Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What Iyyar ate for dinner tonight

A whole wheat zucchini-cheese pancake. An entire pancake.

I think we have effectively bypassed the baby food phase here.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

I'll probably regret this

But I can't resist.

This is what Iyyar thinks of Cheerios.


Most nights, when I put Iyyar to bed, I take him into the kitchen or wherever Abba is (and Barak, if he's still up) to say goodnight. I wave his hand at everyone and say, "night-night!" And Abba and Barak wave back, and I go off to our room to put Iyyar to bed.

Tonight, Barak was already in bed and Abba was in the kitchen grading papers. I held Iyyar's hand and waved it at Abba. "Night-night, Abba!"

Abba waved back. "Night-night, Iyyar!"

I let go of Iyyar's hand and turned to go. And Iyyar waved again!

And then Abba waved. And then Iyyar waved. And then Abba, and then Iyyar. And then Iyyar started giggling wildly, because it was all just so funny, and started waving with both hands.

Eight months, almost nine. Getting so big...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Every time Barak comes out with something cute and I think "I have to remember that one," it seems that five minutes later I've forgotten it.


Things I want to remember about today:

1. Iyyar ate cholent again. He saw the cholent and remembered the cholent and plotzed for the cholent and I fed him cholent. This time I thought ahead and made it heavy on the barley, light on the beans.

2. Last night Barak went to sleep in his "big" (toddler mattress on floor) bed. It lasted until 1 am, when I heard a suspicious noise, went to investigate, and found him shuffling down the hall in his red feetie pajamas, blankies slung over his shoulder and a wet diaper in the other hand (?), headed toward the living room. I think he was sleepwalking, or maybe he was just barely awake. It took quite a while to get him settled again, and by the time I had Iyyar had woken up to nurse again. Iyyar is back on the nurse-every-three-hours schedule--usually around 10, 1, 4, and 7. I don't mind waking up at 1 and 7 but that 4 am nurse is killing me. Sometimes he skips it, so I'm hoping it's on its way out. And yes, I could theoretically let him cry, but if I'm lying right there next to him (there's nowhere else to put him) I'm not going to get any more sleep that way.

3. Tonight, toward the end of Shabbos, I was in the bedroom nursing the baby and Barak was with his Abba in the living room. I hadn't heard my husband calling me, and then I heard, "Are you okay?" I said I was. Next thing I knew, Barak was in my room, asking me with elaborate concern, "Are you okay, Imma? Are you okay?"

4. Barak has figured out how to open and close the lock on the back door. Uh-oh.

5. Yesterday I put away all of Iyyar's 12-month clothes and broke out Barak's old 12-18 month box. It is not too big for Iyyar at all. Wild. Barak was still wearing his 6-9 month stuff at this age (8.5 months).

6. Have I mentioned Iyyar's mohawk? Iyyar has a ridiculous mohawk. He only has hair on the top of his head and it sticks straight up. We call him Mr. I.

7. Today we went over to friends' to play a little in the afternoon. Sometimes, when I walk up stairs (they live on the third floor) I count the stairs with Barak. Today, he counted for me, but using the aleph beis. "Aleph, beis, shin, gimel, daled, tof..."

8. Has anyone else seen the Gadi Pollock aleph-beis book? It's fabulous. Beautiful, and fabulous. Barak is too little to really appreciate it but he already likes looking at it.

9. I just melted a whole lot of plastic dishes. I shoved my pareve stuff in the oven on Shabbos to wash later, and forgot about it when I turned it on to preheat. When the smoke tateckter started going beep beep, I remembered.

10. Iyyar got his first Cheerios on Friday. He thought they were... interesting. He prefers cholent.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


And lots of it. So many meetings in the office I have no time to write. So it's 8 pm, the kids are in bed and ostensibly asleep, and I am about to pound out some deathless prose.

The good news is that I've been in the office more than my post-leave contract states, so my boss (did I mention she rocks?) told me to work at home on Friday. Working at home on Friday means a much easier entry into Shabbos, so I'm grateful for that.

Things will get much easier after this week--we have two major crunch times and this is one of them. All the speeches are about to get given, and then we'll have a little quiet before things start to gear up for the next event, which isn't until early fall.

Okay. Prose, deathless, coming up. Think deathless thoughts, please.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


1. I don't know what's up with the RSS feed. Every day I get another couple of emails telling me it's not working. I also get another couple of emails from people who can't sign in despite multiple invites (and the difficulties are not from people prone to computer issues). Anybody have any idea what's up with that?

2. The Cholent Aftermath Diaper was every bit as foul as one might expect. Thanks for asking. Honestly it makes sense that Iyyar likes the kind of food I do--he gets tastes of it in the milk, so it's more familiar than, say, rice cereal, which I haven't eaten for going on thirty-two years now.

3. Iyyar is back to wanting to nurse every three hours all night. It is really difficult to talk him out of it when I'm in the room. Ergo, he's in his crib screaming and I'm blogging at this ungodly hour and hoping he'll go back to sleep, which he usually does after a few minutes. It's not a major-distress-nobody-loves-me scream, it's a what is WRONG with you I want to NURSE snf I am TICKED kind of a scream, so I don't feel too terrible.

4. We are having guest after guest after guest for the next few weeks. And work has never ever ever been so busy, because of all the rehearsals I've been doing and the meetings I've been in and the new client I've been working with who is Japanese and can't sight-read English. I have to run through every speech with him, multiple times, teaching him to pronounce each word. Today our meeting ran three hours, hard on the heels of another meeting than had run over, and I never got to pump at all all day. Ow. Ow ow ow ow ow.

5. I gave both boys a bath together last night for the first time. General hilarity all around. Lots of splashing and laughing--very cute. For once in my life the camera was in the right place at the right time and we got a fuzzy little video clip. I need to get a better camera, one that takes movies you can see and hear.

6. I hear quiet, so I'm going back to bed now. Hope you never left yours. Good night.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Self-pity update

Okay, so my husband (who went to maariv at the shul where we were supposed to have gone to the aforementioned concert and dinner fundraiser) came home with two CDs and two pieces of yummy dessert wrapped up in a napkin. So I'm eating what I would have eaten while listening to the music I would have gotten to listen to, in my comfy clothes at home. With a can of diet coke.

Can't complain too much, I guess.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Blame the cat

We were supposed to have a Date tonight, me and my husband. The last time we had a Date was March 2, 2004, so this was fairly big news. And it was going to be a good date. Dinner and a concert. A good concert. We even had tickets. We even paid for the tickets.

Hmm, you say, she's apparently sitting at her computer. Not much of a Date, was it?

Yeah, well. We couldn't get a sitter.

Not that I didn't try. I called at least fifteen girls, most of whom also have sisters. No dice.

Do you know what I think it is? I think it's the cat. In fact for some of them I know it's the cat. The cat--the little nine-pound scared-of-her-own-tail cat--freaks these little bais yaakov girls right the heck out. I have had babysitters tell me directly that they didn't know I had a cat and they couldn't come back because of the cat. Even if the cat was locked in a room. Because she might, I don't know, claw it down or something.

Those of you who have met our cat will know how entertaining this is. Those of you who have been in our house dozens of times and never seen any sign of the cat but the food and water bowls and litterbox will find it even more entertaining.

Me, right now, I'm not entertained. I want to be listening to music.


Guess I'd better go write that speech now. Which has to be written without R's or L's, because the person I'm writing for is Japanese and can't pronounce them...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Eight months going on eighty

Have I mentioned Iyyar's feelings about solid food?

Specifically, his one feeling about solid food, which can be summarized even more concisely in three letters, those being "Feh!"

He doesn't like food. He doesn't like rice cereal, or mashed bananas, or mashed avocadoes, or baby food, or any of that. He wants to nurse. A lot. All the time. To the exclusion of all else.

But he's closing in on nine months, and we're getting to the point where there just isn't enough on tap to keep him happy. He's waking up more at night to nurse, and going through much more stored milk on the mornings I work than I can pump. (Yes, I've got that freezer stash, but it isn't going to last forever.) He needs another source of calories. So I've been trying.

I mentioned a while back that he did show a very great interest in the vegetables in my chicken soup. Excellent, I thought--he's eating vegetables, even if chicken soup isn't the standard first food. And I think I had a good laugh at my little Ashkenazi baby.

Yeah, well. It gets better.

Today we were invited out for Shabbos lunch. Iyyar wanted to nurse as soon as we got there, so he nursed through the gefilte fish course (not at the table, obviously--I repaired to the guest room). Then we went back to the table and the cholent came out.

He plotzed for it. It was ridiculous. He WANTED MY CHOLENT. What could I do? I gave him some, trying to stick to the barley part and mashing the occasional kidney bean (don't tell me what his diaper is going to look like tomorrow, I can imagine it vividly enough on my own). He ate everything I had on my plate (which wasn't much) and then another entire ladleful. Every time I decided he'd had enough, he disagreed. At the top of his very able lungs.

He's not a baby. He's somebody's Galicianer Zaide, reincarnate--smaller, cuter, equally toothless, and with the same taste in food.

Tomorrow for breakfast: matjes herring.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

This is why I made this blog private

So, let me tell you about my job.

I am a speechwriter. When people ask me how to become a speechwriter, I tell them very honestly that I have no idea. I sort of fell into it myself, after about ten years of working as a writer with occasional bouts of freelance book editing (not my favorite, but I can do it and it paid the bills in grad school). In general you could categorize the field I've been working in as nonprofit and corporate communications; I write speeches and other material for CEOs, politicians, folks like that. Very, very rarely is my own name publicly associated in any way with the things I write.

It suits me. I am congenitally averse to being in the spotlight; I am congenitally averse to any kind of conflict. I like to just be left alone to just write--all I ask is to stay behind the scenes, wear what I want, and be as invisible as possible. Ghostwriting is great for that. The flip side of it, of course, is that in a way my job is extremely high-profile; every so often I'll see something quoted in the Times or wherever and it'll be something I wrote, with someone else's name cited as the source. When I meet with one of my current clients, he is wont to grumble about this. "Look at that," he'll say, gesturing irritably at a pile of clippings. "They all cite Plony ben Plony. They don't know that it's all pure Uberimma." If he really minds, I don't think he minds much; I think it's just his way of paying me a compliment. He's a nice guy.

Anyway, so, that's background for what happened yesterday.

The division I work in at my place of employment is, naturally enough, Communications. There is also a PR division, which deals with stage managing major meetings, training sessions, press conferences, publicity events, etc. Those folks, they are High Stress. We in Communications try to make their lives as easy as possible and stay away as much as possible, mostly because we like to keep our heads attached to our necks. With me so far? Good.

I have one client who is not a born speaker. In a few days, he's going to give a public presentation that will probably determine the rest of his career. He's nervous. I wrote his speeches for this event a few months ago, and we've talked about them since a few times. He asked me if we could get together and practice before the event. He'd be rehearsing on site, but didn't think that would be enough. I said sure, and reserved a room, a teleprompter, and an AV guy to come run the prompter and film it.

Oh, I don't feel like going through the whole saga. Let's fast forward a little, noting in passing that someone from PR, when I called to let her know about the practice session and ask for the teleprompter text, wanted to come along. I said I didn't think it was necessary or a good idea; he was already tense, and I thought he needed some time to get used to the pacing of the speech without an audience. She insisted. How about coming in halfway through? I suggested. No, she wanted to be there for the whole thing. And her assistant too. Well, I wasn't going to fight over it. "I'm not going to tell you you can't come, but I really don't think you need to," I said. It's not like those guys don't have enough going on already, and remember, they were going to have all their regular rehearsal time onsite in addition.

So, yesterday morning. I went to meet the client and we headed down to the practice room, where, as you may recall, there should have been a teleprompter, a video setup, and a camera guy. Oh, and the basics: there should have been an unlocked door. There were none of the above, and there I was with Important Client, Important Client's Assistant, my notebook, and nothing else. And there were the folks from PR, looking baffled. "The door's locked." Indeed it was.

I ran for a custodian--ran, literally, once I was out of sight--and within five minutes had everyone inside. Inside the dark room, where there was NO AV EQUIPMENT. No prompter. No camera guy. Nothing. Now, the AV person is reliable, and I've confirmed the date and equipment with him. What gives?

Fortunately I had the speech on paper--PAPER!!--and passed out copies. He did a run through off the paper version, and I did some coaching. Now I might note in passing that I was getting some extremely negative vibes off the Events people. They were ignoring me, and running the rehearsal as though they'd called it. Very dismissive body language--backs to me, etc. Oh, well, whatever--I don't get into that stuff. I gave him my feedback, which was, as often as not, disagreed with by the PR people, who then started arguing with me over my feedback. Folks, you DO NOT DO THAT in a situation like this. It's pass nisht. You don't. If you disagree, you state your opinion, explain your reasoning, and let the speaker do what he/she will. I tried my best, saying, "Okay, I think Plony's heard both sides of that, so moving down three paragraphs to the line beginning..." Ugh. Ten minutes into his second run-through, in rolled the AV cart, pushed by the camera guy. PR person #2 went up to him and apparently told him to leave, which he did. You can't go setting up AV at that point anyway.

After an hour and a half, he seemed more confident, though said something like "another 22 tries and I'll have it down!" at the end. I went back up to my office, and stopped by my supervisors to say, "Man, those PR people are over the edge."

"I hear you ruffled some feathers," she said.


Turned out she'd just had some irate phone calls from PR.

Do you know what happened? The PR people didn't like that I was having my own rehearsal. Despite the fact that, you know, THE CLIENT REQUESTED IT AND WE DO THIS ALL THE TIME BECAUSE HELLO, I WRITE THE SPEECHES! [To be fair, it has been a while since we have had such a request, because we have had a run of confident speakers. But it's definitely done.] Did anyone from PR say this? No. What did they do? They chose not send the text to the AV people until twenty minutes before the first-thing-Monday-morning rehearsal, because they did not want me to have a prompter. Without telling me. This effectively also cancelled the video setup, because the AV guy was frantically loading the speech onto the prompter instead of a) setting up the camera or b) calling me to say he'd be late. They did not realize that the AV guy was the one who was supposed to unlock the auditorium, and the AV guy, thinking (now why would he think this?) that someone had been communicating with me, just came in late with all the stuff. I thought, sitting there, that he'd gotten the dates wrong, and after the rehearsal went down to talk to him. Nope. He knew exactly when it was. But he had gotten the text at 8:40 am.

So yeah, the PR people were so ticked with my chutzpah at having a rehearsal that did not involve them, they actually sabotaged the rehearsal with the person who, at this point, is probably our single biggest client.

The kids are fine, B"H. Today's best Barak line, referring to a new pair of 3T pants that are slightly too big: "My pants are falling down!" Iyyar has spent the day chewing on a small stuffed stingray. It's Shabbos tomorrow, and I'm really looking forward to that.

But I just needed to get this little tale off my chest.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Grandma E emailed me the other day and asked how Iyyar was doing. She mentioned that he doesn't get much press on the blog, and she was right.

Well, B"H, Iyyar is doing fine. He is smiley and chunky and has a very definite mohawk, especially when his hair has just been washed. He's still got the dimples and when he gets excited and doesn't know what to do with himself, still jams as much hand as possible into his mouth. If you pick him up and lift him up over your head, he does his signature openmouthed grin, and you'd better watch out below because there's usually some drool on the way down.

The most remarkable thing about him right now, honestly, is the sleeping. At bedtime--around sevenish--he nurses a lot and then I put him in his crib (the pack and play, in our room), somewhere between "sleepy but awake" and "absolutely wide awake, giggling and playing." I come back twenty minutes later and he's snoring, and there's usually no crying in between. When I contrast this to how he was just three months ago--or how Barak was just last night--it's kind of unbelievable. But there we go. Of course, he does still wake up to nurse every three hours all night long, but we're working on that one.

Favorite activity right now is sitting in front of the rubbermaid box of baby toys. He'll pull them out, one at a time, to suck on and bang; when he's done, he'll drop them and go for the next one. Eventually, the box will be empty, and he'll be up to his ears in dropped toys. At this point, he looks at the empty box, looks at me, and cries, because Imma, there's no more toys in the box! Like a good Imma, I put all the toys back in the box and he's happy again.

The baby saucer is on its way out, unless Barak is doing something interesting that Iyyar can watch. (This is making it notably more difficult to cook dinner.) Weight-wise, he is on the outer limits of what I can handle in the sling; I still carry him in it, but it won't be long. He's totally out of all his 9-month clothes and most of his 12-month outfits are getting kind of short in the leg; the 12-18 month things are still pretty big on him though. He loves to be tickled and is very, very giggly.

Oh, and he wakes up every night, like clockwork, at 10 pm for a snack. And funnily enough, that's him now.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The World According to Iyyar

Things That Are Good To Put In My Mouth

1. Toys, any
2. Pluggies, preferably Barak's old ones but the ones Imma bought just for me will do in a pinch
3. Imma's necklace (and it doesn't matter when she drops it under her sweater, I KNOW IT'S IN THERE SOMEWHERE)
4. Socks (sooo tasty)
5. Shoes, mine and Barak's
6. Plastic bags (one of these days she'll let me taste one)
7. Yarn (if only she'd let me get to that big basket of pretty scraps... I'd better learn to crawl)
8. Bibs
9. Anything Imma or Barak is holding too close to me
10. The obvious [if I write the word "breast" on this blog Abba will get embarassed. Oops.]

Things That Are Not Good To Put In My Mouth, Or That Are Fine To Have In There But Only Temporarily

1. Rice cereal
2. Bananas
3. Avocados
4. Baby food of any description
5. Anything at all that is coming toward me on a spoon.

Monday, January 15, 2007

And because we haven't had a picture of Barak in a while...

Barak, enjoying our friends' backyard. That's the dog's pull toy in his hand. He never got as far as trying it out--28-lb toddler vs. 80-lb dog probably wouldn't have been the best idea anyway.

5 x 25=1

Five posts, twenty-five readers. One comment.

One? Just one?

Hi, Wendy! I still haven't mailed your yarn. It's on the floor, right there, looking at me. Hmm. If I have enough stamps I can send it out with the carrier pickup that's coming tomorrow...

In other news... Barak pooped on the potty today, Iyyar put himself to sleep, MHH (that's Meyn Heilige Husband for the one who asked) is out doing... whatever he does on Monday nights, and I have to write the first of FIVE video scripts that have to be done by March "at the latest." Yeah, on top of about, oh, a lot of speeches.

Oh, and Barak is "sleeping" on his big boy bed, not his crib. Which means that when I hear suspicious noises coming from elsewhere in the apartment, there's probably a reason to be suspicious.

Okay. The hour is about to strike, and I want to get in three hours tonight, so off I go.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

This has got to be some kind of record

Five posts in one day.

I've been getting a bunch of emails from people telling me they couldn't log in with their invite. I think the problem was that I was trying to leave the blog public for a few days, but in order to send invites when people asked for them I had to make the blog private, send the invite, and reopen the blog. So if you happened to be clicking on your invite while it was public, I think it didn't work. What I should have done, of course, was just keep a list of who'd asked and send them all at once, but that would have required... um, yeah, well, that would have been the smartest thing, really.

Anyway, I just resent invites to everyone who had one but didn't respond. Apologies to those of you who didn't respond to your invite because you didn't want one.

One more Barakism

The scene: bathroom, post-potty, nearing bedtime. Barak requests his two M's. He gets them, we make our bracha, and head back to the bathroom to brush teeth--M's still clutched safely in fist. (That "melts in your mouth, not in your hand" line? Tell it to a two-year-old who likes to delay his chocolate gratification. Anything will melt in your hand if it's there long enough.)

"Barak, we need to brush your teeth, so you need to eat those M's." M's go into mouth. I put toothpaste on toothbrush.

"Are your M's all gone?"

"No. Ackshully iss not all gone. Iss just in there."

See what happens when I free my blogging id?

Three posts in one day, that's what.

So, we got something in the mail yesterday that was kind of upsetting. Namely, an escrow summary from our mortgage company, informing us that our escrow was way in negative numbers because our taxes had been raised and our monthly payment was about to jump, oh, about two hundred dollars from what it was when we bought this apartment last summer.

Two. Hundred. Dollars. Every month.

There aren't any doctors, lawyers, or high-paid computer programmers living in this house. There's a high school rebbe and a part-time writer. Who works for a nonprofit. Two hundred dollars, that's a lot of money. And it's a lot of money for nothing. It's not like another two hundred dollars a month for, say, insurance, or child care because of additional family members. It's not two hundred dollars a month put toward savings for tuition or retirement. It's two hundred dollars into a black hole with nothing to show.

Two hundred. Do you know how much you can get at the grocery store with two hundred dollars? That's ten boxes of diapers at Target. The big boxes of Pampers, not even the store brand.

It made me mad at myself, because I know that buying this apartment was in a very real way a mistake. I made what should have been a head decision with my heart. I'd been a nomad for so long that I ached to be settled, and I was so sick of rented apartment after rented apartment I wanted my own home, with walls the colors I wanted and kosher appliances and my own washer and dryer without quarters and no landlord holding the keys to my front door. And conventional wisdom is that owning is better than renting, so I sort of ignored the market and the numbers and the fact that the money we'd be "throwing away" on rent roughly equaled the amount we're currently throwing away just on mortgage interest, never mind taxes or maintenance to the building or our own upkeep and repairs and forget what we put down on the mortgage and what we spent to fix the place up--new furnace, new water heater, etc.

Oh, and there's that little issue that if we want to go to Israel, we'll have to either sell it or rent it out for way way less than it costs to maintain it. Yeah, there's that too.

I don't think I make a lot of dumb financial decisions, but this really was one of them.

Of course there is also the quality of life issue--I am much happier in this apartment, I think, than I would have been if we'd stayed in our old rental, or even upgraded to a nicer rental. (Yeah, I know I keep saying "I" and not "we." The truth is that my husband doesn't care. Longtime readers will know he had no opinion at all on the home purchase process except that he wanted at least two toilets. He didn't even see this place until after we closed, even though it was, what, three blocks from our old place? And on his walk to work too.) We can put up our own succah. The dishwasher alone is a shalom bayis perk like you wouldn't believe. I really like my orange kitchen and our purple walls and yeah, the central AC is really, really nice in summer. We've got storage, we've got a parking spot (if no car), we have our own home. And it's hard to quantify in dollars how much that is worth.

It's hard to quantify, but I was already feeling a little queasy about the equation. And now there's another two hundred bucks weighing down the other side.

What the...?

Did you know about this?

The United terminal at O'Hare airport, in Chicago. We fly through that airport at least a few times a year--you have to connect there to get to most of our regular and not-so-regular travel destinations (my in-laws, the home of my DSIL, New York, etc.) We usually fly United. I am very well acquainted with Terminal C.

And I read the news every day. And I never heard about this!

There are a number of related articles on the Chicago Tribune site--about United and the FAA saying, "We don't know anything about that and there's no record of it at all," and then, when Freedom of Information Acts are filed, saying, "Wait, did we say we didn't know anything? Um, now that we think a little harder..."

Creepy. More creepy because it's fairly clear that whatever happened out there, there's some serious lying going on.


In no particular order...

1. Yesterday we were invited to the home of some friends for lunch. Barak had a ball, playing with their enormous box of cars and eating, as is his habit at such occasions, nothing but challah, kiddush juice, and dessert. We finally left at around four, when it was getting close to mincha time. I had brought the double stroller, and was trying to effect the transfer of Barak, Iyyar, diaper bag, and blanket to same. Barak, suspicious of what might lie after the stroller ride (the Dreaded Night Night, perhaps?) was walking down the stairs verrrry. slowwwly.

"Barak, could you please come on? It's really cold out."

"Iss not cold."

"Barak, it's about thirty degrees today. That's cold."

"Ackshully, iss freezing."

2. Similarly, on a walk to playgroup, still termed "camp" by Barak:

[Blast of wind] "Ooh, it's cold! Barak, is it so cold?"

"Yeah. Iss a little chilly."

3. This morning, at about 2 am, I was sitting up nursing the baby when I heard Barak start to wail. Usually he goes right back to sleep on his own, but this time he didn't. It sounded like a bad dream. I poked my husband awake and asked him to go, and listened to a one-sided attempt at adult conversation with a toddler in the middle of the night. It didn't go very far. I put the baby down and went in for the Imma Rescue. That didn't go very far either. Barak was lying in his bed wailing, and I reached in to get him. He didn't get up. "Barak, do you want to come cuddle with Imma?" Miserable whimper. I started to pick him up and just as he left the mattress he started to throw up all over himself, me, the bed, the floor, etc., and that was when I realized he was hot enough to fry an egg on. The usual middle-of-the-night-sick-child routine followed: he was so, so feverish I gave him a quick bath (also to get some of the vomit off him, of course) and tried to get him to talk a little so I could make sure he was making sense (you know, in a two-year-old kind of way.) At one point I poured some warm water on him and he started to scream.


What is this? Surely some rare life-threatening water sensitivity illness meaning we should rush to the nearest emergency room...

"Barak, does it hurt or you just don't like it?"

"Just don't like it."

We cuddled for a while on the floor of the bathroom, until he let me leave him for the sixty seconds it took me to change out of my own vomitous attire. Tylenol, more snuggles in the rocking chair, and I put him to bed, where he stayed, asleep, till 10 am. He was pretty hot when he woke up, so I gave him some more Tylenol and a Pedialyte popsicle. But he was feeling better by now, so he had a better breakfast in mind.

"Chex please."

"Barak, you can have a few Chex, but I'm not going to give you milk, okay? I don't want you to throw up again."

"I not gonna frow up."

"You're not going to throw up? Are you sure?"

"Gonna frow up tomorrow."

4. Later this morning I went on a quick Target run to get more Tylenol, baby wipes, yogurt and other necessities. I was feeling sorry for Barak so took a two-dollar turn down the toy aisle and got him a Matchbox helicopter. I told him when I got into the kitchen with all my bags that I had a present for him, and let him rummage around the bags for it. I'd pull out a box of garbage bags. "Is that the present?!" "No..." and so on. Eventually I pulled out the helicopter.

"Hock clopter! Issa hock clopter! Hock clopter go zoom inna sky!"

5. Last one, totally out of order. Earlier this week Barak found the feet for Mr. Potato Head in his toy box (well, toy milk crate, specifically, but it does the job). He brought them to me.

"Iss tomato!"

"No, sweetie, that's for Mr. Potato Head."

He tried. "Miterananeh?"

"Mister Potato Head."


"Mister Potato Head."

Pause. "Iss feet."

"Right, those are feet."

"Tomato need it."

Friday, January 12, 2007

Thursday night

And I should really be getting to bed...

I had a brief email exchange with a college/grad school friend tonight who asked me for an invite and, in the course of a few messages, pointed out that my blog isn't really all that racy. There's nothing here that's so horrifying. What's the problem with having it public, really?

I thought about it and in a nutshell, it's not really the fear of any repercussions if anyone did find it. It's more the sense of constraint I now feel, wondering who might be reading me. I started writing a blog for two basic reasons: as a sort of online baby book, and as a way of writing for my own pleasure. I write for a living, and since almost all my writing is done under someone else's name I rarely have a chance to write what I want, how I want. I don't want to feel that this, too, has to be edited and censored to suit someone else. That's all, really.

In the same email exchange I mentioned that I felt it was sort of a chutzpa to send out blog invitations to everyone I know. ("Hey, everyone, read all about my kid's potty trips! I'm so self-absorbed I think you care!") But, well, nobody has to accept an invite, and I really do like having readers (see self-absorbed, above) so I just went through my uberimma mailbox sending out a whole bunch. If you've ever emailed me at that address, you probably just got one. Ignore at will, etc.

All that said, time for me to go to bed.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


A few things of note to anyone interested (well, I guess if you're reading this...) :

1. My email address is on the about page--it's uberimma at gmail, etc.

2. Yes, the RSS feed will continue to bring you all of Barak's potty updates and so forth, but it will not let you comment. If you want to comment (and you do, don't you? don't you? please? I really like the comments...) you have to be a reader. I don't mind making you a reader. Really I don't. I like readers. I just don't want them to be sitting in my husband's shiur.

3. I'll make this blog go private sometime after Shabbos. And I'll probably un-private it one of these days, when I get less paranoid. Although that might not be until my kids are all safely married.

4. I wasn't going to really post today, but as long as I'm here and you're here, I might as well bring you a potty update.

So, two days a week I work at home, right? This means that I have agreed to be generally available when not in the office--I pick up the phone, check my email, get back to people if necessary. Today I worked in the office, but came home to a fairly urgent voice mail on my cell phone (which I'd forgotten to take that morning). Just as I finished listening to the message, Iyyar woke up and demanded to nurse; just as he was done, Barak woke up howling to poop on the potty. I put him on the toilet, looked at my watch, and realized that because of the time change window (I work for people who travel a lot) I had twenty minutes to call back before the end of the business day. So I called, perched on the side of the bathtub with Iyyar on my lap and Barak on the toilet reading a book about construction equipment.

"Hi, it's me. I already faxed those remarks. They've all been translated and sent to the venue for the prompter. Does she still need the four-minute intro..."

[In the middle of this very professional exchange, I hear a car backfiring. Only it's not a car. It's Barak, with the most unbelievably explosive diarrhea I have ever heard from anyone of any age. The person I am talking to, an unflappable executive assistant, pauses.]

"What was that?"

[Me, innocently] "What was what?"

[Unflappable assistant, with concern] "I thought I heard a gunshot."

[Me, cheerily, as I pantomime encouragement to Barak, who is filling the toilet with gallons of foulness that I won't have to wipe off his tush or dispose of in the trash, hooray!] "Oh, I don't think so. We don't get many of those around here."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

As my blogging ego gently weeps

Last night, my husband woke me up at 12:30 am. I was not pleased. I was tired, and I hadn't gotten much sleep for a few nights in a row, and I was cranky, and I had just fallen asleep, and I didn't react well to someone shaking my shoulder urgently and saying, "I'm so sorry!" He had, it appeared, committed a slight indiscretion: posted to a halacha blog with his real name without logging me out of blogger.

I got out of bed, none too graciously, staggered blearily into the back room, squinted at the computer, and changed the settings on my blog to "private." I said I'd think about it some more in the morning, and I went back to bed. (After forgiving him fully and freely for doing something that he would never have done if he had just gone to bed when I'd suggested it instead of insisting innocently that he had work to do and then hunkering down with a jar of peanut butter and a spoon to read some halacha blogs. I think I can get some serious go-to-bed-before-2-am-PLEASE mileage out of this, at least.)

I did think about it in the morning, and started picturing a world in which the parents of his students discovered my blog and my commentary about things like childbirth and nursing. Or a world in which my boss found my blog and found posts about mikva ladies and the TSA. Or one in which my kids' future in-laws found my blog and discovered that my husband has Strongbad t-shirts hidden in his dresser and sometimes we eat lasagne for Shabbos dinner and I wrote a dissertation on scientific atheism in the Soviet Union and... well. You know. Skeletons in the closet like that.

So, until I get over it, I'm going to make this blog private. If you want an invite, send me an email and promise me that you have no offspring enrolled in my husband's school that you are aware of, and that if you have any designs on my kids marrying your kids you are okay with the fact that I am currently wearing purple shoes. If you have me an an RSS feed, do nothing--I didn't change those settings. Which, if you are reading this, you already know.

Ah, well. So much for my aspirations to blogging greatness. I do it for the artistic satisfaction, don't I? And because my husband likes reading about what I did all day.

And now I can tell you all about the speeches I wrote for the deputy prime minister of Thailand. I'm sure you can't wait.

Monday, January 08, 2007

I should so be working now

But I can't think of anything to write for the person I'm supposed to be writing for, so I thought I'd take a crack at writing something for myself.





[Deafening silence while I try to think of something to write about. And fail.]

Okay, so, well, let's see. The kids. Good place to start, right? The kids are B"H fine, although they're both under the weather right now. Barak was sick Sunday morning--slept until 10 am, threw up, slept some more. He actually fell asleep on the floor while I was sitting in the chair keeping him company. Right now he seems better, though was pretty kvetchy all day today.

Iyyar is still coughing. He's been coughing since before Rosh Hashana, despite several trips to the doctor and a ten-day course of Amoxycillin and being pronounced cured by the doctor what was it, two weeks ago now? Yucky wet chesty cough. I called the doctor today and left a message for him--not the nurse--to call me back. I think this has gone on way too long. I'm not sure what else I expect the doctor to do, but I want to at least talk about it.

I got a mysterious box at work today that turned out to contain sixteen thousand calories' worth of chocolate-covered pretzels. I'm not making that number up--I did the math. On a similar topic, I appear to have lost a grand total of two pounds in the last month. Better than no pounds, I guess, but... sigh. I miss my wardrobe, and I'm sick of the three skirts that fit me. Who would have thought I'd one day be longing to fit into a size ten?

Anybody out there want to host us for, um, all of Pesach? My DSIL is going to a hotel with her family, and my ISIL is in Israel, and there is no way to spend the holiday with either of them without spending many many thousands of dollars we don't have. It's not even really a matter of making Pesach--I'd manage it somehow, despite work and kids and the general chaos--but the second Pesach in a row all by ourselves (I was on bedrest last year)... bleh.

What else. I made Barak a new pair of mittens out of the leftover Shetland handspun from the gloves I made the friend we just visited. I think he likes them--he wore them around the house for a while this afternoon. I'm working on baby things for the friend who just sent me the pretzels, who is expecting, and for whom I seem incapable of knitting anything but hats. I keep trying to make a sweater and it invariably comes out the wrong size and gets turned into a hat. Fortunately she is expecting twins but I'm on my fourth hat right now and this is getting silly. I should stop it with the fancy handpainted merino sock yarn and just whip something out in Lamb's Pride already.

My boss's boss's boss (someone who is Up There at work) had a talk with me today about the "sleaze factor" of someone I'm about to be writing for. Someone I'm about to be doing an awful lot of writing for, for the next two years. She rates the sleaze factor as a ten out of ten and recommends keeping distance and not being alone with him. Great. Just... great.

Iyyar had his first successful solid food adventure yesterday. He thinks rice cereal is vile (can you blame him?) and has not had any interest in bananas, avocados, or jarred food (which I like to avoid anyway because honestly, could there be any nutritional value in there at all?) Anything I put in his mouth he shoves right back out with his tongue. Then he cries. It goes exactly nowhere, every time. Despite having no interest in any normal baby fare besides that of the nursage variety, he plotzes for anything anyone is eating in front of him. Yes, I know you want it, but it doesn't help when you go nuts for my food when I'm eating, say, schwarma! Last night, I was in the back bedroom playing with him while MHH worked on the computer. Barak was in bed and I had made a late supper of chicken and vegetables thrown into a pan, covered and cooked--it comes out sort of like chicken soup without much soup. I sat down with my bowl of dinner and Iyyar went berserk. Not the standard first solid food for babies, but whatever--I mashed up a few pieces of zucchini and yellow squash, sat him in my lap and fed him with my soup spoon. He inhaled everything I gave him. I guess nobody switched babies at the hospital--he's definitely mine.

You know, I might as well have numbered these paragraphs and had another one of those list posts. Oh, well, whatever. I think that's all I can come up with for tonight anyway.

I think this is one of the worst-written posts I've ever done. Sorry about that. I hope the stuff they pay me to do comes out a little bit better.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Another one of those lists, even though I'm too tired to think of very much to say right now

1. We've been away, visiting my in-laws while staying with some good friends who live nearby. I have not gotten to have a good visit with the friends in question--a former housemate and her new husband--in years and years, so this was something I was really looking forward to. It also solved a slightly sticky issue with visiting my husband's parents. Staying in my in-laws' home is difficult for a number of reasons, mainly related to fire safety concerns. My friends' home has no such issues--she is a firefighter and there are smoke detectors (or, as Barak calls them, "Smoke tatector! Go beep beep!") in abundance. However, since they are newlyweds they have no kids. They've also just moved into the house, and didn't have time to childproof. As a result, the first ten minutes there were spent removing the matches, Sharpies, nails, scissors, and, oh yes, axe from the floor and low shelves. ("If you're looking for anything sharp, deadly, indelible, or self-igniting, we've probably relocated it.") They also have two very large, friendly, and extremely well-trained dogs (they are working search and rescue dogs) who delighted Barak no end. "Issa doggie! Hi doggie!" My friend wanted me to go for a wander in the woods with Barak and let the dogs track us, but we didn't get around to it. Maybe next time.

2. When packing for the trip, I considered packing the potty seat. I did. But we already had so much stuff, and I thought, he'll be fine with the toilet for a few days. What was I thinking? The child has a tush that is about six inches wide. Of course he wasn't going to be fine.

Ten minutes after we got there, after a morning of traveling that began at 5 am, Barak got That Look on his face, stopped what he was doing, and said, "Imma, poop potty please!" I took him down to the bathroom. He looked at the toilet, and back up at me, horrified. "I can't poop. Iss too big." One Target run later, he had his potty seat, but the inclination had passed.

Fast-forward to the following night, when we were getting off the train after a dinner out. "Imma, poop potty please!" It was easily a twenty-minute walk home, and we were waiting for the bus. But he was hysterical, tears rolling down his face. "Poop potty!" And I realized that wait a minute, it's Monday night and he hasn't pooped since--oh no, not since Friday night! Three days! The poor kid. So MHH picked him up and ran with him all the way back to the house, while telling him the whole way it was okay if he couldn't hold it. He did, though, and after some understandably massive explosions politely requested ice cream. Oh no--do they have ice cream?! They did--Ben and Jerry's chocolate chip cookie dough, so all was well.

I was pretty impressed by the intensity of his desire to make it to the bathroom. He always has a wet diaper at the end of the day, and sometimes poops during the night, but hasn't had a dirty diaper in the middle of the day for weeks now. (Please don't remind me that I thought I'd have him out of diapers for good by the end of the summer. Just don't.)

3. Iyyar is still saying "ah da da da," and nothing else. I don't think he feels he needs anything else to say, because he's pretty expressive with just that. It's his word, and he says it for everything, with great thought and feeling. It's very cute. We'll be sitting there nursing and every so often he'll think of something he needs to tell me, pull off, look up and inform me, "Ah da da da da!" and I'll say, "Really?" He'll agree, "da!" and get back to nursing.

4. Barak was pretty pleased to get back home on Thursday night. A few minutes after we got in, I was in our room changing Iyyar and Emese the cat appeared from under the bed. Barak was delighted. "Emese! Emese so cute! Like a bunny rabbit!"

5. I've been trying very hard to avoid sugar and white flour for the last few weeks, with the result that I've actually dropped a few pounds. I knew it wasn't going to be that easy to be good about diet while traveling, but the discovery of a full tub of Godiva Belgian dark chocolate ice cream in the freezer--well. My friend is kind of like me when it comes to feeding people, and once I had actually been encouraged to eat the ice cream resistance was pretty much futile. Our last day there, there was only about an inch left in the tub and I decided to just finish it off with a spoon. Barak sniffed this out instantly. "I want it ice cream!" "Barak, I think you can ask a little more nicely than that." "I want it ice cream please!" We took turns with the spoon until it was gone. "I like it! I like it chocolate ice cream!" Don't we all.

6. Aged eight months, Iyyar is 29 inches tall and 3 inches past the cutoff for his infant car seat. This means that he is in the stage of rear-facing convertible car seats--absolutely the hardest to install well. And I did it five times in five days, in addition to putting in Barak's (which is much easier). I've got bruises like you wouldn't believe.

7. In the category of things you don't think you're teaching your kids: one phrase that Barak hears regularly is "not for you." He usually hears this in connection with an off-limits can of Diet Coke. "Dass Imma's? Dass Imma's Diecoke? Ca'I have it?" "No, Barak. That's not for you. You can't have Diet Coke. It's just for Imma." Reasonable enough. That's my poison.

So. My friend's two dogs are both in the 80-lb neighborhood--close to three times Barak's weight. Our last day there, Barak was walking around the house with a Puffins cereal bar. One of the dogs got interested and started sniffing around it, politely requesting that he share. Barak wasn't anywhere near either of us, but didn't need any interference. "No! Iss my Puffins! Iss not for you! You can't have that!" And the dog understood that the answer was no, and didn't ask again. Now if we could only get Barak to figure out that lesson...

8. I may have mentioned on this blog that Barak snores. He doesn't just snore a little; he snores like a little old fat man after a very good meal. You can hear him across the apartment. Iyyar does not normally snore, but right now he has a cold, so he sounds about the same. MHH doesn't snore much ordinarily, but like the rest of us he--you guessed it--has cold. All of last week, the four of us were sleeping in the same room. Being in there at night was like being surrounded by three occupied park benches, each with an empty flask of Thunderbird tossed underneath.

Friday, January 05, 2007

I'm fine

just busy. Maybe I'll post after Shabbos, if I get a chance.