back. Meira put on a winter hat. Yaakov told us all to "Stop talking guys!" And Michali wisely decided to sit on the bed with the grownups. When it became clear that the children intended to go through every single song on the disc "Meah Shirim" (for those of you who have not just finished ulpan, I will tell you that "meah" means 100), we decided to end the show with the promise of cookies in the dining room. We then returned home, shoved the kids in bed, and here we are now. A Happy Election Day to all.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Not again...

Poll update: Thanks people. My future is resting on the outcome of this poll, and you all think it's funny to vote for "Tizke l'mitzvot???????" Well, frankly, I am not amused. I look to my Loyal Readers for sound career advice, and this is what you come up with? Unless you are implying I should spend my days embracing "mitzvot and ma'asim tovim." In which case, I should ask you this fundamental question: Have we met?

Big shout-out to Ahava "The Office" Leibtag - who printed out the blog and read it aloud to Ephraim, while simultaneously shooing the children away so they could read in peace. She clearly read the chapter in my book on child rearing entitled, "Leave Me Alone So I Can Read the Blog!" Now THAT is Loyal Readership.

I began my week of freedom with my long list of Things To Do That I Have Pushed Off Until Ulpan is Over in hand. Well, ulpan is over; time to get started on that list. ("Clean bathrooms." "Buy milk." "Do laundry.") However, I was unable to start on said list because Shabbat afternoon, Ariella suddenly spiked a fever. That's right, Sunday morning found us back at the doctor's office, and I traded in my to-do list for a diseased stick. Luckily she felt okay enough by 1:30 to go to the Balsams for our weekly playdate/English lesson. We picked up Yaakov afterward and I let them watch Monsters' Inc. before dinner. Plus I made French toast. Am I a great mom or what?! Sunday night, Ariella was once again in our bed, and at 3:30 we moved into the living room. Yaakov was very confused when he woke up - "Why isn't Ari-lala in she bed?" Today there is a tiyul to the ecological farm in Modi'in. The tiyul is organized by the misrad haklitah and I'm hoping everyone will feel well enough to go, since Ariella's been looking forward to it for a month, and Yaakov since I told him about it three hours ago.

Shout-out (sort of) to Dadz: Well, I'll give you and Momz some consolation poofahs for your comment. I got an email alert that Dadz had posted on the blog (I get alerts when anyone posts - it doesn't have a Dadz radar or anything). I read his comment in my email - it was a heartwarming, tender note - something about me being a lazy, good-for-nothing with too much free time and I should take more ulpan. Dadz and I have a special relationship like that. Oh, and there was a second comment, in which he wrote only his name in ALL CAPS. Because DADZ LOVES TO TYPE IN ALL CAPS. However, when I looked at the comments section on the blog itself, the comment had been "removed by author." So I'm not sure what to make of this - did he have a change of heart and somehow figure out how to remove his post? Haha! Like Dadz "How do I rewind the video without having to watch the whole movie backwards" Leibtag would figure out something like that. So I'm going to assume it was an accident ( would be a great blog for Dadz.)
BTW - I know a lot of you think when you see "Comments removed by author" that there's some scandal behind the removal - in reality, it's usually people like Dadz that need to take Remedial Commenting 101.


Some Updates: (i.e. this is what happens when I start the blog at 10 in the morning and then finish it at 8 at night.)

Ariella: Seemed to be doing better. But looks can be deceiving. In the morning, we went food shopping (Shufersal’s Motto: Welcome Back, Gila! It is also the motto for the doctor's office), then worked on our puzzle together. (It’s 1,000 pieces, but don't worry, I have Ariella on my team.) We picked up Yaakov early from gan, and since everyone seemed to be feeling ok, headed out to the tiyul around 2:15. Yaakov was thrilled to be on a bus, and I’m hoping that being on a large vehicle with lots of other people and a huge window will help him get over his airplane obsession. The tiyul was really nice – it was at the Ecological Park in Modi’in, and I’m feeling very green now. There were stations for pita-making, make your own herbal teas, create your own hand cream (herbal, of course, no tri-sodium gluphamates for us!), and we even planted a tree with the mayor of Modi’in! Yaakov’s favorite parts were the bus, pita making, and the free raisins. When we got home, however, the kids took a quick bath and Ariella promptly fell asleep during dinner. She felt a little warm, oy vavoy, and we STILL don’t have the results of the strep test (#1 Thing I Miss About America: Rapid strep tests.) Anyway, tomorrow is vacation, or as Dadz would say, VACATION because it is election day. Israelis only get a Sunday every four years, so they take it VERY seriously. No one works or goes to school. Shops are closed. It is an INTENSE day of vacation. Everyone MUST relax! We are hoping to go to see the Sassoons in the morning and then have dinner with the Balsams (yes, Lisa, we are planning on coming!) We are also hoping to sleep through the night. But, alas, we are nothing if not realistic.

Dadz update: 1,000 NPs to Momz! It turned out that Dadz did have a change of heart about his comment. Or, rather, Momz changed his heart for him. He has reposted, and you can all read his comments. Just go to the "comments" section of the blog. If you need help figuring it out, just ask Dadz.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Last day of ulpan, kiddie update

We had a lovely last day of ulpan today, complete with a little "mesibah" and all sorts of delicacies. It was fun to pretend we were back in 6th grade, everyone bringing in a snack for our last-day-of-school-party. We had rugelach (courtesy of yours truly), cookies, baked goods, chips, Doritos, drinks - the works! The only reason I knew we were not actually 13 years old is that on Monday, which was our last day of ulpan with Irit (we had a different teacher on Sunday and Monday starting in December), we did not throw her a goodbye party as well. In high school, it was all about how many parties could you wrangle, usually out of a pregnant teacher. The "Goodbye Regular Teacher" Party. The "Welcome Substitute" Party. The "Goodbye Substitute" Party. The "Welcome Back Regular Teacher" Party. Of course, during the course of all these comings and goings, we managed to finish a parshah, perek - even a pasuk would do - so then we threw ourselves a "We Finished Something Party." So it was fun to revisit those days, although we were a bit more restrained with the merrymaking, being all grown up and stuff. Too bad. I volunteered to write a note from the class to go with our goodbye gift for Dahlia. And yes, not only did I write the note in Hebrew, I typed it. Took a good 45 minutes, but I did it. I really need to get those Hebrew letter stickers for my keyboard. Right now, I have to use the "On-Screen Keyboard" which is about the size of a Saltine, and the letters are so tiny they all look like a "samech" so it's very difficult and time-consuming. (Actually, the hardest part about typing in Hebrew is that you want the letters with similar sounds to be the same, but alas, they are not. For example, the "a" on the keyboard is not an aleph - it's a "shin." And the "lamed" is a "k.") Anyway, despite these obstacles, I preservered and hopefully did not mangle the note too badly. At least Dahlia was kind enough not to mention the mistakes in class. Then, after the party wound down, we took the proverbial Hogwarts Express outta there. And what did everyone do with the newfound free time? Well, after leaving ulpan at 12:05, I met a bunch of former classmates at Shufersal at 12:20. Yes, we are an ambitious group!

Speaking of the end of ulpan, there is a new poll up - the staff of aliyahbyaccident is eagerly awaiting your advice and opinions!

This morning, Donny was actually feeling well enough to go to the gym (have you HEARD about his gym plan? It's freakishly brilliant!). He left around 6:45 for the train. And then walked back in at 7:05. Apparently, there was a railroad strike. And the way they tell people is by having them come to the train station, and see that it's closed, and then hopefully they'll figure it out on their own. It was unclear what the strike was for - I heard something about a higher-up accepting bribes, or maybe it was because of money, or maybe it was just Thursday. Anyway, the result of this was that Donny worked from home today. It was nice to have him home NOT retching and puking, and we all got to eat dinner together. (Opher's falafel - the reason we can never ever ever leave Modi'in. EVER.)

Momz, I want to officially thank you for JINXING your grandson. You know, the cute one? (Just kidding, Leezy!) Anyway, we picked up Yaakov today, and apparently Yaakov was a good boy - he did not pull hair or hit. He was quite proud of himself. However, he did kick the teacher. He seemed to think he deserved his prize because he did not, after, use his hands to hurt anyone. I probably would have given in; luckily Donny was there to keep me strong and we told him that no, he did not get to have his prize today because he wasn't nice to the morah. I tried to get the story out of him - something about going down the slide and not wanting to go inside. Sigh. Apparently our boy is very literal. To that end, I am now compiling an exact and specific list of things he may not do in gan. So far, I have:

1. Hitting; including but not limited to, hitting with hands, toys, cups, chairs, blankets, a package of diapers, chicken legs
2. Pulling hair
3. Kicking
4. Biting
5. Pinching
6. Spitting
7. Stepping on children
8. Sticking olives in other children's noses or ears
9. Wrapping up other children in wads of toilet paper
10. Giving other children noogies
11. Using any object found in, near, or around gan in a manner unbecoming
12. Using any part of the body to hurt, upset, or in any way bother any child, teacher, or the occasional animal

I think it's pretty comprehensive; I'm going to have Yaakov recite this list every night and before we know it, he'll be a perfect little boy! Or he'll be sitting in the Time Out chair in gan until he's eighteen. Either way, it's a fool-proof plan!

Now, I often share with you my child-rearing travails because, frankly, they are much funnier than the times my kids are good. I mean, who wants to read a blog where someone just goes on and on about how cute and adorable and smart their children are? (Besides you, Momz.) Booooooring! But just so you shouldn't think my children are monsters ALL of the time, (and so when they bring this blog in to their psychiatrist in twenty years, she'll see that I did write some nice things also), I will share with you this cute story:

Ariella (yes, you heard me, Ariella with a capital "A" for "Attitude") is very concerned with her friends and loved ones getting what they deserve. For example, she was very upset today that Yaakov did not get his prize. She thought that since he did not, in fact, hit or pull hair, PLUS he said sorry to his morah, he was deserving of his prize, and was sad when we said the final answer was no. In gan, all the kids have their picture up on a chart, and when the kid does something nice, the morah writes it down on a piece of paper and clips it to the kid's name. Ariella got her first one a few weeks ago. Today, she was very excited that her good friend Aiden got one as well. "Mommy," she said, "today Aiden did something nice for me on the playground! He gave me his scraper for the sand! I told him he should tell Morah Maya so he can get a note on his chart. He was too embarrassed to say it in English and didn't know how to say it in Hebrew. So I went to Maya and told her in Hebrew, and she gave him a note!" It was doubly cute - first how concerned and excited she was that Aiden got his note, and second how she has become his little translator in times of need. It's nice to see her use her "verbal prowess" for the powers of good!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

End of Ulpan, and Oy, Those Kids!

First of all, welcome to new, sure-to-be-Loyal-Reader "Michael Scott," because that's how Ahava wanted to be welcomed. We are so glad to have you with us on the program! "Michael" asked the following penetrating question: If "Bernie" (that's "Dov" or "Dadz" to you Loyal Readers) claims he loves the blog so much, why has he not yet posted a comment???? Aha! The Million Dollar (or Hundred Poofah) Question! The answer is, Michael, that he doesn't know how. A while a go I offered 100 New Poofahs to whomever could help Dadz post a comment. You probably all thought Momz had those NP's locked up; however, she has not yet been successful. So the contest remains open - the Poofahs await you, Loyal Readers! Help a poor man post a comment! While you're at it, can someone PLEASE help Dadz "figure out" Skype? He "downloaded" it at the office, but says it's not "set up" yet so he can't "use it." He desperately needs some "help."

**** Public Service Announcement ****

Jonathan, your sister Leezy would like to get in touch with you. Please call or email her as soon as you can. Remember that she is 9 hours ahead of you, so be considerate!

**** End of Announcement ****

Let's see what else there is to discuss, or as they say in Hebrew, "l'daskays." [Here are some other English - Hebrew gems: "y'publishu" (they will publish), "koonfag" (configure, in the passive pual,) and "mefubrak" (fabricated, again in the pual).] Speaking of Hebrew, today was my penultimate day of ulpan. As my sister Leezy would say, a tear. Every day, Sunday through Thursday, for five months, I have been sitting in my ulpan classroom, trying to stuff my head full of Ivrit while dodging the occasional ball that came through our window, dealing with the crusty shomer who gave us dirty looks if we left early, and putting up with the rancid odor from the sink in the room. Well, every day except for days when I needed to go to some misrad. And when my parents were here. Or when Ariella was sick. Or Yaakov. Or Donny. Or I needed a Lisa Day. But you get the drift. Many many hours were spent in ulpan, until we have reached this point: I don't always refer to my son in the feminine anymore. I usually get the tense correct, although I still avoid the atid whenever possible. I can conjugate pi'el in my sleep. I have reached a tentative truce with nifal. I have completed the tests and will receive my nifty ulpan te'udah in a few weeks. All that's left is...speaking in Hebrew for the rest of my life! No problem!

In other children news: One might think (as I did) that when one has a child of a rather "challenging" nature, the next child should be "easy," to even everything out in the Great Cosmic Child-Rearing Cosmos of Life. Well, I am here to let you know that the Roses are single-handedly messing up the Great Cosmic Cosmos of Child-Rearing Life. Ariella - while a terrific sleeper - does not have the easiest personality. Let's just say that at the tender age of 3, we were called into a meeting with her teacher, the principal, and the school psychologist. Let's just also say, that when we told people we were moving to Israel, they said, "Oh, Ariella will fit right in!" And they were not referring to her love of chocolate spread. We thought that Yaakov, once we got passed the horrid stages of not sleeping or taking a bottle, would be our easy, sweet one. Well, he's got a little personality on him as well, and our "easy, sweet" one has been hitting at gan and yanking actual hairs out of children's heads. (Of course, he would target the ganenet's own son.) Anyway, the morahs are concerned about his behavior, as, of course, are we. So I suggested we start a Bribery Chart! (I'm sure I called it something much more PC and used words like "motivation" and "channel his energy." In my book, however - "Leave Me Alone so I Can Read the Paper," in case you forgot, - I will call it what it is - a bribery chart. I bribe my children and am PROUD of it! (Maybe that's going to be my sequel...) Basically, the way our little "motivational system" works is, if Yaakov uses his hands nicely, neither hitting nor pulling hair - both at home and at gan, he will receive a little tchotchke at the end of the day. If not, no tchotchke! Luckily, we started off on a good note. He had a good day at gan, received his prize, and caught a glimpse of all the other prizes in the bag, which will hopefully spur him to further good action. Or, in the words of my mother, "We'll see how long this lasts." Thanks for the encouragement, Momz!

Poll results: You people are STRANGE! The winning answer for the question: Should the Minister of Polls be allowed to vote is...."tizkeh l'mitzvot ulma'asim tovim." Not sure what to make of that people, except to say that Lisa was not successfuly in rallying random people to vote "no." Better luck next time, Lisa.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Nicknames and Flight

Does it ever bother you that there's no good nickname for "Moshe?" I mean, you could do "Mo" or "Moishe," or "Mosh-mosh" (if you really hated your child,) but these names just don't have a catchy ring to them. Not like the nickname....Donald. In the car today, Ariella piped up and said, "Is Donald the English name for Moshe?" Wondering how she came up with THAT one - is Moshe Balsam confessing to her his secret desire to be named after duck during their weekly playdates? - I asked why she thought that. She starts singing the Israeli version of "Old McDonald," which is ...."Dod Moshe." The inner workings of the five (sorry, five and a HALF) year old mind...

In other children news: Yaakov has been attempting flight. (This may have been related to the animal chug that comes to gan - the most recent one was a toucan.) He has been standing up on the arm of the couch, grinning wickedly, extending his arms, and then hurdling off onto the couch pillows. This has been causing me no end of near-heart failure as I watch him precariously balance himself. Especially coming from a boy who managed to break his leg slipping on a magazine. While wearing shoes. On a carpeted floor. I have tried gently explaining to him that he is not, in fact, a bird, and these attempts at unassisted human flight will probably end badly for all of us. However, in his two (sorry, two and a HALF) year old way, he is completely nonplussed by my logical arguments and continues his lofty pursuits. To paraphrase John Locke, "Don't tell me what I can't do, Mom." However, I will admit that his determination, misplaced as it might be, is quite inspiring.

Flu udpate: On Friday the retching ceased, praise be given. Donny now only has a really really really bad cold. He returned to work today, the first time in a week. However, he spent most of his day coughing - a really loud, annoying, hacking cough. I'm sure it impressed all of his colleagues. "So during this next phase of the project, BLEARGHHH, I think we should HAAAWWWWWG, because the requirements are too GAAAAAAAKKKKK." You get the idea. He came home a little early so he got to see the kids right before they went to sleep.

Donny has been answering all of their questions for months now with, "I love you," no matter how relevant, or in most cases, irrelevant it is. So it was quite cute tonight when he came home early, and Ariella asked him, "Why are you home early?" and Yaakov turned to her and said, opening his blue eyes big and wide, "Because he loves us!"