Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Number eight

I knew I forgot something off yesterday's list.

We had a little excitement here last week. One morning--I forget which--I looked out and saw a car parked in our parking spot. This irritated me. Why? Because it's our spot, and every so often one of our neighbors thinks, well heck, they don't have a car, why am I parking on the street? and parks in our spot. This ticks me off because a) it's our spot, b) the least you could do is ask, and c) we do use our spot, because our babysitter parks in it every day. So when I saw this car, I grumbled and decided to wait and see if it moved. It didn't. It was still there that afternoon, and that night, and the next morning.

So I got a piece of red construction paper from Barak's arts and crafts box, took a very thick black Sharpie, and wrote MOVE YOUR CAR on it. I stuck the sign under the windshield wiper and went to work.

When I got home, there was the car, still, sign untouched. So I asked the neighbors if it was their car. They said no. Fine, said I, and called the towing company. The towing company told me that they couldn't just tow the car without a ticket, so I should call the police, tell them that the car was parked on private property without permission, and ask them to ticket it. Which I did.

An hour or so later, MHH came home. I had to talk to the upstairs neighbors about something (paying Mr. Fixit for a repair to the front door) and left him with Barak. Ten minutes later, MHH came upstairs. Without Barak.

"I think you should come downstairs now," he said.

First things first. "Where's Barak?!"

"He's fine. The policeman is reading him a pop-up book."

Indeed the policeman was. Because he wanted to talk to us a little bit more about the car, because not only did the car not belong to any neighbors, but the car had been reported stolen a couple days earlier by someone whom the very nice policeman described as a "shady character." The car had, it appeared, had its lock broken. And been hotwired. And been abandoned in our very parking spot.

Goodness. So I told him what I knew--basically that the car showed up overnight--and he and his buddy went out and did policeman things to it, and shined flashlights on it, and then along came the policeman tow truck and away went the car and that was the end of that.

Monday, February 27, 2006


Nothing is new that's really worth a post on its own, but a number of things on the collective mind of the Uberimma household:

1. Barak is still not sleeping. We don't know what's up with that. He's perfectly happy during the day and even naps fine. But at night... oh boy. He doesn't want to go to sleep, and will not go to sleep unless Abba or Imma are in the room. He wakes up multiple times a night, and will not go back to sleep unless Abba and Imma are in the room and stay there. Step a foot across the threshold and it's instant panic. With the exception of last Wednesday night, this has been going on since we got back from Israel, what, almost two months ago? If it's before my own bedtime, I go in to him, and usually end up sitting in the rocker in the dark for as long as an hour; sometimes I let him cry, but only if I'm totally exhausted and asleep myself. I did this once last week when he woke up at 4 am for the nth time and I just couldn't deal--I put on a soothing CD in his room, shut the door, shut our door, and turned on the humidifier. He was still screaming at 7 am. So, needless to say, I'm reluctant to do that again. Sometimes MHH goes and sleeps on his floor--not something I can do in my current enlarged state. I don't know why he's suddenly become afraid to sleep alone (that does seem to be what it is)--two weeks of sleeping in the same room with the two of us turns into this? It doesn't really make sense. This afternoon I went to Target and bought a small clamp lamp, which I attached next to the rocker--tonight, when I left the room and he started to scream, I just went back in there and knitted until he fell asleep (an hour later).

2. The pluggie (pacifier) is officially history. Barak had a cold when we went to visit my SIL, and had such a runny nose he couldn't suck and breathe at the same time. When he went to bed, I didn't give it to him and he didn't seem to object. Hmm, I thought. The first night we were home, he fell asleep in the car on the way back from the airport, so didn't get it then. The real test, of course, was putting him to bed according to usual practice at home, when he had always gotten his pluggie in the past. He cried and wanted it, but not in any major way; the second night he only mildly asked, and now he seems to have forgotten all about it. Big boy.

3. After almost five months of feeling almost normally energetic, the energy has vanished. I'm almost thirty weeks, and just... so... tired. I've been conking out at 8 a lot and there have been some major naps, enabled by MHH, who is a very forbearing person to have around when you are feeling tired and cranky. I got my glucose tolerance test results back last week and no gestational diabetes (hooray!) but I do seem to be a little anemic--maybe that explains it. Or maybe it's just not having had a solid night's sleep in two months. Yeah, that could be it too...

4. Major organizing has been going on around here. I bought a bunch of Rubbermaid bins and MHH dragged all the bags and boxes containing outgrown baby clothes up from the basement. He also brought up the two plastic chests of drawers we used for Barak's things when he was a newborn (and we were in our old, much smaller, apartment). The plastic drawers have been cleaned and stocked with newborn necessities, the clothes have been sorted by size and folded, really trashed items have been discarded, and neatly labeled boxes with 3-6 month, 6-12 month, and 18 month clothes have been returned to the storage space. For some strange reason we seem to have almost nothing in the way of 3-6 month clothes and very little newborn clothing, while we've got an entire Rubbermaid bin stuffed full of 6-12 month stuff. I know I donated a bunch of baby things after Katrina, but I thought I had more than that left. Hmm. The 6-12 month bin does really have two sizes--6-9 month and 12 month--but still.

5. Still getting used to the short hair. I tried wearing my sheitel for the first time in, um, a year last Shabbos, for a kiddush for a friend's new daughter. It fit much better, but since MHH doesn't like my wearing it, it's unlikely to be having a repeat appearance on my head anytime soon. And yes, wearing a sheitel is, according to many people (including, if it needs mentioning, MHH), a questionable practice. There's more to it than this, but the basic objection is to the practice of "covering" your hair (a halachic requirement of married women, subject to various interpretations) by wearing someone else's, probably much nicer, hair on top of it. It is, I guess, a loophole that has turned into a common practice, to the point where in many communities (not, happily, including mine) wearing a sheitel is a sign of being frum, and covering your hair with a hat or a headscarf (unless you are Sephardi) marks you as "modern." I did buy a sheitel when I got married, knowing I would need it for job interviews (which I did) and possibly work (which, happily, I did not). I'm glad MHH does not want me to wear it regularly, because I find it really itchy and annoying. My halachic objection is not as strong as his, but since a) it's uncomfortable, and b) there's no point in "dressing up" in a way he finds unattractive, it tends to stay on its little Styrofoam head on my armoire.

6. There is NO number six (sorry, couldn't resist...)

7. Still socking away. The Jaywalkers, which are for a knitting buddy about to visit from Australia, are almost done--I'm decreasing for the toe now. Next up is a pair in a milder shade of multi-colored Regia Nomotta, in a new toe-up pattern I found online. After that, we'll see. I want to do one more in Regia, so I'll have enough leftovers to make a pair of gloves with all different colored fingers. And I want to make an Odessa hat out of some hot pink Koigu for Niece #3, who still has not gotten a hat. I should probably do that before it gets warm...

And with that, it's back to socking for me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

By popular demand

Okay, frankly, I can't believe anyone would want this recipe after the poop post. But three of you have asked for it, which is about a tenth of my readership, so here you are:

Whole wheat carrot kugel (from The Taste of Shabbos: Feldheim, 1987, p. 61)

1 cup oil
1/2 cup honey
4 eggs
2 T lemon juice
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup wheat germ
1 t baking soda
1t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3 c grated carrots

Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C). Combine oil, honey, eggs and lemon juice. Mix well. Add dry ingredients. Stir in carrots. Bake in large greased pan for 45-60 minutes. Serves 6.

That's what the cookbook says. I made it that way once and found it too sweet (at least, too sweet to let Barak eat at will). I also don't like putting that much fat in anything that isn't dessert. So I substituted applesauce for most of the oil and all of the honey, then decided it wasn't sweet enough, and put in a few tablespoons of honey after all. If I do it again I'd probably use a little more liquid, either applesauce or oil--it was kind of dry. I used King Arthur organic whole wheat, which is my favorite flour. I also used wheat bran instead of wheat germ, because that's what I had in the house, and I baked it in 9" cake pans so that I could freeze half the recipe. Oh, and grease the pans well. Otherwise it sticks.

It tastes pretty good. Barak loves it, anyway, as you know. And even if you don't think it's delicious, it's probably one of the tastier and more effective remedies for constipation you'll ever come across.

Maybe I should let Feldheim know.

Monday, February 20, 2006

No poop here

Just thought I'd let you know that this is a poop-free post. You may read on without peril.

As I mentioned, we spent the weekend by my SIL and her family. One of the major perks of being married to MHH is that I simultaneously acquired not only a husband but two very amazing new sisters--very cool for me, since I never had sisters before, amazing or otherwise. The fact that I really like both of them has meant that I nudge MHH into visiting a lot more than he would naturally be inclined to get on a plane--we've been to visit his local (meaning, a one-hour flight) sister four times or so since Barak was born, and they've been to visit us three times. (The other sister, who lives in Israel, we've only seen once, but that's not quite as easy to pull off.)

Not only do I like visiting, but Barak loves visiting his cousins. The house is as close to childproof as one can get, and there is just so much going on. They've got four kids to our one, and have had much longer to accumulate fun and interesting toys. Not only do they have many more toys than we do, but they have different ones, so everywhere Barak looks there is, well, something else exciting to play with.

On Saturday night, as I was putting Barak to bed, we had one of our nighttime conversations--post-singing, pre-sleep. It went sort of like this:

Imma: "Did you have a fun time today?"

Barak, sleepily: "Yeah."

"Did you eat lots of kugel?"


"Did you play with baby Ephraim?"


And so on. Eventually, we got to something like this:

Imma: "Do you like coming to Tanta Sara's house?"

Barak: "Yeah."

"Do you like playing with the toys?"

Barak, with a kind of dreamy toddler passion that you'll just have to imagine for yourself: "Toys."

A little more scatological content

If you think there is too much discussion of poop on this blog, please do not read on.

No, really. Don't. It's pretty gross.

Still with me? Brave soul.

Okay, so, I admit it. One of the reasons Barak had to wait so long to get more of his favorite carrot kugel was the Dreaded Diaper Aftermath. This is a very healthful kugel. It's composed of grated raw carrots, whole wheat flour, wheat bran, applesauce, canola oil, and honey, in descending order. We are talking major high fiber. We are talking diapers that appear to have been filled with horse manure. It's not pleasant.

But since carrot kugel is, as I say, very healthful, and it's hard to pass up a very healthful food item that Barak treats like cake, I made it for him last week (as I mentioned in an earlier post). I baked it in two nine-inch cake pans, instead of the 9 x 13 that the recipe suggests. He got to eat one kugel (which took him about a day), and the other I froze.

Last weekend, we went to visit my SIL and her family, which now includes a brand new (and incredibly gorgeous, if I do say so) little boy. Because baby Ephraim is six weeks old and still very very high-maintenance, I brought some Shabbos food along--makings for a few dishes, along with challah, dessert, and two kugels, one of them the carrot kugel. Barak happily partook of this pretty much all day long on Shabbos. He had it for lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner--in fact pretty much all he ate all day was kugel and yogurt. And then he went to bed.

When he woke up the next morning, wanting breakfast. I thought I smelled something suspicious, but at that point he was already in his high chair. After breakfast, he scooted off to his cousins' bedroom, land of Many Many Toys. At that point the odor was more than suspicious, but with five kids in diapers in one room (everyone is still sleeping in them, though the older two don't need them during the day) there were many possible culprits here.

"Barak, are you poopy?" Barak pretended not to hear me and kept on playing in the very exciting closet. Hmm. This is a definite sign.

"Barak, is your diaper poopy?" At this, he turned around and said, very seriously, "No. No diaper."

Well, just because you don't want a clean diaper doesn't mean I'm not going to change you, buster.

So I got the wipes, got a clean diaper, and got his clothes out. And, B"H, took advantage of my SIL's offer of a vinyl changing pad (I tend to plunk him down on a plastic bag when we're traveling, so I can just throw the whole thing away.)

Down goes a protesting Barak. Imma unzips pajamas. And...


He was not kidding. He had no diaper. It had, apparently, come off during the night, and was wedged down in one pajama leg. And his nice fleece LL Bean pajamas were completely filled with post-kugel manure. Gallons of it. Imperial gallons, even. I cannot even begin to describe how disgusting this was, and I get paid to use words well. There was just so much of it. And it was just. So. Gross.

After a few attempts, it became clear how futile any attempt at cleaning him off with baby wipes was going to be. Stronger measures were obviously necessary. So I zipped him back up, took him to the bathroom, stood him on a plastic bag and scraped off as much as possible (as he howled and protested and squirmed and I tried valiantly not to gag while also trying to avoid getting the poop all over ME and the clothes I planned to wear on the plane) and dropped him in the bathtub at arm's length. And turned his PJ's inside out over the toilet. I don't think I need to add any sound effects here. I think that those are best left to your imagination.

Did I mention how completely disgusting this was? No, I don't think I did. It was SO GROSS.

And what really gets me is how totally unperturbed he was to be walking around in a poop suit. He had fecal matter smeared half an inch thick from underarms to knees, and was not bothered in the slightest.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Vocabulary list

A friend of mine told me today that her son knows 75 words. I was sort of taken aback by this. She's counted? How do you count? Meaning, what do you count as a word they know? Do you count words that they'll repeat after you, or words that they clearly know and say when you've said them recently, or only words that they come up with spontaneously and appropriately?

Well, if we're saying only the last category, here goes, in no particular order. Barak can say:

Abba, Imma, Barak, Esther, Emese (the cat), Arnie (his buddy), Ada (his babysitter), yeah, no, please, thank you, cheese, milk, juice, toast, bagel, egg, water, box, cup, help, mine, cereal, banana, orange, red, bowl, fork, spoon, chair, high chair, cookie, kiddush, kugel, challah, boom, fall, baby, toy, truck, car, go, open it, book, Abba's book (meaning, any book he knows he's not allowed to touch), bed, blankie, pluggie (local dialect for pacifier), pickle, apple, walk, house, home, poop, hand, toes, head, mouth, eye, ear, nose, hair, hat, ball, bag, rice, yogurt, bear, cat, doggie, sheep, pig, moose, horse, crying, more, again, up, out, all done, stuck, cracker, Muppets, phone, sing, stairs, hot, cold, shoes, foot, bath, coat, kitchen, Elmo, wipes, hungry, breakfast, snack, night-night, light, on, off, grandma, and auntie.

I'm sure I'm missing a few, but I'm slowing down and I think that's probably most of them. Most of those words he says in English; a few he knows in both Hungarian and English and a few he only says in Hungarian.

Okay, fine, so, nobody is probably interested in this list but me. But hey, it's my blog, and he's my kid, and what to do with such a list but post it here?


We are not chassidish. If we were, we would not be cutting Barak's hair until his third birthday, at which point the grand event would be marked by an upshearin, complete with party. If we were chassidish and lived in Jerusalem, we might even give him his first haircut at the Kotel. It would be a very big deal.

But, as I say, we are not chassidish. And Barak's hair, now that he is closing in on his second birthday, has been getting pretty out of control. I've been talking about cutting it for a while, and putting it off, but yesterday I pushed it out of his eyes for the nth time and thought, okay, that's it. So I gave him some chocolate chips on his high chair tray, and while he was distracted with those cut him some bangs. I left the rest of his hair where it was--at some point I'll take him to the barber for a real haircut, but for now that's fine. It's incredible how different he looks--like a big boy or something. Wow.

Haircut #1--check.

And on to haircut #2. I haven't had a haircut since the infamous Borough Park Haircut Incident, which happened when I was around four months pregnant with Barak. That was traumatic enough that I've been ignoring the haircut issue entirely ever since, more than two years now. I've always had long hair, so this was easy to do. I put it in a bun in the morning, put a hat or a tichel on top of it, and that's it until bedtime. Once in a while I wash it. Once in a while I brush it. Most of the time, I don't do anything with it but wear it around on my head.

Lately, though, it's been annoying me. It just got way too long (meaning, long enough to sit on, and too long to fit under a sheitel, not that I ever wear mine anyway).

And now that I'm pregnant again, my hair is growing in faster and thicker, in addition to being generally healthier already as a result of being covered, not washed as often, and just, well, left alone for so long. So I thought, fine--time for my hair to go to a better home. To donate your hair, you need 8 to 10 inches that you can spare. This afternoon, I hacked off a 14-inch braid with one brutal snip. And my hair is still well past my shoulders (though the shortest it's been since I was about six).

So now I can, if I so choose, again wear a sheitel. Meaning that I'll be wearing the hair of some anonymous East European women, while some anonymous kid with hair loss wears mine.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

More Things Barak Can Do

1. Give hugs. This is the best. He puts his arms around my neck, squeezes, and says, "Hug!" Definitely tops on the list of Imma's favorite things.

2. Dismember peanut butter sandwiches. He has, on occasion, eaten peanut butter sandwiches as the good Lord intended them to be eaten, but he is much more likely to open them up, scoop out the peanut butter, proffer the scraped bread to Imma and say, very sweetly, "More more?"

3. Put together two words and sometimes even three, as in "no more milk," "all gone cookie," "not stuck" etc. He's pretty solid on using no for negation, as in "no bath," "no potty," "no cheese." And sometimes he gives you a very decisive no by putting both hands out in a "stop" gesture while shaking his head very seriously. I definitely don't want cheese, thanks.

4. Tell me all the sounds the animals make in the immortal literary classic, "Moo, Baa, La la la." He can also point to all the right animals on the last page--cow, horse, duck, cat, dog, etc.

5. Correctly identify a moose. This is thanks to the honorary grandma who brought him a copy of Richard Scarry's Word Book when she visited last winter. Inside the front cover, there is a picture of a moose that covers both pages. Barak can now usually be trusted to read paper books without ripping out the pages (you need to keep an eye on him, though, because previously existing tears can be a little too tempting) so he spent much of yesterday sitting in the big glider rocker in the living room looking at this book, pointing at the moose, and pronouncing, "moose!"
For some weird reason, though, he keeps pointing at the walrus on the next page and calling it by the cat's name. Hmmm.

6. Sit still through multiple readings of multiple books. Tonight, we read "But Not the Hippopatamus" six times, "Moo Baa La La La" four times, and Dr. Seuss's ABC book three times. We got to the end, Barak said "again?" and Imma obligingly turned back to page one. It's not such a big deal when each book takes forty seconds to read.

7. Get in and out of his stroller by himself. He even understands that I have to get all the buckles undone first, or he'll get stuck ("guck!).

8. Show me where something hurts if I ask him where it hurts. This was really handy today in helping me figure out why he was crying--part of his diaper was turned in and it had given him a nasty chafe mark, which I would never have known about until the next diaper change if he hadn't been able to show me.

9. Identify most parts of his body, including eyes, ears, toes, belly button, etc. Whenever he is in the room while I'm getting dressed, he helpfully points at my middle and says, "tummy!" Yes, I know it's big, thanks. He also sometimes points to it and says "baby." Yesterday, he came up to me while I was sitting in the comfy chair in the kitchen, put his hands on my tummy, and said "tummy!" just as the baby gave a big old kick right where his hand was. Big open eyes, big open mouth. Now what was that?

10. Nap without a pacifier. This doesn't work at night, though. We're planning on working on that one after we come back from visiting my SIL and company this weekend. The idea is to banish the pluggie well before baby #2 turns up IY"H after Pesach--hoping Barak will have forgotten about it by then. Well, I can always hope, right?

Monday, February 13, 2006


I had a look at my sitemeter results, and discovered that of the 29 people who read my blog every day (okay, I know that's not necessarily what it means, but I do usually get around that many hits a day) most of them come from Sarah's site. That means they expect knitting content, which has been woefully lacking lately. But this does not mean I have not been knitting. Oh, no. No, not at all.

I finished yet another pair of socks last week, this pair at eight stitches per inch on size 1 needles. They are my patented toe-up design, which I did come up with myself but is so basic I'm sure it's been published somewhere. But for the record, I came up with it on a train between Moscow and St. Petersburg, in the middle of the summer, and knit it on 6s with a skein of dark charcoal LP (possibly the yarn I would choose if I had to pick one yarn to knit with for the rest of my life.) So this pair, as I say, on 1s, in Nomotta Regia, in self-striping wild pink. The first pair of socks I made with this yarn, at a slightly looser gauge, was well received by Barak's honorary grandma, for whom I have not made a pair of socks in something like three years. The tiger-striped socks I made in Sandes Smart were also well received by my friend-who-just-got-out-of-the-hospital; the wacky pink socks are a surprise destined for a friend in New Jersey, and I can say that because I know she doesn't read this.

I also made a hat, in an odd skein of Classic Elite wool/llama (not Maya, the other stuff, the heavier weight singles that pills--it's late, I can't remember what it's called) in a sort of sagey green, and just cast on for another hat in deep red KnitPicks wool/alpaca for nephew #2, whom we're going to see IY"H this Shabbos. He has a sweater on the needles, but it's stalled, and I think I can manage hats for both him and his middle sister by this weekend if I'm efficient. I'm using a pattern (from the Ann Budd basic patterns book) and hitting gauge, but it looks huge. Well, I will forge on and have faith, and if nothing else, he will grow into it eventually.

Speaking of sitemeter results (okay, it's been a while since I was speaking of that, but like I said, it's late) we will not mention some of the google and yahoo searches that have brought people here. We will not. Because they are very, very disturbing. But what I'd really like to know is, who's reading me in Lambeth, England, and Hessen, Germany? Do I know you? Or do you just find me, um, that interesting?

All right, so, it's 11:22 and I told myself I'd be in bed an hour ago, and I'm still at the computer and I really need to eat something before I go to bed. So I'm going now. Really. Right now. Three blog posts is plenty for one Sunday.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


A few weeks ago, I made a carrot kugel for Shabbos. Barak ate almost the whole thing, which was okay with me, since it had no sugar and principal ingredients of carrots, eggs, wheat germ, whole wheat flour, applesauce and honey. He's been talking about kugel almost every day since, and frequently wakes up in the morning asking for kugel. So, since it's Sunday and all, I decided that today we'd make kugel.

Barak was very pleased with this development, and watched avidly as I peeled and grated carrots, measured and mixed ingredients. Every so often, he'd remind me what I was making. "Kugel! Yeah!" I greased the pans, poured in the batter, and... put it in the oven.


Barak, you see, does not quite grasp the concept of baking. From his point of view, it's, "You promised me kugel, you made me kugel, and NOW YOU'RE PUTTING IT IN THE ONE PLACE IN THE KITCHEN I'M TOTALLY NOT ALLOWED TO TOUCH?!?! AAAAGGH!!!"


It's baked now, but he's gotten over his disappointment and appears to have forgotten about it. Oh well. I suppose he'll just be pleasantly surprised when dinnertime rolls around.


Barak is sleeping much better these days, but he's still waking up a few times a night for a little comfort and reassurance. Last night, or really this morning, he woke up at about 3 am for same. So I got up, gave him a hug, and he went right back to sleep with no trouble.

I, however, didn't. I got a snack, checked my email, got back into bed, and was wide awake. Because of the snack, baby #2 was wide awake too, and started letting me know with some gymnastics. I lay there enjoying that, and then something occurred to me.

Sooner or later, this baby is going to have to come out.

When I had Barak, I went into labor with zero fear. I knew it was going to hurt, but I have a pretty high threshold for pain and I thought I could handle it. I didn't want an epidural. I had a doula. I thought it was going to be fine. Most of my friends have managed unmedicated births, and I thought it reasonable to believe that I would do the same. So when I walked into the hospital, after two slow days of labor and about six hours after my water had broken, I really wasn't afraid. I thought it was going to be fine.

It wasn't fine. In the end, I had the most important thing, which was a healthy baby to take home. That, of course, is absolutely the number one thing I wanted and I have not lost sight of that for a second. I also got the second most important thing, which was that I avoided a C-section (by about five minutes, as my OB told me later).

But just about everything else went wrong, in ways that I never thought could happen in modern hospitals in developed countries. I don't need to go into gory details, but the short version is that it hurt. A lot. Even long, long after I had given up all thoughts of an unmedicated birth, and wanted nothing more than for it to stop hurting, I didn't care how. My main recollection of the whole experience is gripping the plastic bedrails with both hands and staring at my knuckles and hearing from somewhere far away a mantra of "make it stop make it stop please please make it stop," that sounded sort of like it was my voice, but not really, because my voice doesn't sound like that. I remember at one point, ten or twelve hours after the pitocin and after the third or the fourth or maybe it was the fifth epidural had failed, on the third or the fourth day, telling the nurse that someone had to make it stop now, no, not in five minutes but NOW, and her telling me that someone would be there in ten minutes, and my saying, no, ten minutes is not okay, you don't understand how much this hurts, if you understood you would never say to me to wait ten minutes, you would not page anyone, you would go down the hall and find them, right now. And I remember MHH saying under his breath that his wife doesn't usually talk to people like that, and I remember watching the second hand on the clock go around and around, and counting the seconds, ten, twenty, twenty-five, and in the end it wasn't ten minutes but more than an hour and a half before another epidural was in and functioning. I remember pushing, for more than two hours, and I remember the OB telling me that if I didn't push harder I was going to need an emergency C, right now, so push now, as hard as you can, and I remember so many people in the room around Barak on the warming table, and someone telling me it was a boy and my saying, why isn't he crying? I remember the room being dark, though of course it couldn't have been. In my mind, it was dark.

In the end, he was okay, although at first he wasn't breathing and they whisked him off to the NICU without anyone telling me what was wrong or whether he would be okay. I was left in the delivery room for hours, and then when I finally got a room nobody knew what was happening with Barak, and no one would let me see him for hours and hours, and I didn't know where my baby was or if he was okay and nobody would let me see him. When we finally got home, walking hurt for weeks, and we won't even talk about going to the bathroom. I had nightmares for months, and sometimes I still do.

It was awful.

So, here I am, and I'm in my seventh month and it's starting to dawn on me that somehow or other, this baby has to come out too. I told my midwife, very early on, that I'd had a bad experience I was eager not to repeat. She had me send my labor records from hospital #1 (for the record, one of the top L & D hospitals in the country, I've been told) and read them for the first time when I was there. Her expression went from professional to sympathetic to horrified, and at the end she was just saying, "Oh, my Gd," over and over. I tried to fill in what wasn't in the labor records, and pretty soon was crying too hard to talk. I can't do that again, I told her. I can't.

I mean, practically, I know that I could if I had to, because I did it once. But my very strong preference is not to. I don't feel like I was unprepared the first time. I have a pretty good idea of what went wrong--mainly tremendous failures of communication, and I know that I have done as much as I can about that. I know that my midwife understands what happened the first time, and she has given me a list of reasons why it won't happen again (first among them, she won't let it; second, there are no clueless anaesthesiology residents at this hospital, because they don't train anaesthesiology residents there). She also told me what everyone else has told me, which is that you never have to have your first baby twice. There are no promises, of course, but she thinks that this time will be very different.

This time will be different. This time will be different. It will be different, and so much better.

It will, right?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

And a hearty mazal tov goes to...

Barak, who ...

(drumroll please)

pooped in the potty for the very first time today!


Monday, February 06, 2006

All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned Watching Eighties Movies

Bear this wisdom in mind.

So that when wacky people wishing to engage you in the wackiness from which you have happily escaped try to engage you in more of their wackiness, you'll know what to say.

Say it with me, please.

The only way to win is not to play.

I could be a little less cryptic, and say something along the lines of, "If family who haven't acknowledged you in almost three years suddenly express, via an intermediary, a desire to travel a thousand miles to throw you a baby shower, then be suspicious. Be very suspicious. Do not fall into the trap of thinking how nice this is, because you've been there before, oh, four or five thousand times. Stay away. Stay well away."

The only way to win is not to play.

I could say this, but it wouldn't come close to explaining the situation. And I don't really want to go there, frankly. Because this blog is not the story of Bad Things Left Behind. This blog is the story of Good Things Found. But sometimes, you know, Bad Things try to find you again, and drag you back into their swamp.

The only way to win is not to play.

I know that there are members of my family who are more than wacky. There are members who are, to put it plainly, dangerous, in ways that I wouldn't even know where to begin to explain, even if I wanted to, which frankly, I don't. I know that these are people of whom I simply need to steer clear, at all costs. I know that I need to not even think about what other people may think. I need to listen to the sensible friends, the rebbeim, the very specific psak I was given three years ago. I need to stay away.

Because the only way to win is not to play.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


When we did the inspection on this apartment (as those of you who have been reading that long may recall) the home inspector told us that the furnace was on its last legs, and really should have been replaced decades earlier. It was original to the building, meaning over 50 years old, and was an oil furnace that had been converted to gas. It was not only totally inefficient but, as he put it in his report, "ripe for imminent failure." It was also, he said, a carbon monoxide hazard.

Since we believe in energy efficiency in all things, and didn't have any great interest in testing our carbon monoxide detector with a real-life scenario, we decided to replace the furnace. Fortunately, we have a good friend who is a retired heating and cooling guy. I called him, told him about my apartment and what we wanted, and he told me exactly what to get and how much it should cost. I wrote down all the specifications, went to Home Depot, and got my local Trane dealer to come out to give me an estimate. I think I shocked him by reeling off make and model numbers--it's probably not what he usually gets. He gave us a good deal, according to our friend, and a few weeks later the furnace was installed. We also got a new hot water heater and a humidifier, which is good for many things, including the health and happiness of my spinning wheel.

When it started getting cold last fall, by which point gas prices had already gone up by about half, we were pleased to find that our heat bills had gone down quite a bit over the last year's bills, even with the gas price difference. In December, which was a really cold month around here, our heat bill was about $140 to last year's $170, with the thermostat set at a balmy 67 during the day and 65 at night. In January, the billing cycle which encompassed our Israel trip, it was $82.

I thought that was a little odd, because we hadn't set the thermostat that low--the cat was still here, and we didn't want the pipes to freeze. And what struck me as really strange was that when we walked in the door, even though it was well below freezing out and our thermostat was at 55, the apartment was, I think, around 64. Then I realized what was happening.

There are four apartments in this building--two upstairs, two down. We live downstairs. All of the other apartments still have the same furnace that we replaced, meaning, very inefficient. All of those furnaces are leaking a lot of heat. When you go down into the basement, it's always really, really toasty down there--much warmer than it is in here. What's happening is that they're effectively heating our apartment for us--that leaked heat is all coming up into our apartment, keeping it as warm as it really needs to be. If I set the thermostat at 60, the heat never kicks on and it stays at around 65. During the day, when I put it on 67, the heat does come on sometimes, but not much.

I feel bad about this, but there's really nothing I can do about it. I talked to our upstairs neighbors when our first gas bills came, and they were shocked when their first heating bill came in at close to $400, and the next month's even higher. (All four apartments changed hands at the same time--the building had been owned by, and was sold by, one family.) This shouldn't have been a surprise to them, but it was, because they never asked for the heating disclosures when they bought their apartment, and didn't know that there was no insulation in the roof (we knew this, because we had originally put in an offer on an upstairs apartment and withdrew it when we discovered what it would cost to heat.) I told them what was going on with the furnaces, and how much a new furnace would help, but I don't think he really believed me. They are from India--all three families are--and I think they feel it's one of those things that just can't be controlled.

So the fact that we invested in a new furnace to reduce our heat bills in future is resulting in our neighbors' paying for our heat for us. (The upstairs people would still have been subsidizing us, but with an old furnace at least we would be paying for as much of the leaked heat.) Short of buying new furnaces for all of them, I can't change this. They know what's happening, because I told them, and they still don't seem to have any plans to replace their furnaces--which I understand, because it's expensive, but still.