Monday, May 31, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

A little nachas

You'll permit me, right?

So today we went to the dentist. I just was there yesterday having a filling replaced, and today we went back so that Barak and Iyyar could get checkups. It was quite the excursion: I put Marika in the snugli (oh how she loves the snugli) and Avtalyon in the umbrella stroller, and picked up Iyyar at school; then off to get Barak at his school, and then on the bus to the dentist. The dentist is in the same building as my office, so before our appointment we went and visited some of my coworkers, who hear about the kids a lot but obviously don't really see them. Then to the dentist, where the kids were phenomenally well behaved ("Are they always this good?"), to Whole Foods to get Iyyar's rice milk cheese and Barak's Shabbos yogurts (the good behavior began to erode very slightly in the face of all those bright lights and colors and yummy-looking food), and back to the bus.

The bus we boarded on the way back was one of the newer ones with the flip-up seats to make space for wheelchairs. Since we got on at the first stop, it was completely empty. I considered flipping up seats to make room for the stroller, but then decided not to; instead, I sat on the flip-up row with Iyyar next to me, left Avtalyon in the stroller, which I held, and had Barak on the seats perpendicular to us. That meant that the stroller was more or less out of the way, and left three more handicapped seats across the aisle. The last time we took a bus, this past Sunday, Barak had asked me about the wheelchairs on the seats, and I'd told him that if someone got on the bus who was old or had trouble walking, or if a lady got on with a baby, you should get up and let them have your seats.

When we got on the bus was empty, but right before it pulled out an older lady with a cane got on. Barak leaned over to me, looking concerned, and stage-whispered with great urgency, "Imma! Should we get up? It's an old lady and she needs this seat!" I told him that it was OK, because there were still empty seats right next to her and she could sit there; if another old lady got on, we'd move.

If in ten years, when he's riding the buses on his own, he's the kid who gets up to give other people a seat, I'll be so proud and happy I'll probably cry.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What PSAs should look like

When I lived in Birmingham, there were a lot of things to get used to. One of them was British television--not just the BBC, but ITV and British ads and so on. One of the things that I saw there were road-safety PSAs that you would never, ever see on American TV--because for some reason, sex is fine, fake action-hero violence can be as gory as you want, but this: no. I still remember the physical reaction I had to seeing this, not knowing how it would end; the carseat lady shared it on facebook and I'm sharing it here.

(Click on the link, watch the video, and never let anyone behind you in the car ride unbuckled again.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Nine weeks

We don't have an actual departure date yet, so that's a bit misleading. My tzadaikas friend wore holes through her shoes today, did battle with metal detectors, and emerged victorious with a stamped-but-not-yet-apostilled marriage certificate; if all goes well, we'll have that shortly, and then visas, and THEN we can request tickets. Once we have those, bli neder I'll put up a ticker, so we can count down together. Whee!

I was thinking earlier that when I go back to look at old posts, I tend to look at the ones right before a big change. Right before I had a baby, right before the move. Because it's so easy to forget what things were like before. Which is why I should really really be blogging more now--but it's so hard to prioritize blogging in the midst of work chaos, children who really need my attention, the house, the paperwork, the very early stages of packing.

But I will want to remember this part, later, so...

1. My friend's 12-yo daughter is still coming every morning, bless her, and picking up Barak, so I don't have to walk him to the bus stop. Our mornings these days are a crazy rush, mostly because I am always so zonked and never wake up on time. My husband gets up first, and wakes up Barak; Barak gets himself ready and by the time I am swimming to consciousness with a baby plastered to me, he is eating oatmeal in the kitchen. At about two minutes to eight there is a wild frenzy of fatherly attempts to apply shoes/bag/jacket to Barak, with occasional meltdown when shoes/bag/jacket fail to present themselves or be acceptable, or lunch is not in place, or whatever; I usually pretend not to hear any of this, and stay in my room nursing the baby until he leaves. At this point, Avtaylon is usually jumping up and down in his crib yodeling, Marika is back to sleep, and Iyyar is either walking around the house in nothing but underwear or sitting on his bed sucking his blanket tag. I get them dressed and in the kitchen for breakfast, get myself dressed, and Asnat turns up at either 9 or 9:20, depending on the day; I run Iyyar to school, and go in my office to start working. At 12, Asnat leaves; Iyyar is done with school at 1:20 and either my husband gets him on his lunch or I do. Then Avtalyon wakes up from his nap, we all play for a while or maybe run an errand; Barak is home at 4, I try to make dinner, Abba is home at 6, and bedtime, usually, is between 7 and 7:30. I try to start working at 8, but it doesn't usually happen. MHH gets home at 10:15, and I either keep working or go clean the kitchen; it's rare that we are in bed much before 1. Being in bed by midnight counts as an early night around here.

2. Avtalyon is having a cape stage. The boys are all very into Playmobil right now, especially Avtalyon, who particularly loves the Playmobil firetruck; the other day, Avtalyon tried to get one of the Playmobil Romans in there, with a cape. Alas, the cape was too hard to get on by himself. "Imma! Imma help you! Imma help you batman!" Cape=batman. How awesome is that?

3. In similar linguistic awesomeness, on Sunday Barak was trying to read a sign that said "Beware of Dog." He got the "beware" part with some help, I read the "of" for him. "Dog" was hard, though. "Beware the duh... dooo... dah... dahg." Pause for consideration. "Beware the Fish?" Because fish, in Hebrew, is dag.

4. I go back and forth between thinking "sixteen pieces of luggage is a ton, we'll have no problem fitting everything we need" and "there's no way we'll be able to bring everything without shipping stuff." We have plenty of space for clothes and kitchen stuff. That's not the problem. The problem isn't even yarn, which will pad the kitchen stuff, or the bedding, which can be squished down pretty small. It's the books and toys and baby things--the pack and play, the seforim, the booster seat, the sixteen blankets Iyyar insists on bringing to bed every night. And the random items--my keyboard, the CDs, the pictures, the extra shoes for the kids to grow into. It's a lot. We may ship some stuff, we may not--no decision there yet.

5. Marika loves the Snugli. Right now I have her in a My Tai, which is a contraption with long ties that is kind of like a regular Snugli but more comfortable for both of us. The other day I wasn't paying as much attention to her as she wanted--it was almost Yom Tov and I was rushing around doing things all day--and at around 5 PM, she was ticked. Right as the kvetching was about to turn into full-blown wailing, I decided to run over to a neighbor's with some food for them, and to bring her with me. She was lying on the bed, surrounded by the laundry I was folding at top speed, when she saw me approaching with the My Tai in hand. She saw it, gasped, and started to chortle. "That! That thing! That thing is JUST WHAT I WANT!" She did, too.

6. There are lots and lots of things I've been thinking I should blog but I just don't have time to do any of them justice. Things like Barak's cupcake-baking, Barak's "snow troopers," Iyyar's recent propensity toward bringing me "ginormous shmattas," Avtalyon's burning desire to shmash houses, and just all the ways Avtalyon's been talking lately. "I want it DEESH ONE!" and "why chuck!" and "bay gull!" and "tayi?" I'll leave you to figure out those last three on your own.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The countdown begins

I looked at the calendar this morning and realized that we are IY"H leaving in just over ten weeks. We don't have our tickets yet so I don't know the exact date but we are hoping for the last week in July. Ten weeks.

We got a surprise this week that was initially pretty unpleasant but was probably for the best. To wit: we are going to be living in the kollel residence. Most of the families stay at this kollel for one year, and a few stay for two, before going back to America. When they leave, families sell the contents of their households--from dishes and armoires to extension cords and garbage cans--as a "package" to incoming families. The "package list" gets sent out sometime after Pesach, and it's a list of the family, contact information, and every single thing in their package: parve garlic press, toilet brush, sheets, power strips, 7 dairy spoons and 5 dairy forks, you get the idea. Usually they sell in the $500-700 ballpark, and this way families (usually newlyweds or maybe with one baby) get everything they need without having to pack it all or buy it.

Lately, more families have been making aliya. While this is of course a good thing, it's thrown a wrench in our packing plans--because only six families are selling packages and there are at least twice as many coming. The package list went up at 9 am and was gone by 9:30; I thought I had one (the wife said yes) and lost it (her husband had already sold it and she didn't know yet). Meaning that all the random household items we thought we would just get there cheaply, we can't.

So. What are the real issues here? Things like electrical items--an oven (the apartments do not come with one), power strips, etc., we will have to buy. Dishes we can bring with us, although it will cut into our luggage pretty steeply--they're heavy. It's the storage furniture. The drawers, armoires (aronim), bookshelves etc--the ones sold in packages are cheap but they work, and they're necessary because the apartments are only partially furnished and there aren't any. And storage space is absolutely key to organization, esp. with little kids.

I priced stuff online a bit and Ikea furniture is exactly twice the price, for most things, that it is here. We could buy it flat packed (and K has even offered to deliver it, thereby earning sainthood in one fell swoop in my opinion) and bring it. But then we'd have to ship stuff.

I have from the beginning been firm that we were not shipping anything. It didn't make sense. We're renting out our apartment furnished, and leaving the seforim here because we won't have room for them there. Once we're leaving our furniture and the books, and storing things in the storage space, that means that we are sending a lift at some later date when we a) have a more permanent place to live and b) either sell our apartment or rent it unfurnished to someone else. Lifts are expensive to send, and we have a pretty huge luggage allowance (at least 16 50 lb bags) so it didn't seem necessary.

This might be making it necessary. It's about $9/cubic feet, so around $1800 for 200 cubic feet, which is about what we'd do. Minimum size is 100 cubic feet, but once we are shipping dishes and flat-packed furniture, it starts seeming to make more sense to send a few more things--the high chair, the plastic drawers in the kids' room, the blocks (too heavy to check as luggage), my glider rocker--large and awkwardly shaped but how do you have a baby without a rocking chair?

Thoughts? Anyone have a shipper to recommend?

Ten weeks. And counting.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Don't let the flying killer sharks bite either

Iyyar: I want a story about kings. About two kings! Two good kings!

Me: Okay. Once upon a time there were two kings.

Iyyar: Two GOOD kings!

Me: Two GOOD kings. Who lived in a castle.

Iyyar: With scary animals!

Me: No. Not in the castle. In the moat. The moat is the thing that goes around the castle, and it's full of water so bad guys can't get in.

Iyyar: Bad guys wanna hurt them! And punch them! And kill them!

Me: Yeah, but they can't because of the moat.

Iyyar: Bad guys are really mean!

Me: Will you let me tell the story already! So the moat is full of whales.

Iyyar: And sharks!

Me: No. No sharks. Just whales.

Iyyar: Six whales! A hundred and forty-six whales!

Me: Six orcas. Six sperm whales. Six right whales. And six blue whales.

Iyyar: No humpback whales.

Me: No, they're too big. They wouldn't be happy in the moat.

Iyyar: Right. Just orcas and right whales and killer whales and sharks.

Me: No, no sharks. And orcas are the same thing as killer whales.

Iyyar: Oh.

Me: Okay, so anyway, there are these two kings...

Iyyar: Two GOOD kings!

Me: Right. Two GOOD kings. And their kingdom, it's very cold.

Iyyar: Why?

Me: It just is. It's very cold. It snows a lot.

Iyyar: Oh.

Me (sitting there knitting socks with some of Cyndy's new sock yarn for my very holy, but not saintly, because she is Jewish and we don't do saints, friend who is getting my marriage license apostilled for me): So the kings feel bad for the people and they want to do something nice for them. So they decide to knit them all socks to keep their feet warm.

Iyyar: Boys don't knit!

Me: Sure they do. Boys knit. Also men can knit. So these kings, they decided to knit socks for all the people in their kingdom. But it was a big kingdom, with a lot of people.

Iyyar: A hundred and forty-six!

Me: At least! Maybe more! Maybe a hundred and forty-six thousand!

Iyyar: Yeah! A hundred and forty six thousand!

Me: And how many feet did each of them have?

Iyyar: Two!

Me: So how many socks is that that the kings had to make?

Iyyar: A gotchion!

Me: Right! A really really lot. So they started knitting, but they wanted to make nice socks, so they started with a ball of Trekking and some size 0 double-pointed needles, like I have here [holding up ball of Trekking, nicely divided, sent to me by Cyndy, who can be saintly instead of holy because she isn't Jewish although wait a minute do you have to be Catholic to be a saint yes I think you do and she's probably not Catholic so far as I know so okay, never mind, she's holy too]

Iyyar: Why did they make socks?

Me: To keep everybody's feet warm. But after a couple of days of doing nothing but knitting all the time [pauses dreamily to think about this, then shakes self back to reality] they only had a couple of pairs of socks. Which wasn't enough. So you know what they did?

Iyyar: Got a machine!

Me: No! They didn't! They did something smarter. They taught all the kinderlach in the whole kingdom to knit.

Iyyar: How?

Me: Well first they taught all the morohs. Then they gave all the morohs needles and yarn for all the kinderlach. And then the kinderlach learned how to knit socks. [Pause to fantasize about Torani Waldorf school.] So then

Iyyar: Did the sharks eat them?

Me: No, we're not up to the sharks yet. Just wait. So then, everybody in the whole kingdom had nice warm socks, and also knitting needles. How many needles do you need to make socks [holding up Exhibit A]

Iyyar: Four!

Me: Right! And are they pointy on both ends or just one end?

Iyyar: Both ends!

Me: Right! So one day, do you know what happened? There was an attack! An attack of mean giant flying killer sharks! They swooped down out of the sky to attack the kingdom! So what do you think happened?

Iyyar: The killer whales ate them!

Me: No, because the killer whales were in the moat. They couldn't get out. Killer whales can't fly.

Iyyar. They got the army?

Me: No, they didn't have an army.

Iyyar: Why not?

Me: I don't know, they just didn't.

Iyyar: Just the two kings?

Me: Right, just the two kings. So do you know what the people did?

Iyyar, openmouthed: No.

Me: All the people, and all the kinderlach, in the whole kingdom, took their sharp pointy sticks, and they held one in each hand, up like this [demonstrating with needles not currently involved in sock production]. So you know what happened when the mean nasty flying killer sharks landed? They got stabbed! And they died! And so they couldn't invade the kingdom. And not only that, but all the kinderlach had FOUR sharp pointy sticks! So if the shark broke one, they'd have extras!

Iyyar: Three extra!

Me, impressed by mental math: Right! Three extra!

Iyyar: Sharp pointy sticks sticking in the killer sharks!

Me: Right. So they killed all the flying killer sharks, and they were all so happy they learned to knit. So then they went back to knitting all the time, except they had to get some new needles because the ones they used to kill the sharks with were all gross with shark blood.

Iyyar: And some of them got brokened.

Me: Right. And you can't knit with a broken needle. The stitches fall off. Good night.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Don't let the spiders bite

Lazy blog posting here: this from an email to Cecilia, with a few edits:

Lately, I have been making up stories to tell the kids at bedtime, since it's hard to read a book, show pictures in three directions, and nurse at the same time, esp. in the dark! The latest was about a bear who wanted to make aliya, but because he was a bear he couldn't get all the paperwork together, so they wouldn't let him. As you know they want a lot of stuff bears don't have, like apostilled birth certificates etc. The bear, however, was a hardcore Zionist, so, undeterred, he decided to stow away on the NBN flight. But being that he was a bear and couldn't read, he had some trouble once he'd sneaked out onto the tarmac. Result: he accidentally got on Qantas instead of El Al and wound up in Sydney. Where there are, as is common knowledge, 9-foot spiders. (Me: "And what's in Australia?" Barak, wide-eyed: "Jabungous spiders!") He was hungry at this point--long trip in cargo hold and all--and decided to try tasting one. He liked them, but you know, not much meat on even a 9-foot spider, so he started eating lots and lots of them. Next thing you know, he's eaten all the spiders in Australia, is hailed as a national hero, and is fixed up by the prime minister with a deluxe cave and a lifetime supply
of honey. The End.

Saturday, May 08, 2010


Oh, I have a blog? Sorry. Almost forgot.

So, where we're holding:

The Jewish Agency has approved us. NBN has approved us. We are now waiting on our visas, which means that we are waiting on our marriage certificate's apostille; I had not realized that getting a marriage license apostilled in New York is a huge mammoth undertaking and that if not for a saintly local friend who is going to do the running around for us, one of us probably would have had to take an actual, physical trip to Manhattan. Seriously.

Five new duffel bags and five big plastic footlockers are stacked up in the guest room. I know it's too early to start packing, because it's not as though we won't be needing the clothes/books/dishes/toys between now and then. So I'm trying to content myself with cleaning and organizing and tossing; I've given away a bunch of householdy things and intend to disencumber myself of more. It helps, of course, that we are renting out this place furnished to relatives of friends who are coming from Israel; they will be happy to have us leave them random kids' books/toys/tools/garbage bags/ all the other stuff that you ordinarily have to deal with before moving day.

The stress level is in flux. Some days, like today, I'm fairly relaxed. Some days, like last Tuesday, I feel like I'm made of glass and getting bumped the wrong way would cause me to shatter into a pile of deadly shards on the floor. The constant, however, is an intense desire to knit. Not buy yarn. Not look at yarn. Not think about knitting. I just want to knit, for hours and hours, preferably while listening to NPR. Thursday night I sat down to an episode of This American Life and my WIP, an Aestlight for Asnat. And it really helped. What is it about knitting that does that?? No idea, but no complaints either. Well, unless it's the complaint about not having enough time, but the busy-ness is all my own doing so I can't really complain there either.

Other highlights of the week:

1. I took all of the kids on the bus to a thrift shop (half-price toy day) and Trader Joe's. They were phenomenally well behaved. I had Marika in the snugli, Avtalyon in the stroller, and a big kid on either side. And really, it was fine. No meltdowns. I told them we'd do it again, and meant it. Still not sure about taking them all to the zoo myself, though--that's a longer trip, and with two buses, too.

2. Picked up Barak at school on Thursday to take everyone to get passport photos for our Israeli visas. That had been something of a comedy of errors with multiple attempts, and I was determined on Thursday to get those pictures or... something. Fortunately, we got them; on the way, we saw that the fire station by his school had the bay door open and stopped in to "look at the truck." Because the firefighters at that station are incredibly nice, they also let Barak and Iyyar get into the truck and climb around. The smiles on their faces were amazing--I've rarely seen them so blissed out.

3. There will be no #3. Because Insomnia Girl just woke up.