Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Bilingual Sari

Driving home from Brooklyn one Sunday evening, Mordechai and I were talking about different languages. He asked me if I know Yiddish and I answered that I don't know much. Sari piped up from her seat, "I know Yiddish." Surprised, I asked, "You do?" She nodded vigorously, pigtails bobbing yummily, "Sure! Abi Meleibt!"

Jewish music (?)

Tired of all the Christmas music? Try these on for size and let me know what you think: The LeeVees or Mattisyahu.

Hat tip to MCAryeh.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Monday, December 19, 2005

Summer Days

The chill has been getting into my bones. Nothing like going through your summer family pictures to warm the soul - except chicken soup, of course. Oh, and hot cocoa, and fresh-baked chewy chocolate chip cookies, and ...

From Tante P.'s garden:

At Philadelphia's Please Touch Me Museum:

In Dutch Wonderland (an absolute must for young kids - not a whine all day guaranteed!):

At the Crayola store:

The Philadelphia Zoo:

Breath-taking sampling of the animal kingdom. Recommended for all ages.

Classic. Drippy ice cream cones on Savta's porch:

The local park:

At the new aquarium in Camden, NJ - another must see:

That is a hippo - awesome!

A view of Philadelphia from Camden:

The ever-popular ball pit at the former Oobah Doobah:

At Miriam Bornstein's wedding:

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Good and Bad

The good news: I think (I'm hesitant to be more definite for fear of demons, evil eye, or whatnot) I finally have an internet connection up and running. Dovid forced me to buy high-speed service - he called Earthlink and handed the phone to me when it got too technical for him to proceed i.e. they asked him something like "do you have a laptop or a desktop?" After, several failed attempts and with the able assistance of Penina, I even got Gertrude, our pet wireless router, to do her thing. We even had the customer service agent at Belkin referring to the router as Gertrude and cheering her resurrection!

The bad news? I'm so behind on my blogging that a sense of hopelessness is starting to set in. The olam ha'blog did not cease to turn during my forced hiatus. My favorite bloggers have been as prolific in their writings as ever. I feel like I'll never catch up! Plus, in my current panicky state, I can't remember any of the stuff I wanted to post.

The good news: I can always refer back to Haveil Havalim #48: A J-Blogger's Feast by MCAryeh that is really awesome and quite comprehensive. Check it out to see what's been up lately in the j-blogs.

More news (good or bad, depends on your perspective): I won't be around to post much for a little while due to the Chanukah Crunch. I refer to the short window of time between now and Chanukah in which I must produce and ship about 40 hebrew name bracelets that were ordered as Chanukah gifts. Check out the link for details if you're interested. Forgive the website - I didn't have a clue when I set it up and haven't had the chance to redo it since then. The pictures there do little justice. The bracelets are beautiful!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


A week or two back, I borrowed some books for Mordechai from a teacher in school. Today I let him know that I'd be returning them this week. He said, "Okay, I think I'm done with them. Tell her thank you and tell her your son liked the books alot." Whoever says this generation has no manners has not met my angel!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Food for thought

This was posted in September but I just read it. And I thought it was interesting. Made me feel a bit hot under the collar.

When in Rome...

That there on the left is my Uncle Meyer. And, yes. The other one is the pope. Leave it to Uncle Meyer! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Got a minute?

It's actually 18 minutes long. By "it", I mean a short film called Pallywood about Palestinian "news" sources. Give it a look-see when you've got the time.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Mom, can I borrow the keys?

Mordechai came home and announced that Binyomin wanted him to come over to his house after school the next day. He dug in his pocket and fished out a paper. Unfolding the paper, he continued to explain that he had taken down Binyomin's phone number and address (with the exception of a backwards seven, the info was accurate). So, could I please call his mother to finalize the plans? Sure, whatever you say, cap'n.

The templates, they are a-changin'

Over at CodeScripter, Mirty has me and a handful of like-minded (i.e. geek wannabe) bloggers tinkering with our templates. Well, actually I haven't done any tinkering yet, but I've been preparing to tinker, which brought me face to face with my blogroll in its HTML nakedness.

Funny thing about blogrolls - every so often you look at yours and wonder "Who the heck wrote this list?" because it's very different from the list of blogs you actually read. Why is that so? For some blogs, the reason is simply because the blogger stopped posting and so you stopped visiting. In some cases, a blogger kind of switched gears and no longer blogs about things that capture your interest. In some cases, it's you who has switched gears and so you've grown apart from a blog. Of course, there's always new blogs you bump into and fall in love with.

So, do I scrap the whole list and rewrite my blogroll as it stands in reality today? I'm reluctant to do that. At some point, this blog that I no longer frequent, was one of my regular reads. Maybe one day I'll revisit it and take it up again like rediscovering an old friend after spending years going your separate ways. If I delete it now, like erasing my old friend's name from my phonebook, I may never think of it again and an opportunity may be missed. No, I think I'll keep all the old stuff and add the blogs I'm currently reading to the list. How to organize it? Regular reads vs. occasional visits vs. candidates for possible future exploration? Too difficult. Too many gray blogs that fall in between or nowhere near these black-and-white categories. In short, a logistical nightmare. I think I'll have to stick with an assorted mix of blogs that you might or might not enjoy browsing through on one rainy day. Who knows? Maybe we'll meet each other through a mutual "friend".

Thursday, November 10, 2005


So, I saw Ushpizin. My impressions of the film:

• Entertainment value: 3 stars (4 if, like me, you get a real kick out of watching Israelis on the big screen being Israeli with all their mannerisms and expressions)
• Storyline: decidedly unexciting
• Light in which it depicts both charedi and secular Jews: unfavorable. Charedim (ultra-orthodox Jews) come out looking like primitive people who are too helpless to do anything but pray. Perhaps I'm missing something, but if my husband wasn't getting his kollel check and there was no food on the table on Erev Succot, I'd send him to get himself a job building some rich guy's sukka - not to go sit on a bench and pray. (He can pray while he hammers.) A little more hishtadlut, people! Then again, I have no idea what Breslovers feel about such matters and maybe hishtadlut is not in their book. The only seculars we meet in the movie are two irreverent, arrogant criminals who, until they have created a serious rift in their hosts' marriage, devote their time to making the said hosts miserable. Hmmm.

Anyone else saw it? Whadidya think?

Shower entertainment

I was in the shower this morning when Sari walked in and announced that she needed to use the bathroom. "Go ahead," I told her. Before she got started, she assured me, "It's okay. I don't need my privacy."

Pleasure to meet you, again

In was "re-introduced" to Ima (my mom-in-law) the other night. I see her in a way I never did before. Well, that's not entirely true. I've always thought of her as extremely kind. She goes out of her way to make a phone call or send a card to make someone's day. Her house is open to guests, and distant "cousins" seem to materialize all the time and benefit from her generous hospitality. She truly is a kind soul.

Many people know Ima as the driver's ed lady. She was telling me how she ends each semester urging - no, begging - her students not to drive after having drunk. She tells them that if ever they're in a situation where the driver has been drinking and they're stuck, call her and she'll get them home - anytime, anywhere. And these are not just empty words. A former student called her at 1:00 AM one summer night. He was out in the Catskills with some staff friends who had been drinking. He was the designated driver. Problem was, he had had a couple of beers too. Ima (being in the city) could not drive him home but she instructed him to call a cab. Since he had no money on him, she spoke with the cab service and gave her VISA number over the phone to cover the trip back to camp for the boys. After retelling the story, Ima shrugged and said, "My little bit of tzedaka." Hey, don't underestimate yourself. And it's a pleasure to get to know you, again.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Subway nightmare?

Ha! No kidding. Take it from someone who barely survived it - with two children, a baby, and a husband! What was supposed to be a ride with one simple cross-the-platform transfer turned into a mess of three trains and a shuttle with staircases galore. Every time I ride the subway, I'm reminded of how inaccessible the system is to wheelchairs (and strollers, for that matter). It is impossible for a handicapped person in a wheelchair to ride the NYC subway system. There's no way around it. It's shameful, in my opinion. But, I digress. Sunday's chol hamo'ed train trip was not in vain as the whole family enjoyed the Children's Museum of Manhattan tremendously. Definitely worth a trip - by car.

Sari to Rivky:

(looking at a wedding picture of Rivky and her three youngest sisters around her) “Are them your grandchildren?”

Sari can help

I was coughing as I have been wont to do these past several weeks or so. Sari turns to me and asks, "Are you need me to burp you?" What? Then by way of clarification: "You know, like when I cough and Namie burps me." She proceeds to demonstrate by whacking Ada on the back two or three times. Oh. I see.


Mordechai: You know, Mommy, some buildings are higher than ours. Like they can have 13 floors!
Me: that's true.
I hope only goyish people live there.
Oh? (wondering what's so bad about tall buildings)
Yeah, because on Shabbos it would be hard to go up so many stairs. (pauses, thinking) Probably those buildings are not for living anyway, just for offices.

A word of explanation

You may be wondering why I haven't posted in so long and am suddenly posting by the ton. The answer is that, sadly, I seem to no longer have internet access from my home. I have continued to write on my beloved laptop (yes, I do still love it even though my comma key is broken. Nobody's perfect.). I am now posting from Mom's computer all the stuff that has been written over the past couple of weeks. Sorry for the overload. Feel free to read only a bit in one sitting. Anyone interested in sponsoring internet access in my home can contact me. Smaller donations also welcomed.

That's a good question (and we all know what that means!)

Dad dug up some world maps for the kids after some badgering from - guess who - Mordechai. One of them is currently hanging on our kitchen wall at kid height to allow for regular study. Mordechai gets a real kick out of learning this kind of stuff. Lately he has taken to comparing his map with the one on the wall and trying to find the same country on each one. At first he assumed they were the same which led me to point out out the differences. I don't think he was getting the whole idea of projections and stuff, but, I guess there's no harm in hearing about it. He has some really good questions, too. Dovid apparently branded some countries as bad places. Mordechai pointed out Algeria and Libya as two of the "bad countries". I explained that they're not all bad but the people who live there are Arabs and they usually don't like Jews.
Why not?
Well, they don't like that Jews live in Israel and want them to leave. That's why there's a lot of fighting sometimes.
Where else do Arabs live?
I showed him Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Iraq, and Iran. I'm sure I missed some in my list but he got the picture. Then came,
Why do the Arabs want Israel so much if it's so tiny and they have so many big countries already?

Next topic, G-d. Why didn't Hashem just make us goyim so we could have a lot of countries?
Well, Hashem made us special because he gave us the Torah. He did that so he could give us a lot of good stuff. Hashem said if you do the mitzvos, then good will come to you and you will go to Gan Eden.
How do you get there?
When a person dies, his neshama goes up to shamayim and if he has a lot of mitzvos, he gets to go to Gan Eden. Imagine your favorite things. Gan Eden is a hundred times better than that. You could eat all the nosh you want and you won't get a stomachache.
(wide-eyed) And you let?
You let me eat all the nosh?
You bet. And there's hundreds of rides and moonwalks to go on and you never have to go to sleep and you don't even get tired and there's tons of toys and books and people to explain interesting stuff and answer all your questions.
How does my neshama eat anything in Gan Eden if my body is buried in the cemetery?
It's all very magical, so it's hard for us to understand.
How does my neshama get there? It can't drive or walk without a body.
It kind of flies.
What does it look like?
It's an invisible part of you but it's really there.
Oh like - what's it called when the water turns into air but it's still there?
Yeah, that! Is it like that?
(thinking what a great analogy that is) yes!
Where is my neshama? In my heart?
Sort of.
How does my neshama know where to go when I die?
It knows because it's going home. That's where your neshama was before you were born. When you were born it came into your body and when you die it goes back home.
Like it's going to school?
Yes - and your neshama takes a knapsack to fill up with as many mitzvos as it can while he's at school. The more mitzvos he gets the better spot he gets in Gan Eden. The mitzvos are like his tickets to get in.
What was here before Hashem?
(eyes darting searching for escape route) Um…. Hashem was always here, even before the whole world.
Yes, but what about before Hashem was here?
It's hard to know exactly and it's very hard to understand.
Was I born in Manhattan?
(with relief) Yes….

Whew. Sometimes his questions really drain me. That conversation was totally exhausting. I hope I'm giving him the "right" answers. I worry that he takes things to seriously and feels too much pressure to do things "right". I realize this is all pretty heavy stuff for a kid his age, but what am I supposed to say when he asks? I pray I'm doing okay.

Ada update

Still doing the tushie-bop scoot thing. Two lower incisors are in. Loves to find articles of clothing around the house and "dress" herself by putting them over her head and hanging them around her neck and shoulders. Gets a big kick out of reading books and pointing to random spots on the page. Likes to get involved with whatever her older siblings are doing: If they're running back and forth and laughing, she'll do the same (scooting, of course). If they're playing Connect Four, she joins right in, putting the chips in the slots. If they're playing a board game, she grabs some cards and, um, sits in middle of the board. That's usually when the abuse starts. She has unfortunately learned to hit when she gets mad. Heh, you thought she was too young? No, sirree. She doesn't talk or walk yet. Fortunately, she's as beautiful and cuddly as ever and does that incredibly charming trick of burying her head in your chest and peeking up at you through her eyelashes. I fall for that one every time.


Passing a cemetery while driving on Ocean Parkway, Sari calls out gleefully from her carseat, "Them dead!" (ba-dum-bum)

Mordechai's flag from school was really quite nice, Tissue paper glued between two sheets of plastic created a colorful stained-glass effect. Bright red yarn was threaded through holes punched around the edges. Mordechai melted my heart when he told me, "I was happy I got red because I know that's your favorite color!"

Sari was quite taken by Mordechai's flag and asked if she could keep it. I told her maybe next year she'd make her own flag in school. Genuine concern could be heard in her voice as she replied, "But I don't know how to sew."

To further demonstrate Mordechai's heart of gold: As my mom served a delicious Yom Tov meal, a serving plate came out with a particular favorite of mine. Mordechai was quick to point out, with whole-hearted happiness for my good fortune, "Oh, Mommy! You like that."

Monday, October 10, 2005

Not so happy Columbus Day

I woke up with the sorest throat I can remember having in a very long time. Plus my neck and shoulders are stiff and achy. My head is pounding. Ada was vomiting. Ditto for Sari. I measured Ada as having a temperature of 101.1 degrees. Dovid just called that he has a massive stomach ache. My TMJ has been so bad that I actually wake up during the night because the teeth grinding is so loud. I have to do two carpools today. But on the bright side, I have a day off today. Somehow I'm not finding such tremendous joy in that.

In any case, thanks for listening to me whine.

Update: We have strep. All of us. That is, except for Dovid who's considering moving out for the night ;). Well, I feel much better now. Not physically but emotionally. There's nothing like having your illness validated by a positive throat culture. None of that "it's just a virus" garbage. I am sick and I've got the culture plate to prove it!

Things that annoy me

  • The dust at the bottom of the bag of Cheerios. In this age of technology you'd think they'd have figured out by now how to keep that out of my bowl .
  • The way that people tell me when they meet me how much they enjoy reading my blog and have many comments about various posts but yet THEY NEVER POST THEIR COMMENTS ONLINE! (Sorry. That one really gets to me sometimes.)
  • The fact that my comma key (right between the "m" and the period) is not functioning well and, when I reread some of my writing, I find, to my utter horror, missing commas where I know I must have typed them. What could be more annoying than missing commas, especially when two are required to offset a clause and one is missing? The answer to that should be obvious to you all. Nothing. Nothing could be more annoying. Except maybe...
  • Realizing that it is 1:16 AM and you had planned to go to sleep early but you couldn't bring yourself to close the darn laptop before you vented to the Internet about things that annoy you.

According to Mordechai

This is how it works: There are three books. One is for mal'achim (angels) and they for sure get a sweet new year. One is for resha'im (wicked people) and they don't get a sweet new year. And most of us are in the middle book. We sometimes do mitzvos and sometimes do aveiros. If we daven and do teshuva we'll get to the book for a sweet new year. If not, chas v'shalom, we go to the book for not a sweet new year. But children don't have to worry so much 'cause this is mostly for grown-ups.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Happy Birthday!

Ada just celebrated her first birthday on Rosh Hashana morning. Seems like ages ago when she was born last year - trip with Hatzola to LIJ, no time for "pain relief" (again!), spending three days (Rosh Hashana and Shabbat) in the hospital with Ada (who was named that Shabbat after I had left Dovid with the final name decision. I kept looking at my baby wondering why I was the only person in Yeshiva who didn't know her name! What was I thinking? Or was I not thinking at all?), lovely roommates (one's husband blew the shofar for us both days), Mordechai and Dovid picking us up after Shabbat and bringing me home to a spotless apartment and a sleepy Sari courtesy of my awesome neighbors (that would be Nachum and Penina, of course), my mom being there for me with all the newborn stuff that was needed. One year later, Ada's as beautiful as ever and is such a joy to our family. She has even been pulling some all-nighters (sleeping, that is) in the past few weeks. In celebration, I thought it was about time I shared some footage of the famous "Ada Method of Ambulation". When you hear someone say "do the Ada", this is what they're referring to: (click on the image)

The next clip was shot in the early morning hours. She's doing what she does best, namely, sitting and lookin' pretty!

Where are thumbkin?

Sari's doing really well in preschool, thank G-d. She told me she made a lulav today and she's "gonna shake it in front and in back and this side and this side and up and down." So cute. But even cuter: What comes after Rosh HaShana? Ask Sari. She'll tell you, "Yom Klipper". (I believe she got confused because in honor of the day they made a pair of slippers.) Check out this sampling of a song learned at school:

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Mirty rocks!

Mirty, of Mirty's Place has launched a new blog called codescripter. She promises to teach us the road to better blog code. Since I started this blog, I've been itching to learn more about how all this html code works and how you could play with it to make it do what you want it to. The thought of such power excites me. Something about the word "command" sends tinglings of glee racing through my limbs. (I'm sure any shrinks out there would have a heyday with that knowledge.) I'm not sure I mentioned it in my profile, but I love to learn new things. Hence, I am totally psyched!

Energizer? No, Duracell.

It just keeps going...and going...and going!

Puzzleholics anonymous

First it was the crossword. I realize I'm totally addicted. I've even been known to rummage through the recycling bin to see if I can find a discarded Arts section from the NY Times. And now, I have a subscription to the NY Sun which supports my habit. I struggle sometimes and tell myself to stop, but the high I get from filling in every last square is so glorious I just can't help myself.
As if that wasn't enough, I've been introduced to Sudoku.
They say these sort of puzzles are a great way to ward of diseases of the mind like Alzheimer's and dementia. Yeah, yeah. I know I'm only 27. But, hey...I'm not getting any younger!

Coming Out

Oy vey. I totally agree with Orthomom. The news of Alan Statdmauer coming out of the closet and leaving Orthodoxy can have a very damaging effect on his former students. It's certainly a very disturbing story.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

There aint no cure for stupid

Radio Blogger has a transcript and mp3 of Lt. Gen. Honore stepping up to the mike and taking over a press conference in New Orleans. I just love the way he stuck to his guns in the face of stupid reporters. Of course, the blogosphere is wild over the best line of the speech: "Don't get stuck on stupid!"

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Say cheese!

PsychoToddler hit the nail on the head with this great post. You'd have to had experienced this to understand. I especially loved his description of the evolution of a smile:

I don't know what it is with kids. But they don't know how to smile. I know that when they are born, you can get them to smile by tickling them or surprising them or giving them something that produces gas. But at some point, when they get to preschool maybe, they forget how to smile. They confuse smiling with dentistry. It's like they try to show all their teeth. That's a smile. It's not attractive. It takes a kid who looks reasonably good and turns him or her into some kind of insane fiendish demon.

And I guess, after they figure out that this is not the best way to look good in a picture, then comes the grinning stage. Whereby they clamp down on their lips to avoid exposing any teeth at all. To me, this looks equally ridiculous.

At this point, the only way to get a decent picture is to surprise them, like in this example where I didn't tell my daughter I was taking a picture until she looked up. And then I made her say something stupid, like Chewbroccoli.

Or you can try to capture them in a natural state, like when they're doing something they really enjoy.

The thing that absolutely doesn't work is to try to tell them how to smile. Because if you do that, in addition to a weird mouth contortion, you also get furrowed
He must know my Mordechai! It's just too weird otherwise. Ada's still young enough to capture smiling au naturel, that is, if she doesn't cry or crawl scoot away. Sari has just started to experiment with her smile but she's still capable of being surprised into a smile by some stupid joke. I present to you the product of a most harrowing experience:

Ada was fast losing patience for the whole portrait process and was intent on scooting away, off that curtain. In desperation, I said "Can we confine her in something thereby forcing her participation?" Ergo, the baby in a bucket. The expression on her face is actually the little whimper that precedes a full-blown fit.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

They've erupted

Ada's first two teeth, that is. Photos as soon as I can manage to get a decent shot.

Kindred spirits

Which will keep you drier, running through the rain or walking? I just think it's so cool that people are geeky enough to test this sorta' stuff. That is so my type.

And, while we're on the subject of my kind of people, I present to you: Grammar Cop. Now there's a job I would totally love to get paid for. As things stand now, I do it for free and usually don't get too much gratitude in return.

Popular Baby Names

Turns out that Ada ranked #33 in most popular baby names in the U.S. in the year 1880! Sarah has made the top 10 every year since 1978. Golda was at its peak in 1894 coming in at #294. Mordechai was found in the top 1000 only once in the records that are available. That would be #973 in the year 2003. However, in New York City, Mordechai is now ranked at #155. It seems I've started a trend. ;) What possessed me to check this all out? It all started with this article. Check out the related links for some more name fun.

Hat tip: orthomom

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Mazal Tov!

Mordechai's first tooth fell out! A truly momentous occasion.

First word?

I think Ada's been saying "mama" to refer to me. I'll keep you posted when that theory is confirmed. (For the record, the other two first words in the house, if my memory serves me correctly, were both "dada".)

Out of the mouths of babes

At Miriam and Boruch Pfeiffer's sheva brachot this past Friday night, the kids wanted to play outside. They asked the nearest adult (Miriam's beautiful and darling cousin, Nechama) to come out to supervise them. The children, presumably checking her qualifications as a grown-up, asked her if she was married. She replied that no, she was not married. Mordechai piped up with the next question, "Oh, you're still looking?"

Friday, September 16, 2005

Sweet or sour?

My daily snack this week was a plum. Apparently, end-of-summer plums don't suit everyone's tastes. Each plum had a little tiny bite in it where Sari had checked to see if it was sweet or sour. And so, when snack time rolled around each day, I fell in love with Sari all over again.

Those plums were just glorious.

The gates of tears

Tap here for a heart-rending clip from Neve Dekalim's final hours.

תמכתי יתדותי ... בשערי דמעות כי לא נשלבות

יהי רצון ...שתשים דמעותינו בנאדך להיות,
ותצילנו מכל גזרות אכזריות,
כי לך לבד עינינו תלויות

I have placed my reliance... on the gates of tears for they are never closed

May it be Your will...that You place our tears in Your flask permanently,
And that You rescue us from all cruel decrees,
For on You alone are our eyes fixed.

[from the ne'ilah service on Yom Kippur]

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Please vote

Okay, here's the thing. When I named my second daughter, I didn't think too long about the spelling of her name. "Aida" was out, even though I like the look of it, because that would be pronounced ah-ee-duh, like the Broadway musical. So I left it as "Ada" figuring nothing could go wrong. Well, this was not to be the case. Apparently, my fellow Jews have reading issues. Non-Jews seem to have no problem reading her name correctly as ay-duh. It's the Jewish people, or, more specifically, the frum (whatever that means to you) people I meet who assume the name should be pronounced ah-duh. There is the option of spelling it "Ayda", although I'm not sure I like how that looks. (A friend of mine jokingly suggested "Ayduh" so there's no confusion.) Now, should I ignore those illiterates and keep the spelling as is or should I spare her a lifetime of correcting every Jewish teacher during roll call on the first day of school?

What do you think, Ada or Ayda?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Postage Paid Envelope Revenge

Postage Paid Envelope Revenge For when you've received the nth piece of junk mail that sends you over the edge. Discover card application, perhaps?


Some of Mordechai's thoughts on school:

1. He doesn't like the bus 'cuz the kids are all talking too loud and the bus driver yells at them to be quiet and sit down and the bus driver's voice is loud and scary. (Ah, school bus memories....scary times, those rides. Glorious when you reach monitor status.)

2. He seems very impressed with Morah Reitzy. According to him, when children misbehave or shout, she doesn't shout like most morahs do. She uses a "nice, soft voice." I'm also pretty impressed.

3. (background info: Last year school was from 9 to 3. Now it's 8 to 4 with morning bus pickup at 7:10 AM!! Because, you know, these kids are five and, if you don't start early enough, how can they be expected to learn gemara with real understanding as adults? And, besides, there's zman kriat sh'ma to consider, of course.)
Walking home from the bus stop today, he commented that it was a long day. He explained, "It's a whole two hours extra because, instead of 9, we start at 8 and then we end at 4!" He shook his head sagely and let out a resigned sigh. I stopped him in his tracks and demanded to know who told him that. He shrugged and said no one did. Not accepting that, I grilled him, "But how did you know it's two hours more than last year?" He looked at me with the look that people behind desks reserve for very annoyingly slow-witted individuals and started explaining it again slowly. "Mmhmm," I murmured (in awe), "I see, now."

Monday, September 12, 2005

Chocolate Cake Lovers Unite!

Duncan Hines Decision on Cake Upsets Some Who Keep Kosher [The New York Sun] . Understatement of the century! The future of the easy, no-ingredients-necessary dessert is at stake here, people. And, let's not forget the endless delicacies made possible by doctored cake mixes. This calls for a public outcry the likes of which this country has never seen before. Let your voices be heard! (Click here) Let not history judge us unfavorably for having remained silent.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Torn Together

A short video. Tell me what you think.

Hat tip: Ima

No, thanks

I was asking Mordechai tonight what he'd like to learn in Pre-1A. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Would you like to learn the alphabet and aleph-bet?
Mord (rolling eyes): C'mon, Mom. I know that already.
Me: Math?
Mord: Yeah, yeah. Like plus and that other thing you showed me in my notebook (referring to multiplication table found on the inside cover of his marble composition notebook). I don't know that so well so I need to practice that alot.
Me: Reading?
Mord: Yeah, so I could read the 'miros (z'mirot - Shabbat songs) by myself.
Me: How 'bout reading English?
Mord (with a dismissive wave of his hand): Oh, I could just sound it out. No, thanks.

It's good to be back

Although there's been nothing posted in the last couple of weeks, I've been writing here and there. Only, with my web connection in the dumps, those writings never matured into full-blown posts. But I'm back. Sorry, Internet. Coffee break's over.

Today was my first day back at work. Nothing to celebrate about, believe you me. I so enjoyed the summer vacation. I still can't believe how busy I was. I thought I'd have so much time on my hands that I'd run out of things to do. No such problem arose.

Yesterday was Dovid's first day at work as a Rebbe in Tiferes Yisrael. By his report, he has a great bunch of kids and is looking forward to a good year. Hatzlacha, honey! I'm so proud!

Today was Sari's first day at "school". She says she has lots of friends but she doesn't know their names yet. She'll ask them tomorrow. They sat in a circle and sang songs but she doesn't know what the songs are called. They colored with crayons and markers. They went out to the blue playground because the yellow one was still locked. And when she was resting on the blue bed (i.e. cot), her Daddy peeked through the window, she ran to get her pink Hello Kitty knapsack, and went home. Of course, she crashed into bed at 6:00 sharp. (sigh) my baby princess.

Katrina. I can't not mention Katrina. It's been on my mind and in my heart almost constantly since last week. I wanted to avoid saying anything. That's my immature way of trying to erase the tragedy from existence. It's too terrible to define in words. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of victims and with the survivors whose lives will be changed forever. As my longtime readers know, my dear friend Malkah, lived with her family in NOLA. Thank G-d, she and her family made it out to Houston by car on Tuesday of last week. She left with her jewelry and ketubah. Please daven for everyone affected by this monster they named Katrina.

A note about a feeling that I get listening/reading some reactions to the whole tragedy. People are angry. Very angry. And some, quite understandably so. For some this anger is part of the grieving process. For some it is anger at the response or lack thereof. But some of the anger seems to be about the fact that we "allowed" this to happen. The argument goes, shouldn't we, a developed, powerful nation in the 21st century with all of its sophisticated technology and deep understanding of our universe and its workings, shouldn't we have avoided this tragedy? Shouldn't we have been prepared enough to wrestle Katrina and take her down for the count? Could not man protect himself from "Katrina's" wrath? It is with this argument that I take exception. To me, words such as those smack of kochi v'otzem yadi asah li et hachayil hazeh (Devarim 8:17 - my power and the might of my hand has brought me all this prosperity). In truth, man is not almighty. As powerful as we imagine ourselves to be, as smart as we think we are, we are mere humans, pawns, if you will, in G-d's master plan. We are so easily fooled by the illusion that we are in control, that we are masters of our fate. We toil and prepare and when we feel we've covered all bases, we sit back and relax because, after all that we've done, what can go wrong? Man, wake up! Hakitzu mishaynatchem (awaken from you slumber)! And know this: Hakol b'ydei Shamayim, chutz miyir'at shamayim (everything is in Heaven's hands, except the fear of Heaven).

May the new year bring only happiness, good tidings, and the final redemption for all of K'lal Yisrael.

Monday, August 22, 2005

On vacation

Vacations are exhausting! But nice, too. The Mayfam is spending the week at Aunt Phyllis's in Gladwyne, PA - a hop and a skip from Philadelphia (you have got to hear Sari say that word!). We are staying in the barn, which is, for those of you who have no idea, actually a very lovely guest house that used to be a barn. With two bedrooms, full bath, living room, dining room, play area, and kitchen plus a loft, it's bigger than my regular apartment. The kids adore it because it comes pre-stocked with toys (Tante P has 8 grandchildren, b"ah) and we all know that somebody else's toys are much cooler than your own. Mordechai is old enough to have memories of previous stays at the barn as well as Chanukah parties that are traditionally held there. Last week, he was talking excitedly to Sari about the prospect of staying there for a while. She joined him in celebrating their future stay at the "barm" but later asked me, a note of concern in her voice, "Are the cows bite?"

On Sunday, we visited the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA. It's about 1 hour and 45 minutes from New York. The trip to Gladwyne from Easton was another hour and 20 minutes. Mordechai was doing the classic "Are we there yet?" routine, and, at one point, I told him we were 25 minutes from the barn. He looked at his watch and noted the time was 5:57. After a moment of mental calculation, he sighed, "That's not till 6:22!" I know grown-ups who can't do that math in their heads!

Today's activities included meeting up with my cousin, Abby, and her two daughters, Chaya and Eli, at Shalom's Pizza. That would be the only kosher pizza shop in town. Suffice it to say we are very spoiled in New York. After lunch, we headed to the very lovely Philadelphia Zoo. I'll post pics when I get a chance.

You might notice some changes to my bloglists in the sidebar. In appreciation of my dear aunt's hospitality, I have deleted some links. I have also added a few which you will find under the title "Blogs Tante P Wants You to Read". I'm sure she'd love your feedback, especially if you like them! (Dear Tante P, I love you!)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Well, what would you do if your son asked you?

It's been a long day. Fasting is never fun although I don't imagine it's meant to be. I don't logically expect kids to understand that your patience may just not last as long on Tish'a B'Av. But on an emotional level... Couldn't they just try?

I was on duty with the kids all day. They had gone to sleep late for two nights already, thanks to a great weekend at Meema and Zaidy's house. Their sleep deficit was manifesting itself in general crankiness, kvetchiness, and inability to be satisfied. If I gave him a gummy worm as a treat, it was the wrong one. If he was thirsty, he only wanted orange juice, which we were out of. And, no, he did not want to take a bath even though he was sweaty and dirty from a long, fun, but hot weekend. I was not enjoying. To add to the festivity, Ada has a double ear infection. I know this because she was irritable all weekend and hasn't slept three consecutive hours in several nights. Also because I took her to the doctor in the midst of a drenching thunderstorm late this afternoon to have my diagnosis confirmed so I could get her started on antibiotics and hopefully give the poor baby some relief. By the time, bedtime rolled around, I was not the most cheerful mommy in town. I finally got Ada to sleep. Mordechai was finally in bed after a prolonged search for the police car he wanted ("No, not that one, the other one!"). Sari was out of bed for the third time and I had adopted the ignore-her-and-she'll-eventually-
get-so-tired-she'll-go-to-bed-herself approach. I collapsed on the couch, weak with exhaustion. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Sari go to the bedroom and breathed a mental sigh of relief. Hah! Spoke Thought to soon! I hear Sari and Mordechai arguing loudly. By the time I made it to their bedroom, Ada was awake, wailing. Sari was clinging to the top of the ladder trying to get on Mordechai's bed and he was pushing her trying to prevent her from succeeding. And I was doing everything in my power not to break down in tears. I banished Sari to the living room, commanded Mordechai to lie back down, and plopped onto the glider with Ada to nurse her back to sleep for what felt like the umpteenth time. V'Kan HaBen Sho'el (and here the son asks): Can you write me a mitzvah note for letting Mommy and Daddy rest when they were fasting?

Another genius in the making

A pile of red and black checkers lay invitingly on the floor beside an overturned Connect Four board that had been discarded some minutes earlier by the two older children. Ada sidled up (the only word I can think of to describe her mode of travel) and got to work. At first she put a checker over a hole - remember: the board was overturned and thus lying on its side. I was immediately stricken by her incredible talent and singular intellect. Then, with the most adorable look of concentration - puckered lips, tongue held tight between her gums - she tried to insert some other checker the way she had seen it done by her siblings. It took several attempts before she succeeded, but, when she did, she got a rousing cheer from her audience of one, her doting mama. The best part was her blinking look of surprise as she realized that someone had shared in her moment of triumph. Little does she know that her proud mama is always cheering her on, even when she doesn't hear it!

In which I remind her of someone she knows

I'm at the stove mixing furiously at a pot in which I've just added beaten eggs to a hot mixture. Some splashes out of the pot onto the stove prompt me to mutter to myself that I'm making a big mess. Sari glances up from her activity nearby and asks innocently, "Like Daddy?"

Monday, August 08, 2005

When I grow up, I wanna' be just like Daddy.

Am I doing this right?

Look, ma! My hands! I can make them clap!

At the Hall of Science in Queens.

Please pay careful attention to the intense look of concentration on both boys' faces. Neither would give up. The 30-year-old boy finally agreed to give another kid a turn at the bubble table - but it took a lot of convincing!

Move over kids. Mom will show you how this is done.

That's my little dare-devil (?) halfway up the web in the Science Playground.

My daughter in heaven. Do you think this love of washing dishes will last? (I think that's how my responsibility of folding the family's laundry started out. I wanted to as a kid, but, somewhere along the line, the allure faded. Meanwhile, I'm apparantly traumatized by my parents' employment of child slave labor because I hate doing laundry to this day.) Note to self: Be careful not to over-use Sari's "help". Considering she nearly flooded the apartment in the dishwashing process, I think she's pretty safe from me!

Beach babes

Hmmm, this pizza is awfully crunchy. You know what, though? I kinda' like it like this!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

What language do you think in?

It's fascinating to think about what language we think in. (Yes, grammar cop. I know I should be saying "the language in which we think" but it's just too damn awkward. Live with it.) I'm not truly bilingual of course, but, even so, I used to surprise myself by thinking in Hebrew once in a while. That happened the year I spent in Israel after high school. Nowadays, I think in posts.

Fellow bloggers understand. As I experience my life, blog posts are writing themselves in my brain. An already enjoyable moment takes on an exciting new meaning if it evolves into a viable post. Even mundane tasks become less tedious as I tap away at my internal keyboard and amuse myself with the wit of my words.

Some of these posts never make it to this blog. They may be too brilliant; I am, after all, a modest soul. They may be too dull; no amount of editing manages to breathe life into those. They may be too personal; the downside of foregoing anonymity. They may even be inappropriate for a public forum such as this, however entertaining they might be. The fact is, it matters not whether the post ever gets published. The fun of composing my mind's blog is in itself…exhilarating.

Oh, the anxiety!

My internet access has become somewhat erratic. My neighbor with the 24/7 router that allowed unrestricted access moved in with his girlfriend and had the nerve to take his gear with him. These nights, it is with trepidation that I flip open my laptop and watch the little bars in the corner to see if they will fill with green or - horrors!- remain empty, barren. Just last night, I was greeted with the message "No Wireless Network Detected in Range". How callous! How cruel! Don't they realize how much the internet needs me?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Genetic fingerprints

My mom (Hi, mom! I love you!) will always say with a shake of her head and a world-weary sigh, "You drive just like your father." And really, I owe a debt of gratitude to my Dad because I don't think I'd have had the patience to live with myself had I inherited my mother's driving habits. Although, I like to think of myself as having reached a happy medium between two extremes.

Sari's got my huge smile, abundance of hair, and love of the spotlight. Mordechai has that inquisitive nature, brilliant mind, and sweet tooth. Ada? Well, I was a really fat baby, too. But as far as I can tell, I've passed on my driving genes to all my progeny.

A sampling for the purpose of illustration:
  • When the light turns green, my kids shout "Go!" even before the first honk rings out (and I live in New York!).
  • Sari had a suggestion for me as we were creeping along the entrance ramp to the BQE today. (tangent alert: We were on our way to the ENT. Ada's getting tubes next month. What a shocker. Not.) "We need to go a different way." Not immediately grasping her meaning, I asked why. Her reply - "There's too much traffic."
  • While waiting (patiently, I might add) behind another car in a left-hand turn lane as oncoming traffic whizzes by us, Mordechai grows impatient. "Beep him already!" Ah, my adorable little booster-seat driver.
  • Ada doesn't add much in the way of suggestions but, whenever she cries, you can be sure she's somehow dissatisfied with my handling of the reins.
You get the picture.

Educated by his Savta

The story begins right before bedtime when Mordechai asked if he could keep a piece of gauze he found. Sure. Why not? Knowing his vivid imaginative skills, I didn't even think to ask what a 5-year-old boy could possibly want with a strip of gauze. A short while later, I come into the kids' room and Mordechai is sitting up in his bed. "The polish on my toenails is drying," he announces and points to his foot. The gauze is expertly wound 'round his toes in perfect imitation of a freshly pedicured foot! (My boy has his future cut out for him. Lord! A Jewish mother's nightmare! If you won't be a rabbi can you at least go to medical school?)

I imagine my mom convulsing in horror at this story but, Internet, let it be known that this is her fault. Mordechai explained that all he ever learned about pedicures was on a trip with his Savta for her weekly Friday manicure.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

I can't keep up!

Sari was walking around on Friday with her stomach thrust out. Dovid assumed she was pretending to be pregnant. When Dovid asked her, she said, "No. I'm Daddy!"

Friday afternoon, we took the kids to a medical specialist - one of those doctors that takes 25 minutes to say what can be said in 5. Clearly impressed, Mordechai interrupted his rambling, saying, "You know a lot about this stuff!" (I'm reminded of the time when my brother- I can't remember which one- asked our pediatrician if he charges by the hour.)

On our way back into our apartment building, Sari pressed one of the buzzers at the entrance before I was able to stop her. She likes to press the buzzer in the lower left-hand corner. I remarked to Dovid "Those poor people!" Mordechai, overhearing me, looked puzzled and asked, "How do you know those people are poor?"

A smile a minute!

Okay, okay. You asked for it!

That's Sari peeking out from the "yellow playground" at Tiferes Moshe.

At Ima's house for a July 4th barbeque with the Bernstein's and Avigail Gartner's kids, too!

One of the biggest hits of this summer: a trip on a city bus! Mordechai is totally in love with mass transit. We didn't even go anywhere due to inclement weather. We actually just rode the bus and got picked up by Savta! The trip was a huge success.

Here is Ada gearing up for a kiss.

Please take note of the polkes (thighs) - my pride and joy.

How do you get this dumb car to work?!