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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Six Word Saturday: October 31, 2009

 
hallo 003Happy Hallowe’en, little damp lawn bear.
    hallo 004

hallo 001

Did I mention my cousin?

She was murdered.

Too late; there was a rift in the family, and we never knew her.
(see my cousin-deprived post from last week)
Never knew a thing about her until the funeral. We went, of course. We went to the shiva.

It was seven years ago this week (National Post obit here).


That turned out to be an opening, of sorts. Not a good thing, of course, but a new start.
We now see her mother sometimes, an aunt I met only once, briefly, within my memory. She's technically an ex-aunt, because she divorced my uncle, but my mother has always insisted you remain related no matter how legal the split. Nobody listened to her, so that was the start of the rift, and we never saw the aunt again and her daughters, my uncle's daughters, couldn't spend time with our mutual grandparents. Crazy things happen with divorces: I tried to make sure that didn't happen to my family. I told my mother-in-law I wasn't divorcing her, and I still haven't. Ted's mother is Ted's mother, and I like her very much. But when I say mother-in-law, it's my ex-husband's mother, the older kids' grandmother.

Oh - and we also "discovered" another cousin, the murdered cousin's sister, who we now include in our family events. She and her husband are lovely and fit right in with our family and its zany holiday celebrations.

When Yerachmiel Meir turned 3, I invited a large number of extended family members to his upsherin. My mother thought it was crazy: "We never see them! They never invited us to (dinner, wedding, bar mitzvah, fill in the blank)...!" Which was exactly my point.

What I told her was:
"If he died, chas v'shalom, these are the people who'd come to his funeral. But I'd like them here to celebrate his life, instead."

I don't know if she understood, but maybe she thought I was a little less crazy. I hope so, because I'm planning to do the same thing next year: celebrate Gavriel Zev and his wacky little life like crazy. Invite everyone I've ever heard of. Why not? I can always save money by feeding them Triscuits!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Sing it: "Do they know it's Shabbos, after all...?"

Ted had to work until 4:30 today.  Shabbos is at 5:54.
That's less than an hour and a half.
 
Non-Jews are so respectful!  Every non-Jewish employer I've had has said, "oh, you have to leave, you have to go home to get ready... I totally understand; you go right ahead."  If they see that you respect Shabbos, chances are, they will, too.
 
(of course, I'd arrange to make up time missed by coming in early or putting in an extra half hour here or there; it's not like I'm getting away with something...!)
 
The downside of working for Jews, apparently, is that they know when Shabbos starts and pretty much couldn't care less:  "What do you mean, you need to leave early?  Shabbos isn't until almost 6:00!"
 
What do they think, it just happens, by itself?  No cooking, no cleaning, no preparation?  Oh, and have they ever heard of Mincha, which, by definition, takes place before Shabbos...???
 
If only he was working for goyim, he could make Shabbos properly.  As it is, today he had time literally to run in, bread the Shake n' Bake chicken, and now he's on his way out the door to shul.  Sigh.
(in the winter they reluctantly let them out at 3... and yes, it is often a very tight squeeze to get home and get out in time for shul)
Jews.
 
Shabbos dinner:
 
~ Soup w/ kneidlach
~ Corn
~ Israeli couscous with Mango
~ Coconut-marinated Shake n' Bake Crispy Chicken  (we used the coconut milk I forgot to add to last night's supper!)
 
~ Blueberry sourdough cake
~ Chocolate chip cookies
 
Good Shabbos!!!

P.S. Cookie redemption!

Further to the Ugly Cookie Episode:  these are not  the most amazing-looking cookies, but at least they have a crumbly bit.

cookies 001

However, Elisheva was ecstatic when she saw the see-through cookies!  In her words:  “Yum!  these are exactly like toffee!” 

Sure they are, but that’s not exactly what I’m looking for when I bake cookies.

Ted’s really astonishingly big carrot

cookies 003

Didn’t you think from the title that this post was going to be just a little rude…???

Yerachmiel Meir’s Mound of Sweet Potatoes

cookies 004

A full (short) sentence!

Me:  "Do you want butter on your bread?"
Gavriel Zev:  "Budder right here?"
 
Everything he says has a question mark on the end.
Still - a real sentence!
 
It's the first I've heard with more than 2 words, even though a linguist would probably argue that he hears "right here" together so often it's functioning as a single word in this context.
 
I guess that's why I don't hang out with a lot of linguists.

HEAD TO HEAD: Battle Margarine – Fleischmann’s vs Earth Balance

(Postscript:  Read on, and then see this post from later in the day, to discover the stunning conclusion to this shocking cookie episode!)

marg 002

Blah.  Ugly cookies!

I wrote here last week about my margarine revulsion, which makes life particularly difficult because of the demands of kosher-pareve baking.  Sometimes I do just say to heck with it and save a recipe for when we’re having a dairy meal.  Some things simply cannot be substituted.

However, chocolate-chip cookies are not one of them.  They usually work well and end up quite tasty using non-dairy oils. 

I used Crisco butter-flavoured shortening until a few years ago, when they reformulated it using the U.S. recipe – which contains dairy.  As I mentioned in a note to the manufacturer, if I want to bake with dairy, I’ll stick with pure butter, thanks.

temp_marg1Since that change, I have been using Fleischmann’s “blue” – their unsalted pareve tub margarine (the red one shown here is salted).  I have never had a problem using tub margarine and generally, the cookies turn out great.

temp_marg2But… last week, in a fit of extreme margarine hateitude (prompted by a particularly margarine-y dessert over Yom Tov), I sent Ted out to buy Earth Balance, this more expensive form of not-quite margarine (since it’s not hydrogenated). 

The manufacturer claims it can be used like butter or margarine for cooking and baking…  but I beg to differ. 

See the chocolate-chip cookies above?  When made with Fleischmann’s, they look like actual, normal cookies.  Depending on a number of variables, they sometimes spread out a bit too much, but if the dough is chilled and they are made with care, they tend to be nice, crumb-y cookies.

Now look at the cookies up on top.  They spread out within seconds into a gooey, translucent mess and baked up so crunchy-hard and crunchy they are more like a candy than a cookie.   When I removed them from the oven, they were overly tanned looking on top and had an unhealthy-looking oily sheen.

cookie 001Held to the light of the monitor,  you can see that there is too little “cookie” there… it’s all flat and full of holes!  I have never seen cookies quite so disastrous.

I tried “mounding” them more, and baking them for less time, but then they were just underdone and I had to return them to the oven to bake fully.  I’m just thankful I was baking on parchment paper, or the pan would have been a write-off.

Do they taste “naturally delicious” as the manufacturer promises?

Well, they’re not bad.  There isn’t a margarine-y taste, as such.  They are very much on the greasy side, as if regular cookie dough was somehow deep-fried, which is what I suspect this non-margarine product does when exposed to oven heat:  melts away and deep-fries the cookie around it.

They are certainly not fit to take as a gift for friends whose house we are going to tomorrow… so I guess we’re back to square one, dessert-wise.

And I guess it’s back to Fleischmann’s for us and our chocolate-chip cookies.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  I still plan to try Earth Balance in a cake recipe I’m making later today, and perhaps to try the tub variety in a future batch of cookies. 

And you can be sure I’ll keep my loyal reader(s) posted when I do!

Naomi, in the middle of baking...

...when she sneezed.
 
Me, from the other room:  "what did you sneeze on?"
Naomi Rivka:  "I didn't sneeze on anything, I just sneezed on my hand!"
 
Yes, I sent her to wash her hands.

Free Early Years Math Resources!

We have done the Family Math program (sponsored by an oil company I won't mention here - but it's in the link below!) through Ontario Early Years Centres at our local library a couple of times, and I would definitely do it again.
If you don't have this program available locally, or want to try a few easy, informal math activities on your own with very young children, there are a lot of very good resources to download, free, at the Family Math site:
The Early Years Homebook is a great starting point, but it's meant as a complement to the classes. If you haven't done the classes, maybe take an evening to read through the Early Years Resource Book to get some ideas for beginning math with young kids.
The first time we did the program, it was presented the way it's meant to be done, as a series of six weekly sessions. The second time, in August, the six sessions were condensed into five consecutive afternoons. That format didn't work nearly as well; the six-week program is very well thought-out, with a different theme each week (bugs, buttons, rocks...); as a five-day program it mostly just felt "jumbled". I also didn't like having to do homework every single night.
Anyway, I thought I'd post this here because these are terrific, professionally-developed resources (they even have a bunch of "math songs" for free download on the site!) that I for one definitely plan to use over the course of this JK year.

Lights, camera… greenhouse!

aloes 014 In addition to repotting the aloe that was suffering away from the windowsill light, I moved some of the tender plants that I brought inside a few weeks ago which were having a decidedly hard time of it in weak window-filtered sunlight.  They are now happily (I hope) ensconced on the top tier of my three-tier indoor greenhouse / grow-op.

I will have to shift them around a lot as the coleus get ready for potting on.  There may not be room for all of them.  Of course, I never did set up the third (bottom) tier of lights last year… maybe with that, plus the downstairs kitchen counter light, there will actually be enough room to get through Indoor Growing Season 2009/2010.

Goodbye summer… aloe, fall!

Another post I took pictures for but time got away from me this week and I didn’t post it:"

aloes 010Repotting the aloe to bring it inside.  It loved being outside for the summer!  Actually, though, it’s been inside for a few weeks, but this pot was too big to keep on a windowsill, so I had to break it up.

Did you know that baby aloes are called “pups”?

It’s true.  I think some other plants have pups also… maybe cacti?

aloes 012Last winter, this was not much bigger than the small one on the right, and now the main plant is the big thing in the green pot.  There’s a fourth piece in a ceramic pot that isn’t visible in this picture. 

It’s a lot of aloe, that’s for sure…

I did break off a bit last year as my belly slash was healing.  It really did help with the itching.  We should definitely start actually using it for its healing properties. 

Unfortunately, the main walking wounded in this household far prefer decorative band-aids to a dab of aloe vera juice!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dessert… that lasts six MONTHS??!?

(I took these photos earlier this week meaning to blog them, but the week kind of got away from me…)

aloes 006 Ted’s sister brought us this package of “Sinbad”-brand Baklava when she was here on Shabbos.  It’s probably from Costco… that’s where his family tends to pick up huge quantities of random things just because they’re kosher.

Which I love, by the way.  I have a happy feeling in my heart whenever I picture them looking around, spotting the hechsher, tossing it in the cart.

So despite neither of us ever having expressed any love or even passing interest in baklava, here we were with this jumbo pack of it.

aloes 005And I happened to be looking it over when I noticed the expiry date on the bottom side.  Not even an expiry date, really; it just says “Best Before.”  And that date?  April 6, 2010.  Even if they were brand-new, fresh-baked the day she bought them, that still means they last, with all their fresh honey and butter goodness, for almost SIX MONTHS.

I mean, I have heard that honey has some natural preservative properties, but SIX MONTHS? 

aloes 003Something about that just creeps me out.  No idea what.

Here’s Ted trying a piece and giving it the big ol’ thumbs-up.  Thanks to Ted for volunteering to be my guinea pig.  Now, I’ll just wait a few months and see what happens to him.  If he’s still okay by, say, March, maybe I’ll take a piece or two for myself!

(No, seriously, I joke… of course I had to try a piece, or two, or three.  They are actually not bad, though not really something I would ever spontaneously buy for myself or my family)

At last, a non-bread supper!

curries 001 I got inspired in the Asian-foods section of Fortino’s today.  The truth is, I was going to make Poori or Naan to go with this meal, because we love LOVE Indian flatbreads, but… I got lazy – slash – time got away from me.  Long story short:  it didn’t happen.

Instead, we had basmati rice with Aloo Mattar – potato/pea curry with (gasp) a jar of store-bought curry sauce, along with totally homemade Paneer Darbari – curried “cheese” in tomato sauce, with chunks of firm tofu fried-‘till-brown filling in for the cheese.

Didn’t feel like making paneer again, nor did I have the million litres of milk that would have been necessary to make a sizeable chunk of it.  The piece in the picture at that post is about the size of my hand and took almost two whole litres of milk to make.

Anyway, in my humble opinion, the tofu did just fine as a stand-in.  The sauce was puréed (lightly, just buzzed really) tinned tomatoes with various seasonings added (salt, pepper, curry powder, chili powder, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, more curry powder, etc).   Not very spicy at all. 

I realized after everyone ate that I forgot to add coconut milk to the tomato sauce.  Did it need it?  No, and we already had one “creamy” curry on the plate… but it might have made the difference between delicious and decadent.

Ted was sitting beside Gavriel Zev trying to convince him to eat the potatoes and peas.  Ted said, “potato” and showed GZ how to take it on his fork.  GZ looked dubious but took a bite (I was amazed that he did).  Then he took out the fork and said, “potato.”  He agreed!  It really was potato.  And I think he actually ate the rest.

"Teaching Jewish Values" Lesson Plans & Website

Just browsing this site, BabagaNewz (ew, who comes up with these names???).  Haven't found anything I would actually use, but there are lots of ideas for (mostly values-based) lesson plans that could easily be adapted for Jewish homeschoolers:  http://www.babaganewz.com/teachers/
(there's a "Teacher's Resources" section down the right-hand side)
 
There are also quite a few craft ideas here:  http://www.babaganewz.com/tag/crafts/
Most of these are nothing new... you probably made some yourself if you went to Hebrew school (or day school).  But they're kind of dressed up on a slick website and could help jog your memory if you're looking for a Jewish-themed craft project.
 
Lots more to see at this site, but I suspect most isn't all that deep and is aimed mostly at kids from non-religious backgrounds (which, in frum circles, is sometimes euphemistically referred to as "mixed backgrounds").
 
 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Living Like Kings

pletzl 003Supper!  Hot, fresh, delicious homemade pletzl, plated alongside oven-roasted ratatouille (a fancy way of saying veggies tossed up in a roasting pan), with broccoli soup on the side.

Living like kings!  It’s easy when you start with amazing fresh bread…

And now, exhausted from all that eatin’, I’m bundling up some Royal Winter Fair tickets… and then falling into bed.

Okay, maybe there will be an episode of House (or two) in front of me as I fall into bed.  Maybe some Ben & Jerry’s.  A girl’s gotta relax at the end of a long day.

Naomi in another room

Me to Naomi:  "Let me know if you need a little bit of help!"
GZ:  "What?  What?  What?"
Me:  "Naomi's getting dressed.  Sometimes she can do it by herself, sometimes she needs a little help."
GZ:  "When?  When?  When?"  (He's been asking "what?" for a while; his new question is "when?"!)
Me:  "When she's getting dressed."
GZ:  "Okay!  Room?  Room?  Room?"
 
(runs off to watch her get dressed)
 

A Million Years Ago in Moment Magazine...

Every month, Moment poses a thought-provoking spiritual question.  And I just realized (I was searching for a past article at a site I had written for equally long ago) that they actually printed my response.  The question:

Is Wanting to Share a Jewish Partner's Religious Commitment a Sufficient Basis for Conversion? What Do YOU Think?

(I wonder why it came out so darn big?)
The question continues, but in a smaller font:
"In a move toward traditionalism, the Reform movement's Central Conference of American Rabbis recently announced that a Beit Din (a tribunal of rabbis) can ask a convert whether the conversion is because of spiritual as opposed to romantic reasons. Moment Magazine then asked readers what they thought of this new policy."
So this was my answer:
If conversion is "romantic," you're doing it wrong. It's got to be spiritual, it has to be life-changing. Traditional rabbis already know what my boyfriend and I are discovering: Our relationship is romantic, but the road to conversion is difficult--even grueling. My fiance is converting, and so far, he's had to starve, walk around in bad shoes, let stubble grow for weeks, listen to Uncle Moishy, and choke down cold gefilte fish (he likes it warm, which I feel is a crime against nature). Not much romance there.
Short, not so sweet.  To read some of the other responses, click here.

Six Word Saturday

No, it's not Saturday today.  I’ll try that next week.
But a worthwhile project nevertheless (click the link for more info) since my blog is rarely the soul of brevity.
 
An easy one, to start:
 
Life; six words?  Need thousands more!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In the land of idiots...

...that is me trying to learn a new language...

Nothing makes me feel like an idiot like learning NUMBERS.

Numbers are HARD!
In any language.
In ASL they are hard and weird and why the heck does 25 have absolutely no relationship to any other numbers between one and thirty? You just kind of wiggle your middle finger lasciviously.
Ew... it really does look rude!

Shuls for people of color?

Came across this website yesterday, which lists shuls (of all denominations) that are known to be friendly to people of colour. (they only include U.S. synagogues at the moment)

Shouldn't we just list the ones that aren't friendly?!? I mean, they are all supposed to be welcoming, in theory, right?
Now, a website for shuls and businesses that were nasty to Jews of different racial backgrounds would be very cool.

Like the black woman I saw working in a local shop. She was wrapping up some stuff and told the customer, a lady visiting from New York, that she had redone a twist tie so it could be opened on Shabbos. The woman commented to another customer, "isn't that incredible, she knows all about Shabbos!" To which the employee said, "Of course; I was raised in a frum home." Yes!!!

Or like when we were first becoming frum and we'd go to restaurants all the time with a friend, who happened to be Korean. He could not get up and walk anywhere - bathroom, buffet, cash register - without people handing him his plate. Asian = waiter, right? Um, not always! In this case, he wasn't Jewish, but still. He could just as easily have been (like my Chinese cousin, who is 100% Jewish on her mother's side).

I'd love to set up a website for Jews with non-traditional last names. My two marriages have been to men with names that stand out in the Jewish community, and now I'm raising four kids who will see eyebrows raised their whole lives (except the girls, if they change their names when they get married). Believe me, if your name isn't something easy like Schwartzenbaumenfeldersteinenbergenschmidt, you're not going to have a comfortable time of it in this Jewish community.

Even growing up, my last name was a weird one. We got it legitimately, from my grandfather, whose last name growing up was Lapa. We still have relatives around the world with the last name Lappa and Lappe (in Yiddish). My grandmother told me it meant "a hand of an animal" (ie a paw) in Polish. In Canada, it got changed to Lapell, which is what my sibs and I grew up with. It's not a hard name, but let me tell you, it's not an easy name to live with if you're Jewish. Even my mother's parents never quite learned how to spell it properly.

No personal experience of being different, but I feel like our shul welcomes people of varied backgrounds - Jewish or otherwise. That's one of the things I really love about it. It's not tremendously multi-racial, probably not as much as some, but nobody's background shocks anybody else, and nobody ever seems surprised to see a different-looking face.

Naomi Rivka went through a phase, a few weeks ago, of asking constantly why so-and-so had a different colour of skin.
The answer I came up with seems fine in every way: Hashem likes every colour, so he just went and made them all.
How boring would it be if we were all only one colour?
How dull would our shuls be if Askhenazi faces were the only ones you could see?

I hope that website has to go out of business soon... once every shul is on the list, the site will be irrelevant. And anyone, regardless of background, regardless of last name, can walk into any shul, anywhere, and get nothing more than a smile in return.

Yes!!! Selling my DVDs!

 
After months and months of posting this on Craigslist, somebody has made an offer on all the ER DVDs I have sitting around... 2 more episodes to watch and hopefully she'll give me $75 on Tuesday for the whole stack of 'em.  That will help clear out the bedside table and let me afford (partly) Seasons 10-15.
 
Yay!

Kosher caterer article

temp_koshercatering

Kosher caterers.  Oy, do I not love writing articles about kosher caterers.

First of all, they NEVER offer to feed you!  How am I supposed to write an article about how fantastic someone's food is if they're not even offering you some to taste?

But the biggest issue with caterers is that my editor seemingly chooses the businesses to feature at random.  They never match!  Like, one will be "Raffi's World Cuisine", a huge, world-class concern that lets you to host events for tens of thousands of people in the Air Canada Centre... and the other is "Mira's Kugel Shop" down on the corner.  It's not just apples and oranges; it's more like apples and eggs.

How am I supposed to write that up in an article???  "If you're making a HUGE simcha, maybe you should go with Raffi.  If you're cheap like me, however, just stop by Mira's and give them kugel on Chinet."  (or you could always go with Triscuits!)

Finally, people always want you to come interview them in person.  "You have to see what we're doing here!  It's totally unique!"

It breaks my heart to tell them that with what I'm getting paid, I cannot possibly afford to shlep to see their tchatchke shop or meat store or band or invitations in person.  Of course, I don't put it that way!  I mostly emphasize the fact that I work from home, with my kids.

But almost everybody is disappointed when I tell them it's only a phone interview.  Even when I say over and over "chat by phone" some are surprised when I don't show up in person at the arranged time.

Of course, maybe if I went in person, they’d offer to feed me something.  I doubt it.

And it still wouldn’t be worth it, not with what I get paid for these things… blah.

I always think restaurants should send me a coupon or something when I feature them.  I usually do a great job, even if I feel like showering after writing these things. 

Hubris or not, I do consider myself a good, if not great (at times great!), writer.  Certainly, my spelling is very accurate, which is why I went into this business in the first place. 

So I disdainfully feel I’d rather not waste words on advertorials.  However, the blog(s) don’t seem to be issuing regular paycheques yet, and there is some small satisfaction in helping out people’s small-time businesses.

Still, a coupon or someone calling me up to say, “hey, bring your family on by for a meal” would be nice, just once.

But no, kosher businesses just do not work that way.  They may act grateful, but deep down, they also feel entitled, which means they ain’t giving it away for free.

(p.s.  Laughing out loud!  As I finished writing this, a business I wrote about last year, whose owner loved the article but couldn’t afford to pay me to write for her privately, just called me up to invite me to an even they’re hosting next month.  Ha ha ha… naturally, it’s not a freebie:  they’re looking for more free coverage.  Is it Jews, or is it just small business owners?)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Holy Cow…

temp_hckI want….

JERKY!

http://www.holycowkosher.com/store/index.html

Kosher Beef Jerky!!!  :-o

You used to be able to buy biltong, a south african jerky, at Hartman's up north.  But I haven't seen it in years...

And Perl's used to make a meaty stick-thing that kind of sort of almost filled the Slim Jim niche in my tummy.

But, again, no more Perl's.

No, what I need is real, authentic, kosher beef jerky.

Any chance of seeing this stuff in Canada anytime soon???

Hebrew books we’re enjoying…

I have trouble enjoying most Israeli kids’ books because either the language is too hard or the illustrations are – let’s be honest – kind of weird.

This series suffers a little from the “weirdness.”  I’m not sure what it is… the pictures can be realistic enough, but sometimes, it’s partly that they are too realistic.  Too many details around the fingers and chin makes illustrations kind of creepy, somehow.  Or else the illustrations are meant to be simplistic and cartoony but just end up somehow off, at least to my snobby North American eyes.  There are so many talented Jewish artists… Israel must be crawling with them.  Why do they choose people to illustrate kids’ books who don’t even seem to have the basics down?

temp_kissforbearAnyway,  I have tried to find ones I like before, but never really succeeded, which is why I often end up with English books in translation (like Dr. Seuss and the “Dubi-Dov” books, which are lovely translations of Elsa Holmlund Minarik’s Little Bear stories), and illustrated by Maurice Sendak.  We’re also reading “Eretz Yitzurei HaPereh” – Where the Wild Things Are; just in time for the movie release!

So this series is in Hebrew, by Yael Arnon Vered, and they are easily among the more tolerable ones I’ve found.  We’ve taken the first two shown here, Or Soferet Kama (Or Counts How Many) and Or Shoelet Lama (Or Asks Why), out from the library so far.  The Hebrew is easy and rhymes uncloyingly, and the illustrations are usually sweet, though they do veer off a little into weirdness.

temp_or2 temp_or3temp_or  temp_or4

I loved that in the “Lama” book, the mother is explicitly drawn nursing Yoavi, Or’s little brother.  Or asks why he has to nurse… and the answer is, “because he’s hungry!”  Of course that’s why.  (the illustration for that one is a little weird, however; the baby seems disproportionate and a little older than in the previous picture of him).

However, also in “Or Shoelet Lama,” one page features a picture of a huge, weird cartoonish rabbit with a scarf around its neck.  The question asks, “Why does the rabbit sneeze?”  And the answer, of course, is because he left the door open, as in the classic godawful sneezing-rabbit song, HaShafan HaKatan.  But my English-speaking children have never heard this song.  I suppose they don’t care too much, but this reference to a song I have never enjoyed irritates me.

Naomi Rivka really seems to enjoy the main character of Or, who she says is “probably four years old.”  With brown hair and ponytails, she looks a tiny bit like Naomi (but chubbier).  To my eye, and probably to a Hebrew-speaking child, she and her questions would likely seem a bit younger, but I’m happy that Naomi can relate to her.

Beyond the pictures and the language, I like seeing how all of Or’s unceasing questions are happily encouraged by her loving parents, and the books (at least the ones we’ve seen so far) culminate with Or happily swaddled and cherished in her happy home.  I’m looking forward to finding and enjoying the other two with my kids.

Interviews...

I have mentioned how much I hate using the phone, right?
And how much I hate interviews?
 
The worst is scheduling interviews.  Making the call, explaining why I'm calling.  Sometimes you'd think I'm trying to pull their teeth when all I want is 20 minutes over the phone so I can write up a nice thing about their business.
 
It's basically an advertorial, free.  Who wouldn't want a free, high-quality article about their business? 
But no.  First, they have to rake me over the coals.
 
Suspicious.  "What's this going to cost me?"
Leery.  "What are you going to ask me about?"
Paranoid.  "Will we be the only business mentioned in the article?"  (actually, it's a good question, because the answer is usually no, and they'll be disappointed if they only find out when it's published)
Dumb.  "What should I talk about?" (Are you interested in promoting your business, or not???  If so, talk it up!  If you're enthusiastic enough, I'll write it down.)
Grateful.  "Oh, wow... that's wonderful!  Thank you SO much!"
Flight risk.  "Sure... anytime tomorrow; just call any time and I'll be here." (this is always a Jewish male, almost always Israeli (sometimes Russian)...and when I call, they are NOT there, which is why I now try to pin everybody down to an exact time)
Control-freak.  "I need to see the final article before it's printed."
 
The answer to that one is NO.  Never!  Never let anyone see an article before your editor... besides violating your contract, it invariably leads to all kinds of annoying and soul-killing changes on their part:  "I shouldn't have called the competitors 'weasels.'"  The closest I have come in recent years is calling somebody to read her back her own quotes which I had selected for the final article.  Out of context, but even then, there were a few things she wanted to change.  It's like hearing a recording of your voice; nobody ever thinks their quotes are good when they're read back to them. 
 
(except maybe me...I was quoted many years ago for a Star article about families who don't celebrate Hallowe'en, and I thought the reporter did a great job of encapsulating my views!)
 
Anyway:  scheduling.  In general, it is far easier if they're not there the first time I call.  I can leave a concise, polite message explaining the whole thing, and then they can gather their wits about them (and maybe a calendar) before calling me back.
 
Anyway, I'm proud of myself.  Seven preliminary phone calls down.  Of course, that means seven interviews still to do... but I'll just take this one ghastly step at a time.

Peeve

I have a friend in Israel who emails pictures of her children.  That's not the peeve.  The peeve is that the pictures are always HUGE.  Her emails take a million years to download.  And when they get here, the pictures are usually sideways or whatever.
 
I love getting her pictures, but usually can't be bothered looking at them because it's impossible to scroll through and look at them casually.  They must be shrunk down; they must be rotated.  And she sends a bunch at a time.
 
Here's a snapshot of one as it appears in my email window.
 
It's not like she's not technically proficient... she's a programmer!  She works in web design!
Bah.
 
I guess that's why they call it a peeve.  Just annoying enough to annoy; not enough to actually end the friendship over.

Asleep, 2:30 a.m.

"Waah!"
Gavriel Zev, of course.  At this hour, who else?  What else?
"What do you need?"
"Itchy!"  His leg is itchy, or at least, he wants attention.  I bring some cream, shmear it on, kiss him goodnight and walk out.
"Waah!"  Cries for a few seconds and then, miraculously, he's out.
 
"Waah!"  4:30 now.
"It's still sleep time.  What do you need?"
"No, no, no.  Waah!"
"I am sleeping in my bed.  Abba is sleeping.  Naomi Rivka is sleeping.  It's time to sleep.  Good night, Gavriel Zev.  I love you, I'll see you in the morning."
Walk out, fall into bed.
"Waah!"  Cries for 2 minutes, I go to him, but don't go in
 
This is the new thing:  I remember doing it with the older kids.  You go to the door, make sure they're okay, tell them you love them, but that it's still sleep time... and you don't go in.
Gavriel Zev hates it.
I go back after 5 minutes of crying.  I go back at 2, 5, 10.  I go to the room but don't go in.  I don't know what I should do after 10 minutes (15 or 20?) but luckily he falls asleep and so do I.
 
5:30.  "Waah!"
"It's still sleep time.  Does something hurt?  Do you need a fresh diaper?"
"No, no, no!"
"Good night, Gavriel Zev.  I love you; I'll see you in the morning."
Walk out, fall into bed.
"Waah!"  Cries for 2 minutes.
 
Ted gets up.
"What are you doing?"
"Going to him - I can't stand it anymore."
"I have been going to him - you have no clue.  Go back to bed."
 
In the middle of the night, I mutter terrible things about Ted.  This sleeplessness must be his fault.  Naomi Rivka was a terrible sleeper; Gavriel Zev is a terrible sleeper.  The other two were great sleepers... so it must be on their father's side, right?
Plus, why isn't he the one getting up?
I know why.  Because he stays in the room with Gavriel Zev for bloody forever cuddling him and talking to him and doing all the amazing nice things that I don't do... and then every time he goes to put him down in the crib, he screams and Ted picks him up again because he's so nice.
The process takes forever and still leads to screaming.  More screaming, because I suspect he knows how nice Ted is and that he will come back if he screams loud enough.  Not properly heartless like me.
 
So I have volunteered to be the only night person, at least until we get into a good routine.
A good routine is nowhere in sight.
 
So I mutter the terrible things about Ted, just loud enough that he can hear that I'm muttering.  I hope not loud enough that he can hear the actual words.  And Ted goes back to sleep.
 
I go back at 2, 5, 10 minutes and either he falls asleep or I do because the next scream I hear is 6:30.
6:30 sounds like a reasonable waking-time, but the arbitrary number in my head for wake-up time is 7:00.  I will not get him up before 7:00, especially after a night like that.  There is no way he's well-rested and happy.
 
So I do the 2, 5, 10 thing again and either he falls asleep or it becomes 7:00.  I don't remember.  Ted eventually brings him in for nummies, and that's how I wake up, at 8:30, with Gavriel Zev hanging off one side and Naomi Rivka patting both of us but carefully, attentively not having nummies.
We stopped her morning nummies a few months ago.
She always seems very sad when we cuddle in bed in the morning.  Perhaps like a husband, when told you "just want to cuddle."
 
It's almost 9:00 by then, and we have somewhere to be at 10:00.  Chances of making it on time:  zero.
Chances of making it through the night anytime in the near future?
Zero.  Big, fat, round, sad, sad, ZERO.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Because I am a Girl….darnit!

garden fall 009s

Yard Roundup/Cleanup Fall 2009

garden fall 004The Bulbs

Bulbs in – some 200-something of them, by my estimation.  That includes teeny-tiny bulbs like squill and muscari, though, some of which I just dumped into holes, set upright, and covered over again.

Frugal gardener tip:  in late spring, buy pots of wilted daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, whatever (just not paperwhites or tulips).  Home Despot usually has a cart of them for $1 or something.  Choose the pots that have the most flowers sticking up.  Don’t worry what the flowers look like… they will look horrible; that’s why they’re $1.  (but do choose colours you can live with!)

Now just leave the plants to die.  Not total neglect:  I kind of set them out in the backyard so they can get some rain and sun, but eventually, the foliage dies back and dries out and then the bulbs are ready to pull up.

Yank them out of the dirt – toss the dirt part on the composter.  Gather all the bulbs.  If you’re lucky, the pots have tags showing you what kind of bulbs are in each pot.  Keep the tags with the bulbs, if possible!  If you are planning to plant them the same year, in just a couple of months, there’s no need to do anything special to store them.  You might want to keep them somewhere cool and dark, and not too moist or they will either rot or sprout.

Then, in fall, on a nice, sunny-but-cool afternoon, take out the bulbs (I hope you remembered where you stored them!) and plant them exactly the way you would plant bulbs from a package.  Root side down, which is the hairier side.  Pointy side up.

Depending on what you buy, you can get a lot of bulbs this way for really, really cheap.  Like instead of 5 daffodils for $2 (which is a decent sell-off price at the end of the summer), you might be able to get 10 or more for the same amount.  Plus, if the plants aren’t fully dead when you buy them, you get to see the exact flower colour, so you know exactly what you’ll get.

Other plants are available the same way.  Cannas, for example, which I don’t like much, were selling off for $1 at Lowe’s.  They were already pretty much dead, but you can cold-storage the rhizome (bulbous root storage organ, like ginger) over the winter pretty easily and then, following instructions available just about everywhere online, you’ll have super-cheap Cannas in time for spring.

I wish I liked them!

Oh, and in case anybody was hoping I would get a real moral lesson in procrastination – along the traditional lines of “never put off for tomorrow” – when I contemplated putting in the bulbs last Tuesday but decided to wait ‘till Sunday and hope for good weather…?  Well, the weather was fantastic!  What a sunny, warm, beautiful day!

Today was the kind of day where the whole world was out walking, and they all walked right past our front porch.  Yay!  The kind of day that makes you love being in the garden… even if it’s just to pull out all the dead stuff and scoop a little poop.

Other garden tasks for today:

garden fall 002 Raking!

This one actually had to come before the bulbs.  I mean, you can’t plant bulbs if you can’t see where they’re supposed to go because the whole thing is covered up in slimy leaves.

Elisheva offered to rake the yard for $5.  I wanted to only give her $4, but she worked really hard.  Once she started complaining that it was too much work even for $5, I told her she could stop anytime; whatever she thought was reasonable… so she finished the job cheerfully! 

Sometimes, backing off is really good parenting.

I did a little more afterwards, once we came home from the NFB workshop.  Naomi inadvertently left a huge pile of leaves on the neighbours’ sidewalk that I didn’t think they’d appreciate, plus, I wanted the lawn super-bare so I could overseed (see below).

garden fall 019Compost! 

Moved the right-hand composter which held the almost-finished compost.  I decided it pretty much was finished, or at least, whatever isn’t fully broken down will disintegrate over the winter.

Speaking of broken-down, the composter is actually broken!  During a particularly vigourous turning session, I cracked open one of the corners and broke it.  I don't think it can be repaired (it's cracked where a screw is supposed to go in, and now the screw doesn't hold).  I’ve just put out a notice on Freecycle; let’s see if someone has one to give me.

garden fall 020Anyway, I scooped up the compost and there was enough to apply a nice, thick layer to each of the square foot beds plus the front island and foundation beds.  Yaaay!!!   (you can’t specifically see compost in this picture, but you can see a nice dark brown around the base of the irises, I hope!)

(I told a passing non-gardening friend who was out walking with her kids all about this and she utterly failed to get excited.  I think her comment was, “that’s terrific.”  One of those generic things you say to make someone stop muttering the really dull thing they are telling you about dirt.  This interchange made me happy; it convinced me I’m still a gardening geek despite my recent dislike of the garden.  Just as it’s impossible not to love a garden in June, I think it’s natural to hate it in fall!)

Meanwhile, the middle composter is still full to the top.  That will be the spring application of compost!  And then the whole process will begin again.

garden fall 023The Lawn

And here’s the lawn.  Last fall’s Great Lawn Experiment continues, in a slightly less demanding, zany-weird overseeding phase.

Over-seeding with the last of the EcoLawn seed, over-sprinkling with dirt (cheapo tip:  to cover your overseeded lawn in fall, use loose dirt from planters of annuals that have already died), and raking the whole thing together so the dirt and seed are more or less evenly distributed over the bare patches.

(advanced extra-credit tip, for super-cheapo gardeners only:  use soil from planters of annuals that you found at the curb – that’s what I did!!)

Everybody thought I was crazy when I newspapered the entire lawn last year, but I think, a year and a bit later, the lawn is looking extraordinarily nice.  Green!  Greener than some others on our street?

I don’t necessarily want to be a “lawn” kind of person, in the sense of all cropped and proper.  I want to have a lawn that we mow twice a year, looks shaggy and green and conserves water.  I also want a lawn where we can sit and the kids can play.

The problem with our lawn this past year, besides the rampant clover trying to dominate the front-yard ecosystem, was WORMS.  I don’t mind worms in compost; I don’t mind worms under the soil, but apparently now that I have started improving the soil, or at least, not compacting and killing it as the old owners apparently did on a regular basis, there are so many worms that apparently they like to come up and say hello… uncomfortably close to where we’re sitting. 

We also had quite a few slugs, which I discovered each time I’d go to rip out some of the clover.  Slugs, clover… in cahoots.

So what can I say?  It was a beautiful day, maybe our last for a while.  Working hard in the compost, digging the dirt, grubbing around getting filthy, making the kids sweat a bit, shlep a bit… and loving it all!

Getting Animated

garden fall 014Free Animation Workshop at the NFB this afternoon for ages 6-13.  So what if Elisheva is practically 14.  So what if Naomi is only 4.  Both had a reasonably good time.  Yay!

Aaaaaagh!!! A baalas teshuvah’s lament

temp_songexampleBah.  Once again, I’m spending Sunday evening searching for an alef-bais song of the week.  This week, you’d think it would be wide open:  the letter is ches, so anything to do with challahs, chassanim, chessed or chayim.

I’m sure I will turn something up; that’s not my frustration.

What frustrates me is that on sites like chinuch.org(which is an absolutely fantastic site for Jewish educators, don’t get me wrong!), catchy nursery, kindergarten and elementary songs for a variety of curriculum topics are often collected into absolutely wonderful, endearing little song books.

Great, right?

But no.

Because just try to figure out the tune; just try.  Either at the bottom or top of every single song is a message like the one shown here:  “(Tune:  ‘tziva yeshuos yaakov’).”

“Ohhhh,” an FFB parent is expected to say.  “Oh, you sing it just like ‘Tziva yeshuos yaakov!’  Now I get it!”  And then she can sing it along with her little one.

If you have never heard of the original song, however?  If you didn’t happen to grow up listening to Uncle Moishy or MDB or the exact right Boys’ Choir that sings the version of this song you’re supposed to know…?  Well, sorry, you’re totally out of luck. 

You do have a few choices, all of them frustrating:  look it up in an online database (like Zemerl, Hebrew Songs.com, or the FAU Jewish Sound Archives, which we actually use a lot); call an FFB friend (who may or may not know the song – I have not had good luck with this option); or you could always try to make up your own tune (and then try to remember it, which is a whole ‘nother thing if you can’t read or write music).

Even if you do know the original song, there’s a very good chance that the tune you know is NOT the correct one.  Before Rosh Hashanah, we downloaded a song that was supposed to go to the tune of Avinu Malkeinu (“hey, I’ve heard of that!” I said)… but only actually accompanies the tune I know in my wildest imagination and slurriest singing:

“Charata, means feels sorry; vidui, say what you did wrong.  Kabalas al ha asid, say not to do it again.  These are the steps of tshuvah.”  (huh?  I tried it a million times, and it never worked)

Now here’s verse two, which actually kind of does work with my tune, and we ended up singing it (first in Hebrew, then this English “version”) every morning leading up to Yom Kippur:

“In the month of Elul we try.  Tefilah, from our hearts we cry.  Now is the time to do Teshuvah; it is a great Mitzvah.”  (it only works if you emphasize the italicized words!)

After Rosh Hashanah, we slurred “in the months of Elul and Tishrei” just to make it continuously relevant.  I mean, we hadn’t actually sung any avinu malkeinus in shul yet up ‘till that point.

Beautiful nachas moment, however.  When you have a song that the child understands and then she hears the tune at exactly the right moment in shul… well, WOW.

We hit the Avinu Malkeinus, right at the end of Neilah, and Naomi was actually behaving nicely and paying attention.  I promised her that almost right after Avinu Malkeinu, we would hear the shofar.  And then they started singing… and it wasn’t the tune she knew.  She looked at me, and I said, “just wait… they will sing it in a minute.”

Well, it was a very long minute for her to wait.  But finally, it happened:  they got to the last section of Avinu Malkeinu, and BANG, right into the tune we had practiced at home.

And there was Naomi Rivka’s voice, right next to mine (okay, emanating from around my belly-button):  “asei imanu… tzedaka vachessed v’hoshiainu…”

Nice.  It was a very nice moment. 

Which is why I love doing music with her, or all sorts.  And kind of why I wish we could find more English/Hebrew songs she can understand and relate to… with tunes I can actually figure out.

Hanging No More

 garden fall 005Here are what’s left of my six hanging side-door “bulletproof” planters, planted in June with Creeping Jenny and Phalaris Ribbon Grass.

As I suspected back then, the plants in these six (only 3 seen here) Ikea hanging planters admirably survived the extremes of drought and drowning that I could have predicted based on the planters’ small size and poor drainage.

In my opinion, they looked pretty good, including serving nicely as living sukkah decorations.

So my two choices, now that the end of the season has arrived, were a) leave them to die, or b) get them in the ground and see if they can survive the winter.  I was actually leaning towards letting it all die, and the Creeping Jenny was already looking kind of brown and dried out

But – perhaps spurred by a week of almost-100% lung function! - I had a surprise burst of gardening energy and figured I’d try to save what I could.  Here are three of them, stuck at the edge of the back bed. 

garden fall 008

If they do root (it’s supposed to be plus temperatures and rainy this week, so maybe!), I may end up regretting plunking the ribbon grass in there.  It’s highly invasive and not all that attractive.  For now, I think it actually looks kind of good.  And I do want more Creeping Jenny; though, as I said, it is already looking like it may be beyond rooting.

Sadly “No-Ice-Cream-Today” Note

Seen today in the window of the former Ben & Jerry’s location on Queen Street West:

garden fall 015 

Here’s a close-up, modified a bit so you can read the plaintive scrawl that’s been added to the note:

garden fall 018

(“But you didn’t open last year”)

This is the same store that was the scene of our Ben & Jerry’s Earth Day Free Cone Debacle in April of 2008.  It has been closed since then, a year and a half.  I’m surprised nothing else has moved in in its place yet, but there are a lot of closed and empty shops along that stretch of Queen, just west of university. 

What with lululemon and other trendoid shops moving in, the small retailers that made the neighbourhood interesting can’t afford the rent.  What a terrible cliché, but how true.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Superstition...

When I was first pregnant with GZ, I sort of kind of avoided being around my sister because she mentioned at one point that she had her period.  She'd been over at our house a bit more than usual because I think she wasn't working at the time, and at one point, maybe totally coincidentally, we both had it on the same day.  So I thought, totally irrationally, maybe our cycles had aligned and then... well... maybe here I was pregnant but the invisible "pull" of her period might cause me to lose the baby.
 
There, I said it.
Completely unscientific.
 
I mean, I had absolutely no evidence that our cycles had synchronized, let alone that she could possibly exert an invisible "pull" so powerful that it could cause a miscarriage without any physical contact.  There is no such thing.  I know that.  Please do not call the folks in the white coats on me.
 
Nevertheless, knowing all that, knowing that a baby that is going to miscarry is going to miscarry - and that a baby who is going to stick is going to stick - I was still nervous.
Not to the point of social awkwardness.  We were together, we hugged, whatever.  I absolutely didn't let it affect anything externally, I think.  That's why I said "sort of kind of" before.  If she cancelled a time when we were supposed to see her, I would maybe be a little relieved.  But I wouldn't cancel it myself.  For example.  Just defining the parameters of this meshigas for you so you can see how well-thought-out it was so I wouldn't hurt her feelings.
 
But it was a few months before I felt totally comfortable around her.  No knowledge of what her body was doing at the time, mind you, beyond that one mention, early on, of a period; I just felt, deep down in the irrational tiger-mama part of my brain, that at some point, she had menstruated and was therefore, on some weird level, a danger to my fragile developing baby.
 
And why am I remembering all of this now?
Hmm... definitely not because my body could possibly pose a danger at the moment to anyone else's fragile, developing embryo.  At least, there's not with any scientific evidence it could.  :-)))
Still.  In the land of weird phobias, this one kind of makes sense...

Shabbos Bookshelf

This week on the Shabbos bookshelf!
 
by Austin Clarke
Clarke writes in a lively, affectionate and lyrically distinct voice about growing up with the "slave-food" and "hot-cuisine" of his upbringing in Barbados.
 
and then there's Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood: A Novel... every new book of hers reads more and more like teeny-bopper sci-fi.  I love it! 
 

Angel hair

It’s not just pasta anymore…

ryes 009 ryes 010

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Oh, NO...

Naomi Rivka:  "Shabbos party is my favourite circle time."
Me:  "Which Shabbos party?"
Naomi Rivka:  "Friday mornings at our house."
 
Oy, so sad... I really MUST do something for her here, soon...

Teaching Shabbos

A friend was telling me about one they've been going to a Shabbat program each week.  I won't say anything about it other than that she admitted that the "Shabbat component" has been somewhat disappointing.
 
How sad.
And yet, that's been my experience with several of them, too.
Great facility, good program, nice teachers.  And the Shabbat/Shabbos part is just plain bad... or weird.
 
I have mentioned before my strange and perhaps irrational conviction that Circle Time is not just Circle Time.  Each Circle Time must have a function, serve a purpose, be something a bit MORE than just sitting around singing. 
 
We spend so much of our time alone here just sitting around here singing.  We don't need to go out to have an excuse to sing (maybe some families do?).  We don't need to be sitting in a circle or even wearing our clothes.  Anytime is singing time around here.  So if we are going to the trouble of putting on clothes and going out, it had better add something significant.
 
In the case of a Shabbat Circle, what it adds, hopefully, is anticipation of Shabbos (ha!), plus, perhaps, a rich repertoire of Shabbos experiences:  sounds, sights, tastes.
This is no small thing.  This is Shabbos; one of the three cornerstones that have sustained the Jewish people through everyday life just about forever. 
 
I have heard the seder referred to as the ultimate teaching tool for Jewish history, thought, belief... but for toddlers, once a year isn't enough.  And so, it's Shabbos.  That's where they learn, primarily, that they are Jewish, and what we do as Jews.
 
Of course, you can have Shabbos without a decent Shabbat Party beforehand!  Ideally, Shabbos at home/shul is where your child will learn most of what he/she knows about Shabbos.
But kids have short memories.
Kids are dumb.
Kids are selfish.
Kids have temper tantrums.
Kids look the other way at exactly the wrong moment and miss the Sefer Torah going into the aron.
Kids have naps.
In the real world, your child will probably spend most of the actual Shabbos experience sleeping, whining, crying, pooping, fussing, teething, fretting or just whirling his or her head about randomly.
So their real Shabbos experience is all too brief.
 
A good Shabbat Circle, whether it's on Thursday or Friday (Wednesday is probably too soon!) tells the child:  Pay attention!  Shabbos is coming!  We're getting ready!  (ie, it doesn't just happen on its own)  Even the grown-ups are excited!  And here's what you have to look forward to!
 
I heard recently (when?  I haven't been to any classes lately!) from a rabbi that little kids get very excited about Shabbos.  And adults, if not excited, look forward to calm, quiet, special moments at the end of the week.  So who doesn't look forward to Shabbos?
 
Teenagers.
Teenagers have a hard time with Shabbos (even if they have friends within walking distance, which my kids don't, really).
Think about it!  You're:
~ Stuck with your family (ew!).
~ Sitting through long, boring meals.
~ Forced to talk at the table.
~ Away from the iPod and videogames that (for some) are your sole reason for living.
 
I'm sure that it's not universal; I'm sure there are teenagers, maybe less worldly ones than mine, who look forward very deeply to Shabbos.
But for me, this acknowledgement was a relief; it's okay for them to be grumpy and not quite as eager in their anticipation of Shabbos as they were when they were little.
And - more heartening - they will come back to Shabbos when they get older; they will appreciate it again as adults.
 
That appreciation probably comes easily, even while they're still teenagers, if they've had as many positive Shabbos experiences as possible while they're little.  Now, that's totally unproven... it could be complete B.S..  I only have four kids, none is fully grown yet, and each one has been raised slightly differently.
 
But here's what it comes down to for me, as a baalas teshuvah:  I have put so SO much of myself, my life, my energy, into Yiddishkeit.  Into trying hard to be frum (and never quite getting there, but I can dream!), and trying hard to raise my kids with a love of Hashem, love of Torah.  I became a baalas teshuvah not for myself - I'll never be there all the way - but more for my children:  I want them to have the best life possible, and I believe Yiddishkeit is the only thing that will get them there.
 
If Yiddishkeit is my heart and soul, then Shabbos is the heart and soul of Yiddishkeit.
Why wait a whole week between Shabboses, when you can celebrate it twice?  Once at Circle Time and once, again, at home.
Repetition creates memories and reinforces concepts.
 
And when you're building the Shabboses your child will celebrate for a lifetime, why settle for an experience that is anything less than extraordinary?
 
Coming back down to earth for a minute, I honestly have no idea, even in this town with many resources, where to find adequate, let alone extraordinary.
I would love to be able to find or create that for my kids - and others - somehow.
Any suggestions?

So we went

So we went, we got rained on, Naomi kvetched the whole way (it was rather far, with no way for her to sit or stand on any part of the carriage), and then we got to Mrs. ViKi for lunch rather late... like at 1:30.  She was out of the room, and I waited and waited for her to come back to get snack ready and do circle time.  Finally, around 2 (when she usually closes up), the other parent and three nannies started putting on their kids' coats.  Apparently, she'd gone to a meeting leaving instructions for the last person to lock up.
 
(I hadn't asked where ViKi was sooner because the only other parent who was there was actually one of those parents whose child, I mostly feel, actually would be better off away from her.  Not abusive, by any means; she just seems to have ZERO connection with her child.  I have been watching them for a couple of years now and their interactions seem mostly to consist of the mother barking the child's name from the sofa when the child misbehaves.  Yet she is very engaged and helpful in other ways.  Happy to chat with other parents, clean up, serve food, etc.  Just doesn't seem to feel it necessary to do anything with her child.)
 
So anyway.
 
WELL.  I wasn't about to leave without circle time.  So I did circle time - fun! 
And then we came home.
Naomi was impressed:  "why did we get to be the teacher?"  "Who was the teacher?"  "You got to be the teacher today!"
She must have such a warped idea of what school is all about.  Drop in anytime, there may or may not be a teacher, eat a bit or play a bit, whatever you feel like.  Then, somebody leads singing, you eat a snack, and go home.  No wonder she wants to go...!
 
Worse, GZ fell asleep in the carriage 5 minutes out, so now he is screaming and yelling (playfully) in his bed, not a bit tired.
I think, at least, Naomi Rivka is tuckered out from all that walking.  Hopefully, she'll sleep well, because today is SWIMMING LESSONS in the COLD AND RAIN!!!
 
Why did not a single one of the four other adults in the room think of doing anything with their children other than packing up to go home?  Bunch of songs, read a book... it's easy!
You can't just leave without a transition; to me, it would have just felt unnatural.  Sure, it's a drop-in, but even the youngest babies know there's a routine.
I am very big on transitions, partly from YM, whose transitions have always needed to be spelled out as explicitly as possible.  But I believe all children benefit from knowing that there's someone in charge, that there's a plan, that life isn't just a series of random events that happen to us for no reason?
 
I feel better having gotten out.  Lazy Wednesday it may still be, but at least I have my clothes on now!