Saturday, October 30, 2010

Three months

We've been here for three months, as of sometime last week. In honor of the occasion, a random list of totally unconnected observations and updates:

1. Marika is 11 months old. This is the same age that Barak was when I started this blog. The mind reels.

2. She just got her second top front tooth, bringing the total to six (four top, two bottom). She is the loveliest, happiest, mellowest baby imaginable; she's still totally content in the snugli for hours, but once I get home wants nothing so much as the freedom to crawl around the floor and taste anything she might find.

3. She's still nursing close to exclusively. This is a first around here. At seven months, an inadvertent attempt at putting Avtalyon to bed with only nursing and no real food was met with hysterical objection (solved by spanakopita); I'm pretty sure that if I didn't give Marika any real food all day, she wouldn't mind. She nurses a LOT--every couple of hours all day and maybe twice at night. I don't mind if she doesn't.

4. Avtalyon is feeling a lot better now. Last week on Thursday, after days and days of his being generally unhappy, and waking up constantly all night screaming, with my thinking it was all because of the pinworms (oh... did I not mention the pinworms? Yeah, he had pinworms.) my husband called me just after I dropped off Barak to tell me that he had peanut butter on his face. Had he taken peanut butter to bed or something. "He's a mess," he told me. "Does it... smell like peanut butter?" I asked. "Um... no." "Is it coming out of his ear?" An expression of horror followed. (Have I mentioned lately that MHH is colorblind?) So, one ruptured eardrum later, I thought we had our answer. But no! Because when I walked into the doctor's office, all she seemed focused on was a little patch of red rash on his face. The strep rash. From the strep infection he'd probably had for weeks (in my defense, there had been not one but two pediatrician trips in that period and she hadn't noticed any strep infection either.) Antibiotics are a miracle, I tell you; two days on amoxycillin and another antibiotic cream for the rash and he was, as his ganenet said, a different kid.

5. Remember X, where X was the weight I was at when I had my first prenatal appointment with Barak? I am now down to X + 12. I was X + 25 when we got here. This is good.

6. What is not good is our budget. I have not been nearly as careful about money as I should have been and have done zero keeping track, mostly because of all the crazy stuff that's been going on around here for the last few months. Result: extremely unpleasant surprise tonight when I sat down with our Israeli bank account and figured out how much we've been spending. WAY more than we should be. I knew that there would be some unanticipated expenses, but they've exceeded what I planned for: I did not expect transportation costs of NIS 600/month, for example, or laundry costs of NIS 240 (and that's without using the dryer--now that it is, B"H, raining, that might be necessary some of the time). I also didn't expect to be spending this much on food. The kids have rebelled at the dining-hall-provided breakfasts (not surprising) and Barak is never here for the dairy lunches. So we've been buying a lot of food for during the week, and more than I anticipated for snacks, Shabbos, etc.

I never kept a formal budget before we got here because I did everything online and I just knew where our money went. It was pretty much the same every month and I knew every month if there was room for a luxury item or not. Here, I have not been keeping a formal budget and I don't know where our money is going and I have to change that. We've also been doing an awful lot of our spending in cash and not tracking it, so now I am looking at a bunch of ATM withdrawals without knowing for sure where all that money meant. I am naturally pretty thrifty and extremely budget-conscious and not knowing where my money has been going for the last three months is giving me conniptions. MHH and I have had A Talk and both of us are now equipped with notebooks in which to write down EVERYTHING we do in cash. Further bulletins, &c.

7. Iyyar, B"H, is way way happier at school than he has been. He goes with a big smile and comes out with a big smile. No more screaming in the morning, at least not "I hate gan!" He talks a lot about the wheelbarrows. Apparently there is a sand pit with wheelbarrows at gan and this is a wonderful thing.

8. I was going to do a list of ten, but see item 3, above. I'm being summoned.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Grandpa vs. Og

First, though, a news flash: Marika stood up unassisted today! I was sitting on the floor this afternoon while my kids were eating popsicles with the neighbor kids (who speak no English at all but somehow they all seem to get along fine) when Marika pulled up to standing on my leg--and let go! She stood there for about five seconds while I cheered until she topped. :)

Now back to our regularly scheduled post:

Those of you who have read this week's parsha knows that is prominently features a giant named Og. Og comes and tells Avram that Lot is taken captive, hoping that maybe Avram will go to battle to free Lot and get killed in the process. Not nice, these giants.

So, this afternoon I was reading to Barak and Iyyar from My First Parsha Reader or whatever it's called, and we got to a picture with Og and Avram. Og, in the picture, is maybe two or three times the size of Avram. I pointed him out to Iyyar and said, "See, he's a giant. Who's bigger, Og or Avram?"

"Og's bigger. He's a giant."


Now, really I should have seen the rest of this coming.

"Is he bigger than Grandpa?"


"I think he probably is. I'm guessing Og is maybe ten or fifteen feet tall. Grandpa is maybe six and a half or seven feet tall."

This, apparently, was the wrong answer. Iyyar looked worried.

"But Grandpa would win."

"You mean, if Grandpa fought Og?"

"Yeah." With confidence and dramatic gestures: "Grandpa would beat Og! Grandpa would kill him!"

"Actually... I don't know. Og is pretty huge. Og might win."

Iyyar looked stricken. Clearly, this would not do. Fortunately, Barak came to his rescue.

"No, Grandpa would win. Grandpa would get a big gun and shoot him."

Iyyar's relief was immense. "Yeah! He'd shoot Og and Og would be dead! Grandpa would kill him!"

I gave in. "Actually, Grandpa would probably get an Uzi. Or a cannon. Or a grenade launcher!"

Iyyar looked positively thrilled. "Yeah! He'd KILL the giant!"

"Yup. That giant would be toast."

"Yeah," Iyyar sighed happily. "Grandpa's really tough."

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Of sweetness

This morning I woke up at 6:20 after about four hours of sleep to get the kids off to school. The routine now is that Abba takes Avtalyon, I take Barak with Marika in the snugli, and Iyyar goes with the neighbors (hooray neighbors!) to gan, which their son also goes to. This morning the neighbors were running late and Barak and I were too; it got worse when he asked to take the closer-but-slow bus instead of the farther-but-faster one. We were late to school--not terribly, but about ten minutes.

I dropped him off--he doesn't even say goodbye anymore, just marches purposefully inside with his big blue backpack--and walked back down the main street back to the bus stop, got on another bus and got off at the Meuchedet by the shuk, where I had an appointment. Then back up to the shuk, where I bought cherry tomatoes, socks for myself, peppers, tons of Alei Katif bug-free lettuce, bananas, plums and red cabbage. Then home for an hour, cleaning up; then off to pick up Iyyar and make a post office stop; then back home, where Abba and Avtalyon were both napping. We played for a bit after Abba went back to work, then at 4 went up to the bus stop to pick up Barak, who now--halleluja!-- has a hasaa (a paid carpoool with another mother).

We came home and found the other neighboring family with kids roughly the ages of ours out playing; it was starting to get dark so I invited them all in to play Playmobil. The mom, whom I like immensely, and I chatted while I folded laundry and Marika trundled around the floor with ever-increasing fourlegged speed; then the mom went home with her boys and her oldest daughter stayed for a few minutes (she is 7) to help me with Barak's homework. ("What's that picture of?" "A hammock," and I wrote down the word in Hebrew so I could help him draw the appropriate lines to the appropriate letters.)

She left and Barak came out asking politely for a snack; he'd been going tooth and nail with Iyyar a little earlier so I was fine with that development and offered him some of the cherry tomatoes I'd bought. He said yes please and then I showed him a huge on-the-vine bunch of them. "How about this?" His eyes got wide. "Ohhhhh boy! Yeah!" He was so cute about it, and after I washed them and handed them over in a bowl he tucked in with totally adorable glee.

I couldn't resist. I went over and kissed him.

"I love you."

"I love you too."

What to say to that?

"I love you THREE."

"I love you four."

"I love you five."

"I love you six."

"I love you seven."

"No! Imma, let's do it by fives. I love you five."

"I love you ten."

"No, you start."

"Okay. I love you five."

"I love you ten."

"I love you fifteen."

"I love you twenty."

"I love you thirty."

"I love you forty."

"No, sweetie, you're on thirty-five."

"I can't! I have a tomato in my mouth."

Later on he confided that he was sure he loved me more. I said I didn't know. He said he did.

"I love you more than Diet Coke!" I said, dramatically.

He shook his head with equally dramatic dismissiveness. "Do you know how much I love YOU?" he exclaimed. "I love you more than my ROMAN GALLEON!"

What can I say? Maybe he wins.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Ten months

Marika is ten months old.

How did that happen? No, really--how? Wasn't I just really really really pregnant and thinking that the most likely outcome was that I'd just be pregnant forever? And then I had a tiny little baby and now I've blinked and...

Last week Alisha was here for Shabbos and right before Shabbos I heard Marika cry. Then I went in to get her and she was sitting up in her crib (which she started doing right before Succot) and when she saw me she said, unmistakably, twice, "Ih-MUH! Ih-MUH!" I shrieked, of course: "She said IMMA!" and Alisha came in and said "That was her?! I thought it was Avtalyon!" Since then she's said it a bunch of times, usually when I come to get her from her crib; sometimes she just says it for fun while I'm holding her. She started saying Abba, too, a couple of days ago--but let the record show that she is the first of my children to say Imma as her actual honest-to-goodness first word.

And! Yesterday I went to get her from her crib and she was standing up! Looking very pleased with herself, too. Just a few days ago she started crawling, not just scootching on her stomach but really up-on-all-fours crawling; she doesn't quite have the arm/leg coordination down so sometimes pulls both legs at the same time, but either way, she's moving fast enough now to be a menace. You can't sit her down with a box of toys and look the other way now; if you do she'll be five feet away and sampling the under-table tasting menu faster than you can blink.

Favorite toy of the day: empty plastic soda/water bottles. She's got her bottom middle two teeth and her two top canines--total vampire teeth, much more pronounced than Iyyar's were. She still doesn't eat much in the way of food, although she likes drinking water very much; she'll eat Cheerios, she likes avocado, sometimes she'll eat a little bit of something else, but mostly it's still all about the nursing.

She's big enough now that I can't just hold her and cuddle her anymore. She loves nursing, she loves being held, but just quiet snuggles--nope. Fortunately, she is still happy in the snugli for hours and hours and hours, so I still get to hold her all I want.

Funny Snugli story (actually it's a My Tai, but whatever); last week I was shoe shopping (shoe shopping! for Naot!) with Alisha and then we did a shuk stop and then I got on a very crowded bus, more so than usual. Just as I stepped into the bottom of the stairwell, the door behind me closed and the bus (that was headed onto the highway) started to move. So, there I am, road-safety-obsessed me, standing in the stairwell of a very fast-moving bus with my baby strapped to the front of me, people packed in front of me, and nowhere to go. Hanging on for dear life with both hands, trying very hard not to fall, I saw that Marika was perfectly happy with this development because, well, there was just so much to see. Like that sparkly thing! That sparkly shiny rattly-looking thing right over there! That little chain attaching that guy's gun to his holster on the side of his belt! She has a good knack for the sideways twist-and-lurch and manages to launch herself pretty far in any direction when she has a mind to (she can't actually fall out, but she can really reach far). This time, she got just far enough to grab the chain and, naturally, start stuffing it into her mouth with one hand while grabbing at the holster of the gun with the other.

Now, I know that she could not have removed or fired the gun from my Snugli. She could, however, have given the guy with the gun the very strong impression that someone pressed in behind him in the stairwell was trying to steal it. And there was absolutely nothing I could do about it, because I couldn't let go. The crowd thinned a little as the people in front of me paid their fares, and the guy with the gun took a step away and with it went Marika's prize. She pouted a little; I was relieved. I got to the driver, he punched my ticket, and we sat down, at which point she started flirting energetically with whoever was in flirting distance--her favorite on-bus pastime.

Hey! Speaking of the bus (aren't I... always on the bus? It seems that way) I had another bus first the other day. Batsheva and I were on the way to the bus station when Marika decided that she was STARVING and had to eat RIGHT AWAY. On the bus. Which was full. Of charedi men. I tried to put her off for a little while but no dice; with a 25-minute ride in front of us I gave up, took her out of the Snugli and started nursing. Nobody, so far as I know, noticed, except for the fiftyish Israeli woman sitting in front of me, who shrugged and said, "You gotta do what you gotta do."