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?


Juggling Frogs said...


Thank you SO much for inviting me to view this blog. I LOVE it. I'm honored you trusted me with the link.

The image of Barak in a tie, sunglasses, and tzitzit made me smile ear to ear.

I tried to subscribe to this blog in my reader, but I think it's not allowed for a private blog. I guess that means I'll just have to do things the 'old fashioned way' and visit frequently!

All the best,

Deborah said...

Ah, this is where I think people got the idea of harnesses for small toddlers--international travel with wigglers who want to go on their own.

If we had been travelleing then, Isabelle would have been a candidate.

Does the completely portable computer mean your work will go with you to Hungary? Please, no.

jasmin said...

Congrats on the telecommuting. Yeay!

I like hearing about nice people. It's an antidote to all the other stories, and, perhaps, also to my own less-than-charitable comments. So I really liked hearing about Rabbi Marks. When I have a real kitchen again, instead of a corner where I have to put the cutting board on the front burners to emulate counter space, I think I'll buy one of his books, just for that.

I wonder what that tall man's reaction would have been if Barak had asked him about underwear...