Monday, October 31, 2011

Calling the Teacher: Resolution

Well, I had already packed up my tent and signs and was heading out to protest in front of the teacher's house, when Ariella came home with some good news: She is going to be in the advanced math class!

[Applause pause]

When I ran into the teacher (totally by accident, I swear, and no one got hurt)yesterday, she told me she was finalizing the details of the advanced chug and would be in touch with me. Today, Ariella showed me the note explaining all the details of the chug, including the books I need to buy (naturally) (and before Wednesday.) Basically, this group of 4 kids gets five hours of advanced math per week: they join the 4th grade math class for 3 periods, there is one period of enrichment just for them, and then one hour when they are in their regular math class but doing the fourth grade work.

The teacher told Ariella that in the meantime, she should work on finishing this year's math book. She also told her that they would evaluate and see if she can keep up with the workload. Considering that Ariella came home and has been sitting at the table for 3 hours speeding through the pages, I'm not so worried.

Obviously, we're rull happee that she so smarty.

But what I'm even super-prouder about is how Ariella made this happen for herself. She discussed with me that she noticed kids doing different math work and she wanted to be in that group, she approached the teacher on her own, and only when the initial response was no did I need to step in and give a little kick in the denim skirt.

So though it has been a while since I've awarded kappayim and poofahs, I would like to give both to my very smart, independent, fearless, go-getter daughter, Ariella.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Calling the Teacher: An Update

Thanks to all of our concerned Loyal Readers who are anxiously awaiting the result of my phone call.

I called twice, at the very teacher-appropriate hour of 9:30ish. The phone rang, and then made weird fax noises. I called again, a few minutes later. Same result. Momz suggested perhaps the teacher didn't want to talk to me and made the weird fax noises herself. If so, she should totally get a starring role in the revival of Police Academy.

So I sat down to write an email. Yes, the same email I could have written at 8:30 when my mind was much less foggy, and the words I needed could have floated right to the top rather than sinking into the quicksand of my tired brain.

Anyway, I heard nothing on Thursday, but on Friday Ariella returned from school with a note in her planner from the teacher. Basically: I read your email, I'll look into it and get back to you.

So, success? Unclear. But rest assured, Loyal Readers, I will continue to keep you updated on the saga of Ariella Rose and the Advanced Math Class.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Calling the Teacher

Well, here I am, exhausted, but waiting up because you can only call teachers in Israel at ungodly hours. So even though I would like to go to sleep (yes, I realize it's only 9:00, but my day feels like it started last month, so I am ready to end it), I am waiting up to call. The last time I asked what time to call her, she said after 9:30. I think I'm going to forget she said that and call soon, because the later it gets, the more and more worser my Hebrew gets. Also my English.

Will you wait with me?

Great, thanks.

Oh, you want to know why I'm calling the teacher.

Let me brag for a moment.

Ariella is a very good math student. This confundles me, because I HATED math as a child. (Though, as it turns out, I love teaching it.) I still remember standing up at the board in fifth grade, attempting to do a long division problem and completely freezing, then crying (of course) and shuffling back to my seat.

Digression: What is up with long division anyway? When else do we go out of our way to teach someone the LONG way to do something?

"You can walk to school by cutting through this street and down those stairs. But INSTEAD, I'm going to show you how to walk down the street, around the traffic circle, up the block to where the bus stop is, wait there five minutes, no reason, now go up the hill, back down the hill, and now you're there! With a remainder of 3."

ANYWAY, not only is Ariella good at math, she actually enjoys, nay, LOVES it. They got this extra little math workbook, which she claimed she didn't need for class and could just do on her own. She finished the entire book in about 3 weeks. In the bath, she decided to add 24+24 and keep doubling the answers till she got to about 4,000-something. I was struggling to keep one step ahead of her so when she computed the answer and asked, "Right Mommy?" I would have an answer, though I really would have appreciated a few hundred people and their fingers.

So she came home yesterday and told me there is a group in her class of math "mitkadmim" (advanced) students, who do different work. She went, all on her own, to talk to the teacher about joining.

The answer, effectively, was no. Apparently these children got to be in the advanced group because they finished some workbook last year, in second grade. Ariella, by not being in this school last year, could not have completed said workbook. Therefore, she was deemed ineligible.

She very reasonably offered to complete the workbook on her own time. Strangely, the answer was still no. She is now frustrated. I said I would call the teacher and find out what's going on, since I only know the 8-year-old version.

For the record, I do not relish being the "My child is smart! You must challenge her!" parent. However, I must put my personal whoojies* aside (*see: Worser English when I am tired) and call the teacher. And discuss this. In Hebrew. Even though I am tired.

And now it is 9:15. I motion it is late enough to call. Anyone second that?

Perfect, thanks. And thanks for keeping me company.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sukkot Ramblings

11 days since a post! My goodness, I'm surprised I haven't been let go from my position as Grandmaster Chief Executive Head Blogger.

Well, okay, I guess I'll give myself a second chance. But I'm docking myself two vacation days. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm giving myself an extra three.

In any case, here is a Sukkot Roundup. In no particular order...

1. Nadav continues his Pot Torturing Campaign, in which he flings innocent pots from their hiding place in the cabinet and beheads them, throwing their tops into the garbage can.

2. I'm sure you are wondering, "Are Ariella and Yaakov still playing the Bet Malon game?" Well, glad you asked. For indeed, they are! This game is in its 3rd month, I believe. Every few weeks Yaakov pipes up and asks, "Awiella, aww we still playing the bet malon game?" And Ariella replies in the affirmative.

Today the game was played with serious devotion and intensity. In fact, 5 hours after chag ended, they are STILL going at it. I'm not exactly sure what it entails, but it's an elaborate make-believe game in which they play together for HOURS. And, here's the most important part, they DO NOT FIGHT. Tonight, Ariella and Yaakov's babies were asleep, so they had to tiptoe into their room to get stuff.

(Parenting SCORE: I overheard them saying they couldn't use the baby yet, since it was only their wedding day and you can't have babies before you are married.
Parenting FAIL: They were marrying each other. Well, at least we like the mechutanim.)

3. Donny was honored with Chatan Torah in our shul today. This completes Donny's personal Triple Crown:
Twice Chatan Breishit (at 2 different shuls)
Twice Chatan Maftir, If You Count That (this was at the same shul because they forgot they gave it to him the year before)
Once Chatan Torah

The trick is to find shuls that have no baalei kriah and layn pretty much every other week.

4. We visited three national parks over the holiday: Mearat Hanetifim (stalactite caves), Tel Be'er Sheva, where we saw the actual well dug by Avraham Avinu, and Park Eshkol, a random find on our map that had little wading areas and a big playground. A win! Plus ice cream! Double win!

Although: Nadav refused to eat the ice cream in a cup which I buy for him, on account of it being easy to feed to him. And instead insisted on something on a stick, like the big kids have. By the end of his first real artik experience, you could pretty much put Nadav on a stick and lick him.

5. We have now visited 25 out of the total 61 national parks in Israel. I know, this embarrasses us as well. We may need to take the children out of school for a week during the winter and just knock out all of the southern parks.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Yom Kippur Cinderella

Scene: Yom Kippur afternoon, about 45 minutes left to go.

I am on the couch, trying to move as little as possible. Children decide it's time for Beauty Parlor using plastic utensils from our extensive set of kitchen toys.

Ariella yanks the hair on the right side of my head into a pony. Yaakov carefully works the left side of my hair with a carving knife.

"Do you think it's too short, Ariella?" he asks, applying a second coating of spatula.

"No, I think it's good." Yank.

Yaakov dips the fork into the teapot to get it wet before gently combing it through.

"Are you going to the party to see who is the beautest to marry the prince?" he inquires.

I teach my children early on that good looks can get you far.

"Yes. Is Daddy the prince?"

"No, Mommy," replies Ariella - yank - "he's just a regular Yisrael."

Nadav wanders over every so often and shoves a fork into my mouth as far as it will go. When it begins to activate the gag reflex, I gently remove it.

After applying just a dollop of butter knife, Yaakov declares me fit for the ball.

And now we're down to 15 minutes! Fast is almost over AND I'm looking smokin' to boot. Thanks, kids.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Kashrut Revisited

Donny's paternal grandfather (A"H) had a saying that he passed on to his grandchildren.

When you're dating a girl that you want to marry, you have to ask three important questions:

"One: Will she keep a kosher home?
Two: Will she send her children to a Jewish day school?
Three: And I forgot the last one."

Luckily, I passed the test and so was allowed in to the family. I used to think this was just a cute grandfatherly thing, until I had my own son.

And now I realize the importance of making sure your son marries someone who will keep a kosher home: It's because sons (a sweeping generalization based on my own child) have no inkling as to "kashrut."

One of my small accomplishments as a parent is that my children put their bowls and plates (but not the good Shabbat china - no! Stop carrying it with one hand! I'll do it for you!) in the sink. Yes, they may fight like rabid ferrets and when they occasionally say "That was good, Mom!" there's a smidge too much surprise in their voices, but I have managed this one tiny victory.

Yaakov has divided the sinks up thusly: Cereal Sink and Not Cereal Sink. And it constantly amazes me how he hasn't yet managed to figure out dairy/chalavi vs meat/besari.

"Where should I put this yogurt spoon?"

"Cereal sink, Yaakov." (Have you noticed that the yogurt spoon looks suspiciously like the cereal one???)

"Which sink should I put this bowl of chicken soup in?" (You know, the bowl that has actual bits of chicken still in it?)

"Which one do you think, Yaakov?"

"Um, cereal?" (Must be the bowl-bowl gezerat shava).

He never has a clue. I've tried to explain it to him, but while he can understand complex intricacies of "Ratatouille" and "Kung Fu Panda" on a level most of didn't even know existed, comprehending that "yogurt" "cheese" and "milk" are all from the same family, and this family is diametrically opposed to the "chicken" and "hot dog" family, seems to be beyond his capabilities.

So, future Mrs. Yaakov Rose, you will surely fall in love with his charming good looks and sensitive soul. And trust me, you will experience Movie Night like no one else. But for your own sanity, you may want to label your kitchen "cereal" and "not cereal."