Thursday, November 30, 2006

Stupid accidents

I have a blog friend who has managed to hurt herself a number of times while engaged in what she claims are safe and innocent activities--the type of activities that one would not ordinarily expect to result in injury. You know, activities like--well, like walking. What kind of a klutz do you have to be, is the subtext of the post [that I tried to post a link to here but couldn't], to require an air cast and then surgery for an injury sustained by WALKING?!

Not much, says I. That's klutziness for rank amateurs. Now, injuring yourself while sitting in a glider rocker--that, my friends, takes skill.

I wasn't even knitting. I wasn't even armed with pointy sticks of any description. I was just sitting there, watching Barak play (fortunately not holding the baby--he was playing with toys in Barak's crib, out of harm's way). I saw a toy on the floor next to me that belonged in the box behind me, and I leaned over to pick it up. That, it appears, was my fatal error.

The whole glider rocker tipped over sideways, with me in it, and I went crashing to the floor in a manner dramatic enough that even Barak, whose death-defying spills regularly cause his mother coronary events, stopped what he was doing and stared.

"Imma fall? Imma fall outta chair?"


Four hours later, every muscle hurts and I have a bruise the size of Manhattan and the color of the East River on my calf.

I was thinking of climbing up on chairs tonight to plastic the windows, since it's almost December and all. On second thought, maybe I'll do something a little safer, like--well, like sitting still.


More of my knitting, if you're interested


(Now with a repaired link.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

That post you've been waiting for

So, that aliyah thing.

Aliyah, in case you didn't know, literally means "ascent." When you hear Jews talking about "making aliyah," they are talking about one thing: moving, permanently, to Israel. They are ascending to the land; they are going up. It is ascent that is physical, as well as spiritual. Aliyah. Going up; going home.

Living in Israel is a mitzva, a commandment. (As someone said to my husband the other day, "It's too bad it's a mitzva. If it were a chumra [stringency], everybody would do it.") For the last couple thousand years, it's been one that's been totally out of reach of most Jews. We pined after Jerusalem, sang songs about Jerusalem, reassured ourselves "Next year in Jerusalem"--meaning, when Mashiach is here, because how else could we ever get there?

Well, now there is El Al. And there is Nefesh b'Nefesh. There is internet, there is Skype and Vonage, there is a sal klita. And we, our little family of observant Jews, are still here. In North America. Not in Jerusalem. Not in Israel. Here.

So, what's our excuse?

For most people, the hardest thing about making aliyah is leaving family. For me, that's not really an issue. I don't have any biological family to speak of, besides my boys; whenever I refer to a grandmother or an aunt, they're all people who have come to be my family, but not people to whom I am genetically related. My husband's family consists of his parents and two sisters, and their families; one sister is already in Israel, along with her husband and their kids. If we went, there seems a reasonable chance that the rest of them would be at least more likely to follow.

Sometimes I feel that we have to go, we have to go now, and we should just do it, because the longer we wait, the harder it will be. I read blogs by people who are there. I regret that we ever bought this apartment, which, now that prices around here have plunged, we will lose a tremendous amount of money on if we sell. I mentally catalogue what we will take with us and what we will leave behind, what we would buy here and what there. I think about communities, I prowl through aliyah websites, I speak Hebrew to the boys when we are home alone. I think, we'll be there by this nephew's bar mitzva. No, by his older sister's bas mitzva. We'll go next year, or the year after that.

And sometimes...

Sometimes I look around at our cozy little apartment, the first place that has really been a permanent home for me. I think about how many friends I have here. I think about our comfortable lives, our good jobs, the fact that for the first time in my life I don't have to factor buying a book or a set of knitting needles into the monthly budget, because B"H we can afford it. I can buy new clothes for my kids and for us--from Target and Marshalls and Value City, but not the thrift store. The basement full of diapers I can't use is an annoyance, not a crisis. I can afford to buy Pampers if I want to. For me, that is enough to feel wealthy.

For the first time in my life, I am really happy. As a friend said to me after Barak was born, "You've built a beautiful life for yourself, against all the odds." I felt, and feel, uncomfortable with that; it sounds too much like taking credit. But about the odds, she is right. I could never have imagined, ten years ago, having a family, so many friends, such a happy life. It came so hard. I know how lucky I am. Part of me does not want anything to change. I want to hold on to it all, just as it is. But of course, I can't, even if we never leave this country, even if we never move out of this apartment. Things will change, one way or another--whether we stay, whether we go.

Do we risk it? Do we say, like my ISIL did, yes, we are going to have emunah that it will all work out somehow, and just go? MHH speaks Hebrew well but not fluently; my Hebrew is barely functional--lousy, really, but I've learned enough languages that I know I can learn another one if I need to. I'd need to find a job. He'd need to find a job. Where would we work? Where would we live? How would we manage? How would our kids handle it? Would we be able to make it? Or we be one more failed oleh family, coming back to the States in three or five years because it was just too hard?

At night, I run through the options. Go for a year, try to get leave from our jobs, see how it goes. MHH could find a position for a year, I could do ulpan, we could save up for it. But what to do with the apartment, which we could never rent out for enough to cover the mortgage? If we wanted to stay, it would be so difficult to sell it from there. We could wait another year, and see whether I could turn my job into a permanent telecommuting position. Would they let me take it abroad? Even for a year, to test the waters? Do we wait until MHH is up for tenure, or go before that? Do we wait until we can get back the money we paid for the apartment, which we now seem to have bought at the top of the market? It might never happen.

When we went to visit my sister-in-law, a year ago, I told her all of this. I said, I love my kitchen. I love my orange walls, and my dishwasher, and my friends, and my life. She asked me, "Could you give it all up to come here?" I said, honestly, that I didn't know. I still don't, and I ask myself every day.

Every little decision--whether to buy a bed for Barak's room or let him sleep on the mattress that's on the floor, whether to sell my loom or keep it, whether to knit the bulky yarn in my stash (which I wouldn't take with me) before the fine yarn (which I would)--I think, are we going to go? Are we going? If we are, when?

I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.

The socks in their habitat

And the digger, about to be repaired.


No, not posting any. Just talking about them. Really, I should have titled this one Out of the Mouths of Babes: Or, I Swear I Am Not Making This Up.

Today I took the boys for a walk and we printed out a bunch of pictures, including some of Grandma E and Grandpa M's recent visit. Grandma E tends not to like pictures of herself; we just reassure her that she is, of course, much thinner and prettier in real life. (Which she is.)

Whatever she may have to say about them, these pictures were cute--Iyyar lunging for Barak's truck sweater, Barak squirming around, Grandma E managing to keep them both in her lap and looking pleased about the whole thing. We printed them out and took them home, along with a bunch of others from the last few weeks.

This evening, before bedtime, I was sitting on the floor of Barak's room sorting the pictures into piles--these to send to Grandma E, these to send to Savta, these for my ISIL, these for my grandmother in Hungary. Barak came over to investigate, as was to be expected.

"Barak read it! Barak read it book!"

"Do you want to look at the picture album?"


I handed him the album, which had copies of the same pictures that were in the piles (which I didn't let him touch, since he doesn't have any idea about not getting fingerprints on photographs.) He sat down and studied the pages with interest.


"That's you!"

"Yeah! Dass Barak!"

He turned the page, and spied the picture of him, Iyyar and Grandma E. "Dass Grandma!" he said, with obvious delight.

"Yup, that's Grandma!"

"Dass Grandma! Grandma so cute!"

Grandma E, I am not making this up.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The post that is not about aliyah

Late at night, when I'm up nursing the baby or doing things around the house, I have a habit of composing blog posts in my head. It's entertaining for me, but not really a good habit for the blog, because most of the posts that get "written" in this way never actually get as far as the computer. I've written a post on aliyah about fifty times this way, and as you may have noticed you've never actually read one. Oh well. Maybe one of these days.

Good sleep continues, at least for the moment. I don't think I am naturally superstitious but I do know better than to say, "Iyyar has finally settled and is now sleeping great, which I have every expectation he will continue to do ad meah v'esrim!" (till a hundred and twenty) Instead, I'll say that he's now been sleeping well (what I consider well anyway) for a month. Last night was great: he went to sleep at seven, woke up briefly at nine and ten and resettled quickly with a pacifier. I picked him up at 10:30, when I was about to go to sleep, and nursed him without waking him up; he went back in his crib without opening his eyes and stayed asleep till 5:30 am. Sure, I'd rather not wake up at 5:30 am, but I'll take that over five or six hours of late-night screaming any day.

On the subject of babies at night, I always find nursing a sleeping baby very amusing. If I want to nurse Iyyar and he's asleep, it's no problem. I can just pick him up, put him in the right place, and he'll get right to work, still completely asleep. Barak was the same way. I do it before I go to bed, so that the baby doesn't wake me up at 1 or 2 am because he's hungry; I also do it because if I go too long without nursing, I get too full, and that's uncomfortable. I know that if the baby regularly slept through the night the fullness would go away, but I don't want that to happen either--I'd rather keep the supply up.

Iyyar, as Barak was before him, is very businesslike about taking care of the overflow. "Too much milk, ma'am? Well, we'll get right on that." And when you're sitting up, fairly late at night, feeling pretty tired, some odd thoughts run through your head. Brrring. "Hello, Iyyar's 24-hour domestic flood management service, how can I help you? You have a surplus of milk? That'll be no problem. What's your address? We'll have a guy out to you in about half an hour. It'll be me, actually, all my other guys are... um, we're a little short-staffed tonight. All right then. Thank you." Clunk.

I'm getting more sleep than I did, but I make no claims to being fully rested or consistently coherent.

Friday, November 24, 2006


Like most people, I have my own priorities about money. I'll happily spend an amount of money on one pair's worth of sock yarn that I would not dream of spending on fewer than ten pairs of socks from Target--socks I don't have to knit myself. MHH will happily spend money on seforim, and takeout if he thinks I am too stressed to deal with Shabbos cooking at the end of the week.

But about most things, we are both naturally pretty cheap. I buy generic almost everything, and when Barak was born I think I bought one box of Pampers before switching permanently to generic diapers. He is wearing them still and I never had any problem. When Iyyar was born, the chain drugstore I had been getting my diapers at got bought out and sold off all their store-brand diapers at around 75% off. Being, as I say, naturally cheap, I thought gevalt! I'll buy him a babyhood supply in one go and never have to buy diapers again. Using Barak's growth as a guide, I bought stacks and stacks of ones, twos, and threes. I didn't get many fours, because I was (ha) toilet training Barak at the time and decided to get more of the smaller sizes that would take up less space. I shlepped almost all of those diapers home by hand, while carrying the baby who at that time refused to go in a stroller. It took about a billion trips. It was kind of a pain in the neck, to put it mildly, but I felt very pleased with myself. I had spent less than two hundred dollars and I had something like 2500 diapers in the basement. No more dashes to the drugstore for diapers! No more keeping an eye out for the sales! Mwa ha ha ha! I am the queen of advance diaper planning! I practically rubbed my hands together in gleeful cheapskate satisfaction.

Fast forward five months. Iyyar, aged six and a half months, weighs one pound less than Barak did at a year. He has been in size threes--THREES--for almost two months. Not only that, but the generics just do not do it for him overnight. He gets soaked and has to get completely changed at least twice a night. So not only are there stacks and stacks of ones and twos in the basement, I have had to BUY MORE DIAPERS in size three--Pampers, which actually hold all the pish in from 6 pm till 6 am. But cost twenty-five cents per diaper. And have Elmo on them, which means that Barak, who can actually fit into a size three, covets Iyyar's diapers and wants to wear those instead of the boring Care Bear ones from Target.

Anyone need some size two generic diapers? Anyone? I think I have around five hundred in the basement.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

For the second time in two years, my babysitter called me at work to tell me Barak wasn't feeling well. For the first time ever, she said she was worried and he didn't seem right. Specifically, she said that his left testicle was bright red and he screamed in pain when she went near it while changing his diaper. "It could be a rash," she said, "but it doesn't look like any rash I've ever seen." Since she has changed many more diapers on many many more children than I have, I value her expertise, and if she is worried, I get worried. I called the doctor, made an appointment, called a cab and asked her to meet me at the office with the kids. All the way there, I was thinking about testicular torsions and tumors and all kinds of awful things that could be wrong with my little boy. (What, I never mentioned how neurotic I am about my kids' health? Really? I didn't? Well, I'm sure it must have come up once or twice...)

The doctor pronounced it a "high class diaper rash" and I was so dizzy with relief I had to ask him to repeat what he'd asked me to do about it (baking soda baths and vaseline). When he left the room, I picked Barak up and hugged him. "You scared me!" I said. "You scared Imma!"

"Scare Imma!" he said. "Roar!"

He's asleep now, and so is Iyyar, and I'm headed in that direction myself. But first, I'd like to ask you to do a small chesed (kindness) for a fellow blogger. David has been feeling rather mopey lately about the plunge in his site traffic since the summer (he had been blogging about the war in a very sensible way and a number of people started reading who, I guess, have since stopped.) He and his family made aliyah at the same time as my SIL did, and he is the only person whose blog I read who keeps bees. And decants honey with a Glock on his belt (not with the Glock itself, you understand, just while wearing the Glock. Actually decanting honey with a Glock would make the Glock sticky. And it probably wouldn't work anyway. Oh, whatever, I'm tired.) And asks people to contribute to the Zionist Skivvies Fund.

It's a good blog and worth a visit. Or you can just click on this to make him feel better and leave it at that.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I've been thinking all day about various things to blog about, and now that I'm sitting at the computer to blog about them, am sort of lacking in inspiration. I had in mind some grand post about Motherhood and the Nature Thereof, but I don't think I have it in me really. What I was thinking about this afternoon, as Barak bulldozed a bunch of dried-out wet wipes around the floor of his room, shouting, "Imma! Look! Look!" was how motherhood instantly rockets you to the central point in the family solar system. First you're single, and then either you are one of several players in your family or, if you are me, you're on your own. Then you're married, and it's the two of you. Then you have a kid, and suddenly, there is nobody who can do what you do. You are the one the baby needs, and you're the one running the show, even though you may have no idea what you're doing.

Part of it is nursing, I think, or at least that's how it starts. Nobody else can feed the baby, nobody else can calm the baby as well. But even if I weren't nursing, and even now that I'm not nursing Barak, I think it would be the same. Iyyar will scream and scream in MHH's arms, and the moment he's handed to me he'll sputter and cough and heave a sigh of relief. Not every time, obviously, but often enough. When Barak was a baby and he did this, MHH would hand him over to me and mutter "Chopped liver. Abba is nothing but chopped liver." Now, if I'm going out and the options are "go with Imma" or "stay with Abba" there is really no doubt about what he'll pick. I asked Ada, when she was the teacher at Barak's daycare, if babies who were in the daycare full-time--meaning, up to 55 hours a week--were the same way with their mothers. "Oh yeah," she said. "Even when they only really see their moms on weekends. Mom is always number one. They know."

When Barak cries at night, he cries for Imma. When he hurts himself, he wants Imma. When he wakes up in the morning and wants to come out of his crib, he calls for Imma, even though as often as not it's Abba who actually comes to get him.

I don't know where I'm going with all of this. I was just thinking, this evening, holding Iyyar on my lap and watching Barak play, how different it is now. Six years ago, before I moved to New York in search of a shidduch, I got sick and spent a few days in the hospital. I didn't call anyone to tell them because there wasn't anyone to tell; when it was time to go home, I called a cab. In retrospect there were people I could have called to come get me, but it was the middle of the day, I didn't have anyone's number, I didn't feel good (obviously) and I didn't want to spend time trying to find someone. So I just called a cab. When I got home, I realized that there wasn't anybody who had noticed I'd gone missing; I hadn't missed any classes (I was teaching then) and I lived alone. It didn't really matter to anyone that I'd been sick.

How different from things now, when my getting sick causes complete upheaval and derails everyone's life. Someone needs to take care of the kids, MHH has to stay home from work, the kids still aren't happy unless it's me. If I'm sick in bed I get MHH trying to keep them away, but Barak finds his way in, and I wake up to him climbing on me saying happily, "Hi Imma!" As much as I'd like to get a little more sleep, there's no question--it's nice to be needed.

On the flip side, back when nobody needed me, I never had anyone to worry about. Contrast that to now, when I am constantly shushing the perpetual dread of Something Bad. On Sunday, when Grandma E was here, we all went out to lunch and on the way back MHH walked with Iyyar in the stroller and I went in the car with Grandma E, Grandpa M and Barak (there wasn't room for everyone in the car and the restaurant is close.) At one point MHH came up behind us as we were stopped at a traffic light and was waiting at the corner to cross the street. I had to look away. I literally could not watch, because I was so afraid of seeing them get hit. That's how scared I am of something happening to them.

Like I said, no idea where I'm going with all of this. And my husband needs the computer to write a quiz for tomorrow, so that's all I'll say about it anyway.

I am nothing if not responsive

There has been a request to blog about a certain Barak story, and since I take my readers' requests very seriously, here it is.

As longtime readers (well, those who have been reading since May anyway) will recall, when Iyyar was born Grandma E came and stayed with us for a week. She also stayed when Barak was born, and both times averted (well, inasmuch as it was averted, she averted it) total emotional breakdown on my part--bad labor first time around, jaundiced baby second time around, hormonal postpartum mother both times. It helps to have a Grandma who knows what she's doing.

Because Grandma E lives about, um, a thousand miles away, we don't get to see her very often, and hadn't seen her since that last new-baby visit. Yesterday, she and Grandpa M stopped by for the day on their way to another visit, and I wanted to make sure Barak remembered her. We talk about her, but six months is a long time when you are two and a half and I wasn't sure he'd recognize her when she came. So that morning, after breakfast, I pulled out the photo album and we looked at pictures.

"Barak, who's that?" "Dass Gramma!" "Who's that?" "Dass baby Iyyar!" "Who's that?" "Dass Barak!" and so on. He definitely knew who was who.

"Barak, guess who's coming today?" Inquisitive look.

"Grandma's coming." He looked at me for a moment, with that look two-year-olds get when every cog and gear in their brains is churning madly.

"Grandma comin?"

"Yeah, Grandma's coming."

Think, think, think. Thought process concluded. Face crumples into despair. "NO!!!! No want it! No want it Grandma coming! NO!!"

What the...? "Barak, Grandma's coming! Grandma's so nice! She plays with you and reads you books, and I think she's even bringing you a truck sweater today."

"NO! No want it Grandma! No want it BABY!"

Ohhhh. I get it now. "Barak, we're not getting a new baby. Just Grandma is coming."

"Just Grandma?"

"Yeah, just Grandma."

Hiccup. Hiccup. Cough. Sniffle. "'Kay."

I think he remembered her visit all right.


I've been walking around with a cold for something like three weeks now, ignoring, out of necessity, the fact that I should probably be taking it a little bit easier. Yesterday, my body reminded me; at about three in the afternoon I started falling asleep. Relentlessly. Like, started dreaming weird dreams while standing up and holding a baby. I had Barak and Iyyar, and MHH wasn't coming home till six, and I could not stay awake. I walked around, jumped around, briefly started the process for taking a walk and then thought better of it. I considered calling a neighbor's daughter to come take the kids, but since falling asleep in the middle of the afternoon is so very much a pregnant thing to do (I'm not) I didn't want to go there. The second I knew MHH was out of class, I called. "Can you come home? Everything's okay, I just can't stay awake."

He got home at six and I handed him the just-fed baby, got into bed, and fell asleep instantly. At around 10:30 Iyyar woke me up because he was hungry and nursed forever. I checked my email, got a drink and went back to bed; he woke me up again at 3 and other than that let me sleep until 7:30.

Thirteen and a half hours with only two interruptions. Nirvana.

I could really sleep a little bit more, too.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

And now with lousy pictures

The knitting is good. The photography... not so much. Sorry about that.

Okay, so, we had a lovely flying visit from Grandma E and Grandpa M today. Grandma E delighted Barak's little-boy heart with this.

Barak took one look and gasped, "Truck shirt! Issa firetruck! Issa firetruck shirt! Wear it!"

You'd think someone with his encyclopedic knowledge of all things trucky would have recognized this as a dump truck, but I think he was fooled by the red.

I dispatched CSY.1 with them to take to Savta, who lives near where they do. I neglected to take a picture beforehand, but I did just take a picture of CSY.2:
And while I was at it, I also photographed Barak's feet, which are clad in a pair of socks I made him with some Regia I got on sale at my LYS. I also made a pair for Iyyar, but he's outgrown them already. (He's got some chunky feet.)

And lest I hurt his feelings by leaving him out of this post (not to mention slandering his feet, which are very cute), here's a picture of Iyyar, in his second favorite spot.

Oh, and I didn't mention that in their entire six-hour visit there was no screaming at all, except for some very justified "But you said you were about to feed me and then you stopped all of a sudden and I don't care which big man who's not related to you just walked into the room!" protests. This, from a baby who, as Grandma E said "used to cry all day, every day, and all night." It wasn't quite that bad, but... it's an awful lot better now.

Kein yirbu.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

CSY.1 and CSY.2

Cyndy's Sock Yarn Socks, pair #1, was finished last week: a pair of Priscilla Gibson-Roberts socks, from the Fall 2000 IK. Short-row heels and toes (theoretically--I only short-rowed the heels), variegated purple Lorna's Laces. Eight stitches to the inch on size 0 dps. The intended recipient is Savta; I'm hoping to make it to the post office before spring.

Cyndy's Sock Yarn Socks, pair #2, was finished a couple of hours ago: Lynn H Cushy Colorsport, color, um, some blues and whites. There was, it transpired, not enough for a pair of size 9 socks, even with a very short ankle. I did an afterthought heel, which, on afterthought, wasn't so smart: I ran out of yarn on both and now there are a lot of knots. Oh well. They are done, they look like they will fit, and if Sara comes for Shabbos Chanuka (#2) she will get a lovely surprise. (Oh. Wait. Pretend you don't read this, okay, Sara? Thanks.)

Cyndy's Sock Yarn Socks, Pair #3, was cast on an hour or so ago. Opal, um, something--I just had the ball band here a minute ago. Okay, Opal color 5001, the same PGR socks as #1, but this time I plan to do the short-row toe instead of wimping out and just decreasing away stitches and grafting the end of the toe.

Did I mention that Iyyar has been sleeping beautifully? No? Well, you probably figured that out already.

MY BABY IS CLAIRVOYANT. I just typed that. And as I hit the period key, I heard a familiar little cough. A come-and-get-me-please, I'm hungry kind of a cough.


Well, probably time to stop knitting now anyway. I didn't tell you that I tidied the living room and Barak's room, did I? Well, I did. They're lovely. Of course there will be no trace of my efforts by the time Grandma E visits, but at least she will know I tried.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

This morning

far too early, I went in to get Barak, who was wide awake and making a terrific racket kicking the side of his crib. I have a cold and look (and feel) awful; he has a cold that has settled in his eye, so he looks like he's just been punched in the face, but he obviously feels just fine.

"Imma all done night-night! Imma all done night-night inna big bed!"

Yes, unfortunately, that does seem to be the case.

In other news, The Curse of My SIL's Socks continues. I think I have now cast on four (that's FOUR, folks) pairs of socks intending them to be hers. The first three were all too small. The fourth pair seemed to be going fine, till last night. I was trolling around the knitting internet looking for a better cast-off and decided to try Elizabeth Zimmermann's grafted cast off. It worked great--it looks very tidy and stretches beautifully. As I was doing it (with a sewing needle) I thought to myself, hmm, this is a great cast-off but I sure wouldn't want to have to pick it out.

Guess what?

Sock #1 is 60 stitches around. Sock #2 is 64 stitches. It's Cushy Colorsport at 7 stitches to the inch, so there's no way I can pretend otherwise. And I only have one ball of this color, so I can't even make two more socks to match the first two. Sock #2 has got to go.

(I'd like to point out in defense of my counting abilities that the curse only seems to apply to socks. I made her a pair of gloves in Socks that Rock at 8 sts/inch on ones--yes, I am just that nice--and they were fine. Hmmm.)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

More talking

Barak is on the line. He's right on that line between baby talk and real talk. He still sounds like a toddler when he talks, because of the way he pronounces and inflects--but more and more often these days I'll suddenly realize, whoa, that was a complete and grammatically correct sentence he just said. Like tonight--we were looking at a book with pictures of animals and Barak noticed ducks. "Ducks! They're swimming in the water!" Wow.

This morning's getting-out-of-the-crib exchange, almost verbatim (I actually wrote it down):

"Hi Imma!"

"Hi Barak!"

"Imma came!"

"Right, Imma came!"

(Barak looks around for Abba and sees him walk past the door.)

"Also Abba came! Also Abba came home!" (I guess he thought Abba had just come back from shul--he hadn't, but that would have been the normal thing for a Sunday morning. Nobody told Barak that today was parent-teacher conference day.)

I took Barak out of his crib and put Iyyar down so I could get Barak dressed. Iyyar was wearing, for the record, a white stretchie with blue bears, elephants, and stars. The elephants have balls balanced on their trunks. Barak's discourse on said pajamas was as follows:

"Baby wearing pajamas! Baby wearing white pajamas. Pajamas got bears! 'S got bears! 'S got stars! 'S got bears and stars on white pajamas! Dassa elephant. Elephant holda ball!"

(Why does anybody but me find this blog interesting? I wonder about this sometimes. Well, whatever. Yesterday, eight posts for the price of one and today, Barak holds forth on white pajamas. I do spoil you, don't I.)

Bits and bobs

1. I mentioned that a few weeks ago--three?-- I was graced with a visit from my knitting buddy, Cecilia. Apparently, she took some surreptitious photographs of [what my husband gets very uncomfortable when I call] our knitting orgy. You know you've had fun with your knitting when your guest room looks like this: What you see here is the basket of fish I mentioned (well, you can just see the edge of the basket in the left of the photo; the fish, clearly, have been involved in some jumping.) Cecilia was supposed to turn that into this:It didn't happen, in the end, what with all the noodlemaking and so on that went on. But I can't complain, because not only did Cecilia bring sweaters for the boys, she also brought something for me:Actually, she brought two somethings (shawls, not wheels), and let me pick. I picked the other shawl, but I show this one because, upon seeing it, I immediately had to do what any knitter of lace will be tempted to do: pull off my wedding ring and try to slide the shawl through. It fit--and I have size 5 fingers.

2. In non-knitting-related news: I keep thinking, as Barak comes up with new and ever more articulate sentences, that I have got to blog about this one, or this one, or this one. And then when I sit down at my computer, I can't remember any of them. One I'm thinking of now, though, was--well, let me back up. Last night, erev Shabbos, I discovered too late that the noise machine that mimics the sounds of the dishwasher (it says "surf" but really it is "dishwasher with seagulls") had been turned off by our babysitter without anyone noticing prior to candlelighting. I subsequently had the chance of discovering that no, it was not coincidence that the baby started sleeping better the day I got the machine, and no, he does not sleep any better now without it than he did a month ago. He woke up every half hour or more all night, and did a lot of screaming. By the time the sun came up, I was wiped, and by the time he stopped screaming (9 am or so) I crashed. MHH, being kind, decided to have mercy on his wife and daven at home instead of going to shul.

Back to Barak. He noticed that this was very odd. Abba goes to shul every day. When Abba was davening in the living room, he came back to me, still trying to calm the baby in the kitchen.

"Abbas davenen?"

"Yes, sweetie, he's davening."

"No Abbas davenen innen shul?"

"No, sweetie, he's davening at home today."

"Abba daven innen room?"

"Right, he's davening in the living room."


3. As you may have noticed from the foregoing, Barak has a little bit of an issue with pronouns, personal and possessive. If he sees something that is Iyyar's--toy, blanket, pluggie, whatever, and wishes to identify it, he'll say, "Dass for baby's?" If it's mine, he'll say, "Dass for Imma's?"

4. (I'm remembering all the language stuff now.) Barak's new phrase of choice, unfortunately, is "I can't." It means, of course, "I don't want to." It makes sense. If he asks me for something and I definitively won't do it, I say "I can't." I can't give you juice, we're out. I can't turn the light on, it's Shabbos. I can't take you to the park, it's pouring rain. So it's logical, really, that when asked to do something he absolutely, definitively, doesn't plan on doing, he says, "I can't do it."

5. Shabbos ends early now, early enough that Barak is not only up for Havdalah, but an hour or so thereafter. Tonight, I wanted to deal with some of the three overflowing baskets of laundry that had been parked in our bedroom since Thursday. I put the baby on the bed and started folding the clean stuff at breakneck pace while MHH was at maariv, so that I could load a basket with sorted dirty stuff for him to take down to the basement when he got home. Iyyar thought this was fine; he enjoys rolling around in piles of clean laundry and chewing on a handy sock or washcloth. Barak preferred to play in the living room, which made me nervous; I like to have him a little closer, so I can keep an eye on him. "Barak, do you want to come help Imma with the laundry?" To my surprise, he dropped his forklift and came right in. "Barak help Imma!"

And wouldn't you know, he started out by actually helping--he pushed a basket full of clean clothes from the hall into the bedroom. "Push it! Help Imma!" I applauded this effort, while still folding. Then, of course, he wanted to help more, by taking laundry out of the basket and putting it on the bed--just what I was doing, of course, except that I was taking the clean laundry. I encouraged him to move laundry between dirty baskets--forget having it sorted for Abba--and he got into that. Then he discovered something he hadn't realized--that the cosleeper (now in bassinet format) had a zip-open storage section underneath. What's the logical thing to do here? Why, unzip it and fill it with dirty laundry, naturally. I was so glad he wasn't stopping me from putting away clean laundry I let him, with a mental note to get it all out of there before putting the baby down. Just as he was finishing, I heard the back door open and in came Abba. "Where'd all the dirty laundry go? Did you put a load in?" Not exactly...

6. Next motzai Shabbos we are getting not one but TWO very exciting guests--Grandma E AND Grandpa M! Grandpa M being, perhaps, the only person I know more excited about choo-choo trains, trucks, and big engines than Barak. They should get along well...

7. Oh, and on the subject of large machinery--there is a construction project a few blocks from us that we've been watching for a while. It's a three-story apartment building that started going up early summer and is now nearly done. On Thursday, on my way to get Barak at playgroup, I discovered that there was a genuine concrete mixer parked out front. Hmm, I thought. (Barak, if you have not guessed, LOVES what he terms cememixer trucks.) "Are you going to be pouring any concrete any time soon?" I asked the bored-looking man standing next to the truck. "Any second now, " he said. "As soon as the guy comes around with the wheelbarrows." Well then.

I picked Barak up. He didn't want to go, because he knows that after school (which he still calls camp...) comes the Dreaded Night-Night. "Barak, do you want to see a concrete mixer? Should we go watch!" "Go watch!" We walked back to where I'd seen the truck, and sure enough, they started to pour the concrete for the path on the side of the building. Ooh. Very exciting. I started explaining to Barak, in Hungarian, what was going on: "See, that man is bringing the wheelbarrow to the other man, and he has to run very fast so that the concrete doesn't get hard before he puts it down." In a few minutes, a Chassidisch woman with her young son (aged three or so) and baby came by and stopped to watch as well. She started explaining to him in Yiddish the exact same thing I was saying in Hungarian: "See, that man is bringing the wheelbarrow to the other man, and he has to run very fast so that the concrete doesn't get hard before he puts it down." A little microcosm of East European Jewish mothering there. Or something.

8. I mentioned over the summer that we have a Nigerian family living upstairs. They have a little boy, around Barak's age, named Hakim. Hakim does a lot of screaming, and I hear his mother trying to get him to do things in Yoruba. To me, it sounds like "Blah blah blah blah blah cookie blah blah blah." Yesterday, we heard Hakim crying very loudly indeed. Barak, busy with something in the kitchen, paused. "Hakim crying?"

"Yeah, I think he is crying."

"Hakim go innair crib?"

Oy. The world according to Barak, right there.

9. Wow, this has been my longest post in a while. I was going to say something about MOChassid's new CD, which we love, but I think I'll just leave it there and save the haskama for another time.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The stupidest cooking mistake ever

Okay, fine, maybe not ever. But it was pretty dumb.

I'm making challah. It's Thursday, you know--everybody's doing it, right? I made a double batch, so this is--let's see--eight pounds of organic whole-wheat flour, fourteen from-the-farm eggs with shells that you actually have to whack, five cups of water, two of oil, one of honey, etc. I let it all rise. I braided it--six huge loaves plus a big pan of rolls. I lined the pans up on the counter, right up next to each other so I could sprinkle the seeds on in one fell swoop without making a mess. I reached into the cupboard for the jar of poppyseeds, and went swoop over my challahs.

With the jar of black pepper.

Top me, please. It'll make me feel better.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Cabbage is such an underrated vegetable. How often do you hear that? But it's true.

Today I felt like getting down to my East European roots. I made four latkes (hear that, Sarah! we had latkes!) and then, because I was too lazy to fry the rest, turned what was still in the bowl into a potato kugel. And while I was doing the latkes, I also made fried cabbage. The good way.

When I made fried cabbage for my FIL (who is macrobiotic) he actually didn't believe me when I told him what I'd done. For him, cabbage is a Healthy Food, something that you do not Fry. Frying is for, you know, doughnuts. And other bad stuff. He tasted it, looked shocked, and then asked me how I'd cooked the delicious cabbage. "I fried it," I said. He looked at me, sure he'd misheard. "Well, when you say that, you don't mean you really fried it, do you? You just cooked it?" "I cooked it in oil, yeah. And some butter." Healthy food--> guilty pleasure, right there.

This fried cabbage starts with a little butter--two tablespoons?-- and two very large sliced onions. Cook the onions in the butter on the lowest heat you can for, oh, I don't know, forever or so. Then slice the cabbage (yes, the whole thing) and put it in. Unless you have a really big pot you'll have to add it in stages as it cooks down. Then cook that for, oh, I don't know, forever or so. Add salt and pepper. A little olive oil if you feel like it (this part is not authentic but being Jewish and liking butter on my cabbage I can't use schmaltz. Or, as the non-Jewish Hungarians do, lard.)

Eat. If you have never had this before you will not believe how sweet and intense and delicious it is.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

What was in Cyndy's box

The yarn was my doing; credit for artistic arrangement of skeins, however, is all hers.

And the winner is...

Comment #21: Wendy!

In case you're wondering about my highly scientific drawing method, I numbered the comments (including the people who emailed me because they couldn't leave comments), wrote the numbers on a sheet of stickers, and asked Barak to pull one off.

Wendy, please email me so I can get your address and yarn vs. chocolate preferences.

And now I know who you all are, so you'll have to leave comments more often. : )

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Look what was on my desk when I got to work yesterday!

Why, it was a box. Two boxes, in fact.

And look what was inside!

I took home that box, and filled my bag with this

and when I came home, instead of cleaning the kitchen, I did this:

Yeah, I know it's sideways. But I'm too eager to get my hands on that yarn to rotate the picture. Priorities, you know!

Grand drawing will be held tomorrow night. If you want to get your name in, go comment on the destashing post, okay?

Shavua tov, everybody. Hope you all have as much fun with your motzai Shabbos or your Saturday night as I plan on having, IY"H...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Thursday night

I'd be in bed already, except there's challah baking in the oven. Iyyar has a little fever: 101.5. I called the doctor and he said to bring him in in the morning. I'm not sure what I expected him to say, but am really really hoping the fever is gone in the morning--because I want him to feel better, obviously, and also because I don't want to have to miss more work.

What have I been doing tonight? Oh, I don't know. Maybe clearing some space for the sock yarn that I should be getting my hot little hands on tomorrow. (Twenty-five pairs!) Cyndy has gotten her box but not reported back yet; apparently she has some kind of self-control because last I heard she was not going to open it till the kids were in bed. (A stronger woman than I.)

Anyway, here is the space on the shelf where her yarn used to be:

And here's a closeup of what's left. (I should probably have arranged things so that that really badly spun Shetland wasn't exactly front and center...)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Picture Thursday

Twenty-one comments! Now that's more like it.

I tried to post pictures earlier today but Blogger was uncooperative, so I'll try again. No, I never did find the battery charger, but I went and bought a new one, so the old one should be turning up later tonight.
But first, some pictures. Here is the sweater Cecilia made for Iyyar, with Barak"s scary dinosaur kippah for scale; and here is the sweater I made for Iyyar, before he was born, with the leftovers of all the socks I made on bedrest.
Here's the ice cream sweater she made him, and here's my spiral yoke. That's Noro around the neck; the body is made out of some natural ly colored Austermann I got off Elann. And here's a nice overexposed shot of Barak's winter hat, made of Koigu.
I have a bunch of other pictures, but apparently Blogger only lets you put five up per post. All right then, I'll save the rest for another time. Maybe later tonight--we'll see how the cooking goes.


Iyyar has this screech that you would not believe when he gets excited. It's loud, but that's not it--it's the pitch, and the sound, which is something like castrato-cum-nails-on-chalkboard. He sounds like I imagine a ticked-off baby pterodactyl might.

Just thought I'd share.

So, I have 14 comments, but more than 35 people have looked at that post! Come on, now. If you don't want yarn I'll send chocolate, and yes, I'll mail it to you wherever you are. (I mail things to distant continents all the time. My friends have this very expensive habit of moving all over the place and still expecting me to send them things, so I'm used to it.)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

More destashing fun

My blog vanished for most of today. Did anybody else notice that? Very weird.

While we're on the subject of my blog...

According to sitemeter, yesterday I hit my all-time high number of hits. (Don't ask for the number, it's embarassing. Let's just say it is far, far into double digits.) In honor of this noteworthy occasion, I would like to hold a celebratory destashing event.

Who are you people? Leave me a comment, and be entered in a highly scientific drawing, the winner of which will receive one (1) mystery package of handspun yarn from the Shelf of Destashing, absolutely free. (If you're Cyndy, you might already be over your head in the stuff, but you can still comment and get your name in the hat.)

The fine print: You are ineligible to win if you are me or live with me. If you know who I am, or have lived with me in the past, or are related to me, you are still eligible. (I can be fair. And if you're in those categories, you can just ask for some yarn and I'll give it to you.) If you live in Australia, well, I send packages there all the time, so I guess you can still be eligible.

It's nice yarn. Just ask Cyndy. So comment, please, and say hi.

Now I have to get back to what I was doing, which was begin (begin!) the 1500 word speech that has to be done tomorrow morning. For point of reference, when we send speeches of that length to freelancers the expectation is that they will take 8-10 hours to write.

It's going to be a long night.