Saturday, March 29, 2008

So much has been going on around here that I literally don't know where to start. I've been mentally composing blog entries for the last couple of weeks, entries that never actually make it to the keyboard--so here are a few totally random things I've been thinking about.

1. Avtalyon is two months old now, and his new thing as of a couple of days ago is wanting to stand when he's held. I hold him under the arms and he bears all his weight on his legs--this, even though he's not always 100% solid on holding up his head. And we are seeing the first glimmers of smiles. The other day I was sitting in the kitchen trying to get him to smile at me. "Hi, Avtalyon! Hi! Can you smile? Hi?" Iyyar, sitting in his high chair, could. "Hi! Hi!" he crowed, shooting me one dazzling grin after another.

2. Purim was fun. As for Pesach, I'm still in denial.

3. The overriding stress around here surrounds where we'll be and what we'll be doing next year. The short version of a very long story is that my husband's contract is up for renewal and his school is showing no indication of renewing it or not before their deadline to do so, which is erev Pesach. There are a number of other options, but nearly all of them are currently out of our hands, leaving us obsessively checking phone and email as we just... wait. We thought we'd have at least one answer a couple of weeks ago, but it turned out to be a non-answer, so more waiting.

4. This is a hugely shortened story, but I have been having some rather extreme facial pain over the last week. Coupled with my history (see sidebar) and some other worrying symptoms, this earned me a trip to the neurologist yesterday. (Having had a brain tumor gets you certain "ins" in life, like emergency appointments with a booked-months-in-advance neurologist.) My current theory and hope is that it's radiated nerve pain caused by a problem with a crown that has been bothering me for a while, so I'm heading to the dentist on Monday. At the advice of the neurologist, though, I'm also lined up for an MRI. To which, in the absence of good options, I will be bringing Avtalyon. I hope he sleeps.

5. Iyyar is almost two. Both his and Barak's birthdays are about a week after Pesach--Iyyar is nearing his second, Barak his fourth. Barak's speech is now pretty much just normal, although he does say things I love like "gazania" instead of "lasagne" and "borfday" for "birthday." Iyyar, though, is Cute Speech Central. A blankie is a "ginkgee"; "thank you" is "tank ee-you"; and the sound a rooster makes is "ahh doo doo!"

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A few weeks ago I abruptly ended the arrangement whereby a neighbor walked Barak to school with her daughter and I picked both kids up and brought them home. I had no problem with this when I agreed to it, until I discovered that I was also going to have the neighbor's daughter in my house for about 25 minutes every afternoon while my neighbor picked her other daughter up from school. I tried to think of it as being neighborly, not as having been taken advantage of, but I wasn't very happy about it.

Yes, I should have said something right at the beginning, but I didn't, and the longer I let it go the harder it was to say, "you know, I really don't want to keep doing this unpaid babysitting thing." It really was a pain, because if I wanted to, say, go to the store, I had to either take everyone along or go home, take off everyone's hats/coats/mittens/boots, wait for the neighbor to come, and then re-hat/coat/mitten/boot everyone to go back out. Also, the neighbor's friend doesn't listen so well (probably partly because she needs tubes in her ears) and was a pretty high-maintenance presence in the household--not least because she and Barak would get pretty wild and crazy post-school and go tearing around the house screaming. Barak, on his own, will usually listen to me when I tell him to pipe down--but with a partner in crime totally ignoring me, it's a lot harder.

Anyway, after Avtalyon came along, the confluence of his presence and Iyyar's later naptimes meant that when Barak and his friend came home, all hell broke loose. So one day, when I returned with two children to a silent house of sleeping babies and, five minutes later, had two screaming three-year-olds, a screaming Iyyar whose nap had been abruptly terminated after 25 minutes, and a screaming Avtalyon who'd been woken up by all the other screaming, I'd had it; when the neighbor came to collect her kid, I opened the door and said, "I can't keep Plonit here any more." End of walking arrangement.

(As a side note, the Israeli friend with whom I share babysitting shook her head when she heard this story. "In Israel, if you don't like it, you say to the person, no, this is not good for me. Here, not only you not say anything--you tell everyone else! So you are mad at me. You don't tell me, but you tell everyone else. The whole city knows you are mad at me. Only I do not know!" I thought about it, and you know what, she's right. I did complain about it to my husband and some of my friends, but did I tell the neighbor? No, not until I actually exploded in her face. Not the best system, I agree.)

What I was getting at, though, with this whole long lead-up, is that now I am walking Barak to and from school. This is fine by me; it isn't far, and I like having a few minutes of one-on-one time with Barak. Lately, he has, predictably, been thinking a lot about the approach of Purim--that one day in the year on which we can eat As Much Nosh As We Want. Every few hours, he'll ask, "Imma, when it's going to be Purim?"

And I'd say, "Pretty soon--next week," or whatever.

"After Shabbos it's going to be Purim?"

"After Shabbos and then another five days."

Today, he asked me when Purim was, and I told him. He was quite pleased to hear "the day after tomorrow." Then he asked,

"What's after Purim?"

"After Purim is Pesach."

"And what's after that?"

"After Pesach is Lag Ba'Omer."

"And what's after that?"

"After Lag Ba'Omer is Shavuos."

"And what's after that?"

"After Shavuos is Rosh Hashana." I thought I'd leave out that whole Three Weeks thing for the time being.

"And what's after that?"

"After that is Yom Kippur."

"And what's after that?"

"After that is Succos."

"Yay! And what's after that?"

"After that is Simchas Torah."

"And what's after that?"

"After that is Chanuka."

"And what's after that?"

"After that is Tu b'Shvat."

"And what's after that?"

"Then it's Purim again."

"That's it?"

"Isn't that enough?!"

Purim is tomorrow night, and today I baked three cakes (two castle cake and another molded cake), about a billion cookies for shaloch manos (next year bli neder I'm doing bar cookies--none of this drop cookie business), and a pot of chicken soup. I also made dough for 40 rolls, which I have yet to bake--MHH is on his way out for eggs. Fortunately I am borrowing costumes for the kids--all of them--from my neighbor, whose three sons are roughly the same difference in ages as our own. They're going to be firefighters, and fortunately Barak is perfectly happy to be the same thing he was last year.

But having Purim erev Shabbos is sort of exhausting--seuda, seuda, and hey! more seudos! And shaloch manos! And costumes!

I'm kind of tired already.

And do you know what's after Purim?

I do.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Barak and books

1. Purim is coming up. Not as soon as I thought--it's a week from this Friday, whereas I had somehow gotten it in my head that it was this Friday. Anyway, Barak is learning at school about Esther ha'Malka and King Achasueros and bad bad Haman. Earlier this week, he found a Purim book (courtesy of Grandma E and the book sale) on the shelf and brought it to me. We looked at the picture on the cover.

"Barak, who's that?"

"I sink dat's Esther ha'Malka."

"Right! And who's that?"

He wasn't sure, but we decided it was Mordechai. Ditto for King Acha--oh, however you pronounce it. And then there was Haman.

"Is Haman so mean?"


"But Esther is nice, right?"

"Right. Also Mordechai is nice."



Then, sagely: "But dey're not really real. Dey're only puppets."

2. My husband likes comic books. He used to like them the way I like yarn; now he just likes them. Anyway, there was a graphic novel sitting on our kitchen table last week, and Barak picked it up. I looked at it over his shoulder and made a mental note that it should vanish; it was something creepy about Norse deities and Hitler and changing the course of the war and whatever. Yecch. Barak, naturally, was entranced.

"Imma, what's dat?" I looked. Picture of Jews on a train platform, circa 1942.

"Those are Yidden."

"What are they doing?"

"I think they're getting on the train."


Okay, that was easy enough. Then he saw a picture of some Nazis.

"Imma, who are dose?"


"Those are Amalek, sweetie."

"Who's Amalek?"

"Amalek are mean people who don't like Yidden."

"Dey hurt da Yidden?"

"They used to. But then Hashem took them away."

"Like the dinosaurs?"

"Kind of like that." We can always hope, right?

Then he turned the page, and there, of course, was a picture of Hitler.

"Imma, who's dat?"

"Who do you think that is?"

"I sink hiss a policeman." The hat and all, you know.

"He's kind of a policeman. But he was an Amaleki policeman. Not nice at all."

"Did Hashem take him away?"



"Barak, how about if we read something else? How about Green Eggs and Ham?"


3. A couple of months ago I needed another $5 or so to get Super Saver shipping on Amazon, so I got a copy of Mr. Popper's Penguins. Truly a great work, and I am not being even a little bit facetious--it's totally cute and so funny and so well written. I've been reading it to Barak. I don't have any cute stories to regale you with on that front--this is more of a PSA that if you haven't read it lately, you should. But remember to explain to the child you read it to that just because penguins can slide down stairs on their tummies doesn't mean that people should. Kay? Kay.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

What are the odds?

I just checked the mail. There were three things in there: an envelope and two postcards.

On closer inspection, I realized that all three were from Jasmin. They were dated 11 January, 5 February, and last week.

Now, it would be strange enough that they'd all arrived on the same day. But then you realize that one had a postmark with the Australian National Antarctic Seafaring Expedition on Macquarie Island; one was postmarked Rotarua, New Zealand; and the third came from Los Angeles.

All on the same day, with no other mail.


Sunday, March 02, 2008


Today is our (mine and my husband's) fifth anniversary. By the secular date--by the Hebrew date, it's Wednesday.

I mentioned this to my husband a week or so ago--fair warning and all. He was sitting at the computer putting together a worksheet for his Chumash class. "Hey, five years!" I mused.

He didn't actually look at me, but did sort of incline his head in my general direction while continuing to type. "Five years of what?"

To his credit, he reacted quite appropriately when I informed him that I'd been talking about the five years of WEDDED BLISS he has thus far enjoyed with his WIFE, namely ME. He not only stopped typing, but turned around completely and said, "Ohh. I'm in trouble now, aren't I." No, not really. I didn't marry you for your romanticism.

What I did marry him for, though, became evident (again) a few hours later. Abba was in the bathroom checking in on Barak, who had been sitting on the toilet playing with his Columbus trucks. (He likes the truck aspect of potty trips, so sometimes will hang out in there much longer than required by nature.) By the time Abba went in there, though, Barak was done, wiped, hands washed and in pajamas. Abba was taken aback. "Who helped you get dressed?"

"Imma helped me." (I'm overhearing this from the kitchen.)

"Oh. Imma wiped you too?"


"Oh, Imma's awesome. I thought I was going to do that. Isn't Imma awesome!"


"Do you have such an awesome Imma? You should tell her that, you know. It's very important to tell Imma that she's awesome. It makes Imma feel good and it's a mitzva. You should always tell Imma that she's the awesomest."

And I'm pretty sure he didn't even realize I was listening in.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


Iyyar got a little bit of a late start talking. He didn't really say anything until he was eighteen months old--just Barak's name and, once in a while, Abba. Now, at exactly 22 months, the word you hear from him most often is "yeah!" followed closely by "NO!" Lately there's been a whole slew of new words from him: waffle ("wa fo!"), chatul ("ah too!"), bear, gate, etc. He can say Imma ("Amma!") but most of the time just calls me Abba. Easier to say, I guess. And he clearly understands quite a lot in both English and Hebrew--he'll get me socks out of drawers if I ask for them (even socks for Barak if I specify socks for Barak), put his coat in the closet upon request, etc. When Asnat made her heroic return a couple of weeks ago, she said in Hebrew, "Let's go brush teeth!" and he went straight to the bathroom. He's moving right along with that language thing.

So far, though, I haven't heard much in the way of putting words together, with the exception of phrases he got ready-made from Barak (notably, "I don't want it!" and "Open it!") I've never gotten an answer to a question that wasn't yes/no. Well, okay, if you ask him if he's poopy he answers you by saying "boopy!" but that's still really a binary-option question, isn't it.

But today, we got something new. We were at Chana's house across the street, and all of a sudden there was Iyyar, proudly handing me... an obviously not at all child-proof electrical outlet cover.

"Iyyar! Where did you get that?"

Iyyar, very pleased with himself: "The wall."

Wow. I mean, mild horror about the outlet cover, overridden by pride in linguistic virtuosity.

Oh, and today's favorite from Barak: we saw a bunch of pine needles squished in some snow. Barak told me that he didn't want to step on them, because they would hurt his foot. I said no, they aren't sharp, even though they're called needles. They're from a pine tree. I showed him a pine tree, and he considered. Ah! And a lightbulb went off. "Pineapples grow on the pine tree, right?"

No, but they should.