Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I mentioned a few days ago that Ada stopped by last Sunday to bring the boys birthday presents. Because she knows them pretty well, she turned up with some serious hits: Batman and Superman pajamas for Iyyar and Barak, respectively, which came with actual capes; and a Batman and Superman car (one of each) that you can shake, put down on the floor, and watch zoom away, with sound effects. "Turbocharged!" and "To the bat cave!" and so on. These were, Ada cheerfully admitted, the kind of presents you buy for other people's kids.

Barak and Iyyar, it goes without saying, are in love with their new cars. Barak is so possessive of his that I haven't seen it for a while, because he has it hidden in his bed; Iyyar has been playing with his all the time, but occupied less with the car itself than with the task of keeping it out of Avtalyon's hands. Iyyar's new goal in life, apparently, is preventing Avtalyon from ever getting any toys; whatever Avtalyon gets, Iyyar confiscates, with a merciless "no no baby! That's not for you!" I intervene in this at what seems like two-minute intervals all day, and while I remember that Barak used to do the exact same thing to Iyyar, it doesn't make me any more sympathetic. The house is FULL of toys, that baby rattle or toy wrench has been around since before you were born, and only now that Avtalyon's holding it it is the only toy you can possibly play with in the whole wide world? Give me a break.

Part of me is waiting eagerly for the moment when Avtalyon finally clops him one across the face (it won't be long); part of me knows all too well what will happen when that line is finally crossed. Anyway, by Sunday afternoon both the supercars were having time-outs, to reappear Monday morning (which they did). Of course, Monday morning both Iyyar and Barak went off to school, leaving Avtalyon... alone. With TWO supercars.

Asnat was here Monday and when it was time for her to go, I came out of my office to see Avtalyon hoofing it down our long hall in hot pursuit of the Batcar. Then he grabbed it, spied me, and came hustling back to present it to me for re-shaking and relaunching. But on the way, he wasn't just holding the car. He was driving it through the air, with a distinctly identifiable "Vroooooooooooooommmmm..."

Monday, May 11, 2009

news flash

This morning, Avtalyon said "hello" AND "wow"! And in the stroller this morning, said "baby" really clearly--not "baba" but a genuine "ba-bee!"

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Now that I have a keyboard

My keyboard up and died last week, literally midsentence, for no apparent reason. I thought something had gotten inside and took it apart (with a screwdriver and Barak's able assistance), cleaned it, and put it back together, but no dice. The old keyboard is now serving as a computer-assisted navigation system for the pirate ship, formerly known as the living room couch, and I was keyboardless until I installed the new one about fifteen minutes ago. It's kind of surprising though what you can do without a keyboard if you really really have to. Like, put in your password by right-clicking and copying one letter at a time. Tedious, but it works.

Anyway. It's been a busy week. In short:

1. One of my most demanding clients at work is leaving soon, and he gave me, by way of appreciation, silver hors d'oeuvres forks and spoons. They are very pretty and were probably very expensive--his assistant thinks his wife picked them out. I had no idea what they were. I thought they were for the kids, but noted that the forks looked awfully sharp. His assistant told me what they were. Then, after a short pause, she told me I needed to get out more.

2. It's my birthday tomorrow. I'm going to be 36. I find this a little bit... unsettling. Not too much, but somewhat. Mostly because I am now on the Other Side of 35, and I want more kids, &c. My musician friends all freak out about 35 because that's the age Mozart died at ("and I haven't even written one opera! Not one!") For me, it's all about the fertility. Say what you will, but please don't.

3. I let Iyyar have a cookie with butter in it a couple of days ago, to see what happened. BIG mistake. The exact same thing happened that happened last time: he screamed and cried off and on all day until he finally pooped. It was awful and I felt terrible. Remind me not to try that again for a really, really long time.

4. Lately, Iyyar has been asking me to put on his "gloves", which are actually his Shabbos socks. He doesn't seem bothered by having socks on his hands and they seem to hinder his dexterity surprisingly little. Tonight he ate dinner wearing Barak's old blue car pajamas, a "pirate tichel" (my green-pink-and-sparkley tie-dyed one--highly piratical, of course) and gray socks on his hands. I should have taken a picture.

As a side note, do you know the German word for "glove"? It is literally "hand shoes." It is my favorite word in the German language. I mean, we know they are literal, but come on... "hand shoes?" It's almost as good as my favorite Hungarian word, which is "lightbulb." Literally, it translates as "electric pear." Which is, of course, exactly what a lightbulb is.

5. I have been knitting a LOT. I'm just on a huge knitting kick lately, and, in a departure from my knitting tendencies for the last few years, I've been wanting to do really gnarly, complicated knitting with lots of cables and charts. I've got my list of summer knitting all laid out, and first on the list is fall Shabbos vests for the boys in the navy blue Galway I have had sitting around for years. Pattern suggestions for cabled vests in sizes 2, 4, and 6? I could of course just wing it, but feel like branching out.

6. Avtalyon is getting impossible to cook with. He's suddenly started noticing that sometimes I have/am eating food, and takes this very personally. I have food! Which means that there is food that he does not have! And this cannot be allowed to stand! He tries his best to lunge out of his high chair (fortunately, he can't, but he tries reeeeeally hard), arms pitifully outstretched, wailing REALLY REALLY loudly about how much he WAAAAANTS it. Usually, he already has whatever it is I have. He doesn't care. He wants THAT ONE.

7. Other Avtalyon updates: he now says "book," "baby," and "peas," and has demonstrated a marked preference for the books containing pictures of babies. He LOVES books. He also loves his blankie. Like Iyyar, he sucks on the tag, but unlike Iyyar at this age, he prefers having his pacifier in his mouth. So what to do with the tag? Why, stick it in the next available aperture, of course. Which is why, when he's ready to fall asleep, you'll often see him sucking away on his pacifier while poking his blankie tag into his ear.

8. Last week, Avtalyon got a hideously high fever after a day and a half of throwing up everything he ate. "Hideously high" means that I just did not believe the thermometer, because come on--106? No way. Then Ada the Awesome stopped by, to give the boys birthday presents, and that was when we noticed that his hands and feet were kind of... well... dusky. And that he was breathing really fast. And that his heart was going awfully fast too. And that he looked really, really terrible. It was one of those moments where you truly don't know if you're being a neurotic mother or if there really is something bad going on, and given the choice of being laughed at in the ER for rushing in with a feverish baby and ignoring, say, a cardiac infection, I am all for option A.

Have I mentioned before how spectacularly great it is to have a babysitter who works in a pediatric ER? Not only did she drive us there, she came in with us, and it was kind of like going to the airport with a platinum frequent flier card (not that I would know.) She walked up to the registration desk and had a quiet word, after which we were ushered inside for a totally competent triage check by an RN (fever at 103.8, with Motrin), and then sat down to wait. Which we didn't do. Because about two minutes later, Ada poked her head out from around a corner and crooked her finger at us in the manner of a speakeasy proprieter during the early days of Prohibition. You can come this way now, but don't draw attention to yourself. So, as inconspicuously as possible, we coolly breezed in past a packed waiting room, and were seen right away by an honest-to-God DOCTOR (an MD! a real one! with a degree, and everything! I think she was at least as old as me, too!)

She thought he had a bug, but wanted to see clear chest films and his fever down before being sure about that. So Avtalyon got more Motrin than I would ever have given him at home, and a chest x-ray, and we hung out for a while in the ER while he nursed and perked up, and not two hours later we were out of there. Amazing. And we also had Ada around giving us the first-class treatment and bringing us stuff. If you have to take your baby to the ER, that is definitely the way to do it. But don't even ask me for my babysitter's phone number, because YOU CAN'T HAVE IT. We are not sharing.

9. As we get more and more serious about the idea of making aliya next summer, the question of what to do with our condo has been looming pretty large. It's pretty clear we can't sell it; even if we could find a buyer, selling it now would mean a financial loss that we just can't handle if we're going to be moving. Next option, of course, is renting it out. With that in mind, I've been making some inquiries about refinancing at a slightly lower rate to try to get the monthly payments down as much as possible. It transpires that, unless we qualify for one of the new federal programs, we actually won't be able to refinance because--get this--we don't have enough equity. We bought our apartment for $240k. We owe $173k on the mortgage, by dint of extreme thrift over the last few years and extra payments to principal almost every month. But we have about $7k in equity, because of how much value it has lost in the last year.

It's hard to think about like that. I can, however, think about it as, "If MHH had not gotten a job and had spent this entire year unemployed, how much worse shape would we really be in?" Or, "If someone had told me that Iyyar had [terrible disease] and it would cost $60k to cure it, how fast would I have forked that money over?" Yeah, it stinks, but when it comes down to it, we both have good jobs, we're still saving money every month, and if we've just lost most of our last six years' savings in the real estate market, well--a lot of people are a lot worse off. Perspective.

We might qualify for the program, anyway, which would mean we could refinance and possibly bring our monthly payments down a hundred or so dollars a month. I still don't think we can rent it out for what it costs us to carry it, but even if we are subsidizing it by a couple hundred dollars a month for five or six years, and it regains even half its lost value, it will still be worth it. Also, oddly, rents have not dropped by nearly as much as I would have thought. Three-bedrooms around here are still in the neighborhood of $1300, plus heat. And we have free laundry and deeded parking. So... yeah. We'll see. In the meantime, MHH heard today that he can, if he likes, renew his contract for a third year, so that's a good option to have even if we don't avail ourselves of it.

10. Part of the effect this whole condo-buying and equity-losing experience is having on me is to make me rethink my practices of daily thrift. I am the kind of person who buys a lot of generics, doles out the expensive parmesan cheese only in combination with the cheaper, if less tasty, varieties, and is clothing her youngest kid entirely in his big brothers' hand-me-downs, because, well, what does he care if he's wearing someone else's tomato stains? Now, I can't help but think that with that money we could have all gone to visit my grandmother, or Grandma E. I'm really glad we forked over all the money to go to Israel last year. And today, when I went to Target to get cat litter and diapers, I didn't buy generics. I bought Pampers. And I got Iyyar a concrete mixer and Barak a garbage truck, too.

Next week, back to our regularly scheduled thrift. But tonight, I'm eating straight Parmesan on my noodles, baby.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The week in fifteen words or fewer

1. Vomit
2. Fever
3. Emergency room (does that count as one word or two?)
4. Nonstop nursing
5. Noodles AGAIN
6. Work?
7. Laundry
8. Lost phone charger
9. So... tired...

Friday, May 01, 2009

Just happy

Not much blogging these days--not for shortage of bloggable episodes, more because of competing interests (such as laundry, knitting, and sleep).

Just a quick one, then, so you don't give up on me entirely:

Yesterday I was sitting on the living room floor watching Iyyar and Barak play, and contemplating how big Iyyar is getting. I felt the need for some cuddles. "Iyyar, can I have a kiss please?" He obligingly came over and gave me some kisses, then consented to sit in my lap and get squeezed for a minute or two before running off to play again. As he got up, he turned around to check that my need had been satisfied. Head solicitously forward, eyebrows up: "You happy now?" (It sounds kind of... accusatory, but it was actually very sweet. He really did want to be sure that I was in fact happy.) I assured him that I was, and away he went.

An hour or so later, now in the kids' room, I was again sitting on the floor, wiped out after a particularly athletic Avtalyon diaper change (that baby is SO STRONG, it's not normal). Iyyar came over with a bulldozer and started explaining to me that he needed a straw, I think to use for the bulldozer's exhaust pipe.

"I don't have a straw right now."

"Yeah! Do have a straw!"

"No, I don't. See?" I held up my empty hands.

"Have a straw inna kitchen!"

"I know, but I don't want to get up and go into the kitchen right now. I'm tired."

"No! Not tired!"

"I am too tired."

"You not tired. You just happy."

"I'm happy, but I'm also tired."

"No! I give you kisses. Now you happy. Not tired. Just happy!"

I didn't quite realize it was supposed to work like that.

In other news, the local utility company is doing a ton of work near Iyyar's playgroup, putting in streetlights and I don't know what else. Iyyar loves this and always wants to watch. "Wanna watch it worker man!" Avtalyon is surprisingly okay with this--back when it was Barak who wanted to watch, Iyyar would always flip out eventually and we'd have to move on. Now, the limiting factor to watching length is how long it takes my feet to start hurting. Sometimes we're there for an hour or more, to the amusement of the worker men.

Avtalyon's favorite activity right now is emptying the bookshelves of all the books, so that he can sit on the floor and peruse them all at his convenience; Barak seems to get taller and skinnier by the day, and now loves to whisper "secrets" into Iyyar's ears. Sometimes I overhear him. "Iyyar! Poopy pop! It's a secret! Don't tell anybody, 'kay!"

He hasn't yet.