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?