Thursday, July 30, 2009

New Toys

Welcome to Saba, of the famous "SabaSarah," Loyal Reader #34! Glad you joined! For that, I will not make fun of you once this entire post.

First, let's take a moment to respond to our loyal commentors.

Ephraim and Dadz - Ephraim, I thank you for your serious and thoughtful insights regarding my smelly socks. (Although it was so serious and thoughtful, I thought for a moment it wasn't you. I kept rereading it, looking for the jokes or Star Wars references.) In the past, I have indeed done the kids' laundry, since they wouldn't have enough to get through the week. But this year, I thought, hey, what's the adventure in THAT??? Let's go dirty all the way!!! Let's rummage through hampers, looking for the shorts without spaghetti stains or dried cereal clinging to them![Sigh. I need to get out more.]

Baila - re the "Carting and Bagging Race" - I actually have a secret helper: Ariella. When she's with me, she does the belting of the groceries, leaving me free to do the bagging, so we have a
decent chance. The problem is she's still short, so when it gets to the bottom of the cart, she's practically falling in, her legs flailing as she reaches for the tomatoes and random yogurts that
are rolling around. At that point, I always lose time having to race back to finish the belting. In a year or two, though, that kupait is going DOWN!!!

Zehava - I thank you for the correct spelling of "She-Ra." And Laurie, yes, Jennifer Garner, all the way.

Now, some of you may have noticed the "SiteMeter" I added to the bottom of the blog. Thanks to Lisa, who told me about it. This has become my new favorite toy. Not only does it count the visits, but I can also see from where in the world people are logging onto the blog, as well as how they got there. So another big shout-out to Baila, and to Lisa, because it seems many readers have come aboard through your blogs. But this blog has become worldwide entertainment,
folks! And unless it's just Momz, hopping over to IP addresses the world over and visiting the site so I'll feel popular, aliyahbyaccident has gone INTERNATIONAL! We're going to have
ambassadors and everything. There's even a reader from Hungary! And I don't even sprecken

But the funniest thing, readers, is to see what Google searches brought readers to my page. For example, my Hungarian friend - we'll call him "Nyet" - googled "shufersal." Now, first,
you are wondering - Why didn't he BING it??? If you are, you may be the only one. Second, "Huh?" Shufersal? (Si, si, my friends.) Other google searches have included "bais yaakov pee" and "hokey pokey ivrit." It is very, very heartwarming to know that if you google "bais yaakov pee," aliyahbyaccident is the VERY FIRST site! It is a proud moment for us here at aliyahbyaccident. Do you think they want to write an article about this for the next issue of ByLine?? ("Aliyahbyaccident: First in Bais Yaakov, First in Pee.")

Now, as many of you know, yesterday was the Fast of the Ninth of Av. At this point in my life, fast days have gone from "meaningful" to a twisted Jewish version of "Survivor," with more clothing. And I did - survive, that is - though only barely. The millions of new toys/activities I
bought for the kids - videos, play-dough, crayons, coloring books, stickers, pipe cleaners - kept them entertained. Until about 12:00. Then, it was 8 hours of alternately playing icely/fighting/crying/eating puddings. (Repeat.) I have to give a big kappayim to DONNY, my Tisha B'Av Hero. From 12:00 on, when the onset of my migraine coincided with the kids looking at me with those beseeching "We're bored" looks, he really took over, playing with them, preparing dinner (which I had started to do, until the little spots in front of my eyes spelled out "GO LIE DOWN,") doing dishes, etc etc. All things considered, the kiddies did behave pretty decently. By 5:00, though, the living room looked like some of kind of Toys 'R Us tornado had blown through. Finally, it was time for Donny to go to mincha, me to puke, and the fast to end.

Had I been Esther, by the way, Jewish history would have been rewritten. "I am going to see the king in three days," I would have proclaimed, "So for the next three days, I will not eat candy yogurt! And I beseech you, my fellow Jews and handmaidens, - you, too, pray for me and do not eat candy yogurt!" And from then on, Jews, on the day before Purim, would
refrain from eating candy yogurt. Except for the old and infirm, of course.

Well, I should probably clean up the tornado now. THANK GOD Ariella has kaytanah today! They're making up the day off yesterday with camp today. Poor kid. She kept wailing, "I want to go oooouuuuutttt!!!!" I tried explaining, "But everything is closed today." "I want to go out anywaaaaaaay!" In the end, a few minutes of cuddling with Mommy (and Bunny) helped, and then she decided to clean a bathroom. A girl after my own heart.

By the way, if you can't get in touch with me later, it's because I'm out with Lisa, sitting in a tub of katzefet (Lisa - bring spoons.)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Adventures at Shufersal

Welcome to Tzippy "Tzips" Leichter, one of the famous Boxford Road Beauties of the early '80s. (I'm another one. Just so you know.) Tzippy is Loyal Reader #33, and we are happy to have her with us. And SaraK, your comments on old posts are much appreciated, if only by me, because I don't think even the Loyalest of Readers - and here I include Momz "Gottacomment Gottacomment" Leibtag, and Sharon "Top Ten List" Sturm - go back and reread old comments pages.

Yesterday, something good and something bad happened to be at Shufersal. I will start with the bad: I cut myself on toilet paper. Now, for those of you who have not been in Israel in a while, let me assure you that it's not what you're thinking. The toilet paper here has definitely improved over the years; it's no longer made from sanded down Jerusalem stone, and I think it's pretty comparable to stuff you can get in America. However, the toilet paper here comes in VERY LARGE packages, with a vicious, dangerous handle. (The smallest package you can buy has 16 rolls. And most of the time you see people walking around in the store with the massive, 48-roll packages, with little room in the cart for anything else. In fact, their 4 small children who are, of course, riding in the back, are smushed betwen the GINORMOUS toilet paper and the cart. The poor kids can't even move their arms, but don't worry - they know how to suck down their Shoko bags using only their mouths.)

Did I have a point here? Probably not, but in any case, I cut my finger on the handle. It was during the feverish Bagging and Carting Race. (I like to race the kupait to see if I can keep my bagging even with her scanning. I have yet to win.)

But there is a good thing that has happened to me as well. No, not just a good thing. A WONDERFUL thing. A thing that I have been waiting for my whole life. No, they are not coming out with a remake of "Shirah, Princess of Power," starring Jennifer Garner (because that way, Donny will come see it with me). And no, I did not acquire a wife. I'm still waiting for that one. I found, folks, in Shufersal.....katzefet shel milky!!!! A "Milky," for those of you who have sadly never experienced it, is this chocolate pudding delight with whipped cream - katzefet - on top. So "katzefet shel milky" is a container with....just the whipped cream! Heaven! If there were a tree of these in Gan Eden, I wouldn't stand a chance. I'd be fighting off the snake, and Adam, and Eve, to get to them first. They are packaged with little containers of syrup and candies, to mix in, but I am a whipped cream purist. Straight from the container. Soooo much neater than spraying the bottle into my mouth.

I am also happy to report that I am not the only ones enjoying the magazines from America. The kids, too, have started to read them. Entertainment Weekly, Parenting, Good Housekeeping - they're not particular. They take a stack of them to bed at night. Yaakov particularly likes the Parenting magazines, especially the "Desitin" ad because it shows a tushy, and the ad for his beloved Thomas toothpaste. Ariella flips through EW like it's "Brown Bear Brown Bear." I'm glad that in addition to Aryan looks and an affinity for puzzles, I have passed along the "magazine" trait. (The truth is, Donny has a hidden magazine trait as well. He enjoys People almost as much as I do. He's just too busy reading his chick-lit to have time for the magazines.)

Speaking of Ariella -which we were just doing, keep up - I have been having a hard time explaining movies to her. She's always asking if a movie "really happened," but she gets "really happened" confused with "a movie with actors." So, for example, any of the Pixar movies - may they live long and prosper - are easy. Not real people, didn't really happen. Other movies, like Elmo or this really annoying "Country Songs" DVD we have, are more confusing. There are real people in it; ergo, this really happened.

Ariella [while watching a new Israeli song-and-dance DVD, courtesy of SabaSara, who have NOT joined as Loyal Readers, which is completely unacceptable, I mean, even Dadz "OHMIGOD The Phone is Ringing! Help!" Leibtag has joined! And don't think you can get away with this by joining as one person. Just because I refer to you as SabaSara - I want two new Loyal Readers out of this.]: Mommy, did this really happen?

Me: No, this didn't actually happen.

Ariella: But those are real people. If it didn't happen how could they be real?

Me: Yes, they are real people. They're just playing pretend. You know like when you and Yaakov play house? [Digression: Whenever they play house, Ariella is of course the Mommy. One night, I heard Yaakov calling around the house, "Mommy! Mommy!" I looked at him. "Which Mommy do you want?" He gave me an annoyed look. "The guh-uhl." [That's "girl" when you can't say your "r's."]

Me [continued]: When you play house, you're not actually the Mommy, right? You're still Ariella, you're just pretending to be Mommy.

[Ariella considers this.]

Me: But that doesn't mean you're not a real person, right? You're just playing make believe. It's the same with the people in movies.

Ariella: So they're not real?

Me: No, the people are real, live people that you could actually meet. But what they're doing is pretend. Like that time we saw a play, and the man was pretending to be a tree. He is not actually a tree, in real life. He was pretending.

Ariella: Oh.

[Repeat entire conversation 2-3 times a week.]

Nine Days Update:
We are now running out of room for our dirty clothes. The house is one big POL. (Pile of Laundry.) I've now started to rummage through the hamper to find the least dirty shorts in which to clothe Yaakov. If you see a little boy running through the streets of Modi'in in a princess costume, please understand. Next week he'll be back in regular clothes. Although he may insist on wearing those heels.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

They Like Me!

Well, folks, it has been a busy few days here at aliyahbyaccident. (Not sure why I'm bolding my own blog.) First, a huge, hearty, and heartfelt, not to mention humongous, and happy, aliyahbyaccident welcome to Loyal Reader #32, none other than my very own cousin (and friend) Rivki "Veronica" Leibtag! Glad to have you with us! And a big welcome to soon-to-be Loyal Reader SaraK.... (Had to do some snooping, SaraK, but I found out who you are. Because I'm a blog yenta.....a blenta!)

Now, ahem, I'm not sure if you noticed the picture [modest cough] there on the left. What picture, you ask? That note with the words "I [HEART] YOUR BLOG" displayed prominently, and the heart colored in a deep red to make sure it grabs your attention? That picture, you want to know? Well, I'm so glad you asked. I will explain. It appears, my devoted readers, my Loyal Readers, and my lurkers who will hopefully declare themselves soon, that I have truly "made it" in the blogosphere. A fellow Modi'in blogger, whom I will identify only as "Baila" has apparently been lurking for some time. She went back to the beginning and READ THE WHOLE THING. (Extra poofahs: Who said, "You said to go back to the beginning, so here I am." Hint: It's in a movie.) As we are soon nearing our 200th post, reading the WHOLE THING is no small feat. So anyway, Baila decided [blush] that I make her laugh, and gave me a special shout-out on her blog, as well as an "I Love Your Blog Award." Thanks Baila! You have made this blogger's day, if not week, and well, let's just be honest here, the whole darn month. Baila is writing a similar book on child-rearing, "Leave Me Alone So I Can Use My Computer." Maybe, Baila, since we both live in Modi'in, we could get together one day! How about coffee? I know this great place in Modi'in Center. You want to drive?

On Friday we had a religious dilemma. Not the one that happened to "my friend" once, when she cooked onions in a milchig pot, using a fleishig spatula. Not the one where Yaakov, seconds after finishing his chicken, decides he absolutely needs a ma'adan (which is really pudding but I like to pretend it's yogurt.) And by the way, we usually just let him have it. You know what they say about picking your battles; I just usually pick not to have them. Anyway, the dilemma was that we found ourselves in the sad period of the Nine Days, during which we figured we should forego the normal pool/beach activities. Which left us, on a looooong Friday, with: Hanging Around the Apartment, or Something Else. Let's examine the choices, shall we?

1. Hanging Around the Apartment: By 9:00, Ariella, who did not have any kaytanah, was going bonkers. We had finished our errands already, and had thus commenced the "I have nothing to doooooooooooo! It's so boooooooooooring here!" portion of the day. (In general, she is pretty adept at entertaining herself, but like all of us on a Friday, she'd had enough.) While normally I loooove the sound of kvetching - it's like sweet, gentle music to my ears - I figured, "Well, I've had sooooo much of it already this week; maybe I should take a break today."

2. Something Else: Ready? Ok, the Something Else has to be something not too hot, preferably indoors with air-conditioning, entertaining for a 6-and-3-year-old, not too expensive, not too far away, opened in the afternoon (it seems a lot of museums close early on Fridays), not too crowded and not too incongruous with our period of sadness. Okay, people, let me hear all those ideas! [Silent pause.]
Exactly. That's what we came up with, too.

In the end, we went back to the Cow Park, but we dragged along Moshe Balsam, to "up" the fun quotient and to "down" the kvetch quotient. As it turns out, we needed to rename the park, as the cows had disappeared. (Or, "misappeared" as Yaakov says.) Perhaps we should call it the Sometimes Cow Park? The Poop Park? (Because the cows did leave plenty of stuff behind when they fled.) Where does one even hide fifty cows? Ariella and Moshe had very animated discussions about it on the way home. Ariella: "They went to a zoo." Moshe: "They went to Be'erot Yitzchak, to get milked." In the end, even though the Where'd The Cows Go? Park lacked indoor-ness, it fit all of our other requirements, so everyone played for about an hour and a half, and then we returned home. And wiped off our shoes, if you get my drift.

Shabbat was very nice. We bought take-out for Friday night, and went out to some Hebrews for lunch. Ariella hit it off right away with their daughter, who is also going into 1st grade, and they played the whole time as if they had always been BFFs. This family is Real Israelis (even Realer than the Sassoons), who could not even fathom going to work and not being able to eat, or having to take your pots and pans with you on vacation. We had a lovely time with them and even managed to speak pretty decently in Hebrew. (Luckily, most Israelis we've met, even if they don't speak English, understand it pretty well, so you can always do the I'll-speak-English-you-speak-Hebrew dance.)

We had a very heartwarming experience at lunch. We had received two letters from two different organizations regarding Yaakov's tzaharon for next year (the afternoon portion of his day.) Both organizations claimed to be responsible for tzaharonim and wanted my money. We asked our new friends, who have a daughter going into the same gan, what they thought about the Dual-Payment Discrepancy. They said that they, too, had no idea why there were two letters were also unsure what to do. We're just as clueless as Real Israelis! Kappayim to Gila and Donny!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I Promise, I'm Almost Done Talking About Pee (Almost)

And now a full welcome to our fully identified LR 31 - Shoshana "I'm Talia's Friend and I Spent Shabbos At Your House, Once" Kreymer. Welcome, Shoshana! And thanks for your readership. Watch your mail for that tote bag!

Well, people, it happened - I blinked, and kaytanah ended. Don't worry, Kaytanah #2 starts on Sunday. Wish us luck!

In response to Israel's comment: So far, Yaakov has been managing to get most of it in the toilet. He likes to stand, like a big boy. For those of you who don't know, Israel's son, Ilan, was in the "We Are Almost Three, If You Please, and We Couldn't Care Less About The Toilet" Club. Yaakov was president; Ilan was secretary and treasurer (because his handwriting is so much neater.) However, one day, Yaakov showed up to the weekly meeting - in diapers, of course - and Ilan wasn't there! He left a note (again, the handwriting) saying, "Sorry, my young friend. I am a 'bo-gare.' [Hebrew for "big boy."] I no longer use diapers; I am King of the Bathroom." Just like that, he left the club! Now, Yaakov, of course, couldn't care less. (Hence the name of the club.) Every time we saw Ilan, I tried to impress on Yaakov how cool Ilan's underwear was, and what a big boy Ilan is now. Yaakov would just stare at me and continue zooming cars up my legs. (My legs are often recruited to play the part of the elevator.) I had wondered if Yaakov would still be president of the club at his bar mitzvah. However, now Yaakov is also King of the Bathroom, and the residents of Modi'in were happy and joyful.

Today, I was a lady who lunched. Or, at least, a lady who coffeed. My friend Rena, who also taught at SAR and made aliyah last summer, lives in Buchman, which is in Modi'in, but might as well be in Petra for all I've seen her. She mentioned on Facebook - gotta love that Facebook - that she was leaving on Sunday to go to America for 3 weeks. Then, we had a crazy thought. Why don't we try to meet for coffee????? Now, this did mean I had to get off the couch and out of my pajamas. (I am LOVING this working from home thing.) But it was worth it. We met and got drinks; unfortunately, the restaurant's ice machine was broken (?????), but we managed anyway. The only downside to our get-together was that the restaurant is in Modi'in Center, which has the most poorly designed parking lot ever. Compounding the problem, there is a sign somewhere which advertises, "If You Can't Drive, and Especially, If You Can't Park, Come to Modi'in Center! We Are the Place For YOU!" People actually park in the little narrow strip between the sidewalk and the parking spaces. You know, the strip of road meant for actual driving of vehicles. The best part is how when drivers park their car there, sometimes halfway on the sidewalk, their car tilting dangerously toward the road, people trying to squeeze by give the drivers dirty looks, or honk, or yell, or do all three. (Kind of like "If You're Pissed And You Know It.") And then, the person sitting in the car, which is blocking traffic and making everyone grumpy(er), gives all those people a dirty look right back! As if we had the nerve, the absolute gall, to try to drive on HIS parking spot!

One day, Donny and I were there, and a truck was unloading supplies, effectively blocking us in. The truck drivers were all there, but they just ignored us and kept on unloading. After all, we had parked in their unmarked unloading zone to begin with. Luckily, some very enterprising and enthusiastic Israelis helped us maneuver our car out of the spot, without causing any damage to our car (yay!), or to the truck (oh well). Helping someone ease out of a spot is actually considered high entertainment in this country. It's nice to know that for every #**&&3$%#$ (ask Ariella to explain) who blocks you in, there are at least two adrenaline-fueld mensches that help you get out.

Monday, July 20, 2009

More Pee News

First, a welcome to the mysterious CAB, who is none other than Chanie "I'm An Angster, That's Why" Angster-Bickel. We are happy to have you on board! And a new welcome to LR #31 - Shosh-shanaK. The staff of aliyahbyaccident requests a full identification before we can send you your aliyahbyaccident summer tote bag, so please tell us who you are!

Yaakov has continued to make great strides, pee-pee-wise. He has now informed us that because he is, you guessed it, "bigger," he can sleep in underpants at night. After two mornings of dry diapers, we took a deep breath, some anti-anxiety medication, and let him go for it. Of course I was up every hour on the hour. "Is he up? Is he wet? Is he crying? Should I go check?" However, he surprised me by waking up dry and heading to the bathroom! Kappayim to Yaakov! The only thing we need to work on is his pass-the-time-on-the-john activity. I've tried to extol the virtues of reading a book; Yaakov prefers unfurling toilet paper and shredding it all over the floor. Needless to say, we have removed all toilet paper from "his" bathroom. Now he just hangs out and thinks deep thoughts. ("I sure wish there was some toilet paper here.")

Yesterday, the kids were doing puzzles nicely on the floor, so I snuck away to the couch to read one of my precious magazines brought to me by SabaSara, via Momz and Dadz "Sure, We'll Subscribe" Leibtag. This one was a Parenting magazine. (The article was, "Stop Reading This Parenting Article and Get On the Floor and Play With Your Kids, Forgidsakes.") I am almost through my stash of magazines. Only 3 more EW's and a .... YU Today? Seriously, Dadz? It's not that I don't want to know what's new at the YU Museum, or who received honorary degrees at commencement. Really. It's just as interesting as the latest gossip about Jon & Kate and the summer's hottest bachelors. Oh, who am I kidding? I didn't even care what was going on at YU Today when I went there; as long as there were corn muffins in the morning ("fat free!") and my final schedule didn't include both a Sunday and a Friday.

However, one of my favorite magazines actually comes to me directly - the ByLine, the magazine for us proud Bais Yaakov alumni. First of all, I know you will be disappointed to learn that I did not win the Mrs. Steinhart Nivim Contest. Just because I didn't enter shouldn't make you any less disappointed. One of my favorite sections of the ByLine is the interview-a-faculty-member part, usually because I get to gasp, "She's STILL teaching there?" (Yes, I know I used that same line on Facebook; deal with it, there's a limit to my creativity.) But seriously, these are teachers that were ancient and croaking when I was in high school, circa 19-tuck-in-your-shirt. And they're still there! Making girls wear a "third piece" and teaching ivris and skipping all the good parts in chumash. (I have yet to learn Breishit 38, and Rachav has been, and always will be, a "storekeeper.") By the way, ByLine is looking for old pictures of Bais Yaakov girls. 100,000 Poofahs for whoever sends in a picture of me that gets published.

Friday, July 17, 2009

THIRTY Revisited

We have been enjoying the extended visit from SabaSarah. The kiddies look forward every day to their playtime with their new best friends.

Saba did not want to be made fun of on the blog, so I will not tell you about how SabaSarah have been continuing their daily show, "The Old Folks Tour Israel." It goes something like this: Wake up late, spend a good chunk of time moseying around the apartment, debating what to do today. Decide that whatever they did yesterday was too tiring, and they should take it easy today. Visit Ofer's Falafel (SabaSarah are now true believers in Ofer's.) Come back, nap. (The napability of SabaSarah rivals even Dadz.) Wake up, spend hours and hours doing puzzles with Yaakov and workbook activities with Ariella. Dinner. Discuss various aches. Oy, it's been a long day. Can't believe it's already 9:30! Time for bed!

On Thursday night, Donny and I put SabaSarah to work. They were in charge of the kiddies while Donny and I went out to celebrate. (Either my birthday or our anniversary; we haven't decided which yet.) We went out to an excellent restaurant in Jerusalem - Gabriel - where we had one of the best steaks ever, and Donny ordered a "mishke kef" for me. It was orange. I enjoyed.

On Friday we had an Israeli chavaya that, embarrassingly, we have not yet experienced: The Beach. No one had gan/kaytanah, so we headed out around 10 in the morning, to the beach in Rishon L'Tzion. It was pretty empty, and there were dozens of beach chairs and umbrellas set up. We found ourselves a nice cushy spot, with a bench, a big table, and umbrella. We started unloading - toys, hats, taking off shoes, etc. Within about ten seconds, a waitress descended upon us with menus. Apparently, we were most welcome to sit at this particular spot - provided we ordered 30 NIS worth of food. (Again, no one here accepts Poofahs. Yet.) We declined, reloaded our stuff, and headed over to one of the "free" umbrellas and beach chairs. Began re-unloading. We had been there maybe a minute, when Umbrella Man descended on us. Use of the umbrella, it seemed, was 10 NIS. Well, we forked it over, since the other option was to fry. The kids and I started digging for shells - there were LOTS of shells for the taking. Donny was sitting on the chair, reading, when suddenly Umbrella Man was back. Only this time, he was Chair Man. Use of the chair, it seemed, was 15 NIS. Per chair. At this point Donny decided reading on the mat on the sand was just as good. We were wondering if we would have to pay for the sand space we took up, or for the shells the kids were collecting with frenetic energy. Luckily, we got those for free! Awesome! The whole paying thing was all very stealth - there were no signs anywhere indicating that we were required to pay for any of these amenities. You just find out by accident. Look for beachumbrellabyaccident, my latest book on vacationing in the Holy Land. We all had a really great time, and everyone went into the water and got their feet wet. Ariella insisted that we are, in fact, moving backwards when the waves rush in. Since I kind of think that also, it was hard to disagree. SabaSarah joined us a little bit later for some more fun in the sun.

Two bathroom trips and fifty million shells later, we decided to have a snack. I pulled out some cherries. Yaakov had a hard time understanding that if he touched his shells in between each cherry, he would end up with sand on his hand, and consequently, in his mouth. Trying to wash the grains of sand off a 3 year old's hand is like, well, trying to wash the grains of sand off a 3 year old's hand, so I told him it was okay to just eat the sand. Now, I wasn't advocating grabbing fistfuls of the stuff and chowing down; however, SabaSarah were quite amused and taken aback by the "Eat sand" edict, and so I'm dedicating the next chapter in "Leave Me Alone So I Can Read the Paper," called "Just Eat The Sand" to SabaSarah.

People, a huge aliyahbyaccident milestone has been reached! Now, I know some astute Loyal Readers are thinking, "Wasn't it just July 17? Doesn't that mark one year from when Gila was rejected from the youth director position at the Young Israel of Plainview and she and Donny decided to take the plunge and make aliyahbyaccident, and then began the 6 weeks of doing the last-minute paperwork, planning for the lift, doing lots and lots and lots of shopping, and having LISA run around Israel, to the ends of the earth (Buchman Darom), trying to find a suitable apartment?" If you were indeed thinking that, you are correct!

But we have reached another Milestone - THIRTY Loyal Readers. Now, aliyahbyaccident, like me, has left its twenties behind. Our two latest LR's are Israel, of the famous Weisser family, who also made aliyah last summer, and whose blog you can follow here; and CAB, of the famous Taxi family. Lame joke, but CAB, please identify yourself so you can be properly welcomed! And a welcome to Loyal Reader in Abstentia, Rena "Leezy's friend" Ray. We hope Blogger will one day cooperate with you and allow your Loyal Readership to appear on the blog!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Poofahs, Pools, and $#%#$%#

Poofahs to Sharon! Yes, that's EXACTLY what "nyloniot" are - those ridiculous plastic sheet covers. Honorable mention poofahs for Shoshana and Risa, who also knew what they were. Thanks for offering to have Sally order them for me, but now I got hooked up with my good friends at the school supply store, Hi-Q (or IQ, depending who you ask.) Ariella and I were very successful in our school supply shopping on Tuesday. Kappayim all around! We're 350 shekels poorer (and that's before buying her tik and schoolbooks), but now Ariella has, among other sundry items, 100 plastic sheet covers, a set of 24 oil pastels, and a B4 pencil. So what could be bad?

Yesterday we returned to the pool with the Balsams. The kiddies had a great time. Lisa took Moshe and Ariella to the big pool, and Ariella spent most of her time asking Moshe if he was ready to go back to the kiddies pool. Like she does with most men (and women), she eventually wore him down and they came to splash around with Yaakov, Michali, and me. And Merav, who was doing more of the snoring and less of the splashing. They all had fun. Yaakov and Michali raced back and forth across the pool, and then dumped water on me. (Fret not, I was wearing my cool new tznius bathing suit. Dump away!) In the midst of a giggle, Yaakov turned abruptly to me and said, "I want to go home now." There's a man who knows what he wants.

Ariella Learns a Bad Word

Well, it was bound to happen sometime. I just didn't think it would be from me. We were playing the word game she got from Saba. The game has two sets of cards "beginnings of words" and "ends of words." (Some of you can already see where this is going....) The goal is to create words using the cards "in play" with the cards in your hand. It's quite a nice game, and I liked that it was reading as well as vocab practice. Ariella sometimes needs to ask whether a word she wants to make is actually a word. For example, if the word "jump" is in play, and she has a "dr," she'll ask, "Is 'drump' a word, Mommy?" Or, "Is 'flig' a word, Mommy?" Today, the word in play was "fit." [Warning: Continue reading only if you are 18 or older!] "Is 'shit' a word, Mommy?"

Now, here's what the good, quick-thinking mother would have done. "Nope, sorry, Ariella." Then, Ariella would simply relegate that word (don't worry, I won't write it again, don't want to offend your sensibilities too much) to the list of nonsense words, like "drump" and "flig," and promptly forget about it. But, as you all know, I am not a good mother. (In fact, my one shining accomplishment - making a white-cake-with-pink-frosting for Ariella's party, was quickly and decidedly outshone today by my good friend Laurie. The cake she made for her daughter's party, people, is the skirt of a Barbie Doll, decorated with pink and all sorts of jewel-like candies. And Barbie, of course, is on top. Unbe-freakin-lievable.)

So, horrified that this word had come out of the tender mouth of my six-year-old, I said, "No! That is a bad word! Don't ever say it!" Of course, Ariella said it again. "Not even Mommy and Daddy say that word. Don't EVER say it." (Unfortunately, my children, as children are wont to do, have picked up on some of my "frustration phrases" as we'll call them. Yaakov routinely shouts out, "Forgidsakes!" and Ariella has been known to say, "Freakin'.") Anyway, Ariella then wanted to know what it meant. I told her. After muttering it to herself a few more times and pleading with me to let her use it in the game, I was able to convince her that we do not, in fact, say that word, ever, ever, ever, and she finally picked something else. Later, we had a similar argument over the word "pish." The truth is, poor girl, she had been stuck with that "ish" for a while. However, the grammar nerd in me, more than the mother, disagreed on the basis that "pish" is not an actual, look-up-able, word. (Neither is "lookupable" but hey, it's my blog.)

I think from now on I'll let Saba be in charge of this game.

A bit of aliyahbyaccident housekeeping. Risa - I am in no position to explain Israeli children's names, seeing as I don't get them myself. Bar may actually be short for "Barbara" - I've heard the ganenet call her that. Or maybe her parents really like chocolate. As for Linor, I got nothing. And we haven't even mentioned "Yarin" or "Neta," which last I checked was a Hebrew-language program at SAR.

People - we have been stuck at 28 Loyal Readers for an unacceptable amount of time! Those of you lurking around - declare yourselves! Join the club! Free aliyahbyaccident mousepads to all who join!

Monday, July 13, 2009

School Supplies

Ariella, as many of you know, is VERY excited about going into first grade. She has been begging me every day to go buy "beit sefer" shirts as well as her new tik and school supplies. So today I took the first step: I translated the daunting School Supply List. Gone are the days of four 2-pocket folders, a binder, and a three pencils. First, my 6 year old needs schoolbooks. Lots of them. Including a mishna. I'm still not old enough for a mishna. Then, there are lots of VERY SPECIFIC rules for the supplies.

For example:
10 machberot (notebooks.) Each must be 16 pages with 10 lines on each page. The binding is very flimsy, so make sure to check each machberet separately and make sure that the 10 rows stand out from the rest of the rows. (And no, I have no idea what the hell that means.)

10 transparent coverings for the machberot. (Not colored) Pay attention: Cover the machberot but do not put stickers on them!!!!! (I'm going to burn all stickers in the vicinity, just to be on the safe side.)

Then there's something about a package of clear "nyloniot - ניילוניות" that my trusty was unable to translate for me. I think it means stockings. And she needs 100 of them. Maybe they're going to rob banks. (Although if they are, the banks will probably charge a fee for that.)

A backpack made out of corrugated plastic (Ouch!). It must be 50 x 35 cm. I imagine one of the schoolmarms will be there on the first day, with a measuring stick, making sure everyone's tik meets the requirements.

Soft pencils - B2, B4, B6, B8. In a rare gesture of benevolence, "it's ok to only get 3 out of the 4." Phew! I am feeling great waves of relief now!

I am thinking that for the right amount of shekels - since stores here don't yet accept poofahs - I can just hand someone at the store this bloody list and say to them, "Please make everything on this list appear in the basket. Thank you. And for your troubles, keep a pair of stockings for yourself."

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Parties and Pools

On Friday, we celebrated Yaakov's birthday at gan! I know, he's been three for what seems like YEARS already. But at gan, they do the birthday celebrations only on Fridays, and there is only gan every other Friday, and there were an overabundance of birthdays, tiyulim, and plays (my debut included, if you recall) taking up the available Fridays. So finally, on Friday, July 10, we celebrated his birthday in grand style. The timing ended up working out to Yaakov's benefit, because SabaSara were able to join us. I prepared the necessary victuals - borekas, hard-boiled eggs, veggies, and a cake. After 64 pita sandwiches, it was a walk in the birthday park, I tell you. We arrived at 10:30, and Yaakov was already enthroned upon his Royal Birthday Chair, with all the kiddies seated in a circle around him. The kiddies, having done the Birthday Procedure many times already, were squirming in anticipation. Ofira started off with the guessing game. Now, she did warn those naughty kids not to tell her whose birthday it was, because she wanted to guess, but gosh darn it, those kids could just not keep it in! They kept squealing, "Yaakov! Yaakov!" every time she made a wrong guess. They have no patience!

Other highlights of the party: When the morahs placed 4 sparkly hoops on the floor, and Yaakov jumped through each one, although he refused to let go of our hands to do it. Also, I got to lead the Yom Huledet Rakevet with Yaakov. And my personal favorite: All the kiddies came up to Yaakov one by one and gave him a hug and kiss. Bar, quite the cutie, got an extended smooch from Yaakov, and Linory, another one of his gals, stroked him affectionately on the cheek as well. The boys pretty much barreled into Yaakov and gave him a choke squeeze.

Then we ate and it was time to leave! Definitely one of the best gan parties I've ever attended.

Later in the afternoon, we went to the pool with the Balsams. It was quite crowded, as everyone had had a similar conversation in the morning.
"What should we do with the kids today?"
"Lock them in their room and read the paper with a cup of coffee?"
"We did that last week."
"A park?"
"Do you have a Death by Melting wish?"
"Well, you think of something."
Then, both, in unison: "The pool!"

So we showed up around 2:30 with the rest of Chashmonaim and other settlers. The kids had a good time splashing around for a while, and Yaakov showed off his jazzy Water Ballet moves. Then, however, Ariella decided (in her head) that we were going to buy ice pops. Boy, was she in for a surprise when she found out the answer was no! (As it sometimes is.) That pretty much put an end to the fun, as Ariella's entire being was single-mindedly focused on obtaining an ice pop.
"How about," she said, gulping back the tears, "if I promise not to kvetch about it? Then can we get one?" A clever line of reasoning, but still, the answer was no. So eventually we came home - having angered one child, we considered the day a success - and decided we should do something about the dirty children, dirty floor, and raw food. I briefly considered selling the apartment, the children, and getting takeout, but on second thought realized that we were just renting. So the cooking and cleaning began.

We had a lovely Shabbat with SabaSara, whom the children accosted every moment they (SabaSara) were awake. SabaSara had bought some Hooked on Phonics material, and spent most of Shabbos playing the accompanying card game with Ariella. Yaakov, for his part, just tried to climb on people.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I Leave My Twenties Behind

That's right folks, today, July 8, 2009, my parents officially become "old." That is because it is my THIRTIETH birthday. I celebrated in high style. In the morning, Rachel gave me a birthday wish in her gmail status and promised to keep it there all day. Then, I got a card each from Donny, Ariella, and Yaakov. Ariella and Yaakov's cards were hidden, scavenger-hunt style, and I had to go search for them, following the clever clues. ("Look in the bookcase, Mommy! Next to the games!") Yaakov translated his card for me, "I love Ariella, wif Mommy Daddy." Then, LISA took me out to our favorite restaurant for breakfast, where we got lunch. In the afternoon, Ariella and Yaakov took me out (although I did the driving and these days) for ice cream at the mall! There we were surprised by....Tonster Monster, Leezy, and Amichai! Leezy had planned on coming over and surprising me with a cake. She called me on her way over (without telling me she was coming, of course; hence the surprise) and I mentioned that I was about to leave to get ice cream. Uh-oh! Emergency! What followed was some fancy footwork and phone calls between Lisa and Leezy, trying to figure out where I was going, without letting me know that's what they were doing. In the end, this little boy in a baseball cap ran up to me at the ice cream counter and shouted, "Happy Birthday!" Weird, I thought. There's another English-speaker here whose birthday is today? Then, I looked under the baseball cap, and saw that it was, in fact, Tani, one of my top 8 favorite nephews!

Leezy gave me my cake, although we were too full from the awesome fro-yo (a kosher one, this time) to eat it. All in all, a fantabulous birthday.

When we got home, I served reheated noodles for dinner (who needs a fancy dinner when you have a tummy full of bullets in a goblet? Haha - let's see which Loyal Readers can decode that!) Ariella suddenly became very teary. This is a frequent occurrence, usually due to some provocation on Yaakov's part. She is quite the girl, tears-wise. Anyway, this particular instance of wailing was because she is very sad that one day she will have to leave us and go live on her own. I reassured her that if she wants, she can live with us, gulp, FOR-EV-ER. She can even live with us after she gets married. "I don't want to get married," she told me, "I just want to stay with you." It was, of course, very touching.

Now, there is a reason I am recording this with as much detail as possible. In about 5-10 years (ploose/meenoose), Ariella will be saying something along the lines of, "I hate you/ I want to move out/ I can't wait till I don't have to live in this stupid house with these stupid parents/ Moshe and I are in love and we're getting married and going to outer space together [the astronaut plan is currently under discussion with Moshe]/Noam and I are in love and we're getting married and going to camp together/etc, etc, etc." At that moment in time, I will sit down at my computer, whip out my reading glasses, and come back to this blog post, to recall that at one point, she did love me.

Anyway, for the moment, Ariella and I were able to compromise by agreeing to all buy houses next to each other. Mommy and Daddy will, of course, be in the middle, with Ariella one one side and Yaakov on the other. Sounds pretty good to me, actually.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Saba and Sarah: The Final Frontier

Yaakov pees in the toilet? Dadz is on Facebook? What is the world coming to???? The next thing you'll be telling me is that Donny was voted "Most Likely to Dance on a Table" at the yearly Microsoft awards party. The truth is, I only think it's Dadz on Facebook. Hard to tell, since he hasn't put up a picture or done much of anything except join. Although, come to think of it, that's exactly how I know it is Dadz. I was going to ask him to write on my Wall, but afraid the office manager would yell if there was permanent marker all over his screen.

Today, we welcomed Saba and Sarah who are visiting with us for a month. Really, I should say that we welcomed Saba, Sarah, and NEW TOYS! The kiddies are very excited about their new train set, video camera, and remote control cars that they can send zooming around the apartment. Also, they're excited to see Saba and Sarah, but that's beside the point. We are a happening place now, toys-wise! Luckily for Yaakov, some of the toys required a SCREWDRIVER! He was able to spend some quality time jamming the screwdriver into random parts of the toy car, and the apartment, and then complain "It's not working!"

In other Yaakov news, he has proven himself to be a true boy by....losing his first kippah! He wore it to gan on Sunday, and promptly lost it by Sunday afternoon. Luckily, one of the other little kids found it in the backyard and returned it.

Anyway, I am super-tired because Yaakov insisted on sleeping "commando" last night, and he did pretty well . . . until 5:30, when he appeared at my beside, soaked and crying. I changed him and let him lie in my bed for a while (a better alternative to changing his sheets at that hour). He was quite jazzed that he was able to be in Mommy's bed. "Guess what?" he told me, with a huge grin, when he got up (which was about ten minutes later). "I can sleep in your bed now because....I'm bigger!" Looks like we need to have a little lesson entitled: "Things You Can and Cannot Do When You are 'Bigger.' CAN: Pee on Toilet, Put Bowl in Sink, Earn Money. CAN'T: Cross Street by Yourself, Drive the Car, Sleep in Mommy's Bed."

Rena: I was alerted by email of your comment and registration as a Loyal Reader. However, neither is appearing on the blog! I see that Blogger is now out to foil a new Loyal Reader. Arggghhh!! Blogger – you shall not prevail! Anyway, Rena, I suggest you speak to Risa – she knows how to outwit them.

Zehava: re your mother’s comment that teaching them how to drive is ten times worse than teaching them how to pee in a toilet. Please invite your mother to come to Israel in about 11 years. We’ll be just about ready then.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Toilet Training: The Final Showdown

Did anyone check in with Satan recently? Or Old MacDonald? I believe that both hell has frozen over and pigs are flying because.....Yaakov earned his kippah! (That is the polite way of saying he did his business in the toilet.) I will spare you all, well, most, of the indelicate details, but suffice it to say, Yaakov had an overall excellent Day of Undies on Friday. We all went to the mall together and picked out his tzitzit and kippah (whoever thought that introducing toilet and tzitzit at the same time had a really sadistic sense of humor. We told Yaakov that tzitzit are only for shul.) He looks super adorable in his kippah, though. Ignore the fact that he's pants-less in the pics.

On Shabbat, we had one, um, "incident," but other than that, he was a great, dry, little boy. Sorry, a great, dry, BIG boy. ("Cuz I'm bigger," is Yaakov's response to pretty much anything - why he doesn't need to hold our hands when crossing the street, why he can use a glass cup, why he should have hot dogs for dinner...) We even went to shul in the morning and the park in the afternoon, without "incident." Today at gan, I was slightly nervous, as they informed me that if he "oseh cocky" in his underpants, they would have to put a diaper on him because it's unhygienic. I was fearful that all of our exhausting work during Boot Camp would be thrown out the window if there was even one "accidentbyaccident." (Can you believe it took me this long to come up with that one?) However, when I picked him up, they told me that he was dry all day! (Although he did inform them that he only does that particular piece of business at home.) He received a prize from his ganenet and was very very proud of himself. In fact, this afternoon, he said he needed to go to the bathroom. I got up to accompany him. When we got to the bathroom, he declared, "I need privacy, Mommy," and shut the door in my face, only allowing me in to turn on the sink after he was all done. He finally has his revenge, after all those times of Mommy, Daddy, and Ariella telling him we need privacy and shutting the door in his face. I'll bet it felt good! We are all praying that icicles should continue to grow in hell, if you get my drift.

Since we're on the topic of Yaakov, he has come up with a particularly brilliant piece of evasiveness: When I tell him to do something, he shoots back, "You're not my Daddy!" When Daddy tells him to do something, he replies, "You're not my Mommy!" Clever, no?

For Shabbat, we hosted Savta, Aunt Yael, Uncle Yossie, Hanani, and the elusive Uncle Jonathan. We were only missing Australian Leezy in our Rose Family Revival. A fun time was had by all. I think the highlight, at least for my children, was playing Torture the Beetle at the park. The Beetle was very relieved when it was dinner time.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Toilet Training: The Battle Begins

I would like to begin by giving a shout-out to Loyal Reader #28 "Zehava Leezy's Friend" - thanks for joining! - as well as to Lanie "Good Times" Carter. Make sure to join the Loyal Readers' Club so you can receive your free aliyahbyaccident pen! Since Lanie was wondering, just today, if she had traumatized her son for life by not giving him advanced warning before his shots, I thought this would be an appropriate blog post in which to welcome her. I am constantly traumatizing my children, to the extent that they think it's just normal life.

We (and here I mean "I," although Donny did come home early when things were getting hectic, pee-pee -wise) started Potty Training Boot Camp today. Yaakov, as many of you may recall, turned three way back when in April. And yet, despite continued reassurances from well-meaning people that he'll "let me know when he's ready," he has shown absolutely no inclination to leave behind the ease and security of diapers for the World of Undies (entrance fee: a clean floor.) So, seeing as he has to start nursery school in September and under no circumstances can he still be in diapers, we waited as long as we could for him to "tell us he's ready," and then, when he did no such thing, enrolled him in Boot Camp. I am the dictator - I mean director. The cost is my sanity.

To make a long, wet, and dirty story short, let's just say by the end of the day, in the battle of Floor Vs. Toilet, Floor was most definitely winning (or losing, as the case may be.) Yaakov treated himself to many more Oreos than his actual successes should have allowed for, but I was too exhausted - physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and any other way one can be exhausted - to argue. I also yelled a lot, which is most definitely a big no-no. (See? Don't you already feel like better parents in comparison? It's a service I provide, free of charge.)

Some Bright Sides:
1. We managed to bring Ariella to and from kaytanah without peeing in the car.
2. When Donny decided we should just put him back in diapers, Yaakov begged to be allowed back in undies. This was a first. In the past, he happily scampered back to his Pampers. (We actually use Huggies, but I did like the little rhyming sequence.)
3. After I had retreated to my room, hiding from all things pee-related, Donny relayed to me that Yaakov did actually articulate, in words, "I need to make, Daddy." This was another first.

So we are giving a (hesitant) kappayim l'Yaakov. Tomorrow, the plan is to go to the mall with Daddy to buy tzitzit and kippah. However, I think he's going to need to prove his toilet-worthiness a little more. (Yaakov, that is.) Tonight, in preparation, I am washing all of the undies and towels that were sacrificed for the cause. I should probably buy some more Oreos, too.