Sunday, October 31, 2010

Food Shopping: Addendum

First, I'd like to thank everyone who commented and/or shared the food shopping post. Clearly this is a topic which inspires passion and I am glad you found an outlet for that passion here. And yes, I publicly apologize for leaving off one of the most important items: Shoppers who leave their cart in the checkout line with a single stalk of celery, and then run around the store "finishing up."

Now for a true story. I had to get a bag of milk yesterday. I believe that running out for a bag of milk is the reason neighborhood makolets were invented, but I wasn't near one, and I was near a Shufersal. So I took a deep breath, thought some happy, speedy thoughts, and went in. Here's another thing about Shufersal, at least the one I go to - they tend to correlate the number of cashiers to the number of shoppers. Not so many shoppers = not so many cashiers. This way, you always have to wait a really long time in line, even if the only shoppers are you and one other person buying "just a stalk of celery."

Anyway, two nice ladies let me cut in front of them to buy my milk. (I figured if there is such a thing as shopping karma, I was owed, because I'm pretty good about letting people cut ahead of me.)

The person in front of them was almost finished. Great, I thought. Until....she was doing delivery! NOOOOOOO! And they had a long, drawn-out discussion about the address, then the kupait left (!) to get some dry ice, then she asked the customer - and I am not making this up - "Rechov Sivan. Is that one vuv or two?"

ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? As if the delivery guy is going to be calling headquarters in a panic, "I'm in front of Sivan 33, but there is only ONE vuv! Is this the right one? I dunno. Maybe I should drive around for a while and see if there is a double-vuv Sivan."

And yes, the people in the line next to me, who were still shopping when I got in line, were blithely finishing their bagging and heading out the store. I swear they smirked at me.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

10 Things I Learned About Food Shopping

Today's topic is Shopping in Israel. It is dedicated to my Tired friend who, during a discussion about food shopping, said, "You know, this is a total blog post." Sometimes you need a friend to point out the blogginess in your everyday life.

Now, I had the luxury of not doing the food shopping for the first many years of our marriage. Donny did it for a long time, and then when he started working out in Nowheresville, Long Island and had to stop, I became very good friends with Peapod. However, since moving to Israel, I have been solely in charge of this dreaded task. I have had ample time - because I always pick the wrong line - to ponder and reflect on the nature of food purchasing.

I do my main food shopping at either Supersol or Rami Levi, depending how Israeli I am feeling.
(Rami Levi = very Israeli.)

1. Best food shopping day: Monday morning at opening time. It's early in the week, shelves are stocked, cashiers are just sitting there waiting for you, lines are empty. It's a beautiful thing.

2. However, do NOT go Sunday morning at opening time. No lines, true, but also no food. The stores are just getting in their deliveries on Sundays, so until they figure out how to display the food, you're stuck with a lot of last week's leftovers. I have been shopping on Sundays and seen the chicken counter completely empty. Or the cheese guy tell me he hasn't set up shop yet.

Digression; an actual wondering: I know my mother used to go early Sunday morning to the kosher supermarket in Baltimore. They should have had the same problem, since they hadn't gotten deliveries since Friday. Yet, it didn't seem to be a problem. They had food. Milk, meat, chicken, even cheese. Maybe it's a mentality thing. Here, if the store opens at 7:30, then at 7:30 - and not a moment before - the workers start to stumble in, clean the floors, unpack the food, and toss it onto the shelves. (The cucumber toss is my favorite.)

3. Avoid Rami Levi at all costs in the immediate days before a chag. For some reason, RL shoppers are insane. We're talking lines for carts, stalking people to their car to claim their spot, fistfights over leeks. I'll admit it's invigorating, but if you are in need of some invigoration, it's safer to sniff some Vick's VapoRub.

4. There is a wonderful store here that delivers produce. You call them up, tell them what you want, and they bring it to your door. You don't even have to be home when they come. This is a beautiful thing. Of all the things I have to buy at the store, produce is the worst. Elbowing people for a spot at the cucumbers, sifting through peaches to find the good ones - it's very overwhelming and time-consuming. So cutting that entire section out - it's a good feeling.

5. Speaking of produce, when choosing a line, you do not want to be behind Mr. or Mrs. Bags 'O Veggies. Produce takes the longest time to scan, because it has to be weighed, then a code must be entered in ("Hey," shouts the cashier, in no rush, "Can someone tell me the code for beets? No, not meats, beets! Cleats? Do we even sell that? I said BEETS! Oh, okay. But what was that? 0542? No? 0642? I can't hear you. Ok, I'm getting up and coming over." At that point, once the cashier has upped and left, you are done for. Get out a book and construct a seat out of the little gum boxes, because it's going to be a while.

6. More about lines. Do be behind men - they tend to be fast and efficient baggers. Now, perhaps when they get home, their wives complain that they put the laundry detergent on top of the flimsy yogurt containers, causing the yogurt to squelch out and now there is a strawberry mess all over the bags, and why didn't they pay attention when they bagged, but remember - this is not YOUR problem. Men are fast. The end.

7. If you can, avoid getting in line behind people doing a delivery. Now, I admit that it is hard to know ahead of time who is getting a delivery, and it may be too late, because you've already put half your items on the belt when you see them start to write out their address on a slip of paper, and they like to write v-e-e-e-e-ry slowly and clearly, and people who weren't alive when you entered the store have been born, gone to school, finished college, got a Master's degree, toured Romania, got married, had some kids, and are now finishing bagging their groceries in the line next to you.

8. There is a certain segment of the population that is notorious for line-holding-up. Not wanting to make sweeping generalizations, of course, I will not name this segment, only say that DADZ is now a proud member.

They tend to come equipped with coupons and argue over the price of oil ("The sign said it was buy two, get one free." Then the mistrustful cashier has to call one of the store lackeys over to go to the aisle and check it out for himself. The lackey saunters - it's the only way he knows how - and wanders up and down the aisles till he finds the one that says "Oil." Then he saunters back and there is a heated discussion because the sign was supposed to have been taken down today, because the sale was over last week, but it wasn't, and both sides are very angry at each other until the manager has to be pulled from his coffee break and he saunters over and the argument continues and your gum-box chair is starting to become very uncomfortable.)

Naturally, this population also likes to pay in cash. Preferably coins. If you see someone whipping out a change purse (well, "slowly retrieving" would be a better description) run the other way.

9. Mivtza'ei kupah. These are special "sale" items that are only available as you are checking out, and you need to make a snap decision about whether you want them and how many you want. For the sake of your sanity and the sanity of those behind you, JUST SAY NO! (This applies to sale items at the pharmacy also.) Once you start engaging in a conversation about these items ("Today we have soy sauce, bathroom tissue, and carrots!"), it's years before you can extricate yourself. There are specific rules about how many and in what combination you can get these items, and if they don't have the item handy at the counter, then you have to run around the store finding them, fending off evil glares from the people behind you on their gum chairs. Or, worse yet, the Lackey is sent to saunter off in search of your tissues. Just say no.

10. In Israel, your most breakable item is not your eggs - it's your bags of milk. They are easily punctured, so make sure they are not put under or next to anything sharp or heavy, or you will end up with a trunk full of spilled milk, and trust me, you will cry.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Today is DADZ's 60th birthday! I know, he doesn't look a day over 59. Make sure to leave him a birthday message in the comments section; naturally, COMMENTS SHOULD BE WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS, AS A TRIBUTE TO DADZ "I DON'T LIKE TO PRESS 'SHIFT'" LEIBTAG.

Anyway, in honor of 60 years, here are 60 things we love about DADZ:

1. He sends us magazines.

2. He's funny.

3. He's unintentionally funny, which is even funnier.

4. He plays Chutes and Ladders with Yaakov.

5. He's not afraid to admit when he is wrong. For example, growing up, we were never allowed to get cable because, in Dadz's words, "Cable is crap." Now that the children have left home, the 'rents have the most cabley cable you can imagine. Every show that is on the air, including "Xtreme Toenail Clipping" is available for Momz and Dadz's viewing pleasure. Dadz admitted to me, "I made a mistake. It's not cable that's crap. It's network television that's crap."
I would like a redo of my childhood. Well, not the gelled hair and red glasses. Just the TV-watching segments.

6. He loves his in-law children. To the point that sometimes I feel like I'm the one who married into the family.

7. He's always game for an outing - water park, hike, even food shopping is an adventure with Dadz.

8. He thoroughly enjoys showing off about his kids and grandkids. It's very cute.

9. He can nap Nadav under the table. He could probably nap under the table, too.

60. He always makes sure to call us. Even if he has nothing to talk about. He just likes to say hey.

Wow, we made it to 60! Amazing! And we could keep going, too!



Friday, October 22, 2010

End of Week Ramblings

1. Donny is not here for Shabbos. Well, he hasn't been here all week. He was in Seattle for work starting Sunday, flew to Newark last night, and is with friends in Teaneck for Shabbos. So he's closer to being home. He will God willing be on that midnight flight home come Saturday night, which brings him back to us Sunday afternoon. (From Seattle, he has to take a Sunday morning flight, which doesn't get in until Monday afternoon. Blech.)

2. The point of #1 is to get to #2, and mention the irony that it is Friday afternoon and I have time to blog. Because, of course, when Donny is not here, and I'm doing all the Shabbos prep alone, I manage to finish it two hours early. When he is here, we take our leisurely time, shmoozing, checking email, eating rugelach, until the Moment of Panic around 30 minutes before Shabbos, when we realize the blech (different blech from the one above) isn't set up, we haven't showered, the table's a mess, and Yaakov is in the midst of an Illegal Nap and must be awakened post haste.

3. Ariella learned about Yitzchak Rabin this week. She told me that he was killed "when they threw kadurim at his back." Sheesh. Heblish strikes again.

4. My sister Leezy is also joining us for Shabbos with her kids, because her husband is in America as well. We have grand plans of partying and drinking all night. More likely we'll be passed out and snoring by 8:00. Thanks to DADZ, though, we have plenty of People and Entertainment Weekly to keep us busy.

5. Confession: I have never seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show. (Insert gasps of shock here.) Will I totally not be able to understand this week's Glee episode? And why can't they do a take on something I'm more familiar with, like "Thomas the Tank Engine" (there are some very jaunty songs in those movies!) or "Bais Yaakov Production 1995?"

Have a Shabbat Shalom, folks!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chef Ariella, Yaakov HaTzaddik, and Toes

Ariella made dinner last night. That's right, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned ON! She cooks! Now all we need from her is babysitting and driving and I can head out for that long-awaited vacation in my bed.

We have Ariella's cooking chug to thank for this. From the chug's demo at the school fair, I was under the impression this was some sort of "Chocolate Spread Delight" chug. Chocolate spread on cookies! Chocolate spread on bread! Chocolate spread on ... chocolate spread! And they did make some kind of dessert thing the first week, but the second week they made a very healthy pasta and vegetable dish. Ariella wanted to recreate this dinner at home, so she sent me off with a shopping list ("Mommy" - concerned - "do you know what green onions are?") She had a friend over last night, and the two of them chopped mushrooms, tomatoes, and cucumbers, which we combined with the onions, olives, pasta, and spinach leaves.

I added cubed Bulgarian cheese to my bowl ("Ewww, Mommy, this tastes like a block of salt!") and some dressing. It was quite good and I look forward to adding it to our dinner repertoire. Especially since Ariella can make it.

Yaakov learned about Rachel Imeinu in school, as today is her yahretzeit. I asked him what he learned. (This year, there is actually a chance he'll remember. For example, he can recite the 5 books of the Torah. Such a big boy.)

"Who is Rachel?"
"I don't know. She had a lot of babies!"
"Oh yeah? How many?"
"Two boys" [Good!] "and two girls!" [Hmmm.]
"She had so many children that she had to buy a big house, it was very big and long and she lived it in all by herself with her children."
Uh oh.
Subject change! "Do you know who Rachel was married to?" I asked.
"She was married to....Yaakov!"
[Laughter.] "But not me," he added seriously. "That Yaakov was an even bigger tzaddik than me." [If such a thing can be imagined.] "Also he was bigger than me!" [No way!]

And there you have it: Torah according to Yaakov.

Meanwhile, Nadav would like a solution to the age-old conundrum: How can I suck on my toes and kick my feet at the same time??

Friday, October 15, 2010

In Which Worlds Collide

So our dear son Yaakov has a bit of an "r" problem. Or as he would say, an "awww" pwoblem. We've noticed this for a while. We tried our usual parenting strategy of ignoring it and hoping it will go away. Unfortunately, this has not yet yielded results.

However, through the weird and wonderful world of blogging, I happen to know a speech therapist. This is Baila, whom some of you know as She is a fellow Modiin blogger and accidentally stumbled across aliyahbyaccident (is there any other way to do it? Have we ever been found on purpose? Discuss.), and became a Loyal Reader. So I figured I would give her a call, since that seems to be what people do to Baila. And last night, she came over to meet with Yaakov and check out his awwws. Although she told me she doesn't do the therapy herself, she could give me her professional opinion and recommend someone if she felt he needed it.

Yaakov is a bit of a contrarian ("No I'm NOT!") so I was worried that whatever Baila would ask him to do, he would refuse ("No I WON'T!"). However, when I informed him that my friend was coming over to talk and play with him, he immediately marched into the ma'amad to find a suitable game to play. (Luckily for Baila, it was NOT Candyland.) He was very excited, and when Baila came, he sat her down on the couch and began playing. "This one is so shmeasy faw me," he boasted. So they played and talked, and then Baila asked him if he could differentiate between "run" and "won." ("Which is the one you like to do in the chatzer?" "The fawst one, of CAWSE!" he said, rolling his eyes at this shmeasy question.)

They did two more rounds of that and Yaakov passed, which means he can hear the difference, even if he can't say it. She also asked him to touch his tongue to his nose; unfortunately, he said he "didn't want to show her" that he could do it. Then Baila showed him how she makes the "r" sound and explained it was like a lion roaring. Yaakov's head jerked up. Wait a minute. Lions? This person thinks she knows about lions? She doesn't know about lions! I know about lions! I know EVERYTHING about lions! "That is not how a lion sounds," he explained.
"Well, what does a lion sound like?"
"I do not want to tell you."

"Okay, last question. What is the thing that flies in the sky and is not an airplane?"
Luckily Yaakov did not answer "Buzz Lightyear." But he did say, "Bahwd," which apparently is even more indicative of a speech problem than the other words.

Oh well. The bottom line was that he's not going to outgrow it, he'll definitely need speech therapy, but we can hold off until he's closer to 5. That works for us. On our Parenting Manifesto, right after "Ignore the problem and see if it disappears" comes "Push it off as long as possible." So we will revisit this issue in Apwil.

So a big thank you to Baila, and you are welcome back any time to play games with Yaakov.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Update: Still Choref, Still Hot

So, here we are, well into choref by now. We had a brief rainshower on Friday, and two days of semi-pleasant weather, but now it's gone back to being hot as a cactus.


1. Ariella plays Mastermind ("Bul Pegiah" in Israel.) This is nice. I like Mastermind. Playing board games with the kiddies gets much more fun when you get to play games that are objectively fun. (Objectively being defined here as "I like to play it.")

2. However, we are still stuck in Shootmenowville with Yaakov. He is very into CandyLand and, God help me, Chutes and Ladders. He came up with a great strategy on Shabbos. We were starting Candyland, and hadn't turned over the cards yet. He instructed me to put the ice cream card on top, and then he would go first and get the ice cream card! (If you don't know the meaning of the ice cream card, then it must have been a VERY long time since you played, because most children and adults today have the image of the Candyland board seared into their brains. Whisper "Candy cane" into their ear and watch them shudder.)

3. I said no, he would have to play the regular way. Toward the end, when he was close to losing (he was ahead because I got gumdrop, but then he got peanut brittle and I got lollipop), he said, "Let's stop playing now, Mommy. Let's just say that I won." Good Mom wanted to teach her son the valuable lesson of sticking through with something till the end, losing gracefully, etc etc, but Bad Mom was sooooo happy we could stop playing. Guess which mom won?

4. Nadav now flips over onto his stomach. He has trouble going back the other way (isn't stomach to back supposed to be the easier way?) His other hobbies include sucking on his toes and chewing on your thumb.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cuckoo for Alephs!

Ariella has computers every week in school. Talk about feeling dinosaur-ish. I didn't have a computer class till I was in 10th grade. And when Ariella asked me if I played on the computer when I was little, I had to break it to her that when Mommy was little, we didn't have a computer at home. That's right. We were too busy grunting at each other and fashioning skirts out of mammoth carcasses.

I do remember, when I was just a wee lassie, that my mother had some sort of work project that required a computer, and for a few weeks, we had a computer in the house. This was the height of cool. We got to play this nifty Winnie the Pooh computer game - on a floppy disk, of course, back when they were actually floppy. But then the project ended and the computer had to leave. Oh well, we grunted.

Anyway, Ariella is learning Microsoft "Words" (as she calls it). And yesterday, the principal (who teaches the class), taught the kids how to "duh-buhl cleeek." So naturally, Ariella came home and wanted to try out her newfound tricks - typing (in Hebrew) highlighting, changing the font, color, and size. Because let's face it, with all the computer know-how and doo-dads out there, still, the most important thing we ever learned was how to change the font to Comic Sans. So Ariella decided to have an aleph page. "What words start with aleph?" she asked me. We thought of a few, but she was insatiable. So she took out the dictionary, and is now up to over 100 aleph words in Hebrew. In blue, though unfortunately Hebrew cannot be written in Comic Sans.

After an hour and a half, I made her get off. (Baila - we may have to institute your policy.) "But I just want to finish the alephs!" she wailed, with a slightly manic look in her eyes. "Sweetie," I explained, there are many, many, many words that begin with an aleph. You could be here all night."

"Just 'efes'! It will be my last word! Pleeeeease!"

So I let her type it, though a few minutes later when she came back and begged, "I just thought of 'auto.' Please can I type it before I forget???" I put my foot down, seeing clearly where this was heading.

Anyway, it was time for Ariella to get off the computer because Mommy needed it to give a very special shout-out.....
to my sister-in-law, Leezy "Alisa" Bensky and her family on the birth of a new baby boy!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dum Dum DUM

That is the sound collectively hitting Israel this morning as we begin the period known as "acharei hachagim" or "choref zman" or "that's it until Pesach." No cushy Sunday for us, gently bringing us back to reality. Oh no. Shabbos ended, BAM, the lunchboxes were out and I was at my favorite activity, packing aruchat eser. Today, BAM, kids off to school/gan, Donny off to work, and me here, at my computer.

But let's back up. On chol hamoed, we - the collective Rose, Klein, and Leibtag contingent - hit up the Roladin factory in Kadima where we made our own cookies and other goodies. The workshop was fun, but it was lacking in that there was no tour of the factory (just windows so we could look in from above) and neither of their two sukkot were kosher, so no lunch out at Momz and Dadz's expense. Oh well. At least we had plenty of goodies to munch on during the drive home. ("Don't Need No Sukkah for Achilas Arai" is a single on my next album.)

Later that night, we had a surprise 60th birthday for DADZ. It was especially surprising because he doesn't actually turn 60 for another month. There was BBQ and cousins and friends and birthday cake. What more could a guy ask for?

On Tuesday, despite the fact that choref was nearing, the weather continued to remain toasty. So after a massive food shopping outing, Donny and DADZ took the big kids to the pool. On Wednesday, we had the audacity to NOT entertain the children, something they felt quite indignant about. Simchat Torah was the usual fun and games. (I think I stopped enjoying this particular holiday once I turned 8.) Then came Friday, aka Morecookingday, and Shabbat, aka Moreatingday. Ariella went to shul in the morning with the men so she could listen to parshat Breishit. Last night, we bid a tearful goodbye to Momz and DADZ, who will God willing return on Pesach.

"It's Hot as a Cactus Out There"

I know you are all still drying your eyes because you are so sad that Momz and DADZ left, so I will end with a humorous Yaakov anecdote. A Yaakovdote, if you will:

He loves to look at the weather website with me. As you can see, it's a 7-day forecast. The first part of this 'dote is that Yaakov becomes very frustrated because whenever we look at it, we are always on the first box! When will we get to the last box? he despairs. Sadly, never.

The website also uses a picture of a cactus to denote "fry your shakshuka on the sidewalk" kind of hot. I explained this symbolism to Yaakov. When we were in Alon Shvut for Shabbat chol hamoed, he saw a little cactus growing outside my cousins' house. "Oh," he said knowingly, "this means it's very hot out."

A good choref to all of you. May it rain a lot, but not so much that they fall behind on building our apartment. Amen.