Tuesday, November 25, 2014

This is Where the Title Goes

I want to blog. I really do. But every time I get a few free minutes and sit down at the computer, my head feels fuzzy and foggy and I only have brain capacity to read recaps of Scandal. (The babies watch SUCH inappropriate television.) Scandal, by the way, takes a lot more concentration than you might think. I would make a terrible Gladiator because even after It All Becomes Clear, I'm still going, "Huh?"

In baby news, the babies have found new and interesting ways to keep us worried. You'd think after 3 kids we would have seen Most of the Things, but there is seemingly no end to the weird baby problems that crop up and make you go "Hmmm" or "Really?" or "Ewwww!" Nothing serious, but every time we're at the doctor, the answer is, "Well, it's probably fine, but..." So we're taking one baby for an ultrasound of her kidneys and bladder (after having done a spinal ultrasound, which was probably fine, but....) and the other baby has an ulcerated hemangioma (it's about as gross as it sounds), which at current count has involved 4 doctor appointments (a 5th is tomorrow) and 3 different creams (one that has to be specially ordered).

Otherwise, they are busy doing all the baby things, like eating and smelling bad and sleeping and crying and pooping and spitting up and doing that cute scrunchy move when they stretch and even smiling (!) and looking around and watching Grey's, Scandal, Parenthood, New Girl and the Lego movie and being alternatively picked up then set down in the baby-friendly venue of our choice (changing table, crib, bouncy seat, sibling's arms, playmat! The possibilities are endless! "Oh! Here we go agaaaaaaain!" you can just hear them saying as they're being swooped up for the thousandth time that day). But don't try kissing them when they are hungry because they feel skin and whip their heads around and open their mouths, looking for the food source. "Oooh is that it? Is it here? I could have sworn I left it here before. Wait where'd it go???"

So even though they do a lot of the aforementioned activities on their own, dealing with the consequences of all of them takes up most of our day. See, Twins Are So Easy!

Anyway this is usually where I would place the clever last line, but not today because foggy. Back to reading recaps.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Twins Are So Easy

This is the title of my latest book on parenting. However, taking care of the twins is really getting in the way of being able to write it. Since at this moment they are currently napping, I will take this opportunity to check in with my Loyal Readers. Because you know what they say, "Blog when the baby sleeps!"

So here I am. See me? No, over here on the couch, under the pile of freshly washed onesies that are patiently waiting to receive their next installment of spit up. (Because you know what they say, "Do laundry when the baby sleeps!") I'm in between the lone baby sock (get used to the single life, kiddo) and the pacifier wedged into the cushions. Oh and also, a pencil. And a random flip-flop.

Since we don't have much time (I can sense babies beginning to move from Not Sad to Sad), I will answer a few FAQs for you.

Q. How are you doing?
A. Tired. Veryveryvery tired. To paraphrase Princess Buttercup, "I shall never sleep again." However, everyone is healthy and happy, or, if you're one of the twins, healthy and occasionally, Not Sad. So we are thankful for that.

Q. Are they identical?
A. Unequivocally not.

Q. Do you have time to shower, even?
A. Putting on deoderant and brushing one's hair IS considered a shower in many cultures. Or it should be. I'm working on that. "Brushing is washing!" is a thing they will say in this culture.

Q. Can I bring you some-?
A. Yes. Whatever it is you want to bring, I'll eat it. Because you know what they say, "Eat when the baby sleeps!"

Q. Were you shocked when you found out it was twins?
A. I'm confused. Why the past tense? "Omigod there are two of them" is something heard frequently around the house, especially in the evening, as we are playing another round of Baby Whack-a-Mole. (Note: No actual whacking involved.)

Q. How are the other kids doing?
A. In short, the big ones are mostly helpful. The 4-year-old, well, let's just say his attachment to Mommy hasn't improved since the arrival of the twins. But really, who can blame him? Does anyone pour cereal, turn on the TV or brush his teeth with quite the panache of Mommy? It's an acquired skill, honed after years of (forced) practice. Also, rest assured that no one has felt any need to put their various issues or angst on hold until Mommy gets more sleep.

Q. Are you nursing?
A. This is possibly the most popular question, after the identical question. To answer, I give you a quote from one of the children: "Mommy, ever since you had the twins, you've been walking around half-dressed." So yes. And yes, I have nursed both at once, but not, ahem, discreetly. So avert your eyes. Currently we're at about 85% nursing and 15% bottles. Of formula. Because "Pump when the baby sleeps!" is NOT a thing they say. Bottles meant I had to hand back my Crunchy Granola Mom Trophy, plus they took away their offer to honor me at the Annual Crunchy Granola Mom Grass-Fed Organic BPA-Free Dinner & Co-Sleeping But that's okay. Because the bottles help me keep my last remaining nerve, which I need in order to deal with aforementioned spit-up and angst.

Q. "Is there another baby in there?"
A. Luckily, this is not an FAQ. This question was posed by Nadav, when they came to visit me in the hospital. First, as he walked in and saw the baby nursing, he exclaimed "EWWWW! What is the baby doing to you?" Then he examined my stomach and decided there must be a third baby Mommy is hiding in here. Now, he has declared that the tummy is no longer so big, but it IS "mushy v'gam floppy."

So you see, Twins: They're So Easy.

Okay, Sadness has been reached. See you all later.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Introducing, For the Very First Time (on this blog)...

Shoham Chen (שוהם חן) and Sivan Vered (סיון ורד). Shoham is in green and Sivan is in stripes.

Born Sunday, September 28 in Tel Aviv, at 12:55 and 1:05 PM. Shoham was some amount of kilo (2.7?) and Sivan was a little more than that (3.1?)

You may find it ironic, after my previous post, that they allowed us to take even more children home from the hospital. However, we have learned from our mistakes, When the tipat chalav nurse was going on about vitamin D drops and not giving too much because it causes kidney problems, etc., we told her cheerfully, "Of course! Drop not dropper, that is our motto! Ha! Haha!" And in this neighborhood, before an English magazine has a chance to even drop to the floor in prime leg-breaking position, it will be scooped up by a celebrity-gossip-deprived neighbor. And really, what are the chances of us replicating the booster seat debacle a third (and fourth) time? (Don't answer that.)

So no worries, these children are in very good hands. (Ariella's and Yaakov's).

Anyway, we are looking forward to sharing with you in the Continuing Adventures of Raising Our Children and Trying Not to Screw It Up Too Badly. (The alternative, though admittedly less catchy, title of "Leave Me Alone So I Can Read the Paper.")

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sorry, Kids! I Promise We Didn't Mean To!

I am not a dog person, in case you were wondering. This does not mean that I AM a cat person, or other such nonsense. I am also not a gerbil, hamster, guinea pig or goldfish person. I am not even a plant or flower person. The only living things I can reliably keep alive are my children.

And even then, it's touch and go sometimes. For example, Nadav has reminded me on an embarrassing number of occasions, as I'm getting him ready for bed: "Ima? Lo achalti dinner." Whoops! Forgot to feed him dinner. Again. (Note: There usually was dinner on the nights in question. The problem is that Nadav isn't ready to eat when it's ready, and then I forget that he never ate. Or it's a Friday night and I am hellbent on "Get-him-in-bed-before-candlelighting-so-we-can-eat-like-mensches" and I consequently forget to, you know, feed him.)

However, starvation is an easily rectifiable solution. Especially when children are old enough to announce they are hungry. But we have a long and rich history of accidentally harming our children in other, more creative ways. Today, I lay out my sins before you.

Let's begin around 11 years ago.

Formula? Who Needs It?
Ariella is 8 months old and eating a lot of solids. 3 meals a day, in fact. She had been getting bottles, but now, I figured, it was time to stop, right? She's eating like an adult, so why does she need stinky baby formula?

Over the course of the next month, her babysitter mentions how constipated and uncomfortable she is. Momz notes that Ariella seems thinner than usual. We are already firm believers in Parenting Through Winging It, so no alarm bells go off. But: It comes time for her checkup. And: She has gained no weight since the last month! How can this be????? The doctor starts asking me about her eating habits. When I tell her, she stares at me. "She needs to be taking three 8-oz bottles a day. Until she's a year old." Whoops! We start up the formula again. She gains weight, she poops better and is an altogether happier child. (Luckily this was before memory kicked in, so she can't add it to the list of reasons to be angry with us now.)

Slip & Slide
Yaakov almost got away unscathed. Except for the time we left a magazine on the floor and he slipped on it, breaking his leg. Whoops! At least it was a manly magazine ("Adventure") and not something wimpy like "Family Circle."

Nadav, it should come as no surprise, has born the brunt of our carelessness. You'd think by our third time around the block, we'd be better at this. Well, let me reassure you that we found all sorts of new and wonky screwups. Skipping formula and leaving magazines on the floor are soooo 2003-2007.

Vitamin D: Mmm, Mmm Good
For some reason, I had never had to give vitamin D drops to our other kids (or maybe I was supposed to and never did? Would that surprise you? Didn't think so.). So I'm giving him the drops, tra-la-la. Also, I notice that he's peeing. A LOT. "Haha, our little pisher, isn't that cute?" I say to Donny.

I mention to a friend that I need to get to a pharmacy to get more drops. "More drops?" she's astonished. "How are you finished your first bottle already?"
"Well, a dropper-full every day, you go through it."
Turns out I was giving him like 10x the amount of vitamin D. Hence all the pishing; his kidneys were working overtime to get rid of it. Luckily the doctor said just to stop for about a month and then pick up again. But this time, with a twist: Try not overdosing him.

Buckle Up!
When Nadav was about 2, he would occasionally need the booster seat (the kind that attaches to a chair) for height, in order to reach the table, but he didn't really need to be strapped in. Except, of course, that he's Nadav and insists on weird things, like making a color chart so he can decide which shirt to wear today. One Saturday night, during havdalah, he was sitting in his booster. Which I had plopped on a chair, not bothering to attach it. But he was going to do havdalah properly, dammitHe demanded to be buckled in AND have his tray attached. So, if you are picturing this, we have essentially incarcerated him in his booster. Which, careful readers will remember, is NOT strapped to the chair. The next step, of course, is he reaches forward to get some grape juice. He then topples over from the chair, but can't land on his feet or right himself due to all of the restraints. So, strapped into his booster, he lands on his face, gets a bloody mouth, cut lip and tongue, a trip to Terem and a visit to the dentist the next morning.


The best part of this story? The exact same thing happened a year later! Did we learn our lesson? It seems not! Luckily the fall wasn't as bad so we avoided the Terem/dentist trips.

Good for What Ails You
Nadav finds some children's chewable Tylenol. Gets through about a pill and a half before we realize and yank the remaining crumbly, slobbery, pink  mixture out of his mouth. We call both our local friendly pediatrician (who was vacationing in Eilat then, natch) and Poison Control. No lasting repurcussions. Although he does have an extreme fondness for pink medicines. Hmmmm.

Curious Minds
This one is all on him. Nadav finds a little spray bottle of some perfume lying around in our car. He puts it up to his face, asking, "Eich zeh oved, Mommy?" And then attempts to find out the answer by spraying himself in the eyes. WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!! "It works like that, Nadav." Many unpleasant, screeching eye washes later, he was fine.

Till the next time, of course.

Now one lesson we can takeaway from this, besides boring ones like "Don't leave magazines on the floor," "Read dosing instructions carefully," "Always strap the booster onto the chair" is that at the end of all of these stories? The kids are just fine! Take heart, parents! Like us, you too can screw up abysmally without causing (too much) lasting damage for the little ones! Like the popular saying goes, "Parenting. It's sooooo easy!"

Now it's your turn. Feel free to share the times you accidentally caused harm to your children. (Or is this just us?)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

In Which Donny Bravely Faces Back to School Night

What follows are the transcripts from our whatsapp conversations.

Gan meeting, Sept 2.

I am filling out information. [Good.]

What is Nadav's teudat zehut? Oh, and his Hebrew birthday? [I tell him]

They want to know who his friends are. [Ellie. Joe. Yuval. Rafi]

What are his interests? I wrote "To be funny." I think that covers it. [NO! No you cannot just write that! Write: Puzzles, cars, playground, games]

I'm putting you down for a committee. It's called חשיבה על פעילות הדנית* [What?? What??? Don't you dare! Did you hear me? You take my name off RIGHT NOW. Put yourself down!]

Just kidding! I put myself down.

*As far as we could tell, this translates to "Thinking about Danish activities." Maybe pastries?

School meeting, Sept. 9.

Tuesday night was a marathon school meeting. Donny went straight from work and took the first shift (third grade) and I took the late shift (sixth). The 3rd grade meeting was called for 6:00.

6:10 My whatsapp beeps. However, I'm busy making dinner so I can't get to my phone.

I bet that is Donny. He has no idea where the third grade classrooms are or what the teacher's name is. Well, he'll call in a minute when he sees I haven't responded.

6:12 Phone rings. "Which third grade class is Yaakov in? Do you know where the
classroom is? Who is his teacher?"

Donny finds his way to the classroom. Whatsapping ensues:

Eveyone is filling out sheets. [Probably information sheets. Use Lisa and Momz as emergency contacts]

The teacher is talking. You should feed Yaakov breakfast in the morning.

Email the teacher. Don't call. Call if you must, but don't.

I'm volunteering you for the va'ad.


I didn't.

I think I'll tell her I don't give her permission to take pictures of Yaakov.

She wants 100 shekel for the va'ad. I'm offering 50.

Hmmm. She won't take 50. Suggesting tashlumim.

Now she's reading a poem. It's about candy. I think our children are the candy?

There is candy art. Did Yaakov bring it home?

No, it's here, waiting for us.

Okay she won't accept tashlumim either. You'll have to pay 100.

And email, don't call.

Done. Coming home.


Later, at the 6th grade meeting, I did not have to text Donny once. #justsaying

But the most important takeaway is that we are now finished being oriented. Hooray! No more small chairs for another year! If you need us, we'll be celebrating with some Danish activities.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hello? Is Anyone Here?

Readers, it has been a long time.

First, I made the conscious decision to stop posting because of all the Unfunny Things that were happening this summer. The three boys, the war, sirens. Then as August crept on, I made no conscious decisions at all. This is because my brain cells had fled for cooler climates. If you would look inside my head, the only remaining thoughts were "Me hot" and "Feed children. Again." Those two semi-coherent thoughts spent their days floating around lazily in the cavernous space that once contained my brain.

But now the war/operation is ... over? I think? There's definitely a cease-fire? Which brings up the question - why don't we just agree to a 1,000-year cease-fire? Then no one dies, no one sends rockets and we don't have to deal with like, solving anything. [This will be a cornerstone of my platform when I run for prime minister. My platform will consist of Confrontation Avoidance and Changing all the Highway Signs in Israel to Include "Modiin." Because I don't want to have to figure out if I need to head to "Afula" or "Tel Aviv" "Jerusalem" or "Beer Sheva" in order to get home. I want clarity. Every sign on the highway will be legally required to include "Modiin, This Way." You're welcome.]

So I guess ceasefire = we can return to our irregularly scheduled blogging program. In the meantime, I will catch you up on the highlights of summer:

1. Camp. Careful though. Did you blink, sneeze, or use the bathroom? You missed it! Now camp's over!

2. Mommy camp. TV, pool, fight, eat, TV, repeat. BUT - no waking up children, making lunches or doing homework! So it has its moments.

3. StayCation. In which we finally realize that the highlight of hotels for our children is the ability to eat sugar cereal every day for breakfast. So we decide to save thousands of shekel and just buy sugar cereal for them to eat HERE. The advantage is that HERE also includes good beds and not having to wash laundry in a tub.

4. My phone gets stolen. But I get a new one, so in the end it all works out.

5. We lose internet for a few hours. The Rose family stares at each other in horror. Without internet, there is no computer or TV. Everyone makes a mad dash for Mommy's phone. But Mommy gets there first. What shall we do now? Talk to each other? Read? Clean up? Confusion reigns. We rush to light some candles but then realize we DO have electricity, plus it's the middle of the day. So we blow them out. Luckily the 'net returns soon and happiness is restored.


7. School begins. And while "Hot" and "Feeding children" still take up an inordinate amount of space in my head, the other brain cells have slowly, cautiously begun migrating back. ("Let's see if she'll recognize our potential instead of just using us to figure out how to disentangle the children from each other and creative ways to say 'Stop it!!!!!'")

So, welcome back! How was your summer?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Highlights and Revelations

Part Three: There was ice cream.

Other highlights from our trip:

Versailles (“Ver-Sails”). Visit this place, and you will totally understand why the French Revolution happened. If there is a word that means supercallifragallistically gaudy, Versailles is it.

These people had antechambers. You know what antechambers are? Rooms that exist just to be rooms! They serve no other purpose than to be a room you can go in before you go into the next room. Sometimes, there were antechambers to antechambers!

Each room had intricate paintings on the ceilings and furniture covered in gold, but that isn’t even the best part. The Versailles palace also contains a separate palace so that if you just need to get away from the palace, you have another palace to go to.

This second palace was given to Marie Antoinette and there was a lot of information in French about her. I’m not sure about the whole story, but all I know is that you cannot, in fact, buy just her head in the gift shop.

Louvre in a Nutshell: Massive Museum, Teeny Mona Lisa. Seriously. It's as big as my framed diploma. And you can't get within 10 feet of it because of all the other tourists and their cameras pushing each other to get close. If Leo had just made it a mite bigger, it would have been easier on all of us.

Arc de Triomphe (“We Surrender!”) and Eiffel Tower (“Migdal Ayfel”): These represent two entries in our ever-growing list of “Tall Buildings We Have Not Ascended.” Don't worry, there are selfies to prove we were there.

Haagen Daaz restaurant. You read that right. An entire restaurant devoted exclusively to ice cream. Two floors plus outdoor seating, with fancy wait staff and everything. As part of our QKE vacation certification (Quite Kosher Enough), we felt comfortable eating Parisian Haagen Daaz. Sadly, most of the menu items came with a baked good, which even for the lax standards of QKE is NQKE. But we found two exquisite cookie-free desserts: I ordered one that had five scoops of ice cream surrounded by fresh raspberries, strawberries and whipped cream and are you drooling yet???? Donny ordered a scoop of ice cream in an espresso (I told you he got into it). We sat in rapturous, heavenly-ice-cream-eating-induced silence, until it was broken by:

The Amcha. Aka fellow Jews/Israelis. Funny because when you're in Israel, you say “Israelis!” in a mumbly, exasperated grunt, but while in Paris, you say, “Israelis!” with a cry of excitement. This particular amcha – an Israeli woman – interrupted our bliss to ask a question on behalf of her French-speaking charedi sister. The sister was wondering if it was okay to eat here, and when her eyes alighted upon Donny’s kippah, she felt we were safe people to ask. We explained that the ice cream itself was kosher; stay away from the cookies. QKE FTW!

We enjoyed our other encounters with the Amcha during our trip. In one restaurant, we had a choice of speaking to the waiter in French (“?como estas?”) or Hebrew. Naturally, we jumped at the chance to speak Hebrew. Did you read me?? We were HAPPY and GRATEFUL to speak Hebrew. Someone please tell my ulpan teacher. We also got chance to converse with the Amcha during our stroll around the Jewish Quarter. We passed numerous falafel stands including one that –and let me tell you, it hurt to read this – proclaimed its falafel “The Best in the World!” Um, excusez-moi, Paree? Clearly they have never been to Ofer’s. Or any other falafel stand in all of Israel. Please, Paris. We don’t claim to have awesome macarons. (As TZ-carrying Israelis, we’re not even sure that they qualify as dessert, lacking as they are in yeast dough and chocolate). So just stay away from our falafel.

Then, suddenly, it was time to leave. Pack up our stuff, say "A I R P O R T" really slowly to the cab driver, and head off into the sunrise (the only time we saw sun). All in all, the trip was amazing, but it was also great to come home. To the fam, the world’s actual best falafel, and even to Hebrew.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Things the French Like and Do Not Like. Also: War!

Welcome to Part Deux of "Gila & Donny Take Paris (But Then Give It Back Because It's Cold and Rainy and No One Speaks English)"

Things the French like:

Pharmacies. There are about 3 pharmacies per block (“rue”) in Paris. I do not understand why Parisians are hurting themselves all the time. Perhaps they are falling down the stairs in the Metro system.

Espressos. They really love their dark, bitter coffee drink. Even Donny and I kind of appreciated it by the end. Donny more than me, though, I’m still a milk girl. Examples of espresso-lovin': McDonald's ads feature an Egg McMuffin next to an espresso. Nespresso ads also feature espressos only. Not a milk frother in sight. (We got to see lots of ads during our numerous hikes to and from the staircases in the Metro stations.) If you order an espresso, they make it for you using the fancy coffee maker. Order a latte (“hafuch”), and you get coffee from a machine. 

Mumbling. How to speak French: Find a word. Place all the sounds at the back of your throat and gurgle them out.  

Things the French do not like:

English. English is not as beloved of a language as we anticipated. In fact, in the Louvre (“Mona Lisa”) which is one of Paris’ top tourist attractions, the little descriptions next to each piece of art are written only in French. But, we were ok with this because it allowed us to make up our own stories about every painting.

Being Audible. When we asked the nice lady in the amazing kosher chocolate store the name of a certain kosher bakery, she said ... something. I couldn’t make out any recognizable vowels or consonants. See, “Mumbling,” above.

English. The French simply do not appreciate how easy it is to speak in English. Even the people in the hotel did not like talking in English. And they DUB grown-up movies! And TV shows! I turned on the TV in the middle of an episode of Greys, and there was Bailey, yelling in fluent French! It was tres (totes) disturbing.

Surrender. This brings us to one of the highlights of our trip, the War Museum.

The War Museum: Fancy Uniforms and: Jews? What Jews?

First, let’s just say that the existence of the EU is nothing short of a miracle, considering that for hundreds of years all these guys did was kill each other and hold grudges about it. But, only at the War Museum can you get a real French perspective on all the battles. Each battle is commemorated with: guns, knives, paintings and uniforms.

I like guns and knives so that was pretty cool. Adding the paintings of war scenes was a bit strange, but I’ll admit that I enjoyed it. But, the uniforms.

Conversation, circa 16th century:

“Jacques! 1517 called! It wants its uniform style back. Forget your red uniform with gold trim and silver buttons. 1518 is ALL ABOUT the blue uniform with the red trim and gold buttons!”

We were very curious to see what the French had to say about World War II. (Like, “What did they wear?”) Here's what we learned:

The word for “surrender” in French is “resistance.” It turns out that the French fought bravely throughout the war. (And they had very nifty uniforms. In a modern sense, of course.) Especially brave was Charles de Gaulle (“Sharle the Gew”) who spoke bravely about bravery from London.

There was no discussion of French life under the occupation, but I suppose that makes sense after all that brave fighting. But, then it occurred to us: What about the Jews?

Clearly, after fighting bravely for so long, the brave fighters returned to Paris, only to have this conversation:

“Where is Shmuelik? Have you seen him?”
“I could have sworn he was just here yesterday.”
“Huh. Now that I think about it… didn’t we use to have a lot of Jews?”
“Ah. You’re right. I think we did.”
“It sure looks like they left in a hurry. It appears that they didn’t even have time to turn off the gas in their houses of worship which appear to have been completely destroyed in a terrible accident.”
“Strange. You think they would have fought bravely, like us.”

But these were brave fighters. They certainly would have hopped right into their Renault (“Rue”) tank and bravely travelled east looking for Shmuelik.

“Let us grab a quick espresso and be on our way. We need not worry that our extreme tank will break down, as I’m sure we can find an out-of-work German mechanic who could fix it for us. If we hurry, we can follow safely behind the Americans who are only here because they raised a lot of money with E-bonds and have not in any way taken away from our bravery.”

Then, as they bravely followed behind the Americans liberating the concentration camps: “Shmuelik! There you are! You look very hungry. Baguette?”

To be fair, at the very, very end of the World War II exhibit, there was a single wall dedicated to the concentration camps and the Final Solution. This one had English that went something like this: 

“Thereusedtobe76,000JewsinFrance. Theyallgotdeported. Only3percentcameback.” And then, “To learn more, visit our Shoah Museum!" 

Join us tomorrow, or whenever I remember to post, for our final installment: Highlights from Our Trip. (Here's a clue: It rhymes with "dice bream.")

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

This Way to the Sortie

A Blog in Three Acts
Contributors: Gila & Donny

“Sortie” is French for “exit.” However, you do not pronounce it “SOR-dee.” Well, you should, but the French don’t. This is one of the many lessons Donny and I learned last week, when we made a trip to Paris (“Pareeeee”). Surprisingly, it turns out that the French were not at all welcoming when we explained to them how to correctly pronounce their language. 

In any case, it was a Sunday-Thursday getaway, leaving Momz, Dadz and Ariella in charge of the house. 

Here are some of things that we learned by accident so that you don’t have to.

Getting There
You will want to acquire fake dollars (“Euros”) for your trip. These can be used just like currency to buy things. Be sure to bring a large change purse as many of the Euros come in easy-to-carry coin denominations that look just like shekel but are actually worth approximately 30 times more.

When you arrive, the passport clerk may be surprised that you have absolutely no stamps in your passport and ask you in complete shock whether this is your first time in Europe. Simply explain that Europe is mostly a place to fly over on your way between New York and Tel Aviv. She will totally understand.

In the airport, you will be greeted by extreme French engineering. I say, “extreme,” because we are all extremely lucky that it works. The escalators are strictly for “escalating” without any of the pesky “stairs” to get in the way. Hold on tight!

In Paris itself, getting around is very easy. You can take a cab, provided that you know that you do not hail them. They stop automatically at the “Taxi” signs. Also, you will need to have the patience to teach the cab driver English.

Or, you can take Metro. The Metro is a terrific option, especially if you like walking up and down stairs. Escalating is not allowed in the metro stations. (Handicapped? Have a stroller? Tough noogies (“nougat”). The SOR-dee is that way.)

Stay tuned tomorrow for: Things the French Like and Do Not Like

Monday, May 19, 2014

Life on Repeat

I love reruns. Back in the day when we had actual TV and not this streaming stuff, if a "Friends" rerun came on, I was in heaven. Especially if it was the one with "Chanandler Bong." ("That's MISS Chanandler Bong!")

So this works out really well because MY LIFE IS A RERUN, PEOPLE.

Not only do I say the same exact things every single day, I sometimes say the same exact things every 15 minutes.

"Hang up your towel."

(Beloved Readers, you could be forgiven if you mistakenly thought our towels are in fact made out of burning hot fabric with poisoned tips that instantly melt your face off, a la Bad Nazi Guy from "Raiders." Because that is how loathe my children are to pick them up from the floor.)

"Put your pencils in your pencil case." This is after the half hour spent sharpening, breaking, and re-sharpening these pencils. So the pencils can be all ready for school, see. Guess where these pencils are 15 minutes later? Did you say in the pencil case? ARE YOU EVEN PAYING ATTENTION, EVEN A LITTLE? No, they remain uselessly on the counter. The sharpest, uselessest pencils ever.

"Do your reading." Oh, did you think I said "Lay on the floor zooming tiny cars in a circle and then wander off to your bed to lie down for a bit and then examine a dead fly on the mirpeset?" You're right, I see how that can be confusing. "DO YOUR READING."

"Brush your teeth." Did you brush your teeth? "Brush your teeth!" Still not? "BRUSH YOUR TEETH!!!!!!!!!!!" (Yes, there are a lot of CAPS in a rerun life).

"BuckleUpCloseTheDoorPutYourBowlInTheSinkDon'tLeaveDirtySocksOnTheCouch" x10

[Child's question]
"Still no"
"Still no and now I'm angry."
"No! Don't make me sing the song."
I sing the song. I don't know about you, but I actually feel a little better now.

"Take your bath."
"Yes, you have to."
"No you can't take one tomorrow night instead. You smell."
"There's no way you can get out of this. Take your bath!"
"Now! Yes you need soap! TAKE YOUR BATH!"

And when you're done ... hang up your towel.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Facebook is for Snarkers; Or, Get Off My Facebook!

I believe Facebook is for wit and snark. A place to entertain the masses. To make fun of stuff, mostly yourself.

However, there seem to be those who think otherwise. I call them, simply, Happy Cheerful People

Happy Cheerful People, I love you. I really do. It's people like you who make the world go round instead of imploding in a mushroom cloud of smirks and eyerolls. But I beg of you, take it elsewhere. At first I thought there should be a new Facebook for peppy people with eternally smiley children. But then my friend pointed out: "They already HAVE their own Facebook. It's called Instagram. And Pinterest!" So true. Pinterest: Facebook for the chipper, creative types.

So, please, get off my Facebook if you ever:

Have morning dance parties with your children

Refer to your offspring as "my happy little helpers," with accompanying photos of the beautiful food you managed to make with said helpers. My helpers just crack egg all over the counter.

Frequently make use of the little hearts, or the words "amazeballs" and "ridonkulous."

Wish a happy birthday/anniversary to "the best husband ever." (Oh MAN! You mean I got stuck with the second-rate husband? Not fair! And anyway, we all know now that George Clooney is the best husband ever, so game over.)

Were taking selfies at the beach or pool the Friday before Pesach, while I was elbow deep in my fridge, with the contents of my kitchen on display for the entire world to see. (5 open bags of rice cakes? And 3 jars of rosemary? I don't even use rosemary! Really, us? Why?) Or maybe I was toothpicking my sink. Or perhaps scrubbing dried milk and cereal bits off chair legs. Whatever. Know what I wasn't doing? Taking selfies at the beach.

Use the words "precious" "my loves" or "angels," in a non-sarcastic manner, to refer to your children.

Post pictures of homemade meals that required more than three steps (and "serve" counts as a step)

Post pictures of homemade clothing.

Actually, anything you made yourself belongs on Pinterest. Go there, my people, be with your own kind and your Mason jars and corks and dinner ideas that don't include the word "frozen" and strips of felt and like, ideas.

Use the phrase "Nothing like...." Because you will contradict yourself within the next 24 hours with the next thing that there is "nothing like."

Post about how your children requested your organic kale, bean + tofu bake for dinner ... again!

Post pictures of your set table and dressed children more than 30 minutes before start of chag.

Compare your Hawaiian vacation to your Caribbean vacation and crowdsource about where you should go next. Especially if you also post accompanying pictures of your toes.

Freely post pictures of your children in your living room/kitchen/dining room, because you aren't embarrassed about all the stuff that will appear in the background of picture: POCs and scattered remains of art projects and a squished Chess box and Legos and foil pans you haven't put away yet and the challah cover that's still out and Mt. Laundry. Why aren't you embarrassed? Because they're not there. I'm sorry, we can't be friends.

Have frequent meaningful teachable moments. "Every day is a learning opportunity!" Just, no.

Write about the awesome science/cooking/art project you did with your children that actually worked out. Here's one of ours:

Write, "Little Brady practically toilet trained himself! Bye-bye diapers!"

Badmouth TV, accompanied by a picture of your child playing with a stick or ball of dirt or a crumpled up piece of paper or his toes, and write, "Imaginative play at work! Who needs TV?"

Loyal Readers, what would you add to this list?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Parenting Through Cynicism

This post is dedicated to my children. Whom I love, though Loyal Readers of this blog may have the opposite impression. And one day, if they (my children) read through this blog, perhaps they will feel insulted. But then they will have their own kids and say Ohhhh, now I get it.

Because that's the thing. It's an unwritten rule (I think - hope?) among people who make fun of parenting on blogs that there's a single, underlying, unwavering truth: We love our kids to pieces. Like, so much it hurts and makes us a bit teary. But see, we don't need to blog about that. Everyone knows that. And since I live to entertain, it is much funnier to write about how you walked past the bathtub the other night and the following words came out of your mouth: "Do not put your foot in your brother's penis." (Just like that, the words rolled right off, without even thinking, like it ain't no thang.) Instead of "Gazing at my sleeping angels this morning. Nothing sweeter than these precious little faces! And, is that snot or saliva in her hair?" (See, I can't even through a pretend beautiful thought without snarking it up.)

So we write about the omg, exasperating, frustrating, when-is-it-bedtime, I can't believe I/they just did/said that moments, because parenting is often exasperating and frustrating and full of waiting for bedtime. (In the great words of the Dowager Countess on Downton Abbey - before she died of influenza - haha, did you think I spoiled something? I haven't even caught up on the latest season yet! I'm just playin' wicha - anyway, she said "One forgets about parenthood. The on-and-on-ness of it." Oh yes.)

But there are some Important Things I've learned about parenting through cynicism. And this post seems especially relevant now, having just come off a (lengthy, oh-so-lengthy) Pesach break. Where there was lots of eye rolling and "is it bedtime (mine) yet?" and "I'm running away and never coming baaaaaack!!!!!" moments, but also lots of genuinely enjoyable, fun, beautiful, amazing moments. Like Nadav doing the mah nishtanah ("But Ima," he whispers before he starts, "I need to stand on a chair!") and our chol hamoed tiyulim, hiking through aquaducts and climbing on ruins and beautiful views and lots of ice cream and realizing during car ride conversations that - yay! - our kids have a really awesome sense of humor and are fun to be around, when they are not pelting each other with potato chips and carefully noting every unfairness that is hurtled in their direction. (Seriously, the Unfairness Log could wrap the earth seven times).

So here are some of the Important Things I've learned:

1. Know when to turn it off. A healthy dose of cynicism is crucial for helping you get through the day, but knowing when to turn it off is equally as important. When I was tiyuling with the goons, I wasn't thinking, "Wow thank God they are not fighting." I was honestly and totally enjoying myself, enjoying them. For who they are, not what they were or weren't doing.

2. Only be cynical about your own kids. An obvious one. In the same way that you can make fun of your family members but God help the stranger that tries to, don't be cynical about other people's kids and their lack of parenting skills.

3. Listen to the stupid stories. I really try (and sometimes it's hard, man, so hard) not to roll my eyes at some seemingly insignificant story from school or a guess-what-happened-in-my-TV-show-last-night! Because of this powerful quote (and no, not "Wait for the Ben & Jerry's to soften a little. It will make it much easier to scoop into a bowl or directly into your mouth.") This one, which I found out thanks to Google, originates from Catherine Wallace: “Listen earnestly to anything [your children] want to tell you, no matter what. If you don't listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won't tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.” (Italics are mine.) So true.

4. Don't be a killjoy. Yes, when they are telling really obvious, unfunny jokes or singing through their entire Pesach repertoire (and there are MANY, many Pesach songs), I am tempted to indulge a big, yelly PLEASE STOP!!!!! (that's the polite version). But then I think, so what? They are enjoying themselves, having fun, being silly. Unless it's destructive or at a headache-inducing noise level, kids gonna do lots of things that will amuse themselves and will most likely bother me. But that's okay. They are kids, for crying out loud (yes, something else they excel at). Let them be silly and amusing and annoying. I'll deal.

So that's some of the behind-the-snark here at ABA.

In other news, an amusing Pesach moment:

Nadav, looking horrified at the idea of "matzah pizza," tries to negotiate for real pizza. "Just a small one," he bargains. When that was met with a definitive no, he tried a tactic that had worked so well the week before Pesach: "But I will eat it outside! On the mirpeset!" He was confused and angry and saddened when I refused that, too. In the end, he settled for scrambled eggs. Again. I gave him poofahs for creativity, but that did not mollify him. Oh well. Now he's back to big pizza that we can even eat inside, so all is well.

Also!!! He totally gets ruins now! "פעם זה היה בית. עכשיו זה נשבר/Once this was a house. Now it is broken." Yep, that's about right.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Cheating Post

As some of you may know, I also blog over at Jewish Values Online. Normally, the posts are a mix of semi-serious and snark. However, this week's blog post was something that I think my snark-only ABA readers would enjoy. So, here is the link, if you haven't read it yet.

If you have, I apologize for posting a new post here that's really just an old post from somewhere else.

Is it naptime yet?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I've Done So Much for Pesach Already!

Read it and weep, ladies. And then save those buckets of tears cuz I'm coming over with celery. (That was trash-talk, Pesach style).

What I've Done So Far:

Thought: Hmmm, Pesach is coming.

Confirmed our Seder guests. (Two of Ariella's favorite aunts - Aunt Gitte and Aunt Talia, plus Uncle Jonathan, who Ariella will begrudgingly allow to come because Aunt Talia doesn't like leaving him alone for the holidays).

Imagined Pesach preparations. In my mind's eye, I saw myself cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming the toy boxes and buying the food. Perfect.

Opened my old Pesach lists. Note: This was not as easy as it sounds! My files were still on my old cmputer, necessitating me to:
1. Find the old computer
2. Find the power cord that matches the old computer
3. Turn on the old computer
4. Realize this is actually the old old computer which does not have my files on it
5. Find the newer old computer (NOC)
6. Find the power cord that matches NOC
7. Turn on NOC
8. Panic because NOC immediately switches to a blank, black screen, with only a non-blinking white cursor line in the upper lefthand corner.
9. Immediately text and then follow up with an urgent call to Donny to solve my problem.
10. Harumph that his only advice is "I dunno, wait a little bit, maybe it needs to charge first for a while."
11. Feel grumbly and enter DPM (deep panic mode) when I envision to make a Pesach sans list.
12. Feel sheepish when it turns out Donny was right. After about a half hour of being plugged it, NOC opened smoothly.
13. Found the files and uploaded them to SkyDrive.
14. Returned to regular "new" computer and printed Shopping List.
15. Perused my master Pesach list of our "haves and have-notes" and breathed a sigh of relief that after 14 years of making Pesach and spending thousands of dollars/shekel, the biggest thing we need this year is another milk bag container.

Pictured cooking the food. The mind's eye is an efficient and productive place.

Tomorrow: We (Read: I) actually buy some food. Mainly to satisfy Nadav's Four Questions: When will you buy things for Pesach, Ima? (Repeat three more times).

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Funny Thing(s) Happened on the Way To Doing Homework

Almost every day, my children have homework. So you'd think it would come as no surprise when they return home from school with, you know, homework. You'd think they would be used to it. And yet. Every single time, homework is accompanied by severe bouts of moaning and kvetching, as if they walked into school completely unsuspecting, innocent children, and out of nowhere, HOMEWORK was hurled at them. So each day Doing Homework requires dramatics reminiscent of a prisoner on death row. Or of bath night.

Here's how the homework routine goes:

1. Complain
2. Negotiate for pre-homework TV time
3. Cry
4. Check email on way to getting pencil
5. Pencil is dull. Sharpen pencil.
6. Notice cows have returned to the hills across from our house
7. Go outside to moo at cows
8. Lie on floor
9. Use the bathroom
10. Check Webtop (class website)
11. Complain, louder
12. Cry, with tears
13. Lie in bed
14. Lie on couch
15. Ask for a pre-homework treat
16. Eat treat
17. Ask for a during-homework treat
18. Wash hands because treat made hands sticky/crumby/chocolatey
19. Whine
20. Moan, dramatically
21. Ask what's for dinner
22. Ask when we are having [insert favorite food] for dinner
23. Take out more pencils
24. Drop pencils on floor, breaking tips
25. Sharpen new pencil
26. Notice scratch on the wall
27. Become engrossed in toy/lint/piece of dirt
28. Wail about the unfairness of life in general, and homework assignments in particular
29. Sigh that Nadav is SO LUCKY that he doesn't have homework; ignore Mommy's repeated reminders that when you were 3.5, you also didn't have homework, and when Nadav is in school, he will
30. Sigh and finally take out books
31. Do homework

Note: The time it takes to do #1-30 is about 40,000x the amount of time it takes to do #31.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Thing is a-Coming

Fellow moms (and yes, I am addressing this post to the moms, because this is my blog and I'll stereotype if I want to), next Shabbat is one of Those weeks. You know the ones I'm talking about. It's one of the Get Your Kids to Shul on Time Definitely Not Too Late But Also Not Too Early for [a Thing.]

There are generally 4 categories of "a Thing":

1. Shofar blowing on Rosh Hashana

2. Listening to Parshat Zachor 

3. Kol Hanearim. While you've got wiggle room if you want to make it for hakafot (there are seven of the dang things, after all), you've got to time your shul-going just right to make it for all-the-kids-under-the-tallit-sniff-sniff kol hanearim. Which is after ... hakafah #7? (Why do I never remember?????) And woe unto you if you get to shul and hear, "Ad kan hakafah gimmel! Gimmel!" You've got a long way to go, baby. (And Daddy's shoulders can only handle about half a hakafah these days.)

3. Miscellaneous - including but not limited to: Hearing your son do A'anim Zemirot, (especially when the shul does it in the middle of davening and not at the end, very tricky) and candy throwing for bar mitzvah/Shabbat Chatan (especially when you are the ones BRINGING the candy and you start walking down the train tracks on Emek Refaim to get to Uncle Jonathan's shul and you realize 10 minutes in that you are walking the WRONG WAY down the tracks, and when you announce that fact in a shrieky sort of way, your daughter says, mildly, "Yeah, I thought we were, but I figured you knew what you were doing." I mean, sheesh, after 10.5 years of parenting, shouldn't she know by now that Mommy never knows what she's doing? Especially if it involves hairdos, conjugating numbers and directions?)

Anyway, the point is, you have to get to shul, and you certainly don't want to miss the Thing, but if you get there too early, you run the risk of blowing through all of your candy/toy cars/crackers/arm muscles during the Boring Pre-Thing Things (aka "prayer") and then during the actual Thing you have a kvetchy, bored, suddenly very LOUD child on your hands. And you wonder, once again, why no one has invented Shabbat-friendly Mind-Texting so your husband can alert you from shul. (You've got Mind Mail! "Almost at end of layning. Come now.") Or maybe a shul crier. (No, not my 3 year old). You know, someone who stands on the rooftop announcing loudly what they're up to inside.

Just this past week, Nadav and I tried to go to shul for his favorite part: the end. My heart sank as I walked in and through the looking glass saw everyone inside seated. Because you know what seated means. Seated means speech, which means it is a good - I mean bad - chunk of time before shul is over.

Anyway. So as for me, well, I'm just gearing up for this week's Thing. My bags are packed, my arms are ripped. Wish me luck and the magic of perfect timing. And if you are working on Mind Mail - hurry the heck up!!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

It's Award Time!

The blog that brought you "Lowering Your Standards Every Day" now brings you ...

A Parenting Award!

Qualifications: You must have a child.

To win: Is your child alive? Fed? (Clean is optional but definitely not required).


The award is chocolate or candy (for you), directly from my Secret Candy Hiding Stash. (Where is that hiding place? I can't tell you but let's just say Mommy isn't reaching for the cleaning spray five times a day.) Come by any time to claim your prize.

No need to bring alive, non-hungry (despite what they claim) child for proof. I believe you.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Trouble With Tongues

With thanks to Rachel, who reminded me that this insane little episode in our lives would make a great blog post.

So you know how preschoolers are generally an easygoing, laid back crowd? With their "Sure, Mom, no problem. Whatever makes it easier for you" attitude?

Some things you may hear from the 3 or 4-year-old set:

"Oh we are out of my favorite cereal? No worries. I'll eat something else."
"I'll wear that. Of course."
"He can go first this time."
"You're right. It IS too dark and too cold to go to the park now. Perhaps another time?"
"Thank you."
"You're right I DO have to pee."
"I understand. I can't have that toy right now/eat cake for dinner/fly to America tonight/will a persimmon to appear in the fridge, using the formidable powers of my mind."
"Here - have some time with my toy. Sharing is awesome."
"Let me give you some privacy in there. I can wait."

Or, as we used to say back in the '90s: NOT!

But as crazy as your preschooler is, your bilingual preschooler is EVEN crazier! And I'm not talking about mangled sentences like, "Ani rotzeh show you mashehu cool." Or confusing "rhymes" with "translations." (No, "blue" and "kachol" do NOT rhyme.)

So last night, we had hot dogs for dinner. Nadav excitedly ran to the table when I announced "hot dogs are ready!" but then glanced disgustedly down at this plate. He was not, he announced, going to eat this plebian "naknikiah." He was promised HOT DOGS. I tried, in many various forms, to explain that a "naknikiah" is a "hot dog" in Hebrew. They mean THE SAME. They are THE SAME THING. No, he insisted. Mommy is holding out on delectable hot dogs -- how fun do they sound???? It is probably the most delicious thing ever! -- and trying to appease me with this sad, limp little "naknikiah."

Well, he did the only reasonable thing left to do: Ate the hot dog, realized how much he loved it and sent his compliments to the chef.

No, fool! As if! Are you even paying attention? He OF COURSE threw himself down on the floor with such force I was afraid there was going to be a Nadav-shaped hole in our floor and wailed. WAILED I tell you. Tears, streaming. The kind we save for "Mommy and Daddy are going out for a little here is an unsuspecting teenager to take care of you" or someone washing netilat yadayim before him. I offered him different dinner options (cereal, natch)  but he was not to be swayed. He was going to have HOT DOGS or die trying.

Finally, Ariella was able to calm him, using the age-old trick of offering him something completely random and irrelevant ("Do you want to rest in Ariella's bed?"). This shocked him, mid-wail, effectively taking the "outing" of his "shouting," leaving us only with the "sh."

He then agreed to eat cereal for dinner.

I was never more grateful than I was at that moment that "cornflakes," in Hebrew, is "cornflakes."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A New Blog (Donny's) and a New Downward Spiral (Mine)

First, I would like to wish us all a mazel tov on expanding the By Accident family. You will notice on the blogroll a brand new blog: Donny's "Investing by Accident." Come for the snark, stay for the sound financial advice!

In other news, I am catching up on my parenting magazines (aka "You're Doing It Wrong.") My mother-in-law is here from America and she always very kindly brings me a bundle of magazines. Yay! That's the good news. The bad news is that it turns out I am even a more terrible parent than I originally thought. Apparently my motto of "Lowering your standards, one day at a time" does not put you on the fast track for winning parenting accolades.

For example, this nugget of wisdom: "Instead of sticking the stuffed animals in the washing machine, we let Kaytleen take them into the bath with her. The toys get clean and Kaytleen has fun!" 
Wait a minute. I'm supposed to be washing them? On a regular basis? And the stuffed animals too? Craaaaaaap.

Also, I am so, so losing at the Food Art contest. To encourage my children to eat a wide variety of nutritious, healthy, colorful foods (and no, Fruity Pebbles do NOT meet the criteria, I'm told), I am supposed to craft cucumbers into lilypads and cauliflower into fluffy clouds and fish into, I don't know, fish? and spaghetti squash into a wholesome, nourishing noose so I can slowly hang myself.

Would the parenting powers that be, do you think, approve of "Hot dog is a protein and ketchup is a vegetable" night(s)?

Sigh. I didn't think so, either.

Anyway, as I bravely continue my downward spiral, parenting-wise, neither making cozy homemade felt animals nor helping my children develop creative zeal nor creating a Gratitude Garland nor being nicer to myself by "freshening up my surroundings" nor sculpting my salad nor doing anything with the scandalous-sounding "decoupage" (me, I try to stay covered up) nor Being Loving but Also at the Same Time Firm (oh so that's the trick???) nor -- oooh what's this item? "Cuddle up in New Pajamas?" That I can get on board with. Parenting magazines, I knew I always liked you. Let me change and I'll be right back.