Sunday, January 31, 2010

And now, for something completely different

Like... a list!

I looked at the archives sidebar and realized that the number of posts I write annually has been going down steadily, by a few dozen each year. Okay, not surprising; every year I've been busier. But I don't want to taper off too much so I'm going to open this window in Blogger, go start working on a speech, and come back to do a new entry in my list every time I get stuck. Okay? Here goes:

1. Avtalyon has a Melissa and Doug firetruck puzzle that Yehudis found at a thrift store for $2. To say that he loves it is an understatement; he adores it. He sees it on the shelf and gasps: "Puzzle!" I bring it down for him and he wrinkles his brow and gets to work, with all seemly haste, busily dumping out the pieces, putting them together, moving them around. The best part? Every time he puts two pieces together, he has to stop to applaud. Just quickly, you understand, because he needs to keep going. So he'll put the pieces together, look up, gasp a little in pleasure, clap a few times to be sure I get the message, and move on to the next piece. When he gets to the doggie piece, he likes to point that out to me to. "Doddie!" He can put the whole thing together now, almost all by himself.

2. I have been insanely thirsty lately. It started in the ER when I couldn't stop refilling my water bottle and draining it, again and again; one time one of the nurses filled it for me and then saw me down the whole thing at a gulp. I didn't think twice about it but she stared. The whole time I was in the hospital I kept filling it and drinking it, probably drinking at least four liters a day; yes, the air was dry and I am nursing, but holy cow! I didn't even want Diet Coke (yes, you read that correctly)--I just wanted to drink water. I think Marika must be growing at a faster-than-usual clip; the ankle nametag they put on her when we arrived was digging into her leg when we were discharged, and she's out of all of her newborn stretchies already.

3. When Asnat is here, she often feeds Avtalyon oranges and grapes, and I like this because she has more time to cut fruit into little pieces than I do. Not surprisingly, he refers to almost all fruit in Hebrew, and every time he gets into his high chair, he asks for it: "Ahpooz! Anavim! Ahpooz! Bee!" That last, by the way, means, "please!" Asnat, being a true Israeli, does not insist on b'vakasha.

4. Avtalyon's second birthday is on Tuesday. I know he should get his own post. I KNOW. I'll try.

5. Both Avtalyon and Iyyar have seriously runny noses. Avtalyon does not appear at all bothered; Iyyar has a red rashy face and every time his nose starts to run, he informs me. "Imma! I have boogers!"

6. I went to my six-week checkup, a little late, the week before last, and found that I've lost more weight than I thought I had. In terms of X, where X is what I weighed when I got pregnant with Barak (the top end of the healthy weight range for my height), I was at X + 22, which was down 20 lb from right before Marika was born. I checked at home yesterday and am down to X + 17 (on my home scale, not a doctor's scale, but still). While absolutely bad, it is relatively great, and quite encouraging; the lowest I've been since Iyyar was born was X + 11, and that was when Avtalyon was nine months old and we'd just come back from Israel. Now, I'm only two months postpartum.

I really, really want to get back to X, and the idea of losing 17 lb somehow seems a lot less daunting than the idea of losing 21. Especially if we can manage to, you know, go to Israel, where I was able to lose a pound a week without even trying (granted, I was nursing exclusively, and I'm sure that helped, but I wasn't losing a pound a week after Avtalyon was born here--more like a pound a month.)

7. I'm sorry, I can't quite bring myself to blog the whole hospital experience. I sat down to do it a couple of times and I just... can't. An hour or so ago I picked up the backpack I had with me at the hospital, looking for something, and put my hand unexpectedly on a pack of hospital-issue baby wipes. And had a fear reaction that was so intense it was physical. I didn't really start shaking until I got home from the hospital, but I haven't really stopped since--and I still can't quite feel my knees. Tomorrow she's scheduled for a followup appointment with her pediatrician. We are hoping for no surprises or unexpected detours to the ER this time.

8. Barak has not had a new sweater for a long time--more than a year I think. I asked him what he wanted and he requested a "bright shiny red" sweater. I had the body of it in my backpack, and got a few inches of it done at the hospital and managed to join body and sleeves without holders or stitch markers OR the right length of needle; I'm about a third of the way up the yoke now.

9. Even though we don't really know what we're doing, I've started clearing out and packing; this morning I went down to the storage space (Marika has just started letting me put her down to nap again, as of 10:30 am) and went through baby boy clothes in sizes 0-12 and the 3T/boys' small stuff, which will be for Avtalyon and Iyyar respectively, next year. Barak is going to need a bunch of new shirts; he has pants and Shabbos shirts but no weekday shirts. I need to get those, 3T Shabbos pants, and a couple of size 4 shirts for Iyyar--there are of course hand-me-downs from Barak but not everything makes it long enough to move down the line. Marika, of course, has lots of cute new things (hooray post-holiday sales! I got 11 shirts/pairs of pants for her in various sizes for $36 at Children's Place earlier this week) and also got two shopping bags' worth of hand-me-downs from a local friend today, to add to the enormous box of hand-me-downs we got a couple of weeks ago from out-of-town friend with toddler twin girls. Both of them have excellent taste in clothes and Marika is now very well supplied with pink.

10. I realized today that it's entirely possible that we could be out of this apartment and in Israel in six months. MHH's contract is up mid-July. If we rent out the apartment I imagine we would hope to do so by August first. That's six months from today.

The mind reels.

Two months!

And happy to be home.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

In which we are reminded who really runs the show (hint: not me)

Yes, that is an IV in her arm.

Tuesday morning I was walking home from Marika's 2-month well-baby check, at which she was pronounced an officially well baby, talking on my phone with K about positive developments on the Israel front. That was 10 am.

By midnight, I was standing in an isolation room at the children's hospital, being told by nurses in yellow gowns and masks that my eight-week-old baby had bacterial meningitis.

(They were, B"H, WRONG.)

I don't have time to do it justice. I'm sorry, I just don't. But, as I wrote it to my boss Friday morning:

In a nutshell, she had a very fast-moving eye infection. She was totally fine in the morning, at 10 am one eye was a little red, by 2 pm it was purple, oozing yellow gunk, and swollen shut, and by the time I got to the ER at around 6 (I went back to the doctor first, who told me she had periocular cellulitis and I should pack a bag fast and go to children's hospital) it was spreading to the other eye and she had a fever. They did blood work, her white counts were elevated, they did a spinal tap and those white counts were a little high too, so they admitted her and threw IV everything at her in case it was turning into meningitis.

In the ER I was told "just in case it's turning into meningitis"; by the time we got to her room I was told it WAS meningitis, but this was, apparently, a miscommunication (ha ha ha ha. Six years off my life right there. But, of course, better that they were WRONG.) Since then, nothing has grown out from her spinal fluid cultures, and she now has no fever and her eyes look perfect so they let us go.

And now we are home. Recovering. All of us.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Inhale, exhale

Grandma E emailed me this week and reminded me that Avtalyon is about to turn two. He is indeed. She thought he deserved his own post, and he does. I have another week for that, though, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, things here are... moving along. It's decision time for next year, and Option #1 of 1 is Go To Israel. The big question is how and where; whether he'll get into the program he wants, whether I'll be allowed to telecommute, whether we'll try to sell the condo or rent it out. Big decisions, big changes.

And one way or another, we are moving, which means that I'm going to have to pack up this apartment. With four children in it. And a husband. Who has... stuff. The mind kind of reels.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Marika's favorite song

Seriously. She loves it.

Every time I sing it she grins at me.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Naming names

I think that if I wait until I really have time to do this post justice, the baby will be three, so, in a nutshell:

My grandmother, as you know if you've been reading this for a while, died the year before last, the day before erev Rosh Hashana. We were very close and it's fair to say that she was the most stable and loving presence in my life for much of it. So, it was only natural that I would want to name a girl after her.

However: not so simple. For one thing, she wasn't technically my grandmother, being my grandfather's second wife (she married him in 1952, so was the only grandmother I'd ever known); and for another thing, being not Jewish, her given name was Maria Terez. Our last name is about as Jewish as it gets. Can you imagine? Maria Teresa Goldwasserberg? (I'm making that up, but it's close.) She might stand out a little in the Bais Yaakov.

So we (I) hemmed and hawed and pondered and considered and looked through baby name books again and again. I knew I couldn't really name the baby for my grandmother, in the sense of using her exact name, nor would there really be a point, since the idea there is it being a z'chus for the person's neshama. But I could certainly name in zecher of my grandmother, so that's what I tried to do. Eventually I came up with a name with a certain level of linguistic similarity, with a meaning that I thought she would have liked, and something that she would have been able to pronounce and not found weird.

My grandmother was born in Hungary 1924, the oldest of four girls, so it was pretty inevitable that she got named Maria Terez (as it was inevitable that the rest of the girls should be Erzsebet, Margit, and Katalin. You can count traditional Hungarian girls' names on the fingers of two hands.) The usual nickname for Maria would be Marika, but for some reason, my grandmother got tagged Mariska. She HATED this. Her elementary school report cards (which were perfect, by the way, and which she never threw out) said Mariska. People in town called her Auntie Mariska. She grumbled. "Why Mariska? It should be Marika. What good is Mariska? It's not a normal name." So when she moved to the nursing home, after 81 years of being Mariska, she just never said that name to anyone. She just said Maria, and they called her Marika, which was exactly what she had wanted all along. It only took her 81 years to get there.

So for purposes of this blog, the baby can be Marika; and if one day she decides she'd like it to be something different, she can tell me, and that will be fine with me.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Still no name

But a list, a totally random list of things I want to remember about right now:

1. Avtalyon is really into chickens. He says "chickum" and I taught him how to make a chicken sound, which he does incredibly well. "BOK bok bok bok bok." It's hilarious. Friends of ours sent us some money for Chanuka presents for the kids and I bought Barak and Iyyar little Lego spaceships; for Avtalyon I got a Duplo set with, yes, a chicken, complete with coop and little farmer menschie. He loves it and when he can't find it asks me for his "bok bok."

2. Avtalyon is in a phase of nighttime wakings. He doesn't wake up for a cuddle or an excursion though. No no. He wakes up for a book. He wakes up, howls for one parent, gives up and howls for the other, and when eventually one of us staggers in there stands up in his crib and politely requests a book. It has to be the right book though, one he hasn't looked at lately and one with the right pictures. If he doesn't want that one he rejects it with a firm, "No!" Why do we put up with this behavior, you ask? Well... it's the three-kids-in-one bedroom thing. If we ignore him, he cries, and it goes on for a long time and wakes up the other ones and... yeah. Easier to just give him the book.

3. One more Avtalyon thing. Because he still naps and Iyyar doesn't, sometimes at bedtime Iyyar conks out instantly and Avtalyon is still feeling social. So he tries to get Iyyar to wake up. It totally doesn't work, but it's really funny to listen to, because what he'll do is try to convince Iyyar that the book in his crib is just the shpitz and Iyyar should hear all about it. So what we hear is, "Eddie! Eddie wook! Wook eddie! Bok bok! Bok bok WHOA! Eddie! Eddie wook!"

4. Barak is noticeably happier and more relaxed than he's been in weeks if not months. I hadn't realized how much my being under the weather and exhausted and miserable had been stressing him out; the facial tic, the obvious tension, I attributed to school. But I think it was me, because the tic is almost gone and the meltdowns are greatly diminished and he just seems a lot happier. Last week he asked me to make "yummy sweet challah" for Shabbos and asked why I never made challah anymore, when my challah was so much yummier than the bakery challah. I heard this and... well, I was definitely going to try my best. So I orchestrated matters as well as I could on Friday and the baby and Avtalyon were, B"H, cooperative, and I did actually pull off a full batch of "yummy sweet challah" less than an hour before licht. The smile on his face was a mile wide and it was totally worth it.

5. Iyyar's been eating vegetables lately. Like, soup vegetables! This past week I made an improvised zucchini-dill soup (it was really really good if I do say so) with Hungarian noodles and he inhaled it. (Avtalyon dropped his on the floor. He's in a Phase.) And tonight, when dinner was leftover Shabbos chicken soup with added knaidlach, he ate his carrots and didn't even ask for more knaidlach. How about that?! Barak, of course, refuses to touch any cooked vegetable with the exception of carrot muffins and pumpkin kugel, but since he will cheerfully polish off a plateful of cut-up raw vegetables at every meal I don't worry too much.

6. And (saving best for last)--the baby has started to SMILE! I got some fleeting but definite smiles last week and then this morning I got a full-wattage, huge, goofy, lopsided grin, complete with one dimple. The kind that melt your heart into a puddle of motherly goo and make you instantly forgive the loss of sleep, income, time, and waist. She'll be five weeks tomorrow, so this is definitely a record. She also, as of yesterday, has decided that the bassinet is occasionally an acceptable place for a nap, instead of a cause for instant waking. Last night she was in there for a good two hours, and right now it's been an hour and a half and counting. I should be using this time to finish the dishes and write mitzva notes, but I know I'll forget all of this, so I wanted to write it down while I had the chance.