Wednesday, September 30, 2009

One of these days there will be a post about just one thing

But this isn't it.

1. Flags. Every time Iyyar sees an American flag, he points it out. "Look! It's an American flag!" And then, if it is not windy, "It's not flagging." I love it too much to correct him.

2. If Avtalyon likes what he is eating, which is pretty much all the time, he tells me. "Mmm! Mummy!"

3. Just this morning, Avtalyon started experimenting with hitting. He didn't like what Iyyar was doing so whaled him one, with a hard plastic dog. It must have hurt. Iyyar was so surprised he just stared for half a minute before crying; I went right to Avtalyon and very firmly told him NO! several times. Avtalyon looked outraged and then flung himself on the floor and threw a tantrum. I laughed. Then Iyyar laughed too. Then Avtalyon was insulted and stomped off down the hall to find Abba.

4. One of Avtalyon's favorite things to eat right now is red pepper, cut into slices and preferably accompanied by a bowl of hummus. He can't quite say "pepper" though. It comes out, "Ah poo!" and if you didn't know better you'd be sure he was saying "apple!"

5. We're getting three pounds of raw honey next week, from the same local buying co-op we already use to get real eggs (six dozen every two weeks, and yes, we go through them all). So excited.

6. I am really really enjoying my knitting lately. I'm not doing anything that novel but I've been getting a lot done in the little bits and pieces of time I have available--waiting for the bus with Barak, sometimes sitting on the floor with the kids playing, and occasionally at night. I've stopped working extra hours if I can possibly avoid it--the money is not enough to be worth it right now. I'd rather be getting stuff done at home.

7. I haven't done any yom tov cooking and I'm not even worrying about it. It's only two days, and for the first days we've been invited out for lunch on Shabbos so really it's just one extra meal over Shabbos. And I can cook on yom tov if I need to. Current plan is to make a billion carrot muffins for the kids (give or take a few hundred million), stock up on Shabbos yogurts, some deli, and fruit and the vegetables they like raw, bake some salmon for MHH and some bagels and cake for the rest of us. Everyone will be perfectly happy and I will stay sane.

8. I was looking over my work to-do list and figuring out exactly how much time I probably have left. Being conservative, I put a goal date for finishing everything that needs to get done before I go on leave for the beginning of my ninth month, since Avtalyon was born at 37 weeks and each baby has been several days earlier than the last. Then I realized that this goal date was a mere five weeks away. Holy cats. Think I should go through the baby clothes one of these days? Clean out the bassinet and infant carseat? Maybe?

9. Yesterday I had a brief triumph. The very nice Mexican woman whom I cannot quite bring myself to refer to as my cleaning lady was here and I had done a lot of tidying before she came. I did more after she left and when I went to bed my living room, office, kitchen, both bathrooms and the kids' room were all clean AND tidy. It felt great.

When I got out of bed, there were toys all over the living room floor and down the hall, the kitchen had magically re-sprouted its usual mess, and the floor of the kids' room was covered in laundry. I was the last one up this morning by less than half an hour (Avtalyon, for reasons I cannot identify, was up until 2 last night, and I didn't get a lot of sleep). I know I can't actually give up, but it is kind of disheartening.

10. Miraculously, a friend from work has offered to be on call to watch the kids in case I have to go to the hospital in the middle of the night. She can stay until Asnat gets here at 9:15. So now I only need to figure out who's going to take care of Avtalyon in the afternoon, collect Barak and Iyyar in the afternoon, and... um... yeah. Yehudis has offered her assistance as backup but I need a Plan A; Yehudis's house would require someone to be watching Avtalyon every second, and with eight kids in the house that wouldn't be so practical. I guess absolute worst case I have had a baby without my husband there before, but it's not something I would want to plan on doing for lack of childcare.

11. MHH is scheduled for a colonoscopy on Friday. I am trying hard not to worry about this even though health concerns for him send me over the edge even more than they do with the kids. Rationally I know it is unlikely they will find anything seriously bad; the issues that he's having it for have been chronic for literally decades, and, as he was told a few years ago, "If it was cancer you'd be dead by now." I understand why it was recommended and agree that it's a good idea. Still, a colonoscopy is neither fun nor without risks.

12. And since I don't want to end with that... hmm... oh yes. Destashing! Because we have no idea where we will be next year, and chances are won't have any indication until March at the earliest, and we are hoping very much to be moving, I have been trying as much as possible to do all moving-related tasks that aren't moving-specific beforehand. As in, organizing, tidying, and downsizing. Part of this is trying to get rid of stuff that we do not need, for example, yarn that I will probably never knit. Which I am in the midst of photographing (badly) and am soon to post on ravelry. Stay tuned. Because you totally want a sweater's worth of hunter green brushed mohair, don't you? Don't you??

Monday, September 28, 2009


Just kidding. Here's a list.

1. I bribed the kids with Twizzlers to get them to behave on Yom Kippur. I'm not saying I'm proud of this, but it's true. And it worked really well.

2. Avtalyon's current preoccupation is with putting on clothes--any clothes that belong to someone older and bigger than him. Last week he struggled mightily to get on a pair of Barak's polarfleece pants; a few days ago, he spent half an hour trying to get two pairs of Iyyar's underpants on (one on each leg). He'd get them on, crow with delight, stand up, and look dismayed when they slid back off. Lather, rinse, repeat.

3. The other thing Avtalyon is very into these days are the matchbox cars (aka Columbus trucks) that live in a box in the bathroom. The original reason they took up residence there, lo a couple of years or so, was so that when Barak was engaged in one of his endless potty trips, he'd have a reason to stay in there. There they remained, since the bathroom, as an off-limits-to-babies locale, is a relatively good place to keep a choking-hazard toy. These days, however, Avtalyon wants nothing more than to hustle in there and rummage through the box, exclaiming, "Wooooow!" Then he'll plop down on the tile and drive them around, with the accompanying "vrroooooms" and "beep beeps!"

4. So far, Barak loves school. I think the long day is hard on him--he melts down pretty frequently after he gets home--but he gets on the bus without a backward glance and off the bus with a huge smile on his face. And when he talks about his rebbe, it's with an attitude that can only be described as adoring.

5. One of Iyyar and Barak's historic favorite Shabbos cereals are Puffins. For a long time I was buying peanut butter ones, but I switched to the plain ones when we started with the peanut-free classrooms--I was worried that someone would successfully lobby for them for breakfast, or they'd find their way into a schoolbag. This past Shabbos, though, Barak found an unopened box of the peanut butter ones and they were both breakfast and afternoon snack. Shabbos afternoon, Iyyar didn't seem so happy; that night, he woke up constantly for more than two hours, crying and going back and forth to the bathroom. At around 2 am, it suddenly occurred to me: I went into the kitchen and read the label. The regular Puffins are soy- and dairy-free; the peanut butter ones, which I guess I haven't given them since early August, not only contain soy but are processed on equipment that also handles dairy. Argh.

6. I'm 31 weeks tomorrow. Besides the itchiness and the puffiness and the usual third-trimester stuff, I feel fine. This is around when things started moving with Iyyar, though, and it wasn't much later with Avtalyon. Stay tuned.

7. My husband is a very great fan of the Rambam (otherwise known as Maimonides). "The Rambam says..." is a pretty common phrase around here. Last week, as I walked Barak home from the bus stop, Barak wanted to tell me something, some piece of utter and incontestable truth, that he'd learned at school. He started out with, "The Rambam says..." and then stopped. "I mean, the Torah says..."

8. Abba tells good bedtime stories. I read books but have no knack for the make-it-up-as-you-go-along serial. Lately, he has been much more in demand at bedtime than I have, and this is because the current serial is about--wait for it--the Torah Team. I would tell you the characters, which are fabulous, but I keep pushing Abba to write his own frum comic books (in his spare time, which is even more boundless than mine) so I won't. But they're fabulous. Really. Come over sometime at bedtime and listen.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Food again

Lunches for the big boys: same as yesterday, except I didn't have strawberries. Iyyar got a plum and raisins instead, Barak got an apple and cinnamon cereal (he gets raisins at school for snack).

Lunch for Abba was instant oatmeal and an Odwalla almond protein drinkat school. He doesn't get a lunch break on Wednesdays--he does a lunch and learn.

Lunch for Avtalyon was what I made for Abba's dinner (onions and mushrooms with soy crumble and brown rice). I also made some pesto with the basil I had in the fridge. He ate that after Iyyar came home and Iyyar thought he wanted some too, but didn't eat it.

This afternoon was pretty mellow. Barak came home in a really good mood and there wasn't too much screaming. For dinner, I put out the leftover hummous, sliced red peppers, and cucumbers while I made noodles and finished warming up two pieces of barbecue chicken I had in the freezer. Avtalyon ate the vegetables while I was cooking, Iyyar and Avtalyon ate the chicken while Barak was having his vegetables, and then everyone was offered noodles with rice milk cheese and pesto; Barak turned down the noodles on the grounds that they were contaminated with pesto and asked for an apple instead, which request was granted. Then he asked for a plum. He's never had a plum before so I had no problem with this; he tried it and surprise! liked it! After that he really got my hopes up by tasting the noodles, but no dice there.

So everyone except Iyyar had vegetables (unless you're counting the pesto, which I'm not), and everyone except Barak had some form of protein. But Iyyar had a ton of fruit already today and Barak has had plenty of dairy, so that's OK. In retrospect I didn't really need the chicken, but I expected everyone to turn their noses up at the pesto. Nice surprise there.

Abba came home and ate the mushroom/soy crumble/rice stuff. He was nice about it, but it was kind of eh.

You know, I think I've figured out part of why other women with babies manage to cook real dinners every night and I have found it next to impossible. It's because other women with babies have baby nap time. I usually don't, because Avtalyon naps while I'm working. However, now that Asnat leaves at 12 and I don't have to go pick up Iyyar until 12:55, suddenly this has changed; she's been putting him down for his nap at 11 and I get anywhere from half an hour to 50 minutes of time to do stuff without either chasing him or imprisoning him in the high chair. You can get an awful lot done in that amount of time.

Cooking for yom tov, however--not so much. I haven't really done anything. But we're not having guests, we've been asked out for Shabbos lunch, and it's only two days, so really it's just one extra meal over Shabbos. I can do that tomorrow, right? Right? Right.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


See, here's the thing.

Nobody in this house is insanely picky. Nobody has only four foods that they can or will eat. But everyone has several things that they can't eat, or just won't touch. And they're all different things. So it just doesn't seem fair to me to say to anyone "Sorry, even though the only thing you don't like/can't eat is X, you're getting it because it's what everyone else wants." It doesn't sit well with me. I mean, the only things I don't like are green peppers, kasha, oatmeal and tongue. And I REALLY wouldn't appreciate it if someone handed me a plate of green peppers, kasha, oatmeal and tongue and said, "Sorry, I know you don't like it, but that's dinner."

But I also don't want anyone to be malnourished or made sick by the wrong food. And I want my kids to eat a variety of foods so that they grow up healthy and with a reasonably varied palate. And the problem with offering alternatives every night is that Barak, for one, will ALWAYS eat Cheerios if offered Cheerios. They need to be eating other things.

Last night, I ran out to the Other Produce Market (with the tastier produce and the narrow aisles) and bought a heavy backpack full of good tomatoes, fresh basil, apples, plums, red peppers, strawberries and mushrooms. I came home and packed lunches, consisting of:

Barak: sun nut butter sandwich, a cheese stick, strawberries, an apple, a small bag of soy crackers

Iyyar: sun nut butter sandwich, strawberries, a plum, a small bag of cinnamon cereal (he is out of school at 1, so although he eats the same quantities as Barak, he needs a smaller lunch bag)

Everyone had Cheerios and cow/rice milk for breakfast.

Dropped off Barak. Dropped off Iyyar. Came home to work. Midmorning, I took a break, chopped a couple of onions and put them in a pot on very low heat. When I was done working, but while Avtalyon was still napping, I washed and sliced some mushrooms and put those in there too, along with the cold baked sweet potato I had from yesterday (peeled, of course). Put up brown rice in the rice cooker. Halved an eggplant and a red pepper and put them in the oven to roast. Cleaned up from breakfast, and right before it was time to go get Iyyar, added some ginger, salt, pepper and soy milk to the pot and pureed the whole thing in the immersion blender.

At one, I woke up Avtalyon and went and got Iyyar. Abba called at around 1:30 to say he was coming home for lunch; I gave him a bowl of mushroom/sweet potato soup concoction and brown rice, and a bowl of the same to Avtalyon. Both were very happy. Iyyar wanted a snack too, so he had a plum. While they were eating, I scooped out the insides of the eggplant and pepper and mashed those with some olive oil, garlic, and fresh basil and put that back in the fridge; I also found a can of chickpeas and turned that into hummous. Iyyar squeezed the lemon for me.

At this point everyone was a mess so Iyyar and Avtalyon went into the bathroom for a nice long splashing session, even though I'd heard Asnat give Avtalyon a bath that morning. We played for a while, read a couple of books, cut everyone's fingernails and toenails and then at 3:45 it was time to go get Barak at the bus stop. We retrieved him without incident and came home, spotting the FedEx truck in front of our house with the replacement gaskets for my Bosch bread bowl. Aha! In the house, Barak and Iyyar sat down at the table with crayons to draw, Avtalyon went back in the high chair with some toys (much to his resentment) and I put the Bosch bowl together and quickly mixed an inauthentic but nevertheless delicious baguette dough. By the time this was done with it was around 5 PM; while the dough rose I cleaned up a little, pulled out the leftover soup from lunch and added some pureed carrots I had left from yesterday's soup. With the rice, it was enough for Abba. Sliced some red peppers and tomatoes and put those on the table with a bowl of hummous. Warmed up Abba's soup. Abba came home and about ten minutes later the bread was baked.

The kids noshed on red peppers while I got the food out; we had sliced peppers and tomatoes, the hummous, the eggplant/basil/pepper dip, the leftover soup, and two hot baguettes.

I had an eggplant and tomato sandwich on bread.
Abba had leftover soup and rice.
Barak ate a ton of bread, a slice of tomato and a few slices of pepper.
Iyyar ate a ton of bread, a slice of pepper and some hummous.
Avtalyon ate a ton of bread, some peppers and some hummous.

And everybody was happy. We all sat down together to eat, which is practically unheard of on a Tuesday night, and everyone finished up well fed and in a good mood. I checked the lunch bags later; they were both empty.

Nobody ate anything complicated. Homemade bread you could charge with being excessive for a weeknight meal but seriously, if you have a good mixer that takes almost no prep time. It was pretty simple food. And it made everyone happy.

But it still took me every spare minute of the whole day to put it together, and more patience than Avtalyon really has.

There has to be a better way. I think much larger batches is going to be part of it. This is a pointless thing to wish for right now but I really wish our apartment had a better layout--one of the families we visited in Maale Adumim had this awesome setup where the living room and kitchen were divided by half-height walls--too high for the kids to reach over on the living room side, counter-height on the kitchen side, so that you could cook AND supervise the kids. That'd be amazing, but I don't have it right now. I can only cook while Avtalyon is napping or trapped in the high chair.

And part of keeping everyone happy with simple food is good ingredients--good tomatoes, for example. Barak usually won't touch them but the real tomatoes I get at Produce Market #2 he really likes. Since I started going there for produce, he's started eating red peppers, too. And fruit, which is in season now, but won't be for long. I need to get them started eating root vegetables, I guess.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Listing, continued

What did I say for 2, 3, and 4? Jaundice, bus, and itchy, right?

Okay, so, true to my word:

1. Jaundice

Anyone who's been reading this blog for a long time (anyone?) may remember that we have a chazaka around here of jaundiced newborns. Barak had jaundice, which was taken care of in the NICU with an IV, but which probably contributed to the feeding issues that lasted well into his first year. Iyyar had to go back to the hospital for another three days to go under bililights; although he never needed to be in the NICU, this was scarier in a way because the bilirubin level that would have indicated he needed to be readmitted was lost by the lab, erev Shabbos, and we came frighteningly close to not hearing about it until it was too late. Newborn jaundice tends to be thought of rather casually because it's very well understood and usually easy to treat--but if it isn't caught in time, it can lead to brain damage and death. B"H we never went even close to that, but even that brush with it was too close for me.

By Avtalyon, you'd think we'd all have been on the lookout, especially since he had every single risk factor on the list: he was orange, he'd had a difficult delivery, he was a boy, he'd had siblings with jaundice, and he was early. Oh, and by the time he was discharged, he had an elevated bilirubin and was starting to get listless. Two days later, his morning bilirubin--I was taking him in twice a day for blood levels, in addition to using the bililight blanket at home--was 16. He was readmitted. Like Iyyar, his bilirubin shot straight through the ceiling by day four, and his level when he was admitted--around 3 PM--was 26. Not. A. Joke.

Time from lab test to time arriving in hospital and getting him under lights was about eight hours. What if that level had been taken at night? And I'd been called at, say, 10 am? And the doctor had left the same totally uninformative message ("This is Plony. Call me back." Thud.) followed by another game of phone tag? It would have been very bad news. And as it was, I was back in the hospital with a very sick four-day-old baby, in a highly contagious floor full of flu and RSV, with everybody who came in the room telling me how we had to get him out of there as fast as possible before he picked something else up. They hardly even let me nurse. He ended up losing a full pound, forgetting how to nurse, and... yeah. It wasn't fun.

So, hello! Here I am, pregnant with baby #4! And I went to my pediatrician with a simple request. "Do you think this time, if I have a baby with an elevated bilirubin at two days, we could skip the two days at home/peds admission thing and just PUT THE BABY UNDER LIGHTS already in the mother-baby unit? Lower infection risk, lower screw-up risk, less stress?" No. No, no, and no; insurance would never approve it. I asked pediatrician #2. Nope. He got angry just at the suggestion that he should take it up with insurance.

Pediatrician #3 was the pediatrician I haven't seen for a while, since he was the one who dropped the ball with Iyyar's lab results. It wasn't just him, obviously, but I haven't felt comfortable with him since. But I hoped he at least remembered it, and scheduled Avtalyon's 18-month checkup with him for yesterday. I reminded him of Avtalyon's history. And Iyyar's. And Barak's. I may possibly have gotten slightly emotional--not on purpose, but when I get stressed my voice shakes (this is why I write the speeches! and do not deliver them!) and it probably helped. I made my request. Two-day bilirubin of, let's say, ten. Will you have them keep the baby under lights instead of sending him/her home for monitoring?

"Well, usually you wouldn't even consider that. But obviously there's something going on with your kids that isn't normal. I think that'd be very reasonable."


"Yeah, I think that would be appropriate. I can't promise the insurance company's reaction but I'd call it medically necessary."

Wow! Wasn't expecting that.

2. Bus

Barak takes the schoolbus to and from school, with (like) the big kids. Barak loves the schoolbus. I love the convenience of the schoolbus, but I find it scary. He is very little to be riding the bus alone; there is no monitor on the bus; the kids on the bus have been in school from 8-something till 3:45 and are uniformly off the wall. And adding to this is that there seems to be a different bus driver every day, who does not know the kids, doesn't pay attention to the kids, and just drives. Which is his job. But stopping is also his job. Stopping at the RIGHT STOP.

On Friday, when I saw a bus stop opposite from Barak's bus stop, I hardly paid attention to it; three privately chartered school buses come that way at the same time, and I assumed it was one of them. Until I saw the fourth-grade boy entrusted with making sure Barak is OK on the bus get off it. Without Barak.

"Where's Barak?" I shouted across the intersection.

"I didn't see him!" he shouted back.

Oh. No. I looked up and saw the bus rumble past. Is Barak on that bus? Or not? I hesitated for about a second and then went into a full sprint after the bus. I am, let us not forget, in my seventh month. I was wearing crocs. And carrying shopping bags, which for some crazy reason I did not drop. I raced to the corner, where the bus slowed down for the intersection but did not stop, while screaming "Wait! Wait! Wait!" as loudly as I could. I got closer. The bus pulled away again. I kept running, as fast as I possibly could, while screaming, until after another block and a half the bus stopped and I slowed down and trotted the rest of the way, gasping. The bus waited, door open.

"My... kindergartner... is... on... this... bus!" I gasped. "You stopped at the wrong corner!" The bus driver just kind of looked at me, waiting for someone to get off the bus. Every kid on the bus, it seemed, was piled into the front of the bus, standing on the seats or in the aisle. "What's his name?" they--not the driver--asked me. I told them and they took up the chorus, and a few moments later Barak, face blotchy with tears, was produced.

"The stop is at the northwest corner, not the northeast!"I told him. "Please, stop at the right stop next time!" The bus driver looked unconcerned. "He should have known his stop."


"He is FIVE YEARS OLD! He's in kindergarten! He knows HIS stop. You are also supposed to know where the stop is and stop there. He's not going to know to get off at the wrong corner just because you've stopped there! He's too little to even see out the window to the other side of the street! He doesn't see me standing there, he's not going to get off!" Especially not since I have pounded this into his head. And, I did not point out--but should have--he couldn't even tell that the bus was stopping to let kids off, because there were so many kids jumping around in the aisle he couldn't see to the door.

The bus rolled off and I tried to calm Barak down, all the time thinking, seriously, what would have happened if I hadn't caught the bus? What would he have done? Gotten off at the next stop, after the bus had turned, over a few streets, where I wouldn't have seen him or known where he was? Gotten off at the stop after, or the stop after that, or a stop a mile away? Hoped for a kind adult? He knows his address, but not when he's that upset. What if the adult that found him wasn't kind? What if he tried to find his house by himself? What then? Best case, maybe he would have gone home with another kid--whose mother would have looked up his last name, called out house, and found no one home, because I would have been trailing after the bus searching for him. Or maybe stayed on the bus till the end, when the driver would have done... what, exactly?

This morning I called the principal, who, to his credit, took it seriously, apologized, gave me his cell phone number, and told me that he, personally, stayed in the office until the buses finished their routes. He made sure he got the whole story and wanted to know exactly where the bus was supposed to stop and where it had stopped. He said he would talk to the bus company about the stop and to the boy entrusted with Barak to be extra-sure that Barak gets off where he's supposed to--not that this should really be his responsibility, but I have heard it from every mother that you have to have an older kid looking out for the little ones, so he's been enlisted. About the kids jumping around on the buses, though, he seemed to have no solution--apparently this has been a problem since busing started, three years ago now.

Friday night, by the way, my husband had run into one of the mothers who witnessed my Olympic performance chasing Barak's bus. "She said she'd never seen anyone run that fast." Pause. "Definitely not while pregnant, anyway."

3. Itchy

When I was pregnant with Barak, lo these six years, I had a Most Unpleasant Rash. It started as a few itchy bumps around my ankles at around 16 weeks, and slowly spread up my calves, getting itchier and itchier. By around my fifth month patches had appeared on my arms, and by my third trimester it was almost everywhere. By my eighth month it was all over my legs, including the tops of my feet; my arms, down to the wrists; and my shoulders and entire torso--dense patches of red bumps that itched indescribably. It was HORRIBLE. My OB had no idea what it was and called it eczema, telling me to cover myself with moisturizer; I hate lotions at the best of times but trying to cover your entire body with cream when you can't reach half of it... yeah. And anyway the cream didn't help. By a couple of weeks before Barak was born it was a disaster. I couldn't sleep or think straight or do anything but try not to scratch; I was bruised and bleeding and beyond miserable. At one point I even woke my husband up at 5 am crying, not that I thought he could do anything about it, but... I was SO ITCHY! And it was Pesach, so I couldn't even do oatmeal baths. Awful.

By the time Barak was a week old, it was almost gone; I had scabs, but no new bumps came out. A week or two later it was like it had never happened. When I got pregnant with Iyyar, I waited nervously for the first bumps, but they never came. With Avtalyon, I had a few itchy spots but they never turned into anything. I thought I was off the hook.

Until a couple of months ago, when I noticed itchy spots on my ankles. And they started to spread. I mentioned it to Shanna, who recommended this soap. (Which, by the way, smells exactly like Wrigley's Spearmint Gum.) I bought three bars and a jar of the lotion; I think it's helped, but it hasn't yet wrought miracles. (See the woman in the "before" picture? That was me, except without any of those clear patches she's got.) Right now I'm at 29 weeks, and so far the itchiness is limited to my ankles and calves and one patch on my left arm. If it doesn't get any worse, I can deal. It had better not.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


1. I really am sort of listing. I am really really tired, although less so now than yesterday. This is what I did yesterday:

7:00: Woke up, got kids up and dressed and breakfasted.

8:00: Loaded Iyyar and Avtalyon into stroller and took Barak to bus stop. Put Barak on bus.

8:00-9:00: Went to bank, bakery, produce store, and fish store for Shabbos supplies, with Avtalyon and Iyyar in tow.

9:00: Dropped Iyyar off at playgroup.

9:15: Asnat came and took Avtalyon outside to play.

9:45: Heard huge screams from outside and found Avtalyon being carried in by Asnat, with blood pouring out of his mouth. Am told that he has smacked his face on stair while going up steps; examine tooth-shaped gash inside upper lip.

10:15: Took Avtalyon to doctor for conveniently timed 18-month checkup, and also to get his mouth looked at. Walked just over a mile to get there. Forget to bring paper order for my 1-hour glucose test, which I was going to do at the same time and is now about two weeks overdue.

10:45: Avtalyon's mouth pronounced close, but no stitches. The doctor thought about it for a little bit before deciding he'd be OK without. Also discussed issue of jaundice with doctor. More on this later. Got Avtalyon's polio shot #4, bringing him up to date on all immunizations.

11:30: Went to supermarket next to pediatrician to buy ice cream sandwiches, so that Iyyar's incredibly expensive dairy- and soy-free coconut milk ice cream sandwiches would not be the only ice cream sandwiches in the house when ice cream is to be distributed. His sandwiches are almost $1/each, and they are small. I bought 12 normal-sized ice cream sandwiches for $2.99. Avtalyon ate one of them on the way home, making a spectacular mess, but given his morning I felt he deserved it. Walked home, another mile and change.

12:30: Picked up Iyyar and went home.

1:00: Cleaned up Avtalyon and put him down for a nap. Spent next hour frantically cooking and cleaning. Made zucchini soup, salmon teriyaki, boiled potatoes for potato salad. Failed to fold laundry.

2:00: Went to meet Barak at bus stop. Bus did not stop at correct corner and ergo Barak did not get off; chased bus, screaming, at a full sprint for two full city blocks. (While in seventh month.) Caught bus and retrieved sobbing kindergartner. Gave bus driver piece of mind. More on this later, too.

2:15: Returned home with somewhat consoled but still traumatized kindergartner, turning him over to care of husband, who has promised to bathe children and mop kitchen floor. Hear Avtalyon waking up from nap. Leave for bus stop.

2:30: Get on bus to go to Target/supermarket #2. Poor timing, I know, but we were out of EVERYTHING.

2:45. Go to supermarket #2 for soy yogurts and the handful of other items only available at supermarket #2. Walk over to Target, buy a Diet Coke, and sit in the cafe for about twenty minutes feeling leg muscles seize.

2:45-3:30: Buy $130 worth of Target stuff: detergent, cereal, wipes, and other essential miscellany, including new sneakers for Avtalyon and Iyyar, which miraculously are available in the correct sizes in the same brand they already have. Knit two rows of glove cuff, then take cab home.

3:45: Walk into house to be mobbed by children demanding grapes. Appease children and start cooking IBS-friendly imitation of chicken marsala. Pleased to see that children have in fact been bathed and floor is mobbed. Praise husband fulsomely. Try sneakers on children and discover that despite being the correct sizes and the same brand of sneaker they just outgrew, new sneakers do not fit and will have to be returned.

4:oo-6:30: Finish chicken, rice and potato salad while appeasing children further. Wash dishes and floor again. Point out Shabbos yogurts and instruct older two children to pick up living room and bedroom of toys. Considering their ages, they do this pretty well--it takes less time than doing it myself, which is definitely a milestone. Reward said children with Shabbos yogurts. Feed Iyyar Iyyar-friendly piece of chicken, feed Barak and Avtalyon red peppers and cucumbers and cheese (on different tables). Eat snack-sized Mounds bar while nobody is watching. Slip one to Barak while nobody is watching with praise for fabulous cleaning job.

6:30: Realize what time it is and shriek in horror. Kitchen is clean but I have not showered. Shower at the speed of light, get dressed, and free husband from baby-monitoring duty. Light candles. Read Danny and the Dinosaur for the nth time and put children to bed.

7:00: Sit down in kitchen, fully resolved to never move again.

7:02: Two children come trickling out of room for potty/book runs and child #3 starts singing "boop! boop!" in his crib.

7:03: Get up, change diaper, and begin wrangling children back into bed. Meet with resistance. Offer resistance of my own. Begin World War III. Prevail.

8:00: Sit down again.

8:01. Husband comes home from maariv. Serve and eat dinner. It is yummy.

9:00: Husband's chavrusa comes over to walk with husband to oneg. Both leave at around 9:30. I clean up kitchen and silently pray that this is not the night that my neighbor goes into labor and I go over there to be with her kids while she and husband are at the hospital. Prayers are answered in the affirmative.

9:45: Collapse into bed, sweaty and exhausted.

12:00 AM: Wake up realizing that husband is not home and really really should be by now. Begin to panic in earnest at around 12:30 am. Husband comes home at 12:45. I am wide awake by now, in full neurotic terror mode and very very itchy (more on this later, too). He had no idea what time it was and apologizes profusely. Forgive husband. Go back to bed but can't sleep. Am still awake at around 3.

6:30 AM: Realize that Barak is standing next to my bed and probably has been for a while. Tell Barak through pillow that he can go into my office and get his little Lego and take it into the kitchen to play. Barak vanishes instantly and I get another hour and a half of near-sleep, during which I completely ignore sounds of chaos from throughout apartment, choosing to allow husband this vital bonding time.

8:00 AM. Drag self out of bed. Stumble into kitchen. Barak wants to know if we can go play.

"Where do you want to go?"

"To the Shapiros' house."


"Can we?"


"Why not?"

"I'm too tired."


Items 2, 3, and 4 TK. I'm too tired for those, too.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


I love sock yarn. I love the feel of it, the hand-dyed colors it comes in, and I love knitting it on those itty bitty needles (sick, I know, but true). I love how portable it is and how far it goes. What I don't love, however, is putting it on my feet, where no one can see it. So I don't knit a lot of socks.

I do knit other things with it, though. Baby sweaters and hats; sometimes kids' hats; and gloves. Oh, I do love gloves. They take forever and are incredibly fiddly--all those fingers! but when they are done they are, to my mind, about the nicest use to which sock yarn could possibly be put.

I just finished these. Nice gloves, awful picture. It's hard to see the colors but it's black and very dark reddish purple. Grandma E gave me the yarn, which she got in the Socks That Rock sock club and professed not to like. I can see the objection for socks--who wants to knit black socks?--but the colors show up beautifully outside, in sunlight.

Strangely, I myself have only two pairs of handknit gloves. I make them and then invariably think of someone who needs and deserves a really really nice handknitted gift and off they go. Just cast on a pair of these though, in some beautiful gold Koigu I got in the yarn swap with Cyndy lo these many years. (I'm still working my way through those boxes. It will take a while!)


Monday, September 07, 2009


Last week, at Barak's kindergarten orientation, I heard--or at least I thought I heard--an announcement that on half-days there would be no busing for the kindergartners. This made perfect sense, since many of the bus drivers are not Jewish, half-days are mostly legal holidays, and of course the non-Jewish bus drivers are not going to be driving schoolbuses on Thanksgiving etc. So I told Barak last night that there would be no bus today, and this morning we all set out on foot on our way to his school--it's not far, much closer than where he was last year.

On the way, though, we saw--what's this? mothers and kids at bus stops. Hmm. I saw someone I knew. "Is there busing for [name of other school] today?" I asked, thinking her boys went there. It transpired that no, her boys (older than Barak) go to Barak's school, and there was his bus pulling up the street now. Um. Okay. Barak was perfectly happy about this and climbed on. I felt a little disconcerted but it was clearly his bus and his bus driver, so... okay. Off they went.

We were only a block away from home and it seemed silly to go straight back--nice day and all--so we went to the Other Produce Market, which is significantly farther away than our Usual Produce Market but has much, much better produce, and lower prices on some things as well. Unfortunately, the big drawback, much more than the distance, is its extreme unfriendliness to double strollers. The aisles are so narrow that if there is anyone else there with a cart you are stuck; more problematic, no one can pass you, and everyone who does want to pass you expects you to get out of the way for them, immediately, which I guess is not totally unreasonable but does make it extremely hard to shop--since you are always having to move away from the produce you are attempting to buy, you see.

At some point, after the third or fourth time relocating self and stroller, I had finally gotten myself within range of the black plums when the Mexican stock guy came past sweeping up fallen produce from the floor. I moved my stroller out of the way so he could go by, thereby putting the produce bins momentarily within reach of small hands, and then suddenly realized that Avtalyon had seized his opportunity. What's that in his mouth? A green... toy... no, not a toy... DEADLY GREEN JALAPENO PEPPER. Ack ack ack! I snatched it away from him at the same moment that the Mexican stock guy spotted it. I think he was at least as horrified as I was. Eyes wide, he shook his head at Avtalyon. "Bad idea, my friend." Avtalyon, of course, not having broken the skin of the pepper, was indignant. I eat peppers all the time! It's a great idea! What's up with this snatching away my pepper? It was right there in reach...

Anyway. I paid for my produce, we went home, I put Avtalyon down for a nap and Iyyar and I made pesto, cleaned up the kitchen, made lunch for Abba (for the record, white rice, sauteed-into-oblivion red peppers and onions, mushrooms, and a Trader Joe's fake Italian sausage--quite delicious if I do say so, and oddly reminiscent of paella) and folded some laundry. All the time, I was feeling uncomfortable about the bus. Would there be a bus in the afternoon? Maybe the announcement had just been "no afternoon busing?" That wouldn't make much sense, but... nightmare visions of Barak abandoned at school persisted. I decided to be on the safe side and called the office. "Is there afternoon busing today for the boys?" "Yes." "Okay. Thanks. Just wanted to be sure." So at ten to twelve, I woke up Avtalyon, stuck him in the stroller, got Iyyar into shoes and off we went to the bus stop.

Which seemed... strangely deserted. Why is no one else here? I sat there knitting at 12, 12:05, 12:10. Dismissal is at 12 and Barak is the very first stop, so he should really be here by now. 12:15. 12:20. I knocked on the door of a friend on that block. "Isn't there busing this afternoon?"

"There's busing."

"Why aren't you outside?"

"Dismissal isn't until 1:15."

"No, it's at 12. I looked at the calendar. Legal holiday, dismissal at 12:00." She frowned and went to get the calendar. I started to feel a sense of impending panic. "Huh. You're right. Legal holiday 12:00... for kindergarten. First through fourth is 1:15."

Oh. No.

She already had the phone. "Hi, this is... and Mrs. Uberimma is here and wondering about busing and... oh, he's sitting outside the office? Okay, I'll give her the phone." She handed me the phone, which Avtalyon promptly grabbed and pressed the "stop" button on, disconnecting her. She called again. Guess what: no busing for kindergarten in the afternoon. Barak is sitting on the bench outside her office, not having been picked up. I apologize, promise I'll be right there, and walk as fast as I possibly can the six or seven blocks to school, where Barak is sitting alone and morose on the bench, sweatshirt hood pulled up over his head. I apologize to the office lady, who is extremely nice about it and assures me that it was just a miscommunication and I wasn't the only one. I apologize to Barak. I explain to him what happened, but he doesn't really get it.

Barak was clearly upset, but not saying much about it, until we got across the main street and he decided to sit down on the sidewalk and refuse to move. Then, after the rational approach had failed and I started walking without him, he only came to me by rolling and crawling along the (extremely dirty) sidewalk, while screaming. Sigh. Home again, and I made lunch, and decided to let Barak have macaroni and cheese without spinach. I let him grate the cheese. I apologized again. I did screw up, but it wasn't for any want of trying to get it right; I should have specified kindergarten when I called, but didn't know I needed to, and the person at the office didn't know I was talking about kindergarten when I just said "boys."

Barak wanted to know why I hadn't just come to get him when the bus didn't come. I explained to him that I'd thought he was on the bus, I thought the bus might just be late, and I was afraid that if I went to the yeshiva, he might then get dropped off at the street corner and I wouldn't be there, and that would have been worse than him sitting in front of the office. I reminded him that we'd thought there were no buses, but then there were buses; I explained that I'd called the office and they'd told me that there was going to be a bus that afternoon and then there wasn't. "Someone made a mistake," I said again.

"Yeah," said Barak, accusingly. "YOU did."

What could I say? He was right.

Saturday, September 05, 2009


I keep meaning to post. Really, I do. And I mentally compose posts, or parts of posts, pretty frequently. I just never manage to remember them while I'm sitting at the computer. So I think I'll open this window and start a list and see where it leads.

1. Knitting. Did I tell you I visited Sarah in Michigan a few weeks ago? It was great. I knitted a lot. We ate yummy produce from a farm stand and I bought some new sock yarn and a book and one of these, which I love. I've been squeezing in a lot of knitting lately--if you're on ravelry, go look.

2. I feel like every third post I say something like, "Avtalyon is being really hilarious lately." But it's true, pretty much all the time. He's such a clown. He isn't just funny, he's funny on purpose, and deliberately does things to make people laugh. He also imitates Iyyar, which is, well, hilarious. Potbellied nineteen-month-old swaggering--yes, swaggering--through the living room in pirate hat while attempting Iyyar's signature tough-guy noises? You'd laugh too. He also imitates Iyyar's firetruck imitation. And does it really well.

3. Barak started kindergarten this week. Totally overwhelming for me--the long day, the schoolbus, all of it. He seems very happy. The first day he came home with a plastic bag full of woodchips and informed me that he and some other boys had found worms and he'd brought some home. I didn't see any worms in the bag, though.

4. Iyyar also started playgroup, at the same place where I sent Barak two years ago. I wasn't thrilled with it then, but then as now it is the best available local option. It's that, or send him someplace far enough away that it won't be walkable--which I don't want to do now for the same reasons I didn't want to do it then. So that's where he is. I'm seeing the same things I saw with Barak that I wasn't happy with then, but she clearly likes me now--I am never, ever late for pickup, which I think is mainly why, plus my checks never bounce and Barak was well behaved--so she took it quite well when I told her I was relocating the cleaning products in the bathroom out of children's reach. A couple of weeks ago Iyyar saw a bottle of Mr. Clean on the counter and asked, "Can I have some dat?" I am not taking more chances than I have to.

5. I am slowly putting together plans for who will do what with the kids when I am IY"H in the hospital having a baby, as well as plans for potential return trips to the hospital should the jaundice strike a fourth time. Which, let's face it, it probably will. What makes me insane is that despite the fact that I've had jaundice requiring treatment with every single child, and that two of those children had bilirubin levels that shot up 10 points in less than a day, well into the scary land of brain-damage-and-death potential, no pediatrician in my practice will go to bat with my insurance company to keep a newborn with elevated bilirubin in the hospital an extra day.

Let's be clear here. What I asked was, "Will you, if I have a baby with a bilirubin over 10 at 2 days, keep the baby under bililights in the mother-baby unit? This would mean that said baby could avoid going home to get sicker and sicker, a return trip to the hospital that would mean a peds admission to an almost certainly highly contagious floor, and the attendant risks/issues thereof." Clearly better for the baby in every way. But no. The answer is always no. Even though, with my track record, this is incredibly likely to be the case. Nobody will even try to get an exception from the insurance company. Avtalyon, by the way, had every risk factor on the list for jaundice, and the wouldn't keep him either. This is why I wanted to be proactive, so I wouldn't again be trying to fight the system while postpartum and still shellshocked from labor.

There is one pediatrician left in the practice--the one who dropped the ball the first go-round with Iyyar. I have an appointment with him on Friday.

6. Avtalyon is getting pretty verbal. He loves saying "thank you," which he pronounces in a way spookily reminiscent of my grandmother imitating my grandfather saying "thank you" in English. Tank ee-you! If I offer him a pacifier, he cries "puggie!" delightedly and then comes toward me with a wide-open mouth. If I ask him what's in his mouth, he sticks out his tongue. He also likes to keep me informed about what he's doing. For example, squatting down with a look of intense concentration, turning purple, and then gasping, "Boop!"

7. It's kind of incredible how much parve stuff is manufactured on equipment that also processes dairy. I went to Trader Joe's today with Iyyar to get the only totally dairy-free rice milk I've found and tried to also get him crackers. Trader Joe's sells a LOT of different kinds of crackers. Only one of them is totally dairy-free. We bought three boxes.

8. I've been giving both kids sunflower seed butter sandwiches for lunch (peanut-free classrooms). They are totally fooled and have not said a word. To make sure the moros know what they are, I wrote on both of the sandwich bags in black Sharpie, "Not peanut butter." Barak came home on Friday saying, "My morah says I can't have tr... tr... turmumps either. " "You can't have tree nuts?" "No." I think I should put a more informative note in his lunchbox tomorrow.

9. Barak has gotten really, really bedtime-resistant lately. We were away this Shabbos and he stayed up till 10:45 with no trouble at all. I tried to get him to go to bed, but he reeeeeally didn't want to, and I just didn't want to abandon the seuda to try to make him, which would have involved waking up the other two and then having to deal with that and probably not getting anything to eat myself. (And there was steak. I wanted some.) Next morning, he was up at 7, bright-eyed etc., to be offered a chocolate muffin (tell me again how this differs from a cupcake?) by the baalas ha'bayis. Not only was he fine all day long, but when we got home, after 10 PM, as I was speedily transferring Iyyar and Avtalyon into their respective beds from the cab, he settled into a kitchen chair and requested Lego (request summarily denied) and then cheese (I relented). He refused point-blank to go to bed, such that forcing him would have required a full-on battle that probably would have woken the other two. As I was considering this, the phone rang, and then I noticed Barak asleep in the chair--he does crack eventually. I hung up. He denied ever having been asleep. Kind of like his father. This morning again he was up at 7, but showing signs of collapse by around 4. As I've been writing this, he's come in here three times wailing for different things. Right now, he's in his room howling for the blanket he pished on the other day. "It's not cozy!" Sigh.

I just won't fight him every night. I refuse. If he doesn't get into bed, I ignore him, turn off all the lights and go work. He does go to bed eventually, but... ugh. Maybe I'm being lazy, or maybe I've just kind of had it for now.

10. I made it to nine, so there has to be a ten, right? Oh, how about the house? Which is a wreck. As always. I try. I try SO HARD. But it is SO HOPELESS. I could spend three hours a day cleaning and doing nothing else and I don't think it would really be clean. Tomorrow Iyyar and Barak have school but I am not working and I should get two hours of free time while Avtalyon naps. If I can avoid napping myself, I want to do a toy and book purge. We have way too much stuff in this house and some of it just has to go.