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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Crazy, but good.

Eli just called to talk to Yerachmiel Meir. Like some other people in the family, YM is very good at hanging on the phone while Eli talks. I am NOT. Very not.

Usually I am so in the middle of things, and usually Eli doesn't even bother asking how things are here, even if there is someone audibly screaming in the background. Plus, I have no patience for his meandering trains of thought.

YM doesn’t mind. He’ll listen for a while, and then even has a trick for ending the conversation; I probably wouldn't mind much if the conversations (if they can be called that) weren't SO interminable.

Anyway, I told Eli that YM wasn't here, so naturally, Eli started giving me the "message" to pass along (though he said he told YM the same thing when he was 9) which was something urgent about "two ideas being close together."

He then stopped to mention that he was planning to come to shul on Shabbos (we’re sponsoring kiddush for my father’s yahrzeit), and bringing his Catholic girlfriend, Penny, into the men’s section. “Nobody would notice, would they?!?”

And then the message for YM continued... and continued... so I started typing along to pass the time.

"To we who don't want to be yahoos you know a treasure is a bunch of malarkey and a landscape is a place you would want to live if you could be a hermit.

Anyways, he was getting everything ackwards like that. The non-Jews are very mixed up people. I can see why your husband would want to convert. It wasn't all your charms! It was a real attraction for the truth value of the Jewish religion

I'm embarraassed. I don't like the nomenclature Hashem. I don't think Hashem is the same as Adonoi.

I think the reason - the joke, "that's my name don't wear it out" applies mainly to the consideration of not using God's name in vain and I think a lot of the new prayers - I miss the old books when you decided to ... I don't like the new editions.

I think they've neglected some of what is canon, and I think they have adopted some things that are complete bullcrap.

(me: “Well, the Hebrew hasn't changed. Maybe you're just talking about modern translations.”)

Ahh... (very deep weight-of-the-world sigh) I'm not worried about being unilingual.

It's an old language; I don't think it's the oldest language. Is it the language of the ancient kingdoms? It still is.

It's been a good adoption into the modern usage.

What's his name?

(me: “Ben Yehuda.” Yes, I knew instantly who he was talking about.)

Genius.

Anyway.

Have a good new years'.

To me, this is not the beginning of 2010

This is the end of 2009

I see things declining so damn rapidly, I'm very, very disturbed.

Not chemically disturbed, but bothered.

Not hot and bothered...but disturbed.

Anyway - bye!

So tell Yerachmiel the two ideas can be close together, don't mention near-truths; that would just irk him.

It is a fact of the known universe that two ideas may be close together. I wasn't going to tell him about the tail wagging the dog and the non-Jews, but really they've got their comparisons and prioritis, their metaphors. A lot of the things the non-Jews say are bass-ackwards from reason.

Anyways - bye!"

(click)

This counts as a good conversation with Eli. He hung up after only a few false starts; he didn’t get angry, even laughed a few times. Sure, it kind of skirted what most of us think of as conventional reason. But at least he knows he can call and sometimes, when things aren’t too crazy here, I will listen.

A strong Finnish

temp_moltentinMy aunt is Finnish (well, Finnish-Canadian), and they used to have a New Year’s party at their house every year.

Most of the time, kids were invited (they had kids, not much younger than us), but one year,  my parents were invited to go alone, or they left us home for their own convenience; anyway, we got left out.

(As I type this, I am thinking maybe we did go, but fell asleep, or something… in any event, something led to our missing at least part of the revelry; it’s not important to the story.)

Anyway, that time – only that one time that we missed the revelry at least in part, my Finnish aunt decided to revive the centuries-old Finnish New Year’s tradition of foretelling the future year by casting tin (I know this because Google tells me so and even offered me the captivating photo featured above).

Somebody told me it was aluminum, by the way.  Maybe my crazy brother; he’s always been a little bit strange.  So I spent a few minutes Googling “Finnish aluminum-casting customs”, but apparently, there are none that are not carried out in very well-supervised factories.

So my parents went and we didn’t.  And they cast the tin – traditionally, it’s done in a metal ladle over the stove and poured it into cold water, where it sets instantly into a shape which is supposed to represent an omen for the coming year. 

(yes; once again, I am probably halachically obligated to stone anyone who actually believes in this thing)

The one my mother brought home (or brought wherever, to show me when she got home and/or when I regained consciousness) was the most intriguing object.  It was not like the one above at all.  It was a tapered, smooth teardrop-shaped object, almost like a cornucopia, but sleekly rounded instead of open at the wider end.

I had no idea what it meant for my or her future.  But I was amazed that my mother, who had shown no other superpowers to date, could create this whatever… out of a blog of whatever.  I just couldn’t stop touching the thing.

I don’t believe tonight is any kind of significant date on my calendar or my people’s, but I am thinking of that cornucopia tonight.  I’m not looking for omens or anything (put that stone down!) but I will say:  I sure do hope 2010 is long, and smooth, and full of plenty.  Oh, and with a clearly-defined point at the end of it all.

Postponed

Ted has just informed me that we’re postponing my birthday ‘till next Sunday.  Yee-haw.

Homeschool Heck

Every time Naomi Rivka reads through her new ABC book from Aunt Sara "How to Build an A," when she comes to the X and the picture of the Xmas tree, she reads "X is for... decoration."  She always kind of looks at me out of the corner of her eye, like I'm going to stop her.  Or like it doesn't exactly sound like the letter X.

So am I going to homeschool hell if I don't stop her?  If I let her read it that way, over and over and over?  To Gavriel Zev, passing the error on to yet another generation.

I’m being tongue-in-cheek, of course.  Eventually, no matter what you do, they figure the whole thing out.  Two weeks ago, Naomi was pronouncing the holiday, “Krissamiss.”  Then, we went to that accursed multi-culti holiday assembly at the school across the street, and fifteen minutes later, she came home saying it the right way.  A loss of innocence.

This blog is going to be awfully short on multimedia over the next few days, because Sara took YM flying today (yay!) and YM left my camera behind in Sara's bag.  I am just SO grateful that it was in the bag that I am not complaining one bit!

Yahrzeit coming up.  With a Y.  Some people spell it with a J.  It makes me crazy.  Some people spell my Hebrew name with a J, too.  Okay, I know somebody named Jael who spells it with a J, and I  have no idea why, but, I don’t mind that one as much for some reason.  But the other two… well… I speak English.  In English, a J is a J as in Jail and Junk.  And it’s NOT a Jar-tzeit.  And I am not a … well… not a “Joe.”  (okay, I am dating myself here, but I always think of Jo from Facts of Life when I think about girls named Jo-anything)

Anyway, somebody I know not only spells it that way, but KEEPS spelling it that way, and it is driving me up the wall this week.  Not that anybody asked.

Free Handwriting Font Generator

temp_mywriting Well, well, well!  After clicking on about 8,000 links promising a “free font generator” I actually found one online!

Here’s how it works:  visit the site, print a template, write the letters AS NEATLY AS POSSIBLE in predetermined boxes for each character, scan the template, upload it at the site and WAAAh-la!  Your own personal lousy messy disaster of a font.

Or three, as I’ve demonstrated at left.  The first two I did are below, but they are way too chunky and the dots kept getting sliced off.  I think the marker should ideally be between these two sizes.

temp_myfontimageIt does look kind of fun and funky (and intentional) with the letters all bunched up together like at right, but if your goal is neatness, well, I would definitely fail Handwriting 101.

Oh – the site is called www.fontcapture.net.  I did find another site called YourFonts (not putting a link in here – they don’t deserve one), but they offer a “free trial” or “free sample” or something, and then turn around and charge $10, plus $5 if you want an extended character set.  fontcapture.net only offers a single page of characters, but at least it really is free.  (at least for now while it’s still in beta so use it now while you can – apparently YourFonts was free last year, too; these days, it most definitely is not)

I decided to try to create a font so I could create Hebrew-verse copywork using the block print that Naomi Rivka is using this year.  She doesn’t seem ready for script, and I don’t want to change things up right now, because she is having so much fun – and success! – with block print.

Anyway, my efforts at creating a font kind of didn’t go so well, so I resorted to simply writing the words and scanning them to put together this preliminary effort.  Very basic, but still… I’m pretty pleased.  Except with the handwriting!  I am such a kindergarten baby in the World of Hebrew!

 temp_mitzvahtrain

Eek.  Midnight; I’m supposed to be getting good sleep these days.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Interesting… interesting… two birds, one stone!

I love Pirkei Avos.  And I am fascinated by Charlotte Mason home education at the moment.

A couple of the more “olde-fashioned” aspects of the Charlotte Mason approach focus on memorization and copywork – improving handwriting and training the mind through rewriting verses.  For Christian homeschoolers, this usually involves Bible verses or classical poetry, and I have been wondering what to substitute in order to take a more Jewish approach.

Okay, I know most of the Christian Bible is Jewish … we introduced it to the world, and all that.  But for some reason, it’s just not a Jewish thing, sitting and memorizing individual verses the way Christians often do in their kids’ Bible studies. 

I think it’s because we are big into context… we’d rather our kids understand the story, learn what major commentators have to say, what it means for us today, etc., instead of just memorizing the words themselves.  Although, of course, most decent Torah study does involve memorization at some point.

Anyway, I was thinking about what I could substitute to find single verses that were not straight out of the Torah, both for memorization and copywork.  Verses that were meaningful when taken both in and out of context.  I was considering Mishlei (proverbs), but that’s a little over my head, not to mention a 5-year-old’s. 

And then I found this booklet of Pirkei Avos worksheets on chinuch.org, and while not entirely perfect, it has inspired me.  Of course!  Although Pirkei Avos is very deep and can be learned on many levels, the simple understandings are very helpful in everday life and they are often things kids can relate to.

I am still searching for a Hebrew “print”  handwriting font that I can use to create more useful copywork sheets.  It’s one thing to see the text in preprinted form, but I really want them to provide examples of actual handwriting.  If my own handwriting was better, I would maybe scan that and even turn it into a font… hmm… anyone reading this have wonderful Hebrew handwriting???

Gavriel Zev and the Mermaids

Gavriel Zev, looking at the poster I put up for the play Naomi went to with my mother today:  “Mermaids?”

Me:  “It’s Cinderella; she’s not a mermaid.  Mermaids live in the water.”

He follows me into the kitchen.

“I like… I like… I li… I like… I like… MERMAIDS!  I like mermaids?  I like mermaids!”

“Yes, you do.  You can talk to Naomi about Mermaids!”

Runs into the bedroom and announces:  “I like mermaids!”

Naomi:  “I like them, too!”

Gavriel Zev:  “I like PRINCESSES!”

They are so happy right now to be reunited after their (brief) morning apart… I will be happy next week when their programs start up again and they have some time away from each other.  Naomi has been (often literally) at his throat the last two weeks.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Celebrating! Almost finished the alef-bais!

So we’re having a siyum… a party for completing the alef-bais.  I looked ahead on the calendar, and this is the Sunday after our “tav” week, five weeks from now (we started the letter pay this morning – our song is “pischu, pischu li”).

AlefBais SiyumInvite

Naomi has invited all her favourite small people in the world and we are planning a special treat with each child’s initials.  We will sing a selection of her favourite weekly alef-bais songs, and serve snacks.  All I have to do is figure out a relevant craft.  Oh, and where we’re going to put everybody. 

Maybe I’ll do it at my mother’s house…

Super-nifty Hebrew “Transliterator”

Just discocvered this page:  http://www.jewfaq.org/translit.htm

The page lets you type in English and it transcribes your text into Hebrew characters.  This will come in very handy for entering Hebrew-language searches into Google and Hebrew websites.  \

Lacking Hebrew keyboard capability, I have been using the “keyboard” feature at Morfix, my favourite online Hebrew dictionary.  But there, you have to click each character with the mouse.  Keyboard will probably be easier.  Yay!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hey, what a great idea for a yeshiva!

Just found out there’s a yeshiva in LA that’s doing what YM has been doing for the last two years:  homeschooling in the afternoon, but starting each day with a full limudei kodesh (Jewish studies, including gemara) curriculum in a real yeshiva setting.

More details (full press release) here.

I’m so relieved to see that I’m not crazy:  the stated goals of this yeshiva are to make Jewish education affordable, while tailoring the general-studies curriculum to fit each boy individually.

Why doesn’t every city have something like this?!?!???

You can also read more Jewish homeschool related posts on the Orthonomics blog.

Daven for…

Our rabbi’s son is seriously ill.  This was someone else’s facebook status and I copied and pasted it because it’s far more eloquent than I could be.

Please pray for Menachem Mendel Ben Faiga Rochel. If you are not comfortable with traditional prayer, remember that working on your character and becoming a better person is also a form of prayer. Please keep him in mind as you do acts of kindness.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Six Word Saturday: December 26, 2009

 

Maybe I’ll turn forty someday soon.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Farewell, Wall of Woollies

wall 001As part of my crazed “Take Back My Bedroom” initiative of getting everybody’s stuff out of what is ostensibly my bedroom (okay, Ted’s stuff can stay), I have finally admitted that the littles are not really wearing their wool diaper covers as much as they used to.

Resolved:  I will take the LONG woollies that are in good condition and hang them up in their bedroom so we can use them as pyjama pants at bedtime.

And as for the rest, the short woollies, the weird homemade woollies, the miscellaneous diaper covers, along with this crazy mismatched stack of fitteds…?

wall 002Gone, gone, gone!  Ugh; I just feel like it’ll take so much energy to find good homes for all these woollies.  And they’re not all in great shape.  Still, I hope somebody will love them.

I will hang hats and other useful things of mine in the woollies’ place.  Maybe, if I’m feeling generous, I’ll let Ted use one for ties.

Cranky Complaints-Lady gets “Seasonal” with City Councillor!

I couldn't help it.  How dumb is it sending out a "Happy Holidays" message the week after Chanukah?
 
----- Original Message -----
To:  Councillor Joe Mihevc
Sent: Tuesday, December 22, 2009 12:04 AM
Subject: Re: Happy Holidays!

Mr. Mihevc:
 
First, let me wish you a merry Christmas if that's what you and your family celebrate.  I think you do great stuff and are probably one of the hardest-working city councillors we have here in Toronto.
 
BUT... if you're going to succumb to the political-correctness thing and NOT mention Christmas, you should probably send out your "Happy Holidays" email either before or during Chanukah so it looks like you're being sensitive to your non-Christian constituents.
 
I'm Jewish, as many of us are here.  Our holidays are now officially over until Passover, and I doubt that's one of ones you're referring to (being more than 3 months off!).  Peace on Earth, however, is something I think all of us can get behind.
 
You have a beautiful family.  Enjoy this well-deserved break to spend some time with them!
 
Yours truly,
 
{moi}
(a Joe Mihevc Fan in St Paul's)
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, December 21, 2009 9:03 PM
Subject: Happy Holidays!

temp_mihevc

Jewish Homeschooling Going Mainstream

Or at least, being acknowledged in the mainstream Jewish media! 

I just found out yesterday that a riff on this largely-incoherent rant about why we homeschool is going to be featured in February’s Education Supplement to the CJN.

I submitted it as a personal essay back in October, and have been bugging the editor every couple of weeks since then.  I never did hear back from him, but another editor emailed me yesterday asking for clarification on a few points and perhaps less about the downsides of day schools and more emphasis on the positives of homeschool.

Gladly!  Hurrah!

But that is NOT the work I am supposed to be doing today.  Today I have to interview our shul’s rabbi about the life of Rabbi Noach Weinberg, founder of Aish HaTorah, for a piece I’m writing for an upcoming coffee-table book the shul is putting out.

Sigh... dangers of hand-me-down computers

Sleeptime soon, after an exhausting evening of laundry, followed by searching the Big Boy's laptop for incriminating stuff. 
 
Of which we found very little; a scandalous harry potter fanfic was the highlight until... .  well, let's just say that the well-meaning relatives who passed the computer along to him are nowhere near as smart as my 15-year-old son, or, at least, his nearly-40-year-old supermama.  Not every "deleted" file from its former owners was 100% gone.  They are now; phew!  I think I rooted them out before he discovered them, but let's just say I know one particular relative just a bit better now than I ever have before...
 
(((shudder)))

Monday, December 21, 2009

Pizza Night!

stew 001Tonight is Lazy Take-Out Pizza Night … but LAST night (Sunday) – wow.  Indian lamb stew (saag gosht?).  Chunks of lamb, spinach, tomato… with basmati rice, storebought samosas and homemade naan bread!  I made the naan out of some leftover no-knead dough I happened to have in the fridge.  Yum!

(okay, I forgot to serve the samosas; we didn’t need them, there was SO much food)

The only thing is, the lamb was not great… it wasn’t nice pieces and really ought to have been cooked for an extremely long time, like in the crock pot.  If I had it to do over, I’d buy nice pieces of meat and cook them low and slow, like for a couple of hours.

But the lamb did give an incredibly deep, rich flavour to the stew… honestly, you didn’t need actual pieces of meat to roll up in the fresh naan and enjoy.

See? See? BT Parents’ Guide to Acronyms…

See what us BT parents have to put up with…?  Further to my “Crazy BT’s Guide to Life” rant a couple of weeks ago, this is a typical letter home from boy-boy’s yeshiva… ostensibly written in English.

In this letter, I was actually able to figure everything out except the acronym following the standard BS”D  in the first sentence.  I mean, I’m sure it’s something wonderful and praiseful and virtuous, but what the heck does it stand for???

And will somebody please print that Crazy BT’s Guide to Acronyms, someday soon, bimheira v’yameinu.  IY”H.  BS”D.  And all that.

stew 003

Two old friends, two weddings...

Two old friends are in town this week, for totally different purposes, and from totally different eras of my life.
 
One got married in a religious ceremony in Israel, maybe about six years ago (more like eight???).
 
The other got married in Montreal, probably about twenty-two years ago, in a Wiccan handfasting ceremony.
I was never that close with her, but admired her strength of character and the self-assured way she approached everything in life.  Not a tall woman, she always seemed larger-than-life, far older than the one or two years ahead of me she'd been in school.  Okay, yes, it was a crush... a huge one.  I wanted to be like her in every way, but the truth always was, I was like her in no way except we were both loud-mouthed Jewish women.
 
Except I wasn't loud-mouthed in those days, and really am not still, at least, not until you get to know me, or read my blog.
Also, she had a major hip deformity.  I definitely thought that made it bashert that se should be friends because (I know this is reaching here) I was born with a... minor hip deformity.  Still have it.  My left hip clicks a little when I do a developpé in ballet (so I don't take ballet - problem solved).  Also, I walk crooked and my shoes wear out unevenly.
 
Anyway, whether this short pushy Jewish pagan woman and I were meant to be friends or not, I definitely wanted to see what was involved in a Wiccan handfasting ceremony, but the problem was, I was living with her ex-boyfriend at the time.  She was so mad at me when we started going out, and wouldn't talk to me and tried to turn it into a whole big high-school whatever, and finally I wrote her a note.  I think it said, and I quote, and cover your ears, folks, because this was a LONG time ago, "I really admired you, so get off yourself and f*** you."  Which somehow broke the ice and she was all nice again and we used to stay at her place whenever we went to Montreal after that.
 
So when I found out about the wedding, I went by myself and didn't tell her I was coming.  Just hopped on a bus and then wandered the streets of Montreal because - doh! - Montreal is a big city and, well, because I didn't RSVP, or even communicate with the happy couple in any way that I wanted to come to their wedding, I didn't get to go.  I found an occult shop and bought a deck of tarot cards.  I bought some bagels.  I think I stayed at the Y that time, but I don't know.  I didn't stay at their house or contact them in any way afterwards.  Just went home.
 
I missed the wedding.  But we were never close, and whatever.  I think I was hoping for a psychic invitation or something passive-aggressive like that.  Or that I'd just arrive in town and know where the wedding was.  (look for the big sign reading Wiccan Handfasting Hall!)
 
I didn't know.  I  never went.  We drifted apart and she ended up in the US and I haven't seen her in over twenty years, though, interestingly, her brother (my brother's age) became frum and got married; we used to see him at a shul we went to for a while.
 
The other friend... is different.
 
She was an FFB tomboy of 12 when I met her, just recently bas-mitzvahed and into baseball and sports of all kinds.  That was a few months before YM was born, so almost 16 years ago; she's my sister Abigail's age.  Her best friend was a non-Jewish girl across the street, and they did almost everything together - except go to school, obviously.  Despite her beauty and awkward grace (what 12- or 13-year-old is perfectly graceful?) I wondered how she'd ever find her way in the frum world.
 
For a few years, I watched her grow up, and then somehow, we became friends, and for a while when I was single, I was more dependent on her than almost anyone else.  She used to pick YM up from kindergarten and drive him to daycare - on her lunch break from high school.  She babysat the kids all summer one year, every day, in her home:  amazing.  And she grew up beautiful and capable and left me in awe of the whole frum-girl thing and scared of how I'd do as a parent without her.
 
But she did go away, she left for seminary in Israel when Elisheva was about three, and stayed a year and then another year, and then she was engaged.  I knew she'd probably want to get married in Israel, and hadn't even thought of going for her older sister's wedding.  But her wedding, I promised myself, I would go for.
 
Except I didn't.  I didn't even try.
Maybe I didn't know what I know now, which is that distance is not an obstacle.  Money is NOT an obstacle.
I chickened out; it was too far, too much money.
 
And I'd left... if not left yiddishkeit, left frumkeit, partly, for a while.  And she'd cried, and I guess maybe we decided we didn't know each other anymore.  Me because this person I'd thought of as a friend was crying because my socks were too short, and her because this person she'd looked up (me) to had let her down.
 
How was I supposed to know she looked up to me?  What the heck kind of role model, spiritually or otherwise, is an unsteady single struggling working BT mom?
 
So maybe on some level, I didn't want to go.  Because I couldn't be honest about the person I was, and she didn't really want to see the person I was, or help me figure out what kind of person I ought to become.  Except she knew I ought to go up.  "If you're not going up, you're slipping down."
 
I have seen a couple of times now that if you really NEED to be somewhere, money isn't going to stop you.  Distance isn't going to stop you.  We got to Calgary for Jeremy's funeral.  We got to Israel because my father needed me to go.  I got to Toronto for his funeral, a couple of days later. 
Money and distance shouldn't have stopped me from getting to her wedding.
 
She's never asked why I didn't come, but if it was now - I would go.
Not to Montreal, but to Israel... to stand up in any way I could for this person who'd meant so much to me. 
 
And now, she's grown into a wonderful, beautiful Jewish woman, a mother of four, who may not be as brazen on the outside as the one I admired in high school, but who is undoubtedly far, far stronger and more certain of who she is on the inside.
 
I sure hope I get to spend time with her while she's in town.
As for the other old friend... well, I made her an offer of coffee on facebook.  But nobody from facebook ever follows through, so I'm not expecting much.

I wonder…

My mother is taking Naomi Rivka to see a kids' musical production of Cinderella on December 31st.  She bought the tickets in mid-November, and I thought she could maybe save it for a Chanukah surprise, but no, she told Naomi right away, and I found a flyer about the play and gave it to her (no pictures, but she loves flyers).

And now it’s been a few weeks and nobody has said anything.  Because it’s not NEW anymore, and it’s not TIME yet, so it’s just not on anybody’s mind.  It’s on the calendar, just nobody has mentioned it recently.

So I wonder what Naomi thinks.

I wonder if she has forgotten; I doubt it.

I wonder if she thinks we have forgotten; quite possible.

I wonder if she thinks we were lying, or made a mistake, and there really is no play.

Or maybe she thinks she misunderstood what we were telling her in the first place.  Because kids must misunderstand so, SO much in the first five years of life. 

These are huge  misunderstandings, too, like maybe you think someone has told you the stove is made of chocolate… and you reach out to taste some the next thing you know your hand is getting scalded and you’re being spanked and yelled at.  I mean, of course the stove isn’t made of chocolate, but they said it was.  Or at least… you thought so.  Ouch.

It’s like that “blah blah blah” parent / teacher voice from Charlie Brown cartoons.  That’s what all grownups must sound like, only with more and more actual words getting through and getting understood every couple of weeks.

So maybe she thought she’s misunderstood and we were telling her about a play she wasn’t going to go see, a production one of us saw as a child, maybe, or maybe something she will do when she gets older.

I want to wake her up and explain.

I want to tell her she really did understand right, and it’s just another two weeks to wait until her play.  It probably won’t even be that great a play, for all the weeks of lead-up, like the time my father took the big kids to see this huge production of the Magic Flute and he had to book the tickets something like a year in advance.  And made them all excited, and, well, they enjoyed themselves, but not a YEAR’s worth of enjoyment.

I want to hug her and tell her she will understand more and more as she gets older.

But we just got her back to sleep after a crisis with an unstuffed pocket diaper someone snuck onto her after naptime (who puts a diaper, especially an unstuffed pocket diaper, on an almost-5-year-old the minute she wakes up DRY from a nap, and then lets her run around in it all evening?!?!?).

(Ted, who didn’t do it, says, “She wanted to wear it.”  Okay, then!)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Shabbos Party

Me to Elisheva:  "What can we call a Shabbos Party at our shul if they're not going to let us call it Shabbos Party and they'll make us change it to Shabbat Party?"
 
Elisheva:  "I don't know, how about..."
Naomi:  "How about 'Previews from a Holiday Fun'?"
 
Catchy!

Oh, wow…

arlene 022sAs part of my Charlotte Mason “get outdoors” kick, I decided to get the kids outside as much as possible today.  It helped that it was a beautiful day – amazing, high of only –2, but SO sunny and gorgeous, which I discovered because we walked to Naomi’s friend’s house to deliver a letter she painstakingly wrote this morning.

I actually had an indoor activity planned for the afternoon, a seasonal party at the Rumball Early Years Centre, but decided today was too beautiful to waste.

So we walked to Cedarvale, poked at the snow, Naomi boot-skated around on the puddles, we poked holes in ice, watched dogs and chatted along the way.  She got stuck up a slippery hill and I had to come rescue her. 

And somewhere, along the way, she said, “can we have this day again tomorrow?” 

I knew exactly what she meant.

After we visited the Children’s Garden the kids spent some time climbing up and walking on the log they normally only balance on in the summertime (she showed me the spot where she says Moishy “burnt it,” but it doesn’t look burnt, only vaguely paint-smeared), she said, “I’m going to tell Abba at supper time that I had the best day today – of my entire life.”

On the way home, she happily gathered twigs that she was planning to sell for $3.  “I’m going to put them at the curb with a sign that says ‘sticks for your fire,’ and I’ll put a cup out with some money in it so people can take the stic  ks, and take the money.”

Some incredulity on the part of a friend’s father we bumped into on the way home led her to consider perhaps selling them all (her entire armload) for $3, and by the time we got home she was down to 3 cents.  The sticks are outside, and the sign is inside… but right now, I’m making her have quiet reading time on my bed so I can get some supper made.

If this is school the Charlotte Mason Year 0 way… well… good.  Very good.

is elisheva there?

Frantic sad, sad emails from boy-boy, trapped in the Apple store at Yorkdale:

----- Original Message -----

From boy boy

To me

Sent: Sunday, December 20, 2009 1:31 PM

Subject: is elisheva there?

I was at the apple store while ech walked around. Then she came and wanted to leave, but I wanted to stay a few more minutes. She walked out of the store, and I'm not sure which way she went. I walked back and forth twice to the subway station, but didn't see her. The problem is, I have no bus tickets. I'm at the apple store right now in case she comes back. Did she already come home?

----- My Message to Him -----

Elisheva just got home.  You will have to beg mercy from a TTC collector, or find cash somehow.

J

----- His Reply -----

hurrah. she knew i didn't have bus tickets, and that I was still in the mall. i'll have to walk i guess.

----- My Last Message -----

Or talk to the collector... either one.  You are young, and strong.

J

It’s like a haiku; “young, and strong.”

Cranky Complaints-Lady Buys a Book in the Airport!

(Okay, this happened a while ago, but I only just got around to writing a complaint letter.  Still, I doubt they’ll ask exactly when I bought the books, and the worst that can happen is that I get nothing… which is what we already have.)

temp_princessbookWe don't usually buy books for our kids, because we read so many (we use libraries instead!), but when travelling recently with children, I bought two of your Mini People Shape Books in an airport bookstore.  We chose the Firefighter and Princess books, which I thought were a good choice because they were not only cute but informative as well.  They cost $6.99 (Canadian) each, plus tax.

However, I was dismayed to find that the books didn't even last the duration of the return flight before the bindings started to fall apart.  Once home, attempts to re-bind them with clear plastic packing tape proved futile, and the books are now basically worthless, missing covers, and loose cardboard pages on the bookshelf.  I will probably just throw them away because they can't be repaired.

I have never seen board books with such a flimsy binding.  I am looking right now at what's left of the spine of the princess book, and it is is little more than an inch wide, yet presumably designed to hold together several thick cardboard pages almost six inches high.

In my opinion, these are the most poorly-made children's books I have owned in fifteen years of parenting.  We still own many of the board books that I purchased for my first child, almost sixteen years ago, and some remain in great shape.  I'm upset that these two books have proven a complete waste of over $14 and, worse, a disappointment to my children.

Your comments on this product would be greatly appreciated.

Yours truly,

{moi, the Cranky Complaints-Lady}

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Six Word Saturday: December 19, 2009

chanukah over 017Sending Chanukah out with a sizzle!

Happy Happy Educational Bday! (to GZ, not me)

temp_HWTWoodsWhile I’ve been waiting for Naomi’s writing practice book (Handwriting Without Tears:  the PreK book is actually called Get Set for School), to arrive, I’ve been trying to figure out how to get my hands on the wooden alphabet-building blocks that you’re supposed to have to go along with the book.

They provide tactile, 3d reinforcement of the book’s letter practice, and besides, look rather cool.  But at $24.99 (US), plus shipping (and wooden blocks are likely to be heavy) dauntingly expensive.

chanukah over 019Then, yesterday, my sister Sara arrived with two (slightly) belated birthday gifts for Gavriel Zev, including this alphabet book, How to Build an A, which includes simple foam blocks that accomplish the same fun –slash - learning goals for less than half the price (I don’t know what she paid, but Amazon is charging $8 and up for a new copy, plus shipping).  Plus, they come with a nifty mesh bag!

 

So what was the second gift?

She gave him a really incredible arty pop-up book called ABC3D… the kind of gorgeous book that I promptly store on the high-up shelf where kids cannot reach it.  Far too good for kids to get their sticky little hands on.  It truly is an amazing work of art… just not for kids!

 

Must run – last fireworks tonight!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

On the Bookshelf

Parenting, Inc. by Pamela Paul

A fascinating read which deconstructs the pricey world of premium parenting, largely from a New York City-based perspective.  She does rather tear into baby signing, BUT also to my great glee debunks the idea that Baby Einstein, et al, have any real educational value.  And I have always said that I didn’t believe signing with my baby would make him/her smarter – I was really just doing it to have something fun we could share.  For the face time, which she says may be the sole source of benefit to baby signing.  Anyway, a very amusing look at the lengths people will go to for their kids – and the price they’ll pay to have this year’s “it” stroller.

… and then there’s…

Candy Freak by Steve Almond (yes, that really is his name)

Initially also fascinating look at the “candy underbelly” of America.  Candy-obsessed author tours America finding small factories, mostly family-run, still churning out what could be considered “heirloom” chocolates… which most of us have never heard of.  (and which I don’t remember so I’m not going to name them here!)  Unfortunately, after a few chapters, the factories tend to blur together, and each chapter becomes slightly more tedious than the last until I skimmed through the climax which had something to do with a bunch of chocolate bars getting mauled in his luggage, closed the book, and told Ted he could take it back to the library… because  I was done!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The beginning of the end…

ted's chanukah 2009 099 Further to our ongoing discussions about stopping nummies (aka weaning, and I’d better throw in the word breastfeeding here, or Google is never going to pick this up as a lactation-related post), Naomi mused tonight at bedtime,  “when I am a hundred, I will still be having nummies.”

And I announced, quietly, in a friendly but definitive way:  “Five is old enough.  When you are five, you will be old enough to not have nummies anymore.”

She started to cry a bit, and asked if she could have a little at bedtimes.  I said that maybe at bedtimes she could have an extra story with Abba, or have extra creativity or writing time.  She seemed to like that.  She said, happily, “creativity time?!?”

Anyway, she went on to spend a few minutes contentedly squeezing Gavriel Zev’s nummy for him, at his request.  I didn’t say anything to her, because in two months now, this will all be moot, but it is extremely weird being milked by one’s almost-five-year-0ld daughter. 

He doesn’t have the hand strength to do it himself…I am thinking that may be one of the criteria for late weaning:  child is strong enough to express milk by hand.  She actually sprayed his hair.

OK, don’t read on if you’re not currently a nursing mama… still here?  Well, okay, here goes:  And it felt darn good, too.

Believe it or not, I am slightly and uncomfortably engorged most of the time.  I think it’s a combination of factors:  the number of kids varying each time I give nummies (at sleep times, it’s both kids; at wake up times, it’s just him), and also their varying moods and appetites.  If they’re both giggly, they may get very little actual nummying done… leaving me always slightly, um, pained.

Anyway… just a little over two months and it’s just him. 

It’s time.  My mother might have said it was time three years ago, but I’m on Naomi’s clock, and for her, five years is enough.

Here’s my Lilypie tandem-breastfeeding ticker, just to brag about it… maybe one last time.

It currently reads “Sharing quality num-nums for 4 years, 9 months, 3 weeks & 4 days.”  Wow.  What a big chunk of our lives together.

My New Logo – by Elisheva!

I can tell I’m not going to get a lot of blogging done this week with all the kids coming and going and tons of people grabbing at the computer.  Makes me really seriously crave the $400 notebook computer I saw in Staples today.  But not enough to add it to my wish list, even though YM says the Atom is not as wimpy as it sounds.

Anyway, as if to compensate me for my full-time attention, Elisheva was  good enough to redesign my computer sign-on screen logo this evening.  Here’s the old logo:

Mommy's Logo

This is what everybody sees, in miniature, at the Windows logon screen.

And here’s the new logo – super-spiffy!

new monkey logo

Don’t ask me why my logo always includes a Golden Lion Tamarind. 

Oh, wait – it’s coming back to me.  I have a vague memory of her asking if I could be one animal, what would it be.  These are definitely charismatic-looking creatures, with nice hair, but they probably have really awful personal habits, such as excrement-throwing, when you meet them in real life.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Two Naomiisms

Listening to the Putomayo international Sesame Street CD:  "Is this in Hebrew?"
Me:  "No, we call this English.  This is the language many of us speak, here in Canada, and the United States."  (ok, slight sarcasm, totally lost on her)
Naomi:  "Oh.  I pretty much speak Hebrew."
 
And then there was first thing this morning.  She came into my bed to snuggle with me and GZ. 
I asked, "Did you have good dreams?"
"Yes, my favourites:  Dora, princesses, and hair accessories."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Weather thought...

Just had the thought, "if I lived in Israel, I would take the kids outside more!"
 
And then instantly realized, "no, I wouldn't; it would just be a different season that I couldn't stand to go outside in."
 
Ugh... summer in the Middle East.

All I want for… whatever!

Okay, I know I’m hard to buy for.

To make it easier, I will keep here, on my blog, a list of Things I Might Not Complain About, if Given, for Any Occasion. However, some of these are just wish-list items that I’m sticking here just to keep track of them. Big-ticket stuff that I am absolutely NOT asking anybody to buy for me. I just figure if I can visualize it, it has a chance of actually happening… someday.

  • New BBQ (maybe like my current Weber, only in decent shape)
  • temp_scaleDigital scale – must have a nice large area for holding my own bowl; not a skimpy bowl of its own. Here’s a decent-looking one:

Update Jan 3: Yay, and thank you SARA for the SCALE!!!

  • Cooking thermometer(s) – doesn’t have to be expensive!
  • Track lights. Easy, plug-in track lighting that will mount on the ceiling above the table so I can actually see what I’m baking or cooking late at night!
  • Service for 12 – dairy dishes and cutlery. This one has been promised, at least in part, by my mother, who now keeps asking when we’re going to choose stuff. I keep telling her it’s not my birthday yet. Right now, we have literally TWO dairy soup spoons – and one of them frequently goes missing. Given that we have dairy lunches on Shabbos quite frequently, that means we’ve been going through a ton of paper and plastic over the last few years.
  • temp_benchpicBench – okay, maybe not a great gift item, but while I’m wishing… I’d love a bench for the table. With or without storage underneath. Nothing too fancy or formal, though some kind of padding would be nice for those who have to sit on it. I suppose they sell that as an “optional extra.” If it didn’t have storage underneath, wheeled baskets/storage boxes underneath are a must because otherwise, we have nowhere to stash breakfast cereal.
  • Laptop. Ha ha ha. A girl can dream, as long as she laughs about it, right?
  • Headphones! Good-quality, distinctive-looking ones that wouldn’t ever get swiped (preferably with an option to lock them to the computer desk!). I was raised believing that they would permanently destroy your hearing, but I now realize this must have at least in part reflected my mother’s fear of deafness from growing up with her (especially towards the end) very hard-of-hearing father. I also realize that they come in very handy for listening to whatever when kids are sleeping just a few inches away, on the other side of a very thin wall. Ear buds are probably best (do they still call them that?) because then I can wear just one and they don’t clunk my earrings. (just realized also, you can answer the phone with one in, while headphones are a pain to pull off when it rings)

Update Jan 3: Yay! And thank you TED for the HEADPHONES!! They are not earbuds, but they are amazing. Apparently you can get earbuds at the $-store. Who knew?

Added December 24 in the spirit of holiday greedliness:

  • Baking Pans. I am SO sickened by the quantity of tinfoil bakeware we go through around here. Plus, whenever I go to cook something, I have to test all the washed tinfoil to see if it leaks (usually, yes). This isn’t the “frilliest” gift item, but I need a couple of decent deep rectangular lasagna-type pans. Not too huge, but deep. For chili w/cornbread, lasagna, etc. Enough for a good deep 4x4 lasagna. I can think of a few other shapes and sizes that I need to try to replace at least some of the cheesy tinfoil.
  • Pizza/baking stone. I’d probably keep it pareve, so not really for pizza (another one for pizza would be nice, but there is a limit to how much stuff this house will hold). Just for crusts and whatnot if I’m making a nice bread. Doesn’t have to be expensive!

I solemnly vow to add to this list at will, and cross items out as they magically appear in my home!

It’s FROTH-o-cheapo time!

frap 006While I still prefer my coffee icy and whipped (here’s my standard frapucippo formula, though I was using coffee ice cubes a lot this summer instead), on mornings when I wake up to a 16 degree home, it’s a little more tempting to think about warmies.

With that in mind, along with my semi-recent discovery that evaporated milk will whip easily, I set out to brew the perfect frothocippo, so to speak.

So this is the result!  My version of a latte, and a very convincing one at that.  Whip about half a cup of evaporated milk with a few teaspoons of sugar – sweeten to taste (I didn’t end up using the whole thing).  (note:  you’ll want to use the whipped milk pretty soon; it doesn’t “hold” the same way cream does)

Brew coffee.  Add whipped milk to decadent European bowl-shaped cup; add hot coffee and stir well.  Keep adding coffee and milk until you have the perfect balance, then top with one more blob of whipped milk.

So there you have it:  not only frugal (though these days, I’m brewing Second Cup ground coffee, which isn’t cheap), but also great for those days when the early risers have inconsiderately glugged down all the regular milk in the house.  (which wasn’t, I should add, the case today, but it certainly is sometimes by the time I’m up and serving breakfast)

Also reasonably lower-fat compared to all the whipped cream the equivalent coffee-shop drink would have.  Also, the milk has its own sweetness that means you may need less sugar than usual.  As a final bonus, I find that sweetening & whipping the milk this way eliminates most of the tinned taste I don’t love whenever I’ve poured it straight into a drink.

Great!  Now all I have to do is figure out what’s for lunch, supper, and somehow entertain four children (2 now; 2 more later) while surviving the next 12 hours ‘till Ted gets home!  Good thing I’ve got coffee!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I would say Happy Chanukah…

… but my mouth is full of PARTY SANDWICH!!!

ted's chanukah 2009 157

(Ted’s picture; thank you, Ted!!!)

Enjoy them now!

The people who tell you to enjoy your time with your kids while they’re little… are also the same ones who turn around four years later and look at you like you’re crazy for not dumping them in school the minute they can keep a diaper dry?

If I say “but we’re still having so much fun!” they look at me like I’m overlooking their own development for my own pleasure. 

“But, but, but… didn’t you say to enjoy it?” I imagine saying.

“While they’re little.  A bit.  Only enjoy them a bit.  Not too much; that’s sick.”

Oh-kee, doh-kee!  I will absolutely keep that in mind.

Sorry to rant; we bumped into a relative last week in the grocery store and she acted like I was completely nutso.

I swear, it is the exact same people who get all gushy when they’re teeny babies.  Frankly, I can’t stand teeny babies.  What I like is small people you can hold hands with and point out the most amazing things about the world.

And yes, Elisheva and Yerachmiel still count.  Elisheva held my hand at fireworks tonight.  She kicked and screamed and swore she was NOT coming with us, and then had a lovely time and got to be part of our family, something she excludes herself from too often these days (okay, in part because she savours the rare feeling of having the house all to herself).

And I make a point of holidng YM’s hand whenever I can, rubbing his back, cuddling him, which has never been easy.  He has never been a touchy person, but he responds lovingly when I do it first.

Touching them gets harder as they get older, but it’s an important part of making them feel loved and loveable

Everything they see in the mirror tells them they are angular and gawky; no longer cuddly and cute.  Everything they see in the media tells them they are the most reviled, untrusted, unworthy age group out there.  Everybody jokes about parenting teenagers; nobody can think of a single good thing about it at the time, though I’m sure I will have many deep and wonderful insights after the fact.

Sometimes, I really believe you just have to rub their head and cuddle close even when they are stiff and awkward and their bodies don’t fit neatly against yours anymore.

Everybody needs to be touched sometimes.  Everybody needs their hand held.  When does attachment parenting end?  I believe it never has to.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Money, money, money! (for Chanukah)

Elisheva came to me after Shabbos and announced, "you owe me 30 cents!"

It’s true.  That’s our Chanukah thing.

What we have done going back about maybe eight years now is something I read about online.

The first year we did it, I explained the deal.  The first day of Chanukah (unless it was Shabbos), they could choose:  a $20 bill - or a dime.  However, I explained that the dime would double every single day, so on the second day, they’d get 20 cents; 40 cents the third, etc. 

So their choice was a math problem – yes, years before I was homeschooling!  - take the $20 up-front, or take the "doubling dime"?

Elisheva deferred to YM who quickly worked it out and told her to take the dime.  And every year since then, they have. 

Though it may seem at first like a crass “corruption” of the season’s gift-giving mood, money (real and chocolate) actually is by far the more traditional "gift" for Chanukah.  (when I ask Naomi and Gavriel Zev which they’d rather have, they both answer that they’d take the chocolate money)

I think it wouldn't truly feel like Chanukah without gifts of cash for the older kids.  I think this was also the prevalent custom in Europe.  It certainly doesn't have to be huge amounts of money, but something in their pockets is the tradition, and my big kids love it.

And this way of doing it – the doubling dime – is a fun and kind of educational way to give them a modest amount of cash and something to look forward to every year.  The only tough part is having enough change on hand so you can actually give them the right amount each day.  It’s a challenge; sometimes, I get lazy and just add it all up at the end.

Six Word Saturday: December 12, 2009

 donuts 003

Happy Chanukah to one and all!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Interview - breast cancer thought

What do you think of when somebody says "breast"?
 
Just interviewed the founder of the Nanny Angel Network, a really worthwhile organization that offers free relief childcare for women going through breast cancer treatment and recovery.
So now I am thinking - the first thing people think of these days when they hear the word "breast" MUST be "cancer."  With all the organizations and awareness and ribbons etc out there now.
 
And I'm thinking that's kind of sad.  Shouldn't it be "feeding"?  Or, at worst, "fondling"?
 
To me, it's similar to people who know nothing about Judaism (isn't it always about Judaism, deep down?) except the Holocaust.
If a non-Jew is going to learn only one thing about Judaism, as many high school students do, I'd rather have them know about Torah, mitzvos, tefillah, Shabbos - anything except the Shoah.
But there is so much funding, so much awareness out there... Holocaust is it in terms of most people's education about Jews and Yiddishkeit.
 
Sad.
 
And it's sad if cancer is all you have learned to think about breasts.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bejeweled: but who’re you going tell???

Further to my two previous Bejeweled high score posts (107,400 here – under the old scoring system – and 338,650 here), I just scored an amazing, incredible, absolutely unprecedented score of 360,300… see? 

BejeweledBestScore

The catch is, I have two facebook accounts.  One for my kids and their friends; one for me and my grown-up friends.

And this is my score on the WRONG account, meaning none of the people I usually play Bejeweled against are going to see the score and know how very incredible I am.  See above, my “Imma Mac” scoreboard?  I only  have one other friend besides myself who plays Bejeweled 2, and that’s Elisheva.  I only log on from time to time to play against her.

Anyway, now nobody knows.  They’re just going to have to take my word – and this screenshot – for it.  The next-highest score on my regular scoreboard is 210,450… piffle!  That’s nothing!

Must stop obsessing and start making Shabbos.  Shabbos Chanukah – yay!

“Menorah in a Box” Craft for Chanukah

candles 001Yet another craft idea borrowed from chinuch.org.  I love that site!  Without that site, Jewish homeschooling would be WAY  harder and I’d be spending all my time creating curriculum.

Naomi invited a couple of 3-year-old friends (and their little brothers) to come over today to do a small Chanukah thing.  Not a party; you can’t really call 3 girls (and 3 very little boys) a party.  But it was fun; she had tons of fun, and that’s the main thing. 

Chanukah stories, latkes (from a mix!), and a craft… and here it is:  my take on what was originally called The Clip & Light Play Menorah.

The original calls for the menorah to be built on a background of two wooden slats glued together for stability.  I substituted dollar-store unfinished wooden boxes, unhinged (like me!).  You glue the clothespins inside the box to make the menorah.  As a bonus, not only can the kids can decorate the outside, but it closes up nicely for storage (along with a few extra Chanukah trinkets that can fit inside, since the menorah part is very low-profile).

The one above is my sample that I threw together in about eight minutes last night.  My flames turned out a really stupid shape.  I may redo them; I was just in a hurry last night to eat and go to bed.  For Naomi’s, I did a better job.

menorahs 017

Here are two of the girls’ projects.  Pink flames!  I love it!  I think Naomi forced her friend to choose pink, while she herself selected the most authentic colour:  gold.  (the original calls for gold, but I was worried I wouldn’t have enough of it for all the kids)

The flames are sticky-back glitter foam (you use it to make glittery stickers, I guess) for the candles.  I got a whole bunch of sheets for maybe $5? 

Other than that, I’m actually pleased with the use of natural materials in this project.  I hate how all craft projects are made entirely of foam.  Don’t get me wrong; I love craft foam!  But cannot help thinking it’s wrong, somehow.  If I’d had enough lead time, I would have used wooden teardrop shapes painted with glittery colours.

Here’s Naomi Rivka’s menorah box close up.  She did such a good job on the lid.

 menorahs 018

I  used glitter paint instead of the solid-colour acrylic paint called for.  It would have been more opaque, and dry faster, but for a gathering of three girlies, I thought glitter was more appropriate. 

Anyway, these are all wood, except the paint.  So you can probably just take out the candles and toss them in a composter when you’re tired of them! (if you’re not the sentimental type, like me).

As a project, this is less creative than I like, and more parent-involvement than I usually plan for (the project calls for “grown-up” glue for the clothespins so they will stick quickly, which ultimately prevents kids’ frustration).  BUT I figured for “older” kids (3 and 4), they will come away with a nice looking project that they have had some degree of personal involvement with… so they can maybe feel a little proud of themselves.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Why we are the worst relatives…

gifts 002Okay, look what’s sitting in the front hall right now.  Four boxes, that all arrived when we were at Ms Megan today.  FOUR.

Two from Ted’s mother (more razors!), one from my mother-in-law in Calgary, and one from Ted’s sister.

Don’t bother asking how many we’ve sent to these wonderful people.  I have ONE gift sitting here that needs mailing to Calgary; one.

Okay, I always do manage to send something to both extended families; usually, it’s chocolates, at the last minute.  Last year, I think they arrived the first business day AFTER Xmas.

Know why I wait until the last minute to run to chocolate charm and buy a nice box of truffles?

Because Ted’s mother usually ALSO sends money at this time of year (above and beyond the razor blades, shampoo and shaving cream), about $100.  So I take the $100 and mail it back to her in the form of truffles.  I wonder if she suspects…!

What the heck IS this stuff?!?

First snowfall, Winter 2009.   Naomi is insisting it’s winter now, because there’s snow.

snowy 004

Gavriel Zev may look like a Boy With Boots in this picture, but they are Naomi Rivka’s   No boots, and they’re about three sizes too big (they’re a 9, I think he wears a 6).  Naomi’s are only two sizes too big; I bumped her up to the like-new Size 11 Cougars that I found at Value Village over the summer.

I took this as proof that I actually got the children outside today.  We were totally snowed-in feeling and at each other’s throats all morning.  I told Ted on the phone that he was going to come home and find a home empty but for our gnawed corpses. 

I was totally bummed (no other word, no nicer word; sorry!) because I’d planned a really nice outing – slash – playdate with a couple of other mamas and had to cancel.  Blah.  I hate cancelling, for any reason, mostly because so many parents seem to do it at the drop of a hat.  “Sorry, she’s grouchy today; I think we’re going to stay home.”

I didn’t even want to cancel when I woke up feeling sick and miserable, but Ted the Master of Disastrous Understatement told me before he went out that it “snowed a bit overnight” but that he had shovelled and it was raining so it would probably all be gone soon.  So I told him to drive safely and said goodbye. 

I didn’t even realize how bad the weather was until I actually hauled myself out of bed an hour later.  I am NOT a cancelling-due-to-weather person, either – usually.  In this case, however, I was planning to bring one of the other families in our car, and frankly, I don’t want that kind of responsibility.  My own kids, sure, I’ll risk it…. but not hers.

So our only “outing” was across the street to Ms Megan.  We didn’t get there until almost 1:30 because of Naomi Rivka’s lunch dawdling and bathroom nonsense (I suspect she didn’t really go because she is now mortally afraid of imaginary “drips” on her underpants and tights), and when we did arrive, we were the only people there.

She did circle time anyway, and it was nice (okay, absolutely essential to our sanity) to get out of the house, and out of each other’s hair for a few minutes.  It’s kind of like having a second living room, only it’s much bigger than the real living room.  And full of really cool toys. 

The only catch – in this weather – is that you have to get bundled and go across the street to get there.  Ugh.  Winter.

Quoth Naomi

"Hashem is a special man who wears a crown and picks up the dead people!"

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The missing remote

Last night Ted announced that the DVD remote was missing.  No wonder; our bedroom is an unholy mess, with everybody's laundry and diapers and whatnot everywhere, plus everything I have read in the last two months, 80 mummified hankies, 7000 dust bunnies, 12 pairs of shoes and a few miscellaneous Chanukah gifts stashed away (even though we don't do gifts).
 
Anyway, he searched EVERYWHERE.  Literally, EVERYWHERE.  Picking through the dust bunnies.  Shining a flashlight low and high, rummaging through the mismatched-socks pile.  Ugh... really must get laundry out of the bedroom someday.  Anyway, nothing.  A literal ransacking, and nothing.
 
And then I came in and searched, if not everywhere, in a few particularly suspicious places:  the floor where it could have fallen between the mattress and the headboard, alongside my bedside table, in the "top-secret-gifts" bag that I hope Ted didn't find & search when he was searching.  Nothing.
 
Total search time, to find absolutely nothing:  easily an hour of our combined time.
 
And no remote.
 
I am SO careful with the remote, and it was particularly suspicious because the TV remote was right there; we always use them together and put them away together.  But I figured Gavriel Zev had gotten ahold of the DVD remote and wedged it somewhere... and finally gave up searching.  I used the DVD player with the buttons on top, but those only let you watch the DVD, not access any of the menus or special features, including closed captions, which I always turn on because then you can half-watch and/or half-hear and still follow the plot (plus it's also almost like reading a book WHILE watching TV - double the pleasure!).
 
No captions.
No special features, bonus features, whatever.  It was the Season Finale of Grey's Anatomy, Season 3.  Very dramatic, kind of.
 
Anyway, tonight, I was in my bed at Elisheva and the Littles' bedtime, whining about how sick I am (yes, still sick, even MORE sick than before, if such a thing is possible) and stuck in bed with no DVD remote.
 
And her face lit up.  "Oh!  The remote!"
 
OMG, no.  NO.  Not... the remote control.  There is absolutely nothing holy in my life and no area of personal privacy that they do not invade and Take My Stuff.  They are worse than cats. 
 
Cautiously, me, "Do you know where it is?"
 
"I have it.  Well, it's in the car."
"In the car."
"In my knapsack.  I needed it for my drama presentation.  Do you want me to go get it?"
 
Gaaaaah!  Kill!!  Strangle! 
 
"Yes, you go get it, please, while I announce to the world that I Have No Daughter!!!!"
"Can I have my dreidel first?"  (I'd already told her my mother bought her a small dreidel in Israel's today)
 
When she came back in, I told her she had to apologize to Ted.
"For what?  It's not my fault you didn't ASK me if I had the remote."
 
Gaaah!  Do you have any idea what happens if I ask them if they have my stuff?  You have not truly experienced self-righteousness until your ears have absorbed the cries of a teenager wrongly accused.  Or, if not wrongly, as such, then accused in a slightly incorrect tone of voice that suggests that you no longer cherish them as precious little people.
 
Anyway, she did apologize to Ted,  half-heartedly.  Something along the lines of "Sorry, Abba, that you didn't ask me if I had the remote."  I forget what her exact words were.  Dumb.  And yes, I was angry.  So she finally apologized right, and I did give her my dreidel.
 
The excuse - ultimately?  She needed it for the drama presentation and she was going out at "seven in the morning" yesterday and didn't want to disturb me "asleep in bed" by ASKING for the remote (she said "asleep in bed" in much the same way you or I would refer to a mother lying drunkenly on the sidewalk in front of her house), nor did she want to hunt for the little battery-less remote that Gavriel Zev uses as a cellphone.  So she just did the considerate thing and TOOK it.
 
The only problem with her story is that yesterday morning, I happen to know she didn't go out until about 8:15.  How do I know?  I drove her to school.  Oh, yes, and I wasn't "asleep in bed" at the time, either.  I was awake and as alert as someone on her way to toivelling and then Second Cup possibly can be.
 
No, she just took it because either she couldn't be bothered asking, or feared the answer might be no.  She just took it.
 
I HATE HAVING MY STUFF TAKEN!!!
 
Just today, going into her room for something, I found a roll of shiny tape I'd been looking for, some scissors (one pair mine, one pair Naomi's) and a few other sundry items that people have been searching for for weeks.  Yet I never suspected she'd go so far as to just grab the ONE and ONLY DVD remote in the house... just because she wanted to use it in a play.
 
After Elisheva went to bed with her new 20-cent dreidel, Ted came upstairs with a library book of mine that he'd found in YM's room.  I only just took the book out of the library three days ago; I haven't even had time to crack the cover. 
 
We have told YM repeatedly for YEARS now... a) don't read my books without permission, and b) even if he has permission, ONLY IN THE LIVING ROOM.  Never downstairs.  What are we supposed to do - hide the books?  Lock them up???
 
Anyway, I asked YM why he'd taken the book, and he shrugged.  "I didn't have anything else to read."
 
At which point, I blew up.  I called him "completely amoral, without morals, without values," without belief in anything beyond his own selfish desires.  I told him to go to bed, immediately.  I said if he wanted to say Shema to whatever it was he believed in, I would be happy to listen.
 
At which point, in a fit of self-righteousness, defending his right to TAKE "OTHER PEOPLE'S STUFF AT WILL, he stormed out of the room and said goodnight.
 
Believe it or not... believe it or not, and you are perhaps going to laugh at my naiveté when I say this... I used to have two cats, before I had kids.  Their names were Tigris and Euphrates; they were brother and sister.  Yes, I'm allergic to cats, but I liked them enough anyway.  But still, we found other homes for them before YM was born because I figured I couldn't take care of too many living things at once.  Got rid of the plants, for the same reason.
 
But the funny thing was, when we got rid of the cats, I remember thinking, "it's going to be so nice to go out and come home and find everything right where we put it."  I was utterly tired of how the cats would knock stuff down, move stuff around a bit.  They were born together and like all good siblings, wrestled their way through the apartment several times a day.  "Without cats, things will stay right on the coffee table, or wherever they belong."

Wicked Plants has MY vote!

Love voting for stuff online, but stumped about what to vote for now that you have already cast your routine daily vote for the Children’s Storefront (do it here if you haven’t already)???

Well, isn’t this a cool book cover?

It could be one of the top book covers of 2009 if you (yes, you!) take a second to click this link and visit Amazon and vote.

Or, just… Go here to vote

I haven’t actually READ this book yet, you understand; it’s a new one from one of the most exciting garden/science writers out there, Amy Stewart.  You can also follow her at her blog.

She is already the author of a couple of other books I’ve enjoyed, including The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms(an absolutely fascinating book – not nearly as dull and earthy as it sounds!) and Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful (an incredibly revealing exposé of an industry you wouldn’t think would have anything scandalous to reveal).

Best Bejeweled score!!!

BejeweledGoodScore

Okay, I usually try to keep my blogging mania completely separate from my Bejeweled mania (aka addiction)… but this really is something extraordinary:  338,650.  This is the highest score I have ever seen on my own screen!!!

Where it usually tells you your score “is in the top 50%” of all scores, mine now reads “one of the world’s best scores!!!”

Yay, me!  And yes, supper did get made.  I’m just playing while the chili-with-cornbread-on-top bakes… no-one in my family has ever gone hungry because of this addiction.  Underpants-less, maybe.

Just kidding!

Gifts for Kids

One of the least rewarding aspects of parenthood is when birthdays are approaching (luckily, we don’t do gifts for Chanukah), you get to be the go-to person.  As the parent, you are the one everybody asks, “what would ____ like for her birthday???”

I guess maybe some parents have tons of ideas and are happy to share them so they don’t have to buy everything.

But me, I come up with one idea, and guard it ferociously… unless somebody scoops me on it, like my sister did the other night when she suggested a guitar for Elisheva

Okay, yes, sure.  That was the one idea I had so far, but you’re her aunt,  you buy it… I’m sure I’ll come up with something else.

And then I did come up with something else:  a DVD player for the playroom downstairs!  So the kids don’t have to watch their DVDs on the computer OR in our room.  There’s a VCR in there, but who watches those anymore?  DVD players are super-cheap  now and everything! 

And then, I was at my mother’s today and she asked me … and darned if I didn’t go and blow that one, too!

So now I have to come up with Idea #3…. these are not easy, believe me.

Oh, but in related news, the little kids' Magnetic Mr. Skeletor arrived today.  Pretty gruesome-looking, in a cool way.  It should really help me answer Naomi Rivka's incessant questions about
the "seeds" that make babies - and Gavriel Zev's.  In our homemade "siddur," we have a picture of an opened-up person for asher yatzar, and he keeps pointing at the stomach and aying "seeds?"  :-)

Supper:  Yes, I have to get off my bottom and go make supper.  Chili.  Cornbread.  Don’t ask.  I am sick and tired and mizzzzerable today.  And cold, did I mention cold?  And tired?  I don’t even know why I bother mentioning that I’m sick.  Between allergies and colds, it feels like I have been sick non-stop since June.  Blah.