Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Iyyar is constipated.

Let's just get that part right out in the open to begin with. This has been going on for a while now, since before Thanksgiving at least, since the weekend after Thanksgiving is when Sarah came to visit and accompanied us to a memorable family photography session at which Iyyar alternately smiled cheesily for the camera and bent over double howling, "Poooooopyyyyyyyy! Imma, I need poop potty! Hurt me! Tushy hurt me! Imma, tushy hurt me!" A few minutes after the end of the session, he pooped--cataclysmically--and felt better.

Since then, it's been sort of off and on. He's had a really bad cold, and some kind of a bug, and he's thrown up a few times (once rather memorably when Sarah was here). Now the cold is gone, the bug seems to be gone (although he did throw up a little last Friday night) and he is really, really, really constipated--as in, last Thursday he woke up from his nap crying and screaming and writhing so much that, in the absence of an open pediatrician's office to take him to, I brought him to the ER.

Without going into too many details, let me just say that none of my several visits to our local ER has greatly inspired my confidence. This one was no exception. They did give Iyyar an x-ray and pronounced him impacted; they gave him a suppository, which, much screaming and wailing later, produced four very full and very foul diapers and a much happier Iyyar. They told me to follow up with an appointment with my regular pediatrician, and sent me home with an extra suppository just in case. They seemed to think the matter resolved and so did I; but less than a day later, we were right back where we'd been with the pain and the wailing. I gave him suppository #2, which worked somewhat. Sunday night, it all started up again, and I wasn't happy about waiting for my Wednesday appointment but circumstances around here (an unexpected trip out of town for my husband) weren't really conducive to my trying to go elsewhere.

Last night at around 9, he started crying, and then the crying escalated to wailing and writhing and howling and the whole nine yards. I called a neighbor who had mentioned sometimes using suppositories on her own kids and asked if I could have one; I used it on Iyyar with no results whatsoever. I tried all my tricks (this is, obviously, after a couple of weeks of the full-on anti-constipation diet, which Barak has been loving--hey, juice! Imma never lets us have apple juice and now we get apple juice and applesauce and raisins and dried apricots ALL THE TIME!), to no avail; the only thing that calmed him down at all was, between around 1 and 2 am, some time on my lap in my office watching Grover clips on YouTube with occasional pauses to cry and strain and try to poop. "I can't! Poop! Hurt me! Hurt me Imma!" It was awful. At around 2 we called the doctor's office for any ideas; she asked why he hadn't been prescribed a laxative or given an enema and I gave the bitter rundown of the ER visit. Sigh.

Fast forward to this morning, far too few hours of sleep later. Barak went to school and I took Iyyar, still unhappy but no longer crying, to the pediatrician. The pediatrician checked him out, prescribed Miralax, and said he wasn't that concerned. "He's not really that impacted. I don't feel anything up there, so let's see what the Miralax does. It's not as though he's been throwing up and..."

"He has been throwing up, actually." Hmm. I'd forgotten to mention that.

"What?" This, apparently, makes a big difference. Now we are scheduled for an upper GI series for Iyyar on Friday morning, with the barium and the rest of it. I'm still not sure exactly what they are looking for--I have been told not to worry yet but this is just about the worst thing to say to me if you really think I shouldn't worry. I told the doctor as much. "If you tell me what you're looking for, I'll know. If you don't, I'll imagine all kinds of catastrophic things, so you might as well just tell me." Congenital anomalies, I have been told, or any kind of a blockage.

In the meantime, I gave him the Miralax and he's had three dirty diapers since. He does seem to feel much better. Here's hoping that this will all turn out to be nothing much and will resolve itself speedily, with no more lasting adverse effects than Avtalyon having figured out that stray sippy cups found on the floor might contain something he now knows he likes very, very, very much.


Chanuka just ended yesterday and we finished it off in the traditional jelly-filled sugar-topped way, with sufganiot. And it reminded me of a granny story, possibly one of my favorites.

I was sitting in my granny's kitchen watching her fry doughnuts (fank) which were to be filled with homemade apricot jam and eaten warm. If you've never tried this, well... what can I say, you haven't lived. Anyway, there I was in the kitchen, watching this very normal thing (granny frying doughnuts) when suddenly it hit me what I was seeing.

She was turning the doughnuts. In the boiling oil.

With her fingers.


It's better in Hungarian, but this is the exchange that followed:

Nagymama, az Neked nem faj? Grandma, doesn't that hurt?

Granny smiles without looking up. Most mar nem. Not anymore.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Why I don't blog about Israel

Because you can all just read David instead.

He pretty much says what I would say if I knew as much as he does and could put it as clearly.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Anybody there?

Hello? Hello?

I'm still here, just otherwise engaged. The kids go to bed, whatever needs to get done around the house gets done (or not) and then when it is a choice between spinning and blogging... well...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Sorry for the infrequent and badly written posts. It's been busy around here.

Avtalyon is walking more and more; he can now lurch from couch #1 to couch #2 without face-planting. He likes playing peek-a-boo and Barak has fun playing it with him and making him laugh. Personally, I totally don't get why it's so funny, but it's cute, so who cares?

Iyyar still talks like Yoda, but surprises me more and more often with a fully formed offering like, "Imma, put that down!" when I've tipped the jogging stroller up to turn it. He also does an entertaining Hebrew-English patois, in which he demands "doobie one blankie" or "od doggie!"The constipation continues off and on; yesterday I broke out an intended Chanuka present (a Sesame Street sticker book with pictures of Grover) to distract him from his misery before he (finally) pooped. Good thing he likes prunes ("big raisins") or we'd really be in trouble. He no longer eats everything indiscriminately as he once did; he eats the knaidlach out of his chicken soup, leaves the rest untouched, and holds out the bowl demanding "More chichen soup!" That stuff in there? That's not soup. That's just, you know, soup waste. Carrots and whatever.

Barak is getting taller, and will loudly proclaim to everyone that this is because he is EATING HIS VEGETABLES. After said proclamation, he will consume one (1) noodle with one (1) shred of spinach attached. He still seems happy at school, though I have heard other rumblings that all might not be well. My friend up the street told me that her daughter told her that she'd been told by another child "Don't like Barak!" And today he was upset because another child tried to take his cookies and his morah had to intervene. Sigh. It's so hard to know what's normal and what's not, because my own experience was anything but. When is it really appropriate to step in? I keep telling myself that as long as he's happy and loves school I am not going to worry about third party commentary, and will just check in with his morohs monthly or so. Not sure if this is the right thing to do.

For myself, I am very happy with the new wall unit thingie I have back here, bought off of craigslist from someone who had a Curves that went out of business. It's 5' high and 5' across, with 16 cubbies that are 15" deep. Lots of stash fits in there and it now looks like a yarn shop back here. In a good way, of course. I am finally knitting a second sweater for Abba, out of some White Buffalo Unspun I bought from elann some years ago. It's three strands of very fine roving, held together, and I am knitting it on 10s so it's going quite quickly. Of course, very fine totally unspun roving is also incredibly fragile to knit, and I am doing a lot of knitting in the eye of the storm that is three boys aged 4 and under. Oh well. It spit-splices very nicely, and it'll still be warm.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Baby steps

1. Avtalyon is walking. Seriously. He hit ten months last week and he is now launching himself fearlessly from pieces of furniture, sometimes even making it to the next piece of furniture before crashing to the floor. I've seen him do three steps at a time. He also stands and sits easily in the middle of the room, without anything to grab onto, and can stand unassisted for as long as he wants. Incredible, especially around here. Other milestones: first pizza (this morning), first cookie (yesterday--I was doing some creative homeschooling with aleph-beis cookies and he got in on the action) and 1000th bowl of chicken soup. I know that technically there is probably very little wrong with a baby living off breastmilk, Cheerios and chicken soup vegetables but it's probably unusual.

2. Iyyar thinks that he can fit into a size 3 diaper. He is mistaken.

I don't think that I have mentioned here that Iyyar is very, very fond of Grover. He knows about Grover because the Pampers I buy for nighttime have Sesame Street characters on them, and he always digs through the drawer to get those out first. The predictable result of this, of course, is that he runs out of Grover diapers--while Avtalyon still has plenty of Grovers. In size 3.

Iyyar is still in love with the Grover doll I succumbed to in the Newark airport a couple of weeks ago. He carries it around the house with him and takes it to bed every night. And whenever you find Grover for him, he gives you a big smile. It's sweet.

3. The huge box is still in our living room. I saw it while walking through our back alley with Sarah last week: a great big dryer box being unloaded from a truck behind the building next door. I asked the man doing the unloading if it had staples and he said no, it was glued; I asked if we could have it and he said sure. It spent a few days as a dragon cave and is now a pirate ship. I told the kids they could have it till Chanuka--not sure what, if anything, will be left of it by then.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

More updates

Sarah was here! She came, she brought much gorgeousness (including, among other things, a quilt for Avtalyon, which I will photograph when I have some light), and she even stayed an extra day because she just couldn't bear to leave us. Many latkes were eaten and much knitting was accomplished. It was my designated weekend to finish Things in Bags, and so I did:

Celtic Dreams, which I started more than ten years ago now and stuffed in a bag minus a sleeve and 3/4 in December of 1998. I sent it to Sarah sometime last year, and she arrived with it complete but for the cuffs, which I did before she left. The whole thing, blocked and fitting perfectly, despite the intervening 10 years and (mumble mumble) pounds:I also finished these, which have been minus the top two inches of one mitten since the week before Barak was born, when my hands swelled so much I couldn't hold size 1 needles:
They're made of Dale of Norway Tiur, now sadly discontinued, and Koigu.

And I finished a pair of pink and white mittens, which I didn't photograph before I gave them to Sarah.

The visit was great--just what I needed. We sneaked out to knit at Borders, stayed up way too late, ate cookies and takeout, hung out with the kids and just generally did knitterly things. You know you have a good houseguest when she not only is unfazed by a geyser of toddler vomit, she even cleans it off the rug for you while you're busy de-vomiting the toddler. She was quite tolerant of all the discussion of poop, too. And all this with a bathroom that lacked towels and soap until about twelve hours before she left.

There is much that I could blog about the visit, but you'll have to excuse me if I don't. I have some knitting to do.

What I've been up to

Spinning and more spinning. The skeins on the far left and far right are spun from fiber contributions from Grandma E; the orange, yellow, pink, and purple skein second to right is from the roving Harmless gave me when I saw her in Newark two weeks ago now.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I had Barak's first parent-teacher conference this week. Last week, when I was in New York, my friend Naomi tried to warn me. "Every time I walk in there, the teacher sits there and tells me about a kid I've never met or heard of."

Yeah. Well.

Apparently Barak's morohs are not so pleased with him. There are two. One was only moderately negative. The other one told me, "He doesn't finish his projects," in the same doom-laden tone of voice in which she told me he was hitting the other children and they were afraid of him.


First off, this is Barak. It's really, really hard for me to picture that. But I know that some kids are polar opposites behavior-wise at home and at school, so it's always possible. But... what? If he's been hitting kids, why has no one called me over the last three months?

The meeting was strange. It was supposed to be ten minutes, which is not enough to begin with, and I got less because the people who came before me were late and ran over but the people after me walked right in at their scheduled time. It was also strange because I had the vague impression that they weren't sure who Barak was--an impression strengthened when one of the teachers, when I asked a specific question, turned to the other, saying, "I don't know him that well." Um... hello, you should.

It wasn't malicious, she said, or at least she didn't think it was malicious. He's very deep, she said, and very bright and creative, and he likes pirates, and he's been pretending to be a pirate, and some of the other children have been scared. And one of them said that he hit her.

At the end of the meeting, I managed to overcome my shock and paralysis enough to ask some rational questions, among them, "How serious of an issue is this? I am not getting a clear picture of how concerned I need to be and what I should be doing. "

The response: "Well, we're observing him. "

Which means... what, exactly?

I walked out of the classroom and directly into the office of the early childhood director, where I said, nicely, that this would not do: either there was a real problem, in which case telling me about it for the first time three months into the year in a 10-minute meeting with no warning was inadequate, or the problem was not that big of a deal, in which case that was not a meeting well handled. She was more reassuring, saying that it was only November, they did not expect or want perfection from small children, and that if I felt there was not enough communication I could call any time.

It's hard to know what to do with all of this. His actual progress report did not look that devastating; it was more their tone of voice, facial expressions, body language etc. I know that Barak is a little bit funky and a little bit different. I know that he has a vocabulary that is not normal for his age (his teachers both agreed that he was very bright...) and interests that are probably a little unusual in your typical chareidi school. (Gilbert & Sullivan, chaveiros?) But to me he seems like your normal four-year-old kid who likes trucks, Lego, cookies and Sesame Street. He is downright solicitous of Avtalyon, and plays nicely with Iyyar about 85% of the time. The problems that I see at home--his tendency to scream when frustrated, his constant need for attention--were not even whispered of. And in the end, he loves school, he says that he has lots of friends, and he loves his teachers. When I see him play with other kids, he seems to do just fine.

Like I said. Hard to know. MHH called the early childhood director yesterday and left a message saying he wanted to go over Barak's progress with her; he's going to ask the specific questions that I was too shocked to ask, as in, "Has he been seen hitting anyone, or was it reported by other kids?" and "How are his interactions with the other kids generally--does he have friends?"and "Where do we go from here?" One of my concerns especially is that I have heard stories about all kinds of things getting sprung on parents in nursery--from the kid who got kicked out for hitting (whose mother knew nothing about any problem until, you guessed it, parent-teacher conferences) to the kid who was kept back a year for not knowing aleph-beis, whose mother had no idea there was an issue until March. Communication: not their strong suit.

If I'd had a happy experience in school, maybe I could handle this in stride and see it as normal behavior for a 4-yo boy. But I didn't. I got eaten alive, socially and emotionally, and my dread of seeing that happen to Barak is, well, intense. And up until now all I saw was a happy well-adjusted kid, the same happy well-adjusted kid who was reported to me all last year. So maybe... maybe what? Maybe he's changed? Maybe the environment has changed? Or maybe his teachers are just a little bit freaked out by scary scary pirates?

Saturday, November 22, 2008


It's been a while, and there's been a lot to post about--nothing big, just a lot of little stuff. Sorry it's not fabulously written, but it's motzai Shabbos and I got me some spinning to do.

1. The pirates obsession continues. A few weeks ago--I didn't blog about this but should have--I took Barak to see a local production of Pirates of Penzance. It was fabulous. The production itself, considering the unpromising venue (local middle school!) was surprisingly good; the cast were better singers than actors, but much better that than the other way around. The orchestra, with the exception of the guy on drums during the first act (who got replaced somewhere around the time Frederick meets Mabel--wonder what the story was there), was really good too.

Barak really had no idea what to expect, having, obviously, never been to the theater before. When we got there, a few minutes early, and settled in our seats, the orchestra was busy tuning up, and Barak noticed snatches of a few of his pirate songs. We talked about how the orchestra was going to play more pirate songs, and I pointed out some of the instruments, and Barak and I confirmed that yes, we were here to see pirates and also to hear the pirate songs. The lights went down, the overture started, and Barak was totally rapt watching the orchestra--and oblivious to the closed curtain behind it, which meant nothing to him.

The overture over, the orchestra stopped playing for a moment, and Barak looked back at me, clearly wondering if we were leaving--and then the curtain rose, the pirates leapt onto the stage, and he just about jumped out of his skin. It was fabulous. We were in the front row of the balcony, and he could stand up if he wanted to without bothering anyone, so he did, some of the time; he was rapt for the entire first act, and when intermission came around he was unwilling to leave, because what if he missed the rest of it? (We didn't.) He was so wrapped up in the show that he did not even comment on the concession stand, which, for my sugar-obsessed son, is saying something. In short, he behaved beautifully, and the row of retired ladies behind us said so. "I've never seen any child behave as well as your son did! Not even much bigger children." And then he got his own round of applause of behaving so nicely. :)

Further to the pirates: he and Iyyar have lately been going to bed every night listening to the Pirates CD, which means, naturally, that Barak now knows a lot of the words, or at least thinks he does. ("And pay a manky monious part, with a pirated and a pirate heart!") Naturally, he asks me what they mean. Have you ever tried to explain something like, "When I can write a washing-list in Babylonic cuneiform" to a four-year-old? Or even, "We observe too great a stress/on the risks that on us press/and of reference a lack/to our chance of coming back"? Or how about, "For when threatened with emeutes/and your heart is in your boots/there is nothing brings it round/like the trumpet's martial sound"? We tried that one this week.

"What does it mean, Imma?"

"Well, are the policemen really brave, or are they really scared?"

"They're really scared."

"Do they want to fight the pirates, or do they want to go home and take a nap and eat some cookies?"

"Probably go home and eat some cookies." [He omitted the reference to the nap, funnily enough.]

"They're singing about how they don't really want to fight the pirates, but how singing about it makes them feel not so scared."


2. Avtalyon had his first non-Cheerio cereal today: Rice Chex. He approved.

3. He also cut tooth #2. Ouch, for both of us--he keeps wanting to chew my finger. He's been standing unassisted for longer and longer stretches, and cruising around expertly on the furniture--he's also coopted the garbage can into service as a walker, and uses it to hobble along up and down the hall. He looks like a tiny old man, only much cuter.

4. Avtalyon and I had a little adventure last week; we, just the two of us, flew to Newark on Thursday morning for a chasuna in Spring Valley on Thursday night. By happy coincidence, my good friend Harmless had the afternoon off and came to pick us up at the airport, accompany us on a Century 21 run for a tights-drawer resupply (DKNY opaque black, all the way), and drive with us all the way to Paterson because it did not occur to me to find out what number on Main Avenue in Passaic we were going to, and so we drove all the way the wrong way down it, as in, all the way to Paterson. Oh dear.

Fortunately, Harmless is also Patient, and also fortunately, the price of gas has gone down considerably in recent weeks. One google maps text message and one quick meal of kosher Chinese takeout later, and Avtalyon was released from the cruel baby jail (carseat! wicked, evil carseat!) to which he had been confined for much of the day; I stayed with a friend whose many kids kept Avtalyon entertained while I got dressed in my de rigeur New York wedding black suit, and then abandoned Avtalyon to the care of said kids as we (friend and I) went off to the wedding. I will admit to second (and even thirty-seventh) thoughts as I walked out of a house containing my precious baby, a bunch of little kids without medical degrees, and a responsible party aged 14, but I came home to a happy, sleeping baby in clean pajamas, so it was all good. The wedding was lovely. We made it back in time for Shabbos. And now I have new wool to spin, courtesy of Harmless. :) Because, you know, I totally don't have enough wool.

5. Iyyar has, inexplicably, been having a really rough time sleeping for the last few weeks. He's been waking up screaming and inconsolable multiple times in the night, either wanting to be held or not wanting anything identifiable but rolling around on the floor hysterical and writhing. Every night, I'd think, "he's sick, I'll need to take him to the doctor" and then the next morning he would be totally fine, except for being so tired that by early afternoon he turned into a miserable wreck. I thought it was nightmares, but couldn't think of what could have set them off; I called his morah (my friend Yehudis) to ask if there was anything going on at school that I didn't know about, but no.

"Maybe he has pinworms?"

Pinworms? WHAT?! I haven't seen any pinworms.

"They come out at night. Take off his diaper and shine a flashlight on his bottom. They look like little white hairs." This was last Wednesday night. Considerately, Iyyar started wailing just a few minutes after that conversation, so I went in there with a mag-lite to change his diaper. I took off the diaper, shined the light on his tush and OH MY G_D ARE THOSE LITTLE WHITE HAIRS ACTUALLY WORMS?! I wiped at them with a wipe--and the hairs were gone. It was all I could do to not start jumping around and screaming then and there because it was SO GROSS. If you don't know about pinworms, count yourself lucky. Or click here. Go on. I dare you.

I was leaving for New Jersey the next morning and couldn't take him to the doctor, so I asked Yehudis what she'd done when her son had had pinworms. And she'd covered a clove of garlic with vaseline and stuck it up his rectum to kill them. "It works!" she told me, as I tried not to gag. After some consultation with Dr. Google, I decided for the middle ground of a) feeding child lots of garlic, b) smearing tush with vaseline and c) putting a couple of crushed garlic cloves in his diaper. The next day, we had a few huge and disgusting diapers; last night, Iyyar slept through the night for the first time in weeks. It seems to have worked.

But boy, does the house reek.

6. I went to the dentist on Tuesday. All hail fluoride rinse; no cavities, no bleeding, and the whole thing was practically painless. Seriously. Brush and floss, people, and get yourselves a bottle of ACT if you don't have one already. It's disgusting, but you get used to it.

7. This post is now long enough, but I will leave you with this:

Avtalyon in his elf suit, courtesy of Tanta Cecilia. If elves hung out in baby swings, that's totally what they'd wear to do it in.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Click this link right now

I can't believe I didn't know about this already.

Edited two hours later:

How, how, HOW is it possible that I have not a single ball of black worsted-weight superwash in my entire stash? My entire stash which one might, if one were to be absolutely honest, fairly describe as, ah, extensive? The ONLY black superwash in the entire house is half a 50g ball of Dale Baby Ullgarn--enough yarn for a hat for a newborn. A premature newborn.


I can pick up a ball tomorrow at the LYS by my office for Hat #1--for the rest (and there will be more) I'll have to wait for a delivery from cheap wool yarn central.


The current sock yarn stash.

If it's missing from the old sock yarn stash, it's probably been knitted. Because, even though I feel like I've been whining nonstop about not having any time to knit, I cannot deny the mysterious appearance of a finished object or six.

Like these. The largest gloves ever, knit for a friend with very, very, very big hands. I started them last August. Look at the tracing for scale. Now try putting YOUR hand on a sheet of 8 x 11 paper and see how much of the paper your hand doesn't cover.

And this: a Cobblestone modified to require as few purls as possible. See that line up the yoke? That's where I wrapped and turned at the beginning and end of each row/round, because the idea of having to purl to achieve garter stitch--garter stitch!--was just too much to bear. Begun before we went to Israel; finished a couple of weeks ago. Back in the day, I could have done it in less than a week, but, well, I have other things going on now. No idea why Blogger insists on turning the picture sideways; that's not the way it is on my computer and I have no idea how to make Blogger rotate it.

What's next? Mmm, well, maybe some of this...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why, what's this?

You mean, it's not obvious?

It's what happens when you ask your four-year-old son what kind of a vest he wants you to knit, thinking he'll say "blue" or "red" or maybe "with a green stripe."

Yeah, well. Maybe other kids say that. My kid is the son of a knitter. He aims a little higher.

He asked for a vest with a fire-breathing dragon.

What could I say? I knit him one.

I don't usually pass on tzedaka requests

But there's a first time for everything.

Fourteen-year-old survivor of the Mercaz HaRav (where, by the way, we would be happy to be zoche to send any of our sons) massacre needs surgery in the US to put his insides back together so that he can do things like eat and go to the bathroom. The family is from Sderot. The kupat cholim (insurance) is not covering it on the grounds that it could be done in Israel; his parents feel that he should have it done by specialists, and the specialists are in the US. If it were my kid, I would feel exactly the same way.

Full story, and address for donations, here.


Before I forget...

At playgroup, Iyyar learned that immortal Jewish children's classic, "Dip the Apple in the Honey."
Lyrics, sung to the tune of "Oh My Darling Clementine," run thusly:

Dip the apple in the honey
Make a bracha loud and clear
Shana tova u'mesuka
Have a happy sweet new year.

You know how there's a school of thought that toddlers are basically cavemen and need to be addressed as such? Well, Iyyar clearly belongs to the caveman school of songwriting, because his version of the above, rendered always at earsplitting volume, runs:


Wednesday, October 29, 2008


A friend's husband commented once that nine months is a significant milestone because it means more time out than in. For us, we passed that marker about a month ago, but never mind. Avtalyon is nine months old, and cut his first tooth this morning.

I've mentioned before that he's on a developmental track that has him doing almost everything a good three months ahead of his brothers. It's fun, and really different--it's also a little disconcerting sometimes (but in a good way) because he looks absolutely exactly like Barak--the pictures will be indistinguishable--but Barak, at this age, couldn't yet roll over both ways, didn't know his name, and couldn't reliably sit up on his own--pictures of him sitting up at ten months show lots and lots of pillows and soft bedding in the background, because he always fell over.

Avtalyon started saying "Abba" last week. I am "Mmmmm! Mmmmmmma! Ammmmmmmma!" I wasn't sure if he was really saying my name or just being hungry; speculation on this subject in Asnat's presence was met with the kind of look you can only manage if you're Israeli. It manages to convey "You are completely, totally, definitively out of your mind," without a single vowel or consonant. Pretty impressive, actually. Anyway, so, Asnat thinks he's saying my name. He also seems to be saying Barak and Iyyar's names; Barak is "Ah yah!" and his version of Iyyar's name is so close to Iyyar's actual name I don't think I'll post it.

He now waves at people regularly; if I'm holding him and there's someone new and I ask him to wave, even if I don't do it myself or hold his hand up as a hint, just the word is enough; he almost always waves, multiple times, and expects the courtesy returned. He's gotten interested in anything with a baby lock and has expressed ambitions in the area of emptying low-lying kitchen cupboards of their contents. Yesterday I made macaroni and cheese--the genuine article, with a Bechamel sauce and grated sharp cheddar, as opposed to just cheese melted on noodles--and he liked that. A lot.

What else? He doesn't really nap--an hourlong nap is a major accomplishmentl--but he spends most of the day happy so it's okay with me. He goes to sleep at around 6 PM and stays asleep until sometime around 6 or 7 am; he wakes up a few times in between, but usually before midnight. Everything's relative; to us, that's amazing sleeping for a nine-month-old.

The problem right now is finding a place for him to sleep. You wouldn't think this would be a problem in a five-room apartment, but it is; he's a very, very light sleeper, so really can't sleep with the boys, and if he sleeps in our room he's up nursing all night long. I tried putting a second pack and play in my office and moving him back here when I go to bed (and, inevitably, he wakes up); that worked fine for a few weeks but the problem is that now it's cold out and this room (three external walls) gets freezing cold at night--and even with two pairs of pajamas and a wool sweater in between he gets cold enough to wake up and cry. The current system involves the second pack and play in the living room, but besides obvious issues of not being able to go get the baby without being fully dressed (huge, huge picture window facing the street, we are on the first floor, and the curtains don't fully cover the windows), it's pretty cold there too. The only rooms in the house that are really warm at night are our bedroom and the boys' room. We might resort to sleeping in the guest room and letting the baby have our room till he outgrows the light sleeping or it gets warm, whichever comes first. We'll see how it goes.

The thing that's so funny about this whole developmental thing is that I'm just not used to so much going on with such a tiny baby. I mean, only nine months on planet earth! and he's already opening the garbage cans and pulling out the dirty diapers! and falling in love with the bath ducky! and escaping diaper changes with the stealth of Houdini and the courage of Tarzan! How'd he figure out all out so fast?

It's all pretty neat.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


But first, a public service announcement to a few people who annoyed me this morning.

a) If you expect me to address you as Rabbi Plony, please do not address me by my first name. If you want the kavod of your title, please give me mine. Thanks.

b) If you have a kindergarten-aged girl, please dress her accordingly. Do not dress her in knee-high black boots with inch-and-a-half platform heels. Especially not if you are Orthodox Jews.

c) If you have small children with you at a shul kiddush in honor of a bris, and if there is candy at said bris but not endless quantities of same, please do not allow your small children to fill styrofoam coffee cups to the brim with candy before kiddush has been said. This will mean that the small children whose mothers make them wait for kiddush, make them wait for the adults, and promise them two pieces of candy for their patience will get nothing but negative reinforcement for good behavior.


Now that that's out of the way...

1. Ada came over for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon, to buy me a couple of hours of desperately needed writing time. She usually only comes on Wednesdays, which means she hasn't been around for a few weeks, and Iyyar, who adores her, had been asking for her for days. She is usually extremely punctual so about two minutes before she was scheduled to arrive, I told Iyyar she was coming. She must have hit traffic or something, because she was about 25 minutes late--25 long, long, looooong minutes during which Iyyar asked me, repeatedly and with ever-mounting alarm, "Where Ada go? Coming? Coming soon? Onna way?" He looked at the back door. He looked at the front door. He looked at the back door again. I had to check the mail, and when he saw me opening the front door thought that perhaps Ada might be down there, you know, hiding or something. He came down with me, and was standing behind my legs as I checked the mail, foot wedged in the door at the bottom of the stairs to keep it open.

"Ada? Ada come? Ada comin?"

"I don't think Ada's there, sweetie. She usually comes in the back. Come on, let's go check the back door [so I can get you back in the apartment]."

Then Iyyar started to giggle. Because guess what--she was on the other side of the door! He saw her, because he's three feet tall, but I didn't. He grinned up at me with total vindication and then flung his arms around Ada, content.

2. It had been a very busy Friday and between having Asnat here in the morning, rushing around like crazy for two hours at lunchtime, and having Ada here in the afternoon while I hid in my office and wrote as fast as possible, I, um, forgot to feed the baby. I know--it's pretty bad. I nursed him, so it's not like he was starving, but he didn't get any actual food, so he was getting pretty hungry, and I totally missed it even as he got more and more angry, annoyed, and finally frantic when I put him to bed without having given him dinner. He usually goes to sleep really easily at bedtime so the hysterical screams from the crib gave me pause. I stood in the kitchen listening and suddenly OH NO the lightbulb went on.

"Ada, did you give Avtalyon dinner?"

"No. I didn't know you wanted me to."

Oh. Oh dear. I went and retrieved the baby, put him in his high chair and started pushing fingerfuls of spanakopita in his mouth. Magically, the miserably wailing baby was transformed into happy, cooing, gurgling baby, who nevertheless directed a number of extremely dirty looks toward Ada ("See? See? I kept telling you I was HUNGRY but did you listen? No....") despite the fact that it was patently my fault he hadn't eaten.

He is a forgiving sort, however, and by the time Ada left they were friends again. So much so that when we accompanied Ada to the front door, he waved at her. And she waved back. And he waved again! And again! It was a hilarious sort of stiff-armed salute, part campaign for office, part royal wave, part 1939 Germany (only hilarious when rendered by a nine-month-old Jewish baby in 2008). And he was so pleased with himself, too--almost as pleased as I was.

3. All the yarn has been arriving. It's amazing. I got my Webs box yesterday (3 balls of purple and gray Kauni, 5 of purple-and-green Kureyon, and a sweater's worth of Kathmandu DK tweed) and it was all so lovely I actually gasped.

However, I have a problem. I can't find the pattern I wanted to use the Kureyon for. Does anyone remember seeing, in an old Knitter's or possibly IK (the more I think about it, the more I think it's IK), a pattern for a yoked sweater in royal blue with a yellow swirly motif around the yoke? The yarn was a mohair blend, and I think the model was African American and possibly riding a motorcycle. The picture was definitely on the right side of the page, pattern on the left; the gauge was 16 sts/4 in. I know, I know, all very helpful. I can't find it on ravelry and I can't take two years to hunt through all my back issues for it. Anyone? Anyone?

4. Adding to the fiber bonanza of recent weeks, Grandma E sent me a lovely box (is there any other kind?) full of spinning batts--a gorgeous red wool/black mohair blend--and a pair of socks! Handknit socks! Made from Socks That Rock! No one's ever knit me socks before! I wore them yesterday and had happy feet all day long. :)

5. Iyyar's speech is getting a lot clearer these days. He can really pronounce his own name now (he used to say it "Eddie" which I found hilarious) and is surprisingly good at pronouns, which Barak didn't have down until he was almost four.

His stock way of claiming something is saying, "Not yours!" Lately, this has morphed from being a circumlocution for the forbidden word "Mine!" into a commentary on ownership. As in, the other day we saw a tricycle on a lawn.


"Right, a tricycle!"

"Ride it!"

"No, we can't ride that."

"Not ours."

"Right. Not ours."

6. With the occasional exception, the boys have been really fun and funny lately. Barak and Iyyar have been playing together unusually well, with only the obligatory minimum of tears and screaming, and both of them have been treating Avtalyon like a celebrity. I love it. Yesterday Avtalyon, who is now pulling up and cruising on the furniture, fell over and bonked his head. Iyyar got there before I did, trying to pick him up while cooing comfortingly, "Baby hurt! Oh no! Avtalyon! Oh no Avtalyon! Iss okay! Okay baby!" And tonight, when Iyyar was wailing frantically from his crib for Abba, who had gone to shul ("ABBA! WANT ABBA HOLD YOU! ABBA! WANT ABBA HOLD YOU CHAIR!") and I was cruelly ignoring it (if I'd gone in, it would have lasted for hours, but ignoring it usually means he's asleep in five minutes) I heard Barak:

"Iyyar! Iyyar, look! Look at this!" [Sound of toy.] "Isn't that cool! Here! Have this toy! It's okay! You don't have to yell! Abba's going to be home soon." And so on.

Isn't that amazing? They like each other and want each other to be happy. How about that?

And more amazing still was Barak, in my lap tonight at bedtime, snuggled close and getting sleepy,

"Imma, I like you the best. I like you the best from everybody."

"I like you the best from everybody too. Also Iyyar and Avtalyon."

"Me too. I like you, and Abba, and Iyyar, and Avtalyon, and everybody in this house. I like you all a hundred thousand gotchion billion ten much."

"Wow, that's really a lot."

"Yeah. I like you a lot a lot much."

It just doesn't get better than that.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dreams deferred

Way back in grad school days, my knitting buddy Cecilia and I used to have several recurring discussions in our (many, many) emails. One of them was "how much money would we have that we don't now have if we didn't knit?" (Answer "better not to think about it, and probably not much anyway, because if we didn't knit we'd do something else.")

When I was working at an insultingly low-paid job and she was working on her dissertation, we had a memorable exchange over the question, "If you had a thousand dollars to blow on fiber-related purchases, what would you do with it?" I don't have the exchange anymore (or if I do, it's buried in the 11,000-email "Cecilia" box) but I remember dreamy lists of full sets of Clover DPs and circulars in all sizes, sweater quantities of Noro, and other luxuries. On the budgets we both had at the time, though, there was no way. The whole discussion was firmly in the realm of fantasy.

Fast forward seven years.

A few weeks ago, I sold my spinning wheel. There was a lot of emotional baggage attached to that spinning wheel and looking at the pile of $20 bills that replaced it was an odd experience. They seemed... icky, somehow. The space in my closet where the wheel used to be looked strange. It was, and is, very weird to think of it as being really gone.

I think I sold it on a Thursday, and so the next day I used some of the money to pay my babysitter. The rest I put in the bank, with no particular earmark. Then I thought, well, I'll use some of it to buy things I've been putting off buying. And I did. I bought a new pack and play for Avtalyon, so that he doesn't have to be sleeping in our room (and waking us up all night) until Iyyar outgrows his crib. I bought a new umbrella stroller to replace the one we left in Israel with my SIL. And I bought a new high chair for Avtalyon, so he doesn't have to keep bonking his head on the wooden chair back behind the booster seat he's currently using. All told, a couple hundred dollars.

I still had quite a lot of money left though--after all, I sold a DT Lendrum with lots and lots of goodies. And so I decided to spend it on unjustifiable acquisition of yarn. All of it. I did some math and I actually have bought the wheel's worth of yarn, because I bought some yarn before I sold the wheel for about as much money as I spent on the baby items. It's not all here yet, but when it does get here I should really take a picture. It's pretty impressive. I've got the sweater's worth of Noro, and another sweater's worth of purple Kauni; some new books; some spinning fiber, a big box of Brown Sheep millends and a huge pile of sock yarn. I also, of course, got some presents for Cecilia.

What happens to a dream deferred? Yup. It explodes. Out of cardboard boxes, and all over the floor of the knitting room.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Avtalyon updates

He's eight and a half months now, crawling like a madman, eating immersion-blended vegetables and the squishier parts of onion kugel and potato knish. He laughs his head off while playing with his big brothers, and admirably fulfills his role as baby brother by summarily destroying big-brother Lego structures on sight. He pulls up to standing on everything, including lots of things he shouldn't (glider rocker footstools...) and does a little bit of creeping from one piece of furniture to the next when he can. No signs of launching into space though--he can't stand independently yet.

He's sleeping, B"H, much better; he doesn't do much in the way of napping but he doesn't spend much of the day screaming either so I don't mind. His usual schedule right now is to go down in the pack and play in our room at around 6 and wake up somewhere between 9 and 11 for a late-night snack; he goes back to sleep until Abba or I go to bed, at which point he usually wakes up instantly. I swear that baby has sonar. No sooner have I swung the door silently open than he's scrabbling up the side of his pack and play, staggering out of sleep to let me know that he's HUNGRY AND ALL BY HIMSELF. That's when I nurse him again and transfer him to pack and play #2, in my office. I don't really like having him that far away but he's such, such, such a light sleeper it was the only way. Before I finally cracked and bought a second p & p for the office, MHH was sleeping on the couch, I was sleeping on the guest bed, and Avtalyon had the master bedroom all to himself. Then we realized that something was wrong with that picture. The back bedroom/office, unfortunately, is not only at the opposite end of our railroad-style apartment, but it's the only room with three external walls and it's really cold. He sleeps in two pairs of pajamas already--I think when it really does get cold out we're going to have to figure out a new arrangement.

Barak and Iyyar treat him like some kind of celebrity. It's really funny. Now that he has an obvious personality, but is still little and (mostly) harmless, they think he's a riot. Iyyar carols his name in a ridiculously funny pronunciation, and happily runs to get me diapers, pluggies, whatever. Oh, and speaking of diapers... I can't believe I didn't mention this first but seriously, Avtalyon is the pod baby. He's unnaturally strong. Okay, both Barak and Iyyar were kind of pipsqueaks and both of them have some unusual stomach muscle weakness (neither can do a sit up from lying on their back--they both roll over onto their stomachs first) but holy cow, Avtalyon is not normal! If I'm changing his diaper and he spies something he wants right above his left ear, in about three hundredths of a second he's flipped himself over, wrenched his feet out of my right hand, shot over to where it is and is happily playing with it, naked tushy stuck straight up in the air. He accomplishes all of this in less time than it takes me to reach for a wipe. If he really didn't want you to change his diaper, you'd have a really, really hard time doing it against his will--at least not without an extra pair of hands holding him down. I even have to keep my wits about me while nursing--no dozing off for me, because if he got interested in something he'd shoot right out of my lap before I could stop him.

No teeth yet, and he still hasn't mastered the pincer grip, which is okay by me. He's enough of a menace already--I can wait a little bit for him to be able to pick up tiny choking hazards off the floor on his own. (Yes, I do try to keep choking hazards far from babies in general, but with two older brothers around sometimes things appear.)

My current suspicion is that he's not going to nurse for as long as his brothers did. He just gets so distracted--granted, there is a lot more going on around him than there was around Barak at the same age, but Avtalyon just seems to want to leap into the fray much more. For the time being, though, he's still a baby--still little and soft and cuddly and sweet. I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Look what Cecilia made me!

I'm so excited. :)

(You have to be on ravelry to follow the link. It's a swallowtail shawl, made in red Kauni. Aren't I lucky?)

Wonder how long it will take to get here from Australia...

Cecilia and I have both concluded that there is an inverse correlation between time available for knitting and desire to purchase yarn. I have, currently, pretty much no time to knit. This doesn't mean that I don't knit, it just means that I sneak time for knitting that I should be spending folding laundry or sleeping. It also means that on many of the nights that I am up into the wee hours writing speeches that someone else couldn't have their act together to request in a timely manner, I tally up the pay for those overtime hours and think, "Well, I could use just a little bit of that and get..." and put in an order for a ball of yarn. I know ALL the places that have free shipping.

When Deb came a couple of weeks ago (still haven't blogged about that! and be careful, if you follow the link, don't scroll down too far, because if you do you will find a truly disgusting picture of degloved squirrels. In a pot. You have been warned.) she commented on the size of my stash and the fact that it would probably take me the rest of my life to knit through it at my current rate. I muttered something noncommittal and hoped she would be out when the mailman arrived. She wasn't, and saw how much Noro I'd bought from the littleknits sale. But being a true knitter, not only did she not hold it against me, she started hankering after some Noro of her own. So it was all ok. :)

In case you're wondering how much sock yarn I have, I have this much:

Not that bad. Most of the bottom shelf isn't even sock yarn, and ergo doesn't count. Or maybe it's the sock yarn that doesn't count? Well, whatever. See that red on the second to bottom shelf? That's my shawl now. The wheel in the lower left corner is Iyyar's tricycle, or "bikull!" as he calls it.

Back to cleaning the kitchen. And then maybe a couple of rows on my Cobblestone. Before I start making Shabbos. Because we're having guests.

And I haven't even gone shopping yet.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Motzai shabbos

Thanks for all the emails.

I keep and enjoy this blog for many reasons but emotional catharsis, generally speaking, is not one of them. So I'm not going to be writing much about my granny and the last couple of weeks here, at least not anytime soon. But if you want to know more about her, you can read this.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

12:54 AM

This is what's in the freezer downstairs, mostly courtesy of Deb's visit with her daughter last week:

-six doughless potato knishes
-three carrot kugels
-four pans of stuffed cabbage
-two pans of meatloaf
-a lot of challah
-some chicken soup (not enough, but it'll have to do)

In the fridge:

-parve cream of asparagus soup
-the corn/black bean salad I always make

Cooling on the table:

-one large and three small onion kugels
-a big pan of peanut butter rice krispie treats (I don't like them, but certain husbands do)
-one big pan and two small pans of chocolate rice krispie treats (yum!)

To be made tomorrow:

-round raisin challah
-chicken schnitzel--I was going to do it tonight but the chicken isn't thawed yet
-gefilte fish (stick in oven and bake)
-a castle cake, if I have time, which I recognize I may not. I've got plenty of dessert (see above) but castle cakes are a big deal around here. I even bought some candy to decorate one with.

Paper goods, paper towels, grape juice and seltzer: check. Pomegratates, kiwis and mangos for new fruit: check. Elmo paper plates for the preschool set: check. Candy for shofar-blowing pekelach purposes: check. MHH is planning a supermarket run with Barak, via bus, tomorrow morning to pick up the necessary supply of Shabbos yogurts, without which no yom tov can be complete. He may also get a roast; I was going to buy one last week, cheaped out, and then regretted it; Rosh Hashana comes once a year and I can afford one roast a year. Vicky, B"H, is scheduled to come at 1 tomorrow, so my plan of attack is to finish cooking in the morning while Asnat is here, work in the afternoon while MHH is home, and, ideally, turn off my computer at 5 pm to a clean house full of yummy food.

Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Gmar chasima tova, everyone. Only good things.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Does it ever happen to you that you remember something suddenly, some little thing you hadn't thought of in years?

My grandmother loves flowers. When she still had her house, she used to plant flowers all along the side of her house and on the other side of the little patch of grass between that and the fence. Usually she had impatiens, or the Hungarian equivalent. When I was in college, I discovered a greeting card that was essentially a two-page pop-up book of a flower arrangement. They had a few different designs, different flowers--violets, roses, whatever. For me at the time, they weren't so cheap, but I loved them so I bought them anyway. I sent one whenever I thought of it and the next time I visited found she'd kept them all; they were displayed in her china closet in the kitchen, next to the dusty origami birds I'd made in junior high. I haven't seen those cards in years. I wonder if anyone still makes them.

When I had just moved to England, in September of 1998, I saw bags of flower bulbs--daffodils and tulips--for sale in front of a store, ten bulbs for a pound (meaning, a pound in money). I thought that was pretty cheap and briefly considered planting some in front of my new home, then discarded the idea--I didn' t even have a spade, and clearly nothing had been planted there in years. Instead, I bought three bags of tulip bulbs and a bag of daffodil bulbs and brought them to my grandmother. I went that time by bus--yes, you can take the bus from Birmingham to Budapest, but I wouldn't say I'd recommend it. She was delighted, and got them in the ground before I left. The next time I visited, in December, she said I'd have to come back to see them. I said I didn't know when that would be, but when I got back to England I bought a disposable camera and mailed it to her so she could take pictures. I brought the camera back with me when I came, late that May, for a two-day trip I managed to attach to a job interview I had in Vienna. When I developed the film, it was 24 pictures, one after the other, of daffodils and tulips, from every angle.

I wish I'd kept some of them.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The deed is done

A very happy new spinner is driving away with my Lendrum right now, and there is a pile of $20 bills on my desk. I'm feeling slightly more traumatized than I thought I would--I was really okay with seeing the loom go but the wheel is a different thing. Oh well. I do have my Hall to console me, as well as an incredibly gorgeous ball of autumn-colored roving that just arrived yesterday from Grandma E...

What they're up to these days

A long-overdue roundup:

1. Avtalyon is almost eight months old. He's been seriously crawling for the last couple of weeks, up on all fours with his tummy off the ground and moving at a pretty impressive speed. He's also started pulling up to stand (last week sometime) and now when I come get him in his crib he's usually standing up, which adds a certain pitifulness to the wails. This ability also brings us into the land of Baby Menace. Ooh, the plastic bag in the garbage can looks tasty! Hey, I bet I can pull myself up on that rocker footstool! Think I can haul this 50-lb Gemara off the shelf?

He loves loves loves the baby swings at the park. Barak hated them, Iyyar thought they were okay, but Avtalyon adores them; he'll dangle there happily, enjoying the view, or, if you swing him and stand in front of him pretending he's about to knock you over, screech with laughter. It's awesome. There's nothing better than a baby in a swing laughing with his whole body.

He's babbling, but mostly only when annoyed. He's eating bananas, rice cereal (which he LIKES--huwhat?), oatmeal, and of course Cheerios. Standard routine in the morning is plunking him in his booster with a few handfuls while I get the older kids breakfast; I'm sure some of them must get into his mouth but I find the rest in all kinds of places. So far as sleep, it's B"H been better the last couple of nights; he screamed a lot last week but since then has been going to sleep reasonably nicely at around 7, waking up twice, and waking up for the day in the vicinity of 6:15. I'll take it.

2. Iyyar is talking more and more. It's hilarious to listen to. You can sort of have conversations with him now, and sometimes they even make sense. My favorites happen after we drop Barak off with carpool at 8:10 and are on our way to his playgroup, which starts at 9; the intervening 50 minutes are my time for some exercise, errand-running, and quality time with Iyyar.

This morning we saw a garbage truck. "Hey, Iyyar, is that a garbage truck?"

Inquisitively: "Jarba?"

"Yeah, it's a garbage truck! Look, it's a blue one."

"Jarba! Put in!"

Or last week, when we passed a van with a somewhat smashed-in side (still driveable, apparently, because we see it daily in different parking spots):

In a bereft tone: "Truck! Broken!"

"Yeah, the truck's broken."

Inquisitively: "Break it?"

"I guess someone did break it, yeah."

With relish: "Rip it!"


Since Jenny let him "drive" her car (read "climb around front seat while Jenny holds keys firmly in her hand and watches to be sure they don't put the car in neutral) his ambitions have been growing. He now points out vehicles he'd like to try out. Like, you know, pieces of heavy earthmoving equipment. "Backhoe! Drive it!" Then, "Jenjy?"

3. Barak LOVES school. He leaps out of bed in the morning and gets himself dressed with lightning speed; if he's not moving fast enough, a mere "Barak, do you want to go to school?" suffices to get him going. I don't hear much about what goes on there, other than the occasional "It was Fraidy's birthday" to explain the pekele, or, "We had an aleph-bais party" when he comes home with an aleph crown and unmistakable signs of lollipop consumption. They don't start doing the parsha until after yom tov, but someone is coming in to blow shofar for them every morning and he was definitely into that. He gets a newsletter home every week, so I know what they're learning, and occasionally I surprise him by singing the songs I know he's learning in school. He clearly wonders how I know them, since I'm not anywhere to be seen in his class.

Dovie, fortunately, is not in his class this year; a few other boys from last year are, though, which is nice. Barak's been playing more with Iyyar, and even with Avtalyon sometimes; he likes to hold Avtalyon but needs supervision. His favorite thing lately has been building houses with the cushions of our blue couch (this is why $65 yard-sale couches are the bomb--who cares if they get messed up?) The other day in a flash of inspiration I brought out a blue sheet. "Here, put this on the roof," I told him. "It's tar paper." Barak's eyes simultaneously lit up and got that serious worker-man look. I grabbed two corners, he grabbed the other two, and I lifted it up and over the couch construction site. Last I looked in there, he'd actually furnished his house: there are books, some things made out of Clicks, and several beanie babies in residence. They look comfy, too.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Wanna buy a wheel?

I have, like many dedicated spinners, more than one wheel. I have a Lendrum double-treadle castle-style wheel, which I bought about a year after I learned to spin on an Ashford Traditional; and I have, um, a Norm Hall, which is the only inanimate object I can honestly say I love.

I bought both wheels in 1997. Once I bought the Hall, I didn't have much incentive to use the Lendrum. Add to this that the Lendrum was rather beautifully painted with lovely little flowers by a person I now try hard not to think about, and you have a situation where the Hall sees a lot of use, while the Lendrum has been hanging out in a closet in its custom bag for most of the last decade.

For a long time I thought I would never sell it, because it's much more portable than the Hall, and for sentimental reasons. But I don't have a guild anymore, and the sentiments attached to the wheel, these days, are more of a reason to sell it than to keep it.

So... wanna buy a wheel? It's got the regular and jumbo flyers, ten standard and two jumbo bobbins, the quill head, two fast flyers (why, I don't know), the lazy kate (with no sticks--I used skewers), a custom Fox Fibre bag by the Bag Lady, a hand-turned maple threading hook or two, and, oh yes, half a can of 3-in-1 oil.

I just put it together to make sure it all worked and it spins beautifully. So much so that now I'm thinking I don't really want to sell it. But I do (she tells herself bracingly)--I do. I've even posted it on ravelry.

And here it is:

Friday, September 12, 2008

So there.

Ten pounds of flour worth--ten loaves and 12 rolls.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Challah catastrophes

You'll notice that that's in the plural.

1. I add all the liquid ingredients for my challah (7 eggs, plus honey, sugar, oil etc.), all the dry ingredients less the flour, a little bit of flour, and start the mixer mixing. Only it doesn't mix--the mixer blade on my Bosch pops up. I turn off mixer, reach in to set the blade in correctly, and instead of setting it correctly I suddenly realize that the entire contents of the bowl are rapidly draining out the 1.5-inch-diameter hole at the bottom of the bowl, because the bolt that holds the blade assembly together was not in and fell out. So I now have all the liquid and whatever of the solid ingredients have dissolved, all over my floor.

2. After cleaning this up (which took a LONG time), I go to open bag of flour #2--only to see the inside of the bag festooned with webs. Because it's infested with bugs. Heavily, heavily infested. I waste some time sifting, then realize that this is never going to work because it's organic whole wheat and I'm sifting out half the flour and probably none of the insects. I toss entire $6.19 bag of flour into trash, and open bag of flour #3, which looks OK.

3. I hazard guesses at how much of which ingredients are missing from the challah, add them, and start the dough mixing again in my smaller Bosch bowl. Then I realize that the counter I have just scrubbed (salmonella, y'know) is again covered with raw eggs, because the wet ingredients are not being incorporated into the now hard and solid lump of dough that was left when I lost the liquid the first time.

4. I will not be defeated! I unplug mixer, squish ingredients together by hand, add more water and oil and another couple of eggs, and turn the mixer back on. The dough looks lovely.

5. And then I notice that the top of the mixer, the plastic splash ring, is not sitting right. That's because the solid lump of dough that was revolving around the bowl pushed up against it hard enough to snap all three latch points, irretrievably destroying splash ring on my I-don't-want-to-remember-how-much-it-cost Bosch bowl. I toss splash ring into garbage.

6. I briefly consider fishing through the dough for the broken pieces of plastic, then laugh bitterly at the idea, because these pieces of plastic are, well, deadly, and it's not even a tiny little bit worth it. I toss entire batch of challah into garbage.

7. And start a new one. Stay tuned. I'm going to take out the garbage.


The first day of school was last week. Barak is going to the nursery school attached to the local bais yaakov, so is enjoying what will probably be his last year of coeducational schooling until college at least; Iyyar started a playgroup run by a friend of mine. Barak is, I think, mostly excited by the fact that he now goes to school via carpool, meaning that he gets to drive in a car every single day. This, for my car-deprived son, is a Very Big Deal. He is, fortunately, not in the same class as the infamous Dovie, although they do see each other occasionally. I asked Barak if Dovie was his friend and was told, "He's not very nice to me." But he hasn't brought it up and didn't seem bothered, so I left it alone. Barak does have some other friends from his last year's playgroup, two of whom I know to be really nice boys, so that's all good.

And Iyyar is having a blast. One of the things I didn't post much about but that has been a big part of the last couple of weeks is that a friend of mine (who I think I'm going to call Yehudis, now that the blog is open again) has been in the hospital, twice, with her baby, who had Kawasaki disease. (White, female baby. Go figure.) Yehudis does Iyyar's playgroup, but since she'd just gotten back from the hospital with a still-sick baby, had her mother helping her. The playgroup is in the basement, and the baby was upstairs with her Bubbe. Not surprisingly, the baby spent some part of the morning crying. This distressed Iyyar, apparently; when he got home, he spent a treat deal of time informing me, urgently: "Baby crying. Want. Imma." And, "Baby tired. Nap. Baby needa nap." Then a few minutes would go by, and he'd tell me again. "Baby. Want. Imma!" I told him I knew, but the baby was fine. He didn't believe me, and looked at me like I was being... well, negligent.

The next morning I told Yehudis this. She was not surprised. In fact, Iyyar had taken the baby's welfare upon himself as a personal responsibility, and had spent much of the morning tailing Yehudis, trying to make her realize that HER BABY WAS CRYING AND WASN'T THERE SOMETHING SHE SHOULD BE DOING ABOUT THAT?! Yehudis kept reassuring Iyyar that the baby was with her Bubbe, and she was fine, but Iyyar was unconvinced. "Baby CRYING." Don't you hear her?! What are you, heartless? You've got a crying baby up there, lady!

I found it kind of sweet. :)

Iyyar, as you may have noticed, is now talking a lot more. If I give him something he doesn't want to eat, he hands it back with a disdainful "No gink gyou." He tells me about his day--about the baby crying, and also about playing with trucks. ("Go school! Trucks! Fun!") and remembers, mournfully, his cousins and friends from the summer. ("Want Yanky. Want Yaakov Naya. Play. Fun...") Abba is very much the Preferred Parent these days--sometimes I go into Iyyar's room when he wakes up at night and get, "No want Imma. Want Abba!" Okay then. Iyyar is also now enjoying Abba's fabulous bedtime stories. "Dory off from? Dory off from?" Meaning, are you going to start the story from where you left it off last night?

Avtalyon, the only one in the house who doesn't have to get out the door in the morning (well, except that of course he does, because I take him with me) is now crawling like a maniac. He has totally skipped that stage of sitting up, playing with toys, but not being mobile; he can get himself nicely into a sitting position, although he does still wobble a little. He's eating rice cereal, oatmeal, mashed bananas, applesauce and mashed peas; last night he slept from 7 pm till 7 am only waking up at 11 and 5. I think. At least, those were the only times I woke up...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

By the numbers

When I was growing up, I was always a little bit heavy. Not enormously, but enough to feel self-conscious, and certainly enough to get teased.

When I went off to college, and suddenly found my diet in my own control, I dropped a lot of weight--more than I should have initially, but then it stabilized pretty soon and I stayed within 5 lb of the same weight for about ten years.

Then came the tail end of my grad school career, and all the stresses that came with it, and I gained about 15 lb. I moved to New York, joined a gym, did Weight Watchers, and lost it all by my wedding; then, um, I was married, and gained it all back.

By the time I got pregnant with Barak, about five months after I got married, I was at a weight that horrified me at the time but at the moment would look pretty great. Let's call that weight X. X, for the record, is the maximum "healthy weight" for someone of my height, according to the charts.

By the end of my fourth month, I was at X + 13.

When Barak was born, I was at X + (gulp) 41.

By the time Barak was 1, I was back down to X + 5. That was pretty good, but a few months later, before I got pregnant with Iyyar, I was back up to X + 10.

Then I was pregnant with Iyyar, and got up to X + 46.

I never lost all of it--the lowest I got to after Iyyar was X + 15.

Then I got pregnant with Avtalyon, and managed not to gain quite as much weight--probably because I was carrying so much extra to begin with. Final weight with Avtalyon was also X + 46.

By the end of my maternity leave, I was at X + 25. When we left for Israel, I think I was at X + 22.

When we got back, I was at X + 14. As of last week, I'm at X + 11.

Let's be clear--X + 11 is not a great, healthy weight for me. But it's the thinnest I've been since before Iyyar was born. I'm fitting into clothes--I'm wearing a skirt now, in fact--that I haven't worn since before Iyyar was born. I categorically do not look pregnant. My face isn't as round. It feels pretty good.

I'm really, really hoping I can keep it up all the way back down to X. I have no aspirations right now to get down past that, and in fact gave away my whole size 6 wardrobe last year. But I'll admit it. I've got my eye on those 8s.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Not that you needed me to tell you this

But holy cow, the price of food. Food and household items both, but mostly food.

I just got back from a trip to Target and the supermarket. I spent $292. I did not buy any meat or cheese or ANY prepared foods. No ice cream, either--no treats at all, actually. At Target I stocked up on diapers and tissues and bought paper goods for yom tov; I got milk, juice, batteries, garbage bags, rice cereal and oatmeal, soap, and so on. I did buy a new tabletop ironing board ($9.99) and two boxes of actual Pampers, at $20 each--I usually put generic diapers on Iyyar and Avtalyon but they just don't do it for overnight. At the supermarket I bought a lot of flour (for yom tov baking--25 lb of King Arthur) and five boxes of Cheeries (5/$10). Grape juice for kiddush, bread, sandwich bags, lots of yogurt, gefilte fish and fish sticks (okay, that probably counts as a prepared food item), granola, and a new parve knife ($5.49) to replace the one the tenants whatevered. Whole-wheat pretzels for lunches. I did not buy organic anything, except for rice cereal, yogurt and milk. I've given up on the organic whole wheat flour--at $9.99/5 lb, it's over my organic price threshold.

There were other things, but all along the same lines. Nothing fancy. Mostly generics. Our kids aren't even eating that much yet. No meat or cheese or produce--just my periodic trip to replenish supplies of the things that I can't buy, or that are very expensive, on our local shopping street. And it won't even last me the month.

It's not that we don't have money to buy food. B"H we absolutely do. It's just the sticker shock, and thinking about how much food and gas are eating into the budgets of people who don't have the wiggle room that, B"H, we currently have. I can't help feeling guilty walking out of the supermarket having dropped a couple hundred dollars, but it's not as though I did anything wrong buying Cheerios and milk. Cheerios on sale, even.

Dinner tonight: scallion-heavy salmon patties, which I made with canned salmon from Trader Joe's; brown rice with peanut butter and umeboshi vinegar, one of MHH's favorite concoctions; a caramelized onion on the side.

What did you have?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Things that still surprise me

1. Identifying myself to my friends' children as Mrs. Uberimma.

2. Saying, "I need to be home by quarter to eight, my husband has night seder."

3. Paying for my milk and vegetables in school money.

4. Being recognized on the street, and greeted, by four-year-olds.

5. Having other people's kids hanging out at my house.

6. Packing lunches for my kids, every night.

7. Writing mitzva notes.

8. Sending Barak over to the men's side to find Abba.

9. Picking my kid up at nursery school, with all the other mothers.

10. Lighting five candles.

When we were waiting at the emergency room on Thursday, me and Iyyar and Ada, I saw Iyyar climb up on something perilous to check out the fish in the fish tank. He was two steps away, so I jumped up and had my hands out before he fell. I heard someone say, "Wow, she's fast." And Ada said, "She has three boys."

And that surprised me, too. It surprises me still.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday night

Sorry I couldn't come up with a better name for this post. It's been that kind of a weekend.

Thursday's ER visit? From the perspective of today, it was nothing. Iyyar was limping. He was holding his foot funny. I got worried--it didn't seem to hurt him a bit but he was positively hobbling. I called the pediatrician and talked to the nurse, who said to bring him in in the morning. Ada, Babysitter of Amazingness and Inexplicable Baby Voodoo-Master, was consulted via email from her day (well, night, really) job at the local children's ER. Might be a toddler fracture, she said.

Hmm, I thought. If I wait till the morning, take him to the pediatrician, he gets sent for an x-ray, then if it needs a cast... it's going to be all day, and I'll have to either take the baby to the ER (no way) or leave him all day (no way--he still won't take a bottle from anyone other than Ada, cf. Inexplicable Baby Voodoo-Master, above.) What to do? Well, since Ada was actually working that night, the most reasonable course of action seemed to be just taking him to the ER for x-rays after Avtalyon had gone to sleep.

Which I did. Iyyar, for the most part, had a great time--he got to see Ada, he got to play with toys, he was plied with Bamba which he happily piled into the vomit basins conveniently provided, he pulled ear-probe covers out of their dispensers and discovered a DVD player with buttons within his (carefully supervised) reach. There were stickers. There were fish tanks, one with an actual shark. We got, thanks to Ada, total red-carpet treatment, and she hung out with us as much as she could sneak away from her desk. Iyyar was delighted to be reunited with his buddy; I had very little to do but trail along after them hauling the carseat.

And then there was the x-ray, which was less fun, but! Ada helped! and there were bubbles! Note to self--spring for the additional cab fare and use more distant children's ER if any further ER trips are necessary. Especially if it's Ada's night on.

Verdict: no break, it's probably muscular, keep an eye on it and bring him to your pediatrician if it's not better in five days. Ada was bidden farewell ("Right back? Rika right back?") and I tried not to feel too much like chopped liver, we took a cab home and Iyyar passed out in the back seat.

All in all, no big deal.

Fast-forward to Friday morning.

I was sitting working, the kids were with Asnat, and I heard the door open at around 10. It was MHH. What's up with that? He's supposed to be at the beit medrash, preparing his d'var Torah for the Shabbaton tonight. He came in--staggered, actually, and stood there, swaying. I took a look and realized that he was a) gray like dishwater, b) sweating profusely, and c) looking really, really ill. "I don't feel good," he said, unnecessarily. "Go eat something," I said. "Did you eat?"

"I did eat!" he said. "I had some heartburn this morning, so I took a Prevacid [he takes it for reflux] and then I had breakfast and went to kollel. And then I started really sweating. I thought I was going to throw up. Now I feel really nauseous. And really tired. I'm going to go lie down."

Nausea... heartburn... profuse sweating... dizziness... gray... fatigue...


"I think we're going to the ER." I said.


"Let's go to the hospital."

"That's what Marvin said."


"Marvin at the kollel. He wanted to take me to the ER. He said I was dia... diaphor..."

"Diaphoretic. Sweaty."


"Well, let's go."


"Because you might be having a heart attack. I'm calling a cab." I called the cab, picked up the sleeping baby to give him a top-up nurse, and we left.

We got to the ER and boy there is nothing like coming in with that list of symptoms to have them swing you right past everyone else in the waiting room and get you hooked up to a bunch of machines really really fast. The EKG looked fine, his heart sounded fine, and he was looking distinctly better. "Do you still feel sick?" I asked him, an hour later, as he was hanging out on the gurney in a hospital gown covered with stickers and wires. "Um, no," he said. "Just really really tired."

The attending came in, and explained that while they were sure he had not had a big heart attack, he might still be having a little one, and they would like to admit him, do two more blood tests six hours apart, and then put him on a treadmill in the morning. Which would be Shabbos. MHH looked horrified. "You're staying," I told him. He called his local rav, asked a few shailos, and that was that.

Did I mention that my cell phone was not working? No? Well, it wasn't, so I was checking in with the babysitter with the ER phone. I called myself a cab, waited until MHH was back from getting a chest X-ray, called a few people to find someone who could run food, clothes, and Shabbos supplies back to the hospital, and then went back home. Starving baby, worked-up kids (especially Barak, who, remember, had seen me disappear to the hospital with Iyyar the night before), and... you have GOT to be kidding me... no electricity. Which meant no phones, because we have VOIP.

No food, no power, no phones, a whole bunch of people to call and plans to cancel and stuff to do in three hours before Shabbos. Asnat lent me her cell phone, which was a lifesaver; I called Ada to tell her that our Friday night plans were off, and she offered to come over anyway and help out, which was lifesaver #2; getting three kids ready for Shabbos when you have notice is one thing, but doing it all on your own with no notice, a husband in the hospital, and, oh yes, NO FOOD, PHONE, OR ELECTRICITY is something else. There was no possibility of just eating what was in the fridge--we'd just been in Israel for two months and there was nothing in the fridge or freezer. So I loaded everyone in the stroller, and off we went to the bakery (where I immediately caved to Barak's request for a $2 slice of cake--which he will remember forever), the grocery store (since when is roast beef $18/lb?! we'll have the bologna) and the produce store (where I bought orange juice and cookies, planning to take the bribery route through the evening). We went home, calling Grandma E on the way; I fed the kids dinner, and then Ada turned up and gave them baths and got them into pajamas while I took a shower. MHH's new rosh kollel (did I mention that the shabbaton we were supposed to go to was the first shabbaton of his brand-new job?) called and then came over with food; I put the baby down, and was about to light when Jenny from work called and, as if inspired by a host of psychic angels, offered to come over the next day to check in on us and on MHH in the hospital. I gratefully accepted, lit, let the kids eat their cake, Ada and I put them to bed, we sat in the kitchen schmoozing and looking at baby pictures for a while, and then she left and I went to bed. By myself.

Let me state for the record that I cannot imagine being a single parent. No--let me restate that. I have imagined it, and the very idea fills me with unspeakable horror. I know that I could not handle it, practically or emotionally. I don't know how anyone does. I couldn't sleep; the baby couldn't sleep; I ended up taking him into bed with me for company and nursing him most of the night. The kids woke up out of sorts and asking for Abba; they were acting up within minutes, and I yelled at them by 9, instantly regretting it. We went outside to play; Jenny came, and went off to check in on MHH. At this point my stomach was in the kind of tight hard knot it has not been in since... can't remember when actually. My legs felt like water. To say that I was in a state of increased anxiety would be, you know, an inadequate descriptor of the situation.

We came inside and had lunch; I was about to put Iyyar down for a nap when I heard a familiar knock on the back door. Jenny came in. "He's fiiiiiiine," she said, reassuringly. "They're discharging him. "

"Really? He's fine?"

"He's so totally fine. I think he's milking it, actually. He's being pretty pathetic. Guys!"


The rest of the day was better, from my point of view, although the non-husband-related anxiety was pretty high again later when I visited a good friend whose baby was clearly in need of a return trip to the hospital from which she'd just been discharged. We got home at around 6, the boys had their Shabbos yogurts, Avtalyon had some rice cereal (or maybe it was cement--hard to tell, they look the same), and everyone went to bed. MHH came home, looking totally fine; he was kicking himself for not just catching a ride home with Jenny at lunchtime. What did they think had happened? No idea, really; sleep deprivation, dehydration, reflux, vagus nerve something, who knew. He wasn't supposed to stop taking his reflux medicine, and was supposed to check in with his GP.

He went over to the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet to get his reflux medicine and I was about to leave the kitchen when I heard a strangled sound. "What's this?!"


"What's this? This isn't my reflux medicine."

"No, that's mine."

"What is it?"

"Those are the class-A controlled-substance narcotics the neurologist gave me when I had that thing with the nerve in my face."


"Ohhhhhhhhh. Oh no."

"Um. Is that what you took yesterday?"

"But it says [our last name]! I thought it was mine!"

"That's the last name of everyone in this house. You took one?"

"I... I think I... I took one, and then I ate breakfast, and then I went to the kollel, and that's when I got sick."

"About half an hour later, then?"

"I guess." Pause. "Could it have really made me that sick?"

I googled the drug in question (I'm fast-forwarding a little here--I'm tired of typing) and read off the list. "Common side effects include dizziness, nausea, lightheadedness, vomiting, drowsiness... less common side effects include allergic reaction, depressed respiration, irregular heartbeat, anxiety..."


B"H, he's fine. He will be reading prescription labels more carefully in future. We will be keeping our respective medicines in different locations in future. And all of us will be trying to get some more sleep.

Friday, August 29, 2008


We're back.

Where to begin?

With the trip? The trip was fine. The kids did great, and nobody threw up. Getting out the door was crazy, what with the 4 am motzai Shabbos departure, and neither MHH or I slept at all that night. But we did it, and even successfully got our VAT back at the airport, which is not for the faint of heart. Most of our luggage made it--just the strollers and Barak's booster seat were left in London, which turned out not to be a problem at all because a) it meant we could all fit in one van and b) British Airways gave us a new carseat! "We have to! Otherwise how would you get home from the airport?" More reasons to love BA.

Then we got home. The less said about that the better. The tenants, we immediately noticed, had not cleaned. The had not cleaned the stove, or the sink, or the fridge, and where are all those fruit flies coming from? Sheets dirty in washing machine... are there ANY clean sheets? Pretzels in couch, toys, all over house, and let's not think about Pesach. Okay, it could be worse... wait... are those my fleishig glasses in the milchig cupboard? Where are the sink tubs that I use in my treif sinks? They're in the guest room?! What have they been washing dishes in all summer? Is that a fleishig spatula in the parve drawer? And what's this pile of flatware in my fleishig dish rack... milchig, milchig, fleishig, parve, parve, milchig...

[sound of uberimma's head exploding]

The father of the family is the principal of an orthodox school. Nuff said. We're not sending our kids there...

We are about 70% unpacked, and the kids are about 50% over their jet lag. One duffel bag left to unpack, and several baskets' worth of clean laundry piled on my bed--it's hard to put away laundry when both rooms where clothes are kept contain sleeping children at the only time of day in which I am at liberty to put laundry away.

MHH started his new job a couple of days ago, and B"H so far so good. I met the other kollel wives and felt a little bit fish-out-of-water-y, but I'm sure it will be fine.

Back to work now. Next up: our exciting late-night trip to the local children's emergency room. Don't worry, everyone's fine, and Iyyar has lots of new stickers and play-doh now...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I keep thinking during the day of various things I want to blog about, and then when I sit down at the computer... do I really need to finish this sentence? I don't, do I?

Usually when this happens I sit down and write a list post. Today, I think I'll take more of a stream-of-consciousness approach. Bear with me, please.

I just got back from a skirt sale someone was holding at a neighbor's apartment. I went for the skirts but stayed for the shmoozing--it was mostly Anglos, a couple of new olim, and one who just got here a few weeks ago. She told me that she came on her pilot trip in January and saw nice rentals in this neighborhood for about $650. By the time she came in June, there was nothing--not even yucky little apartments--for under a thousand. They did not have the money for a nice place and did not want to live somewhere gross, so ended up renting something a half-hour walk away from the religious neighborhood. Not the way to an easy klita.

The religious neighborhood is, in fairness, spreading out and up the hill; the mayor does not want to zone any of the new neighborhoods being built as religious, feeling that the city should be integrated, but of course the religious families want to live together (in walking distance to the religious schools, happy minyans, and so on). Of course, as the desirable neighborhood spreads, so do the rents. I am hoping that in two years, our current timetable, the following three things will happen:

1. The Israeli real estate market will tank as it has already done in the states, making things more affordable;
2. The American real estate market will recover, such that it will be possible to sell our house without taking a massive loss (the woman I talked to tonight took a $70k loss on the sale of her house--doesn't bear thinking about);
3. The dollar will recover, at least to the level of, say, 4 NIS to the dollar.

Hey, a girl can dream, right? And while we're at it, how about good jobs for me and the mister?


The good news (did I write this already?) is that Asnat is staying with us for, it appears, another year; she can only stay until 12:30 so I will have to work with that. The bad news is that I still, as of this writing, have no way to get Barak home from nursery school in the afternoon. I have a ride in the morning, but that's it. So for now, I have to pick Iyyar up at playgroup 15 minutes early and walk the mile and a bit to get Barak. It's okay for right now, but once it gets cold it won't be.

Avtalyon is still not-quite-crawling. He gets up on all fours, pushes back with his feet, and propels himself forward a few inches while collapsing on his stomach; by doing this a few times in rapid succession, he gets around quite nicely, although not fast enough yet to be really dangerous. One thing he just started today was pushing his tush up and to the side, in one of the early stages of getting into a sitting position unassisted--I guess I'd better work with him on sitting, because for now he topples right over. He is so happy lying on his stomach, doing the swim and watching everything around him, that I don't spend nearly as much time with him as I probably should. Barak, at this age, demanded constant attention--he was too big to want to lie on his back, couldn't roll over or sit, hated being on his stomach, and basically either was in my arms or crying pretty much all the time. Good thing he was my first, hm?

Uh-oh. Avtalyon's awake and kvetching in his crib. He's already had his late-night snack, so I'm hoping he'll go back to sleep on his own. For the last couple of nights he's been waking up a few times in the night and then declaring morning at 5:15 am. It's getting a little wearing. Today I put Iyyar in his crib for a time-out--I don't remember now why--when Avtalyon was already napping. I thought I'd lie down on the couch for the allotted two minutes of Iyyar's confinement and guess what? Yup. I fell asleep. I don't know how long I was asleep for but suffice it to say that Iyyar was royally displeased when I finally came to rescue him.

Speaking of Iyyar, his phrase of the month is "cool water!" which is actually intended to be "cold water!" You have to be drinking water all the time here, and we usually keep a few emptied soda bottles full of water in the fridge. Although I don't think Iyyar really cares about the temperature in his sippy cup, he has heard us talk about cold water enough that he demands it himself. He also likes it when I give him ice and let him put it in there himself. "Iyyar do it! Iyyar do it by a self!"

He is also very fond of bicycles. The entry way of this building is a veritable parking lot of bicycles and strollers, and Iyyar wants them ALL. "Bike ull! Hell mut! Bike ull!" And he tries to climb on. Strangely, he has not at all been put off by the spill he took last week when we were in Beit El--three concrete steps down on a tricycle, landing on his face. One of his front teeth is now at a different angle than it was--think it'll fall out? I'm hoping not, baby tooth or no.

In case you haven't noticed, I'm tired and cranky. It's hot, I'm not getting enough sleep, the cost of living here is discouragingly high, we're leaving in a few days and I have a really intimidating amount on my plate both at work and at home. I'm hoping the people who rented our place left it clean, but there will still be a fair amount of apartment reassembly, not least of which will be putting away all the stuff I tossed in the back bedroom before we left. And returning the borrowed baby saucer to my SIL. And packing. And getting food for the trip. And cleaning the vomited-on car seat. And repacking the Shas, Shulchan Aruch, and assorted seforim into boxes sized in accordance with BA's luggage allotments. And so on.

Ah, well, it's all good. And tomorrow I'm taking Barak on a quick trip (without Avtalyon, so it'd better be quick) to the Tachana Merkazit for one last tichel-buying expedition. Hey, they're cheaper than seforim--and a lot lighter to pack.