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.