Thursday, December 31, 2009

"Zeh Lo Kashur Elay"

Well. It seems I am behind in my blogging - writing one, reading other people's, commenting, etc. Tsk tsk on me. Naturally, since I am American, I will shift the blame to someone else - namely my friend Rachel. Since I am Israeli, I will now charge her a two shekel fee.

Rachel is here visiting from the Old Country. She arrived on Monday, and since then, I have been showing her the exciting sites of Modi'in, then leaving her to her own devices in the afternoon when I go tutor. She is becoming very close with our couches.

So far, our Tour of Modi'in has included such famous locales as:

1. The Mall!
2. Ofer's Falafel!
3. The Mall - Again!
4. The Frozen Yogurt with Stuff In It Stand at, you guessed it, The Mall!
5. Bank Discount, where I attempted to get a new password, their computer crashed whilst dealing with me, and then of course, I had to go to two separate ATM's in order to deposit a check and take out cash.
6. Bank Discount is, naturally, located in...The Mall!
7. And the tour ends with the unbeatable, the thrilling, Inside of our Apartment.

So Rachel was surely saddened to leave the excitement of Modi'in for the staid, boring town of Jerusalem. But we bid her farewell on Thursday morning (though she will be returning for one last night on the town next week.)

On Thursday, I met with our two interior designers, Donny and Shikma. Donny has probably been spending nearly as much time as Shikma making pictures of our bedroom, kitchen, hallway, and various "nishas." He is having waaaaaay too much fun.

Shikma and Donny talked business. I also contributed to the design discussion, coming up with, what I think, are some truly innovative ideas.

1. Whenever there isn't enough room for something - suspend it from the ceiling! Okay, it doesn't work for everything, like the toilet, but it is certainly a space-saving idea.

2. A conveyor belt from the kitchen to the dining room table! How annoying is it to always be running back and forth when you're setting the table, and then you finally sit down but forget to bring the salt? Well, in my ground-breaking idea, everything would be on a conveyor belt, and you could just pluck off what you need as it comes around! Why this hasn't been installed everywhere is beyond me. But, then, geniuses are always misunderstood in their time.

So we sat around looking at floor plans, Donny saying intelligent things and me, eyes slowly glazing over, turning the papers around to figure out which way is up, and finally, a la Joey from "Friends," putting all the sheets on the floor and stepping inside of them.

In other exciting apartment news, our bank lost half a million shekels! Of ours! (Note: The bank we are using for the apartment transactions is not our usual one, and I will omit the name for security reasons. Instead, I will say only that its letters can be rearranged to spell "Fearsome Junk Lab.")

Immediately after signing the contract, our kablan, Shapir, told us to go pay right right right away. So we transferred about NIS 500,000 (unfortunately, you can't pay Shapir in poofahs) from our branch of the bank, which is located in a far away, unnamed city, to a branch that is closer. I went to the closer branch ASAP, brought the "shovar" (Hebrew for "piece of paper in which you transfer all of your life savings to the kablan, only to have the money lost en route") and paid. The nice guy at the bank - let's call him "Fearsome" - took out his holy stamper, stamped my shovar, and sent me on my way.

"That's it?" I asked dubiously, surely there would be something else I needed to do. Like pay a fee.

"That's it!" he replied cheerfully.

Famous last words.

A week later, Shapir had not yet received the money. It was no longer in our account, but not quite in theirs. Well, where is it? Was there a bottleneck in the wires? We called our banker.

"Well, all that it says here is that the money has been transferred to another branch. What you need to do is call the other branch."

Donny calls and explains the problem. His response?

"Zeh lo kashur elay!" (This has nothing to do with me!)

But Donny was able to convince Fearsome that because he took the shovar and stamped it with his holy stamper, it IS, in fact, kashur elav.

"Hmmmm," he pondered, mulling over out point. "Okay, you have a fair point." (This is Fearsome's MO: Deny first, acquiesce later, after faced with incontrovertible evidence. When I first came with the shovar, he said "Ee efshar!" Impossible! Once I explained that we had transferred our money, reminded him that he spoke with the other branch about this, etc. etc., he consented to admit that it was, in fact, efshar.)

It took a few days and few phone calls, but we heard back from the other brach with the following cryptic message: "Today, I sent the copies [of the shovar, presumably?] to the bank in front of me [Shapir's bank, we hope?]"

So. There is a fairly good chance that Shapir has the money and won't give our apartment away to someone else. If he does, I hope those people like sofas suspended from the ceiling.


And of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the new year, Gregorian as it is. Happy 2010! Now I really need to stop writing "2008" on my checks.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ariella Beats the System

A digression on education.

Ariella is a fantastic reader. She can pretty much pick up any book in Hebrew (provided it's vowel-inated) and read it. In this way, she has now reached my own level of reading proficiency. Never mind the 24-year age difference. She actually sat and read the Hebrew-English dictionary on Friday night. And was very dismayed to find out that while "Ari" was an entry, "Ariella" was not.

However, she does not always understand all of the words. When I do her homework with her, I always ask her to summarize the paragraph in English. If we come across a word she doesn't know, we look it up. You'd think, why look it up? This is first grade reading - can't you just translate it for her? But, if you thought that, you'd be wrong. Many of these words are far beyond my meager vocabulary. For example, thus far, not one story has consisted entirely of the words "Shalom! Mah Shlomech?"

I noticed that the ever-elusive "they" pick words that fit with the sounds they want to teach, but are not necessarily a first-grade-level word. For example, I can't tell you how many stories centered on a "chakah" - a fishing rod. I also can't tell you how many of these children spend weekends with their dads fishing for trout, but I'm guessing it's not a whole lot. The Hebrew word for "molt" has also appeared from time to time. Because when they're not casting a line, the children are clearly watching their pet toucan lose its feathers.

Of course, we do the same thing in English. Many of those "early reader" books love to include words like "jig" and "rig." Yes, easy to read and fits with the rule, but not words first graders have a whole lot of experience with.
(From my early reader, Reading Fun with Aliyahbyaccident
"Come on kids, hop into Dad's rig for a fun day on the lake!"
"Do you have your fishing rod?"
"We'll leave Matty here; he's molting."
"Mo-o-o-o-o-m, Meg is dancing a jig again! Can't you make her stop!"
"If you kids don't stop fighting, I'll turn this rig around right now!!"
Reading comprehension questions:
1. Do you think it's safe to "hop" onto a rig? Explain.
2. How do you think Matty feels, being left all along just because he's molting?
3. Do you think Meg is dancing on purpose, to annoy her siblings? I do. Discuss
4. Did your dad also threaten to turn the car around "right now?" Did he ever actually do it? Mine either. Yet the threat worked, every time.)

But onto Ariella. She doesn't care that she doesn't understand the words. As long as she can
A) Read the words correctly
B) Answer the questions correctly

For example, in one story, a cow kicked over a pitcher of milk. (Those darn cows!) Ariella had no idea that the word "ba'atah" meant "kick." But, using her powers of deduction, she was correctly able to answer the question, "What did the cow do?" In a strange way, we're very proud of her. Though we continue to look up words in the dictionary. In case she ever adopts a macaw.

Meanwhile, Yaakov knows and understands lots. But he refuses to impart his information to us. If you ask him a question, he screws up his face in concentration, makes up a totally nonsense word, then laughs hysterically at us.
"Yaakov, how do you say 'share?'"
[Pause.] "Savta skantooza!" (This is Ariella and Yaakov's favorite phrase.)
Maniacal laughter.

It's just not right. He should really savta skantooza his knowledge with us.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Breakfast is easy. Cereal. Lots of it. Ariella and I probably go through 3 boxes a week. Yaakov eats too, but nowhere near the cereal consumption of his sister and me.

But unfortunately, a few hours later I am hungry again. The mid-morning snack of yogurt did little to tide me over.

Time to do the Lunch Dance.

A two-step to the fridge. Anything leftover from dinner last night? I think hopefully, knowing the answer in advance because it was I, of course, who made dinner last night.
Nope, nothing there.

Well, since I'm already here at the fridge, let's see what other glorious treats will present themselves to me! Yogurt....cucumbers.....oranges......sliced cheese.......3 containers of tomato sauce because I keep opening cans and not finishing them and putting the remains in a container, only to forget about it the next time I need tomato sauce, so I open a new can, and don't finish it....2 containers of olives (see above)....ewwww, what IS that, let's just toss that right now....expired cottage chicken leg from last Shabbat, well, I'll just keep that in there until the Great Erev Shabbat Fridge Clean Out....and....we're closing the fridge.

No problem! I'm just going to look in the freezer! Surely all manner of culinary delights await me in there! I do the Jig of Anticipatory Happiness.

Okay...what can you do with two raw pieces of chicken, some frozen corn on the cob that's may have actually come with the freezer, yeast, and half a bar of dark chocolate? Uh-oh, the half-finished container of Ben & Jerry's that I bought as a "treat" (new flavor - Banana Split, totally worth the 30 gazillion shekels I spent on it. For Donny and me of course; don't show the kids.) It's staring at me. Quick, close the freezer before that becomes the "all-finished container of Ben & Jerry's." And the Jig is up.

We're moving on to the pantry. A little twirl and pirouette or two (I did take ballet, you know.)There is going to be something soooo fabulous in that pantry, that when I see it I will let out a shriek of unadulterated joy.

Jelly. Peanuts. More tomato sauce. Tea bags. Polenta. (Not sure what I'm going to do with it, because I've never cooked with it before in my life, but it seemed interesting. Still sitting there, unopened.) All manner of uncooked beans, pasta, and oats. Ketchup., three bags of opened petitim! DON'T LET ME BUY ANY MORE AT THE STORE NEXT WEEK!

We now begin the Slow Waltz of Lunch Letdown.

Another yogurt, anyone?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Homeowners....sort of....

First of all, MASSIVE MAZEL TOV to Shira, who is not only a good friend but also President of the aliyahbyaccident Fan Club, on the birth of her baby boy!

In the past year and a half, we have looked at many apartments, houses, duplexes, cottages, du-mishpachtis, and a lovely cardboard box. During our house search, there were certain things that I was pretty sure of in my head:
1. We would probably not live in Buchman.
2. We would certainly not live in an apartment.
3. And we would never, ever, ever, buy on paper.

So naturally, this past Thursday, we signed on our first property in Israel. It is in Buchman. It is an apartment. And we bought it "on paper" - i.e. we cannot actually live in our Buchman Apartment until November 2011 or thereabouts. Right now our Buchman Apartment is air and dirt.

The best part about signing? We NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER have to go look at another apartment, house, duplex, cottage, du-mishpachti, or cardboard box EVER AGAIN. Yay!!!!!!

One of the upsides to buying an apartment is that it is cheaper than what we would have paid for a full-fledged Buchman house. We are therefore spending our extra money to hire an interior designer. Since the house is not yet built, we get/have to decide everything - not just what color to paint the rooms, but we can take walls down, put them up, take them down again, shake them all about, decide where we want our electrical outlets, expand or shrink any of the rooms or bathrooms, etc etc.

For those of you who have been inside any of our domiciles over the past 9.5 years, you probably noticed two things.
1. We have POC (piles of crap) all over the place.
2. And no taste.
So we figured, since this is the apartment we will be living in FOREVER, it makes sense to hire someone who has actual taste to help us plan it out.

For those of you visual learners, let me paint you a picture of what you see when you enter our apartment.

1. POC #1: The Coat Tree - a great purchase since our Riverdale days, when we rented a house with a teeny-tiny front closet. The CT fulfilled a where-to-put-the-coats need. But let's face it, it's a mess. Currently, there are 4 sweatshirts/coats per person hanging on the poor branches. And our Shul Bag. And my purse. And my purse that I no longer use. And two scarves. (In case of that freak Israeli snowstorm?) Various hats and an umbrella. Until recently, Ariella's gan bag (from last year) and her Chanukah crown (again, last year). Now, the gan bag occupies another important POC - the Floor of the Ma'amad. Oh, and let's not forget the piece de resistance on the CT - the Apron.

2. POC #2: Our Pantry - again, fulfills a very important where-to-put-the-food need. And, again, is a total disaster. The inside, which thankfully no one sees, is a jumble of pasta, cans, beans, chips, Bissli, and various bags of nuts and raisins which are half-eaten and closed with one of those laundry clips. Which is why I never have any laundry clips. I do attempt to organize it, but I think once I close the doors, all the food jumps to a different shelf and important things, like rice, hide behind the superized can of pineapple I've had since Pesach.

But the top of the pantry is where our true talent shines. This is the "anything goes!" shelf. A vase. Full of pens, natch. A small plastic dessert plate with the medicines I like to have in easy reach (like Prozac), and not all the way in our Official Medicine Cabinet. (i.e. the drawer of the dresser in our guest room.) Let's see....we also have our big fancy bencher holder, besamim and havdalah candle, (there's no room on the sideboard for those things because the sideboard, of course, is drowning under mail, a tallis bag, and Yaakov's kippah clips), a tape dispenser (for emergency artwork-hangings), napkins, a thermometer, and a bag containing 5 jelly beans.

Yeah, we need help. I won't even get into our dresser, the dreaded "toy corner," or the multi-purpose bookcase housing cereal, kids' books, and our phone/router/DSL. Also the camera, and the the router-we-no-longer-use-but-like-to-display.

In addition to our Mess is our No Taste. It can best be described as "A Lack of Any Pretty Things. And an Abundance of Brown." Help!

We met with one group of interior designers - I thought it was just one person coming, and in trooped not only Moe, but Larry and Curly. When we decided not to use them, you could almost hear their collective sigh of relief. (But, if you are looking for someone to install lots of "nee-shahs" - that's Hebrew for "niche" - to house all of your "psilim" (figurines, but it makes it sounds like we have a country of idol-worshipers), Larry Moe and Curly are your people!

In the end, we hired a very brave soul named "Shikma." We are meeting with her on Tuesday "at the site" to begin the planning. We have high hopes for Shikma. She is going to help us find places for All of Our Crap. And any time we run into a problem, we say, "Don't worry, Shikma can fix that!" No room for the dishtowels? Need a place for medicines? Groceries not putting themselves away? Kids misbehaving? "Don't worry, Shikma can fix that!"

She has her work cut out for her.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Who has time to blog when there are sufganiot to eat?

Wow. It's been a busy week. Every night I think I'll have time to blog, but we have been super busy. In the words of one of the gedolim of our generation, these are really "Eight Crazy Nights." Some recent Chanukah highLIGHTs:

Sunday: Kids home! We sleep late!
The kids are in their respective tzaharon/kaytanah programs for this week (thank the good Lord), but on Sunday, everyone was off. 'Cept Donny, of course. So we had a lazy day. Well, lazy in that we went for H1N1 shots (1st of 2 - oh goody!) food shopping, toy buying (combo Chanukah + I-didn't-kick-the-nurse-during-my-shot present. Ariella was actually amazing - she didn't cry at all! And Yaakov was proud of himself too, because, though he kicked and screamed, he told me, "Mommy, I didn't run away from the doctor!"), then new-present-playing, followed by hanging out at the park for two hours. That kind of lazy.

Monday: Ariella the Geek!
And I mean this in the best way possible. She is soooo studious. They got packets of homework - some mandatory, some extra credit, and she insisted on doing every single sheet. She even read half of one of the stories, in Hebrew, of course. And did all the writing herself. Also, as part of their mesibah when they finished all of the letters, each child wrote a story. Since they had only learned 3 of the "sounds," the story was limited to words with a "kamatz" "patach" (and I can never, ever remember which one is which), and "shva." They received a booklet of the stories before vacation. And Ariella read them all to me. Every one. Did I mention there are 31 kids in the class? And due to the limitations of words, there LOTS of stories about "sabbah" "yaldah" and "matanah."

Tuesday: We Make Hockey Pucks!
Every year, the Leibtag sibs do a Chanukah party. However, now two of the sibs live in Israel, and one lives very very far away, in Chicago. So our Sibs Party was one Sib short. Which makes us sad. Every year, the highlight of the party is when Donny and Elie (my brother-in-law) make doughnuts. Donny does the dough and the frying; Elie fills them. This year, however, Donny didn't have time to make the dough, so Leezy and I attempted it ourselves. Well. In the end, we had fried hockey pucks. Which unfortunately, were better than the dried-out sufganiot I purchased as back-up. The worst part is that Elie, who is attempting to reach 100 doughnuts by the end of the chag (some Jews like to say 100 brachot every day; it's a similar kind of endeavor), was only able to down 1 or 2 of the delicacies. However, it did allow us to make very many jokes using the word "puck" which I will not repeat here because this is a family-friendy-ish blog.

Wednesday: The TRAIN!
The day Yaakov lives for above all other days in the year: TRAIN to Haifa day! Yesterday was the annual Microsoft Chanukah bash, for which we get to travel all the way to Haifa, on the TRAIN. I kept the kids home, because Donny was taking the car and driving to work, and we had a very relaxing, lazy morning. Even more relaxing and lazy than Sunday, if you can imagine. All day, Yaakov was asking if it was time to go yet. (He actually started asking Tuesday night.) Oy. When it was finally time to leave for the TRAIN station, you could actually see little excitement sparks in the air. We purchased our tickets and luckily, it was one of the new trains. We found the car with the bathroom and parked ourselves down. What followed was an enjoyable hour and a twenty-five minutes of chowing down on Chanukah treats, coloring, and watching other trains zoom by the opposite direction (Yaakov's favorite part). Then, the kiddies spent the final 15 minutes going nuts, jumping up and down, and dancing in the aisles.

The second highlight of the night was coloring on Daddy's whiteboard and running willy-nilly up and down the halls. We did go the actual party and do fun stuff, but really, what can compare to TRAIN, whiteboard, and willy-nilly? (Yaakov was disappointed we were driving back. "How about," he asked hopefully, "Daddy can drive back in the car and we can take the train back!") Sigh. Must wait a whole year until the next TRAIN day. Maybe Microsoft can sponsor an Asara B'Tevet bash?

Well, there are still 2 nights left, believe it or not. We will continue to light, dance, sing, and eat. And if you see Elie, throw him a donut or two. He needs all the help he can get.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

We Light! We Sing! We Dance! We Eat!

Chanukah is well under way here. Our Chanukah actually started last Wednesday, when we attended the Misrad Haklitah party and lit our first menorah. It continued Thursday, when we had Yaakov's gan mesibah, and we lit menorah #2. To prepare for the Chanukah party - AKA The Event of the Year - the gan finished at 11:00 that day. You know, so Yaakov could spend time taking a long scented bubble bath and getting his hair and makeup done.

Clean Faces and Backs of Heads
Speaking of which, I thought it would be easier getting Yaakov ready for a party than Ariella, because there is no hairdo. But although there was no requirement for Nice Hair, there was one for Clean Face, and Yaakov's has a perpetual ring of chocolate around it. So between locating the kippah and tzitzit, buttoning the shirt, and cleaning off sticky chocolate, it was about even, time-wise. We arrived at gan - at night! Yaakov thought that was the coolest! - and Yaakov took his seat. Last year, at Ariella's gan, only one parent could come, due to space constraints. But this year, we were both invited. Which is good. Because of the Israeli custom of having the parent sit behind the child. So one parent sits behind, with a nice, clear view of the back of the child's head, and the other parent stations him or herself at the opposite end of the room, camera in hand. During this event, Donny played the part of photo/videographer.

A Great Miracle Happened Here!
Now, last year, Yaakov refused to do anything at his gan party. He did sit with the kids, but did none of the singing, dancing, hand motions, etc. It could be that the lateness of the hour, combined with the dark room, black light, and frequent costume changes, proved too much for him. Or maybe now he's just grown up. But this year....the Chanukah Miracle of 2009! Yaakov participated! He sang, he shook the right props at the right times, marched around the room, did the complex hand motions. The program was relatively short - only 45 minutes - and the choreography was fairly simple (march, shake, repeat. Yes, there was black light, but for only one song, when the children were seated). It was such a treat to see him singing his little heart out and following the morahs so intently. (He never looked at me, just at his teachers. He didn't want to mess up.)

In Which the Author Claims a Disclaimer:
Disclaimer: Of course we love our children even when they sit at their various mesibot and do absolutely nothing except suck their thumbs/twirl their hair/cry. Of course, we are still proud of them, we still think they're adorable, blah blah blah. But, let's be honest, it is soooooo much more fun to watch Dancing Yaakov than Deer in Headlights Yaakov. (Dancing Yaakov - coming soon to a toy store near you!)

Party Wraps Up
Then we ate sufganiot (of course), and took our bag of Yaakov Goodies home - a chanukiah, natch, a dreidel, and other sundry items.

Now Chanukah Starts....Without Yaakov
Every half hour on Friday Yaakov asked me if it was time to light his Chanukiah. Then, twenty minutes before candlelighting, he falls asleep on the couch, and is suffering from such bad PNM (post-nap misery) when he awakes that he refuses to light, dance, or sing. Oh well, Thank goodness there are 8 nights!

The Blogging Event of the Century! With Baked Goods!
Motzei Shabbat we headed over to the Tired family for a Chanuka Chanukat HaBayit. The shindig started at 7:30; we arrived promptly at 7:28, so much the better to eat the coffee-chocolate chip-pecan bars. Which, by the way, were milchig. Oh yeah. The second highlight of my night was meeting the one and only Baila! She's much taller in person.

"Judah Maccabee Wuz Here"
So all in all a fantastic start to our chag. Stay tuned for more dispatches from Modi'in - the place where it all happened, where Judah HaMaccabee himself spun his dreidel thousands of years ago and ate sufganiot from Roladin, after which he exclaimed, "Are you freaking out of your mind? 200 zuz for a donut?"

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What Not to Wear...Seriously....

Some recent excitement in the Rose family (not that anything can compete with the Return of Uncle Jonathan, but you know, we can't have that every day.) (Thank God) (Just kidding, Jonathan!)

Fashion: Help!
Whilst waiting for an appointment, I had the rare opportunity to watch some Really Bad Israeli Television. A talk show was on, and the guest was Israeli Fashion Guru, telling the audience what kinds of clothes should be tossed out of the closet. These are clothes, dear Readers, that I hope with all my heart none of you ever owned to begin with: Glittery t-shirts decorated with skull-and-crossbones, oversized, baggy, tie-dyed stretch pants...
Just give me a minute to get rid of all those clothes in my closet ok done.

Also amusing was observing what the Israeli Fashion Guru and her Fashionable Hosts were wearing themselves - a combination of leather-studded jackets, bad dye-jobs, see-through pocket t's, baggy shirts decorated with, I think, black poodles - and the look all tied together with hot pink lipstick.
Stacy and Clinton, you have your work cut out for you. Just brush up on your Hebrew. Actually, don't bother - did you know "Beeg no-no" is actually a Hebrew phrase???

Jelly and Paint
Today was the pre-Chanukah party sponsored by misrad haklitah. Though Ariella had been invited to a birthday party tonight, she chose to skip the party in favor of the Chanukah activity. Of course I, having not read the chapter of my own child-rearing book ("Leave Me Alone So I Can Read the Paper") entitled "Stop Projecting, You Twit" said to Ariella, "Are you sure you don't want to go to the birthday party? Your friend Rebecca is going - I don't want you to feel left out if all the girls are going to be there...." She responded, with the patience reserved for stupid people or olim at the bank, "Mommy, I've been to LOTS of birthday parties before. I really want to do the Chanukah activity!"

So off we went. The evening started off with sufganiot - can't go wrong there - well, you can, because the misrad haklitah seemed to have found the only doughnuts in Israel with jelly actually inside, rather than just dotted on top. And as Yaakov munched on his, the jelly squirted out the other end. Onto his sweatshirt. And shirt. And pants. And shoes. Oh well.
Then we, somewhat strangely, lit the menorah and sang maoz tzur. I said last year that Chanukah lasts about 3 weeks in this country - apparently the MHK takes that seriously.

Then, there were 2 rooms of activities - one for gan kids and one for school-age kids. However, there was only one of me, who could not be in 2 places at once. Since the gan room was a balagan (hmmmm.....gan.....balagan....I'm seeing the etymology here) we sat with the big kids. There was a slide show of different menorahs from around the world and then the follow-up was creating your own metal menorah. However, the slide show was longer than 3 minutes, meaning the natives were quickly growing restless.

So we trooped back to the gan room. (Luckily, they didn't card Ariella and realize she was actually in kitah aleph). By this point, many of the early raiders had left, leaving a mess, but also plenty of space and plenty of supplies. And there was paint! How fun is that? Soooo not something Mommy ever lets us do at home! So we sat down and painted a kad katan (anyone have a good translation for "kad?" "Pitcher" just doesn't seem to do it.) Yaakov painted his green, then pink, then yellow, then poured glue over it, then finished by covering the whole thing with silver glitter. It is quite bling-y. And the sparkles and paint went really nicely with the sugar and jelly on his shirt. Ariella did a "splotch of color" motif which looks quite spectacular. Then, they spent half an hour doing coloring sheets. Yaakov likes to color his sheets all black so he can see the outline of the picture when the light shines on it.

Although I worried during the slide show that Ariella would regret not having gone to the birthday party, at the end of the evening, she said, "Mommy, this was so much fun. Thank you for taking me."

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Return of Uncle Jonathan

This Shabbat we hosted the elusive Uncle Jonathan. He quietly slipped in right before Shabbat, and just as quietly slipped out after it ended. It was a rare occurrence for Uncle Jonathan to leave the holy city of Jerusalem and make his way all the way to Modi'in. Perhaps with the upcoming holiday of Chanukah in just one week, he felt pulled to come here, where it all happened, and connect with his people and his past? Or perhaps, Yael and Yossie, Jonathan's usual Shabbat hosts, were out of town and he could not go there and was without Shabbat plans at the last minute? You decide.

Despite the lack of homemade food - (full disclosure: I don't cook for my own family, but rest assured if I invite YOU for a meal, you will get more than just various pre-cooked frozen things heated up in the oven.) - Jonathan appeared to enjoy himself. Friday night Yaakov was terrified of "him" and refused to sit in his usual seat, this being in close proximity to "him." He made Donny switch seats with him and continued to throw suspicious glances at Jonathan all night.

However, Shabbat afternoon, he made up his mind that Jonathan was not, in fact, scary. And, he even realized that Jonathan is actually quite useful in the building things department! Good guy to have around! Jonathan spent a long time with the kiddies building elaborate structures with the train tracks and sticks. By the end of the day, Yaakov even consented to call him "UnkaJonthin" instead of "him."

We were happy to learn that Jonathan is now gainfully employed and no longer has to forage for nuts and berries in the forests of Jerusalem. (And Jerusalem's paucity of forests made that quite difficult, let me tell you.) We hope that now that Uncle Jonathan knows how to get to Modi'in, he will come more often. Yaakov needs more friends.


In other news, Ariella's school had a "Chanukat Beit HaSefer" yesterday and guess who was asked to participate in the "tekes?" Well, since I am not in the habit of bragging about other people's children, you've probably guessed it - it was none other than Ariella Rose of Aleph2. Her job, as she explained to me at the end of the day (parents were not invited to the tekes), was to put the "leshem" stone in the right place. There was a GIANT replica of the avnei hachoshen, and 2 kids per stone were called up to place it in. Ariella was with a little boy from her class, Daniel. (pronounced Dah-knee-EL.) She was super proud and excited and in the morning we even did a special hairdo for the occasion (2 pigtails, "down low," like she likes them.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Back in the Trenches

I am subbing this week and next for a dovrei anglit teacher who is away. Please note: Aside for my recess duty, I don't have to speak actual Hebrew to actual Israelis. Big sigh of relief.

In addition to relearning how exhausting it is to teach, I have gained many profound insights.

Things I learned from my subbing experience:

1. There was a teacher in the teacher's room setting out a spread of wafers, oranges, and other delicacies. It's nice to know that bring-food-to-the-teacher's-room is a universal trend. New baby, engagement, graduation, it's Tuesday....Teachers like to feed each other.

2. When I heard the Israeli English teacher (the one that teaches English to the Hebrew speakers while the English speakers are taken out) talking to her class in heavily accented English ("Good morrrrrning, everyone."), I realized with a jolt what we American teachers must sound like when we teach in Hebrew.

3. I made the mistake of calling one of my students YA-el instead of Ya-EL. She snorted derisively. "What kind of name is that?" And another student, Noad, chimed in, "Yeah, all my American relatives say my name like it has a 'w' in it - No-w-ad. And they call my brother GiLad." (Heavy on the "L.") Haha, I laugh uncomfortably, unable to pronounce those names any differently myself.

4. I had to call the kids in from recess when they conveniently ignored the "tziltzul" (bell) and needed personal reminders. To one child, who was happily digging in the sand with his bucket: "Remain here the pail, boy, for the recess finished already five minutes."

5. I'm pretty sure none of the English-speakers were olim (at least recent ones), because among themselves, even during English class, they spoke Hebrew. One first grader was the spokesperson for her friend, "Shira doesn't know how to say this in English, so I'm going to tell you...."

6. Also an appilling misyse of vawlez.

7. Despite copious reminders yesterday, 1/3 of the kids forgot their book for the book report today and another 1/3 hadn't finished their book. ("I'll just write my beginning, middle, end, for the first thirty pages!") Again, some things are just universal.

To be continued....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Conference; Or, Hangin' with the Natives

First, a huge aliyahbyaccident welcome to Loyal Reader #54 - "Isobel" - who read the ENTIRE blog, in addition to all the comments! Not only has she proved herself to be a Loyal Reader in the loyalest, readerest sense of the word, but we also anticipate great commenting from Isobel!

Isobel, your engraved aliyahbyaccident tin menorah should be arriving in your mailbox (or "post" as they say in your parts) any day now. Isobel will be making aliyah shortly, and we wish her the best of luck!

Last night was parent-teacher conferences at Ariella's school. At SAR, at least in recent years, parents signed up for conferences via a fancy-shmnacy web site, and parents all over Riverdale would be sitting at their computers, nervously clutching their mice, awaiting for the system to "open" so they could log on as quickly as possible and snatch the prime spots for the teachers they needed. Some parents were known to sneak into each other's houses the night before the system opened and disconnect the internet, in the hopes of lessening the competition. Other parents used the more effective method of stealing their friend's mouse and running around saying, "Na-na-na boo boo, I got the 8:30 and youuuuuu didn't!"

In Ariella's class, there was a simple method. A sheet was sent home. The kids were listed alphabetically by last name. There was a time next to each kid's name. The times ran from 3:30 - 9:10. On the bottom of the sheet was a note: "If the time doesn't work for you" (I certainly hope that by now, you know the end of the sentence was not, "call the teacher to arrange a different time.") "call a parent that has the time you want and see if he/she will switch with you." I thought my time was pretty good - 8:20, which meant Donny would be home - but as I arrived at school puncutally at 8:13, I received a text from my friend (her last name is a "tzadi" to my "reish") saying, "Don't rush. They are super late." However the warning came too late, my friends, too late.

(Digression - was anyone else taught that the Hebrew letter "tzadi" is in never to be called "tzadik?" Well, it seems that in Israel that is exactly what they call it - a "tzadik." Not a "tzadi." And Yaakov calls the "zayin" a "zayit" but I'm not sure if that's just him.)

So I sat in a tiny chair and waited. And waited. My friend - my lovely, wonderful, English-speaking, tzadik-named friend - was called in shortly after I arrived. And then left. So I was by myself. I tried striking up a conversation with the other parents, but that didn't last long. One was a father whose wife had just given birth the day before, and he was at the conference trying to entertain his first grader who had accompanied him. Another was a mom of multiple children, and therefore multiple conferences, who was sending her first grader on recon missions. ("Go upstairs and see if the person who was ahead of us went in yet.") So conversation was at a minimum. Every few minutes Recon Mom would rush somewhere else, disappear for a few minutes, and then come back, red-faced, and sit in the tiny chair. I texted onetiredema to see if she would bring me some food should the situation grow desperate. And maybe some clean clothes, should it become truly desperate.

But finally, only an hour after my appointment, at exactly 9:20, it was my turn! Praise be given! One reason it was so late was because the morah was spending closer to 15 minutes per parent instead of the allotted 10. However, it seemed that Ariella Rose of Kitah Aleph-2 did not need even the full 10. Now, on the one hand I was disappointed not to get my full time, but on the other hand, "Good and short, better than long and bad" certainly holds true.

And it was, thank God, an amazing conference. [Warning: Parental bragging ahead.] Ariella is smart, she participates, she davens nicely, she works nicely with other kids, she's smart, she's helpful, and she's really smart. Now, the smart thing we had known for a while (I can brag about that because I assure you, Dear Readers, the brains are all from Dad. The love of math, out-of-the-box thinking, ambition - all dad. Crying at the end of Charlotte's Web? That is from me.)
We had always been concerned - ever since the meeting we were called to when she was in 3 year old nursery - about her social situation. She can be a little bossy (stop smiling, Lisa, I promise she'll let Moshe eat lunch tomorrow), and sometimes she has too much fun and gets a little carried away. So I wanted to really clarify this to the morah. "And she's nice to her friends? Because we've always had problems in that area." But Moriah assured us that she is a great friend and student, and that if she does get in trouble for something, she takes it to heart and accepts it. Wow! So she had nothing but praise for Ariella - "meuleh" was a word mentioned often. We are super proud of our little girl, who last year at this time had a Hebrew vocabulary that mainly consisted of the word "Die!" (Enough! - the first word every oleh child learns.) I exaggerate, but only a little, and it is really amazing how far she has come in a year. I give us a bracha that all of our conferences should be this terrific!

Okay, bragging over. Back to making fun of the kids.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I Hope You're Sitting

....because I did a Good Mommy Thing! Okay, people, stop choking on your Bissli and get up off the floor. It does happen, once in a while. Here is the background to my Good Mommy Thing:

Yaakov decided about a week ago that from now on, he goes into gan by himself. Yes, Mr. Clingy said, "Mommy, the morahs said we should come in by ourselves. So don't come in with me." We say goodbye at the gate, and he marches in, tik and all. It's worth the price of admission just to watch him open the door - it's really heavy, so he kind of opens it up slowly and wedges his body in, little by little. But he never turns around and asks for help. Because he is a big boy. Suddenly, this week, he decided to return to his Mr. Clingy. So I went in with him, and there was drama when I tried to leave, the morah thought I initiated this clinginess by insisting on accompanying him inside, when in reality I am perfectly happy to wave goodbye at the gate. I tried to explain that he had reverted back to his old ways, but of course I could barely remember how to say "Yaakov" in Hebrew (it's "Yaakov," by the way), so all that came out was, "Grobby duk blech?"

Anyway, in attempting to part ways amicably, I end up promising Yaakov all sorts of extravagant things in the hopes that he will snap out of his mood and march into gan happily. I refrain from promising food treats, because, you know, we don't want to teach kids that food is the answer to unhappiness or boredom, or that it's a prize for doing something well. Until they grow up, of course, and realize that it is, in fact, the answer to unhappiness or boredom and a prize for doing something well. I treat myself to all sorts of food-related prizes. In fact, the promise of a chocolate milkshake got me through two childbirths.

So on Thursday I promised him playdough. He had been having such a good time with the "batzek" at gan the day before that he didn't want to come home. I told him we would make playdough - sorry, batzek - when he got home. And it worked! For like a second! He snapped out of his clingy mood and was all excited. Until we got to the part where we actually had to into gan and Mommy actually had to leave.
When I got home, I started googling (sorry, Donny, I mean Bing-ing) (no, I really mean googling) recipes for playdough. Whaddya, know, most of the freakin' recipes call for cooking the glob! Ewwww!!! But then I stumbled upon this, which does NOT need to be cooked. The only thing I was lacking was cream of tarTAR. And food coloring, of course. So Ariella and I went to the store before picking up Yaakov to purchase the necessary ingredients. (The nice man at Shum Pilpel gently chided me that it is a "powder," not a "cream.")

The batzek was a HUGE success! It was really simple to make - the only part I messed up on was the coloring. I tried to make 4 different colors: Purple, orange, green, and red. I ended up with blue, light green, dark green, and white-with-red-streaks. But no matter. The kids had a blast making cookies and sufganiot and snakes. I even made a snowman, figuring it's the closest my kids will ever get to seeing one.

Also, going along with the whole good-mom thing, when Ariella made a comment about how we can't eat the playdough, I did not pipe up and and tell her that in fact, playdough is non-toxic and even edible (though with a cup of salt to two cups of flour, probably not very tasty.)

Check out the happy Rose children and the cool snowman. (Kappayim to Yaakov for the bellybutton.)

PS Yaakov walked into gan by himself today. Mr. Independence is back. Although based on his penchant for making "mud pies" with wet sand, we have renamed him "Mar Botz." (Mr. Mud.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Things that you will always find at the Rose household:

Note: These are not pleasant things, like, "fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies" or "a warm smile." But they are the truth. Messy, but true.

1. A sinkful of dishes. And I do dishes. Often. And yet more somehow appear in the sink, against my will. I think it's kind of like a Toy Story-turned-horror-movie-for-grownups: When I'm not looking, the dishes come alive and stealthily scuttle into the sink, then sit there looking all innoccent when I walk by. Sometimes I could swear I hear snickering.

2. A grocery bag of non-perishables sitting on the kitchen floor. Like Baila, I absolutely abhor all aspects of food shopping, ESPECIALLY the putting away part. So often I lose steam - the ice cream (Ben & Jerry's; don't let the kids see), milk and any other perishables get first priority, then fruits and vegetables...but by the time I'm up to the can of corn, toilet cleaner, and oil, I've had it. Let 'em stay on the floor, I think contemptuously. Eventually, Shabbos comes, and everything gets put away.

3. Speaking of Shabbos, one will also find sundry items that get put away during the pre-Shabbos clean up, only to reappear mere hours later. To wit: The glass measuring cup we use for hot water and the instant shoko. (We've given up on even trying to put away our hot plate. It has earned itself a permanent spot on the counter. It, too, snickers at me.)

4. Empty bottles of water that certain adult members of this household (we will withhold names to protect Donny's privacy) cannot be bothered to place in the bottle garbage can, which, granted, is ALL the way out on the mirpeset. It's gotta be at least ten steps from the table.

5. Packages of tissues. We are overrun with tissues, because at any given moment, at least one of us is suffering from cold/allergies/inability to blow our noses correctly and therefore needs to use large amounts in tissues in a short period of time. (Okay, that last one only applies to one person). If the tissues could talk (and move) they would stage a mutiny and crumple us up and leave us stuffed in the sofa.

6. Glasses/cups on the table. Always. At least double the number of cups as there are people in the family. I have no idea why.

7. Old People Magazines/Entertainment Weekly, sent to us by DADZ. (I'm about 4 months behind in my celebrity gossip - will Jon and Kate patch things up, or is this the end of their marriage??? Did you know Michael Jackson DIED?????)

There are more, of course, but I think I've embarrassed us enough for one night.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

End of Week Highlights

Note: These were supposed to be end-of-week highlights, but production was halted due to a nasty cold. While said cold is still lingering, the staff of aliyahbyaccident is dedicated to bringing you first-class, high-quality garbage. And so....

1. "Where is the rain?" Ariella and Yaakov would both like to know the answer to this. To quote Ariella: "How come when we say mashiv haruach umorid hagashem, Hashem doesn't right away send some rain?" And Yaakov (frantically): "Mommy, mashiv haruach umorid hagashem isn't working!" And so begins a lifetime of understanding that you don't always get whatcha ask for.

2. Yaakov now recognizes the "yud." Kol hakavod! Of course, he thinks every single yud spells Yaakov, but who am I to argue? He also knows the 5, because we live there, the 3 because we park there, and the 1, for good luck. We're working on the rest of the letters and numbers. I brought out our trusty old ABC puzzle; of course, it's going to be an uphill battle as Yaakov looked at the picture for "C" and said, "Ooh, a gezer!"

3. Speaking of Yaakov. He often plays in Hebrew when he plays by himself. On Friday night, he and Ariella overturned their little table and set up all the cars on it. Yaakov read them a story, just like the morah, and showed them the pictures, just like the morah. And then, just like the morah: "לא ראיתם? אני יודע שלא ראיתם" ("You didn't see? I know you didn't see!")

4. Ariella had her first math test last week. As per the teacher's instructions, I made review sheets for her. Then, as per her own distinct little Ariella-ness, she made review sheets for ME. Some of them included subtraction, which she hasn't learned yet. I tried to explain to her that subtraction problems such as 1 -2 -3 = were difficult, because in subtraction you're supposed to put the bigger numbers first, or you end up with negative numbers. "Well, do YOU understand how to do it this way?" I replied that I did. "So do it!" Oy.

5. Ariella's favorite subject is math. Go figure. (haha). Just like her dad. Speaking of children who are just like their dads, I would just like to make a general statement here: It is VERY IRONIC when a certain parent - for argument's sake, let's say the father - gives his child his, um, unique, personality and then goes off to work, leaving the other parent to raise said child and deal with all of the, um, uniqueness. Just saying. The first parent should really leave a handbook behind.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Changing of the Sheets

Tuesday is - well, when I can remember - Sheets and Towels Day. It's in order to gear up the washer and dryer for Laundry Marathon Wednesday. I dislike sheet changing - I find it quite physically exhausting. ("Just....stre-e-e-e-tch....a little.....more.... it!" And then....boing!) And don't get me started on duvet covers. I actually wait for Donny to come home to put the covers back on the quilts because I had a bad experience once in which I literally had to crawl inside the cover to get the corners of the blanket to match up and Donny walked in and there I was, inside a blanket. It was stuffy. So after that, blanket covers became Donny's domain. He manages to do it whilst remaining on the outside. Brilliant. It's why I married him.

Of all the sheets to change, Ariella's and Yaakov's are the worst. This is because their beds are veritable archaeological digs of Stuff. Ariella has a total of three pillows and four blankets, each serving a different, but necessary purpose. Then there are the various stuffed animals and a treasure trove of pajamas. She never puts her jammies away, or in the hamper, they just get thrown on the bed, later to become rolled up in one of the four blankets, and only discovered on Sheets and Towels Day. So removing all of the crap - I mean, beloved sleep paraphanalia - is itself an ordeal.

Then, we get to Yaakov's bed. Often, when he "can't sleep" at night, he will bring toys into his bed. The problem is, when he brings in new toys and books, he does not, God forbid, put away the old ones. The new are just added to the old. I think the bottom layer of Stuff might actually contain a rattle and a pacifier. Today, in the bed, there was: Superman blanket, Superman pillow, regular blanket, two regular pillows, a cowboy hat (pink, leftover from Ariella's 5th birthday), a pop-up Chronicles of Narnia picture book, a package of tissues, a plastic baseball bat, a toy cell phone, Buzzy, Woody (post Toy Story I, so at least they're friends), two doggies, a monkey, and of course, Blue Blanket. Luckily the books, broken crayons, and MagnaDoodle that I put away last week have not yet resurfaced.

And all of that must be carefully removed while I put on the sheet, and then just as carefully replaced on the bed. Of course, it won't help if he "can't sleep" tonight. He'll just come padding out to find some new toys.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Well, it's good I didn't sign up to do this NaBloPloMoShoKo thing, like Baila, because right now my fog is a brain. I'm sure things have happened, I'm sure they were funny (well, at least funny to read about, if not experience), but I can't remember them. My brain has one track right now. Pillow and Blanket. Okay, two tracks: Pillow, Blanket, and Bed. Alright, three tracks - oh, never mind, forget the counting.* The point is, I can think only about sleep - how to get there, how to stay there, and more importantly, how to get the nocturnal visitors - who have various peeing, illness, and mosquito bite needs - to wake up DADDY. (Hey kids! He's your parent, too! Try him out for a while!)

So props to all you bloggers who are actually blogging every single day. I am mucho impressed. Kol Hakavod! Congratulations! Gluckwunsche! Now I must take the children - who are doing something with brooms, a Little Tikes bike, and a helmet on the mirpeset - and convince them they are tired and it's bedtime, for the very sound reason that I would like it to be MY bedtime.

(*With thanks to Monty Python)

Friday, November 13, 2009

"I'll Be Back"

So our Intrepid Traveler has returned. He shuffled in at 4:30 AM, reeking of sauerkraut and cheese (he had a stopover in Zurich), dropped his suitcases on the floor, and promptly fell asleep. The Intrepid Pee-er was up not long after, so after taking care of his "needs," we "rested" on the couch together, until 5:30, when he decided he would rather "watch a movie."
When I woke up Ariella at 6:40, her first coherent word was, "Daddy!" I said, "You can go in and say hi to him right now, while I'm getting dressed, but then I'm going to close the door so Daddy can sleep." She thought for a minute as she stretched out on her bed.
"Nah, I'll just see him later." Truly her father's daughter - a few more minutes in bed trumps just about anything. ("Ariella, it's your wedding today. Get up." "Oh, I'll just stick my hair in a ponytail. Come back in fifteen minutes.")

Donny has come back with all sorts of goodies from the Deutschland, including, but not limited to, a puzzle for me (yay!), water bottles for the kiddies, the Kiddush book (don't ask), a can of vine leaves stuffed with something (really don't ask), a cookbook of yummy looking desserts authored and signed by Germany's most famous chef, and an annoying penchant for reciting his two German phrases over and over.
The cookbook is awesome, but the one teeny-weeny problem is that the ingredients are written in - get this - GERMAN! For this Shabbat, I was going to make "Griessflammeri Mit Marinierten Erdebeeren" but I'm out of "unbehandelten Zitrone" and I just used up my last "Grie8." (Lisa - do you have any I could borrow?)

It really is a shame, because the desserts look quite delicious; if any Loyal Readers are fluent in German, poofahs are available if you can translate the recipes for me.

Now it is time to transform our dining room table/kitchen table/mailroom/home office/homework central into a Shabbat table. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"The Most Famous of Which is: Never Get Involved in a Land War in Asia."

Okay, it's not strictly a quote about Germany, or have anything even remotely to do with the Deutschland, but it's an awesome quote from my all-time favorite movie. (Poofahs if you know it, extra poofahs if you can quote the end WITHOUT googling it.) And I've been feeling very quotey lately, so I couldn't resist.

Some almost-the-end-of-the-week-at-least-if-you-live-in-Israel highlights:

1. Thanks to all of you who shared Wet Cell Phone Stories. I trekked back to Orange today and whaddya know, my phone is fixed! And I never paid a cent. At least, I don't think I did. That's the tricky thing about hora'at keva. You never quite know who's taking your money, when they're taking it, and how much they're taking. I guess it's good practice for having teenagers (what do you think, Baila?), although Yaakov, at the tender age of 3, freely digs through my wallet in search of "tzedakah."

2. There were some Philippino workers in the apartment today, doing the annual "bedek habayit" and fixing up everything that has broken in the past year. Let me just say that there needs to be a special ulpan for understanding Hebrew by way of Manila. Did not understand a blessed word. Just kept nodding my head and hoping that was the right reaction.
("I am going to remove all of your windows now and throw the glass panes off your mirpeset."
"Okay! [nodding enthusiastically] Sure!")

3. I gave Leezy baby clothes and I got dinner. I've got LOTS of little girl clothes in the machsan - if anyone would like to trade clothes for food, let me know.

4. Today in gan, I noticed that every kid had made a "Beit HaMikdash" which was proudly hanging under their name on the bulletin board. Well, every kid except one. Which child refused, you ask? That is correct - Yaakov. "I didn't want to," he said. (All the other kids are doing it, you say? Yaakov's reaction - Your point? I guess that attitude will come in handy when all the other kids decide to do the proverbial jump off the Empire State Building, or in Israel terms, jump off the top of Dimri Towers.) He's his own man, that's fer sher. If you recall, he was similarly unpersuaded when it came to toilet training. So what if Mommy, Daddy, Lala, and half of my friends who are quite a bit younger than I am are using the toilet? I like diapers!

Or maybe he's just refusing to rebuild the Beit HaMikdash until Mashiach comes.

Monday, November 9, 2009

"Ich Bin Ein Berliner"

Who knew that Germany was the source of so many great quotes? This one, of course, is not from a movie or a TV show; everyone recognizes this as the famous quote from this well-known American.

Of course, what many people don't know is the second part of the quote: "...und ich bin ein dropped my cell phone in a cup of wasser. It happens. "

That was today's excitement. In my zeal to clean off the kitchen table/dining room table/mail room/home office/multimedia center, I picked up my cell phone and somehow fumbled it, and it subsequently fell into the quarter-inch of water that was in my cup. It was still working (well, kind of), so I didn't do anything at first, but an hour later it was flickering and turning on and off and acting very strangely. So either it had been possessed by the dreaded Loch Phone Demon and would need a prompt exorcism, or the water was rapidly shredding the poor innards of my phone. Since no priests were readily availble, I dashed over the Orange store to see what they could do.

"Don't laugh," I warned the nice Orange lady (in Hebrew). "My phone fell in water. It's still working, aval...."
"Aval...." she said, sympathetically.
The bottom line was that they would try to fix it; I am going back in a day or two to either pick up my renovated phone or pay NIS 200 for a new one. (Donny - by the way, I may have to buy a new cell phone. Isthatokaygreatbye!) In the meantime, she asked if I would like a temporary replacement phone until Tuesday. How much, I ask warily? FREE!!!!!

Well, hell yeah, I said! I was already panicking about being "off the grid" for a whole day or two, especially since Donny is unreachable in Berlin, and you know that the one time I'm without a cell phone is when the kids' schools are going to need to get in touch with me to tell me that Ariella's been kicked out because she rallied the other students to strike until more hopscotch courses are painted, or that Yaakov has run away to join the circus. (He would LOVE to ride around in one of those teeny cars.)

Anyway, it was awesome to get my FREE replacement cell phone - it's the same number plus has all my contacts. Isn't technology wonderful?

Speaking of technology, Donny's sole dispatch today has been: "I had a really great kosher lunch. Things are turning around for the Jews in Deutschland." So you see his conference is going really well.

PS Huge Mazel Tov to Loyal Reader "Rivki" on her engagement! The entire staff of aliyahbyaccident, along with all the cousins and friends, wish you a massive congrats!!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Whatever you do, DON'T MENTION THE WAR!"

Today's highlights:

1. Donny has arrived safely and soundly in Berlin. Last I checked, he had eaten (leftover sandwiches from Ben-Gurion, but hey, it's food), and is holding true to his promise not to mention the war. However, he has been unsuccessful in tearing down more walls. He swears he is on the lookout for walls and will take them down when necessary. ("My dear Frau Hindenberg, there is a man in our living room. He has a sledgehammer and is knocking down ze walls." "Ach, Herr Hindenberg, he says he is here on a mission to knock down walls. Who am I to stop him? Here, have some sauerkraut with the kinder.")

2. My latest nephew has a name: Daniel Yissachar. I think it could be time for another name poll.... Daniel or Doniel?

3. Yaakov has figured out, alas, that batteries in toys can be replaced when they stop working. Oh well. So today he asked me to put fresh batteries in his screwdriver. (His favorite screwdriver activity? Sticking it in his ear and feeling the vibrations.) I obliged, good mommy that I am, and he proceeded to take the screwdriver and bash Ariella in the knee. Well, gee, Yaakov, you didn't need the batteries to do that.

4. Ariella is toranit for the week! This is cause for great excitement - I would sponsor another virtual kiddush, but I'm exhausted from this past week's. (It was great seeing everyone, by the way, especially when a certain someone got drunk and started belting out The Spice Girls' "If You Wanna Be My Lover" - you know who you are. Anyway, a fun time was had by all and thank you to all who participated.) So back to toranit. In short, this means she gets to boss people around, one of Ariella's favorite pastimes. Make sure each group has a clean area, pushed in chairs, etc. etc., and then tell the morah if a certain table has not abided by the rules. Toranit was invented for Ariella.

5. Question for the readers: Ariella asked a sight-related question a few weeks ago. How come people with green eyes do not see everything greenish? And I DO see with the whites of my eyes - because I can see things out of the sides of my eyes, where the white part is.

Anyone who can come up with a short, kid-friendly (and mommy-friendly) explanation of sight, feel free to do so. And try to leave out the whole "we really see things upside down and then our eyes turn it right side up." Everyone knows that's just something eye doctors made up to see if people are really that gullible.

So 100 New Poofahs to the best explanation of sight, and 30 NP's to whomever correctly identifies the source of the title of this post.

Until next time, auf wiedersehen!

Friday, November 6, 2009

"They're turning around. They're taking us back to Germany."

Yes folks, on Sunday, Donny leaves us for a week (I know what you're thinking - AGAIN???) to take part in AGC (Annual Geek Conference) being held in Berlin. Luckily, for us and for him, he will be flying back late Thursday night/early Friday morning and thus avoid having to spend Shabbos in Berlin. And, for those of you history geeks, this week marks the anniversary of Kristellnacht and the fall of the Berlin Wall. So, certainly, an, um, interesting week to be in Germany.

While Donny was warned by some not to walk around with his kippah on his head, others have assured him that today, the Germans are quite friendly toward the Jews. There's even all manner of kosher food in Berlin. In fact, today, Donny was at the store, buying some provisions in the form of tuna and crackers, and he saw that on the tuna it said, "Made in Germany." (Of course, the irony is that if you actually found this tuna in Germany, it would be without a hechsher and therefore treif.)

So we wish Donny a good week and are looking forward to his return next Friday.

For those of you who still have not decided whether to join us at our Virtual Kiddush tomorrow, there's still time! It's going to be virtually awesome! All manners of virtual delicacies will be provided, so just show up and enjoy yourselves! It starts at 11:00, your time.

Shabbat Shalom!

PS The title of this blog post is a quote from a movie. Extra poofahs to whomever (besides you, Mom and Dadz) can correctly name the movie!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Kiddush! Kiddush!

Well, Risa, thank you for providing such an interesting poll! Your dilemma has provoked a very strong response among our readers, and I'm sure their comments have made you think about this decision from may angles.

Though there are still a few days left in the poll, it seems like there is a clear aliyahbyaccident preference for "Ilan." Sorry, Letter E. Don't worry, you still rule when it comes to "Emily," "Eugene," and the whole extended family of "Eli" names. So Risa, do tell us what you decide in the end. We are all waiting with bated breath. Or should I say batid briath.

Hebrew word of the day:
Blueberries = uchmaniot. I kid you not. Not something easy like "berrykachol." No idea where it comes from. Donny and I learned this for the first time on Friday, but apparently Yaakov has known this word for quite some time and just neglected to share it with us. We found this out when we were practicing saying "uchmaniot" at the Shabbat table and Yaakov blurted out "Blueberries!" If only we could harness his powers for good....

Aliyahbyaccident is sponsoring a Virtual Kiddush this Shabbat, in honor of all the newborn babies:
I/Elan, Ami, Alex, and Little Leibtag Boy to be Named God Willing on Sunday.
If you would like to co-sponsor this kiddush in honor of a recent simcha, like a birth, baby-naming, engagement, wedding, or that the breakfast dishes are cleaned up before dinner, drop us a line.
We will be serving Virtual dag maluach on Virtual kichel.
(Dag maluach = herring; also, the name of a children's game. You know "Red Light Green Light?" Here, it's "Achat Shtayim Shalosh Dag Maluach!" Yes, that's "One, Two, Three, Herring!")

Hope to see you all there. BYOVF.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Another Poll!

Well, Loyal Readers, it seems that Chutes & Ladders won (or lost?) decisively as Worst Children's Game Ever. Thanks to everyone who voted.

Now, we have an aliyahbyaccident Loyal Reader in need. The aliyahbyaccident community is known far and wide as a (mostly) loving, caring, group of people who pull together when it counts; for example, to help Israel win his very first blogging contest by a staggering 8,000,000 to 15 (you can bring over that coffee anytime, Israel....). Now, we need your help again:
Risa "Two Kids, But Always Time to Comment" is in a pickle. She named her second son אילן. The reason I am writing this in Hebrew is not only to impress you, but also because Risa and her husband cannot decide on the spelling!
Elan or Ilan??? What should it be?

Now, Risa, it is interesting that you didn't have this dilemma with your first son. I don't remember any hand-wringing over "Eliyahu" or "Iliyahu?" But I respect your decision and your dilemma.

So Loyal Readers, throw your letter into the ring. I or E? What shall it be? E or I? Hope it's not a tie.

In weather news, we had our first serious rainstorm on Friday. I have never been so happy to see cold, rainy, windy weather. Yaakov deduced the following from his observations:
On Thursday, it rained when I was at gan.
On Friday, it rained when I was at gan.
Therefore, it rains when I am at gan. Even though it is bright and sunny on this Sunday morning, I will insist upon bringing my sweatshirt, because it will rain at gan. (Update: It did not rain at gan today. We are befuddled.)

Late-breaking news: Continuing the Little Boy trend - Mazel Tov to my brother and sister-in-law, RABBI Aaron and Ayelet Leibtag, on the birth of Little Boy #4!!!!!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happiness is...

... a six year who FINALLY got to wear her long-sleeved school shirts. (Yes, folks, choref has officially arrived, judging by the number of Israelis in puffy winter coats and sweaters. I did not check the weather on Thursday and sent Yaakov to gan in shorts and a t-shirt, on what turned out to be a chilly, rainy day. Of course, by the afternoon, the sun was out and it was warm again, but still, I felt like a bad mother. So today, pants and long-sleeved shirts. Ariella was so excited last night she had trouble falling asleep.)

... cold and rainy and windy weather. Seriously. I was sooooo tired of hot and sweaty.

... a three year old who has his very own bendable Buzz and Woody dolls. (I've been trying to sneak up on them in an attempt to catch them talking and walking around and stuff, but damn, those toys are GOOD. They're always right where I left them. One day, one day.) Also, I sometimes slip up and call them Wuzz and Boody or Wooz and Buddy.

... Take Out Thursday (for the grown-ups; usually falafel or shwarma, last night we went for Chinese.)

... the Stand On Mommy Then Jump Onto the Couch Game. In case you need more specific directions: Mommy lies on the couch, Yaakov stands on Mommy, spreads his arms, counts to ten, then jumps off onto the couch. Ariella convulses with laughter, and despite the pain and bruising, Mommy laughs also. He is pretty cute.

... popcorn. I just really like popcorn.

... the way the house looks right before Shabbos starts.

... Ariella's face when she received a sticker for good davening.

... Yaakov when he realized it was Chocolate Sandwich Friday.

(We will not go into "unhappiness is... ," such as the way the house looks by the time Shabbos ends, or trying to retrieve bank statements from your bank's website and accidentally spending twenty shekel on a report you didn't want that has information you don't need and when you call the bank in an attempt to cancel the transaction the local branch tells you to call the main number and the main office, of course, tells you you need to speak to the local branch. Bye, bye, twenty shekel. But like I said, we are being happy and positive today.)

Shabbat Shalom!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hail the Conquering Hero

Well, only a few days left to vote in our latest poll, and so far - sorry, Momz and Baila - Chutes & Ladders is winning as Worst Children's Game Ever. If you haven't cast YOUR vote yet, it's not too late!

In aliyahbyaccident mazel tov news, a huge DOUBLE mazel tov goes out to Loyal Reader Shoshana, (Motto: "3 Under 3!") (Little boys, that is.) Well, Shoshana, as you know, I am somewhat of an expert on twin boys, having twin nephews myself, and I can tell you, that by the time they get to 25, it gets much easier. B'hatzlachah!

So our Intrepid Traveler has returned. Donny left Seattle early Sunday morning, and a mere 30 hours later, landed in Tel Aviv. Sans luggage, however. They do claim they know where his luggage is, and have promised to deliver it this morning. The sooner the better, because in addition to Donny having no pants left, (he looked quite fetching in my denim skirt this morning) the luggage is carrying some precious cargo: Woody, Buzz, and a Dora Leapster game. For the airline's sake, they better deliver quickly.

In children news, Ariella has started to do her own ponytail. At first I tried to convince her otherwise, but she was just so darn determined to do it that I let the independence win out. At first I thought it looked like her hair got caught in a KitchenAid; now I think it's more like she did her pony and then carefully applied an immersion blender. It's controlled chaos. Anyway, she is quite proud of herself, and the truth is, now that she does her own hair, she is nearly Mommy-free in the mornings. Which frees me up to chase Yaakov around the apartment while wielding a bowl of cereal and a pair of shorts, hoping each ends up in the right place.

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Poll

I have deputized myself as the new Mistress of Polls. Following the comments for "Game Time," I have put up a new poll to decide once and for all which is truly the absolute worst children's game of all time. To add your voice to the conversation, click on the comments section below.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Game Time

Full Disclosure: I don't know how to play chess. I'm not even sure which pieces are which. I think the little tiny guys are pawns and the horse is a knight, but after that, it's all bishops to me. I have tried to learn - Donny tried to teach me, I took a workshop once at SAR, but all for naught. Give me Checkers any day - much simpler, you jump in one direction, you get to the other end, you win. Or even better, one of my all-time favorites, Taboo or Scattergories.

Donny has had more luck in teaching Ariella how to play and she occasionally asks me to play with her, at which point I hit upon the fantastic idea of coloring together! Yaakov has witnessed the chess playing, and today he decided to play with me.

Y: I want to be the blacks, Mommy. I do not love the whites.

M: Okay Yaakov.

[Yaakov lines up his pieces, and corrects my formation. I actually think he may have been right. We proceed to play. I move my piece randomly.]

Y: No, Mommy it goes here, and then I take your piece.

[The game continues like this for a while. Every time it's his turn, I seem to lose another one of my pieces. For revenge, I take a few of his. But his strategy is better and he's winning.]

Y: [holding his king, or maybe it's his queen. Which one has the cross on top?] R-O-A-R!!!!! See, I am scaring your pieces. [The rest of my pieces fearfully scamper off the board onto Yaakov's side.]

Y: [Looking askance at my white pieces, which are now in his possession, and at most of his black pieces, which I have.] But Mommy I don't love the whites!

M: But you won, Yaakov!

Y: Yeah, I won!

We follow up the game with a victory lap of Torat Hashem Temima. A rolled up bathroom rug substitutes for a Torah.

Later in the evening, Ariella, who is taking a games chug at school, decides we should play Mancala. We tie one, I win two. Then I try explaining Taboo, and finally we pull out Scrabble. Not the Junior version, the real live thing.
Ariella won.

Well, she had a little help. She was able to do her first turn all on her own, using the "d" from my "find" and writing "red." After that, though, it was pretty much, "Mommy, can you help me use my 'k'?" and "Mommy, I want to get one of the red blocks." So, good Mommy that I am, I helped her score some pretty awesome words, some of which she didn't even know the meaning of. Some of which may not even have been words at all. (Does "gack" count?) I finally called it quits, surrendering and Ariella won, 100-something to 100-something less. win, Mommy loses....what a familiar theme.....

Monday, October 19, 2009

Princesses Galore

I would like to take this special opportunity to wish a HUGE, ALL-CAPS MAZEL TOV (YOU LIKE THAT, DADZ?) to Risa "Commentor Extraordinaire" Levi (and her hubby and son) on the birth of a brand new bouncing baby boy! (Actually, make sure NOT to bounce him. They'll probably have you watch a video about that before you leave the hospital.) The entire staff of aliyahbyaccident and all your fellow Loyal Readers wish you lots of blove (that's blog love) and hope that you will raise him to Torah, chuppah, ma'asim tovim, and Loyal Readership.


It seems the results of our informal poll - include a last-minute mail in vote - were unanimous. Eat the pits, people. And, in good news, the heat wave is supposed to break tomorrow! Ya-hooo!

Tonight, Ariella is at a birthday party. I got a phone call from a friend's mom, making sure Ariella was going because her daughter was nervous about the party. These friends are olim chadashim - even chadasher than we are, as they moved this summer - and her daughter is, obviously, not so comfortable with the Hebrew yet. The mom said, "I think I may go and stay with her, because she's really shy and apprehensive about it." I responded, "Do what you must, but be forewarned: Israeli birthday parties are like shwarma. Accept that it's good and don't ask what went into it."

And so I give you: Things I've learned from a year's worth of birthday parties:

1. Israeli moms are part of a secret conspiracy to turn little Israeli girls into a formidable Princess Army. At each party, Ariella creates another piece of princess paraphanalia. A sash at one, a tiara at another, a sceptor at a third. (She's not home yet, but I can only assume that she'll be bringing a life-size throne. Or a prince.) Watch out, world. The Princesses are COMING! And they will show NO MERCY!

2. When I drop Ariella off at the inevitable small Israeli apartment that will soon host at least 20 of the girl's classmates, friends, siblings, cousins, and neighbors, the birthday girl is decked out in a beautiful dress, with various hoojies decorating her hair. The girls are giggling with each other. The room is decorated in lots of pink. Pristine art supplies line the table. Tonight, there was even a professional princess-for-hire at the party!

3. When I pick Ariella up, there is glitter glue smeared on the walls. Glitter crunches underfoot as you walk in. Glitter pieces are stuck in the girls' hair, and the girls are either running around in sugar-induced euphoria, or sitting down and staring at the floor in a sugar-withdrawal stupor. Empty pizza boxes litter the floor. The birthday girl's little sister is in tears, and the birthday girl herself is nowhere to be found.

4. Ariella proudly shows me the newest addition to her princess collection, and the glittery makeup adorning her face. "Isn't it pretty, Mommy?"

5. We are handed a piece of cake with gooey frosting to take home. Usually, Yaakov scores a piece as well. This way, they are both covered with pink ooze and chocolate crumbs upon our arrival at the homestead.

Tonight, our intrepid mom actually texted me from the party and said, "Um, I think this bowl of high-fructose corn syrup IS our children's dinner." And then later: "There was a lot of princessy stuff going on. My daughter didn't want her face covered in makeup!"

Sigh. I did try to warn her. Hopefully next time she will be able to send her daughter off to the great princess-y beyond, pick her up two hours later, and remain blissfully unaware of what transpired in between. What happens at princess parties, stays at princess parties.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I'm Moving

That's it. I've had it. I could put up with the intense heat in the summer, because, as Morah T will tell you, "It's Israel. It's the summer. Get used to it." (Although she would probably tell you in a nicer way.) But this heat wave in October has finished me. We're not talking about your Indian summer, where it reaches a pleasant 70s or even low 80s during the fall. Oh no. This is all-out, knock-down, drag-out, heat war. There are many words for "heat wave" in Hebrew - it's sort of like our Eskimo "snow" - and I'm not even sure what the difference is between a chamsin and a sharav and plain old heat wave. But it is undeniably, and unbearably, HOT!!!!!

On Shabbat, the kids and I walked to a different shul for a friend's baby naming. (Donny had to layn at our regular shul.) Even though the shul is about two blocks away, we were red-faced and sweating by the time we got there. And there was no air outside. None. It was like walking through a warm bath, but not in a pleasant, isn't-this-relaxing sort of way. In a I'm-drenched-and-I-can't-breathe sort of way. Today, there is a sort of breeze, but it doesn't help much. It just feels like 100 strangers breathing heavily into your face. Ewwww. I hear it's a balmy 45 degrees in Baltimore. And rainy. Sounds good right about now. Can you send some over here? First, as we all know, the Kinneret needs water because Yaakov keeps brushing his teeth. (Although his plan of filling up his washing cup with water and dumping it into the Kinneret is not without merit.) But also, we need winter! Enough of this already! There are important things to consider, such as Ariella's deep desire to wear her long-sleeve school shirts!

Okay, fine, maybe my solution is a bit drastic. Also, I'm afraid the five dozen shoko b'sakits I would have to pack with me to tide me over during my exile would burst during the trip and make my suitcase smell bad. So I'll just stay inside. In a t-shirt. With the a/c on full blast. Leaving only to make mad dashes to pick up the children, and then run back inside. If you see me on the street and I don't say hi, it's not personal - it's because it's too hot to pick up my arm or move my mouth.

Speaking of things we love about Israel, everyone's got their own thing which makes them feel warm and fuzzy about our homeland. For some, it's seeing the myriad sukkot all over the country. For others, it's the ability to find a minyan in every building and form of public transportation. Still others enjoy the "chag sameach" on the soda bottles. For me, though, what makes me warm and fuzzy inside is the ability to buy undies in Supersol. Not sure why, and the truth is, I haven't actually done it yet. But I love going shopping knowing that if need be, I can head over to aisle six and outfit my kids for the entire season. [Contented sigh.]

Speaking of shopping, I had an excellent Random Bag at Supersol today: dryer sheets, garlic, cottage cheese, and toothpaste.

Speaking of speaking of things we're speaking of, Donny has left us this week to return to the Land of the Free and the Home of Target. He left Saturday night and is returning next Monday. Ariella was very saddened by his departure and as a result, I have been conned into doing all sorts of fun and expensive things this week. BUt yuo should also now that my blogging mihgt have a a few errors. YOu see, I usaully read it over to donny befroe I post, and then catch all the misspellings adn grammatical erros. But he not hree to lstien to me read. So if hrete ar mroe misstakes tha ussual, plesae udnersantd. (Ohmigod did anyone else just get a flashback to "Flowers for Algernon?" Or was it just me?)

Also, though our Minister of Polls has been decidedly absent these past few months - apparently he's been "working" so he can "make money" so we can "afford to live." Whatever - I have a question that's been on my mind: Pomegranate seeds. Eat 'em or spit 'em? Leave your answer below.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Flu Fighters

Today, the children and I went to get vaccinated. It is still frighteningly hot outside - if you take your frozen chicken soup on a walk around the block, it'll be boiling by the time you get back. Grab a spoon and dig in! - they do warn us that winter is just around the corner, and with winter, comes the flu. Now, I am a big believer of medicine in all shapes and forms - shots, prescription painkillers, over-the-counter meds, cough syrups, antihistamines. You name it, it resides in our medicine drawer. Most problems, I have found, can be solved with a good dose of Children's Advil, may its name be blessed forever and ever. So I have always taken my kids to get flu shots. You don't even need an appointment here - just show up with that ubiquitous pinkas chisunim (vaccination booklets), take a number from one of those bakery-style number giver-outers, wait for your turn, and whamo, you're vaccinated. Last year I learned the trick of showing up a few minutes before 4:00 PM, when the vaccination doors open for their afternoon hours. We got there at 3:55 and there was only one person ahead of us. Whamo!

I had warned Ariella only a few minutes before that we were going, and Yaakov found out as we were waiting our turn. Neither of them was particularly thrilled. Ariella was angry (perhaps rightfully so), because I had told her that from now on, all her shots are given in school. I never qualified that statement with, "except for your flu shot." Bad Mommy.

We enter the room, and I volunteer to go first, to show the kids how it's done. I was very brave - no screaming or crying or kicking the nice nurse. Ariella decided she would go second.
"I am going to teach Yaakov how to be brave," she said confidently.
The nurse came near with a friendly smile.
"AHHHHHHHH! No no nononononononono!" she shrieked, jumping up and down, crossing her legs so he couldn't get to the shot spot, and generally performing a top-notch freak out performance.
"AHHHHHHHHHH!" shrieked Yaakov in response. (A good student, he learned well.)
"Yes, thanks for that, Ariella. It was a real help."

Needless (or needles?) to say, the children did both receive their vaccinations. Some of you, particularly me, will recall that last year, Donny came down with the flu. (It's in the archives somewhere, if you care to relive the experience; I, for one, do not.) It was a rough week, and Yaakov was sick then also. We suspect Yaakov also had a mild case of the flu, except because he had been vaccinated, he got away with a low fever for a few days, some lovely "nazelet" and coughing, and then it was done. No moaning on the couch, puking, or intense misery, like some others experienced. So in my opinion, the flu shot is well worth it. Hopefully Donny will get one as well, and the poor couch will be patient-free all winter. Amen. Yehi Ratzon.

And for those of you who are familiar with my parenting practices, you may have already guessed that this harrowing experience ended in a trip to the ice cream store. (The new one in Marlaz Center, for those of you Modi'inites. Well worth it, though they don't have a kiddie size scoop. No matter, my children polished off their cones in a matter of minutes, though a good third of Yaakov's chocolate was draped over his chin, shirt, and arm.)

(Speaking of the word "relive," - which we did before, keep up - here is a random thought: I was checking my email, and one of the lovely pieces of spam I receive is from Parents Magazine. The title of this email was, "Relive Your Baby's Diaper Rash!" I was so confused. Was it so great the first time? The redness, the crying, the all-around discomfort and ickiness? "Wow, honey, remember Josh's diaper rash? Wasn't that amazing? I just wish we could do it again! Let's not change his diaper for three days!" Then I realized it said, "relieve" not "relive." I either have to practice my English or get more sleep.)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Which title?

First of all, I'd like to thank Momz for her guest post, and thanks to everyone who commented - she really feels the love.

So many titles for this post, I just couldn't decide. Should it be: "Lost in Dimri: Or, How Dadz Walked Into the Wrong Building, Climbed to the Wrong Fifth Floor, and Knocked on the Door of a Peevish Israeli?" (No one likes being woken up from their afternoon nap, especially by a wayward American.)

Or, "There Goes My Croc! But It's Okay Because Mommy Fished It Out of the Water," by Yaakov?

Or perhaps, "Torat Hashem Temima: Sing It Again, Ami." (Yaakov, though at first flummoxed that everyone at shul seemed to know his special song, was prepared the next time and sang along with gusto.)

Then there's always my socio-political treatise entitled, "Simchat Torah in Shimshoni: Who Forgot to Order the Kit-Kats?" (I was disappointed by the lack of candy on ST night - I mean, dancing in a circle can only motivate kids through like 4-5 hakafot, then they need candy - but I was suitably impressed by the daytime "sakiot" of treats, which my children determinedly and doggedly ate through in about 5.2 minutes.)

And then there's today, the "half day" of chag that my parents are keeping, which means no "second day minyan," but a very dark walk down the stairs for Dadz who had to get to shul this morning. (Actually, we made a Shabbat elevator for him by pressing all the necessary buttons. He did, however, walk to and from shul all by himself. Donny drove alongside him slowly with cups of Gatorade and towels.) So while Dadz couldn't go on the computer at all, there was nothing stopping him from reading over my shoulder as I perused the NYTimes headlines. Hence, the title of today's post could be: "You've Never Read the Times Like This Before: Don't Scroll Too Fast! Go Back Up! Now Back to the Front Page and Find the Book Review!"

So, you see, so many titles, so little time.

Overall, our ST was very nice; Donny's shoulders are sore, which means a good time was had by the kiddies, and Momz volunteered to entertain them Shabbat afternoon, so I got an actual nap in a bed. It was awesome. She even prevented two dangerous Yaakov naps; luckily, Ariella knows the trick to snap him out of it - sour sticks.

Today we took the kids to a little park - Ein Chemed - to air them out a bit. After many intense games of hide-and-seek in an old Crusader farmhouse, and the aforementioned Croc fiasco, we headed home to watch "Mary Poppins" yet again. (A present from M&D - the kiddies have watched it at least a dozen times since Wednesday. Momz and I are slowly going insane from humming "Step In time" over and over and over and over. And over. Never need a reason! Never need a rhyme! Shut off the movie! Step in time!)

Tonight the adults go out for one last shebang in Jerusalem; tomorrow, Choref Zman begins. Bye-bye Chofesh, see ya Pesach time. (In Modi'in, we'll be celebrating Choref Zman by reaching a staggering 35 degrees this week. For you farenheiters, that means VERY VERY HOT.) And tomorrow, of course, we bade farewell to Momz and Dadz. The Kleins and Roses, as well as the entire rugelach industry, is certainly sad to see them go.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Momz Gets to Write a Guest Blog

Well, folks, the 'rents are here for a week - and you know what that means. Hogging my computer. And you know what that means - no time to write blogs. My favorite line tonight was when Momz - who was sitting at my computer, which had only been recently vacated by Dadz, who had been sitting at my computer for quite some time, squinting at the screen and wondering where his "Favorites" went - said to me, "So, Gils, did you blog tonight?" Hello???? When? Did I slip in, like the wind, invisible, between the time that Dadz got up and Momz sat down, quickly churn out a witty, amusing blog, then slip away again, unnoticed? The truth is, I could, in theory, have blogged using my new cool IPOD! (thanks Momz and Dadz! Just tell Donny it's a "Micropod!"), but I'm not so good with the typing yet so it. would. have. taken. a. very. long. time. to. type. it.

Anyway, Momz saved the blogging day by offering to write a guest post. Without further ado, I give you,

And now a guest blog from Momz, who is visiting Israel with the famous Dadz for a Week of Fun.

So this is a great country, but for some reason it is very HOT. I don't want to hear about longitudes and latitudes and equators and such. I just want it to stop being so freakin HOT. You see, since it is HOT I prefer to sit at the various parks we've visited while others romp and hike and play frisbee. It's Sukkos for goodness' sake, and in Baltimore it's in the 70s, while in Chicago, home of Rabbi Aaron Leibtag and his Leibtagim, it's been in the 50s all week.

And then, it gets to be like, say, 82 here instead of 150 and people are [get ready] wearing SWEATERS! I am not kidding, and I'm sorry but at the zoo i wnated to go up to the chasidim and ask them to please take off the satin coats not because I necessarily care about their sweat, but they were making me ill to look at them.

I am told that once it reaches "after the chagim" which is a life and mind altering event that occurs on Sunday, the sweaters, tights, and scarves appear and no matter what temperature it is, you gotta dress warm. Lord help me, it is not mormal. Or no one here is a middle aged woman. either way, it's nuts.

OK, I have kvetched enough about how HOT it is. Now on to other things.

So for the first part of chag (whoa, am I Israeli or what, I didn't even say YUNTIF, I think I'm going to get kicked out of Park Heights forever), we stayed at the home of Leezy and Elie Klein of Beit Shemesh, who live in God's neighborhood. Well, it is called Gad, but God is funnier. It was truly lovely, we got to spend time with our "outlaws" (no really, we call each other that very fondly) the elder (but not that old or rickety, for sure) Kleins, the wonderful Eisens (5 men, 1 woman, much laughing), and of course our wonderful Leezy, Elie, and their kiddies Netanel and Amichai.

So the bottom line is that Netanel is totally brilliant and adorable and hysterical and a real tantrum-ish two year old and Amichai is completely edible and looks like Elie and like a meerkat. Not that Elie looks like a meerkat, but well when we went to the Zoo even Elie, father of Amichai, pointed out that there is a freakish resemblance. There was much singing of "adon olam" by Tani, much giggling and cooing, as well as droooling and puking, by Amichai, and giggling by me and Leezy, which is one of the things we do best. Also they have a TV! and CABLE! we watched reruns of "Ellen"!

On Wednesday we mosied over to Modiin to visit with the Roses. Yaakov and Ariella greeted us with hugs and then continued their fight over who breathes better, or who has nicer shoes, or who touched whose daled amos, or something. Ah, yes the memories of my children doing the same thing, with every conversation ending in some reference to a body part or bodily function.

Since Gila and Donny do not have a sukkah (Israelis, please emphasize syllable number 2, Park Heights'ers please emphasize syllable number 1) we HAD to eat out a lot. Look, you do what you have to. On Wednesday we went to a cool park which had the requisite shade, place to sit, and breeze - I guess everyone else did something for 2 hours, I have no idea.

Today we went out to breakfast and then to another cool park. during all of this time my grandchildren were intermittently chasing each other, giggling, and calling each other names and accusing each other of basically causing World World III by touching or looking at each other. The UN has agreed to intervene - someone is gonna get sanctioned. hoo boy.

[serious section, get ready] I must compliment my children on being wonderful hosts and taking good care of us - and putting up with the constant demand for rugelach, croissants, seltzer, ice, naps, shade (cause it's HOT here) and places to sit. I am very proud of how they have acclimated to life here, and how much they enjoy being Israeli. Listening to my grandchildren speaking perfect Hebrew with Israeli raishes is beyond wonderful and brings tremendous nachas (somehow the Park Heights version of that word sounds much more sincere, sorry israelis).

So now we get ready to return to Park Heights, to work, etc. Dadz and I will board the plane on Monday night for that 11.5 hour squeezed into tiny seats watching old movies eating cruddy food trying to sleep but not succeeding going crazy not looking at my watch going crazy going crazy going crazy what do you mean we still have 3 hours to go....

thanks Gils for allowing me to write this is such a huge honor!

love to all of the royal leaders! loyal readers! whatever!