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.