Thursday, April 29, 2010

For all you Losties and Momz fans

Apparently the intent of our little poem was unclear. You see, there are Lost clues/references buried in Random Thoughts #2 - 8. If you find them all, you get poofahs! Plus a lovely log, decorated with twigs that spell out "aliyahbyaccident," for use in your Lag B'Omer bonfire.

So far the only participant has been Momz, who came in with a score of 5/7. If you can beat her, the poofahs and log are YOURS!

And speaking of Momz, I was remiss in not mentioning that it was her BIRTHDAY yesterday! So let's give it up for Momz and wish her a happy ________th birthday!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Random thoughts

1. Did you hear that? That is the sound of Yaakov breathing - sorry if it woke you up. (Luckily, Ariella sleeps right through it.) It's only this noisy when he's on his back. Since I have a well-worn copy of "The Care and Feeding of Rose Men," I know that the trick is to roll him from his back to his side. Voila! Silent breathing! (And yes, we briefly considered the whole extract-some-body-part route, but since the problem is so easily fixed, we're going with the while do-nothing route. Also, it doesn't bother him. Just us, when we're trying to watch Lost.)

2. Speaking of which, Lost is a repeat this week. Is there even a reason to get out of bed? Sigh. My alternate self and I are sorely disappointed. If you find us near an open well, just go ahead and push.

3. I made a spinach thingy for dinner, the very same spinach thingy I had been making approximately one year ago, during the famous traifin' up the kitchen Incident. I repeated my new mantra during the cooking: "Don't use the wrong spatula, don't use the wrong spatula, don't use the wrong spatula...." And it worked! I managed NOT to traif up the kitchen! Poofahs all around!

4. Ariella is FINALLY kochav nolad. Well, next week, but we've been working on the massive poster for 2 days already. She has been waiting for this ALL YEAR. Nay, all her life! Next Monday (because Sunday is a vacation day) we bring in the posterboard with the pictures. Let me just say, that Ariella's poster was done entirely on her own. No one can tell THIS girl what she CAN'T do! I taped the pictures on, but otherwise, she wrote the captions (all 20 of them), added the nekudot, wrote the header ("Ariella Kochav Nolad Hashavua!") and carefully went over everything in marker. Now, some people's posters (whose names I will not mention mainly because I do not know them) were clearly done by a parent. You know the type. I have to say, Ariella's diligence and my laziness made a very good combo here. The poster came out really nice, and definitely authentic.

Next Friday, Donny and I have to go in and run an activity with 32 little first grade __________. (insert your own colorful phrase here). Naturally, this will be done in Hebrew. We are planning on Pictionary, or Pencilnary as Ariella calls it. I already made up 32 cards, each with 3 Hebrew words, which I will have to vowelize after I print it. Hopefully it will be a resounding success. Hopefully the children will snicker quietly enough so as not to make me cry. Hopefully the baby will comply and stay on the inside for a little while longer.

5. Speaking of which, I am soliciting anti-inducing labor advice. I know, most women want to know how to get that baby out sooner rather than later, and it could be in 2.5 weeks I'll be one of them, but for now, we need Punja to stay right where it is. There is much to get done in the next two weeks. Most of it revolves around Ariella, actually. Kochav nolad next Friday. The Sunday after that (May 9), there's some sort of Chumash presentation in Jerusalem. Jerusalem! What, Modiin suddenly isn't good enough for Chumash? We're only good enough for the apocrypha, apparently.

Then, that Wednesday is her dance performance, the culmination of the dance chug she's been taking. Thursday is my last day of tutoring. That brings us to Friday, the actual due date. (In case you were needed stats, Ariella was a week late, Yaakov a week early. So hopefully Punja should be right on time.) So we need Punja to stay in the Hatch until at least Thursday afternoon.

7. I went to the doctor today. You may think that this is no big deal, that someone who is 37.5 weeks pregnant is at the doctor all the time. Well, you would be wrong.

Some of you have been asking me to blog about the differences between pre-natal care in the US vs Israel. Well, here's an example. I went to the doctor right after Pesach for an appointment. That was 4 weeks before my due date, the time when, in America, you are told to come in every week. My doctor? "So, if you haven't given birth by 38 weeks, come back. Bye!" Today marks "almost 38 weeks." So we went back. She said, "Okay, you don't need to come back here. Here's all your pregnancy information for the hospital. If you're late, here's a referral for the women's center where they'll do an ultrasound and fetal monitoring. Have a good labor! Bye!"

The nurses, though, are another story. I went this morning, for what feels like the 15,162,342nd time. I've been seeing them once a month, and since Pesach, once a week, for blood pressure, weight, and pee-in-a-cup. They are very interested in seeing me often. I guess they have an excess of cups.

8. Now to close, a poem by Donny:

Pregnant is pregnant, what can you do?
When you find all the Lost clues
Poofahs for you!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

New Chapters

You are all probably wondering how I am coming along with my forthcoming book on child rearing, titled, (everyone together now): "Leave Me Alone So I Can Read the Paper." Well, I am happy to tell you that we now have two new chapters. This brings us to a certain number of chapters altogether.

The first one is about children and hygiene, called "Don't Drink the Bathwater." Bathwater, as you know, is full of Kid Grossness, and we tell our children in no uncertain terms not to ingest the Grossness.
Yaakov, the Bathwater Drinking Champ, patiently explains, speaking slowly and with simple words to make sure I fully understand the complexity of the issue, that, "Mommy, I am not dwinking the wah-tah in the bath, I am just putting it in my mouth and then spitting it back out." Like I said, Grossness. So, the point of this chapter is that, while children are in the bath, parents should take extraordinary care to stay far, far away. The Grossness is going to happen. Better not to know about it.

The next chapter is: "Smackdown!"
We have found that occasionally, Yaakov possesses, um, an excess of energy. One Friday night, after I had just lit candles, Ariella and I were settling down on the couch to read some books and talk about girly things. ("I like nail polish." "I like nail polish, too.") Yaakov clambered to the arm of the couch on which we were sitting and announced, "Mommy, you need to move. I am going to do To Inifinity and Beyond and I will jump on the couch and if you are sitting there, I will hurt you."
I gently explained to Yaakov that, rather than hurting us, he should just go to the other couch, or, better yet, NOT engage in activities which cause Mommy's heart to jump up into her throat and remain there until said activity is finished. He was confused by this. "But I want to jump on this couch. I need to hit something!"

I looked at Donny. "You have ten minutes until shul. Take five of them and go rough him up." So Yaakov and Daddy went to their Smackdown Spot (our beds) for a good ten minutes (yes, Donny was late for shul) of wrestling. Every so often, Yaakov just needs Daddy to rough him up.

Donny said Yaakov is actually pretty coordinated, which is impressive for someone who managed to slip on a magazine and break his leg when he was a year and a half.
Ariella likes to get thrown around also - mainly because Yaakov's doing it and the universe would be out of whack if God forbid Yaakov got/did something that she didn't - but she's not quite as coordinated and usually ends up on the floor in tears. Also, she's got very long legs, which can seriously hurt a person. Just ask Donny.

So parents, when your child announces the need to hit something or someone, this is a clue! They need some serious wrestling! Our advice: Send a parent (the father) into an enclosed location with a soft landing area (the bed). The other parent (mom) should stay out on the couch and not get involved. Preferably, she should be reading the paper.
I, for one, am not totally sure what goes on in there. I hear lots of manly squealing, followed by Yaakov's, "I won AGAIN!"
And when Donny comes out with Yaakov, he's perfectly content to just sit on the couch and suck his thumb with Blue Blanket, panting and catching his breath. Also, Yaakov's pretty calm afterwards, too.

So that's the update on the book. Thanks to all of you who inquired about my progress and sent encouraging and thoughtful notes.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dipped in Chummus

So, you're anxiously wondering, what did aliyahbyaccident do for fun on Yom Haatzmaut????

Well, we started the celebration the night before, by watching the awesome Modiin fireworks display from the comfort of our mirpeset. Dimri is good for exactly two things - watching fireworks on Yom Haatzmaut the second round of fireworks on Yom Haatzmaut.

Tuesday morning we packed our "mangal" (BBQ) supplies and prepared for a truly Israeli YH experience - mangal in the park. We had my Aunt Gitte with us, who was visiting Israel for a month, and she was game to join us on our adventure. We also picked up some friends on the way - to protect their privacy I will call them "Shmilversteins." The plan was to go to the Music Park, play, and eat grilled foods

Some things to know about the Music Park: It is officially part of Yaar Ben Shemen, but there's no sign leading to it, you just have to be in the know. Luckily, since Donny loves turning off at random points off the highway, we discovered this little park BY ACCIDENT last year. We would go occasionally on Fridays, because it's nearby, it's shady, and it's always empty.

Now, we are seasoned olim, so we know that even the most random, out-of-the-way patch of grass, dirt, or median becomes fair mangal location on chol hamoed and YH. So we figured we'd get there earlier in the day, like 10:30ish, in order to grab a table. In fact, the streets were pretty empty, so we thought we had a good chance.

HA! As we drove into the park-no-one-knows-about-,-surely, we could barely maneuver our little Mazda 3. It was PACKED! Every table was claimed, and families had even cordoned off their own private dining areas. And it wasn't like people were just pulling up and setting things out. These were families who had been there for hours. They were definitely in the midst of kebab number four. These were SERIOUS Israelis, who probably got here at 6 in the morning - nay, slept on the tables all night - in order to stake out their area.

We were not to be deterred. Also, we were already here. What were we going to do, leave and go somewhere else? So we kept driving through the park. And driving. We were thankful that the Shmilversteins are laid-back people and didn't seem to mind as we took them further and further away from civilization and dustied up their car.

As predicted, any place with grass and a tiny bit of shade (it continued to be about 4 jamillion degrees) was taken. We continued to lead the Shmiversteins into the bowels of Ben Shemen forest. Finally, we stopped. We saw a spot. There was shade. There was a free table. Now, the shade and the table were in two separate locations, but still. And there was even a teeny-tiny playground, on which one family considerately decided to barbeque, so that the smoke wafted into the children's faces.

So we set up camp. And wouldn't you know it, the Artik Gods were smiling on us, because somehow, the artik truck found its way to us. Maybe he was also looking for a good place to mangal. So the outing started off with happy, sticky children. The children then entertained themselves by alternately collecting things, running around, and playing on the "playground." Soon, the BBQ was ready. Donny did an outstanding job - we had chicken wings, hamburgers, and Real American Hot Dogs, with Sauerkraut. Is there better way to celebrate Israel's independence than with a grilled beef hot dog? I didn't think so. As real American Israelis, we take every opportunity to celebrate freedom from the British, via hot dogs.

The best part was that toward the end of the outing, the sun had conveniently moved so that our little table was in the shade, and we were able to sit back and relax with our chicken wings. Ahhhh. The life.

So thanks to the Shmilversteins, co-authors of the forthcoming book on Israeli living "Dipped in Chummus," we had an awesome, authentic YH. Artiks, mangal, and random park. We then came home and bathed the kids; Yaakov, who had helped Daddy "bake," was a particularly lovely shade of dirt.

I'm thinking of going right now to claim out our table for next year. But I don't want to miss the fireworks!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fillings: An Update. Then, Roses on Stage!

I'm sure you are on the edge of your seat, wondering whatever happened with Yaakov and his teeth. To make a long story short, MaccabiDent cheerfully agreed to give me a copy of Yaakov's x-rays, free of charge. The plan was to take them to another dentist for a Second Opinion).

Well, you know what they say. Man plans, MaccabiDent loses your file. That's right. They proceeded to not give me the x-rays (despite repeated phone calls on my part and assurances it would be taken care of soon on theirs), plus they lost his tik (file) in the process. Yay! So I never got the Second Opinion, and when we went back for appointment #3, they didn't have his tik OR his x-rays. Whatever. Yaakov is now a dental pro. He knows the drill. Get on the chair ("Should I sit with you, Yaakov?" "No, I'm a big boy."), fall asleep, wake up, get a toy, eat an artik.

Come to think of it, it's not a bad deal at all. Maybe Yaakov is the one responsible for "losing" the tik. After all, fewer appointments = fewer artikim. He's no dummy.

Last night, at our shul's Yom Hazikaron/Yom Haatzmaut tekes, I am proud to announce that the entire Rose family was well-represented. Ariella and Yaakov participated in the performance which took place after minchah/before maariv. First, there was the Yom HaZikaron performance, which was a (paper) flower-laying ceremony in honor of soldiers who were killed during all the various wars. Ariella and other kitah aleph kids read a line about each war, and then a gan child (Yaakov included), placed two flowers as a memorial.

Then, during the Yom Haatzmaut portion of the evening, the gan/kitah aleph kids did a little performance to the song of "Eretz Yisrael Sheli." They each held up a sign at the appropriate time and did a fabulous job. You might be wondering how they pulled off this flower-laying-line-reading-sign-holding performance despite only two practices. This is because, dear readers, these children are professionals. Those of you that saw Yaakov's smooth dance moves at his Chanukah mesibah and gan birthday party will not be at all surprised that he was able to pull off this choreographically complex feat. And Ariella, well, she loves to read. (While learning Chumash together on Shabbat: "Daddy, can't we just read it? Why do we have to talk about it?")

Anyway, the first practice, on Sunday, was inside the relatively cool shul, but Monday's practice was held on the actual field where the ceremony would take place later. Of course, the difference between the "migrash" at 4:00 and at 7:00 is about 30 hijillion degrees. So we baked for 40 minutes during the practice. Because the show must go on!

Donny later commented that it sure seemed like a lot of practice for holding up a sign. Sigh. Fathers. Do they not realize the amount of coordination these things take? During the flower ceremony, the little kids not only had to wait till the big kid finished reading, but had to take turns laying the flowers in order of how they were standing. This involved no small amount of the moms in charge whispering "Not yet!" and frantically pulling a kid back or pushing them forward. And, during the song, each kid had to hold up a picture when, and only when, their part was sung. ("Now! Up!" we motioned to them, wildly waving our arms. Okay, so sometimes the tree went up when they were singing about the bridge, plus the tree was three times the size of the little girl holding it and kept bopping her in the head. And Yaakov held up his music note but couldn't quite get the hang of waving it around. So maybe we needed a third practice. But still. Professionals, I tell you.)

Now you're probably wondering - "Excuse me, aliyahbyaccident, but didn't you say the WHOLE Rose family participated? Um, so far I've only heard about songs and flowers. Did you and Donny also have a picture to hold up?"

No, the Rose adults are not capable of that level of choreography. We were part of the candle-lighting (and when I say "candle," here I am referring to one of 12 paint cans with a lighter-fluid-filled rag stuffed in it) ceremony. Each candle represented a group from the shul - well, the rabbi gets his own, and then there's representatives from the vaad of this and that. So Donny and I represented the olim. We had a part to say, which was NOT vowel-ized, but luckily we got it early enough so we were able to look it over and ask a Real Israeli how to pronounce one of the words. Yes, the irony was not lost on us. Anyway, we went up, Donny did a fine job reading - not as fine as Ariella, but what can you expect? - and then I took the "Lost"-like torchy thing and lit the rag! Awesome!

We had looked around for other olim (there are about 2 other regular families) to share in this proud (or embarrassing) moment. But none were to be found. Thanks, onetiredema and family, for ditching us!

Today the fun continues with some sort of fun which will at some point involve a BBQ. Chag sameach!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fun with Fillings; Plus Bonus! Dadz Calls with Wise Words

Wow. This poor blog has been more neglected than my own children. And that's saying something. ("Dinner? Didn't I just make you guys dinner last night? Eat a yogurt.")

Dadz and I had the following meaningful conversation today:

Me: Hi Dadz.
Dadz: So, does like everyone who makes aliyah have a blog?
Me: Um, yeah, pretty much.
Dadz: Oh. So you're not special.
Me: Not really, Dadz.
Dadz: Well, I mean, you're special to us, of course.
Me: Thanks, Dadz.

So I finally took Yaakov to the dentist. I know this should be the "nesting" month but instead of cooking and cleaning I'm running errands and pretty much moving in to the dentist's office. Those chairs become beds, you know; plus, there's free water.

Anyway for a while now I've tried, unsuccessfully, to get Yaakov to sit in the dentist's chair and at least let the dentist look in his mouth. To no avail. (I would like to visit"avail" some day. And bring all those unsuccessful ventures with me.) But now I figured he's now a big boy of 4 (at least Jewishly; the English birthday is still 2 weeks away), and we really can't push it off any longer. So I made an appointment at MaccabiDent, because dental care is COMPLETELY FREE until age 6. We went last Thursday, two days after Pesach.

He was totally amazing at the appointment, which was very surprising. He let the dentist count his teeth, clean them, and put some fluoride stuff between them. I was looking foward to checking "take Yaakov to dentist" off my to-do list. Unfortunately, instead I had to add "take Yaakov to the dentist. Again. And again. And again."

"Well," said the nice lady pediatric dentist, "he has 2 cavities. You'll have to bring him back to get them filled." She wanted to fill them in 2 separate appointments. (Oy.)

We went back this past Monday. She took x-rays, and though she did fill both the cavities at the same appointment (which I had begged her to do) it was only because he has so many other cavities that we now need THREE more appointments. Basically, each quadrant of this poor child's mouth is riddled with more holes than a can of pitted olives. So she wants to see him 3 more times, and each time she'll do another section. I didn't even know it was possible to have this many cavities in such a small mouth.

But she was amazing with him. She was like the horse whisperer, in which Yaakov plays the part of the horse. She put the laughing gas thingy over his nose and spoke to him in calm, soothing tones the whole time, a steady patter of explanation sprinkled liberally with "kol hakavod"s. I was down by his feet, so I couldn't see what was going on, but in the middle of the filling I heard snoring. Yep. Yaakov had fallen asleep during his cavity filling! "Relaxing" and "dental work" are usually not two concepts which go hand in hand, but apparently laughing gas + Dr. Horse Whisperer does the trick.

Of course, when he woke up, he was groggy and disoriented and drooly, but a trip to get an artik (under doctor's orders, mind you) helped get rid of that.

We are now also quickly becoming the Craplastic Capital of the World. Each dental visit culminates in the choosing of a "hafta'ah" (literally "surprise," but it is synonomous with crappy toy your child will lose/break/cry over within 12 minutes of receiving it). So now we have two Craplastic toys, which broke in the car on the way home and are lying forlornly on the floor, waiting until next Pesach's car cleaning. I hope MaccabiDent has put in a fresh order, because the Roses are not finished yet!

Today I went to buy Yaakov a smaller toothbrush head for his electric toothbrush. These heads are not cheap, and the irony was not lost on me that it is cheaper to fill his cavities than it is to buy him a good toothbrush.

I suggest, dear readers, that you take your children to the dentist as soon as possible. The younger the better. Before they even have teeth is preferable. Just to be on the safe side.

"I'd like you to check for any cavities or decay."
"Um, ma'am, this is an ultrasound picture."
"Yes, but see? There's the mouth."

It's never too early to begin good oral hygiene.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Now Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Blogging

Further thoughts on Pesach:

1. Have Pots, Will Tiyul
Our vacation lunch of potato chips + artik has taken on venerated status. The kids expect it, and do not consider the day to be a success until we've eaten both. On Thursday, for example, we visited Shvil HaTapuzim. After Yaakov showed off his mad golf skillz (he's perfected the Pick It Up and Drop It In move), we snacked on our chips and the oranges we picked, but the little artik store was so crowded we decided to leave and not buy our artiks there. The kids were distraght, but luckily the Random Park we ended up in in Netanyah had an artik stand as well. Phew. The universe has self-corrected!

We were happily sucking down our ice pops, when we got to see how the Other Half lives. The Half that brings actual Lunch. Two families sat down at the little picnic tables and began by covering them in plastic. Then, out came plates, cups, cutlery, and Lunch, aka Kitniot-palooza: Israeli salad, chummus, rice, falafel balls. All home-cooked in actual pots. Which they brought with them. To the park. I have to say, instead of feeling jealous of their sumptuous spread, I felt a little sorry for them. They're missing out on the True Meaning of the holiday. Of course, as I noted to Donny, what would us sorry Ashkenazim bring in our pots anyway? More boiled potatoes???

2. Real Israelis by Accident
Friday we had the opportunity to be Real Israelis, thanks to an IV hookup. (An infrequently used sentence, to be sure.) I had an ultrasound appointment scheduled, and we thought it would be fun to take the kids. So we all piled into the little room and they start the ultrasound. Here's a head, here's a stomach, here's a face, la-di-dah. I don't think the kids could tell the difference between head, stomach, and face, but hey, it's something on a TV screen, so they were enthralled. About halfway through, however, I started feeling nauseous and came close to passing out. Had this happened at home, I would be very surprised that we had our own ultrasound machine and sonographer in the living room. But also, I would simply close my eyes, let it pass, drink something, and go on with my life. However, the medical staff at Maccabi was not going to let this excitement just pass. So there was a mandatory IV hookup, plus a mandatory fetal monitor hookup. Meanwhile, Ariella is scared and Yaakov's just wondering when they're going to take the baby out, awready.

Since we had done no food shopping or any other preparation for Shabbat (for which we were hosting my sister Leezy and Co., plus my Aunt Gitte who is visiting from America), Donny left with the kids to do the food shopping.

Meanwhile, I was lying on my side, in a corner, and every few seconds the fetal monitor stopped working, causing the nurse to run over and use her highly sophisticated technique of banging on the damn thing as hard as she could to jump start it. Then, every so often, the doctor or nurse would remember me in my little corner and come to visit. "How are you feeling?" they would ask. I hoped that the right answer would earn me an early release. "Great! I am fine! Never better! Can I please go now???" But they were just interested in exchanging pleasantries, so they left me where I was, returning every so often to bang life into the poor monitor. Didn't they know I had shnitzel to make??????

Eventually, two and a half hours after the ordeal began, I was released. We took the kids to the Rock Park, (although since it wasn't an actual tiyul, we got away with only potato chips for lunch), came home, and at the early hour of 1:00 began preparing for Shabbat. When we were finally done - 5.5 hours of shnitzel-potato kugel-Pesach cholent-roasted vegetables-roast-making, sweeping mopping, room-arranging, bathing/showering - it was just in time for candle lighting.

"Do you realize," said Donny, "that this is what Real Israelis do??? Shop Friday morning, cook all afternoon, then finish just in time for candle lighting? No wonder they're always so tired!"

(Quick digression: This reminds me of my Thursday-before-Pesach food shopping experience at Rami Levi. I was basically finished food shopping, and was going just for produce and dairy. This was my third Pesach-related shopping trip. The previous Monday, the stores were empty. However, Thursday morning, most of the country woke up and said, "Hey! Wait a minute! It's going to be Pesach soon! I should buy stuff! Like chicken! And matza! And maybe some oil and eggs! Gee, maybe I'll even do that today!" And so me, with my carrots and bags of milk, had to wait in an endless line, behind people with bottomless carts. Also, the woman in front of me was buying bran flakes. Huh.)

Shabbos was very nice. Lots of cousin bonding (when Yaakov wasn't torturing Netanel) and sponge-cake eating. Sunday we hung out and started cleaning up from Pesach, because we were going to be with Donny's aunt and uncle in Kiryat Moshe for the last day. As the holiday ebbed away Monday afternoon, the kids participated in Final Matza-Fest 2010. We returned home, and as we packed away the last of our Pesach things and added to our "For Pesach 2011" list ("Remember that we put the cord for the hot water pot in the soup pot."), we bid a fond farewell to our favorite crunchy holiday. Till next year, Pesach.

Closing questions and observations from our resident theologian, Ariella

1. "So, Mommy, who tried to kill the Jews on Shavuot and Sukkot?"

2. "How come Hashem doesn't save the Jewish people now, when bad things happen to them?"

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Locked in the Dairy Farm

But before we get to that, let's recap the last few days.

1. Seder with the Balsams was fabulous, as usual. Yaakov, who refused to nap Monday afternoon (this from the boy who routinely falls asleep on the couch every Friday afternoon, usually during my shower, prompting me to run around the apartment, half-dressed, flapping my arms and screeching, "Yaakov fell asleep! Quick! Somebody! Wake him up NOW!") naturally was unable to stay awake and fell asleep right after Mah Nishtanah. I asked him if he wanted to stay up and sing Avadim Hayinu, his favorite Pesach song. He looked at me. "Mommy, I have sanged that a lot of times awready!" Ariella stayed up until the very end (after 1:00), though she was nearly comatose during Chad Gadyah.

At the end of chag, Tuesday night, Lisa and I could barely keep our eyes opened and the kids were in varying states of craziness. We whispered the prayer said by thousands of olim, every year: Thank God we don't have to that again.

2. Wednesday was a big Leibtag-fest. We drove out to Gush, to visit with our cousins Menachem and Thea, who live there and other cousins who came for the wedding of Rivki "I, Too, Can Now Eat Kitniot on Pesach" L., and then stayed for the chag. We hung out for a while, schmoozing, gobbling up whatever food Thea had in the house, including the decorative metal nuts on the dining room table, until we decided it was time to go out and Do Something. We stole Eliana, a cousin who is the same age as Ariella, and convinced her parents, siblings, grandfather, and uncle to join us in Herodian. Big success - Herodian had everything we like in a tiyul: a hike, a tunnel, and artikim.

Following Herodian, Donny decided we should Do Something Else. We had seen signs for a dairy farm and thought it would be fun to go do us some milkin'. Since we still had Eliana, her intrepid parents and assorted family members were more or less forced to go with us. We found the dairy farm. The gate at the entrance was locked and unmanned. Note: This should have been a clue. But we were on a Mission to Have Fun. So we continued driving down the road until we found another gate, this one with a person behind it. We asked where the dairy farm was. He replied it was back where we had first stopped, and when we explained that the gate was locked, he kindly (?) offered to unlock it remotely. "I wonder how we would get out, then," wondered Donny. Note: Clue #2. But we blithely ignored it and gamely drove off in search of Fun and Dairy. Sure enough, when we returned to the dairy farm, the gate magically slid open. Finally! We had arrived! Only to find out, that despite their advertisements of being, like, "opened," they were, in fact, more like "closed!" Oh no!

We hopped back into the car, attempted to drive out, but. But. As you may have guessed from the title of this blog post, we were not only unsuccessful in "milking goats," but we failed at "leaving" as well. The gate was definitely locked, and the booth remained unmanned. Donny tried pressing the buttons on the side in varying combinations. Everyone's TVs suddenly switched to Portuguese, but the gate remained locked. So much for that. There was a person-sized gate which opened, so Donny went out and tried calling all of the cell phone numbers listed on the sign attached to the gate. Nothin'. Meanwhile, the goats and cows were peeking out of their hiding places, and then collapsing in fits of uncontrollable laughter. Finally, Edwin (better known as Eliana's Abba) and a real, everyday hero, did the only thing we could think of: Walk to the other gate and try to convince our remote-control-enabled friend to reopen our gate. About ten minutes later, the gate once again magically slid opened. We burned some serious rubber getting out of there. The goats and cows were saddened to see us go. It may be a while until they get that kind of entertainment again.

Meanwhile, we started making a beeline for Yerushalayim, the next stop on our tour. About halfway there, we suddenly realized, "Edwin!" We turned back and found him happily employed as a gate keeper at the Sde Bar Dairy Farm. Ok, that last part didn't actually happen. For those family members who are reading this, we did pick Edwin up right away, then headed to Jerusalem.

Unfortunately, the traffic was so horrendous that we aborted our mission to go to Mailla Mall, surrendered Eliana to her parents in the middle of the city and decided to just call it a day and head home. Kids had matzah pizza for dinner, got bathed, and eventually went to sleep.

So all in all, despite the marked lack of cheese and milk, it was a great kickoff to our Chol HaMoed Adventures.