Monday, October 31, 2005

Another list

Ten Things That Barak Can Do That He Couldn't Do Last Month

1. Eat chicken soup, with a spoon. Yes, he fishes out his knaidlach pieces with his fingers first, but he eats the rest, very carefully, just like a grownup. And most of it even goes into his mouth. An excellent skill with lifelong applications, especially for Jews.

2. Insist that cereal come in a bowl, with milk and a spoon, just like his cousins'.

3. Say "please," and "thank you" when prompted (sort of).

4. Point to his head, eyes, nose, and mouth when asked, usually getting them right; say "Eye!" when pointing to his eye.

5. Answer the question "What's your name?" intelligibly and accurately.

6. Say a reasonable version of his babysitter's name (which is not easy to pronounce).

7. Play in leaf piles (okay, he could have done it last month if there had been leaf piles last month, but it is still a first that belongs in the list).

8. Say, "all done!" when he's all done, if you ask him whether or not he is, in fact, all done. However, proclamations of this kind are not necessarily reliable.

9. Put the nails in his workbench and pull them out. Repeat.

10. When asked to say "bye bye," say "bye!" with the accompaniment of a hail of theatrically blown kisses. This is a particular favorite with Abba, who has yet to receive a single cheek kiss from Barak, on account of the Dreaded Prickly Beard Factor.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

for your chol ha'moed amusement

Well, speaking of Shanna, she's now asked me to participate in the seven meme. I'm not tapping anybody, Shanna, but I'll answer them. With links! I'll add to it when I have time--right now I can only do as much as I can get finished before MHH and MHBIL finish fixing the schach that blew off the succah last night.

Seven Things I Can Do

1. Knit just about anything, as long as it isn't lace
2. Make Shabbos from scratch in two hours flat. (Not that I've ever had to do this, of course.)
3. Smile upside down. Meaning, I can make a face exactly like Beaker's, of the Muppets. I've only ever met one other person who can do this.
4. Spin really, really fast on a handspindle. (I have a purple ribbon to prove it, too.)
5. Find my husband's wallet, keys, glasses, and kippah, through my amazing powers of omniscience.
6. Navigate the Budapest public transit system without fear.
7. Make killer latkes, the old-fashioned way--with the blood of my knuckles.

Seven Things I Can't Do

1. Debate important issues calmly with anyone hostile.
2. Fit into my pre-Barak wardrobe.
3. Cook kasha varnishkas for my husband without dry heaves. The smell, oh, the smell is so awful... (You didn't really want a link for that, did you? )
4. Stop trying to second-guess G-d.
5. Drive.
6. Cut up raw chicken, or even be in the same room as someone who is cutting raw chicken. (Oh, the crunching of bones.... yecch!
7. Read Hebrew aloud in front of anyone. It's this block I have. I can read Hebrew to myself, and I can even speak it to some reasonable degree. But I can't even read from a Haggada in front of my husband without stumbling.

7 Celebrity Crushes

1. Ummm... get back to me on that. It's hard without a TV.

7 Things I Would Like to Do Before I Die

1. Raise happy, healthy children who love Torah and still like me when they're grown up.
2. Fit into at least some of my pre-Barak wardrobe. Like those nice size 8 wool skirts...
3. Take MHH to meet MHG (my holy granny, in Hungary).
4. Make aliyah.
5. Visit New Zealand.
6. Speak fluent Hebrew.
7. Teach Barak Hungarian, at least enough to talk to my grandmother.

7 Things I Say Often

1. Chas v'chalila
2. Oh, my goodness me.
3. Barak, come here, please. Barak, Imma said come here. When Imma says come here, you come. (Followed by the sound of Imma's feet as she goes chasing Barak.)
4. In other news...
5. You think I'm oppressed, don't you. (To my boss, every time I explain some aspect of Jewish observance to her and she gets That Look.)
6. Please go to bed or you'll be miserable tomorrow. (To MHH)
7. Could you take the garbage out, please?

Friday, October 14, 2005

Smurfs and war

Shanna, you can tell me how to turn this into a link, but until then, look at this:

(look, Shanna told me how to turn it into a link! and, er, it wasn't actually hard.)

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Barak files

So, a few things that bear posting about.

Barak said his first three-syllable word today. I was giving him strawberries, and talking to him about strawberries, how I was going to cut the strawberries and put the strawberries in a bowl, etc. And I said, "Do you like strawberries?" And he said, "Yeah! Tawbawa! Yeah!"

He said "strawberries!" Wow.

On Sunday, my SIL and her family are coming for Succos, all five of them. We're really looking forward to this. (Hi, guys! We're really looking forward to it. Really! See, it's in my blog and everything, so don't start calling and saying, do you really want us to come, really, because I know it's a lot of work and a long time, and are you sure it's okay, because IT IS AND WE WANT YOU TO COME AND NOW THE WHOLE WORLD KNOWS IT, AT LEAST THE INFINITESIMAL PERCENTAGE OF THE WORLD WHO READS THIS BLOG.)

But since we don't have enough beds to accommodate everbody, I've been doing a little organizing. On Saturday night, a friend came by with an old toddler bed that we set up for Niece #2. Niece #3 is getting the pack and play. And today I went to the mattress store and bought a nice mattress for Nephew #2, who is getting the most luxurious mattress of all because I got his for half price because the mattress man ripped it taking it off the truck. It's nice and thick and springy, and the sheet will hide the hole very nicely.

Anyway, what is all this doing in the Barak files, you ask? Ahh. It's in the Barak files because there are now two extra beds that are low enough for Barak to get on. And he has discovered, oh so fulsomely, the wonderful pleasures of jumping on the bed. I see no reason to put a stop to this, and indeed ringed the toddler bed with pillows to prevent unnecessary trauma from unexpected contact with the floor.

Oh, and a public service announcement. Wavy Gravy is back. As in, the most mind-blowingly delicious concoction Ben and Jerry's ever came up with, which for some unthinkable reason they retired some years ago. Only in scoop shops, only for the month. So don't miss your chance--it might not come again.

Mmm. Wavy Gravy.

coming up for air

It's Monday night, so we're in the ten days of teshuva, which are the days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. For me, frankly, there has not been a lot of spiritual introspection happening. I've just been too busy. The cooking, the cleaning, the preparation for guests and taking care of guests, Barak being under the weather on Rosh Hashana, and a busy time at work have all kept my plate full, and some other things I've needed to take care of have consumed the rest. I don't feel great about it, but there we are.

A few friends of mine have been having a really rough time lately, with health and family issues that are in the category of Things Nobody Should Have To Deal With, Ever. Because I've had plenty of those myself, the raging desire in me is to fix it. Which of course, I can't do. I can make meals. I can call. I can send boxes of fun things in the mail. I can be supportive. I can be there. I know all of these things help. But I can't fix anything, not really.

Part of why my life--my actual, current life, the one I wake up every morning and live--is still so unreal to me is not just that I never anticipated being a frum Jew. I mean, I didn't, but that isn't what really has me in a state of perpetual suspicion that this isn't really real. It's that for so many years, the standard for my life was that, well, it wasn't so much fun. No need to get into details, but you'll probably notice that I don't talk much about my family (as in my own parents, siblings, etc.) or health as of more than, say, five years ago. There's a reason, and that is that I find it necessary to just hide the entire 28-odd years of yuck under a loose floorboard in a disused lavatory in the haunted house of my psyche. (Nice metaphor, isn't it? Why, thank you.) I can't think about it. I don't blog about it. I don't want to talk about it. I don't want it to be there. It is there, of course, and it pops up now and again. There will be a date on the calendar, or I'll find an old postcard, or something else will make my mind go places it shouldn't. And I call my husband at work and say, you're not staying late today, are you? Or, can Barak and I come by and visit? And I hold tightly to Barak, and I look at my husband and the ring on my hand and the walls of my home, and I tell myself that it is real, it is mine, that I deserve this and--perhaps--will get to keep it.

Most of my friends--my real friends, the ones I can talk to, whom I understand and who understand me--are people to whom bad things have happened. They've lost parents and children. They've had cancer, mental illnesses, desperate childhoods, abusive families. They know that there is no invisible line separating the people to whom unthinkable things happen from the people to whom they do not. They know how fragile everything is. They understand what is important and what is not.

So when I meet someone new, someone in the midst of something terrible, my instinct is to say, I am one of you. I know. I understand. Let me help you. And I look around and I see my healthy loving husband, my beautiful little boy, my nice home and comfortable kitchen and good friends and real family. And I look like someone for whom everything is okay and everything has always been okay. And most of the time, I pretend that that's true. But it isn't.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Yom tov hiatus

It's not as though I'm a really regular blogger, but I thought I'd let my legions of readers (all twenty of you) know that with the high holidays (yomim tovim) approaching, I am not likely to blog for at least the coming week. My FIL is coming, and I'm working the other three days this week, so it's going to be busy.

One of the things I really like about living in a religious neighborhood is the way you can just feel that Shabbos, or Yom Tov, is approaching. People are in a hurry. About two hours before sunset, the Jews just vanish from the streets. The stores are closing up, and everyone is wishing everyone else a good Shabbos or a good holiday. This morning, I did some last-minute shopping and there was no chicken in either of the two kosher groceries, the fish store was mobbed, and where usually on a Sunday you'll see mothers out with their kids, today it was fathers--the mothers were home cooking. The fathers were navigating strollers through the aisles, studying their shopping lists and showing them to older offspring. "What does mommy mean when she says rice?" "This kind, daddy, the brown box." "Oh, okay. Put it in the cart." The rituals of the holidays.

Well, part of the house is clean, and some, though by no means most, of the cooking is done. My own husband and offspring are off on a mission to acquire and tovel a new rice cooker. What happened to ours on Friday is too hideous to describe in detail--suffice it to say it involved a batch of rice cooked in 1948 and the kind of wildlife gone amok you usually read about it Michael Crichton novels. I should be taking advantage of their absence to start the soup, but here I am blogging and casting longing glances at my spinning wheel. It's going to be a while before I get to touch that again.

All right, off I go. G'mar chasima tova, everybody. May you be inscribed for a happy, healthy, and peaceful new year.