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