Wednesday, December 13, 2006

What's in a name?

There have been plenty of discussions about blog names. Mine is so annoyingly dumb. With my new move to blogger beta, I'm considering a name change. May Hay Day? Mayflowers? Okay, I need some help here. Any ideas?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

My menorah! It's not new, but "The Latkes" is a band that can't be beat ;)

Clean-up time

We were expecting an important guest that was interviewing us for a position. I was kind of stressing out about getting the place in order. (I actually considered using my neighbor's apartment which is always immaculate, but decided it would be tough to explain the large number of pictures of a different couple around the entire apartment.) Mordechai came up with a plan:

"Don't worry. We'll just make the closets messier and the room will be neater!"

Monday, December 11, 2006

It's all under control

I was in my bedroom tidying up while the kids were playing in the living room. Ada (2) waddled into the room and announced to me, "Muchai bozzing Sayi." (translated from kidspeak: Mordechai is bothering Sari).

Me (concentrating on the pile of socks that seemed to have not a single pair): Mmhmm.

Ada (with added emphasis to convey a strong sense of urgency): Mommy, Muchai bozzing Sayi!

Me (shaking my head over the socks): *sigh*

Ada (giving up): I go tell Muchai.

With that, she bustled off importantly. And I was left to deal with my socks with the knowledge that Ada had everything in hand. Such a help, that little one ;).

Sunday, December 10, 2006

How long?

My uncle Menachem is visiting from Israel with my Aunt Nechama and their baby Dovi. Menachem is something of a clown and drives everyone crazy sometimes. We were at my mom's house today and so got to see them.

Menachem to Mordechai: How old are you now?

Mordechai: Six.

Menachem: How long did it take you to become six?

Mordechai: Two years.

Menachem: Two years? How do you figure that?

Mordechai: Well, the last time you were here I was four!

(How he remebered that Menachem was here about two years ago is beyond me.)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Monday, November 20, 2006

Hot Chanies revisited

For those of you who are not regular blog-junkies and have not yet heard the term Hot ChanieTM, here's where it originated. Hot Chanies are back in the bloglight since the printing of an article in the Jerusalem Post. There are plenty of opinions to keep you busy for a bit. The following is my comment, originally from the thread at Ask Shifra, where I first happened upon the whole affair.

I'm of the opinion that it certainly is the job of a husband to point out how lack of tznius affects men and the implications of that for both unmarried and married men. It is a discussion that should be held in private. Of course, that means that the hubbie has to be on board. Two things the husbands should beware of:
1. Dictating what wife can/can't wear. "Don't wear this and only wear that" is doomed to failure. The emphasis should strictly be focused on how certain things can create problematic situations. "I wonder if women are aware of how men are affected when they wear....". Note how "you" does not even play a role in the conversation.
2. Complimenting one's wife's appearance most when she is dressed inappropriately is reinforcement in the wrong direction. We call that talking out of both sides of your mouth. The point is to make your wife feel that she looks beautiful especially when she is dressed tastefully and appropriately. Dressing appropriately does not preclude looking good. (Rebbetzin Tehila Jager is such a wonderful example of this. She spoke beautifully once on the topic of tznius for our yeshiva's sisterhood. I wish I remembered some of the points that made such an impact on me then :(.)

I think it's unfortunate that such an important topic is being addressed in that "fundamentalist" way that seems to characterize the approach of some people in leadership positions today. That approach is guaranteed to alienate the people who most need guidance to foster an inner sense of self-worth and modesty so that they begin to appreciate themselves what tznius is all about.

Our family's yeshiva, Chofetz Chaim, has a very nice program in place that provides the forum needed to address issues, including "delicate" ones. Every so often, one of the rosh yeshivas will call a married guy va'ad. Basically, it's a discussion group where a specific topic is addressed. Guys are encouraged to submit topics which they would like to discuss. It's a great way to provide suggestions in a gentle, non-threatening environment. The va'ads are also an opportunity for guys to ask questions and get practical ideas for applications of principles set forth. Each guy can share the ideas from the va'ad over dinner with his wife. The key ingredient which I believe makes this sort of forum successful is the smallness of the unit. That is, rather than having an entire community gather in a huge auditorium to listen to speeches, this set-up provides the opportunity for a real give and take, making it all more personal and, therefore, more effective. These kind of discussion groups can be held periodically by shuls or other smaller community groups.

Just a thought.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Earth tells it like it is

Thanks to people with too much time on their hands, there's a site that will spell out a message for you using satellite images of actual buildings around the world. They use the very awesome services that are available to all. And so, the very Earth proclaims from the rooftops:

Hat tip: Sarah

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Computer rehab - a complete case study

This past summer, I was in camp. I had my computer with me but it wasn't much fun without my good, ol' friend, Internet. Other folks, who were also living in the family house, actually did have high-speed connections but I didn't feel comfortable using their computers for more than a quick email check. It was disconcertingly depressing. Finally, at the end of July, I decided that I was really being ridiculous and I should just splurge the forty dollars it would take to hook up.

The cable guy came to run the line into my corner of the FH. Of course, he needed to finish the thing by configuring it with my computer. For some reason, though, my computer seemed to be in a deep sleep. When I tried to power up, some of the lights would blink at me and then roll over and go back to sleep. I continued to poke it, yell at it - I even thought about pouring ice water on its face! - all to no avail. I borrowed someone else's laptop to finish up with the cable guy. So now I had an internet line but my computer was out. I was sure it was a temporary illness.

Over the next few days I hoped for a spontaneous recovery. Clearly, the AC adaptor was not managing to charge the battery. I thought it was because the power port had shifted slightly so as not to allow the plug to fit completely into the port. So I was trying to figure out a way to shift it back. I started to take apart the laptop - at least that's what I thought I was doing when I took out the screws in the bottom panel of the casing. I realized that taking apart a computer was not that simple. I consulted with the resident camp geek who suggested that perhaps I should shave down the rubber around the plug to see if it'll fit into the jack better that way. When that didn't work, he gave me his opinion that I was in big trouble because the power port is supposed to be soldered to the motherboard which is a major part to replace. Not very encouraging.

I won't even go into the whole saga with Dell "customer service" because Blogger might crash from the length of the post and the whole story is just too distressing. I'm working it all out in private therapy sessions.

A few weeks later, in preparation for going back home to the city, I called to cancel my internet service. To vent my frustration to the friendly voice on the phone, I mentioned that I hadn't actually used the service because my computer was in a coma the entire time. Well, whaddya' know? The voice told me that, if that was the case, my fee would be waived entirely. What a nice voice!

When we got back to the city, I made some phone calls to various computer doctors. They were all charging a hundred bucks just to look at my computer, may cost more to fix it, and there were no guarantees. So that route was out of the question. I did some of my own research online (at my neighbor's house) and realized that my problem was a fairly common one. Apparently my power port jack had loosened from the system board a.k.a. motherboard and would need to be soldered back on.

The next step was the resident yeshiva geek (that would be Chofetz Chaim yeshiva) who said he'd be happy to do the job. He said that the actual soldering job was a matter of minutes but disassembling and reassembling the computer would take a really long time and would have to wait until he had a large block of time to devote to the project. When I asked if he thought I could do that part by myself he said he couldn't say but if I wanted, I could give it a try.

And try I did. He wasn't kidding when he said it would take a long time. It was painstaking labor, really. I started getting a little concerned when I realized that not all of the screws were the same size and that the parts didn't seem like they belonged in any particular place. Since I couldn't name a single part, I couldn't intuitively know where it would belong. So I came up with the idea of taping the screws to a paper and labeling them using such descriptions as "to the right side of the rainbow-shaped copper thingie next to the round silver things that look like alien antennae". I also took pictures right before I took things apart so I would know what it was supposed to look like when the time came to put it back together. That bright plan met its death when I ran out of space on my memory card and it was way to late to wake my neighbor up to empty the memory onto her computer. That was really neither here nor there because, eventually, I got stuck. That is to say, I couldn't figure out what to do next and the system board wasn't out. I went to bed, exhausted (mostly emotionally).

The next evening, unwilling to concede defeat, I tried to find instructions for taking apart the computer online. Turns out, Dell actually has service manuals for just this sort of thing available online! I found the spot where I was up to in the disassembly process and took it from there. At long last, I was able to lift the system board. I learned the hard way that, in order to take out the motherboard, everything must come out. No exceptions.

I wrapped the system board in a ziploc bag and then in a towel for cushioning. The computer recommended a static-free bag but how the hell I'm supposed to know what that is, much less where to find it, is beyond me. I sent it off with Dovid to yeshiva.

Word came back that the power jack had all its tabs torn off and could not simply be soldered back on. It would have to be replaced. A research project on the various models of power jacks and the computer models to which they belong, a trip to Ebay and several days waiting for shipment followed. The jack was sent to yeshiva. A day after Yom Kippur, my system board came home with a new power jack soldered on. (I also got some feedback from one of my yeshiva contacts that the computer geek thought I was absolutely nuts. When I called him on it, he amended it to "persistent." Is that a compliment? I wasn't sure. I have a sneaking suspicion he just meant weird.)

At this point, I had an array of (hopefully) healthy laptop pieces:

The final operation took about an hour. When the final stitches were in place, I checked around and, thankfully, there were no extra parts or screws still lying around. I went home, dug up the AC adaptor, which had been gathering dust from lack of use, and plugged my laptop in. A bright green light shown right next to the charging battery symbol and, boy, was it beautiful.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Treats & Trivia

Last year, my friend Hindi called me with this crazy idea. She asked me to hold a little party for friends that involved playing some kind of trivia game. I guess, in retrospect, I see where she was coming from. I love trivia games and I love parties, especially if there's food involved. I'm just not usually the initiator. When she explained to me that it was to benefit a worthy organization that offers services and support to couples challenged by infertility, I agreed. She did tell me that she'd done it the year before and had a great time, but I was skeptical.

The scheduled evening arrived. I had gotten a packet mailed to me that I was to open at the party. All we did was buy some rugelach, cherry bits, and Mike & Ikes and we were set. Since it was Saturday night, there were no babysitting issues because the hubbies were home (ours was an all girls affair although it certainly doesn't have to be). We opened up the packet to find a whole set of trivia questions. They were set up so cleverly and covered a huge range of topics. Once we decided that we were going to give it our all, our adrenaline pumped full blast for three hours straight, until our time was up. Every cell-phone in the house was in use, the encyclopedias and dictionaries were out, math brains were scribbling away at figures, the fashionistas were spewing forth their knowledge. We were quite a team! When everyone had gone home, I pulled out my fax machine to fax our answers in. As you may have guessed, we placed first in the US. Oh, and my skepticism was out the window. We had so much fun! All in all, 75,000 dollars was raised that night for the organization.

To all my (12) readers out there, get together a group of family and friends and join in this worthy effort. Trust me, you'll love it. It's the most "painless" mitzvah you'll ever perform! Let me know how your party goes....

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Chocolate Cake Lovers Score!

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who heeded my call. Your tireless efforts have paid off. This is big news for kosher kitchens!

Celebrity sightings

PsychoToddler's experience last week reminded me of a story that happened to Dovid a while back when he was still driving his '88 Chevy Celebrity. (It was a little tricky to drive that car. The gas pedal would sorta stick and had to be played with before it worked. The driver's side door deteriorated in a slow progression: first the inside door handle broke off so that you had to roll down the window to stick your hand out and use the outer handle. Then the outer handle would jam and could only be opened from the outside with a special upward-jerk trick, so you had to get out through the passenger side. Eventually the upward-jerk trick broke the outer handle off completely and you had to get in through the passenger side, too. The front bumper fell off and was tied on with a rope. The trunk didn't close so that too was tied with a rope. The antenna had long been gone and was replaced with a twisted wire coat hanger. Oh, and the clincher, you didn't need the key to turn on the ignition. The car was quite the beloved car in yeshiva and guys borrowed it all the time. For dates, though, they borrowed our Camry. I wonder why?) Back to the story. One Sunday morning, my husband came down ready to go to yeshiva. He noticed that the gym bag he usually kept in the back was on the front seat. Thinking that was odd, he glanced into the back window. There, stretched out on the back seat, was a man lying on a pillow my father-in-law happened to have left in the car a while earlier. His shoes were off and he was covered with a coat serving as a blanket. Apparently he was very comfortable because he was sleeping soundly and snoring loudly. Not sure what to do, he considered calling the cops. He changed his mind when he realized it would take them too long to get there and he had to get moving. So he knocked on the window gently and said, "Uh, excuse me?" The guy looked up with sleepy eyes and said, "Oh, sorry, man. Is this your car? I was jus' walkin' aroun' last night an' I was so tired an' the cops told me jus' find a car an' go to sleep. Sorry, sir." With that, he gathered up his things and went on his way.

Such memories. It was tough parting with that Celebrity. Finally, we had no choice when we got a minivan and couldn't afford three cars on insurance (especially since we have only two drivers in the family!) One thing's for sure, no car of ours ever had more character than that Celebrity!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Introducing Yoni and Tziporah May!

Wednesday night was some party at the Razag Ballroom! For those of you who couldn't make it, here's a sampling of pics. Granted, these photos are mostly of my kids, but, hey, it's my blog and I can do whatever I want.

Ada was in a fantastic mood all night. I was so pleased! The moment she got her dress on, she was positively giddy. In this shot, I asked her to show me her pretty dress:

Sari was absolutely glowingly gorgeous:

Mordechai was Mr. Cool. On Tuesday he had had a temperature of 103 degrees and was diagnosed with bronchitis. So he was still a bit subdued. Besides, he tends to enjoy observing at weddings rather than actually dancing and partying.

With his cousin, Yosef:

With cousins, Miriam and Goldie:

Daddy's girls:

Ima (Dovid's mom, left) and Mom (mine, right):

Tzipora (seated, in white ;)) with Ima and Grandma:

Yosef working to convince Yehuda Leib to walk down the aisle, with Mordechai anxiously looking on:

The only shot I managed:

The Godfather ;)

Under the wedding canopy:

Don't they make a beautiful couple? We love you and wish you more happiness than you could imagine!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Naming rights

Mordechai: I'm going to name my first kid Avi 'cuz that's Sabba's name. And if it's a girl, I'll name her Elisheva like Savta.

Me: Usually, Ashkenazi Jews like us only name after people who have already passed away.

Mordechai (quite matter-of-factly): Yeah, I know. But they'll probably be dead by then.

Me: I don't think so. You know, they're not that old.

Mordechai (starting to calculate): Well, I will probably start looking for a wife when I'm twenty and Sabba and Savta are around 55, right? It might take me a while to find someone so let's say I get married when I'm 23 or 24. So they'll be around 75 and that's pretty old....

Me: I see. Well, I hope they'll still be living to see you have lots of kids.

A note to the reader: This is a true story!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Oh, baby! It's a miracle!

I'm back. It'll take a long time to catch up on reading, writing - everything. But, I'm back and it feels good. Today, my computer was resurrected from the dead (pics of process to follow, G-d willing). A huge shout-out to DIG, my solderer. This couldn't have happened without you.

I can't believe I'm actually using my computer to post to my beloved blog. The emotions overwhelm me. I'm getting all faklempt.

I hope I manage to sleep tonight.

Baruch Michayeh HaMaytim.

Monday, July 24, 2006

She swung on a swing!

My Ada actually swung on an actual swing! Bear in mind, please, that this is the same Ada that burst into tears every time she saw other kids swinging, even at a safe distance. This made the first week here at camp a bit difficult because there's a swing set about a hundred feet away from the FH. Plus there was the fear of walking on any unpaved area, which obviously includes most of the campgrounds. Add to that the distinct disliking she took to the dining room and you can see how the initial adjustment period here was a bit difficult for her and, by extension, her loving parents.

But, she swung today. On a real swing. It took many baby steps: looking at the swings from far off, inching closer, sitting on the bench right next to the swings while they were empty and then while they were in use, touching the swing, sitting in the swing. And today she swung. I'm one proud mama.

She also walks on the grass. She goes up the steps to the pool and dining room with little assistance. She downright enjoys going swimming. And she has become an active participant in all dining room activities. When a hand goes up to signal that the kids should be quiet, she joins in the "shushing" with her finger on her nose. She claps along with the singing, waves her hands in lieu of dancing, and bangs on the table at the right times (okay, a few seconds late) during bentching. She's become quite a hit, I must say.

Missed Mazal Tovs

This is old news to anyone who's interested but there are a few family updates to take care of:

1. Aliza and Eytan Feldman had a baby boy named Moshe Akiva. Moshe was Grandpa's father's name and, since the May branch has a Moshe who is living and should continue to do so until 120 years, it's the first time the name was given. He is the first boy after 3 daughters and 8 granddaughters in the Schumsky branch of the family.

2. Rachel and Ian Scheinmann had a boy a day later. He was named Binyamin Asher (Ben) at the Shabbat bris in their home.

3. Yoni got engaged! Tzipora Grunberg is to be my new sister-in-law, G-d-willing. I'm totally excited. They look great together.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

An educational parable

The woman whose computer I'm using (thanks Mrs. A!) showed me a video. It's a representation of an interesting parable that I've heard somewhere before, although I can't remember when and where. I thought you might enjoy it. (Update: I can't seem to get the link for the actual video working here. The link will take you to the text.)('nother update: Got the video up now:))

I've got a bunch of little stories to blog about but there's not too much time now... Soon, I hope.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

That would be me

The kids were at a birthday party on Shabbat afternoon. The birthday girl's mom prepared a whole bunch of goody bags but she wanted to make sure that the little kids got before the big kids started taking. She announced, "The younger kids get first." Sari raised her hand and was overhead saying, "I'm the youngest!"

Friday, June 30, 2006

Macabre hopes

Mordechai: Oh, shucks. There's so much traffic!

Me: I wonder what's causing it? Maybe an accident or construction...

Mordechai: I hope it's an accident.

Me: (duly shocked) Why?

Mordechai: Construction can continue for a lot of days.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Roughing it

Tomorrow begins my summer vacation. My family and I will be spending the next two months in Camp Dora Golding in East Stroudsburg, PA. You may have heard that Dora Golding has a beautiful campus with lovely accommodations. This is very true. The bunkhouses are air-conditioned. The families live in new houses. The grounds are covered in lush, green grass and the whole campus is surrounded by the beautiful Poconos.

There is one tiny exception to this general rule. It's a structure known as the "family house". In truth, house is too generous a term to bestow on this particular structure. Perhaps it used to be a house in a different lifetime, eons ago. Now, it is a... structure... made of warped wooden planks that were painted red in that other lifetime. But structure is such an awkward term and so I capitulate and will refer to it as the Family House, henceforth FH.

The FH is to be my home this summer. Dovid (who is working in camp as a learning rebbe first half and will give staff shiur second half) and I went on Sunday to bring a vanload of our stuff and begin to settle in. We weren't quite prepared for the FH. Even Dovid was shocked. For those of you who don't know Dovid personally, that says alot. When we opened the door to the FH, the stench of stale urine mixed with mildew hit us in the face. Actually, only I smelled it because Dovid's nasal passages were blessedly congested that day. We'll be staying on the second floor, at the top of a long set of creaky stairs. The actual apartment was filthy. A fellow learning rebbe's wife was kind enough to lend us her vacuum cleaner and some cleaning supplies. We got to work. A while later, the room that is to be the kids' room was (sort of) clear of cobwebs and the floor was decent. Apparently the people who had stayed there before us had taken pretty good care of the place. They had put down large industrial-type rugs which is a big improvement over the carpet that is underneath. Our bedroom is yuckier. The beds are at a distinct slant. We came to the conclusion that the whole room is slanted. I left the bathroom to deal with later. Too overwhelming.

Our next stop was Walmart. Not just any Walmart - a Walmart Supercenter. I was afraid I would get lost and was quite thankful to feel my cellphone snug in it's case at my waist. After the cleaning supplies aisle, I got soaps, shampoos, deoderant and the like. Plus I got rolls of shelving paper in a nice light blue and yellow plaid. Nothing of mine - and I mean, nothing - is touching a shelf in that FH without a layer of shelving paper. By the end of the day, I began to recover somewhat from the experience. By now, I've managed to come to terms with the reality that this is where we'll be and I'll just have to deal with it. I think we're going to be spending a lot of time outdoors and make friends with the families that live in real houses very quickly.

As for internet access, something tells me the FH is not a Wifi hot spot. I guess I'll have to make friends with the office guy, too. If that doesn't work, you might not hear from me for a while :( . Well, I'd best be getting to bed - I've got a lot of socializing to do tomorrow!

No more pencils, no more books

Woohoo! Today was my last day of school and, man, I am not sorry 'bout that. What with all my friends and family in schools done for the year, I was feeling like it was never going to end. I am looking forward to a summer surrounding myself with sun, fresh air, grass and people that I love.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Mordechai was off all of last week. He stayed home the first few days with Namie, my sitter, making projects and hanging out. On Thursday, Dovid took him to Brooklyn to play first at his cousins' house and then to Meema and Zayde's for the afternoon. My sis-in-law, Rena, who lives in Israel is staying there now with her three kids, Yechezkel (3), Goldie (2), and new baby Yosef. Mordechai played with the two older kiddies and kept them occupied in the little pool set up on the deck. When Meema came home, she asked Mordechai how things were going. He confided, "Everything's okay. I pretty much let Yechezkel do what he wanted 'cuz I didn't want him to bite me."

A little while later, everyone was in the living room and apparently there was an unpleasant odor in the room. Uncle Akiva suggested to Rena that Goldie might have a dirty diaper. Mordechai was heard to mumble under his breath, "It's about time somebody noticed!"

Thinking back to last Shabbat, when Yosef had his bris, I remember another cute thing Mordechai said. Bear in mind that he is still getting over the trauma of witnessing baby Shaya's bris. He announced in a very decided manner, "I don't like brisses. Kiddushes are good but I don't like brisses." After a thoughtful pause he added, "Well, the food part is okay but the bris part is bad."

This past Shabbat we were at Savta's house. Mordechai insisted on bringing his goldfish with him. I wouldn't mind at all except that he drives me nuts while I'm driving to slow down and stop driving "bumpy" because I'm going to make the fish dead. On Friday night, he started calling his fish a gold "dag" (Hebrew for fish), quite proud of his cleverness. I offered that it might even be called "dag zahav" (Hebrew for gold fish). Savta decided to take the opportunity to practice a little conversational Hebrew. (For the record, Mordechai barely knows a few words and has no conversational skills in Hebrew at all. Quite a shame.) She asked, "Mee natan l'cha et hadag hazahav?"* Wanting to respond in Hebrew he leaned over to me and whispered, "How do you say morah** in Hebrew?"

* Hebrew for "Who gave you the goldfish?"
** Morah is the Hebrew word for teacher and is also the title of address they use for their teacher, as in Morah Hannah.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ezzie picked this up from an old post of PT's. Thing is, I don't really get the analysis. Questions were cute though.

Your Linguistic Profile::
45% General American English
35% Yankee
10% Dixie
0% Midwestern
0% Upper Midwestern

Monday, June 19, 2006


Lately, I feel like I've been spending way too much time separating Sari and Mordechai when they are locked in fierce battle - with the one pulling her hair out and the other scratching, slapping, and punching. It's getting quite exhausting and everyone loses really. I wish they'd get that and just avoid these situations. (I also hate how I find myself totally identifying with one child when my role here is not really to judge who started and who's at fault but to teach them the skills they need to get through disagreements appropriately. But I suppose I can't help being human.) Sari, being the younger of the two, naturally tries to play the victim and comes to me sobbing that Mordechai did (insert crime) to her and hurt her. When asked what she did, her standard answer is (choke, sob) "Nothing." (wail) My response to her description of how he hurt her usually runs along the lines of, "Why do you think he was so angry/upset?" to which she responds that she hasn't a clue.

Last week's scene played out a little differently. This time Sari used her extraordinary charm to try to wheedle out of any serious consequences for her misbehavior. She looked at me with those delicious brown eyes, threw up her hands, shook her head and said, "Mommy, I just forgot to do good listening!"

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Penina's sister just came in from spending her second year at school in Israel. Sari was chatting away with her and learned that she planned to go home to her parents in Miami. She asked, "Why you going to your-ami?"

It's a good thing!

In preparation for my new nephew's bris on Shabbat (Mazal tov Yaakov and Rena!), I was getting ready to bake some cakes and things to bring along with me. As I rolled up my sleeves, I announced to the kids that we had a lot of work to do. Sari looked at me and said in all seriousness, "Good thing you have children!"

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Random thoughts

Mordechai's mind seems to jump from one topic to another. I find myself wondering sometimes what his train of thought is. For example, within twenty minutes, Mordechai asked these questions: What do soldiers do with a shield? Was the mountain at Camp Achim bigger or smaller than Har Sinai? How long did it take Moshe to get to the top of Har Sinai? When a person is shot, do they die right away or does it take a few minutes, hours, or days? What's the best place to get shot?

Sari asked Penina if she has a van. When Penina said that no, she doesn't have a van, Sari responded, "Oh, so you only have a Camry?"

Mordechai was counting the minutes until 6:30, when Penina had said he could come over to get some challah for his tuna sandwich. I was sitting on the couch reading the paper and he came in and announced, "It's 6:27." I said, "Really? It seems like it was just 6:00!" He smiled and put on his best Southern accent and sing-songed, "Time flies when you're reading the newspaper!"

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Graduation, good listening, and more

So Mordechai graduated today, again. This time from Pre-1A. (For everyone who is not familiar with the New York Jewish school system, that is the equivalent of kindergarten as it precedes first grade. What we call kindergarten is actually Pre-K. Why is this? Frankly, I have no idea.) That means he's pretty much done with graduations until he hits the eighth grade. That's some dry spell for someone who's been averaging one every two years since his birth. But he'll be fine I'm sure. He is thrilled to have his very own Tehillim. It's so sweet that it is so precious to him even though he really doesn't have any real idea of what it's about. He even pulled it out as soon as he got home to read the first chapter. That was the most painless reading practice session I've ever experienced! Two notes to demonstrate the sweetness of his soul:

1. According to Zaidy, who is also the principal of Mordechai's school, only two children said thank you when they were handed their Tehillim. Mordechai was one of them.

2. At the end of the ceremonies, the children were given Marino's ices. Since they contain soy protein, Mordechai couldn't have one so he gave his to me - I love that stuff. A few minutes later, he rushed over to me and grabbed the ices out of my hands. In a desperate attempt to save my ices, I grabbed his hand and asked him what he was going to do with the ices. He told me that his friend's little brother was sad because he couldn't have an ices, so he wanted to give his ices to the little boy. I nearly melted! (Thankfully, I collected myself in time to realize that there were a few extras on the teacher's desk and told the mom that they were sure to give her one of the extras if she asked for it.)

In other news, Sari is somethin' else. She is so deliciously charming that it's hard to stay annoyed at her for too long, but, man, she can sure try one's patience. She has this particular fetish with powders and lotions (and my shoes and jewelery and cleaning products - especially in spray bottles). This is nothing new. As a mere tot, if it was quiet for too long, you could be sure to find her with a half-empty bottle of Eucerin beside her and gobs of lotion slathered over her skin from head to toe.

Yesterday, she found a small bottle of prescription powder that I have been using to treat Ada's diaper rash. She climbed up and managed to get it. I caught her in the act and told her to put it back. She actually listened. Mindful of the supposed benefits of positive reinforcement, I immediately heaped upon her praise for doing such good listening and told her how proud I was and gave her a big hug, yada, yada, yada. I was sure I was turning over a new leaf with her. Later in the evening, I was helping Mordechai in the bath but I came back out to the living room because I heard Ada protesting some iniquity or other. I found Sari in the living room, sitting cross-legged on the floor, busy emptying the contents of the afore-mentioned bottle of powder over several square feet of the carpet. I didn't know whether to laugh or yell. (I won't say which I did.) Either she has no conscience, or the nisayon (trial) was just too great for her. In telling over the story to Dovid, we both got a good chuckle.

On the Ada front, she continues to get cuter by the minute which is really quite frightening. Namie (her sitter) has her trained so well that she demands a bib before she eats and demonstrates that she's done her meal by requesting that her hands be washed. Of course, after she runs her hands under the faucet, she washes her face, too! She also insists that she be dressed the instant she spots her clothes. And I do mean insists. Believe you me, she can be relentless. When she's in the crib dressed only in a onesie, if she catches sight of a pair of her pajamas, there will be no peace in the city until she dons them. Cutest move spotted today: She took a tissue and, ever so gently, wiped her doll's nose!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Blogging botherations

I often field the question, when do you find the time for this whole blog-thing? And the answer is, I don't always. (Another answer is, I need to make some time for it, at night, after the kids are tucked in, to keep me sane. It's a really nice outlet for me. It has it's advantages: not much physical exertion involved, no babysitting arrangements required, allows me to do something I love i.e. writing, allows me to connect with other people. Of course, there are its disadvantages: not much physical exertion - although my fingers are so nice and lean, I sometimes stay up later than I should, I feel like I can never catch up or read all the blogs that I'd love to read, my dear hubby is starting to get jealous of my laptop. But, anyways, back to our regular programming...) There are periods where I can go days or even weeks without posting. And that's such a problem because, when I don't post for a while, I end up forgetting all the great little things I wanted to post about. (Don't think for a moment that the lull is from lack of material. My darling children are always adorable, precocious, gifted, and brilliant in every way imaginable.) Since this whole thing started originally as a way to keep a journal of my kids as they grow, that's important stuff that's missing. My blasted memory is crippling my project. Phooey.


That's right. Death. Sari seems rather preoccupied by it, but in such a cheerful way, one wonders if she really gets it. For example, if Mordechai's playing with a toy that belongs to him, and Sari wants it, and Mordechai doesn't want to share it, she'll ask me, "Mommy can I have it when Mordechai's dead?" No, really! I kid you not. I respond with, "Yes, dear, but that will be a very, very long time from now. Let's try to find something else for you to play with."

Mordechai has been getting annoyed with this trend. Last week he burst out, "Sari, I'm not dying soon! And anyways, when I die, you'll probably die also, so it doesn't even matter."

A sound argument, to be sure, but, well, the whole discussion seems a bit unsettling and out of context. Should I be troubled?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Well, it's not Sarah's View, but...

I shot this outside my living room window a couple of days ago. That's one thing I will definitely miss one day about this apartment - the awesome view of sunset (once you ignore the building rooftops in the foreground, and I've gotten quite expert at that!).

This next shot is from my couch. That rainbow was on my living room ceiling! I kid you not. Mordechai noticed it and I just ran for the camera, hoping to capture it. It was hard to do - the lighting was not working at all and the ceiling had this grayish white cast to it that was just awful. Plus there's that distracting "scribble" of light on the ceiling - I have no idea how that happened! - that was unavoidable. I have no cool photo software, either. All I did was bump up the saturation a notch on Picasa.

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I've always preferred brunette beauty to blonde, but I'm not beyond admitting there are blondes who are very beautiful. A friend and I were talking about someone and were commenting on how beautiful she is. I qualified my agreement, adding, "She definitely is gorgeous, even though I'm not into blondes."

Mordechai must have misheard me because he immediately looked up from where he was playing on the floor and said, "Oh, yes you are, Mommy! You even have your own."

"My own?" I asked, bewildered. "What are you talking about?"

"Yeah," he replied. "You know, the website. That's your blog, isn't it?"

In honor of me

I know it's late, but I finally got around to uploading this clip.

This was our first attempt - I ran out of space on my memory card before we got through it. Oops.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Technical note

Bloglet, the service that I had previously used for sending email updates to my subscribers, is phasing out. My subscribers (I love you guys!) have been transferred to my new service, FeedBlitz. Hopefully, this will be a little more reliable :) For those who haven't subscribed, enter your email address in the form located in the left-hand sidebar. This service will send you an email when I update my blog (no more than once a day).

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Nursery grammar and arithmetic

Sari's nursery was visited by mice today. In a cage, thankfully. It was part of a lovely program they're having where every week Adina brings another animal to talk about. Last week was the guinea pig. So Sari was telling me all about today's visit. An excerpt:

Sari: We had a mouse today in school. Adina said it don't bite so don't worry.

Me: Oh, that's good. What color was it?

Sari: They were white.

Me: They? Was there more than one mouse?

Sari: Yes, three.

Me (seizing the teachable moment): Mmhm, three mice.

Sari (patiently demonstrating the math concept with her fingers, and simultaneously attempting to explain the irregular plural form of mouse): No, no. You say two mice, one mouse - so that's three mouses!

Update: This Shabbat, after reading her class newsletter, I discovered there were actually only two mice. She only thought there were three because, well, two mice and one mouse make three! They were white so she was right about that :)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


I normally do not comment on current events. I keep, more or less, to the light-hearted, family blog format. The recent, um, stir, though, is all over the place. I have resisted talking about it until now. I was glad to come across Canonist's View of The Infamous Article. As I was reading The Article myself, there was much that disturbed me. He's really put his finger on it.

Say what?

Mordechai's latest research obsession is the solar system. He started by memorizing all nine planets and then proceeded by asking me a zillion (just barely exaggerating) questions, very few of which I knew the answers to. Three space books and a Magic School Bus Gets Lost in Space video later, he's still asking questions, and I'm all out of age-appropriate references.

Luckily, there's my dad. Dad's mind is encyclopedic. You can see how he and Mordechai would get along. Each Sunday at my Mom and Dad's house includes an hour-long lecture on one topic or the other, which, although often over his head, fascinates him. Did you know that the closest star to Earth, not including the sun, is called Alpha Centauri? And that it's so far, it would take well over a lifetime to travel to it? And that it can't be seen from the Northern Hemisphere? (The closest one that can be seen from the Northern Hemisphere is called Sirius.) Did you know that? Neither did I 'til last Sunday.

And there's more. Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, right? So you'd think it's pretty hot there, right? Well that's true for only one side of the planet. Most of the other side of Mercury never actually faces the sun so it's freezing cold there - an eternal night. It happens that way because of the way the speed of rotation and speed of revolution interact. Pluto is a controversial planet in that not everyone agrees it's a planet at all. Many feel it's just a rock that got sucked into the solar system's gravity. It doesn't even stay in line. It's orbital path is such that it is sometimes closer to the sun than Neptune is.

Dad was trying to explain that, although the planets are hardly ever lined up in a row like they are in many illustrations, they are all on the same plane. Obviously, a "plane" is not a simple concept for a six-year-old kid. So he started to clarify by saying, "Imagine that around sun is a record." Overhearing, I felt obliged to point out to Dad that Mordechai has never heard of a record before. A light of understanding spread across Mordechai's face when I took over with, "Imagine that the sun is sitting in the hole in the middle of a huge CD...."

Monday, May 15, 2006

Love You Forever

She wheeled her mom into the doctor's waiting room. Her mom was so skinny, so frail. She appeared to be sleeping but responded to her daughter. She asked her daughter if they were outside. No, ma, we're at the doctor. The daughter spoke to her gently, chatting about the weather and asking how she was feeling. It struck me, as I sat looking on, that she addressed her interchangeably as mother and baby. The scene was frighteningly pathetic. It made me shudder inside.

Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw wrote a children's book called "Love You Forever". It was recommended to me once by a friend and I bought it without reading it through - something I hardly ever do. I read it once with Mordechai (he was just two or three years old) and then I hid it away on a high shelf. It starts off with mom taking care of baby, soothing him in a rocking chair chanting that she'll love him forever. It ends with him rocking her in that same chair, chanting the same words. A frightening thought for an adult, let alone for a child, I thought.

The daughter moved her mother's wheelchair a bit closer and leaned in close to her. Ma, do you know what today is? Ma, today is Mother's Day. She gave her mother a gentle hug and whispered softly, Happy Mother's Day, Ma.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Date night

Dovid and I went out tonight to see Bodies: the Exhibition in South Street Seaport. It was absolutely amazing. Completely fascinating. Check it out if you can. It's not at all gross and it really is a must-see. Schedule at least two hours for viewing. And call me 'cuz I can't wait to go again.

Geometric candy?

Mordechai: I'm a sweet star.

Me: Huh? What does that mean?

Mordechai: Or maybe a sweet square.

Me: I'm confused.

Mordechai: Well, why should we always be "sweetheart"?

Straight from the heart

Sari: Happy Mother's Day! (Nu, so she's a few days early.)

Me: Oh, thank you, sweetie. (give kisses)

Sari (leaning over and lowering her voice to confide): My morah told me to say that.

What am I? Chopped liver?

I was in the elevator this afternoon on the way to pick up Mordechai from his bus stop. I had both the girls with me. A woman stepped in on our way down and, strangely enough, Ada was being particularly endearing. She was waving and smiling and looking totally adorable. The woman commented, "So cute!" Immediately Sari piped up with, "I'm also?" (We were laughing to hard to answer!)

Monday, May 08, 2006

She's having what?!

Friday evening, after I lit Shabbat candles, Mordechai and Sari went over to Penina's (two doors down the hall). I stayed back a bit to finish setting the table. When I came to Penina's, Sari ran over to tell me excitedly, "Penina's having shasha!" I asked her to repeat herself in an effort to make sense of her words, but it came out just the same the second time around. Penina was being fairly useless as she was just laughing at my confusion. Mordechai did his best to help out. "She means shooshi," he explained. Penina caught her breath long enough to clarify, "Sushi. We're having sushi tonight." Oh, shasha! Why didn't you say so?

In other news, Ada's vocabulary is starting to move along a bit. (Don't get too excited, she's barely intelligible to me, even with lots of visual cues.) Some of the latest additions to her repertoire: Ah-joo (orange juice), I-kee (ice cream), Bih (bib), Tih (sit), Ow (out), Ow-si (outside). My favorite for now, though, is said with strong emphasis and a slight whining quality that perfectly matches her siblings' rendition: Toh (stop)! That one is used if anyone dares to touch her, touch any toy that she has claimed rights to, or in any way cross her path and warrant her displeasure.

I mustn't forget Soo (shoes) - she got her first pair yesterday! [Thanks Savta!] She is totally obsessed with them. In fact, I have to hide them from her because her PT wants her walking barefoot in the house to increase her balance and strength and whatnot. There's no need, I'm sure, to describe the hell that would break loose if she would spot her shoes and I would defy her command to put them on her immediately. Both her PT and speech therapist have mentioned to me how amazingly like a teenager Ada is. They're referring to the attitude. :)

Mordechai is conscientiously reading the omer count every night out of his own siddur. I feel like he's a grown-up in a little boy version. (Okay, so that makes no sense. It was just a stream of consciousness thing and I'm not editing it out.) (So there.)

He's riding a two-wheel bike sans training wheels fairly well. He still gets frustrated sometimes with it. Last week, I cheered when he got to the end of the block and shouted, "I'm so proud of you!" He shot daggers at me with his eyes and said, "I'm not proud of me. I didn't turn." Yikes. How do we cure perfectionism? No, really. I need suggestions here.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


I'm trying not to distract her by making any noise or any sudden movements. Luckily I've been typing something else for a while so the keyboard strokes are not distracting her. Who? Oh, I mean, Ada. A few minutes ago she waddled over to the table at which I'm sitting and helped herself to one of the tissues in the pile I keep everpresent beside me (trees. allergies. a nasty business.). She did her usual shtick of wiping her nose while blowing out of her mouth. I turned back to my screen and she waddled off. Have I mentioned that she finally started walking? It's been a couple of weeks now, thank G-d. She really is doing pretty well. But, I digress. A moment ago, I looked up to see what she's up to. There she is, sitting on the floor, with a doll. The doll is wearing only a shirt (the dolls in our house are usually dressed quite minimally if at all). Ada is using the tissue to carefully wipe her, giving her baby a "diaper change"! Precious moments.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Mazal Tov and Poor Josh

Yesterday, we joined my bro- and sis-in-law, Ari and Rivky, in celebrating their first-born's bris. His hebrew name is Yeshaya (pretty, no?) and they're calling him Josh. Mordechai's stuffed bird and Sari's doll have already been named Josh in his honor.

Rather unfortunately, in my opinion, Mordechai had a full, front-seat view of the proceedings. Among his questions that day was, "Do they do that to girls, too?" When I answered that they don't, he was clearly relieved and said, "Good, 'cuz I wouldn't want them to do that to Ada."

Update: They've decided to call him Shaya, after all.

G-d Bless America

Say what you will, but he sure is a good sport! Laugh your heart out :)

George Bush at the White House Correspondents' Association

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Avar z'mano

Avar z'mano, batel korbano?
(If the correct time for offering a particular sacrifice has passed, there is no point in offering the sacrifice.)

Before Pesach, I was walking in the city as Spring was settling into town. As I walked briskly past stately homes lining the streets of the E 60's and 70's at Park and Madison, I was composing delightful blog posts in my mind. Posts about the glorious daffodils, those early flowers that herald in the new season, that were nodding their pretty heads at me. Posts about the bounce in my step inspired by the freshness in the air*. Posts about the darling little spring dresses that greeted me at my destination on Madison Avenue.

But, in all the pre-Pesach chaos, I missed the moment and the time for those posts is lost.

Not completely, though. The memories flooded my consciousness today on my daily (okay, I'm on day 3 - but it's been daily since Tuesday) power walk during my lunch break. The weather was beautiful and I was privileged to witness the loveliest scene. I saw a little bird, hopping along the path around a neatly manicured lawn, with a long worm dangling from its beak. I couldn't help but smile.

* For all those snickering suburbanites or (gasp) country bumpkins, I contend that fresh air is relative and even the city's air can take on a certain freshness if one's imagination wills it.


My Dad came up with this riddle for my brother and me on Pesach afternoon. Now, I'm not terribly bright, but my brother is quite the genius, and even he took some time to get it. Here it is:

The following eight letters can be arranged to make five different words:


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Pop quiz, hot shot

A friend sent me this quiz for fun. It is billed as the quiz "for people who think they know everything". (What made my friend think of sending it to me? I wonder.) I was surprised at how many I didn't know. These are not trick questions. They are straight questions with straight answers.

1. Name the one sport in which neither the spectators nor the participants know the score or the leader until the contest ends.

2. What famous North American landmark is constantly moving backward?

3. Of all vegetables, only two can live to produce on their own for several growing seasons. All other vegetables must be replanted every year. What are the only two perennial vegetables?

4. What fruit has its seeds on the outside?

5. In many liquor stores, you can buy pear brandy, with a real pear inside the bottle. The pear is whole and ripe, and the bottle is genuine; it hasn't been cut in any way. How did the pear get inside the bottle?

6. Only three words in standard English begin with the letters "dw" and they are all common words. Name two of them.

7. There are 14 punctuation marks in English grammar. Can you name at least half of them?

8. Name the only vegetable or fruit that is never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form except fresh.

9. Name 6 or more things that you can wear on your feet beginning with the letter "S."

So what can you answer?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Me - from A to Z

No. I wasn't tagged. Not by Ezzie, Jameel, Mirty or PsychoToddler. I see no reason why that should stop me from doing this meme.

For my English speaking, I am fortunate to have been saved from the dreaded New York accent by a Philadelphian father. And, thanks to my mama, I have a pretty decent Israeli accent when I speak Hebrew. When I was little, I would say my name in each "language". Although, in each language, the name is "Ayelet", I would vary the accent when asked to say it in Hebrew or English!

Quite infrequently. Whiskey sour on a rare occasion. Wine - dry or semi-dry - on festive occasions. Zima on any occasion I can find a store that carries it.

Chore I Hate:
That's easy. Cleaning the bathroom!

Like them but would never have the patience to actually care for one. Plus, Sari is morbidly afraid of them.

Essential Electronics:
Not quite essential, but I sure would miss my laptop and cell-phone if they were ever to disappear. Does a microwave count? 'Cuz that is definitely essential.

Favorite Perfume/Cologne:
Samsara. Bobbi Brown. They're sitting in my drawer. Can't remember the last time I ever used them though.

Gold & Silver:
Platinum! I do adore jewelry - rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets. Diamond is my birthstone and my best friend. I do sound shallow, don't I?

Jerusalem. Born in Haddassa Hospital on Har Ha'tzofim.

Ever since my first child, rarely. What is the opposite of insomnia? When you could fall asleep at any given moment if given the opportunity to get comfortable enough? I have that.

Job Title:
Mom - wife - chef - housekeeper - chauffer - first-aid administrator - teacher - referee - consoler - program director - dresser - secretary - shopper - advisor - etc. Oh, and Speech-Language Pathologist.

Gorgeous, brilliant, and irresistably adorable.

Living Arrangements:
Small 2-bedroom apartment on the seventh floor of a rather unattractive building. One bathroom, but have use of neighbor's bathroom in case both kids have to go simultaneously. Elevator is a vintage model which requires that you pull open a heavy metal door once the elevator has arrived at your floor. I would never have thought it would happen at such a tender age, but I regularly make use of a granny cart.

Most Admired Trait:
I'm stumped.

Number of ...
[content deleted due to delicate nature of material]

Overnight Hospital Stays:
Mordechai - 5 nights (He was born by c-section)
Sari - 2 nights (VBAC)
Ada - 2 nights (Over three-day yom tov. Didn't have to check out till late the 3rd day, after Shabbat.)
Ada (again) - dehydration. 1 night in ER on stretcher with her in arms, 1 night in chair beside her cage crib. The pits.


There are lists of them that I love. I'm always scribbling them down when I find them. Here's one I came across fairly recently : "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." (Will Rogers - according to Rachel)

Jewish, by birth and choice

Raphael and Mordechai.

Time I Usually Wake Up:
6:53. Dress and pack up Mordechai. If the girls are still sleeping, tiptoe back to bed at 7:12. Reset alarm for 7:32. Snooze till 7:41. Roll out of bed reluctantly. ETD to work: 8:03 AM.

Unusual Talent:
None of my talents are remarkably unusual. Unless you count the ability to smell a grammatical error from miles away a talent.... Yeah. I didn't think so.

Vegetable I Refuse To Eat:

Worst Habit:
Worrying. Assuming the worst case scenario.

Huh? I don't get the question. My dental x-ray records indicate that I have 5 permanent teeth missing. Fascinating tidbit, I know.

Yummy Foods I Make:
Mmmm. Pecan pie, anyone?

Zodiac Sign:
Aries. Couldn't you tell?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The 4 questions - abridged

Not that he wasn't able to recite the unabridged version. He was even able to manage a reasonably credible yiddish translation despite the fact that it was pure nonsense to him because he doesn't speak yiddish, like, at all (such a pet peeve, but that's a whole separate issue). He just seemed to feel that the traditional text was overly wordy. So, Mordechai's version, lasting all of 6 seconds, went like this:

Why do we eat matza? Why do we eat marror? Why do we dip? Why do we lean?

Monday, April 17, 2006

My little tzaddik

Mordechai and Sari had no school and were home the week before Pesach. I gave my (non-Jewish) babysitter, Namie, "prizes" to use as ammo to keep the civilians in order. During the afternoon, I called to check in and Mordechai picked up.

Mordechai: Hi, Mom. I got a prize because I was behaving very well and did good listening. But, Sari - oh, wait. I can't say 'cuz it's lashon ha'ra.

Me (trying to stifle laughter): That's terrific, Mordechai. I'm so glad to hear that you've been behaving so nicely. Good for you.

Mordechai: Yeah, but Mommy I really want to tell you something and I can't because it's lashon ha'ra.

Me: Well, then maybe you shouldn't even though it's hard not to.

Mordechai: Well, acually, maybe it's not lashon ha'ra.

Me: Oh?

Mordechai: Okay. Let's say Sari got a prize for good listening and I didn't. And let's say she was telling you she got a prize, right? Would it be lashon ha'ra for her to say that I didn't get a prize?

Me: Well, sort of, because then I could figure out that you weren't really doing good listening because you didn't get a prize.

Mordechai (sounding awfully dejected): Oh.

Me (continuing to try to stifle laughter): Mmmm.

Mordechai (brightening considerably): I know what I'll do! I'll tell Namie to tell you.

Mordechai (holding phone away from mouth, talking to Namie): Namie, tell Mom that Sari's not listening.

Mordechai (to me): Okay, Mom. Hold on. Namie wants to tell you something.

Now, how would the Chafetz Chaim have felt about amirah l'akum?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Let freedom ring!

I love Pesach. Always did. I love the regal magnificence of the seder table. I don't like matza but I like the Romaine lettuce and I love the charoset. I love the intrigue of the rituals and the fascinating symbolism. I love how every year, there's always something new to discuss about the Haggada no matter how many times you've read it. I love that every year or two, there's another child that becomes "of age" to recite or sing the Ma Nishtana. I thank G-d for that blessing and hope those children love singing the Ma Nishtana their whole lives. I love the little seder plates, haggadas, pillows, and afikoman bags carefully decorated in school and sent home in plastic bags and put away so they don't get "chametzdik" before Pesach. I love the spell-bound awe that settles over Mordechai when he listens as I tell the story of the ten makos again, even though he's heard it before so many times. I love the buzz that gives Hallel and Nirtza extra spirit. I love that I can go out with the kids even though I'm in Brooklyn and there's no eruv. I love the girls in their new spring clothes: beautiful smocked dresses with sashes tied behind them, skirts billowing over their petticoats, dimpled elbows peeking from under puffed sleeves. I love the daffodils that signal the start of spring, heralding the arrival of Chag He'aviv. I love that little game the children play - shavur oh lo shavur (broken or not?) - the one that I played when my brothers and I were growing up. I love the beautiful songs and tunes that seem like they've been sung forever. I love the breeze that comes in when we open the door to let in Eliyahu Ha'navi, to let in a whiff of pure spirit into our homes.

Here's hoping we all join together for next year's seder, a seder to surpass all those past, in the city of our dreams restored to its former glory, Yerushalayim.

Afikoman gameplans

The kids are planning their seder night afikoman strategies.
Sari's plan: I'll steal the afikoman and then I'll say I want a bike.
Mordechai's plan: I'll steal the afikoman and hide it under the couch.

Unfortunately, his plan was a bit foiled by Sari who told Dovid that Mordechai was gonna put the afikoman under the couch.
Mordechai censured Sari for telling: It's supposed to be a secret!
Sari: Oh. (turning to Dovid) Daddy, don't tell anyone, k?

All the Daddies out there may need some help with their gameplans. Know how frustrating it is getting that matza to split neatly when Yachatz rolls around? Here's a great tip I found at the Muqata:

Crazy weekend

Perhaps crazy is an understatement? I dislocated Ada's elbow on Friday. She was screaming. The pain must have been awful. An hour before Shabbat the doctor gave me instructions on how to pop it back in but I wasn't sure I got it. Shabbat morning, after a long, sleepless night, we were pretty sure it wasn't in so Dovid took her to a P.A. in the neighborhood and he twisted her arm every which way in an effort to get it back in. According to Dovid's report, Ada was totally hysterical. The P.A. wasn't totally sure he got it but he said if we see her put her arm over her head, we'd know she was okay. She was in a horrible mood all afternoon and wouldn't put any weight on her arm. She even figured out how to scoot on her bottom without using her arm ("Look, Ma. No hands!")! Finally, late afternoon we observed her reaching her arm up to help push the toy stroller which is too high for her to reach normally. She's so short! So we knew she was okay. She still wasn't bearing any weight on her arm and was too afraid to walk lest she fall on and have to use her arm to catch herself. But we knew it was just a matter of time for the trauma to wear off so she would start to use her arm again. Sunday she was already using her arm though she was still really cranky for some reason. But she's okay, thank G-d.
Not to worry, Sunday brought it's own share of adventure as our Camry got mangled when Dovid lost control of the car. According to the cops who came to the scene, it seems the tire blew out causing him to veer into the parked cars. Thank G-d, he was in the service road and not the main road where most of the traffic is because that could have caused a serious accident. He was okay - a little backache - but the car is unbelievably messed up. The wheel is twisted up in the most bizarre way. I hope it doen't cost a fortune because we don't have one! Anyone looking to contribute to the Camry fund (or future home downpayment fund or yeshiva tuition fund or early retirement fund, et al) should drop me a line. Operators will be standing by to take your calls.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Man of the house

Mordechai washed for a pizza bagel and said the bracha as he dried his hands. Before saying Hamotzi, he hesitated. After the bracha, he chuckled and confided, "I was almost gonna' say bir'shus!"

Mazal Tov!

Okay, not really. Sari was trying on her dressy clothes so I could see what, if anything, fit her. I put on her petticoat - I love petticoats on little girls - even though it was clearly too small, just to get the effect. Well, she was very pleased, to say the least. In fact, when I told her it was too small but maybe Savta could buy her a bigger one, she ran to get the phone to call her. She twirled around the room feeling very beautiful, I'm sure. I told her she looked like a princess. "No," she corrected, "I'm a kallah. Sing me Aray Y'shama!"

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I can do it, too!

Mordechai and Sari get into making puppet shows every now and then. We have a whole basket of hand puppets that they use. They pull the big, plaid chair away from the wall and crouch behind it, creating their own puppet theater. Yesterday, Mordechai had abandoned his puppets and moved on to his next activity. A few moments later, I noticed Ada playing with one of the puppets. She stood up next to the chair and reached as high as she could with the puppet and babbled a show for me! Good thing she had such an appreciative audience. The applause was deafening!

Daddies go to Jupiter...

Dovid: So do most kids in your class talk about their Moms more or their Dads?

(Mordechai shrugs)

Dovid: Well, who do you think most kids like more?

Mordechai: Well... Daddies give more treats.

Dovid: Why do you think that is?

Mordechai: Because Mommies are smarter and they know it's not really good for you.


Thank G-d, I'm pretty much exempt because I go away for Pesach. But, really, is it this bad? So many great posts around about this stuff. I'm really enjoying. But, then again, it's easy for me to laugh.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Jewish litmus test

Mordechai was telling me and neighbor Penina that his busdriver, Sylvester, claims he's Jewish. He sometimes wears a kippa and, on Fridays, says he has to rush home after his route to get ready for Shabbos. (Mordechai imitates his accent cutely. Sylvester is African-American with an accent from...I have no idea where. But there is an accent from somewhere.) Obviously, this is all to play around with the kids. He's really nice like that. Penina asked Mordechai, "Does everyone believe him?" A look of doubt flickered across Mordechai's face before he replied, shaking his head, "Well, I asked him what the first holiday in Jewish is and he said he forgot and would have to learn that again so..." Oh, well. Guess not.

Monday, April 03, 2006

It doesn't grow on trees

This morning's conversation:

Mordechai: Mom, where does money come from?

Me: Well, when Mommy and Daddy go to work, we get paid for our work. Then we usually put it into the bank so they can keep it safe for us and take it out when we need to buy something or pay for something.

Mordechai: Yes, but where does money come from?

Me: Um, I'm not sure what you mean, honey.

Mordechai: You get money from your work and they get money from their work and they from them...But what about the first money? Where does that money come from?

Me: Oh! (Silly me.) That comes from the U.S. Mint in Washington D.C. That's where they print the bills and make the coins. Maybe one day we can visit there but it's a long drive.

Mordechai: Aha. When I come home, can you show me where Washington D.C. is on my globe? I forgot.

P.S. I'm dreading tomorrow's question which will most likely be: Why can't they just make billions of dollars and everyone will be rich? See, I have no idea. I know the gold standard is a thing of the past but that's about as far as my knowledge of economics goes. Maybe, if I'm lucky, he'll move back to math or biology. That's much safer ground for me:)

For those of you who are just too tired by the eve of Pesach

The 60-second Pesach Seder.

hat tip: Ima, via e-mail

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Matzo Man

American Comedy Network Presents: Matzo Man

hat tip: Jameel

Holy bricks

Sari was describing the matza factory that visited her school last week with Mordechai interjecting with details he remembered from when he had the same experience last year. She described how they made the wheat into flour and she had the job of pouring in the flour and somebody else poured in the water. They made the dough and everybody got to punch it down and roll it out with a rolling pin. Then they "did another rolling pin with holes". She stopped there so I asked what happened next. She shrugged and said the man took it. Knowing that he must have put the matza into a brick oven to bake, Mordechai prompted her with, "Did the man put it into the kosel* oven?"

Kosel or kotel, depending on your pronunciation, literally means wall. As a proper noun, it refers to the Western Wall near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Loving Whispers

Sari told me a secret this afternoon. Can't remember what it was but that's not the point of the story. Next thing I know, Ada scoots over to me and puts her soft, yummy check up against mine and whispers unintelligibly. Well, everything she says, whispered or otherwise is unintelligible. She thought that was absolutely hilarious and that set off the whisper game with everyone whispering to everyone "I love you", "I love you more", "I love you like the stars", "I love you like the sand", "I love you a hundred million trillion googol", "I love you till the end of counting", "I love you even more than that", and then Sari tops it all with "I love you ...ummm ...twenty-six! That's alot, right Mommy?"

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sibling worship

I came into the living room this afternoon and was met with sight of Mordechai(6) and Sari(3 1/2) bent over a world map spread out on the floor.

Mordechai: Savta's in Israel now. I'll show you where it is, k?

Sari: Yeah, yeah! Where is it?

Mordechai: It's this little one, right here. See it?

Sari (sighs and gazes at him in wonder): Mordechai, do you know everything?"

Leich, Knos et kol ha-Yehudim

I was lucky to come across this project in time to join with them. I think a project like this is long overdue and I'm hoping I'll really manage to stick with it. Anyone interested in learning b'chavruta with me? Please consider joining: Nach Yomi for Avraham.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

My big boy

Mordechai's siddur play was fantastic. The actual performance was okay - not nearly as polished as Chanukah's show - but the boys were so excited to be getting their siddurim, it was such a delight to share the moment with them. Mordechai showed me excitedly that it's the same one as the one Tante P. gave him, with the aleph-bet at the beginning and the parshiyot (weekly Torah portions) at the end. I was so moved by the whole experience - it felt like such an important milestone. (You can all stop laughing/snorting/rolling your eyes/etc. now.)

Different parents contributed to the refreshment table that was set up. Yaakov's mom made a beautiful siddur cake that also tasted delicious. Mordechai, ever the gentleman, went over to Yaakov and said, "Thanks for the cake, Yaakov. It's really delicious!" Good thing Yaakov's mom was sitting close enough to overhear the compliment and share a laugh with me :).

But, the best line of the day, in my opinion, came from another child, whose name escapes me at the moment. He tried a candy that was obviously not to his liking. He screwed up his face and said, "Eeew, it tastes like salad!" How's that for a simile?

Monday, March 20, 2006

Barber shop banter

Mordechai's having his siddur party tomorrow. It's so exciting and emotional for me. I feel like it's a mini Bar Mitzva! It is quite a milestone, after all. It goes without saying, of course, that he is absolutely beaming with pride and excitement!

For the occasion (and because his hair was starting to resemble that of the Beatles), I gave him a haircut tonight. It is my custom to play the part of "barber" when I cut his hair because it distracts him enough to give me another few moments of wriggle-free trimming. As any good barber does, I engaged the customer in conversation...

Me: So what's the occasion for this haircut, sir?

Mordechai: Oh, I'm having a party tomorrow.

Me: Oh! What kind of party?

Mordechai (apparently assuming I was either a gentile barber or a non-observant Jew): It's a book party.

Me: A book party? Why would you make a party for a book?

Mordechai: It's a holy book.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Kindergarten politics

Mordechai was talking to Dovid and giving him the rundown of how things stand at school (names were changed to protect classmates' anonymity):

Reuven is leader of the bad guys. He gets in trouble all the time. I'm the leader of the good guys. Shimon thinks he's the leader of the good guys but he's not. He walks around and shows off about how many stars he has and the other boys don't like that because he's trying to make them jealous. And Levi thinks he's so cool because he has gedolah* [sic] cards.

* Gedolim cards are collectible cards featuring Jewish religious leaders, past and present.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Mazal Tov!

How cool is this proposal? Not everyone's cup of tea I guess, but I think it's totally, incredibly romantic. What thinks you?

hat tip: Jameel (at OnlyBlogSimchas.COM ;))

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A bald statement

Cousin Alex, whose hair is rather "thin", to put it kindly, was engaged in conversation with Mordechai (6):

M: Where's you hair?

A: (pulling at hair over ears) I have hair. Right here!

M: Did you get, like, a hundred haircuts?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Spell check for the 21st century

The spell check feature on Blogger does not recognize blogging or blog or blogger as words. Ironic, no?


I'm rather touched that several people have been asking me about my recent blogging slump. Of course, most of these people never comment so how I'm supposed to figure out that they read me is beyond my comprehension. But that is another matter entirely. The truth is, I haven't felt driven to write anything of late. Perhaps I've caught the bug from other bloggers who have also been slowing down a lot. Maybe it's just a temporary thing. I hope so 'cuz I used to enjoy writing here so much.

Al Jazeera interview

"We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people. The Muslims have turned three Buddha statues into rubble. We have not seen a single Buddhist burn down a mosque, kill a Muslim, or burn down an embassy. Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind before they demand that humankind respect them."

See the video for the rest of an impassioned speech by Arab-American psychologist, Wafa Sultan, interviewed on Al Jazeera (via

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Everyone's a star

LamedZayin puts Jewish music in a nutshell with one cute comic.

Not The Godol Hador

Godol Hador, often known around olam hablog as GH, has a very popular blog. I've popped in on occasion but never did peruse his extensive archives (and I do mean extensive!). He addresses heavy duty topics related to religion, faith, the intersection of Judaism and science. He warns readers at the outset that, although he does not intend to promote kefirah, he discusses "issues close to the bone". Since blogging is my chilling time, I found the prospect of all that deep thinking stuff too daunting to tackle. Besides, I'd never have the time to wade through it. However, I did read this post from Sunday. Ezzie pointed out to his readers that it's fast approaching a J-blog record for number of comments on a single post (620 last I checked). With a record like that, I felt compelled to check out what all the buzz was about. A powerful post.


I am Spider-Man (psst, Rebecca-another fun popcorn flick, no?)

The Flash
Green Lantern
Wonder Woman
Iron Man
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Mazal Tov, Morah!

My boy went to his teacher's wedding tonight! Oh, I feel so...I don't know! Proud? That's silly. It's not exactly an accomplishment. It's just that he's getting so big. Next week he celebrates his 6th birthday, on the 24th of Sh'vat. He's almost halfway to being a bar mitzvah! Wow.

He looked so handsome tonight in his dark blue suit and light blue dress shirt, his big-boy dress shoes, and his hair combed neatly. As we waited for his ride to pick him up in the lobby of our building, he opened his coat to "check how [he] looks". He struck a pose in front of the mirrored wall and, with an approving smirk, said, "I look fine." Oh, yes. Quite fine!

When he got home, I asked him how it was. After he filled me in with some details, I asked him in my usual manner, "and who was the most handsome boy there?" He looked up at me with that yummy twinkle in his eye and gave the answer I was waiting for, "Me." And then, in a fit of generosity, "Some of the other boys looked handsome, too."

Winter Wonderland

How's that for an original title? Not.
Well, at least it's clear that I'm not referring to the hour it took me to get my car out this morning. There I was, husbandless, with my tires spinning. I actually had to shovel. With my own hands. My tiny, soft, feminine hands that were not meant to know such menial manual labor. Before everyone rushes to conclusions, Dovid did dig the car out Sunday night. Unfortunately, the plows created more to deal with in the morning. Even so, Dovid went out at 6 A.M., before he left for work, and dug out a path for me and checked that the car could get out. In fact, it did get out much of the way. It just refused to finish the job and left me halfway into the street. Oysh. What a disaster. Thankfully, I got out with some help from a very kind neighbor (thank you, Nachi Winter!). Let's not do that again tomorrow. (When I came home from work today Mordechai called to me from the other room, "Did you make sure to park on the left side of the street?" He's such a little man, that one.)

Well, the wonderland I refer to in my title is the one my children revelled in on Sunday afternoon. Mordechai had a blast. Sari was petrified at first but I finally managed to push her out the door. We started by just pushing the snow gently with our toes. Before long, she was actually walking in the snow. Not quite the dare-devil.