Thursday, June 28, 2007

I'll take it

From one of the screamiest babies on earth, Iyyar has evolved into a baby who... just sleeps. Tonight, as per usual, I took him into his room at bedtime, nursed him, cuddled him a bit and put him in his crib with his blankie. He shoved a fistful of blankie in his mouth, started sucking it, and just... went to sleep.

Naptimes are pretty much the same. Once he starts rubbing his eyes, I just nurse him, put him down, and walk away. Usually he doesn't even cry. Yesterday, probably in recuperation from the trip, he fell asleep for a second nap at 2:30 in the afternoon. The day before he'd done the same thing and I'd finally woken him up at 5; yesterday I figured he probably needed it and just let him sleep. He slept through till quarter to 4 in the morning, nursed, and went back to sleep till almost 6.

It's odd. I'm not complaining, obviously; I'm incredibly grateful. Especially when I remember what the first six months were like: a blur of screaming, fitful bursts of sleep, more screaming, waking up Barak, who would then scream a bit himself, and... yeah. That. It was pretty bad. But tonight, as of five minutes past bedtime, it was all just quiet.

Iyyar is being incredibly funny lately. He's started saying "hi," which is really the only word he says that anyone who doesn't live with him would immediately understand. He also says Barak's name, sort of. But he imitates everything. If I put something on my head, he wants to put it on his head; today I was making funny faces at him, putting my head down and squinting up at him through my eyebrows, and he did the same thing. Oh, and he'll still eat just about anything. Tonight I put peas and grated mozzarella on his high chair tray, and he ate it with great lip-smacking. So far as I know there's only one thing he doesn't like, and that's sharp cheddar cheese. He spits it out. Go figure.

Barak's talking is also pretty entertaining. My favorite is when I ask him to do something and he heads off, all serious-like, on his Mission for Imma. Barak, can you go get me my pink bag please? Barak furrows his brows, says, "Umm, yeah, sure," very importantly, and runs off.

This morning I was putting a new box of cereal on top of the refrigerator, and should have taken the time to rearrange all the boxes but didn't. It was a little precarious, and Barak noticed. "No, Imma! You can't do that! It's gonna fall. It's gonna fall on right there," pointing at the counter below. He was right. I fixed the cereal boxes. "How about that? Is that better?" He studied my efforts and found them good. "Yeah. Thass okay."

What's not okay, though, is his hearing. The tubes in his ears are either clogged or they've fallen out; his hearing isn't quite as bad as it was pre-tubes, but almost. I'm not sure what to do about it. I most emphatically do not want to do tubes again; I'm not putting him through that (surgery followed by six weeks of night terrors) for eight weeks of better hearing. Plus as I think I've mentioned I really don't like the doctor who did it. I'm thinking I'll take him back to his pediatrician and see if he has any other ideas. Do you?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More reasons why my husband is a saint and there will never be an Artscroll biography written about me

The scene: the back bedroom, half an hour ago. I was sitting on the floor organizing my sock yarn stash, Barak was sitting in the big chair listening to the Uncle Moishy playing on iTunes, MHH was learning and Iyyar was asleep. It was bedtime for Barak.

Me: Barak, it's time to go to bed. Or do you want to go potty first?

Barak: Gonna go poop potty.

Me: Are you going to go by yourself?

Barak: No. Needa help you please.


Me, to MHH: Are you reading something you can take into the bathroom?

MHH, who obviously has a sefer in his lap: No.

Barak: Abba can't takea sefer inna brafroom?

Me: No, sweetie, you can't take Torah books in the bathroom.

Barak: Why?

Me: Hashem doesn't like it. He says no no, you can't do that.

Barak. Oh. Can takea Torah in Barak Iyyar's room! Can do that! That's okay!

Me: Right, that's okay. As long as there's no poop in the garbage can, that's fine.


Me (to MHH): How terrible is it that I want you to stop learning and take Barak to the bathroom so I can finish organizing my sock yarn?

(MHH, without comment, closes his sefer, gets up, and trudges out the door.)

MHH: Come on Barak, let's go poop potty and get some ice cream!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


So, the trip.

The trip was okay. All in all, it could have been a whole lot worse: none of the things I was really worried would happen did happen, and the thing I was worried wouldn't happen, did. Like I said, I'm glad we went, and it was good to see my granny, but traveling with an extremely perky and mobile 13-mo has its drawbacks.

Truthfully, Iyyar did great, all things considered. He did. But the 10-hour flight there with him in my lap trying to scale me like a mountain so he could smile at and flirt with every single passenger in the rows behind us... well. And the daily 50-minute bus rides to and from my grandmothers with him raging and shrieking in frustation weren't really a high point either. While we were at myy granny's, he did fine in the sense that he didn't cry much and actually even napped a couple of times, and had the charm turned on full-blast (and let me tell you, 200-proof Iyyar charm is a thing with which to be reckoned) but as you might imagine a 100-year-old rural Hungarian nursing home is one of the less baby-friendly environments you could come up with. So I felt bad, because at the end of it I felt as though I'd barely talked to my grandmother at all. I mean, I talked to her, but every two sentences I had to interrupt myself or her to pull Iyyar off a drawer, cabinet, tablecloth, cane, walker, or other verboten item. And every time the door was left open, there was the immediate splat-splat-splat sound of little hands and knees making a beeline for the corridor where all those little old ladies were waiting to pinch his cheek and smile at him and tell him how cute he was. The last day we were there, I said I was sorry that we'd barely gotten to talk, but she was glad I'd brought the baby, wasn't she? And she said yes, of course, and we agreed we could always chat on the phone. So.

Among the things for which I must be grateful is that Iyyar did phenomenally well with the time change. The flight over was rough, but he did sleep a few hours, and then stayed awake most of the next day (I think he did pass out in the stroller a couple of times). I put him to bed at around 7 the first night we were there, and other than an hour of screaming at 9 or so he slept straight through till 10 am. I suspected this earlier but I really think that Iyyar wakes up when it gets light much more than he wakes up in response to any internal clock. The hotel room had those typical thick Hungarian blackout shades, and he slept way later than he ever sleeps here. At home he is usually bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 5 am, though if I am lucky he will go back in his crib for a little bit after he nurses. Anyone else think I need to get thicker curtains for the boys' room?

I did end up taking the car seat, which I was glad for, because the friend who was supposed to meet me at the airport in Vienna got sunstroke from biking to Slovakia the previous day (this is the kind of thing that happens to her. All the time.) So her sister ran in from work to get me with her van, and it would have been awkward indeed if I hadn't had a carseat. It also came in handy on the way back, which was pretty much the ideal flight with baby. Iyyar got a seat to himself, we were in the bulkhead row, and I don't really remember what he did the whole 10 hours but there was very little crying involved. And we both had food for the flight, which also helped a lot. The whole week in Hungary was spent on a diet of plain yogurt, bread and butter, Twix bars (which, bizarrely, come with an Israeli hechsher in Hungary), and bananas. I got into Vienna at about 3 on Friday afternoon, and assumed that Kosherland (the bigger of the two kosher groceries in the second district) was closed. But I assumed incorrectly. As we were walking down the street (oh, I think that was right after Iyyar choked on a bread crust and vomited yogurt and breastmilk all over every part of himself, his clothes, and the stroller, and I realized I didn't have so much as a tissue in my so-called diaper bag) I spotted a guy with a kippa who, when I went up to him and asked, thought it was still open. And indeed, as we walked up to the corner the store is on the lights were still on. But as I walked up to the door they went off. I pounded on the door and pleaded and the door was opened by the proprieter, who told me sternly, "Funf minuten!" So I raced around in my allotted five minutes and bought pita, hummous, chatzilim salad, smoked turkey, cheese for Iyyar, rice cakes, and, um, gummy wheels. It was the seuda of kings.

Sorry if this is all a little incoherent. The trip was just, well, so incredibly exhausting. You don't really appreciate a baby-proof environment until you are without one and on your own with your kid for a week; every second he wasn't asleep I had to be either holding him or looking right at him, ready to pounce on whatever contraband was on its way into his mouth. Added to the heat and the jet lag and the hunger pangs it got to be a bit wearing. But he was a trouper and really it was all worthwhile seeing my granny read him books about Piglet in Hungarian, and seeing MHH and Barak waiting for us at the gate, and seeing Barak and Iyyar's reaction on seeing each other. To wit, giggles. Lots and lots of giggles. You're back! And I'm back! Woohoo!

Kibud em

Monday, June 25, 2007


Unscathed, but exhausted. I was glad to see my granny, and I'm glad we went, but I don't think I'll be doing that again any time soon. It is an awful lot easier to travel with babies before they are mobile.

More details when I have the time, and the energy--it could be a little while.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Three days

till we leave.

I'm packed, mostly, and the house is cleaner than it was. The laundry is caught up with, thanks to MHH. My bag is sitting in the hall ready to go, and so is my husband's; Barak's bag is packed with his snacks and new Matchbox trucks. The monkey, of course, stays out till the last minute. I'm about to start cooking for Shabbos because of course I couldn't say no yesterday when MHH asked me if we could have a couple of the bocherim. Oh, and I made dinner tonight for a family with a new baby--dinner for seven people in addition to the four who live here. And I delivered it, in a milk crate tied to the top of my Snap n Go. With handspun, because that was the closest thing at hand. I think I should get bonus points for that one.

Okay. Need to cook now. Really really. Right now.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


This morning, nursing a just-woken-up Iyyar, I got a runny nose. "Barak, could you get me a tissue please?" Barak is a fabulous helper who, 90% of the time, really likes running errands. This time, however, he couldn't find the tissues--they were there, but not in the usual spot--and he came back with one square of toilet paper. I had a really runny nose to which said square of toilet paper turned out to something less than adequate. Barak watched my difficulties, impressed. "There's a lot of boogers in there," he commented. "Yep," I said. "Here," he said, offering me a longer piece of toilet paper. "Wanna have some more?"

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Nothing all that exciting, but here's what's new around here:

1. I am telecommuting now. Okay, fine, I lied, that is exciting. I have a fancy laptop with full network access, a separate phone line (which I am paying for, but it is half the price of my monthly bus pass so who cares), and explicit permission to take the laptop anywhere I need to work with it. So, theoretically, I could go work at the bagel shop or wherever. The laptop also, shockingly, has an enabled wireless card. I thought they would limit me to the secure internet connection I have at home, but no.

2. It really is true that the majority of what you teach your kids, you aren't aware you're teaching them. This week especially I've seen Barak do so many things that are just, um, me. Like after I put Iyyar in the double stroller, but before he got in, he went over to Iyyar and inspected his seatbelt, with an expression on his face that was, uh, pure me. "Are you all buckled in? Yeah? Kay." Or when he bumped into me this afternoon, and said, "Oops! I'm sorry. I didn't mean to do that." He is very into feeding the baby, and "sharing" baby yogurts (otherwise known as Yobabies.) One small taste on the spoon for the baby, one huge ladleful for him. At least he's not picking that one up from me--I don't like sweet yogurt.

3. This morning, while Iyyar napped, Barak and I made chocolate chip cookies for a friend who rescued me from a babysitting crisis last Thursday. He was standing on the chair assisting. He is usually quite reliable, so I sometimes get a little cavalier about watching him every second. Today I opened the new bag of brown sugar and told him to empty it into the brown-sugar canister. I went to get the eggs out of the fridge, and turned around just in time to see him stuffing a whole golf-ball-sized hunk of brown sugar in his mouth with a look of frenzied ecstasy.

4. Further to the cookie-baking, I think Barak must have dumped in some other extraneous ingredients when I wasn't watching, because the cookies, although tasty, were distinctly not my usual cookies. They looked very pasty, did not brown well, and burned on the bottom in an unaccountable pattern. White patches and black patches on the same cookie-bottom. At first I thought there was something stuck to the cookie sheets under the parchment paper, but no. Very bizarre. I have baked thousands if not tens of thousands of these very cookies, and have never had this happen before. I tried calling the King Arthur Baking hotline, but it's Sunday and they were closed. Then I had a truly radical idea.

When we went to California a few weeks ago, we happened to meet the sister-in-law of my most favorite cookbook author, Gil Marks. He wrote the most-used cookbook in my kitchen, which is one of those mysteriously charmed cookbooks in which all the recipes, um, work. I make recipes from his book for the first time for company, without testing them out on my husband first. (High praise indeed.) Said sister-in-law gave me some of his old Kosher Gourmet issues, and said offhandedly, "You know, you can call him if you have questions. He doesn't mind." I thought this was kind of odd. Great fabulous cookbook writer--just ring him up? No no. I would never do that.

But I did. I called this morning, and asked for Rabbi Marks. There was a pause. "What is this regarding?" I said, well, I know your sister-in-law, and she said you didn't mind occasional phone calls from perplexed cooks, and I had a baking conundrum, and could he answer a question? "I can try," he said. We spent twenty minutes on the phone hashing out the chemical details of chocolate chip cookies, and all the variables that might have made them turn out that way. It was glorious. He rocks. Go buy his cookbooks now, especially this new one.

5. Lately, I have occasionally been letting Barak watch little clips of Disney movies in Hebrew on YouTube. (The Hebrew is my hetter.) His favorite one is this, but today we watched this one instead. There's a scene where the animals are eating bugs. Barak said, "Eww! Bugs! They're eating the bugs!" Then, "Bugs are crawling. Bugs are crawling like Iyyar." Um, yeah, I guess so.

6. Lately, as the wearing of clean and dry underwear has become the rule rather than the exception, we have been discussing what will happen when Barak keeps his underwear clean and dry all day, every day: namely, he will get to wear not only underwear (now greatly preferred over diapers or a pull-up), but also tzitzit. And, um, he will get to wear a tie. It was his idea. We were discussing the merits of dry underwear, and what would be the ultimate reward of same. "Barak, what are you going to get to wear like Abba?" "Glasses like Abba!" "Really? And what else?" "Also a tie like Abba!" After he mentioned it a few times I went ahead and bought him glasses (sunglasses from Target) and, yes, a tie, on clearance at Lands' End. It's a kid's version, of course, but it is an actual silk tie, in blue and green plaid. It's on top of my wardrobe, waiting to be earned.

7. Yesterday (further to the above) Barak and I were walking down the street, on the way to a neighbor's. (Iyyar was home with Abba, napping.) Walking toward us was a very big, very bearded, very Litvak kind of a guy. Barak greeted him with an important-sounding, "Good Shabbos," which was returned. We passed him. Then Barak commented. "He's wearing a hat." "Yes, he's wearing a big black hat." Pause. "I sink he's also wearing underwear."

I'm pretty sure he didn't hear us. But I didn't look back to check.

8. Abba is finishing up his grading this weekend, so I did my best to keep everybody out of the house. One of our stops was at the supermarket, where I didn't really need anything, but I thought I would let the boys go in one of those shopping carts with the cars in front. I stowed the stroller in the stockroom, found a car cart, and off we went. Iyyar, Iyyar thought this was just beyond awesome. He drove, he helped Barak drive (which Barak did not appreciate), he hung out the side of his door (which made me a little nervous) and giggled. A lot. And then he started climbing out his window, even though he had his seatbelt on. Have I mentioned that this one is a monkey? So I took him out of the driver's seat (there were two steering wheels, so we were covered, and he doesn't have a license anyway) and put him in the seat on top. It didn't have a seatbelt, but that was never a problem with Barak--he always just held on. Not so Iyyar, whose instant reaction was, "Oho! I can climb out of this even more easily!" and in three seconds flat would have been over the side of the cart if I hadn't been grabbing his shirt. He doesn't even stand on his own much yet, but oh boy, he can climb.

Two weeks till Hungary. Think he'll be walking?