Sunday, April 29, 2007

I thought I had a few more years

As I was putting my 6 year old son to bed recently, he suddenly and apropos of nothing whatsoever asked me whether marriages had to be between a man and a woman.

Now there's a question.

I believe strongly in teaching my children the values of tolerance and diversity, so I told him the truth. Usually marriages are between a man and a woman, but sometimes two women or two men want to get married. Unfortunately, our government doesn't allow them to.

"Why mommy?" (Here is where I begin to fumble a bit.)

"Because the religious (establishment) don't believe in it, and they want to keep the government from making laws they don't agree with." (You can see where this is going, right? Here is also where I add that Israel doesn't have the same separation of church and state that the US does, and religious coercion in your daily life is a much more immediate issue, and obviously a personal hot button for me.)

"Why do they think it's not okay mommy?"

"Do you remember Itai when we talked about the fact that religious people have a lot of rules that they follow and our family doesn't? Like they're not allowed to ride bikes or go to the beach or even *gasp* watch videos on Saturdays? (My subversiveness is astounding in its subtlety.) Well, this is another one of those things where different people have to decide for themselves what they believe. In our family we believe that people can decide for themselves which rules to follow and who to love. But yes, when most people get married it is a man and a woman."

This parenting thing is not for the faint of heart. On the one hand, I do strongly support the right of a consenting adult to love (or even just have sex with) any other consenting adult he or she so chooses, and I do want to raise my children to be accepting of others regardless of their sexual orientation (or race, creed or anything else for that matter). On the other hand, he is the product of a loving heterosexual household and is surrounded in his daily life by other loving heterosexual households, and there is no reason for him not to see this as the "norm". Another minor but not completely insignificant issue is sadly the problems it could create for him if he suddenly went into school spouting off about same-sex marriages in my somewhat provincial and not all that liberal town. Nor do I want to him to think badly of the religious for their rejection of this. (Bringing religion into this of my own volition was probably not my best tactic I admit, but I was caught off guard.) Rather, I want to raise my children to think, to question, to choose. Not to blindly follow, and even less to blindly hate or reject. I will love my child the same no matter what path he follows in life. I want him to know that and never doubt it, and I want him to learn to extend that same tolerance toward those he meets along the way.

I think this conversation might have been easier a few years from now. At six everything is still very black and white. Which is right? Which is wrong? There are not yet shades of gray.

I really wish I remembered where I put that damn parenting manual...

Zoom! Zip! Dash!

See that streak of lightning flying by? That's me with my newly reconditioned laptop! It's sleek! It's speedy! It's not crashing!! Whoa, that's important enough to repeat - with lots of exclamation marks!! It's!! Not!! Crashing!!

And who says service is dead. The IT guy gave up his entire Saturday to keep working on my machine so that I wouldn't have to miss today and tomorrow as work days. When I told him I hoped he was getting a lot of overtime pay he said no, it was all on his own time ! (I'll be sending a VERY nice thank you note with a cc to both his boss and mine.)The ridiculous part of all of this is after spending 2.5 straight days (yes, I said DAYS) working on this machine, its lease is up at the end of June, at which time it will have to be replaced by a new one. I'm surprised he didn't just try to patch it up a bit, but no, he did a major league (and mucho needed) overhaul.

It's great to be back. I had serious withdrawal - I think I was starting to get the DT's!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

How completely bizarre

My laptop is being serviced so I'm on the horribly old and slow desktop we haven't even turned on for months.

For some reason, all of the names of the months listed in the archives in the sidebar of my blog are in Portuguese! I don't speak Portuguese. In fact, since a 2 week trip to visit my vacationing grandparents when I was 18, which was mostly spent wondering what in heaven's name I was doing on the Portuguese coast (the Algarve) in the cold and rainy dead of winter, I haven't even thought of Portugal particularly.

Very odd...

And now 20 minutes later they're back in English again. I think I should start humming the theme from The Twilight Zone...

Thursday Thirteen #13 - Life in Israel

In honor of Israel's 59th Independence Day, I give you 13 reasons I love living in Israel:

1. The beautiful, green north - flowers, mountains, the Sea of Galilee, gourmet restaurants and little bed and breakfasts everywhere, even snow in the winter. Northern Israel's got it all. (Yes, Israel has deserts too, in the south, but personally I prefer the green of the north.)

2. An amazing collection of national parks - everything from nature hikes to Crusader castles to antiquities.

3. The Gan HaShlosha Hot Springs - beautiful heated springs in a lush, oasis-like setting. Especially lovely during a stolen day off the week when the rest of the hordes are hard at work.

4. Tel Aviv - small enough to be accessible, large enough to be truly international in flavor. With a beach to boot. Outdoor cafes you can enjoy all year round. What more could you ask?

5. Jerusalem - often fraught with tension and a hard city to live in, but there is no doubt that it is one of the most beautiful cities on earth. At sunset it truly is "Jerusalem of Gold".

6. The weather. 8 months of warm sunshine every year - need I say more? Long hot summers where your plans never get rained out. Even in the winter it rarely goes below the mid-50's (mid-teens centigrade). You have to love a country where winter looks like this, or like this.

7. The Mediterranean Sea - I live just 20 minutes away from gorgeous beaches - on the Mediterranean.

8. Palm trees - how did this NY girl end up living surrounded by palm trees? Not to mention banana trees, and pomegranates, and citrus trees, and...

9. The food - good, fresh, inexpensive ingredients are available everywhere, and esoteric imported ingredients are now nearly as easy to obtain. Most restaurants here still cook everything fresh every day. No iceberg lettuce and bottled blue cheese dressing salads here. And the summer drinks - freshly made iced coffee is available at almost every restaurant and cafe in the summertime, and fresh squeezed lemonade is a staple all year round.

10. The diversity. Israel is a country of immigrants, with people from literally every country on the globe, who together make up this wonderful human mosaic that is Israel.

11. A truly incredible variety of things to do with children - this country really revolves around its kids, and it shows.

12. The predominant culture here is my culture. It's the way I say Happy New Year in September, the way no one assumes I'm celebrating Christmas in December (or wants to know why I'm not), and so many other little things.

And last but not least...

13. The way Israelis truly care about each other. We may often act rough and aggressive, and we do love to argue, but when trouble strikes no one pulls together the way we do. Differences are forgotten, at least temporarily, in a rush to help others. During the war last summer, there were so many residents of the center of the country who opened their homes to total strangers fleeing from the bombings in the north that when my family tried to do the same we didn't find any takers.

I could go on and on (must be the spring - life here just feels great right now), but better yet, come on over and see for yourselves.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

For Spacemom

Since you're actually doing trig right now *gasp, shudder*...

I couldn't link directly to the lyrics on Ray's website, so I've copied them here for you. I figured you might get a kick out of this. I wish you could actually hear a clip, it's a riot.

© Words and music by Ray Scudero. All rights reserved.

Arithmetic was easy for me: add, subtract, divide.
Multiplying came a little tougher through my hide.
Geometry was fascinating; I loved the logic train,
But then came trigonometry and knots tied in my brain.

Golly gee, trigonometry!
Golly gee, trigonometry—
I don’t know how to solve the problem; maybe I’d better quit trigonometry,
Got a hold on me.

Quadratics were a quandary and to factor was a chore.
Plotting graphs was nifty but logarithms were a bore.
The differences between two squares was ninety miles of what?
I couldn't grasp the concepts and the rules confused a lot.


Last week I fell in love with someone head-on over heels;
Last night someone else revealed the love her heart conceals.
The first one’s got a good thing going with another guy.
My heart’s in a quadratic jumble—this is why I cry:


The formula that’s needed is the one that I can’t find;
The roots of all the integers conspire to blow my mind.
The x and y and z of it are things about which I quip,
But the other side of the equals sign is nothing more than zip.


This situation’s got me just a bit weak in the knees.
I guess that there’s no future when you’re stuck in parentheses.
So I ran it through the computer and there’s just one thing I see:
The only common factor running through this mess is me.

Golly gee, trigonometry!
Golly gee, trigonometry—
I don’t know how to solve the problem; maybe I’d better quit trigonometry,
Got a hold on me.

WFMW - Lice prevention

This week's tip is about something we don't like to talk about, but with the weather turning warm (here in Israel at least) it's very timely.

Lice is a BIG problem in Israeli schools, particularly this time of year. It's endemic. And worst of all for this born-and-raised-in-NY mother it's considered just a normal part of life. So sorry, I admit that I have somewhat pathological fear of having little creepy crawlies laying eggs in my kids hair, but I do. It had a real stigma where I grew up and I internalized that stigma 120%. I. Do. Not. Want. Bugs. In. Anyone's. Hair. EVER.
Given that, I will forever be grateful to the person who told me about this awesome means of prevention. Yup, you heard me. PREVENTION. Not cure (though I've got an excellent all-natural one of those too, let me know if you need it), prevention. Avoiding the little suckers altogether. What is it you ask?

Rosemary Oil

This essential oil is available anywhere that sells oils, health foods, or homeopathic remedies. Just put a drop or two behind each ear and at the base of the neck, the critters' favorite locations, and you're good to go. The lice don't like the smell and will leave your kids alone. My kids never leave the house without it, even if they're not going to be around other kids. (I told you, I'm paranoid, no reason to take chances.)

Lice have run through both of my children's classes a number of times and touch wood, throw salt over my shoulder, spit three times, etc. etc. they haven't gotten them.

Rosemary oil - it definitely works for me! Visit Rocks in My Dryer for more helpful tips.

What a concept...

I read a blog entry tonight that I really didn't like. It was the second time this week that that same blogger had said something that really put me off.

So rather than comment, either nicely or nastily (not that I'm in the habit of making nasty comments, but that response is certainly not unheard of in blogland), or go off on a diatribe on my own blog, I decided to just unsubscribe them from my Go*gle Read*r. So simple, so efficient. One button and poof, they're gone.

This does illustrate though how little we truly know other bloggers. I started reading this particular blog because its author was funny and asked some interesting questions. I would never have suspected how very different we were in certain fundamental beliefs. While I think the world would be a very boring place if we were all the same, and while I do value diversity and tolerance and love a good, open, RESPECTFUL debate of the issues, there are some worldviews that just leave me cold, and unable to find common ground. Today I saw one of those worldviews.

Some bloggers, like Tertia, let it all hang out so to speak. Others speak honestly but use pseudonyms. Still others talk only of fluff. Most though, find their own way somewhere in the middle. Like an old Billy Joel song, we all have a stranger inside ourselves. Some things we share, some we hold secret. Blogging gives those stranger aspects of ourselves an outlet though, a way of choosing who and what we want to be at any given moment. I tend to blog pretty openly because that's the kind of person I am, but there are some aspects of my life I don't choose to share. I wouldn't use this platform to share the gory details of a fight with my husband because I believe that things like that should remain private (and of course because he reads my blog ;-). Hi honey.) I wouldn't share something that would humiliate my family or anyone I care about. I wouldn't share the name of my town. Others draw the line in different places, some further in, some further out. Either way, we need to remember that reading a blog is not the same as living with someone day in and day out. A blog is just a narrow slice of someone's life. Sometimes we just "click" with another blogger and know without a doubt that we're twins separated at birth. Other times, like today, we read something and wonder how much we ever knew them at all...

In any case, as for the blogger who prompted this introspection, sayonara baby. It's not worth my time or energy to either debate you or allow myself to get dragged down by what you say.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The siren just sounded

2 minutes of silence, to remember the 22,305 people who fell in battle since the establishment of the first Jewish neighborhoods outside Jerusalem's Old City wall in 1860, the date of the beginning of the fatality count. 22,305 people who never got to grow old. 233 names just this year. Most were young, some were older veterans who finally succumbed to their injuries. Each one is too many. While to some of you in the United States this figure may not seem that large compared to America's losses in World War II or even Vietnam, the entire population of Israel today is only 7,150,000, making this a terrible loss indeed.

Yesterday my 6 year old son asked me if we would visit him in the cemetary if he were killed in a war. I cannot express how sad it makes me that he knows enough about evil in the world to ask that question at age 6.

As the country marks Memorial Day 2007 and prepares to celebrate its 59th year of independence, amid both celebrations and ever present security warnings it behooves us to remember how dear a price we paid, so that we can try ever harder to ensure that future generations don't have to.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Israeli Independence Day - kindergarten style

Yesterday all of the pre-k and kindergarten classes in our town gathered for a (2 block) parade followed by an early celebration of Israeli Independence Day. All the children wore white shirts and white and blue baseball caps and proudly marched waving little Israeli flags.

When they arrived at the main stage, each class arranged itself around a pole with it's name, topped with a cluster of blue and white balloons where they ate the ever-popular chocolate sandwiches and drank grape juice from little packets (both oh so traditional and oh so unhealthy). There were then a few (uniformly boring) speeches by local politicians and educational leaders, and then the children sang and danced to traditional folk dance music. When it was over, they released all of the balloons, which looked very festive (I'm trying hard not to dwell on the environmental ramifications). After that it was ice pops and group pictures on the grass, then back to school for the rest of the morning.

Tomorrow Itai's class is gathering at the local monument to Israel's fallen soldiers to lay flowers and honor their sacrifice.

And as a culturally interesting side note, we first heard of all of these events two days before, via a note home which instructed us to "put the children in white shirts and get them to school by 8:00", and by the way parents can come watch if they like. No permission slips, no big deal made out of anything. I don't mind particularly, in fact it's pretty refreshing. The degree of care and attention paid during the actual event was no less, but the overall stress and paranoia level was much lower. It's one of the things I like most about living here actually.

Friday, April 20, 2007

And the verdict was (GNI roundup)

drumroll please...

Chutney-cheese spread with cut up veggies and crackers, and stuffed mushrooms. Both were hits, but the cream cheese had people fighting for the leftovers. Highly recommended - delicious, and only took about 3.5 minutes (yes, I said 3.5 minutes) to make.

As always, GNI was full of good food, free-flowing wine, good friends, and lots and lots of laughter. And in a shocking twist of events we already have our theme for the next one - 70's food! Should be a riot, I think we'll end up with at least 4 different kinds of jello salads LOL.

And in other news, the NY Rangers SWEPT THEIR SERIES last night - trouncing Atlanta in four games straight! Wahoo! GO RANGERS!!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #12 - 13 Anti-War Songs

Sunday is Israel's Memorial Day. As a young country born of and in many ways still of war, Memorial Day is taken VERY seriously here. It is a day of ceremonies, of quiet reflection, of soft, sad music on the radio (yes, there is an entire genre like that). Memorial Day, as all Jewish holidays, actually starts at sundown the evening before. The solemnity of the day begins with a 2 minute siren all across the country. While the siren is going everything comes to a standstill - cars on the highway come to a halt while their drivers stand silently by, remembering, thinking. Shoppers in stores stand still, listening. All over the country you see people standing quietly and remembering the ultimate sacrifice made by so many to give us the country we have today. At 10 o'clock the following morning the sirens wail again, and again, everything stops. The different branches of the army and the police hold memorial services for their fallen, other ceremonies remember those lost to terrorism. All places of entertainment are closed.

As the day progresses and darkness falls, Israel moves from grief to celebration. The conclusion of Memorial Day moves straight into the celebration of Independence Day, which begins at 8pm that evening. How wise were the founders of this country, to inextricably link these two days, so that it is impossible to rejoice in what we have without reflecting on how we got here.

To mark Israeli Memorial Day with my own futile but fervent wish that these sacrifices should end, that we should "study war no more", I offer you 13 anti-war songs. These songs come from different countries and different wars and convey their message in vastly different ways, but wherever it strikes the tragedy of war is the same. I hope that you will choose to listen and take a moment to reflect on their message, and to imagine the shape of a world without war.

And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda - The Pogues
Christmas in the Trenches - John McCutcheon
Through the Night - Ray Scudero - (You may have to pick "Through the Night" to see the actual lyrics, but they are well worth the extra click. To hear a clip, listen to Track 15
I Ain't Marchin' Anymore - Phil Ochs
The Patriot Game - The Dubliners
No Bomb is Smart - SONiA (listen to Track 6)
There Were Roses - Tommy Sands - a hauntingly beautiful song about a true event. I had the privilege of seeing him in concert several times last spring. When I told him that as many times as I heard the song it made me cry every single time, he shared with me that the men in the song had been friends of his, and that it had taken him 10 years to be able to put words to their story.
Draft Dodger Rag - Phil Ochs
Eve of Destruction - Barry McGuire
The Grave - Don McLean - another powerfully haunting song
The I Feel Like I'm Fixing To Die Rag - Country Joe and the Fish
12. Kill For Peace - Oscar Brand (sorry, couldn't find a link for this one)
Peace Will Come - Tom Paxton

And following in the spirit of Memorial Day, next week's list will move from sadness to joy, with 13 celebrations of life in Israel.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

WFMW - packing lists

Is anyone else out there as anal as I am about packing lists?

I have to have EVERYTHING I'm bringing on a list. If I don't have it written down, it doesn't wind up coming. Before I started keeping very detailed lists, I'd do things like show up with no socks, or toothpaste but no toothbrush... All sorts of ridiculous errors.

I now keep my packing lists in an excel file, divided into columns for me, each of the kids, and communal (my husband manages his own packing). Each page in the spreadsheet is a different trip. So, if we're packing for a trip to a b&b in the north or to the States in the summertime, I can refer back to last year's list as a starting point and then revise from there. And with a laptop, I just carry the computer from room to room rather than printing a list and crossing things off with a pen. Much easier to revise that way.

As I pack, I format that item as strikethrough text. Once most of the items are packed (or more realistically piled in a heap on the dining room table waiting for someone to stuff them into a suitcase) I then highlight the remaining items in yellow so that I won't miss them out among the rest of the chaos.

Surprisingly, this is one of the only areas in my life where I'm this anal organized. It was born out of necessity -- and a dissatisfaction with arriving in out of the way places in the middle of the night to discover I don't have a toothbrush or my kid doesn't have socks!

Packing lists - they work for me. Check out Shannon's Rocks in My Dryer for more WFMW tips.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


It's not often that I'm at a loss for words, but that's where I am today. I've been trying since yesterday to gather my thoughts and write a post about the tragedy that occurred in Virginia yesterday. I wanted to talk about the senseless loss of life, about a professor who became a hero when he lay down his life to save his students, about a system which obviously failed someone while simultaneously failing to protect those around him, about the fragility of the illusion of safety, about how frightening it is to watch our children step out of our view, but the words fail me. I just can't do it right now. It's too fresh. Too horrific.

My thoughts go out to all those who lost loved ones in Virginia yesterday. I can't imagine how you are managing to just keep breathing, let alone to start picking up the pieces.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Decisions decisions...

It's GNI time again on Thursday, and this month's theme is finger food.

Right now I'm debating between chicken enchiladas and mushroom turnovers (I think I'd up the seasoning on these though, they sound a bit bland as is). (I do seem to be craving pastry right now, don't I. Must be all those thoughts of dieting I've been entertaining.)

Other items on the menu so far are Thai ground beef and lettuce rolls and deviled eggs. I'm sure there will be some kind of veggies and dip, and probably a salsa or two.

So internets, which is your preference? Or alternatively, suggest a different recipe or even something else entirely (no pork or seafood though - too many won't eat them).

We do a fair amount of entertaining and it's time to mix up my appetizer offerings a bit, so any and all suggestions are welcome, even if they don't work for GNI.

And, if any of you decide to adopt the GNI idea I'd love to hear about it.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

So stinking mad!!

I just came home with the kids to find two junior high aged hooligans BREAKING our light fixtures and then shattering the glass all over the sidewalk!

I ran after them and they literally laughed at me and ran away. I have no idea who they are, but they'd better believe if I catch them they will be in a world of trouble. I am steaming mad. Furious. Needless to say Itai got quite a lecture on Never. Ever. Ever. Befriending. Kids. Like. That. Even Maya apparently got the point, because she started chiming in saying "we don't hit, and we don't pinch."

I will call the cops on these two kids faster than they can spit if I manage to catch them again.

Have I mentioned that I am FURIOUS?!?!?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Just another Sabbath in the Holy Land

Michelle from Scribbit was talking today about restaurants that create memories. Jay and I are foodies, so we really value top-notch creative cooking and will go out of our way to try a special restaurant. Actually, we even planned a trip to France once by what styles of cooking we were most interested in trying.

Sometimes, though, it isn't the food that draws you to a place. The food certainly wasn't the main attraction at brunch today. We ate at an outdoor cafe just 10 minutes from home called Nadnedot, which means "swings" in Hebrew. What makes this place special is it's setup. It's all outdoors, set on beautiful but very casually landscaped grounds on a still fairly agricultural looking moshav. The tables are scattered throughout the garden, which is set away from the parking lot. Best of all, there is a small playground, loads of outdoor toys, balls, etc., as well as several big swings, a hammock, and several koi ponds. In other words, a kids' paradise. The food? Well... Did I mention that there were swings? The food isn't bad, but it's certainly nothing to write home about. The ability to linger over lunch and iced coffee while your children play is priceless. Long lazy afternoons like this are the stuff memories are made of, and this is the perfect season for them - deliciously warm and sunny, but not so beastly hot that you can't bear to be outside. (And, they not only give me blog fodder, but also time to blog, since Maya came back so grubby that she went straight into the tub while Jay and Itai stayed out to run errands.)

Sound nice? You bet. But don't take my word for it, look for yourselves.

(The pictures are taken off the restaurants website, we didn't have a camera with us. I don't think they'd mind.)

PS The inevitable has happened. Someone from my "real life" has stumbled across my blog. (Hi Joanna :-), kick off your shoes, grab a comfy chair and make yourself at home. There's a pitcher of virtual margaritas and plenty of glasses right over here on the island.) Israel's such a small country that I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner, but there's still a bit of a worlds colliding kind of feel to it. I've been posting on my (non-Israeli) message board for so many years without that happening that I'd gotten a bit complacent about the whole "internet is a public place" idea. Don't get me wrong, I'm quite happy about it and look forward to sharing a bit more of my life with someone I care about, and with any other friends who happen to come by, my life is pretty much an open book, it's just a bit of a surprise, that's all. Now my family on the other hand... That would be a different story. It's funny, I love them and am close to them and don't feel any need to badmouth them whatsoever, but I like to know I have options LOL.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I guess I'm not superstitious

It's 10:30 at night and I've only just realized that it's Friday the 13th.

So far we've come through at least reasonably unscathed. Maya fell asleep early (and then wet the bed, but nothing that unusual there since we forgot to stick a diaper on her) and Itai complained of general malaise (and severe crankiness if you ask me), but no major catastrophes.

We've spent a few hours researching WA / BC b&b's and have come up with some promising looking places. We're still trying to decide between national park type outdoorsy and someplace like Victoria, but at the moment we're leaning towards Victoria. We'll be camping the rest of the trip and will probably do a fair amount of outdoorsy stuff, and if the weather turns out really crappy we'd be better off in a city than out in the middle of nowhere.

Just over a month until we leave, we're all starting to get pretty excited...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #11 - 13 Things I'd Never Do

13 random things that I would NEVER EVER want to do:

1. Eat liver (or any other organ meat for that matter)

2. Bungee jump

3. Streak a major sporting event

4. Mountain bike - riding a bicycle down a steep rocky wooded mountain sounds like a clear death wish to me.

5. Wear the same size I wore in high school (I do work out and am trying to lose weight, but I'm also trying to come to terms with my aging body)

6. Shave my head

7. Pierce anything other than my already-done ears

8. Get a tattoo. No unnecessary needles thanks.

9. Swim with sharks (are they CRAZY?!?)

10. Wear a bikini (see #5 above)

11. Live in a house without an oven (we nearly bought a place once that had a gorgeous kitchen - but no oven!)

12. Get a face lift. I saw a documentary on how they do it years ago and am grossed out to this day. No way, no how.

13. Give up chocolate. Of course not! Could you?

What would you never do?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Need to pick your collective brains

Who out there is from/familiar with Washington State?

We'll be heading to the States in a few weeks for a long awaited trip to the West Coast. After spending a few days in San Francisco with Jay's aunt and uncle we'll be heading up to Seattle to meet up with my gypsy parents who are in the middle of a year-long RV trip (yes, I did say year-long, and yes, I'm consumed with envy). Anyway, Jay and I will have the opportunity to take off on our own for 2 or 3 nights while the kids are being spoiled rotten by their doting grandparents. Our plan is to split up after leaving Seattle, with both of us heading basically northward and meeting up again somewhere to the north a few days later.

So enough of the long-winded background. Here's my question:

Do any of you have suggestions for a good destination/s (or even better a particularly good B&B or restaurant) traveling north from Seattle? We're "mediumly outdoorsy" (i.e. kayaking fantastic, day hikes ok, outdoor plumbing not - this is aromantic getaway after all).

And now for something completely different. Susan of West of Mars fame has given me a HUGE compliment and turned around and given the Thinking Blogger award I gave her right back to me, for my post about Maya's developmental issues. I'm so pleased to hear that sharing our story has helped someone else in some small way. I'll have to start thinking about who to pass it on to. It's really tough, there are so many wonderful bloggers out there.

WFMW - Cleaning up small toys

I don't know about you, but I really hate having to crawl around on the floor picking up the 4,562,967 small magnets/animals/puzzle pieces/other assorted junk that my daughter manages to spread throughout the house in less than 10 seconds flat (how does that work, anyway? It must be some kind of high speed osmosis...). Having her help clean up is good educationally, but it invariably means that the very moment we have them all gathered up ready to be put away, she'll get that glint in her eye. Oooh, a great big inviting pile of toys that I just HAVE to play with this very minute! And then, before I know it, I'm back to square one.

If you've got tile or hardwood floors though, here's a trick - use a broom and just sweep all those little guys right up. Quicker, easier, and doesn't hurt your knees and back! Even the kids like to help.

Check out Shannon's Rocks In My Dryer for lots of other great tips.

Monday, April 9, 2007

If only I liked tomatoes...

If only I liked tomatoes, I could probably turn this photograph of these beautiful red tomatoes into a wonderfully witty and heartwarming essay about the coming of spring, and the bounty of the earth, and blah blah blah.

Unfortunately, I hate raw tomatoes almost as much as I hate liver, and quite a bit more than I hate brussel sprouts. I don't mind them cooked into sauces, as long as they're highly seasoned, and I can choke down the occasional stewed tomato if it presents in a dish, but raw tomatoes no. Not now. Not ever. Not even a single bite. I don't even like cutting them. I can't possibly wax poetic about a bowl of fresh tomatoes. Don't get me wrong, I'll certainly enjoy the 73,386 gallons of homemade tomato sauce that my husband is preparing this evening to restock our freezer, but that is because once they are cooked they lose their resemblance to their hated and feared predecessor. I think George Carlin had it right with an old skit of his - in a peculiar eery voice he intoned "they're not finished yet, they're still in the larval stage." And they really are too, when you think about it, all slippery and slimy inside, not to mention that strange raw taste *shudder*.

Still, it's a nice picture, isn't it?

Friday, April 6, 2007

My son's fingers

When my son was born his fingers were the size of small wooden matchsticks. So tiny, so fragile. When I remember how small he was, it is always those tiny matchstick fingers that I see. In my mind's eye I see his tiny newborn hand in mine, and remember how protecting those fragile fingers became my whole world.

As he grew, those fingers became pudgier, learned how to clutch a toy, to hold my hand. I would spend hours gazing down at him as he nursed, looking at that small hand laying on my breast.

Over the coming months the fingers learned to play. To clap. To play peekaboo. To bang on a drum or a xylophone. Those fingers supported him when he crawled, and then held tightly to mine as he took his first halting steps.

The year after that the fingers learned to draw, and to paint, and to dance along as he sang the Itsy-Bitsy Spider and the Wheels on the Bus. Later still they learned to count, and then to write.

With each passing month the fingers grew, in size and in skill. My matchstick baby was now a boy -- growing, learning, becoming stronger and more competent day by day.

He's six now. His fingers can write in two languages, can buckle his rollerskates, can play ping pong, can play cards, and turn a robot into a racecar. They're learning to tie shoes, and use a computer. They're bigger now. More solid. The baby pudge is disappearing, replaced with boyish solidity.

Those hands have always been my touchstone. My yardstick. When I think of how my child has grown since those first moments I think of his hands. More than his length, or his weight, it is his fingers that symbolize his growth. Six is so very big, and yet still so very small. I'm enchanted watching all that his fingers have learned to do, and wait with baited breath to see what they will learn in the years to come.

Someday those fingers will clutch a backpack and leave the house without me. Someday they will be too busy, too grownup to hold mine. Someday the fingers he wants to see entwined in his own won't be mine. And someday, those fingers will be drafted into the army and will have to learn to button a uniform and fire a gun, while all I can do is wait at home thinking of how those tiny matchstick fingers have grown, and pray that they will return home again safely.

I've decided to submit this post for Michelle's (Scribbit's) April Write-Away contest. The theme this month is "growth". I'm really looking forward to reading all the other entries, there are some tremendous writers out there.

Life's a Beach

We're all still on Passover vacation, so we took advantage of it and had a terrific picnic on the beach with some good friends. The kids ran and played in and out of the water all day. The water was still a bit cold for the adults (bar Jay, who's practically a member of the polar bear club). I admit that we're spoiled here in Tel Aviv, though. By the end of the summer swimming in the Mediterranean is a lot like swimming in a bathtub, and I love it.

We've apparently gone native, too. We had 8 adults, 7 kids, and a folding table literally groaning under the weight of all the food we brought. All that was missing was a folding picnic table with an umbrella and built in benches, and a small coal-fired hibachi, called a "mangal" here (no fires allowed on this beach). All summer long, heck, all year long, you see potbellied men bent over these little grills frantically waving a piece of cardboard back and forth in an effort to make the grill cook faster. It gets pretty comical at times. A year or so ago some company actually started selling plastic "fans" designed for just this purpose. It's amazing what kind of crap you can sell to people sometimes...

We finished out our day with drinks and Mexican food at a favorite pub (hamburgers and fries for the kids). It just doesn't get much better.

Sorry, no pictures though. We were too busy having fun to take any.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

TT #10 - Passover Edition - Create custom images

Passover is the Jewish holiday of freedom. It is a time when Jews the world over remember their redemption from slavery under Pharoah in Egypt. Today, Passover is not just a remembrance of past deliverance, but also a celebration of freedom in general and a chance to take stock and remember how very lucky we are to be living free today. In honor of Passover (which takes place from 4-9/4 this year) I give you a list of 13 types of freedom. Some are obvious while others we may take for granted. All are worth reflection.

Physical freedoms:
1. The ability to travel where you want
2. The ability to control your own body - sexually, reproductively and otherwise
3. The ability to do what you want
4. The ability to be safe in your daily life

Spiritual freedom:
5. The privilege of being able to openly express your thoughts
6. The privilege of being able to live according to your own inner compass

State freedom
7. The ability to live free in your own land
8. The ability to live under a government of your choosing

Freedom of religion
9. The ability to live according to your own creed
10. The ability to change this creed should you so choose
11. The ability to disregard this creed should you so choose

Individual freedom
12. The ability to love and marry someone of your own choosing, regardless of race, religion, creed or gender
13. The ability to engage in the profession of your choice

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Reaching beyond the box

I am so flattered. Christine has tagged me for a Thinking Blogger Award for this post. I'm enough of an exhibitionist and an attention-hound that I need to know people are reading my blog to really enjoy writing it, so I love any and all comments, but to be told that something I wrote actually made someone think in a new and different way is a compliment on another scale altogether. Thank you Christine, you've inspired me to reach higher in my writing.

It's now my turn to pass the award along to 5 other bloggers who've made me think and opened my eyes in a new way. It was hard to choose just 5, but these 5 posts really stood out for me, each in their own way:

Dorit for seeing the light that shines out of the darkness

Poppy Fields for the post Scooby Dooby Doo, Je t'aime on the unforeseen turns our lives take

SpaceMom for this post on teaching alcohol responsibility to teenagers, and on what our role should be as the shapers and teachers of these future adults

Planet Nomad, I mainly lurk on her blog, but she never fails to open my eyes. This post in particular made me stop and give thanks for so many of the little conveniences I take for granted.
Susan from West of Mars for her incredible ability to bring fiction to life. She paints a scene with such depth that you are hard-pressed to remember that it isn't real.
Happy reading everyone.

How participation works:

If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

Optional: Display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.

WFMW Car Edition - The Entertainment Bag

My tip is an "activity bag". I always keep a zippered tote bag stocked with various books, travel games, small toys, stickers, magic markers, paper, etc. right in my trunk. That way if we're out somewhere and decide to go out to eat we've always got something to keep the kids occupied while we order our food, wait for it, linger over coffee (ok, we don't actually make it quite that long very often, but a girl can dream can't she?), etc. It's also available if we need it for medium-sized trips if the kids' music has lost its appeal or if we find ourselves in unexpected traffic (I'm not a martyr, for long trips we break out the dvd player). I rotate the contents of the bag periodically so that it includes both current favorites and things they've managed to forget about long enough for them to become interesting again.

Go visit Shannon for Rocks in My Dryer's special Works For Me Wednesday Car Edition for more tips.

1am emergency room run

It's one am and my husband just left to take himself to the emergency room. A few hours ago he and Itai were playing nerf soccer in the living room and surprisingly enough what they apparently managed to break was not my breakfront with all the fragile ceramics that I kept warning them about but my husband's toe.

They were both playing barefoot and I have no idea how, but somehow they managed to kick each other as they both went for the ball and Jay ended up doubled up in pain on the floor. He waited a few hours to see if it really was in fact broken, and now that it looks like it may well be he's gone off to get it x-rayed. He figured that might actually be quicker now than tomorrow morning, and if he can make it he's got plans with the kids for the day while I work.

Oh, and just for good measure Itai has a goose egg on his forehead from cracking his head on the floor five minutes before the big foot crash. I'm going to have to buy stock in arnica cream.

I'm not going to bother saying I told you so. I'm just the mother. What do I know anyway.

Update: He got lucky. It's not broken, just very swollen and very painful.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Part-time pitfalls

Working part-time from home is fantastic for me, and an option that I know I am extremely lucky to have, about 95% of the time.

Today however is part of the other 5%.

The entire country is off for the Passover holiday today, with many people off for the entire 8 days. Unfortunately, because I work part-time by the hour, if I don't work, I don't get paid. And because I have some major family vacations coming up in the next few months I can't afford to take this extra week off. So, while my husband and children are off gallivanting around the country having fun I am home working. Phooey. I'm going to put in two lonnnng days today and tomorrow though, so that I can then take the rest of the week off and enjoy the remainder of the holiday with my family.

Off now to go put my nose back firmly on the grindstone...

On the bright side of things, we only have one seder night here in Israel. No need to spend 4 hours escaping from captivity in Egypt only to waltz right back into slavery the following night!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Happy Passover

A very happy Passover to all who are celebrating!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

The Laundry Fairy Came!

My dearest darling most wonderful and exalted husband did all the laundry yesterday (with a lot of help from Itai, who was bucking to earn some money LOL).

I stand humbled in his presence (and yes, he's reading over my shoulder and asking me whether I've let the internets know that he did in fact do all the laundry).