Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Well that was nice.

Isn't it kind of amazing how things work out sometimes?

I've been stressing about packing for months. Really, months. Do we ship anything? How? How much? Do we buy space on someone else's lift? Ship via New York, meaning we have to mail it all there and then pick it up at the shipper's Jerusalem office? Limit ourselves to the luggage allowance or pay for extra? I have been coming to a definite decision every few days, always a different one. Last week I decided to just deal with the luggage allowance and store/toss everything else. But the realities of that were just not practical. Seriously, what do I leave here: the kids' pajamas? my pajamas? the knitting needles? the pots and pans? the English books to read to the kids? 900 lb of luggage sounds like so much but it isn't much at all when you are moving a family of 6 across continents. I could just buy some of it again but it doesn't make sense when we have things we like already.

Then I decided, well, I'll just pay the excess luggage fees. But then I looked at our duffels and boxes and started to panic because they're all weighed out to 49 lb and what if the scale is off and we are charged $900--$50 per overweight piece?

Then I went into work today and when I got home there was a voicemail from my boss. I called her back and she said, sorry I missed you today, I wanted to give you a letter. About what? About your raise. And your $500 bonus for working so hard this year.


(This never happens where I work, btw. At least if it does I've never heard of it. We didn't even get raises last year; I got a good one, relatively speaking, plus the bonus, which totally fell out of the sky so far as I'm concerned.)

Then the phone rang again. It was a friend who is sending a lift, from our neighborhood, to a city in southern Israel; we'd already dismissed the idea of shipping stuff with her as unrealistic because we'd have to get it and it wouldn't be worth it. But now, the lift is going to cost $8 a cubic foot, not $12, which is why she called. And we could pay someone to just drive it in a car--we won't have to get movers for the 6-8 boxes we'd be putting on. $300 or so for the lift space, a couple hundred dollars to pay someone to do the drive. $500.


Monday, June 28, 2010

One little thing

Before I forget:

When Grandma E was here, she decided to spoil the kids in appropriately grandmotherly fashion and bought them an Elmo cookie from the bakery. It was a big cookie and expensive so I said it was enough for the three of them; she got what she thought was a prune something for herself, but that turned out to be a chocolate something, which she couldn't eat, so she let them have that too. So what ended up happening was that I cut the cookie in half instead of in thirds, cut the chocolate something in half instead of in thirds, and each boy got to pick a half. Avtalyon picked half the Elmo cookie and the bigger boys each got a half of the chocolate something.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, because Iyyar has lately been having some issues with a) telling the truth and b) keeping his fingers out of places they're not supposed to be. I left the extra Elmo-cookie-half on the counter and went to do something else; a little while later, I came back and saw the unmistakable signs of Iyyar fingers all over the frosting. It looked like he'd succumbed to temptation and pinched off about half the red icing. Eww. Also, not authorized.

"Iyyar," I said, sternly. "Did you take some of the cookie you weren't supposed to eat?" Iyyar, eyes opened wide, shook his head no. I raised my eyebrows. "Please tell me the emmes [truth]. Do not tell me a shekker [lie]. I only want the emmes."

Iyyar just barely nodded his head. "You ate it?" Tiny little head-nod again. "Were you supposed to eat it?" Tiny little head-shake, eyes very very wide. "Can you say I'm sorry, please?"

Very very quietly, "I'm sorry."

I got the knife back out and cut the mangled cookie into thirds, and gave a piece to each of the three of them. Then I gave Iyyar a kiss on the head and said, "That's for telling me the emmes. Please don't do that again. Next time, ask for the cookie instead of just taking."

I went back to the sink to wipe up from the cookie-cutting and the boys turned back to their cookie-eating. And that was when I heard Barak remark, "Well, that was a pleasant surprise."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bad blogger

We interrupt this blogging hiatus to bring you the news that WE HAVE A DATE.

Monday, July 26. Arriving Tuesday 7/27 at around 4-4:30 PM by the time we get our stuff together; anyone inclined to meet us with a brass band is welcome to do so.

Four weeks from tomorrow.

This is really happening.

Much to report in the last couple of weeks: a fabulous visit from Grandma E, some noteworthy sayings from the kids, Marika rolling both ways and becoming more delightful daily. Oh, and that Playmobil? Worth every cent, because it's been buying me entire afternoons of peace and quiet to pack. I would have spent more money on babysitting if I hadn't bought it, and that we can't keep.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Not just listing.

1. We have visas! Yay visas! I was hoping we would be able to book the flights today but that didn't happen--I had to fax copies of the visas in and they kept not coming through legibly. No NBN offices on Friday so it'll have to wait. But I'm assured it will be FINE.

2. The house, specifically the packing-up of the house, is coming along. It still looks very lived in but when you start opening closets there's not nearly as much in there as there used to be. And half the living room shelves are empty, which is saying something because we have two full walls covered with built-in bookshelves.

3. The speeches for the Big Event are done and I am taking a little bit of a breather--I still have plenty of work to do but it's not as crazy as it has been for the last, oh, three months or so. Which is good, because, seriously: buncha little kids + nursing baby + job overload + aliya planning + packing up house = no sleep. Tonight I went to nurse the baby as I was about to get the kids into bed; my husband was starting them with teeth-brushing when I went into my room with Marika. The next thing I knew it was 10:30. Obviously I needed the sleep but then I spent an hour on the phone with a friend and I haven't even started cooking. It was an awesome nap though.

4. Grandma E is coming! Grandma E is coming! I spent most of yesterday making the guest room inhabitable, which was a pretty mammoth task but one that needed doing anyway so it was good to have the impetus to do it. Mysteriously, the bed that I cleared off completely last night is now covered with junk again. How how how???

5. Marika is six months. I LOVE six months. It's one of my favorite ages. She is pushing way way up and rolling both ways, although she still seems kind of surprised when she does it. She's having a lot of fun with her feet--grabbing them, chewing her toes, and all the usual diversions. She's babbling up a storm, lots of thoughtful, considered statements like "Ah buh-buh-buh." She also whispers, which cracks me up. Like, she doesn't really want this to be public information, but you should know: ah buh buh. Keep that between us, OK?

6. When I am about to have a baby I get weird about money. Ordinarily I am pretty budget-conscious and I am extremely disinclined to splurge. Any big purchase, I think about and plan out beforehand, and by "big purchase" I mean anything over $50. When I'm about to have a baby, I do things like--hmm, I'm embarrassed now, but I definitely do things like spend inexcusable amounts of money on yarn or whatever. I'm not about to have a baby now but maybe aliya is like that because I have been spending money like it's going out of style. Mostly on things we need but it's a fairly loose definition of "need." I wanted the boys to all have matching shirts for the flights because it makes them a lot easier to keep track of, and then realized that there's no way they're going to go the whole trip in one set of clothes so got everyone two. (Lands' End tie-dyed t-shirts. Very visible! Barak wanted to know why I hadn't gotten one for Marika and I explained that I don't need her to be very visible because she can't run away. "Oh.")

7. I got new pack and play sheets, fun ones with firetrucks. I also got a new carseat, based on the recommendation of the fabulous Carseat Lady (thecarseatlady.com): a Combi Coccoro. And then I also got the Flash stroller, which is the Coccoro's version of a snap n go. I'm going to need it when I come back here for work next winter. I got my husband a bunch of new shirts, which he needed, and Playmobil for the boys, which they did not need but I bought anyway. And I'm going to get a new mattress for one of the pack and plays, which kills me, because we have THREE pack and plays, but two of them have warped mattresses and I can't have Marika sleeping on a warped P & P mattress her entire infancy. It's got a big ridge running right down the middle. Right now she's small enough to avoid it but not for long.

8. Further to the Playmobil (I'll make this its own item): I am not sending Barak to camp this summer, mostly in the name of thrift but also because I think he'll be happier to just have a few weeks to chill out and play before we move. So there was a little extra money in the budget from that, which I had earmarked for fun summer activities. It's really hard to go anywhere though with everyone--MHH is still working all the time and without a car we're really limited. We'll go to the aquarium and maybe the zoo when my friend K is here, and do the zoo at least once when Deb is here, but other than that we're sticking pretty close to home. And I wanted to do something to make the last few weeks here, and the first few weeks in Israel, easier, for me and for them. So I spent what was, for me anyway an unconscionable amount of money on Playmobil. Not hundreds of dollars or anything--some of the small sets, and some of the Playmobil 123 for Marika and Avtalyon. Our MO around here is toys from thrift stores or yard sales. I just don't spend a lot on toys. For some things, like Playmobil (and Lego, and puzzles), you have to pay the money to buy it new, and I do think it's worthwhile to have good, well-made, educational toys that will last. Playmobil is firmly in this category. Still, I'm feeling guilty. They HAVE Playmobil. Not only do they have some already, but an extremely generous blog reader (hi!) is planning on sending them some more. So I didn't need to go on the Playmobil site late at night and buy them a bunch of Playmobil construction guys. But I did. At 1:30 AM.

9. I am trying to figure out why exactly I feel so guilty about buying that Playmobil. I bought my kids toys. This is, I am told, a normal thing for parents to do. But I'm feeling guilty about spending money on Playmobil when they have a box of Playmobil already and do not, strictly speaking, need any more. They have a 28-qt Sterilite of Playmobil. This is the Sterilite box one size up from the shoebox size, but taller. It's not a huge box by any means and it is full of smaller Gladware boxes with the actual sets inside so it's not like it's even really full: they've got a box of Romans, a box of policemen and firemen, some pirates, a killer whale, the small firetruck, a police car, a fire helicopter and a Roman fort my friend Karen sent. No giant castles or pirate ships or anything, tempted though I have been.

They love this stuff, they play beautifully with it and they play with it a lot. I feel comfortable that my kids are not spoiled with too many toys. So why do I feel so hugely uncomfortable with myself for having splurged on Playmobil for no particular occasion? Well, that's not true. It's aliya Playmobil--it's more expensive there, and easier to pack than the big bulky toys we're leaving behind. Not so crazy really. So why am I spending three items on the same list justifying it to myself? While I seriously consider buying them a ship or a castle or a fortress because I know how much they would love it? Discuss.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Radio Exchange Between Israeli Navy and 7th Flotilla Ship Regarding Tran...

Close-Up Footage of Mavi Marmara Passengers Attacking IDF Soldiers (With...

And now for something completely trivial

In contrast, anyway. But it's my all-consuming decision at the moment.

See, I have a Bosch mixer. I bought it after Iyyar was born and while it would be an exaggeration to say I've used it every day since, I do use it an awful lot--a couple of times a week for sure, often more than that. I have the bread bowl and the slicer/shredder attachments, and between those I can make bread and bagels and kugels and potato pancakes and whatever else, really really fast. It saves me time and it also saves me money; a $3.99 bag of flour makes 40 bagels. Try buying bagels for 10 cents each at the store. They won't be anything like as good, either. I can also turn out pizza dough very quickly, which is both dinner and Project with Kids. And, of course, there's the homemade challah, which I make whole-wheat; it's a nightmare to knead by hand and in the Bosch you just dump it all in and turn the machine off after ten minutes. Amazing.

I've been looking at my Bosch for months now, trying to imagine cooking without it. I'm also thinking about, of all things, peanut butter. We go through two jars a week, easy. A kilo of PB in Israel is NIS 24. Shelled peanuts and other shelled nuts cost a lot less per pound. I could get the food processor attachment and make my own. And my own pesto. And baby food, without also needing a hand blender.

Except, of course, that my mixer doesn't run on 220 current.

So, I could a) pack up the whole thing in boxes and live without a mixer. Buy my bagels and my peanut butter, grate vegetables and knead dough by hand. I did it for years. Although I only had one baby then.

Or, I could 2) buy a new base, that runs on 220 volts. It costs $270. That's a lot. Not as much as a complete new mixer, since I already have the bowl. And I won't have to pay tax because the cheapest place to get it is out of state. Still. It's a lot.

Or! I could 3) buy the new base and the food processor attachment. This would be $370 for both. This is also a LOT of money.

However: we will eventually recoup all of that money in savings on food costs. If we stay.

And we'd need to bring it. It's heavy.

Compounding all of this is that I can't just say, well, we'll wait a year and buy it when we see what our eating patterns really are; the reason I can't do this is that my current Bosch mixer is the "old style" which has now been replaced by the "new style" and the parts are not interchangeable. (Don't get me started.) I already have two bowls and a slicer/shredder for my old-style base.

I am pretty sure I could sell my current Bosch mixer here. That would subsidize the purchase substantially. I'm unaccountably reluctant to do that, though. Which is dumb. What, I'd rather store it than sell it and get a new one? It's probably because I'm thinking, "But what if we come back? Come back and HAVE NO BOSCH?! That would be a catastrophe!"

(You don't need to comment on that. I know.)

What to do? Suggestions?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Just go read this instead.

I don't write well about politics. I've never been good at mounting a clear, logical argument when it's something I feel strongly about; I'm non-confrontational by nature, and I'm not at my best when I feel under attack. And when it comes to Israeli politics, and the relationship between Israel and the rest of the world, I run out of words. I can't do much more, these days, but wave my hands helplessly and feel hopeless. A few minutes ago I asked my husband if it was in Tanach that everyone was going to hate the Jews forever. He asked me why. I said I'd feel better about it if it was in a nevua. "Why, because that way clearly it would be divine will?" I said yes. It would, somehow.

If you want a clear, reasoned piece of writing that says everything I feel too impotent and angry to say myself, go read David's blog (link above) or Charles Krauthammer's op-ed, here (and if anyone can tell me why Blogger won't link my in-post links anymore, I'll be grateful):


If you want my own observation, it is a frightening feeling that we are in the middle of a sea change--not in how the world sees Jews, but in how it is OK to talk about your feelings about Jews. When I was growing up, if you'll forgive the slightly gross analogy, being public about hating Jews was kind of like being public about picking your nose. Yeah, everyone does it, but we all pretend we don't. If you do it in public, we'll all censure you and pretend that we don't do it either. Educated people don't Jew-bash. That's for the KKK.

That's changing. The Holocaust, well, that's old hat now, and we're supposed to be over it. It's not a justification for anything else. It's history and not relevant. We're supposed to... well, what, exactly? Give away our country? Go back to Europe? Yeah, that worked out really, really well for us before. Those Europeans definitely have always had our best interests at heart.

The flotilla? What is there to say? Israel blockaded Gaza because Islamic terrorists are importing weapons with which they are trying to kill us. A boatload of armed thugs tried to break the blockade, to enable to importation of more weapons--not humanitarian aid. There's plenty of humanitarian aid coming in through Ashdod and land crossings. That wasn't the point here. The point was breaking the blockade.

Instead of sinking the ship, as any other country would do, the Israeli military sent commandos onboard, at what was obviously great personal risk--commandos armed with paint guns and pistols, with orders not to shoot anyone unless it was self-defense, and then only with permission. They sent in soldiers with their hands essentially tied behind their backs, because they were trying so hard not to kill the armed thugs who were about to do their level best to kill them.

This is bad enough. But it's not what's scary. What's scary is how it's showing up in the newspapers, the AP, Reuters, the Times. The rush to judgment is instantaneous, the chorus of censure almost total. No one is even bothering to pretend. Something changed this week. Something really changed.

All I have to say to the Jews who are joining in on the Israel-bashing is this: you are no different from the assimilated Jews of Hitler's Germany. You think that if you bash Israel with the best of them, it won't ever be about you.

And you are wrong. It's about the Jews. It always has been. The Holocaust wasn't enough; they're coming after us where we are now. They're coming after us in Israel. Don't think they're not coming after you too.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


I'm packing up my cookbooks and having a hard time with the cookbooks that I use regularly, but only ever use the same two or three recipes from. Pack? Store? Toss? In the end I decided to store them, but put the recipes on my blog; that way, I'll have them when I need them. So here are the first two:

My grandmother's rice pudding:

2 liters of milk
1/2 cup white rice
2/4 cup white sugar
dash salt
tsp vanilla
2 whole eggs

She didn't write in any instructions but... well, everything goes in the pot together except for the eggs, and when you put the eggs in, you need to beat them, and then put a little of the hot rice mixture in the eggs so that the beaten eggs don't turn into scrambled eggs, and then put the eggs back in that way. Low heat, cook it until it's done, which takes a while. Don't let it boil, don't burn your mouth. Add cinnamon at the end if you like. Or maple syrup.

Banana bread a la Fannie Farmer

3 ripe bananas, well mashed (I use my hands for this)
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups flour (whole wheat works fine)
3/4 cup sugar (you can use less)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts are best, pecans also good)

Mix bananas with eggs, add dry ingredients, bake the whole thing at 180c (350F) in a greased pan until it's done; time depends enormously on the shape of the pan, anywhere from 25 to 50 minutes. This recipe has been used so many times the cookbook is cracked in half at that page, and is so old I have my modifications noted in metric. Wow.