Thursday, March 30, 2006

33 w 1 d

Since, inexplicably, I am still getting almost as many hits a day as I did when I was actually posting content, I thought I'd put something up to reward you all for your continued interest. Here, at long last, is Barak--from the back, escaping the sadistic process of getting dressed (as you can see, he made a break for it before I was quite done getting his overalls on...)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

33 weeks

Anyone know where I can buy asbestos yarn? MHH has asked for knitted juggling clubs he can set on fire.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

We interrupt this blogging hiatus

to inform you that I have not yet had a baby. 32 weeks, four days.

And counting.

I think I need to start a list of the Top Ten Ways to Know You Are on Bedrest. And it will include, "You think it is a good idea to start knitting your husband a complete set of felted juggling equipment."

Sunday, March 19, 2006

blogging hiatus

When I was pregnant with Barak, and since, I had the list of things I was worried about. Nothing on the list has happened (yet); the things that have happened were never things that were on the list.

I guess I should have put bedrest on the list for this pregnancy.

Went to the midwife the week before last feeling wrong. I have only called the midwife once this whole pregnancy, when I was in a minor car accident in December. So if you are someone who never calls with a worry, and you call saying you're worried, they pay attention. I went in, and everything looked fine. So I stopped worrying.

Friday, I went in for my regular checkup, not worried. And then my midwife checked me. And then she sat down and said, "Well, this is not the news I had hoped to give you." And then I got worried. I am 31 weeks, and yes, it's much better than, say, 26 weeks, but giving birth now--or in a week or two--would still be very, very bad.

So I'm on bedrest. I'm allowed to get up to eat, shower, and go to the bathroom, and I can sit up enough to type for four hours a day (not consecutively) so that I can still work from home and not use up all my FMLA leave now. Typing while lying on my side, which is what I'm doing now, is not exactly fun or relaxing, so I think that this blog is going to have to go on a little hiatus.

As is the rest of my life, I guess.

And yes, Pesach is coming. I'm not thinking about it. All I'm thinking about is keeping the baby in.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Shopping with emunah (or something)

First off, apologies to everyone to whom this post won't make sense. Explaining why it's funny would take ten times longer than writing the post. Shanna, feel free to write a ten-page comment giving background...

So, Thursday night I went to the supermarket. I do most of my shopping at the small stores near where I live, but this week a friend of mine was doing a late-night shopping trip and I went along. In this part of town, about half the people you see at the supermarket at 11 pm on a Thursday are frum guys with their wives' shopping lists, buying stuff for Shabbos. I didn't have a long list (just the things I can't get in walking distance--the big containers of plain organic Stonyfield yogurt, the kind of granola we like, popsicles, a couple of compact fluorescent lightbulbs) so I soon found myself on one of the benches by the checkout, working on my latest sock, waiting for my friend to be done.

And along comes this guy with, I am not kidding, an entire cartload of those Israeli chocolate wafer cookies--you know, the kind that come in the red package, with the layers of chocolate and wafer that you break rectangular blocks off. He's almost completely round, obviously Chabad, and when he gets a little closer I see that he's wearing a Yechi yarmulke. He must have a hundred packages of these cookies. He has nothing else. He can't be buying for a Purim party, or if he is it's going to be a pretty monotonous menu. It just looks like the cookies are on sale, he really likes them, and he is seriously stocking up.

And all I can think is, "You're that sure Mashiach is coming to redeem us before Pesach?"

(And don't you know that even if he does, you're still going to have to get rid of all your chametz??)

* * *

P.S. The compact fluorescent bulbs I got rock. The light fixture in our kitchen is only rated for 75-watt bulbs. That's not bright enough to knit by unless you have multiple bulbs, and the fixture only takes one. So I bought a compact fluorescent, which gives light equivalent to a 100w bulb while only using 26w. And it's supposed to last for 5 years. Even if it doesn't, it would be worth what I paid for it--I can knit in the kitchen now.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

We have our standards

Before I had Barak, I didn't really understand about Cookie Monster. I thought, fine, cute furry blue monster who eats cookies. It never occurred to me that it was any reference to the total transformation of ordinarily reasonably well-behaved small children that occurs when they are exposed to the pernicious influence of cookies.

Barak has known about cookies for a while now, maybe since the summer. He doesn't get them often. He gets them on Shabbos at kiddush, when we go to shul, and that's it unless I bake them--which I don't do without a reason, such as guests, a shiva call, or, um, being pregnant and really wanting cookies. It's not easy to make cookies with Barak around, because as long as there are cookies in sight, he will want them, regardless of how many he's already had. The last time I baked cookies he had three, which is a lot when you consider his size--450 calories worth of cookies for a 27-pound child? And he was still screaming hysterically for more. When I make cookies they are as healthful as genuine cookies can be, but they are still cookies--the ingredients may be organic, the flour may be whole-wheat, and there may not be a trans-fatty acid in sight, but the sugar is sugar and the chocolate is chocolate. I don't want him eating them regularly, so I don't make them much (at least not when he's looking). But there is no question that Barak knows all about cookies.

With, it appears, certain limitations. A couple weeks ago, while we were at Target, I bought a bag of Milanos. This is unusual enough that MHH commented on it--ice cream we buy, cookies we don't. I haven't been eating many of them, and the bag is still sitting in the cupboard. Barak has seen the bag dozens of times, without a squeak of interest. Because, so far as he knows, cookies come in two ways: on a plate at kiddush and out of Imma's oven. He has no idea that cookies come in bags.

Well, I suppose that's something.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Monday night

It's past my bedtime and I'm so tired, but I haven't eaten a vegetable since, oh, I'm too embarassed to say, and so there's a pan of vegetables in the oven and I need to do something to keep me awake until they're done, so...

MHH has his own favorite Barakism. We have a pop-up book that was a birthday gift to Barak from his Savta, called Peek-a-Moo. You lift the flaps for each animal and read the sounds the animal makes. Barak is pretty good at this. He knows that a sheep says baa, a cow says moo, a pig says oink, a cat says meow, etc. For some weird reason, a mouse does not say squeak--a mouse says oo-oo-oo, same sound as a monkey. Well, whatever. But what MHH really likes is the sound that Barak says a rooster makes. MHH gets to the rooster page and says, cock-a-doodle-doo! And Barak, in, perhaps, baby rooster mode, says ga ga goooo!

Wonder if those vegetables are done yet...

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Vocabulary grows

My current favorite Barakisms: "ting," "nanuck," and "guck!"

"Ting" means "sing." Up until this week, since early last summer, Barak's usual bedtime routine consisted of dinner, bathtime with Abba, and then snuggle time in the rocking chair with Imma--standard list of songs, followed by Barak requesting an encore performance ("Ting! Ting! More more?")

Alas, Barak is now a big boy. This week, he decided that he didn't need any more tinging, thanks. I sat down in the rocker with his blanket and invited him up to my lap. "No. No ting."

How's that again?

"No ting."

Well, do you want to go in your crib?

"Yeah! Crib!"

Excuse me???

That was indeed what he wanted. He now goes to bed by going into his crib with a couple of books, while Imma sits in the rocker with her own book or some knitting. After fifteen minutes of this or so, Imma turns out the light and sits a little longer; then leaves, at which point he cries for about ten minutes while plaintively howling "chair! chair!" ("Get back in that chair and keep me company!") Then he goes to sleep. And, so far, has been staying asleep until morning.

Ahhh. It only took, what, two months? And even though I'm sort of sad about losing out on the bedtime snuggles, I'm getting lots more snuggles during the day now that he wants me to read to him more. And I suspect that the fact that I have almost no lap left is a contributing factor to all of this. And let's be honest, this is a really good development with a baby IY"H on the way. If it lasts, it means I can put him to bed without having to put the baby down much. We'll see.

As for "guck" and "nanuck," "guck" means "stuck" and "nanuck" means "not stuck." If he can't get a toy out of the milk crate where we keep his toys, or if he can't get his coat off, he's guck. If he's climbing under his stroller in the kitchen (we bring it inside at night now, for reasons that longtime readers will know all too well) and I don't think he's going to be able to get out, he reassures me that he is "nanuck."

He used to call a cup a bup--I loved that, but now it's a cup. I suppose it had to happen eventually--being a big boy and all. And speaking of being a big boy, he wore shabbos shoes for the first time today--shiny black ones with laces. After I put them on him he had to run up and down the hall for a while to hear them clomp. And I cut his hair properly last week, suddenly turning him from a baby to a kid. The transformation is unbelievable.

Oh, and one more thing before I finish for the night and get back to the speech I'm supposed to be writing. Barak seems to be getting his two-year molars. On Thursday, he didn't eat anything all day. All he wanted was very cold things to drink--some milk, but mostly ice water or juice with lots of ice. He went around all day with his finger in his mouth, not very happy. At dinnertime, he didn't want anything I offered him, but was obviously hungry. We had some leftover ice cream from the previous Shabbos, and I thought it was okay, under the circumstances, to let him have some--I didn't want him to go to bed hungry, and the cold would probably make his gums feel better. Barak, as you may know, loves ice cream. It is probably his favorite food ever. But I did try to get him to eat other things first. The entire dinnertime conversation went more or less like this:

Imma: Barak, do you want some cheese?
Barak (cranky and howling): Noooo!
Imma: Do you want a bagel?
Barak (howling): Noooo!
Imma: Do you want some eggs?
Barak (howling): Noooo!
Imma: Do you want some ice cream?
Barak (howling): Noooo!


Barak: (brightly) Ikeem?

Thursday, March 02, 2006


I'm not really a linguist. But by American standards, I know a fair amount in the way of foreign languages--besides my native language (English) I speak pretty good Hungarian, reasonable French and Russian, and once had quite good American Sign Language (rusty now, but still functional in a pinch with a patient deaf person.) I'm not fully fluent in anything but English, not by any stretch--I would never try to work as a translator or anything like that.

On top of the languages I can actually speak, I also took a semester of Mandarin Chinese once, which has come in handy now and then; and I can fake German and Hebrew when required. Meaning, I can buy a bus ticket, ask directions, get what I need in stores and restaurants, carry on simple conversations and be polite. I do not concern myself with the niceties of grammar or syntax--my goal is basic communication of the caveman variety.

It's interesting that getting to that level of Hebrew required about a year of college-level instruction, a fair amount of practice with randomly encountered Israelis, and the informal vocabulary acquisition that accompanies familiarity with the contents of a siddur. Getting to that level of German required, um... almost nothing. I had an hour a week of German tutoring for about two months in 1995. I learned the fundamentals of pronouns, verbs and sentence structure. And I realized that a lot of German is more or less just English with (I'm sorry, Catherine in Hessen!) a really ugly accent.

And thus Ersatzdeutsch was born. Because if you can start out with the rock-bottom basics of German grammar and sentence structure, a 50-word vocabulary, and you sort of Germanize all the English words you don't know how to say, you can get a tremendous amount of mileage out of that, especially if you are talking to someone who at least had a year or two of English in elementary school.


In 1999, I was living in England, doing a bonus master's degree and pondering whether I really wanted to go back to America to finish my doctorate. On a whim, I applied for a job for The Economist based in Austria. To my shock, I was called first for an editing test, then for a phone interview, then for a genuine interview in Vienna--they flew me out there and everything. This all took place over the course of two or three months. At the time, I had an Austrian housemate, with whom I probably would have lived had the job worked out. So I decided to work on my German. I instructed her to only talk to me in German. And she cheerfully complied. We drove our other two housemates nuts, because, well, we were speaking in German ALL THE TIME.

Or at least... She was speaking German. I was speaking Ersatzdeutsch. A typical sentence in Ersatzdeutsch goes like this:

"Gestern ich war so mude. Ich habe nach hause gekommen und in meinem bett downgeplopped."


"Meine freundin hat dinner gekooked. Es war sehr gut. Wir haben so viel gegessen, und jetzt mussen wir dem kuchen auscleanen."

It works just fine. It's sort of like imitating the Swedish chef, only in lederhosen.

Today I discovered that Ersatzdeutch can, it appears, also work asErsatzdutch. Because look what I found online, at the Shabboth Cooking blog. It's a recipe for gefilte fish. In Dutch. I cannot describe how much I love this... in my mind, I am watching the Swedish chef cook gefilte fish, in blue clogs, while the English subtitles roll across the screen. I love the idea of versnippered onions...


Benodigd, voor de visballen:
Required, for the fishballs:

Twee pond lichte vis, zowel zee als zoetwater vis.
Two pounds of white fish, both fresh and saltwater.

2 Kleine uien, versnipperd.
2 Small onions, minced very fine.

6 - 7 Eetlepels matzemeel.
6 to 7 Tbs. Matzameal

4 Eieren.
4 Eggs.

1 Eetlepel suiker.
One Tbs. Sugar.

2 Theelepel zout.
2 Tsp. Salt

2 Theelepel peper.
Two Tsp. pepper

Voor de soep:
For the soup:

Vier pond vissenkoppen, graten, en vel.
4 Pounds fishheads, scraps, bones, skin

1 grote peen, geschraapt en gehakt.
A large carrot, cleaned and chopped.

4 stengels selderij, gehakt.
Four stalks of celery, chopped.

2 Kleine uien, gepeld.
Two onions, peeled.


Hak de vis erg fijn. Meng er doorheen: ui, matzemeel, eieren, suiker, zout en peper.

Chop the fish finely. Mix with the minced onion, matza meal, eggs, sugar, salt, and pepper.

Plaats de vismengsel in een kom en laat in de koelkast 1 uur rusten.

Place the fishmixture in a bowl, and let it rest one hour in the fridge.

Doe alle visresten, met peen, selderij, en ui in een kastrol, giet er genoeg water bij dat alles ruwweg 5 cm onder staat. Breng aan de kook en laat 15 minuten zachtjes (niet borrelend) koken.

Place all fishscrap materials, carrot, celery and the two peeled onions in a cauldron, add enough liguid that it stand under by roughly two inches. Raise to boil and simmer (do not allow to roil) for fifteen minutes.

Met vochtige handen ovalen ballen van het vismengsel vormen.

With damp hands form oval balls of the fishmixture.

Plaats de visballen voorzichtig in de hete vloeistof, bedeksel de pan, en laat de visballen 1 uur of ietwat langer sudderen. Lang garen heeft voordelen voor zowel de smaak als de structuur van de visballen. Let op dat de visbalen helemaal bedekt blijven met vloeistof, daar ze veel vocht opnemen. Voeg indien nodig wat (heet) water toe.

Place the fishballs carefully in the hot liquid, cover with the lid, and simmer for an hour or more. Long poaching improves both the taste and the structure of the fishballs. Check to make sure the balls remain inundated - they take up rather much moisture. If necessary add some (hot) water.

Neem de visballen met een spaan uit de pan en leg ze in een soep schaal.

Remove the fishballs with a slotted spoon from the pan, and place in a tureen.

Zeef het kookvocht, en schenk het over de visballen.

Strain the kooking liquid, and pour over the fishballs.

De gefilte fish is, mits bewaard in het kookvocht, ten minste 3 dagen in de koelkast houdbaar.

Gefilte fish, submerged in cooking liquid, can be kept for at least three days in the refrigerator.

Geef er mierikswortel (chrein) bij.

Serve with horseradish.

Het gerecht mag met de gekookte peen (gesneden of gesnipperd) gegarneerd worden.

The dish may be garnished with the cooked carrot (sliced or minced).

Alzook peterselie.

As well as parsley.