Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Shopping Madness

A woman I was speaking to (I think she would describe herself as Conservative.) was telling me about some challenges she faces. She is genuinely concerned about giving her children a strong sense of their Jewishness. She mentioned that she gets very stressed out about it during December when all the holiday lights go up and some of her kids' friends have trees in their homes. This is not the first time I've heard Jewish moms express difficulty in this area. Another dad I met was at a loss, having moved recently from Israel, where he had never faced the situation before. He was hoping he could hide the whole issue from his kids, although how he planned to shelter them like that was unclear to me (or him, I imagine)!

I personally am glad to explain to my children about differences between us and Gentiles and I find that this season presents a good opportunity for that. Naturally, kids do get excited with all the lights and decorations and conspicuous fanfare surrounding Chrixtmas. That's perfectly okay. I tell them that the Gentiles celebrate the birth of their leader, JC, on Chrixtmas. He was a person who they think is a god. We know that G-d is not a person at all and it is avodah zara to believe so! One of the reasons that stores get into the "holiday spirit" with such vigor is to encourage people to buy lots of presents and spend more money. Also, even Gentiles who are not really religious celebrate the holiday. So that's alot of people celebrating so we see lots of Chrixtmas stuff around. Since we don't believe that JC is or was a god and that we don't want to do anything like avodah zara, we don't use Chrixtmas decorations or stuff like that.

Minorly related story: The other day, we were circling in the Publix supermarket parking lot for too long looking for a spot. Since I was with Ada getting ice cream, coming back later was not an option. When we had finally found a spot and we were walking through the lot towards the store, Ada wondered aloud, "Why is it so busy today? It's not even Friday!" And then, nodding her head wisely, "Ohhhh! I know why. They must be buying food for Chrixtmas!"

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I'm in a picture!

A rare occurrence, I assure you :) I'm always behind the camera!

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Who won?

I'm currently reading "Treblinka: The inspiring story of the 600 Jews who revolted against their murderers and burned a Nazi death camp to the ground" by Jean-Francois Steiner. Sari read the cover with the title and subtitle and asked, "Is this a Jewish book?" I answered that it was about Jews. Then she asked, "Did the Jews win?" It took me a moment to answer.

Reading about the horrors that our brothers and sisters were subjected to is a difficult thing. It terrifies me but yet I continue to devour every word, page after page, the way I cover my face at the scary parts of the movie but all the while peek through my fingers because I just have to see it - I have to know what happens. It's terrifying to read how degraded and broken the human spirit can become. It's so hard to understand how people can allow themselves to be so deceived, allow themselves to deny the truth that is before them in an attempt to... minimize the pain? Hold on to hope? Save face? I'm not quite sure. It's all so overwhelming.

So, did the Jews win? Well, we're still here after all. There's some victory in that, isn't there?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I am thankful...

Mordechai: ...that we have a house ...that we are healthy and safe

Sari: ...for my siddur that my Savta gave me ...for kosher food ...for my family ...for Hashem

Ada: ...for my family and my neshama

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Hey

Presenting Ada, as a Native American, singing the song for the letter hey:

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Out of the blue, Ada announced the following: The Chinese people made two things. Chinese restaurants and Chinese jumprope.

(I have no idea how she knows anything about Chinese restaurants!)


Ada was busily building large squares with Clics. I asked her what she was building and she told me it was going to be a box. She added: I already know how I'm going to do it.

me: Oh? How?

Ada: I can't tell you. You won't get it.

me: I won't get it?

Ada: Yeah. You know, understand.


We were eating out at friends on Friday night. Of course, the kids are always ready to leave long before I am. Well, after polishing off her chocolate mousse and a slice of cake, Ada announced: I finished my dessert. I'm ready to roll!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mordechai has become quite the avid sports fan lately. To "chill out," he likes to watch game highlights online. I was nearby on the couch one afternoon while he was watching what must have been an exciting moment in the game. The sports announcers were going nuts as they are so wont to do. I wondered aloud, "Why are they always yelling on the top of their lungs like that?"

A few moments later, Ada piped up from the recliner, "I think they yell so loud so that everyone in the stadium can hear them."

If only there was such a rational reason!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Ada's Anatomy

Ada was sitting in a shopping cart and started scratching the back of her knee vigorously. I asked her what the matter was and she answered, "My legpit itches me."

Not so private

Sari: Mommy, do I go to a private school?

Me: Yes, you do.

Sari (after a moment's pause): Then how come it's out in middle of the street?

Monday, September 28, 2009

How fun is it?!

About a week into the school year, Mordechai and I were sitting one night going through his daily schedule in school. He was telling me about his morning routine when he learns limudei kodesh with Rabbi Guttman. After recess, they learn mishnayos. He said excitedly, "Mishnayos is really good!" I said (perhaps a bit skeptically), "It is?"

He looked at me like I was off the wall and said, "Oh, yeah. Mishnayos is even more fun than recess!"

Kudos to Rabbi G.!

Memory aids

I was so impressed last night with something Ada said to me. She had made adorable bookmarks for Dovid and I to use in our machzorim on Yom Kippur. Each one had a cute poem and a picture of her.

Ada came over to me during davening needing something or other and I had to put down my machzor. That's when I realized that I had unfortunately forgotten to bring my bookmark to shul before the chag. She realized my dilemma and said, "Don't worry, Mommy. Just say the page you're up to in your head a lot of times, like this: 1-2-1, 1-2-1, 1-2-1."

I remarked what a good, practical idea that was and she said, "Yeah. I do that all the time when I need to remember something. It really works!"

Now, of course, that is a pretty obvious strategy for any grown-up to employ but, wouldn't you say that's a cool trick for a just-turned-five-year-old to figure out on her own? What do you think?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Say Yes to No!

Totally fascinating stuff. The second clip here has some background info. Check out some of the related clips on YouTube as well... (hat tip)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


This morning I woke up and went to rouse the kids. Sari - who does have a perfectly good bed, fear not! - was rolled up in her blanket on the floor. I woke her up and, as usual, the sleeping beauty grunted and rolled over. I didn't see Ada in her bed so I called out her name, assuming she was in the bathroom. No response. I checked Mordechai's room. He was already out of bed. I figured Ada woke up early (weird!) and went down to play with Mordechai. I came down and asked Mordechai if he had seen Ada. When he said no, I started to feel frantic and continued to call out Ada's name repeatedly. I ran from room to room but couldn't find her anywhere! The panic was rising in my chest. In my search, I returned to the girls' room. (Sari hadn't budged, of course.) I sat down next to her on the floor and finally noticed a little foot sticking out from under Ada's bed. I lifted up the dust ruffle and there she was - sound asleep under the bed!

I was reminded of a similar story that happened when Mordechai was just a baby, not yet crawling. He was at the stage where he would wriggle on his tummy, but could only push himself backward. One time I couldn't find him for a good few minutes until he finally made a little sound which I heard, although it was quite muffled, from where he was under a bed. I could have been searching for even longer had he not bothered to make some noise!

Goodies to go

I asked Ada to bring home some cookies or cake from a siyum she is going to tonight. (I won't be there because I'll be at Meet the Teacher night for the kidlets.) She solemnly promised to wrap some up for me to go. A few moments later, she came to me and asked seriously, "Are you allowed to take home the napkins?" Something tells me she won't grow up to be one of the ladies taking home the centerpieces from a wedding. Thank God!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Summer fun down the block ;)

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Parshat Ki Taytzay

From Sari's parsha question sheet:

Question: What do you do if you have an open roof?
Real answer: You must build a fence.
Ada's answer: You call a fixer man and ask him to fix it.


Mother knows best...or not?

So I've been driving the kidlets to school in Boca every day. We pick up another kid along the way as well. The other day, I was spacing out and accidentally drove right past our meeting spot so that I had to get off the next exit and turn around to go back to pick him up. Mordechai was thoroughly annoyed and was delivering a lecture about how I should pay more attention to what I'm doing. Besides, he continued, I went a dumb way to get back which took much longer than necessary (all true, unfortunately - not that that's a good excuse to talk to your mother like that...) blah, blah, blah. When he ran out of steam, Ada piped up from the back,

"Mom, you should always listen to Mordechai when you're driving. He's our GPS!"

Monday, August 24, 2009

Trip to the ER

Sari nearly sliced her thumb off this evening while trying to cut a slice of challah for herself. I heard a cry of surprise from her and one of admonition from Mordechai. I saw her race past me on her way upstairs and I asked Mordechai what happened. He told me she had cut herself so I called to her to ask her where she was going. She said she was going to get a bandage. By the time she came downstairs with a bandage her hand was dripping with blood and she was looking pretty shaken. I couldn't even tell where the cut was because the blood was all over so I took her to wash the blood off. I could see that she had cut her thumb pretty deep so I (calmly) called Dovid to check it out and he agreed with me that it needed medical attention. Sari wanted Daddy to take her to the ER (I'm trying not to be offended) so I wrapped her finger in a gauze pad. I was afraid a bandage would be a bad idea because taking it off would mean pulling the pieces apart. ***shudder***

I thought I'd go crazy when I called Dovid's cell and heard it ringing in the living room! How could he forget his cell at home when he takes one of MY kids to the ER?! A friend of ours called a little while later and suggested I call the ER and ask for him. How like me is that? To forget that there was life before cell phones? Duh. The receptionist was happy to transfer me to bed #22. Sari was fine and was getting her wound taped rather than stitched which is certainly a lot less traumatic and will hopefully prove to be equally effective.

A little while later I called again to find out that they'd been discharged. Mordechai had been practically pacing the whole time since they had left but he seemed to be somewhat relieved to hear the news that they were on their way home. He turned to me and asked if I thought he should give Sari all his stickers. I was quite taken by surprise and didn't really have a chance to answer before he decided for himself that he would do just that. When she got home he handed her his whole sticker album. Now, granted he's not really all that into stickers for quite some time now, but, how sweet is that?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Almost Five!

Someone asked Ada the other day how old she was. Her response:

"Four and a half and three-quarters."

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Transportation through the ages

Mordechai just told me a joke about a car that had special driving instructions. Funny thing, it was just like the joke I heard as a kid. Only the joke I heard was about a horse that would stop if you said "Shema Yisrael" and go if you said "Baruch Hashem!"

Lessons for Real Life

Sari came over to me holding an empty box after taking the last M&M ice cream cone. I looked at her, puzzled, and told her to throw it away. She said, "But you could use it to hold the door open!" (I'd been wondering all morning what happened to my homemade door stop that holds open my kitchen's swinging door.) I was so pleased. And she said, "Isn't that great? We're recycling! We're making less trash!" Nice carryover, no?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Loosening the apron strings

Mordechai had his first summer away from home. It was a huge experience for both of us. He stayed at Dovid's sister, Sari's family. He didn't say that much about his days but I do know that he was usually "too busy" to talk on the phone with me. Good sign, I guess.

After the second day of Chaim Day Camp, Mordechai reported that his Rebbe was awesome. His only complaint was, "Why do they have learning for so long if it's camp?" A little culture shock coming from his Florida day school, eh? By the next week he was pronouncing hebrew words with a deep yeshivish accent. (It reminded me of when I got married and heard Dovid make kiddush using "oh" for the cholam instead of "oy" like m faythers and brothers do. To me he sounded like a girl! It's a Chafetz Chaim thing :).)

My family was so wonderful taking care of my baby. I felt truly comfortable knowing he was in such warm, loving hands. My mom-in-law (where Mordechai spent most weekends), shared some anecdotes with me (in her voice):

1. We were talking on Shabbos about Miriam - that she will be the first of the grandchildren to go to sleep-away camp. So Mordechai puts on that smirky smile and says, "What about me, I am the first to go to sleep-away camp....I am sleeping away and going to camp!!"

2. Shabbos we had for dessert a yummy chocolate cake from Tziporah and Mordechai says its good that everyone has something that they are good at."Tziporah is the best at cakes and cookies, my mom makes the best salads, Aunt Sari cooks the best apple kugel & pies and Rivky and Rena are, ya know, good at cooking." (me: To appreciate how funny that is, it's important to note that I haven't made a salad in ages! He just made something up about me so as not to leave me out!)

3. On Sunday Mordechai was excited to go to Savta for the BBQ because he says she has the best steaks in the world. But he added that he is a little sad. When I asked why, he answered, "cause my mom always cuts the steak into little pieces for me."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Me: We have to pack up the school because it's moving to Palm Beach Gardens.

Ada (wide-eyed): They're going to move the whole school? How do they pick it up?

Me: No! They don't move the building, just the stuff in it.

Ada: Oh. Well that's good for Morah Tzippy 'cuz she lives in Palm Beach Gardens and she'll be close to it!'

Monday, June 08, 2009

Another link in the mesorah

Watching children get their first Chumash is an incredibly inspiring experience. Sari was a superstar! (I was reminded of her kindergarten "graduation" when we were still living in NY. There were a couple of kids in her class who refused to go up to do their part or forgot their lines. Sari jumped up to fill in for each one of them. She knew everyone else's parts by heart and apparently stage fright was not part of her playbook!) Many thanks to her Rebbe and teacher, and the entire Torah Academy staff. They are Jewish educators par excellence!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Beating Eggs

On Friday, Ada and I were preparing challah dough. I was narrating the process and after we had checked the eggs to make sure they were kosher, I announced that I was going to beat the eggs. After I had whisked them for a few moments, Ada called out in glee:

"You won!"