Monday, December 19, 2011

The Trouble with Tongues

So Ariella has started doing my butcher orders.

Let me be clear - despite my lack of proficiency with the language of our forefathers, I can manage our weekly order. Mainly because there are no numbers above "400."

Ariella enjoys reciting the order along with me (she's memorized it, since I order the same exact thing every week), and one day, she asked if she could place the order. So I let her. The butcher laughed (nicely) when she got on the phone, so I quickly took the phone and told him, "This is my daughter, and I approve this order."

She did a great job.

And the best part - when she asked for "שריר," she didn't have to repeat herself! See, those double-reish words get me every time. And I have to try to rrrrroll them, because I noticed that they understand me better if I do, even though I think I sound like a cross between an aged cat choking up a hairball and Inigo Montoya.

Somehow, that's still better than just saying it with two American "r's." Even so, it usually needs a second take. "Shrrrreeerrrrr," I say, more adamantly, because everyone knows adamant=clarity.

But this whole being out-ordered by my 8-year-old just underscores the different worlds we live in. Us old folks will always be immigrants, no matter how much shoko b'sakit we drink. (Case in point: Transliterating Hebrew words, which I just did, is something Ariella thinks is the height of hilarity. "Oh so you're writing the Hebrew words in English letters! Hahahahahaha!") We could bathe in the stuff (the shoko, keep up), but we'll still be immigrants. But our children, even the two who are technically immigrants, already belong here in ways we never will.

Our children will experience things--army, obviously, sticks out in my mind--that we never did, and we won't be able to offer sage advice or wisdom. (Although I imagine, "Change your underwear with some regularity" and "Be nice to the secretary" holds true in many situations.)

But you know, it's a sacrifice for the next generation. Ariella and her children will all be able to roll their reishes together in perfect unison. They'll probably do it every night at dinner. She will be much more useful in guiding them through their post-high school experiences, though naturally, she won't be able to share with them details of her service in the top-secret intelligence unit.

However, she may have considerably less to blog about.

On that note, I would like to wish all my Loyal Readers a verr[cough, cough, sputter]rrrrry happy Chanukah, and to paraphrase my favorite vengeance-filled, fencing Spaniard, "Prepare to fry."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

מספרים

That's numbers, people.

Today I reached a big milestone in my absorption. I said the number 7,500 in Hebrew. And I think I even got it right.

Every oleh has absorption goals. Some people want to "Drink Turkish coffee out of those tiny, tiny cups" or "Blithely wear t-shirts with inappropriate sayings because you don't realize they're inappropriate" or "Serve dinner to children at 8 PM (instead of getting ready to herd them into bed at that time so you can collapse on the couch I mean clean up.)"

For this year, I chose the lofty goal of "Writing checks in Hebrew." Until now, I took the easy way out and just wrote all my checks in English, because anything with four digits or more stumped me. But, I told myself, you are Israeli now. You must do as the Israelis do: Go to Eilat for Chanukah.

No, no, not THAT. We're talking about numbers. Pay attention, please?

Right. So I decided that this year, I would work on my Israeliness through numbers. Unfortunately, my go-to pal Google Translate is of no use here. Type in "1,465" in English, and it helpfully spits back, "1,465" in Hebrew.

But I will do it. And in fact, at the bank today, I did NOT need to say "elef PLOOSE elef PLOOSE elef PLOOSE elef PLOOSE elef PLOOSE elef PLOOSE elef. V'od chamesh mayot."

Yay me!

Next on the list:

Answering the phone with, "Ahh-lan!"

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ramblings: Nadav Edition

Let me tell you how things are really going down.

First off, Mommy is STILL bringing me to this "gan" place. Every. Single. Day. And she is STILL leaving me there. Doesn't she hear my heartbreaking little cries as she callously passes me off to a ganenet, like I'm just some sobbing sack of potatoes? (Do sacks of potatoes sob? Discuss.)

But it's okay, after a minute of crying, I get a cookie and then all is better. And to tell the truth, I have a pretty good day. First, they have waaaay better toys than at home. Example: At home, we have a few lame plastic animals. You've got your standard horse, sheep, alligator and space rocket. But at gan! The animals! There's a whole freakin' BUCKET of them! And the food - let me tell you, these ganenet types know their way around the kitchen. Such variety! At home, it's a lot of the same-old, same-old, from the food group known as Lazy. Gee, Mom, you know how to make both pancakes AND French toast? Someone get this lady a cooking blog! NOT!

So gan is all right, though I still don't understand why Mommy wants to bring me there instead of hanging out with me all day.

Anyway, she is still complaining that I do not talk enough. Again, I say: I completely understand everything I am saying. And yes, I call both Ariella and Yaakov "Lala." Is it MY fault the parental units chose to give them each different names? I didn't think so.

Although Mommy is impressed that I now understand directions. Sometimes it's "Throw that out," or "Bring me your shoes," or "Go find Ariella," (I'm never sure the purpose of this one. I think it's just to get me out of the room.) But mostly it's "Take that out of your mouth!" and "Don't swish your hands in the toilet!"

Sometimes, when I'm in my groove, having an especially good jam session of Pot Top Banging, Mommy will shout (she has to shout, see, 'cuz of the Pot Top Banging) "Please stoooopppppp!!!" Luckily, I just pretend I don't understand that one yet.

Also - weird - Daddy seems to be gone. One day he's here, next day, poof, nowhere in sight. Every so often, I hear his voice and I run, shrieking "Addy! Addy!" But then one of the Lalas just sticks the phone in my face and says, "Say hi to Daddy!" And I hear him, right? But I don't SEE him. This confuses me. How did he fit in the phone? And are there people hiding in all the phones? Maybe I should just lie down on Mommy for a while and suck my fingers while I ponder this.

Monday, November 28, 2011

In Which My Complete Lack of Directional Abilities Gets Me in Trouble, Once Again

Last week, I had to spend all day at a mall. Yes, had to. As part of our never-ending campaign to get our life back together after The Case of the Missing Purse (Where is Cam when you need her?), I had to take our car to the dealership in Ranaana to get the locks changed. We had two options, locks-wise:

1. Spend a lot of money to get the Immoblizer changed, so the thief could open the car, but have no way of starting it.
2. Spend a lot MORE money and completely change the entire internal structure of the car, including locks and ignition.

The idea of someone being able to open my car was less than pleasing. Also, I keep important stuff in there. Our Chanukah CD. My Rami Levi bags. Kids, sometimes. So we decided to go with Option More Money.

This also involved staying in Ranaana all day, since it took a few hours to completely change everything. There is a decent mall  right across the street from the garage (decent = kosher cafe with WiFi; I am easy to please), so at the beginning, all was both hunky and dory. I sat at Greg's, I worked, I drank coffee. Once we had passed hour five, though I was starting to go a little nuts. I walked around, but every time I entered a store, this annoying little goody-two-shoes voice said, "Really? You're going to spend money on clothing when you have to spend nearly 3,000 shekel fixing your car?" and then I walked out again, leaving a trail of disappointed sales clerks in my wake. So I just walked and wandered, up escalators and down escalators, until I began to feel like I was in some sort of bad New Age movie about the evils of commercialism.

Finally, I was released with my new(ish) car at 4:00. And that's where the trouble began. (Though you would not be wrong to say, "continued.")

See, in Israel, you need to have basic knowledge of geography to get where you need to go. There's no "Route 4 North" and "Route 4 South." There's "Route 4 Haifa" and "Route 4 Ashdod." And you need to know that Haifa is northerly and Ashdod is southerly. I'm good with the basics. I know the ups from the downs.

The problem is the middle. In my head, the entire Merkaz is somewhat mushed. Tel Aviv, Ranaana, Petah Tikva, Herziliyah, the airport, Modiin - they are all more or less "there" (pointing to the center.)

I had looked carefully at the map and wrote down directions before I left, but before I knew it, I was faced with a choice: Route 5 Tel Aviv or Route 5 Petah Tikva. My eventual goal was to get to Route 6.

Based on the whole reversing your previous route process, I was pretty sure I wanted "Petah Tikva." But I wasn't sure. And, as you now understand, in my mind Tel Aviv and Petah Tikvah are basically the same. Confusing me even further is my motto: When trying to go toward Modiin, follow signs to Tel Aviv. Except if you're at Ben-Gurion. (Of course, that motto works much better when your choices are "Haifa" or "Tel Aviv.")

So despite every fiber of my being telling to go toward Petah Tikva, I somehow found myself curving inexorably toward Tel Aviv. Yep, wrong way, as I veered off the exit ramp and saw the sign "Route 5 to Route 6" just out of reach. I thought, okay, no big deal, I'll just turn around. I rolled down my window and asked someone which way to Route 6. She looked at me as if I had asked her where the nearest crop circles are.

In the end, after much panicking and driving aimlessly, I ended up on the Ayalon, which thank goodness uses directional words like "south." After sitting in traffic for an hour, I finally made it back to Modiin (it's in the Merkaz; kind of near Tel Aviv).

Maybe it's time for a GPS. Do they make ones that attach to your wrist? That would be super helpful in the mall parking lot. ("To get back to your car, turn Left. Now turn. Right.")

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Meta Moment with Ariella

Ariella was home today, on the (hopefully) final day of her unfortunately-it's-not-strep-illness. Luckily she was feeling up to running some errands with me, including but not limited to: The Mall, library, the Devil's Own Playground (aka post office), the bank and Rami Levi. While driving, she spotted this billboard:

קוטג' עם גינה ענקית (cottage with huge garden)

"I don't understand. Why would they give you a huge garden when you buy a box of cottage cheese? And where would you even put the garden?"

After I explained it was referring to real estate, not dairy products, we had a good laugh, and then Ariella helpfully suggested: "You could write about that now on Facebook."

Well, a bit too long for Facebook, but she's on the right track.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Things Improve

Well, this week has been a big improvement on last week. I mean, it wouldn't have taken much, ("Hey, there was no theft or anesthesia! Let's celebrate!") but all in all things are on the up and up, by the by.

To all the Loyal Readers who shared their stories with us: You have had some truly outstandingly awful things that happened to you. And I thank you for sharing them with us, though I am very sorry that such truly outstandingly awful things happened to you.

A recap of the week:

1. Sunday: Replaced Maccabi cards, because let's face it, those are the #1 most important things in my wallet. It is approximately a hijillion times more likely that a child will end up in the doctor's office than the IDF soldiers at the machsom will ask for my teudat zehut. Although, I did have my Israeli passport, so at least there was photographic evidence that I am who I say I am.

2. Sunday night: Kids are superjazzed because new Maccabi cards are sparkly gold, instead of boring blue.

3. Monday: Accompanied by my faithful sidekick, Donny, went to Ramle (Note: Very important that your children do not put an extra syllable between the "m" and the "l.") Waited in line for about 45 minutes at the Misrad Hapnim, but once it was (finally - we were 85 and waited from 63) my turn, it went quickly. I handed over my Israeli passport, two passport photos, a completed form and a photocopy of my passport. ("את מסודרת!" she complimented me.) Within minutes, I had a brand new TZ, sefach (the addendum that proves that the children are mine, even when  they're throwing temper tantrums and food) and nifty blue carrying case. I was kind of hoping for sparkly gold, but I guess you can't have everything.

3. Monday, a little later: In the same building as the Misrad Hapnim is Misrad HaRishui, where you can get a new license. I showed her my brand-spanking-new TZ and explained I needed a new license. She asked me if I wanted to pay by phone or not - apparently it was half the price to pay by phone. I said, fer sher by phone. She replied: So fine, go to the back, call this number on your phone, and pay, what are you bothering me for?
How silly of me to think we could do this now, while I'm here in front of you! Went to the back, paid for my new license, then waited for Our Lady of the Licenses to finish with the next lucky customer, and once we told her we paid, she printed off a new temporary license for me. Whew.

4. Monday, even later: Bought myself a new wallet. It's black and red.

5. Tuesday: Got my new Isracard, picked up new bank card, and got the locks changed. We had sort of been shuffling our feet on the changing the locks thing because we're still not really sure the purse was stolen, and since we're moving in a month, it's kind of a waste of money. But after coming home every day for a week wondering if we had been wiped out of all of our worldly belongings, we decided it was worth the money.

So all that's left is getting spare car keys. And a new purse, of course, but in the meantime I'm using an old one that I had donated to the Beit Malon Game. In other news, Nadav is recovering nicely from his surgery. Good mom that I am, I was totally ready to send him to gan last Friday (day after the surgery), because, hey, no fever! but Donny decided that his completely swollen shut eye ("You shoulda seen the other guy") meant he got another day at home. But he's been back in action this week, grunting his way happily through life.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Series of Crappy Events

Well, Loyal Readers, you may be wondering if I have abandoned you. Indeed not. For you are the Loyalest of Readers, and I appreciate your recent outpouring of support and sympathy for those of faced with the curse of the Uncleanable House.

This week has received the dubious award of the Crappity Week of Craptastic Crappiness in the Crap-istory of Craphood. Unfortunately, it is not yet funny, so the extended blog post will have to wait for a time when I can laugh rather than cry. Some high(?)lights:

1. Nadav's surgery (planned, but still), to remove a cyst near his eye, which involved two separate days at the hospital, one being a "Yom Kabbalah" during which we got yelled at by a nurse and waited in a crowded, windowless room for hours, and one being the actual day of the surgery, the morning of which I nearly got lost and ended up in east Jerusalem. Thank God the surgery went well. Actual time spent at hospital: 11 hours. Actual time in surgery: 30 minutes.

2. My pocketbook, and all contents therein, was either lost in or stolen from my apartment. Including, but not limited to: wallet, teudat zehut, license, credit/bank cards, cash, undeposited checks, Maccabi cards, various store cards, including Rami Levi, (and you just KNOW it's going to be a b*&#%ch to get them to grant me another one), an old (only sentimental, but still) picture of Donny and me when we were engaged, keys, including house, car keys for two different cars, machsan, building, mail and this cute little keychain device that you use for shopping carts instead of scrambling for a 5-shekel piece.

3. It turns out the convenient Misrad Hapnim in Modiin will not, in fact, issue a new teudat zehut if yours was stolen. That, naturally, requires a trip to a different city. Which I haven't been able to do, since I've been spending 11 hours at a hospital.

4. We are also having two seminary girls for Shabbat, which is not crappy at all, just the opposite, but I worried (earlier in the week, before my life took a dive to Craptown) that when you're in seminary, your Shabbat experiences are supposed to be "chavayot," where you see how people live in the Holy Land and learn all sorts of stuff and get inspired and all. I feel bad in advance that these lovely young ladies will be here, in Modiin, a city which I love but, let's face it, is kind of vanilla, in our less-than-inspirational house, filled not as much with kedusha and role models as it is with Legos and socks.

In the meantime, Loyal Readers, feel free to share stories about how you once lost something. If it could be worse than my story, that would be great. Thanks.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Soul-Crushing Burden of Housecleaning

Dramatic title, no?

But it only reflects my deepest feelings, my utter contempt and hatred of (constantly) cleaning my house (in this case, "constantly" means over and over and over again. And again.)

At least several times a day, I begin sentences with, "But didn't I just_____??!!" (wash the floor, wipe down the counters, sweep Nadav's cereal trail, do dishes, pick a kippah up off the floor.)

For example, I washed the floor yesterday. Approximately 2.5 hours later, it looked like Pompeii swept through.

I despair.

And I despair even more when I realize that there are people who somehow manage not to live in constant muck and filth and cups! (Oh cups, you kill me! How are there so many of you? How??? HOW???)

Once, I had to get a key from someone in the building. It was a Thursday afternoon. I stopped by, in the middle of the day. This is a woman with a passle of little kids, who was also pregnant at the time, and during my random drop-in, I noticed that her house. Was. Spotless. On a  Thursday! A Thursday! By Thursdays, I've given up and played the "It'll get cleaned on Friday" card. Okay, sometimes I start playing that card on Tuesday.

But not this superwoman. Clean floors, empty counters, clean floors, clear table, clean floors. And clean floors.

How does she do it?

I would venture that perhaps she has a community of houselves working for her. Obviously, though, that is ridiculous.

Everyone knows they were freed in Book 7.

What is her secret? Does she stash her kids in the machsan and do her cooking at a neighbor's? Has her family learned how to hover, so that dusty little feet don't mingle with the drops of water that are on the floor because family members WILL fling their wet hands all over the place while looking for a towel, which is, of course, right in front of them? And of course, you know what happens when you mix dust and water. You get a Very Unhappy Mama.

To lessen the soul-crushingness of it all, I try to squeeze in as much straightening up and cleaning as I can while the kids are still up - I know, it's like trying to sop up Niagara Falls with an Israeli paper towel, but still - because if I reenter the kitchen after doing the bedtime jig and see a sink full of dishes and aruchat eser boxes that need filling, and all I really want to do is sit down and write a blog post where I complain about cleaning, well, I may just have to curl up in a fetal position on the floor...no, wait, it's filthy....on the sofa....whoops, covered in tissues and Uno cards and ouch, a library book (Digression: Uno goes MUCH faster when you are missing half the cards)....maybe on my bed....no, not there, covered in unfolded mounds of laundry....

So you see the reasons for my despair. Can't even find a place to curl up and despair.

Oh well. Guess I'll just go wash a cup.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Calling the Teacher: Resolution

Well, I had already packed up my tent and signs and was heading out to protest in front of the teacher's house, when Ariella came home with some good news: She is going to be in the advanced math class!

[Applause pause]

When I ran into the teacher (totally by accident, I swear, and no one got hurt)yesterday, she told me she was finalizing the details of the advanced chug and would be in touch with me. Today, Ariella showed me the note explaining all the details of the chug, including the books I need to buy (naturally) (and before Wednesday.) Basically, this group of 4 kids gets five hours of advanced math per week: they join the 4th grade math class for 3 periods, there is one period of enrichment just for them, and then one hour when they are in their regular math class but doing the fourth grade work.

The teacher told Ariella that in the meantime, she should work on finishing this year's math book. She also told her that they would evaluate and see if she can keep up with the workload. Considering that Ariella came home and has been sitting at the table for 3 hours speeding through the pages, I'm not so worried.

Obviously, we're rull happee that she so smarty.

But what I'm even super-prouder about is how Ariella made this happen for herself. She discussed with me that she noticed kids doing different math work and she wanted to be in that group, she approached the teacher on her own, and only when the initial response was no did I need to step in and give a little kick in the denim skirt.

So though it has been a while since I've awarded kappayim and poofahs, I would like to give both to my very smart, independent, fearless, go-getter daughter, Ariella.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Calling the Teacher: An Update

Thanks to all of our concerned Loyal Readers who are anxiously awaiting the result of my phone call.

I called twice, at the very teacher-appropriate hour of 9:30ish. The phone rang, and then made weird fax noises. I called again, a few minutes later. Same result. Momz suggested perhaps the teacher didn't want to talk to me and made the weird fax noises herself. If so, she should totally get a starring role in the revival of Police Academy.

So I sat down to write an email. Yes, the same email I could have written at 8:30 when my mind was much less foggy, and the words I needed could have floated right to the top rather than sinking into the quicksand of my tired brain.

Anyway, I heard nothing on Thursday, but on Friday Ariella returned from school with a note in her planner from the teacher. Basically: I read your email, I'll look into it and get back to you.

So, success? Unclear. But rest assured, Loyal Readers, I will continue to keep you updated on the saga of Ariella Rose and the Advanced Math Class.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Calling the Teacher

Well, here I am, exhausted, but waiting up because you can only call teachers in Israel at ungodly hours. So even though I would like to go to sleep (yes, I realize it's only 9:00, but my day feels like it started last month, so I am ready to end it), I am waiting up to call. The last time I asked what time to call her, she said after 9:30. I think I'm going to forget she said that and call soon, because the later it gets, the more and more worser my Hebrew gets. Also my English.

Will you wait with me?

Great, thanks.

Oh, you want to know why I'm calling the teacher.

Let me brag for a moment.

Ariella is a very good math student. This confundles me, because I HATED math as a child. (Though, as it turns out, I love teaching it.) I still remember standing up at the board in fifth grade, attempting to do a long division problem and completely freezing, then crying (of course) and shuffling back to my seat.

Digression: What is up with long division anyway? When else do we go out of our way to teach someone the LONG way to do something?

"You can walk to school by cutting through this street and down those stairs. But INSTEAD, I'm going to show you how to walk down the street, around the traffic circle, up the block to where the bus stop is, wait there five minutes, no reason, now go up the hill, back down the hill, and now you're there! With a remainder of 3."

ANYWAY, not only is Ariella good at math, she actually enjoys, nay, LOVES it. They got this extra little math workbook, which she claimed she didn't need for class and could just do on her own. She finished the entire book in about 3 weeks. In the bath, she decided to add 24+24 and keep doubling the answers till she got to about 4,000-something. I was struggling to keep one step ahead of her so when she computed the answer and asked, "Right Mommy?" I would have an answer, though I really would have appreciated a few hundred people and their fingers.

So she came home yesterday and told me there is a group in her class of math "mitkadmim" (advanced) students, who do different work. She went, all on her own, to talk to the teacher about joining.

The answer, effectively, was no. Apparently these children got to be in the advanced group because they finished some workbook last year, in second grade. Ariella, by not being in this school last year, could not have completed said workbook. Therefore, she was deemed ineligible.

She very reasonably offered to complete the workbook on her own time. Strangely, the answer was still no. She is now frustrated. I said I would call the teacher and find out what's going on, since I only know the 8-year-old version.

For the record, I do not relish being the "My child is smart! You must challenge her!" parent. However, I must put my personal whoojies* aside (*see: Worser English when I am tired) and call the teacher. And discuss this. In Hebrew. Even though I am tired.

And now it is 9:15. I motion it is late enough to call. Anyone second that?

Perfect, thanks. And thanks for keeping me company.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sukkot Ramblings

11 days since a post! My goodness, I'm surprised I haven't been let go from my position as Grandmaster Chief Executive Head Blogger.

Well, okay, I guess I'll give myself a second chance. But I'm docking myself two vacation days. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm giving myself an extra three.

In any case, here is a Sukkot Roundup. In no particular order...

1. Nadav continues his Pot Torturing Campaign, in which he flings innocent pots from their hiding place in the cabinet and beheads them, throwing their tops into the garbage can.

2. I'm sure you are wondering, "Are Ariella and Yaakov still playing the Bet Malon game?" Well, glad you asked. For indeed, they are! This game is in its 3rd month, I believe. Every few weeks Yaakov pipes up and asks, "Awiella, aww we still playing the bet malon game?" And Ariella replies in the affirmative.

Today the game was played with serious devotion and intensity. In fact, 5 hours after chag ended, they are STILL going at it. I'm not exactly sure what it entails, but it's an elaborate make-believe game in which they play together for HOURS. And, here's the most important part, they DO NOT FIGHT. Tonight, Ariella and Yaakov's babies were asleep, so they had to tiptoe into their room to get stuff.

(Parenting SCORE: I overheard them saying they couldn't use the baby yet, since it was only their wedding day and you can't have babies before you are married.
Parenting FAIL: They were marrying each other. Well, at least we like the mechutanim.)

3. Donny was honored with Chatan Torah in our shul today. This completes Donny's personal Triple Crown:
Twice Chatan Breishit (at 2 different shuls)
Twice Chatan Maftir, If You Count That (this was at the same shul because they forgot they gave it to him the year before)
Once Chatan Torah

The trick is to find shuls that have no baalei kriah and layn pretty much every other week.

4. We visited three national parks over the holiday: Mearat Hanetifim (stalactite caves), Tel Be'er Sheva, where we saw the actual well dug by Avraham Avinu, and Park Eshkol, a random find on our map that had little wading areas and a big playground. A win! Plus ice cream! Double win!



Although: Nadav refused to eat the ice cream in a cup which I buy for him, on account of it being easy to feed to him. And instead insisted on something on a stick, like the big kids have. By the end of his first real artik experience, you could pretty much put Nadav on a stick and lick him.



5. We have now visited 25 out of the total 61 national parks in Israel. I know, this embarrasses us as well. We may need to take the children out of school for a week during the winter and just knock out all of the southern parks.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Yom Kippur Cinderella

Scene: Yom Kippur afternoon, about 45 minutes left to go.

I am on the couch, trying to move as little as possible. Children decide it's time for Beauty Parlor using plastic utensils from our extensive set of kitchen toys.

Ariella yanks the hair on the right side of my head into a pony. Yaakov carefully works the left side of my hair with a carving knife.

"Do you think it's too short, Ariella?" he asks, applying a second coating of spatula.

"No, I think it's good." Yank.

Yaakov dips the fork into the teapot to get it wet before gently combing it through.

"Are you going to the party to see who is the beautest to marry the prince?" he inquires.

I teach my children early on that good looks can get you far.

"Yes. Is Daddy the prince?"

"No, Mommy," replies Ariella - yank - "he's just a regular Yisrael."

Nadav wanders over every so often and shoves a fork into my mouth as far as it will go. When it begins to activate the gag reflex, I gently remove it.

After applying just a dollop of butter knife, Yaakov declares me fit for the ball.

And now we're down to 15 minutes! Fast is almost over AND I'm looking smokin' to boot. Thanks, kids.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Kashrut Revisited

Donny's paternal grandfather (A"H) had a saying that he passed on to his grandchildren.

When you're dating a girl that you want to marry, you have to ask three important questions:

"One: Will she keep a kosher home?
Two: Will she send her children to a Jewish day school?
Three: And I forgot the last one."

Luckily, I passed the test and so was allowed in to the family. I used to think this was just a cute grandfatherly thing, until I had my own son.

And now I realize the importance of making sure your son marries someone who will keep a kosher home: It's because sons (a sweeping generalization based on my own child) have no inkling as to "kashrut."

One of my small accomplishments as a parent is that my children put their bowls and plates (but not the good Shabbat china - no! Stop carrying it with one hand! I'll do it for you!) in the sink. Yes, they may fight like rabid ferrets and when they occasionally say "That was good, Mom!" there's a smidge too much surprise in their voices, but I have managed this one tiny victory.

Yaakov has divided the sinks up thusly: Cereal Sink and Not Cereal Sink. And it constantly amazes me how he hasn't yet managed to figure out dairy/chalavi vs meat/besari.

"Where should I put this yogurt spoon?"

"Cereal sink, Yaakov." (Have you noticed that the yogurt spoon looks suspiciously like the cereal one???)

"Which sink should I put this bowl of chicken soup in?" (You know, the bowl that has actual bits of chicken still in it?)

"Which one do you think, Yaakov?"

"Um, cereal?" (Must be the bowl-bowl gezerat shava).

He never has a clue. I've tried to explain it to him, but while he can understand complex intricacies of "Ratatouille" and "Kung Fu Panda" on a level most of didn't even know existed, comprehending that "yogurt" "cheese" and "milk" are all from the same family, and this family is diametrically opposed to the "chicken" and "hot dog" family, seems to be beyond his capabilities.

So, future Mrs. Yaakov Rose, you will surely fall in love with his charming good looks and sensitive soul. And trust me, you will experience Movie Night like no one else. But for your own sanity, you may want to label your kitchen "cereal" and "not cereal."

Monday, September 26, 2011

In Which the Children Rally and Ask Questions

(I know, I know, a post two days in a row, what can I say, I have a lot on my mind. Need to clear space for other things, like remembering why I'm standing in front of an open freezer with a vegetable knife. Blog = Pensieve for muggles.)
**************************************

If my children ran the world...

Well, HOP would run 24/7 and there would be an endless supply of Minheret Hazman books and no one would get anything more or less than anyone else, but also....

I took the kids to the rally last night in Bet Shemesh. (Donny valiantly tried to join us, but the traffic was too much even for him.) For those of you not in the know, you can read about it here, and a little background here, 'cuz I'm too lazy to summarize.

The unfortunate situation naturally elicited many questions and comments from my children. Ariella was in the know already, having made a card for the girls of Orot a few weeks ago.

A round-up of their comments/questions:

"They are going against their own dat (religion) by being mean to other people." (Ariella)

"Don't they know מה ששנאו עליך אל תעשה לחבריך?" (Yaakov. What you don't like, don't do to other people. Normally Yaakov understands this to mean if Ariella hits him, he can hit her back, but I think last night he understood its deeper meaning.)

"The mishtarah (police) should just put the chareidim in the keleh (jail)." (Yaakov, like you didn't know that already.)

"But the girls are dressed tzniut!" (Ariella)

"The girls should wear long sleeves. This way, bees won't sting them." (Take a wild guess.)

"Can I play Angwy Bawds?" (Yaakov's all for justice - trust me - but the excitement of the rally didn't last long.)

"Where did they get the poop from?" (Ariella, after it was suggested we move to a different part of the street, because the sidewalk had been (deliberately) covered in excrement. "Maybe from the dogs," I said vaguely, because any other option was too disgusting to contemplate.)

So it really is a shame that Ariella and Yaakov aren't in charge of the situation. Ariella would simply explain they are going against Torah, Yaakov would throw them all in jail, and no one would get stung by a bee.

Anyway, I think it was a positive thing that we went and brought the kiddies. Also, the headline today in the Jerusalem Post stating that "1500 people showed up for the rally" sounded so much better than if it were, "1,496 people showed up for the rally."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Beginnings: Not All They're Cracked Up To Be

So the truth has come out.

After the novelty - new school! new books! new school supplies that aren't lost, dried out or stubby! - wore off, Ariella has realized that starting over is hard. (Especially when your BFF is in another school.)

Every day when I pick her up, she comes to the car with a droopy head and a sign: "Bad day." Or sometimes, "Sooper bad day." No one played with her at recess, someone was mean, one of the Very Annoying Boys pinched her. (Planted as we are very firmly in the she-woman boy hater's stage of life, the male members of her class are divided thusly: Very Annoying Boys and Slightly Less Annoying Boys.)

Of course, this just tore at my poor little heart. My baby is sad! Time for SuperMom to put on her cape and protect her little girl! I will banish the mean children to the Evil Planet of Zorkon, where there is no chocolate spread, where there's always a birthday party but it's never yours!

So I sprang into action. Called the teacher, who was very sweet and said she would make time to talk to Ariella.

Made playdates. She got the numbers of two girls in the class she was friendly with. Now I'm used to the whole Israeli-style call-for-a-playdate-at-3:30-and-Nahar-is-at-your-doorstep-at-3:35. But we’re in Angloland now, where you have to schedule playdates at least a week in advance. One is still in the planning stages.

Desperately threw money at the problem. Ariella mentioned that the Rinat Yisrael siddur she has is different than the Rinat Yisrael siddur the kids at school have. Plus, after a year and a half of loving use, her siddur is sadly in disrepair. She spent many an hour last year sitting at the dining room table, taping up the ripped and fraying pages.

I eagerly jumped at the chance to buy my child's happiness. "Yes! A new siddur is exactly what you need! Then you'll have lots of friends and everyone will play with you at recess and you will be happy again and I won't feel guilty!"

So we went to the bookstore. I wasn't totally sure what made the new siddur different than the one she already had. But Ariella had done some sleuth investigative work. "Do you have the Rinat Yisrael siddur with 649 pages?" she asked the employee.

Sure enough, he brought one down. She checked the pages - 649 - and we happily walked out with our purchase.

She then mentioned she wants to play "goomi" (Chinese jump rope) at recess but can't find her rope. So I ran (drove) to the store as fast as my little feet (big car) could carry me. Plunked down 15 shekel for some underwear elastic. (Digression: I learned last year that you do not buy your goomi at the toy store, but at the hardware store, tie it in a knot, and bam — instant jumprope.)

Still, despite the 649-page, tape-free siddur and a large piece of undies, she was STILL not happy. "I ask kids to play with me and they say no and then five minutes later I see them playing with someone else." Just drive the screw in a little harder...twist it...yep, that's it.

Then I remembered the advice of my old administrator. (SAR peeps, tell Milly I said thanks.) She always advised parents of new kids to come in with some fabulous snack, as sort of an ice-breaker. Kids like food, so if you're the kid with the awesome snacks, BINGO, you've got friends.

Now, here, they sort of frown on bringing in junk food, since kids are supposed to bring a healthy aruchat eser. And I didn’t think sending in a giant vat of tuna sandwiches was going to win her any friends.

So we went to the toy store. I told her she could pick some funky markers, a couple decks of cards, etc. to play with during recess. Surely the kid with the cool gel pens would attract some friends.

And...

She came back from school the next day: "Mommy, you're a kosemet (magician)! It worked! I had a good day!"

All together now....AWWWWW!

And she even made a shanah tovah card for me with her cool gel pens.

Those pens are awesome. Hmmm, I wonder if Ariella will play with me at recess...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Overheard at the Roses....

"Stop hitting your brother on the head!"
Which wouldn't be so remarkable, except it's directed at the 16-month-old.

"Don't drink tushy water!"
Because really, what is bathwater, anyway?

"Stop reading!"
If Ariella was a Looney Toon, she would be reading her book and walk right off the cliff, plummet 1,000 feet, be momentarily covered in a dirt cloud, then dust herself off and continue walking. Without ever taking her eyes off her book.

"Na-DUH-UHV!"

"Mommy! The kvutzot are in this book!"
At Yaakov's gan, the children are divided into groups. Each group has the name of one of the Hebrew vowels. Yaakov was amazed to discover all of the groups congregated together in one of Ariella's books.

[7 a.m.] "What's for dinner?" Answer is followed by: "Oh."

"Brother Car!"
Yaakov and I enjoy finding other Mitsubishi Grandises (Granden?) on the road and shouting this aloud in exictement. Also: "Twin Brother Car!" when the fellow Grandis is also white.

Loyal Readers, what are YOUR soundbytes?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Yaakov the Turtle: Now, With the Answers You've All Been Waiting For!

Yaakov is a man of few words. He is from the "What did you do today nothing who did you play with no one" school of thought. So it is very hard to get any information out of him. I drop him off at gan in the morning, I pick him up in the afternoon; what goes on in between is anyone's guess.

There are clues, sometimes. I know he plays outside because his shoes are filled with about two inches of sand every day. I can deduce the days they had playdough or clay because his fingernails are black and green.

I try to ask specific questions. "Did the ganenet read a story today?" But perhaps he attends the Mossad gan, because he often answers, "I don't want to tell you." Sometimes he comes home with a sticker on his shirt. "What's that sticker for, Yaakov?" I ask excitedly. "Singing," he replies vaguely.

He's also made some new friends this year, although he doesn't know their names. ("I keep fawgetting to ask them!") But every once in a while, we'll be talking about something, and all of a sudden something will click and the turtle will emerge from his shell to relate a parsha story or a fact about the chagim.

This morning, the turtle emerged. "You want to hear something funny about gan?"
My entire body snapped to attention. Easy now, I warned myself, if you act too excited he'll slide right back in.
"Sure," I replied with forced casualness. "I love funny stories."

"You know those wocks that tell you what way to go? We have those at gan!!!"

Huh. I had not one iota of clue what he was talking about. But if you ask too many questions or if you don't understand, he gets frustrated at having to explain himself. I tried asking again, but he repeated the same thing: "Wocks that tell you what way to go."

Donny hit upon a clever workaround. "Oh yeah? That's interesting. And where else have you seen those rocks before?" Aha!

Silence. "I don't know."

And the turtle slowly retreated. When we go to gan tomorrow, I'll have to (casually) ask Yaakov to point out those navigational wocks. And then Yaakov and I will have a good laugh.

******The answers are in!******

I asked Yaakov to point out these wocks to me at gan. We looked out of the window into the chatzer. They looked like....rocks. I was still stumped. I tried to elicit more information out of him. (At this point, figuring out what he was talking about had become a personal challenge.)

"You know, they're red and green and orange. And me and Ariella like to stand on them."

Still stumped. I had bought them a rock-painting art kit over the summer, but I don't particularly recall that the rocks were stand-able.

Later, when describing the situation to Ariella, in hopes that she could help demystify the wocks, I suddenly hit on the answer.
.
.
.
.

Hiking.

When we went hiking during our vacation, the trail markers were often painted on rocks. Which gives us rocks, that are red, green and orange. He and Ariella liked to stand on them. And, most importantly, they tell you where to go.

Later, I said to Yaakov, "So those are the kinds of rocks we saw when we were hiking, right?"

"Yes," he replied, in a "isn't it obvious and why are we still talking about these rocks?" sort of way.

I, for one, can finally rest easy.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ramblings...You Know You Wanted Some!

1. I started a post called "The Lazy Mom's Guide to Parenting," but then realized it was really just another name for "Leave Me Alone So I Can Read the Paper."

2. This week was our 3rd aliyahversary (well, everyone except Nadav's). That's right, 3 years ago this week we landed in Israel, with bad Hebrew and crying children. And now, 3 years later... well, we've drunk a lot more shoko.

Just kidding of course! We had a baby, bought an apartment, shipped an oven! Our Hebrew has improved, the children's English has de-proved, and the children don't cry all the time. They also fight and call each other names.

3. Speaking of which, yet another day has ended with me hauling off my prize fighters to their respective corners, while they mutter "Stupid Awiella" and "All I was doing was...." And then fervently hoping they do something really amazing with their lives, like find a cure for lice or invent a broom that sweeps rice and pasta off the floor without turning it into little gray dust mites. And then I will look back on this time and laugh. Ha. Ha. Ha.

4. Nadav demonstrated today what happens when you stick your fingers in your sandwich to scoop out the cream cheese, then wipe those same fingers in sand and smush it all in your hair.

5. Heblish is not all bad. Yes, it makes for some funny-sounding children:

Who will save on us when you go out?
Before two weeks...
OR red OR blue
How is he called?
You by yourself don't even know!
Mommy's Matan (my personal favorite)

But sometimes, it makes the children sound downright intelligent:

For what is this present?
To where are we going?
Everyone who wants should raise his (not "their") hand!

6. Well, that's all for now. Wishing everyone a good ToTh Festival.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

School's In!

A round-up of the beginning of the school year:

Ariella (who has transferred to the school in our new neighborhood, although we don't live there yet. Yes, this move has blown the mind of most Israelis. In any case, this means new school, teachers, kids).

[rolling eyes] Yeah yeah, new school, new kids, whatever. It's SCHOOL! I LOVE school! Textbooks! And math! Yippee!!

Oh God, Daddy wants to walk me in the first day. Must set him straight. "I am not a baby, Daddy. I'll go in myself." (Ed. note: She and I had been in her classroom all of one time. She had no qualms about going in herself. I, on the other hand, got lost picking her up.)

Yaakov (in gan chova, aka kindergarten)

Yoyoyo, I'm all hooked up with my Mickey Mouse tik and aruchat eser! And look! It's my gan peeps! Time to go dig in the sand! Whoo-hoo! Senior year!

Nadav (first year in mishpachton)

Whee! Mommy and I are playing in this new house! What fun! Such wonderful toys! Wait - is that Mommy kissing me goodbye and leaving???? WAAAAHHHH!! She will never ever come back! I will be here forever! She has abandoned me!!!! [Later...] She's back! She came back for me! Oh glory be! She's picking me up! I shall never detach myself from her hip again!

Next day: Uh oh. We've entered the Place again. No way, she's not tricking me into sitting down and "playing" with her. I know what that means. Oh no! She's leaving again! WAAAAHHHH!!! She will never, ever come back! I will be here forever! She has abandoned me!!!! [Later...] She's back! She's back! Pick me up! PICK ME UP NOW! Heh heh heh, I got her now, just got to direct her to the door, that's it, easy does it, and....see ya later, suckers!

So all in all, off to a good start. Even Nadav appeared to have a fairly good day today at gan (his first full day). And by "fairly good," I mean he was not curled up crying miserably in the corner when I came to get him.

And even when he cries a lot, they don't seem to lock him in the bathroom because the crying disturbs the other children, which is what happened to this blogger I know when she was little. And there's also no little boy named Mark telling him that his Mommy is never, ever coming back. Which also happened to this same blogger. Which is why she feels very bad leaving a crying baby at mishpachton. But she knows he'll be okay, and that eventually, he, too, will roll his eyes when his Mommy wants to walk him in.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Accomplishments

Summer Checklist

1. Spent lots of money on kaytanot that were over in about 3.5 seconds.

2. Spent two mind-numbing weeks (or was it years?) entertaining kids at home, answering the following question multiple times a day: What are we doing now? Also: What can I eeeeaaaaatttt?

3. Pooled it up, making the most of our membership, to the point where I tell the kids we're going to the pool and they act as if I told them we're going to clean up elephant dung.

4. Stopped trying to clean. At all. At some earlier, more energetic point in the summer, I wiped counters, cleaned floors and washed dishes multiple times a day. Now I just numbly stare at the accumulated filth and think, "Next week, my precioussss. Next week."

5. Answered "yes" to whatever the children want during our many food shopping trips together. Before they even ask.
"Can we get - ?"
"Yes."
Which is how we've ended up with 5 boxes of Shabbat cereal per person and a lovely cashier.

6. Considered it a success if at the end of the day, there are 3 children sleeping in their beds. (Extra points if the children are actually my own.)

7. Toured the North.

8. During our tour of the North, drove through many random itsy-bitsy towns (some Israeli, some Arab, some both) in our attempt to find Nice Hikes. At some point said to Donny, "Look at the map, we just make a right and follow the brown line for a while." This usually resulted in us being "lost," having to "turn around" and swearing to "never follow the brown line again."

9. In light of #8, learned to use Google maps on my phone to great effiency. "Oh look. We are lost. We should turn around. Why did we follow that brown line?"

10. Strictly followed our Vacation Diet
Breakfast: In the past, this just meant cereal. But this year we stayed in a hotel-like place, which came with breakfast. There was a wide variety of food, so my children ate cereal.
Lunch: A healthy variety of Snacks - fruit, granola bars, crackers, breadsticks, rice cakes. You have to know how to mix it up every day so the family doesn't get sick of it. Also, artikim. Of course. Although there were not ice cream stands at every 5 km in the Western Galilee as there were in the Kinneret region. This is probably because the the Western Galilee is much less trafficked than the Kinneret area during the summer months.
Dinner: Something Mommy did not shop for, cook for or clean up from. This can include Eating Out, BBQ or ordering pizza. We did them all, at least twice.

11. Marveled at how the same children who spend much of their day not starting fights with each other can play so nicely and quietly when it's bedtime.

12. Completed the whirlwind school supply shopping early in August, yet still await two books that "haven't come in yet."

13. Enjoyed not making aruchat eser for two sandwich-averse children.

14. Attended at least one school orientation per child. (Not completely checked yet. I've only attended two; there are two tomorrow. Yes, that's right. And I only have 3 children.)

15. Had way too many bad-time-to-run-into-an-ex moments. (Term coined by my good, though blogless friend, LISA.) Many of them involved me covered in bits of soggy cheese and Bamba dust, careening through a parking lot holding a screaming toddler and pushing a wayward Rami Levi cart, with two shoko-drenched children wandering aimlessly behind me, shoving each other.

So it seems that I am nearly all checked-off. Time to go back to school!

How many did YOU do?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nadav's Excellent Adventure

Well, as you know, my family is on "vacation" again. Or, as I call it, "Nadav is Rudely Awoken Just as He Has Finally Fallen Asleep in the Car. Also, Nadav Does Not, I Repeat, NOT Enjoy the Ocean or Any Other Water That Moves."

Although it's not all bad. Things I enjoy:
1. Hiking while strapped to Mommy's back. All of the views, none of the work.
2. Tottering around outside our little hotel/zimmer. Especially when I'm wearing only a diaper and shoes. Ahhh, freedom.
3. Snacks! These people know how to snack it up. Grapes, granola bars, crackers. All the good stuff.

So my people complain I don't have words. "Get some words, Nadav!" they are always saying to me. I don't get it. I understand exactly what I'm saying! But at least they're making some headway. For example, an easy one: "Alah" is Ariella. Or Yaakov. Whatever. "Add-dee" sometimes means Daddy. Or not. It might mean the tree I am conversing with. But it's cute that Daddy thinks it means him all the time. Because he gets all smiley and picks me up and pays attention to me. So I like to say it a lot.

Then Mommy gets all grumbly and goes on about how I said Daddy before Mommy and what kind of gratitude is that, blah blah blah. She can go on, that one. But I don't need to say Mommy. All I have to do is say, "Unh! UNNNH!" and pick my arms up and she comes to me! And lifts me up into the crook of her left arm so I can conveniently suck my fingers! Do you see a reason to learn her name? Didn't think so.

A new "adventure" that I did not partake of last year is this whole "eating out" business. The kids get super excited about going to a restaurant. I don't get it. First, you have to wait for your food. Sometimes, there's not even yogurt on the menu! What kind of place is that, I ask you??? Then, I can't just get up when I want to and wander around and pull things off the table. And when I do my taste test (eat some food, chew it up, mush it around, then take it out and hand it to Mommy when it doesn't meet my approval)...well, Mommy doesn't understand my taste test to begin with, but it makes her even more grumbly when I do it at a restaurant.

However, I have been VERY successful in conducting my science experiment. When in the car, strapped into the boooooring car seat, do the following:

1. Get a bottle of water.
2. Have someone open it for you. If the big people express reservation about this part, UNNH UNNNH until they give in.
3. Drink a little. It gets hot in the car.
4. Now, turn the bottle of water upside down. Two things will happen: Water will come out. And you will get wet. Here's the interesting thing - the part of you that gets wet is directly related to the part you squirted water on!

And this happens every single time! Amazing! It also causes Mommy to get grumbly, but she's kind of given up on stopping me. You can torture me with hamburgers and the ocean, but the scientific process WILL march forward.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Questions to Ponder

Well, our Northern Vacation is going swimmingly.

I am preparing an in-depth post on Doing the North, Rose Style. You see, since I have taken a vacation in the north, I am now authorized to be an Expert on taking vacations in the north. In the same way I am an expert on children because I have them. In fact, I have one of each - a Girl, a Boy and a Baby.

For example, in my upcoming Vacation treatise, I will make blanket statements based on personal experiences. "The Western Galilee is much less trafficked than the Kinneret area during the summer months" is a statement you might see.

For now, I will share with you a Question which came up during one of our "long" car rides. (Living in Israel has warped the children's sense of a "long" time to be in the car. We used to make frequent 4-hour trips between New York and Baltimore. Now, if we're in the car for longer than it takes to get to Rami Levi, we have "Are we there yet?"s every ten minutes for the next hour.)

In any case, here is the question:

"Can a bee sting a mosquito?"

Discuss.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I'd Rather Starve

It is Vacation Week for the Roses. I was sitting on the beach today, while everyone was occupied (a miracle, to be sure), and my mind started wandering. Sometimes this is a problem. "Mind, get back here! Right now!" I have been known to shout. But today it was okay. So I let it out for a little stroll. And this is what it came up with.

Food. What food do I find so disgusting that I would only eat it if it were the very last thing on earth? There were two rules for this game:

1. It had to be something I've eaten in the past; sweet and sour snake might be gross, but maybe it's delicious and exquisite. I wouldn't know; I've never tried.

2. It could not be some gross concoction of foods I've eaten. No "marshmallow and flounder topped pizza."

I came up with 2 answers, both rather simple:

1. PB&J sandwich. Love PB, love J, hate 'em together. Sickening.
2. Cream cheese sandwich. Cream cheese on a bagel with lox and tomato? Delicious. On plain bread - white bread is the worst, for some reason? Gag. Shudder. Shudder and gag.

Donny's answer:
Pizza topped with pineapple and barbeque sauce. And yes, he actually ate that once.

Ariella's answer:
Garlic, cooked carrots, sushi and shwarma. A weird combination, but those are her Least Favorite Things. (She actually spent the rest of the day discussing and analyzing this question. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has met her.)

Yaakov and Nadav did not play, but Yaakov's answer would probably be Something that Yesterday I Found Extremely Delicious But Now that You Went Out and Bought Ten, I Hate Them.

Nadav's answer would most likely be "Shabbat food," since for some reason the meals I put the most effort into are the ones that usually end up spewed and thrown all over my floor.

Loyal Readers, your opinions, please?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Roses, Wildlife; Wildlife, Roses"

Soon we will leave on vacation. God willing. And we will have adventures and fun and ice cream. Before we do that, I wanted to share a very fun, ice-cream filled adventure we had last Friday. Seriously. No snark here.

Every year, the Microsoft Israel office has a "Give" campaign, with different things employees can bid on. This year, one of the items was a private tour of the safari in Ramat Gan. Donny thought that would be fun so he bid on it. Apparently, no one else did, because we actually won! Won something cool! Not like, "Here is your large pile of crumbs of unknown origin!" or "Someone will throw basketballs at your head every day for a month!"


They asked us when we wanted to have our day of fun (or DOF, as it's known in DADZ-verse), and naturally I picked the Friday of the 9 days, the no-swim-no-beach-how-do-we-entertain-our-kids-all-day day. We were told to get there at 7:15 so we could be there to help feed the animals before they opened at 9:00.

Digression alert! An all-too familiar parenting moment: Knowing we wouldn't have time for breakfast in the morning, I prepared food to take with us. I cut up fruit, made sandwiches and bags of cereal, put water bottles in the fridge on Thursday night so they'd be cold. I packed granola bars and crackers and tissues and diapers and wipes and a trusty plastic bag for whatever might need a quick disposal. As we're about to head out on Friday morning, this thought runs through my dear husband's head: Huh. We've got these kids! Let's see, there's one...two...three! Three of them! From what I remember, kids need food! We should probably - wait for it - take some with us! Let me tell Gila about this plan. She'll most likely swoon from the excellent parenting skills I am displaying.
"Should we take some food for the kids?"
[Patented withering mother look.] "Yes. What a good idea you had."


We arrived, and met Miki, who works at the safari. The first thing she did was drive us over to where the tractor is. Yaakov, Ariella and I got to ride on the feeding tractor. It has a big container with the animal feed on the back, and as we drove through, the farmer dude let out the feed and the animals came THIS CLOSE to us.
.



No zoom here, folks!

I have lots more cool pictures from the tractor, but I don't want to run the risk of becoming the "Look at all these adorable pictures of my child in slightly different positions staring at the camera with a gob of green gook on his cheek! Awwww!" blogger

There were lots of different animals. Deer and deer-like animals, something that I thought was a wildebeest (from my multiple viewings of "The Lion King") although the safari map said they were actually gnus (gnui?) - but wait! Google says that a wildebeest IS a gnu! Score one for wildlife education through Disney movies! Rhinos, hippos, birds that are not part of the safari but come for the free food, ostriches, and more that I can't remember.

Then we walked around the safari and got to feed giraffes,



chimpanzees (it's only 11 seconds, don't be afraid to click),

video

and saw the lions in their sleeping cages.





Then we got a tour of the animal hospital (where the tzedakah money actually went.)






Then we got to hang out in the safari with the "regular" people, which was nice (only Ariella, who has gone the past 3 years with kaytanah, had ever been to the safari before), but it was super hot and somewhat of a letdown after our cool backstage tour.

Ariella decided to ride a pony. Yes, that equestrian hat was on the lice-ridden head of hundreds of other little girls and boys. We performed a thorough combing that afternoon.



So, even with our 6:00 wake up, it was a great day. And big shout-out to Donny, who, despite the earlier food incident, really came through for us. Not only did he win this very cool tour in the first place, but he gallantly offered to ride behind the tractor with the cranky one-year-old while I got to ride on it and meet some of our hoofed and snouted friends. And that, people, is true love.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Upgrading

Technology. It can make things so complicated.

In the last week, I've been waaaay upgraded. Donny bought me a new laptop (which I am using right now; doesn't this post feel streamlined and sleek? Not to mention lightweight with sharp sound?) Also, he bought me an iPhone and a Bluetooth ear thingy.

But Technology requires special care and attention. Sort of like children. (Also: Both shouldn't be dropped.) Files needed to be transferred from the old computer to the new. Contacts had to be switched from phone to phone (and some disappeared on the way - if anyone sees some lost names and numbers wandering aimlessly around Modiin, send them my way.) And the Bluetooth just plain didn't work, necessitating a trip back to the store.

While I played with my new cool toys, my thoughts kept drifting back to the days before WiFi and cellphones.

I mean, cavemen certainly didn't have text messaging that could be accomplished with a few flicks of the finger. If they wanted to invite a friend to a party, let's say, they had to find a large rock and scratch onto it, "r u coming l8r?" then go outside of their cave and hurl the rock to their neighbor. If it didn't hit their neighbor on the head (text messaging has had its dangers since the beginning of time), the recipient would read the rock and hurl one back: ":) cant wait"

Once people discovered transportation, they got themselves the heck away from those damn caves and spread out to all four corners of the land. It became much harder to hurl rocks, so the Pony Express was started. Courageous riders would travel for days, traversing treacherous mountains, fording deep rivers, sleeping under cover of leaves and spilling their coffee all over themselves; this was before cup holders were invented.

Finally, the rider would reach his destination to deliver the important message. The delighted recipient could finally read the note he or she had been anticipating for months: "lol"

Yes, Technology has come a long way. And despite its occasional neediness, overall it has made our lives simpler. I, for one, have certainly benefited. In the old days, "blogging" meant touring the countryside, singing, dancing and juggling dangerous objects to entertain your Loyal Peasants. Now, I can just make stuff up and press "Publish." Way easier.

Monday, August 1, 2011

My August is Longer than Your August

So kaytanah just zipped right on by, and now it's Camp Mommy. Actually, kaytanah ended on the 26th. I thought to myself, "Kids are in camp for July, then they are home in August," so technically, my August started on July 27th. And let me tell you, it's been a looooong month. We are going away to the north with the rest of Israel after Tisha B'Av, so I just gotta make it till the 15th. (Of course, after vacation, there's almost a full week at home before school starts. But shhh....we're not going to talk about that.)

I thought I was being so smart by buying lots of art projects and workbooks ahead of time. Plus, you know, going to the pool. Unfortunately, the 9 days had the nerve to fall right during the weeks my kids are at home with nothing to do. Damn you, leap year! (Although it was nice that Pesach was after tax season, so Momz and DADZ could come, so, yay, leap year!)

Let's check in on all of my Grand August Plans, now that we're one week in:

"Ariella will love her workbooks!" - Ariella does love her workbooks. So much so that she finishes about one a day. Don't know that Israeli workbook production can keep up the pace.

"The kids will spend all afternoon doing art projects!" - The kids spend about twenty minutes doing an art project. (And that's average - about 30 minutes for Ariella, 10 for Yaakov.)

"I'll bake with them!" - We did make sugar cookies, and the kids did all the rolling and decorating. Time: Half hour (although I was sweeping up little sprinkles for days.)

"I'll make a schedule for them! With planned and organized activities every half hour!" - Ariella's response: "Can I do a workbook instead?" Yaakov's response: [stares mutely at me, sucking his thumb]

"I'll have a chance to work when Nadav naps and the kids are playing quietly!" - There's a reason "Bring Your Kids to Work" day is only once a year.

But it's also given us a chance to bond, and chat, and discuss burning questions. For example, when Yaakov, out of the blue, asked how babies come out, and I told him, and Ariella exclaimed, horrified, "But that's really small!" (Don't worry, two seconds later they were on to something else, probably chasing Nadav as he attempted to eat some paint.)

Or today, when Ariella pontificated about the 9 days:

"I think it should go like this:
First day - no meat for breakfast.
Second day - no meat for breakfast or lunch.
Third day - no meat for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Fourth day - all of the above, plus no laundry.
Fifth day - all of the above, plus no weddings or birthday parties.
Sixth day - all of the above, plus no swimming.
Seventh and eight day - all of the above, plus no wine.
Except if one of those days is Shabbat.
Then Tisha B'Av!"

The Ease-Into-It Plan. Awesome. I can't wait till she starts paskening.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Negotiating Table

[Scene: Shabbat afternoon, post-lunch. Donny and I are struggling not to fall asleep directly on our cholent.]

Me: Guys, if you let Mommy and Daddy sleep when Nadav goes in for his nap, I'll pay you four shekel. Each.

Yaakov: Five shekel.

Donny: Four shekel if you play nicely together, one shekel if you also clean up after.

Me: "Playing nicely" means no fighting, no screaming and don't wake us up unless a limb is missing or there is a copious amount of blood spurting from somewhere.

Yaakov and Ariella: Okay.

We shake hands all around.

I sleep for two hours.

Best 10 shekel I ever spent.

Monday, July 18, 2011

An Afternoon at The Roses

Well it seems that another blogless week has gone by. Where does the time go? In the meantime, summer has been rolling merrily along, or maybe it has been rolling around on the floor, hitting its sister. Either way.

We are now in our 3rd week of kaytanah, otherwise known as the second to last week of camp, or the final full week, since next Tuesday marks the last day of camp. Then it will be Camp What Are We Doing NOW? for two weeks, then VACATION! followed by another week of Camp WAWDN.

Yes, kaytanah is sadly very short in this country. And the children are not in tzaharon, so their day is very short as well. They've been entertaining themselves in Tzaharon Shel Ima. Here's how a typical day goes:

1:10 I walk in the door with Yaakov.

1:10 - 7:00 Yaakov eats.

1:30 - 4:00 Yaakov wanders around the apartment, sucking his thumb with Blue Blanket over his head, completely uninterested in any of the hundreds, nay thousands, of age-appropriate activites we have lying around. (Unless it's a designated Movie Day. On those days, Yaakov sits, sucking his thumb with Blue Blanket by his side, glued to the tiny portable DVD screen. But only Yaakov fully understands the complexities of movie-day designation.)

1:30 I put Nadav in for a nap, because everyone, especially Mommy, needs some Quiet Time.

1:45 Ariella walks in.

1:45 - 7:00 Ariella eats.

2:00 - 4:00 Ariella finishes another "Minheret Hazman" book, which is a shame because we were just at the library yesterday and she's now finished her allotted 3 books. (2 for Yaakov, 3 for Ariella. She reads one on the way home from the library, one that night, and one the next day. I exaggerate. But only a little.) I suggest reading an English book. She suddenly decides it's time to cut her nails.

4:00 - 5:30 Time to Do Something. Pool, playdate, buy Nadav shoes (hey, it counts as an outing!) Doing Something usually involves packing a very large bag full of everything, except the one thing we desperately needed.

5:30 Ariella sighs dramatically, "What do you want from me??!!!" (The events that precipitated the declaration change from day to day.)

5:45 Nadav climbs on a stepstool (from which the only way down is Falling), eats a fuse bead, tries to escape through an open door, empties the contents of his dresser onto the floor, eats wipes, toddles around the house shrieking (it's his War Cry), gets his fingers caught, tests the theory that the sippy cup is 100% spill-proof (it's not), eats something he found lying around somewhere, and then is very, very quiet because he's busy coloring all over the floor.

At some point, there is dinner. Don't ask me why.

6:00 Yaakov and Ariella get into a screaming/hitting match. Which is amazing, because neither of them started it.

6:15 Something I do or say is "Not Fair."

6:30 Baths, maybe?

6:45 The children sense that bedtime draws nigh. Suddenly, everyone is calm. Pajamas are put on, teeth are brushed, and Yaakov decides he wants to get into an intense game of Cars and Trucks, the same Cars and Trucks he refused to even look at during the afternoon. Ariella sits down quietly to do an art project. Nadav happily plays with blocks and kitchen toys.

So that's a typical day at the Roses. Times and activities are subject to change without notice. Yesterday, for example, I surprised them with Play-Doh. "Why don't I do this more often," thought I, as they entertained themselves happily, making Play-Doh creations. Then I saw the Play-Doh stuck on the floor, their clothes, and a box of seltzer. Nadav was picking off the Play-Doh Yaakov had squished into the table and eating it. And then I remembered why.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ramblings: Special Shout-Out Edition!

My Tired friend has a gentle way of nudging me and reminding me that I need to blog. Usually she calls me "Dude." Then I know I'm in trouble for being a neglectful blogger.

So I dedicate this post to her. Even though I am jealous that she is leaving me to sweat here in 35-degree weather while she picks blueberries in beautiful 80-degree Maine. (I may not be bilingual, but I am bi-degree-al.)

Here are some thoughts swimming around in my head, similar to my children, swimming around the Modiin pool, although my thoughts do not shout at me, "Watch me, Mommy! Are you watching? YOU DIDN'T LOOK!"
*************************************

1. Why does God, in His infinite wisdom, give children the ability to desire things before the ability to articulate said desires? ("Unnnnnhhh! UNNNHHHHH!" is just not cutting it.)

We often "UNHHH!" our way through the entire toy basket. Nadav clearly wants something, so we take out everything. The red ball. No! The blocks? No! Mommy's old pocketbook? NO! Piggy bank, MagnaDoodle, truck, frisbee? Nononono! The...red ball? YES!

2. Why do Israeli children count starting from three? Anywhere you go, when kids want to count, like before jumping in the pool, or starting a race, etc., you hear, "Shalosh arbah VIH!" And they never finish. It's never "VIH-chamesh!" Just "VIH!" Like a numerical cliffhanger. I wonder if this continues in adulthood.

Surgeon, preparing to move a patient from the stretcher to a bed: On my count everyone!
[Staff, in singsong]: Shalosh arbah VIH!

3. A special shout-out to a new blog on the blogroll: kidsarenapping. The blogger is a friend of mine and mom of twins (boy and girl, since I know you wanted to ask). She writes in a way that will have you nodding your head and going, "YES! I know EXACTLY what you mean!" Even if your kids have come one at a time, I guarantee you will enjoy her blog.

4. Another shout-out to my "SISTERS" in Baltimore, on the birth of a son/nephew. However, let me be clear that this is the LAST shout-out until I see some COMMENTING!!

5. And a shout-out to myself, the newest blogger at Jewish Values Online. (You can access the blog here ). If you want to know which blog entries were written by me, just look for my code name at the bottom: "gila."

I'm always on the lookout for interesting topics to blog about over there, so if something catches your eye, let me know and I will bring my formidable blogging powers to bear on the topic of your choice. (And yet another shout-out, this time to A Mother in Israel, for unwittingly providing me with some of the recent blog topics.)

6. Well, I am just about hoarse from all these shout-outs. Time to rest the blogging voice. (But hopefully not for too long, Tired.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Camp!

Q&A With Yaakov About Camp

Yaakov started camp on Monday. It is not in our neighborhood, and I didn't know any other kids going. So I asked him after the first day if he knew anyone.

"Yes, Ben! We play togethaw!"

"Did you know Ben before?"

[Exasperated] "No, I just met him today!"

"Do you have davening at camp?"

[Very seriously.] "No Mommy. We are VEWY busy. We have a LOT of pwojects to do and we don't have time faw davening."

"So, did you go the park at camp today?"

"Of cawse! We go to the pawk EVEWY day!" (This is after Day #2 of camp.)

So he's having a great time, though he's not thrilled with the aruchat eser choices, but I'm not offering to make him anything different because it is SUMMER and I am declaring my Freedom from Aruchat Eser until September 1st. It is the God-given right of Israeli parents to have 8 weeks off from aruchat eser every year.

Though, as Ariella pointed out, "But since we're not in tzaharon, you have to make lunch every day." Hmmm. Fair point.

Speaking of Ariella, she is going to camp ON A BUS. Her camp is in a nearby park/forest/campground (Ya'ar Ben Shemen) and she needs to get there ON A BUS. Also, she comes home from camp ON A BUS. Her BFF is also ON THE BUS with her. And they spend endless hours creating detailed plans about who sits where, and when, based on when each of them gets on and off THE BUS. The camp also has swimming almost every day (a rarity, from what I've seen so far) and lots of trips. So that's lots of fun.

But did I mention THE BUS????

Thursday, June 30, 2011

School's Out

And another school year comes to a close. I know, I know, for those of you in America, school is just a distant, fuzzy memory, but here, June 30th marks the last day (at least for the elementary school crowd).

For some reason, the end of the school year always makes me all weepy and nostalgic.

The beginning of the year is marked by nerves. Wondering how the kids will like their new teachers, settling into our new routines, getting into the grind of bedtime and homework and lunch-making and morning rush. But then things hit their stride "אחרי החגים," and while the first month of school always feels like it lasts ten years, from November on, the weeks just fly by.

And before you can say, "I need to bring in 50 gumballs for a party tomorrow!" it's Pesach and Yom Ha____ and Shavuot and the year is almost over.

Which brings us to today. I can now look back on the year and be so proud of what the kids accomplished.

Yaakov walking in to gan every day, by himself, giving me his patented "backward wave," because it's much more efficient than having to turn around to wave to me. So different from the boy who had to be pulled off my leg last year. And, this year, he got stickers! For good behavior! Who woulda thunk?

Nadav learning to walk! And to shake his head "no" as he throws his food off his tray!

And Ariella? I just loved watching her love school.

But now it's over. All the routines and compromises and accomplishments and disappointments and small arguments and end-of-day hugs that colored this year....finished.

So it makes me a touch misty-eyed, but you know, time marches on and all that. Anyway, we have chofesh to think about! Kaytanot, vacation, and lots and lots of pool days!

And then - onto the next school year.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Henrietta Szold, Revisited

A while ago, we spoke about how Ariella got to take a test from the Henrietta Szold Institute for Smart Kids. Basically, she had done well on part one of the test, in school, so she was invited to take part two. If she passed, she would get to take a Chug for Smart Kids next year.

A different institute, Machon Karni for Smart Kids, also wanted Ariella to take a test. She's in a chug this year, Eshkolot, that she got to take based on the recommendation from her previous year's teacher. But this year they changed the rules. Instead of accepting only kids who were recommended by the teacher, any kid could be considered, if they passed the test. And kids were already in the chug this year had to take the test as well if they wanted to continue the chugim next year.

Following so far? To make it even more complicated, the Eshkolot people said if she passed the Szold test that would count as well. Were Mr. Karni and Ms. Szold friends, back in the day?

Now, these Eshkolot chugim are a pain, timing-and-parking-wise, but Ariella really enjoyed them and wanted to continue next year. So we said we would take this second test, just to make really really sure she would get in and be able to take her chugim.

Well, just last week I received two letters. One from Machon Szold and one from Eshkolot. The contents:

Dear Parents of Ariella,
Your child is no longer smart.
Love,
Us

She didn't pass either of these tests. Which means no more Chugim for Smart Kids for Ariella.

I was devastated. I figured the Szold test wouldn't upset Ariella so much, since we never really understood what it was for anyway. But I knew how much she wanted to take her chugim, and now I had to tell her she didn't pass her test.

The American parent in me despaired, "How do you give a test to an 8-year-old that they can't pass???? What is the matter with you people???? What a blow to her self-esteem this will be! Oh the tears, the tears!"

I worried all day about how to break the news to her. When I finally did, she was quiet for a minute. Then,

"It doesn't matter," she said nonchalantly. "It will be like when I was in kitah aleph and I didn't have these chugim!"

And she goes on to discuss which of the school chugim she wants to take next year.(Cooking and computers, in case you were wondering.)

What's that you say? I should stop projecting my own fears and insecurities onto my child, as per my own chapter in my book on child-rearing called, "Stop Projecting Your Own Fears and Insecurities Onto Your Child. You Twit."?

I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you because I'm too busy crying that I - I mean Ariella - didn't pass my test. I mean her test. Hmmmm.

In other Ariella news, we had her mesibat siyum last night. Usually, Daddy gets picked to go, but this time Ariella wanted some girl time. So Daddy came home early and Mommy and Ariella went off. I was excited. The kids were told to bring their chumash, so I figured we would do some sort of parent-child learning. Much better than the usual "quality time" we spent together, consisting of: "Ariella brush your teeth."

The party was at a shul, instead of at school. We walked in, and there was a puppet show set up. I figured perhaps it was going to be a story in chumash they had learned. We sat down.

The show began.

It was about Jews in 15th century Toledo, Spain.

There was a magical diamond. And a talking lion.

It lasted 45 minutes.

Then, we all broke for "dinner" consisting of Osem cakes, rugelach and Sprite.

After dinner, we headed back inside shul. Okay, now we are going to do something meaningful, something substantial, something worthy of children who have completed the entire chumash Bereishit.

We played Bingo.

It was Bereishit Bingo, so poofahs for that. But basically the teachers asked riddle-y questions, and if you had the answer on your board, you crossed it off. Not sure what the purpose of bringing the chumash was, except as a surface on which to place your Bingo board.

After the game, we split into the 3 classes, where the teacher read a beautiful poem to the class (really, it was, no sarcasm there), and said something nice and personal about each kid in class. Each kid got a clock and we went home.

Now, I love Ariella's school. And I think her teacher is beyond amazing. I mean, she could be the president of Planet Awesome. So I was a little surprised at this rather meaningless end-of-year party.

But Ariella had fun.

Plus, I got to see an original song and dance! (Take that, Glee!) Starring Ariella! See, last Friday her class planned a surprise party for their teacher, complete with a choreographed song. And at the mesibat siyum, they got to perform it for the entire grade.

It was super cute. Waaaay better than the Talking Lions of Medieval Spain.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Get a Clue

Donny returned from America, bearing gifts. For he is a wise man.

One of the most exciting gifts he brought is the game of Clue. I remember spending many happy hours playing this game in my youth. The only downside is that you can't really play on Shabbat; or, you can, you just have to be reeeaaaaaallllly creative.

We tore off the plastic and opened the game. As I started to explain the rules to Ariella, it dawned on me how very macabre this childhood game of mine is.

"See," I began brightly, "there's this guy, Mr. Body. And he was killed! In his own house! By one of these people! And your job is to figure out who did it, where they did it, and how!" Ariella starts examining the little toy weapons, which look like a twisted version of Monopoly pieces. She holds up a slightly bent metal one.

"How do you kill someone with this?" she wonders.

"Well," I chirp, "it's a wrench, you see, so you just bang the person over the head again and again till they die! Haha! Okay then! Maybe we should just start playing!"

After a practice round, Ariella was starting to get the hang of it. Yaakov, however, was not feeling so sanguine about Clue.

"This is a vewy bad game faw my age," he declared, and stomped off to play with his new build-a-tube-contraption-and-throw-marbles-down-it toy.

Ariella had just one question about the game. "But why?" she insisted, "WHY did they want to kill him?"

Maybe we'll just stick with Go Fish.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Random Things I Miss About America

We know the big ones - English, Family, and Old Navy, but sometimes, it's not about the Big Ones, it's about...

....baby carrots. Not baby food carrots, I'm talking about those little pre-peeled, bite-sized carrots that come in bags. My kids enjoy eating carrots, but frankly, I find cutting them a pain. Unlike a cucumber, which you can just slice over their plates as they're eating dinner ("Mom! Stop dropping cucumbers on my head!"), carrots require a peeler. And unless you have superhuman thumbs, you can't cut them without a cutting board. So now you've had to drag the peeler AND the cutting board. Who has time for this? (And if you say something chirpy and cheerful and helpful like, "Cut a big bag of carrots in the beginning of the week and then you'll have them all week long!" I will bop you on the head with my cutting board. But it's flimsy plastic, so don't worry, it won't really hurt.)

....free coffee refills. Especially because I spend many of my days working at a cafe, where I spend anywhere from NIS 12-16 for a "large" coffee. (Yes, you heard me right, at Cafe Joe, coffee is SIXTEEN shekel). And after about three minutes, the coffee is finished and the cup is just sitting there sadly on your table. But no more coffee for you, unless you'd like to shell out another 12-16 shekel.

....Carvel Ice Cream cake. Especially that ice creamy frosting stuff on top. And the chocolate crunchies. I miss those crunchies.

....free library books, as many as you want. I had to pay a one-time deposit of NIS 35/book, for as many books as I wanted to have out at any one time. So I opted for 5 books (2 for Yaakov, 3 for Ariella), which are finished in about 2 days.

....camps that run for 6 weeks.

....over-the-counter medications. Good ones. That are not BEHIND the counter, necessitating you to wait in line even though you don't have a prescription. Even better, I miss OTC medications that you could buy in the grocery store. Very efficient.

....also, automatic RX refills. (Oooh....idea! Idea! Coffee refills that are both free and automatic. That is the kind of innovation we need!)

Monday, June 13, 2011

In the past week...

...we celebrated Shavuot, about which it says in the Torah, "And thine children shall be hometh from school for three complete days, despite the holiday lasting but one. And thou shall consumeth large quantities of cheesecake."

...we consumed not only large quantites of cheesecake but also large quantities of Donny's famous homemade blintzes. We're machmir like that.

...our air conditioning broke. This naturally happened on Thursday night, once it was too late to do anything about it before the weekend. We did manage to have someone come out and look at it Friday. His assessment: "This is major. I cannot fix this before Shabbat," he said as we slowly dissolved into puddles of sweat. So then,

...we ran around Modiin collecting fans Friday afternoon. All the running around made us very hot. This did not help our situation.

...my very handsome and single, not to mention smart and funny, and also single, brother-in-law came for Shabbat. He was thoroughly amused by our freaking-outness, because he normally survives without the a/c. "You'd think you had no running water," he observed, watching us in our panicked state. He was very helpful in arranging the fans correctly so we had a pleasant breeze all of Shabbat.

...Ariella celebrated her eight birthday with her invite-all-the-friends party. Despite the general exhaustion involved in planning such a party, once it got started, I pretty much sat back and let the girls run the show. Ariella explained the art project (decorating mezuzot), the girls knew the whole drill when we brought out the cake. Those that finished their project early sat around and chatted. They did not run around the room, turning off lights and trying to jump out the window, like children at another birthday party which was once written about here. And, also unlike that other birthday party, at no point were there multiple children in the bathroom with their pants down around their knees. So yay! (This is not to say that we were not happy to throw that other birthday party. Just pointing out what a difference 3 years can make.)

...our air conditioning got fixed! Phew, because the whole "roughing it" thing was quickly losing whatever charm it may have once had.

...we got our new car! (You have to say it like you're on the Price Is Right.) It had been purchased a few weeks ago and was finally ready for pick up. It's a white Mitsubishi Grandis, in case you're wondering, and Yaakov gets to climb in and out through the trunk.

...Donny hopped on a plane to Seattle, via Berlin. Traveling business-class, natch.

...I found out that Loyal Reader and Frequent Commenter SaraK is actually making aliyah! All of those "when I live in Israel" comments were for real! We at aliyahbyaccident wish her lots of luck and good things and English-speaking people wherever she goes. Mazel tov!

Monday, June 6, 2011

In Which We Learn a New Hebrew Word and Send a Tene

You may be wondering why I haven't been blogging so frequently lately. It is either because:

1. I am lazy.
2. I spend all day on Facebook, checking out pictures of people I don't really know.
3. I was busy scrubbing off the blue paint after I finished filming my latest role as Mystique in the new X-Men movie.

Well, I will let you ponder that. Let me know what you think.


Something I learned today:

"Flippers" in Hebrew are not, unfortunately, "fleeeeperz." 'Cuz that would have been sooo much easier. You see, today I went to buy flippers for Ariella and goggles for Yaakov because they are taking swim lessons and these were recommended by the swim teacher as a good investment.

I had learned a few years ago how to say "goggles." And no, it's not "goh-goolz," or even "mishkefay yam," despite the impressive conjugation of the second. It's "mishkefet." So that part was easy. Then came the fleeeperz. The store guy looked at me blankly. Darn. I tried to start explaining how it's something you wear on your feet to help with kicking, except I can never remember how to say "kicking." It's like never knowing where the "tet" is on the keyboard. Some facts of life like to stay tantalizingly out of reach. But we persevered, and I left with my fleeeperz and my goh-goolz.

You may be wondering why I'm scurrying out to buy these items. Well, I am so far (it's only been one lesson) very impressed with the swim teacher, who figured out right away what each kid needed to focus on. Also, he sent a feedback email! In which he called Yaakov a "great little chap!" Well, how can ima shel ha'chap NOT buy him the goggles he needs?

In Shavuot news, today was Tene Day. What the bleep is a tene, you ask? I, too, once asked that very question. The first time I heard the word was our first year here, when Yaakov was in mishpachton. It was a day or two before Shavuot, and on the parent board it said we needed to send our child in with:

1. A tene with various foods
2. A zer perachim

They might as well have written a flerhudgen and a plekerate. Huh? We were able to determine that a "tene" is also a "sal" which is a "basket." Like the ancient Jews bringing their bikkurim to the Temple in days of yore, my son needed to bring in a chocolate pudding and a nectarine. In a basket. And the "zer perachim" is a flower wreath. Which the Jews also wore on their heads as they brought bikkurim. Or something.

That wreath is such a great investment, because you just know how much use you're gonna get out of it after your child wears it for all of two seconds. It can be used for so many things, from poking your sister in the eye to poking your brother in the eye.

So today was Tene Day, and now that I am an expert, plus I have my own personal (Tired) basket buyer, we were totally under control. Chocolate pudding, bag of grapes, and a spoon. (Can you believe I remembered the spoon???)

In related Shavuot news.... (in that it's also about Shavuot...)

I'm pretty sure if you ask most people why we eat matzah on Pesach, they'll have some idea. And yet while the line at the Rami Levi cheese counter was out the door and people were buying cream cheese and gevinah levanah like the world was ending (People: It did not end before Pesach, and it will not end now! It's all going to be okay!), I am fairly certain that almost no one, including yours truly, knows why we're all over the dairy products this holiday.

Ariella came home with something about Torah being sweet like milk and honey; Shavuot is the holiday of accepting the Torah; ergo, we eat dairy. I always thought it had something to do with how before matan Torah we couldn't eat meat because we didn't know the halachot, so therefore Shavuot is a dairy holiday. And then there's the thing about Yael getting Sisrah drunk on wine and cheese and bludgeoning him to death with a tent pin and saving the day, although that's actually a Chanukah story, but since we never seem to eat dairy on Chanukah, maybe Shavuot should just co-opt that bit of history?

Oh wait! I am mixing up my cheese-wielding Jewish heroines! The Chanukah heroine is Yehudit, who got good ol' Holofernes cheesed-and-liquored-up and chopped off his head. Whoops. Maybe Yael and Yehudit should both move to Shavuot.

Ohmigod I am rambling so much even I have no idea what point I'm trying to make.

So I will end (thank God) with this:

Do you think Bnei Yisrael would have celebrated the acceptance of the Torah with a cheesecake? I'm pretty sure they had a wild steak party. "We can finally eat meat! Break out the mangal! Wah-hoooooooooooo!"

Oh yes, and flipper? It's a "snapir."