Thursday, May 29, 2008


The company I work for has two Big Events per year, requiring Lots and Lots of Speeches. The first event is a training event that involves about 700 people; the second is a major conference that, some years, gets well into the tens of thousands.

Event #2 is coming up, and I am scrambling. I came back from maternity leave to find (it wasn't a surprise) that only one of the main-stage speeches had been drafted in my absence, and I had something like thirty jobs waiting for me--some of them really major. I have about six left. In the last six weeks, I have been averaging close to four speeches a week.

This explains, if you were curious, a) the fact that you have probably not gotten email from me, b) the fact that my final trip to the dentist yesterday was something I (oh, how sick this is) actually looked forward to, because it meant a full hour of knitting time on the bus, and c) the fact that I am so tired I'm substituting random words for the ones that actually should be in my sentences. Have you ever done that? Said to your kid, "Put down the car!" when you meant to say, "Put down the scissors!" It is a sign that you really, really, seriously need some sleep.

22 hours till Shabbos. I mamash can't wait.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Where is my camera?!

I cannot tell you how funny the bologna song is. So funny, in fact, that I decided I wanted to videotape Iyyar doing it and post it here. What the heck, the blog is password-protected, right? And surely there are thousands of two-year-olds out there who sing songs about bologna--nobody's going to recognize mine or anything.

But I can't find my camera. Gah!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

More kinderlach files

I mentioned to my friend Cecilia today that I have gone a long time without blogging cute kid stuff, then told her some of the stuff that had been going on lately. She said, "paste it in from the emails." So, in what might be the epitome of lazy blogging (okay, maybe not), I give you this:

From: Cecilia
To: Uberimma
Subject: Spider triumph
Date: Three years ago
I know you are all waiting with bated breath for the
latest in my spider saga...

The Spider (who is, in case you've forgotten, the largest
spider in the world, ever) made its way to the window
and I (virtuosically, bravely,and with great dignity)
pushed him outside with the end of my mop. Needless to say,
I will never open that window again. Ever.

Thank you f
or your reassurances that the spider is
(most likely) not
poisonous and for the offers
to come over and whack it/stomp on it for


From: uberimma
To: Cecilia
Subject: Spiders
Date: Tonight

I truly do not remember how it came up or all the details at this point, which is too bad. But at one point there was a moderately-sized, not scary-looking spider in our kitchen. I told Barak not to kill the spider, because spiders were good bugs that kill the bad bugs. Barak was skeptical. I insisted that spiders were not scary bugs.

"I'm not scared of spiders."

"You're not scared of spiders?"


Then we went through a whole list of people who were not scared of spiders. Then (I swear I am not making this up) he said, "Tanta Seeya is scared of spiders."

"Who? Tanta Sara?"

"No, Tanta Seeya. She makes me sweaters. I sink she is scared of spiders. I sink when she sees dem, she goes like dis." Arms flung wide, mouth open in scream of horror.

From: uberimma
To: Cecilia
Subject: Spiders #2
Date: Tonight, five minutes after the last email

Now I'm thinking about it more I think I know how he knew, although it would require him having a memory on the order of, well, mine. I think we had previously had a conversation at some point about spiders wherein I told him that spiders could not hurt him, and he asked if that was true of all spiders, and I said that there were spiders in Africa and Australia that could hurt you if they bit you, but that those places were very far away. And he at some point heard that you live in Australia, because you sent him those shirts. So he must have been putting two and two together with you living in Australia where there are scary spiders.

It's so bad I don't blog this stuff. They do such cute stuff every day that I just can't remember it all. Like today, Iyyar. He has started singing like you wouldn't believe. Barak used to sit in his high chair or stroller declaiming I don't know what--telling stories or something, in total gibberish. Iyyar sings, long dramatic improvised operas about... something. Today, the opera was about bologna. I gave him some bologna and he was so thrilled he began to sing.

"BOLEY! Boley boley, bo! bo! lee lee lee! aHHH, bo LEE LEE LEE bo lee..."

* * *

MHH would like me to add that it is not merely the fact that he sings, it is the... full-tilt unbridled passion with which Iyyar sings that is so funny. Eyes scrunched shut, head flung back, entire body in fluid theatrical motion. Iyyar does not just sing. He performs. The high chair (or stroller) is his stage, and the world his audience.

On Thursday afternoon all of us were in the produce store, since MHH got off work early for Lag ba'Omer. On our way to the checkout, I spotted a friend, and went over to say hi while the men of the family (Abba, Barak and Iyyar--I had Avtalyon in the Snugli) stayed by the checkout waiting. My friend didn't realize that they were waiting and started telling me how much her kid (who is in MHH's class) likes MHH (which of course I liked hearing) and we chatted a little longer than we really should have done given the circumstances.

Then I realized, somewhere in the recesses of my consciousness, that part of the background noise of the store was Iyyar--singing an opera. A whole, complete opera, in acts, with many parts, all of which he sang with true depth of emotion, great vigor, and impressive volume. I decided to wrap up my conversation and returned to the checkout and the other 3/5 of the family just as the finale came to its triumphant close, the curtain fell, and--I did not hear this myself but Abba tells me it is true so it must be--someone else in the store applauded and called, "Bravo!"

Monday, May 19, 2008

How to get your mother to vault off the couch and come running into your room

"Iyyar, wanna pish with your penis? Look! Pish with your penis like this!"

Sunday, May 18, 2008

One step back

Back into pullups, that is. Friday was great. Everyone had a great day. Avtalyon slept wonderfully Thursday night, thanks to his hib and polio shots that morning; Barak and Iyyar were delightful and charming, and Barak ended the day with clean dry underwear.

Shabbos was great too. But the clean dry underwear turned into gross poopy underwear sometime around 4 pm.

Today, back into pullups. Which were, if not dry, at least not poopy by bathtime. But then, when Barak and Iyyar were both totally naked and about to take baths, and MHH had Iyyar in the tub and Barak was still jumping around his room pre-bath, we heard a horribly familiar wail.

"I'm POOPY..."

Not just him. But the bed, the sheet, and the wall.

What do you say to that? You know, after bleaching the heck out of half the room?

Is he just holding it all day long until he can't hold it any more? I really really don't think he pooped on the floor on purpose. In fact I'm sure he didn't, because he was hysterical. But I also know that a mere fifteen minutes earlier, he'd told me he didn't need to poop.

Barak is four. He used to be toilet trained. He was toilet trained for a pretty long time. Now he is totally not toilet trained at all. I really don't know what to do here, other than put him back in pullups for the rest of the week per Grandma E and also for my own sanity--I need to not be thinking about Barak's bathroom needs all day long.

I do remember reading somewhere about growth spurts causing toilet regression, and Barak just outgrew all his 4T clothes in the course of about two weeks. I'm really really hoping that that's it, and that it will pass. Soon.

Because I'm almost out of bleach.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Grandmas Are Smart

So, one thing I haven't been mentioning much lately on the blog is the, ah, issue that Barak has been having with the potty. As in, he hasn't been using it.

Let me state for the record that I had a toilet-trained child for seven glorious months. From last June until, hmm, right after Avtalyon was born, it was pretty much all good. I reminded him to go to the bathroom, but he went, and clean dry underwear at day's end was an ordinary and unremarkable occurrence.

Then, you know, Avtalyon was born.

The slide began slowly, with some wet spots here and there, then some skid marks in the underwear. The kind that show "well, I needed to go to the bathroom, but I thought I'd wait just a little bit longer." Being too busy to stop and go to the bathroom was always the sticking point for Barak, so this wasn't such a surprise. But then we started moving to "I don't need to pish" or "I don't want to poop potty," and soaking wet pants and really stinky underwear. Okay, so, he wants more attention (never mind that he is a veritable sucking black hole for attention and already gets more Imma time than Iyyar, Avtalyon, and Abba combined...) I took him on some solo trips, made a point of doing one-on-one time with him, made a point of getting him a little earlier in the morning so that he could have some focused Imma attention.

It didn't help. We broke out the potty treats again, and I even started a sticker chart for him. But by last week, things had degenerated to the point where nothing happened all afternoon because it was all one big potty catastrophe--I think the last straw was the day when we never got to go to the park AT ALL despite the 70-degree sunshine because Barak said he'd gone to the bathroom, then wet his pants, then refused to take them off because they were wet and he wanted me to do it, then screamed for an hour because I told him to change his pants himself, then finally DID change his pants and underwear and then promptly pooped in them, all this while Iyyar was screaming his head off because I'd put his coat on him HOURS ago and WHEN ARE WE GOING TO THE PARK ALREADY?!

I called MHH at work and informed him that the second he got home, I was taking the baby and going for a very long walk. Which I did. As soon as I got outside, I called Grandma E and vented all of my considerable frustrations.

"Ignore it," she said.

"I did!" I wailed.

"Ignore it more," was the sum response. Put him in a diaper, she told me, and don't say a word, for at least a week.

So that night, I put away all of Barak's underwear. When he woke up and looked for underwear, the drawer was empty. "Sweetie, I think your underwear is in the garbage," I told him. "When you poop in your underwear, it goes in the garbage, right? I don't think you have any left in your drawer." All technically true--I just neglected to mention the stash of underwear on top of the armoire.

So he wore a pullup, Wednesday and Thursday. I did not see him use the bathroom once. He just availed himself of his pullup all day long. On Wednesday, MHH gave him the desperately needed bath when he got home from work. Yesterday, as he (Barak, not my husband) got stinkier and stinkier, I called Abba to let him know to expect the same--my frustration level with all of this is such that I am just not dealing well at that point in the day. By around 4 pm, Barak seriously reeked and I was trying not to go too close to him. I noticed Barak pulling at his pants and looking a little... disturbed.

"Barak, does your tushie hurt?"


"Is it uncomfortable?"


At 6, MHH came home. We were sitting in the living room playing or doing whatever--Avtalyon had had shots that morning so had been fussing most of the day. Barak had progressed from looking unhappy to kvetching/wailing "I have poop..." I told him that I knew, and Abba was going to give him a bath when he got home.

"But Imma, I have poop!"

"I know, sweetie. Because you've been pishing and pooping in your pullup all day."

"I don't feel like I'm wearing a pullup."

"Yes, you are."

"I don't feel like I am. I don't feel like I'm wearing a pullup."

"What do you feel like you're wearing?"

"I feel like I'm just wearing pants."

He was sitting on the floor at that point and I suddenly realized a suspicious brown smear on his sock, right below a suspicious bulge IN THE BOTTOM OF HIS PANTS LEG. Ack!! Abba, B"H, was home then, and promptly changed into his oldest sweats, transferred Barak to the bathroom, and began the process of de-poopification, as I took Avtalyon with me and, um, left the house (to be fair, I had already made a date with a friend to go grocery shopping and have dinner.) The stench of poop and the wails of Barak drifted after us as we drove off. I felt a little bad for MHH, it is true, but not nearly bad enough to stick around.

A couple hours later, we got home; the house no longer stank, the kids were in bed, and MHH was looking a little tight-jawed but improved by some quiet time and the caramel yogurts I'd bought him at Trader Joe's. Avtalyon finally went to sleep; I put the groceries away and went to bed too.

This morning, after a glorious night in which Avtalyon only woke up once, I was awakened by the pitter-patter of Barak footsteps. On their way to the bathroom.

"Imma? Imma, I don't want to wear a pullup. I want to wear something else. I want to wear underwear." There were three baskets of clean laundry waiting to be put away, and he started rooting around in there--and lo, found a pair of underwear I'd missed. "Yay! Underwear!"

"Are you sure you want to wear underwear? You don't have to wear underwear. Because if you wear underwear you need to use the potty. If you don't want to use the potty you can just wear a pullup."

"No. I want to wear underwear and use the potty."

Okay then.

He's still at school, so I don't know yet how it went. Further bulletins as events warrant.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I don't get it. I really don't.

I don't get how I made it to less than one week shy of my thirty-fifth birthday without ever having bought a food processor.

I've been grating all those potatoes and carrots by hand because... because... well, I don't know. Because my mother did. Because my grandmother did. It was sort of like the car and the dishwasher--you don't miss what you never had.

Well, this year I decided to buy myself a birthday present. I got the slicer/shredder attachment for my Bosch, and yesterday got around to taking the blade attachments to the keilim mikva. Then I put the whole thing together this afternoon and tried it out.

Now I want to shred every vegetable in the house.

This thing is so cool. And so fast! You all know this already, right? That food processors chop vegetables up for you?! Somehow or other, over the last five hundred shabbosim or so, I never quite caught on to that.

Anyway, so, this is what we had for dinner. Barak calls it zucchini noodles. No noodles involved, though.

Zucchini noodles a la Bosch

8 small zucchini, grated on fine grater blade
half an onion, ditto
6 oz whole mushrooms, ditto

6 eggs, beaten with immersion blender until frothy

mix all the above together with:

the remaining matzo farfel from Pesach (1-2 cups or so)
salt and pepper
a shake of onion powder
a few tablespoons of vegetable oil

Mix and spread into 3 8 x 8 pans. Sprinkle one with mozzarella cheese for tonight's dinner; leave the other two parve to put in the freezer for Shabbos. Bake on 350 for an hour.


Monday, May 12, 2008


I bought the tickets. It wasn't $8,000, but it was close. The shock and horror of spending that much was mitigated substantially by the discovery that it was BY FAR the best price. I found something fifty dollars less on Delta, with yucky transfers in NY, and other than that we were talking at least $2,000 per ticket. Yup yup. And at least this way we are going BA, which is one of my favorite carriers. Much better than, say, Lot. Or Tarom. Or Air Ghana.

Now to find an apartment. And get a passport for Avtalyon.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

moving right along

All right, so, here's where things stand.

MHH has accepted a job here. It is a two-year contract, potentially renewable for a third: the hours are insane, but no grading, no discipline, and, we hope, no prep outside of kollel time.

My request to telecommute from Israel has been approved. I get eight weeks, and I can pad that out with vacation time to make two months.

I'm looking for a furnished apartment to rent in Maale Adumim. Anyone know of anything?

And I'm trying to find tickets that won't totally wipe out our budget for the summer in one fell swoop.

Further bulletins, as always, as events warrant.

In the meantime, here's a picture of the sweater I made my nephew this past winter, before Avtalyon was born. They live somewhere good and cold, so he's probably still wearing it.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Sticker shock

We appear to have arrived at a workable compromise, involving our staying here for the next two years but first spending the summer in Israel. I talked to my boss today and she is ok with my telecommuting for two months; she will check with her boss tomorrow. So I came home tonight and started checking out fares.

And nearly fainted.

The best fares I can find would be eight thousand--yes, that's EIGHT THOUSAND--dollars for all of us. That's with Avtalyon in my lap.

I know fuel prices are through the roof. I know the dollar is in the toilet. But EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS?! Two thousand dollars per adult??

Does anyone have any better ideas than the usual online routes? Anyone?

Monday, May 05, 2008


So, a few weeks ago I mentioned that we were unsure about where we were going to be this coming year, because of some uncertainty about whether MHH's contract was going to be renewed. To backtrack slightly, he is now in his fourth year teaching at the same MO yeshiva high school. After four years, teachers are up for tenure, and we had noticed that his high school had not tenured anyone new in a while, choosing to fire them instead. So, he asked around, applied for some other things in town, and in the meantime, we waited. He also applied for a one-year position at Hebrew University--the one in Jerusalem. And he applied for a spot in a new local kollel, which was sort of a dream job in that it's quite well paid, he'd get to sit and learn all day, and do all the fun parts of being a rebbe without having to actually discipline, grade, or make worksheets.

So, guess what? He did not get fired. He did get hired by the local kollel. And he also got the spot at Hebrew U.

It's decision time. I can't even get into all the ins and outs of the decision-making, because it is way too complicated to get into here. We tried deferring the local kollel for a year to do Hebrew U., and while they were nice about it said that there would be no guarantees of a spot next year if he didn't take the spot now. Deferring at Hebrew U. isn't possible or practical for a number of reasons. And adding to it all is that the Hebrew U. position starts on August 4--and we haven't even started trying to rent out our apartment. Not to mention that I'd probably lose my job if we went, which would make things quite difficult when we got back. But the Hebrew U. thing would basically be a one-year pilot trip for us, to see if aliya is really the way we want to go. We'd have to come back at the end, but then, hopefully, we'd go back again.

All things to think about during part 2 of my root canal, scheduled for tomorrow morning. Sigh.

It's good to have options. It's very good. It's much, much better than having no options, which is what we were quite worried about only three weeks ago. But making the decision isn't going to be easy, and we have to give everyone answers by this Friday.

Stay tuned.