Friday, February 29, 2008

What Year Is This Again?

Yesterday afternoon I walked past the open back door of the bakery downstairs. They often leave the back door open all day, filling the alley with the aroma of freshly baked rolls and croissants. (Why yes, this is in fact hell on my diet. How did you know?) Yesterday though, it wasn't the smell of fresh baked goods that I noticed. I'm not even sure they were baking any. What I noticed was the music. It wasn't their usual top 40 pop. Instead it was George Michael's Careless Whisper that sauntered out to greet me.

It's funny how time can play games with your memories. I didn't even like that song when it came out. I was busy being a deadhead stoner (that's almost redundant, isn't it?) and would never have admitted liking a pop tune like Careless Whisper, even to myself. I was much too cool for that. In an ironic cosmic joke, however, I was forced to listen to it for hours on end until it infiltrated the very fiber of my being. That year, 1984, I was working at a clothing store in the mall, and corporate policy dictated that we had to listen a prerecorded selection of top 40 music. I'm sure it was developed after in-depth sessions with a focus group and with the declared goal of staying current and appealing to the appropriate demographic, but that didn't mean it appealed to me. Not by a long shot.

Working shifts in a mall there were moments of down time, time for gossiping with the other staff. During one of these moments I discovered that my new coworker was dating the teammate of my own on again off again "friend with benefits", for lack of a better term. We'd been seeing each other on and off for years, whenever I was between boyfriends, but that spring was the only time we'd actually tried, albeit halfheartedly, to make a go of it. Before, I'd just called him when I was between relationships and needed a date; he'd never volunteered a lot of information on his own status. I should have asked. I found out more that evening then I'd ever wanted to know. Our fledgling couple status died before it started, and the friendship never really recovered.

Today, 24 years later, hearing that song is like stepping into a time machine. I can still see the pale beige carpeting, the racks of polyester prom dresses and the crew neck sweaters (what on earth I was doing working in a store like that I'll never know. It didn't last long), and I can still hear George Michael coming through the tinny speakers in the ceiling. One line of one song and suddenly I'm back in 1984. I'm even singing along, for I still know all the words by heart. Thankfully the song ends eventually and the world spins back into its correct axis. It's 2008 again and I'm able to leave high school angst and poor decisions far behind and smile at how far I've come.

Still, every once in a while, I hear the strains of that old melody and wonder what happened to him. I wish him well, and hope that his life is a good one.

I was already writing this post for Sunday Scribblings time travel prompt in my head when I read about the new Flashback Friday, so here you go, two prompts in one. Twice the bang for your reading buck, or if you're a pessimist, half as much content. Either way, whatever works for you.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

TT - 13 Random Facts

Pot luck from me this week...

1. It's midnight on Wednesday and I've just realized that I forgot to get my TT ready. Pity, I had a good idea too.

2. I had a really crappy, stressful day today.

3. I can barely keep my eyes open now.

4. I really should be in bed instead of subjecting all of you to this drivel.

5. My husband fell asleep on the couch.

6. The news I was half-listening to just ended and now a Simpsons rerun is BLARING out of the television.

7. But I'm sitting here doing this instead of getting up to turn it off.

8. My satellite company just repurchased the broadcast rights to David Letterman after a long hiatus.

9. I'm discovering that he's just not that funny anymore.

10. He was a lot edgier 20 years ago.

11. Oh my god, I'm old enough to remember watching 20 years ago. Or more. Ack!

12. Today is my husband's birthday. Happy birthday Jay! Hope this next year is a terrific one.

13. Hey, the TT post is up already - I can post this and head to bed! Catch you in the morning everyone.

Visit the Thursday Thirteen hub to see what everyone else is counting this week.

WW - Psst... Can you bust me outta here?

Visit Wordless Wednesday for more pictures that speak for themselves.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Can a mother really be this clueless?

There is a child in my son's first grade class who is a serious problem. The kind of child any teacher would dread having in their class. Halfway through FIRST grade and he's already been suspended numerous times. I've heard of a group of parents that is even trying to get him expelled. This kid is bad news - not yet 7 years old, he's already a pro at theft, extortion, lying, fighting, you name it. If you looked at his school record you'd never believe he was just a first grader. He's gone after nearly every child in the class in turn, mine included, and is now at the point where he must sit at a special desk next to the teacher because he can't be left next to the other children. There's no father in the picture (I've heard rumors he's trouble himself, it wouldn't surprise me) and the mother is apparently completely useless. The entire class, bar one, avoids this kid like the plague. They don't like him, they've all been burned enough not to trust him, and they're scared of him. The only one that isn't is another little hooligan who is following right along in his path.

Given all of this, I was awfully surprised when Itai came home with a birthday invitation for this kid's party. He had no interest in going and I certainly had no interest in sending him. A few quiet checks around revealed that none of the other children (except for the junior bully) had any intention of going either, nor would their parents let them go if they did.

I definitely didn't want Itai at this party, and all his friends' parents seem to have felt the same way, but I still can't help but feel sorry for this boy, to have invited the whole class (or rather most of it, she ran out of invitations partway through!) and have no one show up. How very sad for him. And a rejection like that, deserved as it may be, is hardly likely to elicit any kind of behavioral revelation. Quite the opposite in all likelihood.

I have to wonder - what on earth was his mother thinking to set her son up for that kind of disappointment? Is she so completely clueless that she honestly didn't know? How can she be? Does she have any idea whatsoever what is going on with her son? Doesn't she see that he's not inviting friends over, not getting invitations to other children's homes? I hope for his sake that there were at least all sorts of cousins there to distract him from the fact that no one from his class came.

What a strange position this is to be in, disliking him and pitying him at the same time...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Just can't make sense of it

Someone asked me the other day why I'm no longer a practising Jew.

The short answer?

It's things like this, a horrible, tragic loss that I just can't get out of my head, and particularly several earlier ones much closer to home that ripped everything I ever believed in to shreds. I just can't do it. I can't find anything of the faith I used to have. No god I want to believe in could do things like this to poor innocent children, to a family. Some say "everything happens for a reason", or "god has a plan", or "we just can't know". I reject that. I reject that utterly and completely. If god has a plan to rip families apart, to let innocent babies die preventable deaths, to let women die just when they are finally starting to live, to leave young children alone, losing both parents in less than two years, then the only choice I have is atheism. I want no part of a god that lets these things happen. I cannot conceive of a good and kind and loving god who would let this happen, therefore there must be no god. I'd rather believe that we are on our own in this world than that there is a god who stands by and does nothing, leaving only desolation and loss where once was love and hope and promise.

I know many of you disagree, and I respect your faith, even if I no longer understand it. Envy it even, for I imagine it is a great comfort in times of need. Helena, may she rest in peace, had strong faith in god. I truly hope it was a comfort to her in the end, and that it will be to the children she has left behind. But it isn't for me. Not anymore.

And please. No flames and no preaching. Everyone is welcome to share their thoughts in an atmosphere of openness and mutual respect, and perhaps we can take comfort from each other, but I'm not looking to be converted or saved. If that happens this post will be taken down.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Goodbye my friend

I've just been told that Helena from Thrice-Blessed Momma, an incredible woman I was proud to call friend, has died, less than two years after her husband Andrew passed away. Her 5-year old triplets have now lost both their parents in the space of 2 years.

I was concerned when she suddenly stopped posting after mentioning that she was going for tests for some worrying symptoms, but in my wildest nightmares I never would have thought I'd get a message like this. My heart is broken for her children and family. What a devastating loss. Distance separates us, but please join me in holding them close in our hearts as they say goodbye to their mother tomorrow.

Goodbye Helena, z"l. You touched my life. I'll miss you my friend.

The Do-Over Button

If I were an inventor of magical objects, one of the things I'd invent first would be a Do-Over Button, a la Hermione Granger's timeturner, but infinitely less fragile and definitely not made out of gold. Could you imagine just throwing one of those in your purse? You'd spend half the day afraid it would break, and the other half afraid it would be stolen if you actually took it out to use it. No, I'm thinking of something infinitely more practical. Perhaps with a clip to attach it to your car keys, right between the electric locking thingie for the car and the key card from the gym. One push and you get a do-over for the last minute.

Imagine how helpful a button like this could be:

Stuck your foot in your mouth? Just push the Do-Over Button.

Something come out harsher than you'd intended? No sweat, you've got a Do-Over Button. Just try again, and this time give the answer you wished you'd given the first time. Think of how many fights could be avoided this way...

Child do something incredibly cute seconds before you managed to get the camera out? The Do-Over Button will give you a second chance at catching that perfect shot.

Fall down the stairs while holding the baby? I actually did this one. Boy could I have used a Do-Over Button that day. I managed to keep the baby from hitting the ground thank goodness, but I ended up black and blue from head to toe.

Fender-bender in the parking lot? No problem. That's what the Do-Over Button is for.

Of course it would only work for the owner, so you'd still not be able to make sure your team scored that all important goal just as the buzzer rang or keep your preschooler from learning to juggle with your good wine glasses, but still, think of all those awkward moments you would love to do over if you just had the chance.

If only it were real... Forget the moments I could redo, I could retire tomorrow on the royalties!

The Writers Island prompt for this week is second chance.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Guess where I was today

I had the good fortune to be able to have an absolutely delightful lunch with the even lovelier in person than on her blog Phyllis - Imabima herself! She's been here in Israel for a week leading a tour group and we were able to squeeze in lunch before she heads home to Chicago tonight.

We had a great time talking and laughing together. It was the first time we've met and yet we were able to jump right in like old friends. I love blogland...

Here we are at the Carmel Market after lunch holding the very cool reusable shopping bag that I won in Phyllis' Tu B'Shvat giveaway. Now that's what I call special delivery. (Ignore the squinting, we were looking into the sun.)

And Phyllis, the bag was in use by this afternoon. I had to shlep that big bag of goodies from the Asian market plus a birthday gift for a friend, a fancy shoebox that Maya's been carting back and forth to school, a few things the kids wanted from the bakery and a few other odds and ends. It came in very handy, and I'll be putting it straight back into the car for next time :). Thanks again buddy.

TT - And now for the B's

Since everyone enjoyed the A's so much last week, here are the B's - name-calling Shakespeare style (don't worry, I won't be going through the whole alphabet. I've got an idea for a book list next, I just haven't had a chance to put it together yet):
  1. Bacon-Fed Knaves (and bacon is a problem why?)

  2. Bag Of Flax (mine is a food additive, but I could try using it as an insult instead I suppose)

  3. Barren-Spirited Fellow

  4. Base And Humble Mind
  5. Base Ignoble Wretch
  6. Base Minnow Of Mirth
  7. Bawd Between Fold And Want (I don't even know what this one means)
  8. Beauty's Canker
  9. Bed-Swerver
  10. Blasting And Scandalous Breath
  11. Boil'd Brains (sounds appetizing)
  12. Bolting Hutch Of Beastliness
  13. Breeder Of Dire Events

I think I'll name 5 and 12 as my favorites this week. What are yours?

Don't forget to visit Thursday Thirteen to see what everyone else is talking about this week. Hey wait a minute - this week's TT isn't up yet. Nevermind, we'll just start without them.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Blog Fodder - You Asked For It

(If you're looking for Wordless Wednesday please scroll down.)

Wow, great questions. You guys will give my muse a run for her money. She'll have to haul her butt back here soon or she may find herself out of a job!

From L the D:

1. Are you American by birth? Yes, I was born and raised in a suburb of NYC. My husband grew up in New Jersey.

2. If so, are you considered Israeli now, or are you an ex-pat? I'm both. I have dual citizenship, as do my husband and children.

3. Do you live in an ex-pat community? Nope. Not hardly. *throws self down on the floor laughing hysterically and mumbling to herself*. While there are many communities in Israel that have a high proportion of "Anglos" (native English speakers) my town is definitely not one of them. My children are both the only anglos in their schools. I'd say that anglos in this town are few and few between, but the truth is that they are, by complete coincidence, few and close together. I have two English-speaking friends from my town, and they both live on my block! What are the chances of that? (Slightly higher than you might think, it's a hi-density urban block, but still. Come on. Roll with me here.)

4. If you are an ex-pat, what's that like? Israel is full of immigrants from other countries, so while I do self-identify (sometimes, not all the time) as an American-Israeli I don't consider myself an ex-pat. To me, an ex-pat is someone living, often just temporarily, in a country not their own. Israel is very much my country, just as the US is. I vote in both countries, pay taxes in both countries, and hold a passport for both countries. My life is in Israel though, and has been for nearly 20 years.

5. Which languages do you speak (besides English)? Hebrew, and some French. I used to speak completely fluent French but sadly it went completely out of my head when I learned Hebrew. I can barely order dinner in French these days.

6. What's your favorite part about living in Israel? 8 months of gorgeous weather, great friends, great restaurants, how cosmpolitan Tel Aviv has become in the past 20 years, so many things

7. Consequently, what's your least favorite part about living in Israel? The politicians on BOTH sides who let self-serving interests, greed and fear keep them from moving this country forwards toward a real and lasting peace.

From Janet:

How old were you when you first were interested in writing? I wasn't really interested in writing until I was an adult, surprisingly. I always wrote well, but my writing was primarily academic. When I wasn't in school, I didn't write. I didn't start keeping (an online) journal until I was trying to get pregnant with Itai, and then stopped soon after he was born. I was active on several message boards in the interim but didn't start writing for the sake of writing again until I started blogging in November 2006. I work as a markcom writer/editor now, and even with that and blogging I'm never really sure I can call myself a writer.

Did you write stories as a child? Nope

From Jen at Laughing at Chaos:

As a kid, did you know what you wanted to "be" when you grew up and did you make it? You're going to laugh. I wanted to grow up and "go to meetings and carry a briefcase". Have you spit your coffee all over your keyboard yet? I stayed fairly consistent with that as my lofty and well-defined career goal throughout my childhood, except for a brief desire, circa Nadia Comaneci's triumph in the 1980 Olympics, to be an Olympic gymast (a dream sadly crushed by my utter inability to do a backwards somersault) and a later dalliance with the idea of becoming a peace corps volunteer - my mother crushed that one by telling me that I wouldn't have outdoor plumbing. I was a somewhat girly child... As I got older, I refined the "meetings and briefcase" idea into a career in international business.

Are you where you expected to be, doing what you thought you would do, or did you take another path? I actually did spend over 10 years with a fairly successful career in international business, but I quit the rat race when my son was born. I knew that I didn't want to try to combine motherhood with 60+ hour weeks and never-ending travel. I now work part-time from home for the same company, but in a completely different capacity from my original business development position and love the freedom and flexibility that that gives me (came in very handy when Itai was sick last week). I never expected to become a lactation consultant either. I doubt many LC's do before they become mothers themselves.

From Planet Nomad:

How many countries have you been in? (Airport countries don't count) This one is going to be tough. Let's see... Okay, I've got it. 26. Still loads more to see out there.

How much do haircuts cost in Israel? A cut and color with my (out in the burbs and so cheaper) guy is NIS 200, which was only about $45 a year ago but which now thanks to George Bush and the tanking US dollar is now $55! And yes, my salary is tied to the dollar. Great, huh?

Are you sure your muse wears flowy gowns? Absolutely. It's positively diaphonous (just showing her I can still use big fancy words without her help). And she's got ringlets and possibly a simple gold tiara too, a la all those Greek goddesses I learned about so long ago.

From Margalit (who is mistaken about the size of my kitchen - it's large by apartment standards because we knocked down a wall, but these days people building their own houses tend to build larger kitchens than the ones she's remembering. In fact, they're often called "American kitchens".):

Do you have American appliances? Just a few that have survived from my original shipment back in 1991 (I think all that's left is my fridge and my bedroom television). My washer, dryer and dishwasher are German (AEG) and my stove and oven are French (Rosieres). Oh, my bbq grill is American, but it is a piece of crap and is hopefully being replaced with a Weber this summer, if we can manage to carry back the smaller one. (For some reason those are still frightfully expensive here.)

What is the rest of your house like? Let's see... I live in a "rooftop" apartment, which is basically a penthouse where the rooftop patio is off the upper level instead of off the living room. The downstairs (which is actually on the 8th floor of my building) has everything except the master bedroom. Upstairs is the master bedroom and the roof, which is private. (All of the 4 top floor apartments have one. The lower floors just have small balconies.) We did a huge renovation two years ago after our plumbing basically self-destructed so the floors, paint, two (of three) bathrooms and the kitchen are all new. The only rooms we didn't touch were the two kids' rooms and the back computer/laundry/guest room. I'll dig out some before and after pictures if you're curious. The colors are mostly earth tones, the walls are beige (which in itself was a pretty significant departure from the typical Israeli stark white). The kitchen you can see in my header. The kids rooms are decorated in a more "American" style - fish and boats and blue carpeting for Itai, and flowers and bees and pale carpeting for Maya. Both rooms, but especially Maya's, are due for some updating. We may redo hers this summer.

Do you have terazzo floors with a drain in them (I have an abiding love for those easy to clean floors)? We used to have terrazo but we replaced it with large (45cm square) ceramic tiles when we did the renovations. The kids rooms are carpeted. The back room still has the old terrazo but I try to ignore that. The drains are only in the bathrooms and aren't really used. It's a lot easier and faster to just dry the floor. We do use the drain on the roof though.

What's the deal with an Israeli baseball team? We had a professional league (the Israel Baseball League) for the first time last summer! I even took Itai to a game (think slightly better than high school baseball and much more relaxed) but there were some financial scandals and I don't know if they're going to return for a second season. He'll be terribly disappointed if they don't. (By the way, the (very small) crowd at the game was almost entirely American. It was a real taste of home.)

What newspaper do you read daily? Haaretz online (the English version, I'm lazy).

How's the grapefruit this year? Excellent as usual, but my favorite is always pomelits. So sweet. We've also been buying a lot of clementines. Both kids love them, Maya in particular has become addicted to them, which I'm thrilled about. She's so limited in terms of what she'll eat that any new food is a cause for celebration, especially one as healthy as that!

Are your kids addicted to Bislis or Bombas? Nope. They prefer Apropos (like Bugles) or better yet Click (various types of chocolate balls, which their mean mom won't buy very often). They're real favorite junk food is Milkies though - basically chocolate pudding with whipped cream on top. I buy one for each as a bribe to keep them well-behaved while I'm in the supermarket. Maya clutches hers for dear life until she gets home.

From Fairly Odd Mother:

If you weren't a wife and mother, what do you think you'd be doing right about now? Probably still jet-setting from meeting to meeting.


Thanks guys, hopefully the competition will scare that danged Muse into coming back home where she belongs.

Anyone else have questions they missed asking?

WW - All Tuckered Out

Visit Wordless Wednesday for more pictures that speak for themselves.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Missing: One Muse

Has anyone seen her? She's about this big, wears flowy gowns, inspires bouts of great writing...

My muse seems to have buggered off for parts unknown. My writing is flat and uninspired, no new ideas are jockeying for a chance at their 15 minutes of fame, heck, even my hair is drab looking. (Note to self: must find time to go in and get your color touched up. The skunk look does not become you.) I've had fleeting hints of inspiration (a trip back to Renaissance Europe for Writers Island's "time travel" prompt, a book review I've been wanting to write, tortured descriptions of the rain streaming down outside my windows, recipes to post, an Ode to Mount Laundry...) but nothing is coming together. A few more days of this and I'm going to have to resort to posting silly little "what color flower are you?" quizzes and other drivel.

Tell you what. I'm going to steal an idea from Scribbit turn it around on you guys. It's your turn to provide the inspiration. What burning questions have you been dying to ask but just haven't worked up the guts gotten around to it? Come on folks, help me out, I need content here.

Hello? Hellooooo? Hellooo-hellooooo-helloooooooo?? Echo-echoooo-echoooo... Anyone out there? Bueller? Bueller?

Damn, now I've scared them off.

Monday, February 18, 2008


The birthday party report. (And yes, he's wearing the jersey. Are you surprised?)

Through what was apparently sheer willpower alone Itai managed to keep his fever down long enough for us to agree that he could go to school Friday morning (they have short days on Fridays) to celebrate his birthday with his class as planned (just chocolate balls, fruit punch, party favors and a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday - this is party light), then home to nap for two hours (Jay slept, Itai didn't) before heading off to his own birthday party that afternoon.

He'd invited 10 kids to a bowling party, 2 were also down with the flu but the 8 that came had a great time - once we went to the correct bowling alley. Yes, I'm an utter and complete idiot and brought everyone to the wrong bowling alley! I had no idea there were two. I walked in, kids and a few accompanying parents in tow and cake in hand to find out that they had no record of me whatsoever! Luckily the correct location wasn't far away and turned out to be much lower key and a great place for a group of young kids.

Itai was pretty much running on adrenalin alone but he had a great time, and even Maya bowled a few rounds with a bit of help from mom. (Do they call them rounds? I have no idea. I haven't been bowling in at least twenty years...) We even bumped into a famous basketball player at the bowling alley - didn't excite me all that much, truth be told I had no idea who he was, but one of the other fathers was utterly thrilled, even got a picture of his kid sitting on the guy's lap. And to warm my over-achieving cake decorating heart, all the kids flipped over the cake, and the staff in the place even thought it was professionally done (if it had been I'd have overpayed, it really looked pretty amateurish up close LOL).

All in all, Itai had a great, and reasonably healthy, day, but the excitement did him in. He relapsed the following morning and ended up home sick again today. His fever's been gone for 24 hours now though, so it's back to school again in the morning.

Just to keep us on our toes though Jay is now sick, which is threatening to do in our very long awaited two nights away at a fabulous spa up north. Send us all some healthy vibes if you've got 'em. We've had quite enough illness already and mama really really REALLY needs a massage... (Update: Jay's still sick, looks like we're postponing. We'll try again mid-March.)

I'm off to go sleep on the couch now. No need to risk catching whatever Jay's got.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Sleep - the holy grail of new parents. Will the baby sleep? Is the baby sleeping? Why isn't she sleeping? Why isn't she waking up? Oh god why won't she just sleep already? When on earth will she sleep? Oh no, she can't be up AGAIN?


My children are now old enough that once asleep (albeit a challenge for my youngest, but getting more manageable lately) they tend to stay asleep until morning (and in their own beds at that, unless they are sick or something else strange is going on). Heck, I can even pick my youngest up out of bed and help her to the bathroom, all without waking her up. Staying asleep? Not a problem. An earthquake would not wake up either of them in the morning. Alarm clocks certainly don't. Buckets of ice water I'm not sure about, but I've been awfully tempted to find out some mornings.

As he approached his seventh birthday, my oldest suddenly started to change his long-held sleeping patterns. After years of sleeping through the night, we're now getting a middle of the night visitor. I suspect that he is so busy being a Big Kid doing Big Kid Things during the day that the little kid he still is inside still needs those nighttime snuggles.

As for me, the lost sleep is worth it. I know these moments won't last forever. I treasure them while they're here, knowing we're creating loving memories to last us both a lifetime.

The Sunday Scribblings prompt for this week is sleep.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

TT - Name Calling, Shakespearean Style

Let's start with the "A"s, shall we. Enjoy...

1. A Filthy Piece Of Work
2. A Mere Dull Shadow
3. A Mind Diseas'd
4. A Very Toad
5. Abandoner Of Revels
6. Abject Drudge
7. Affable Wolf
8. Affecting Rogue
9. And Nothing Of A Man
10. Amorous Surfeiter
11. Anointed Sovereign Of Sighs And Groans
12. Arrant Counterfeit Rascal
13. Ass-Head

"Anointed Sovereign Of Sighs And Groans". They just don't write them like that anymore... Unfortunately, the website I took these from didn't provide citations so I can't tell you which comes from where without spending a lot of hours in my very musty copy of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, but they're still fun even without the references. Besides, this way you get to guess.

Which one is your favorite?

Look here for more Thursday Thirteens, and have a great day.

PS Up posting at 1:30am with sick kid. He's still running a high fever. Fingers crossed he's healthy enough for his birthday party Friday afternoon!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The birthday that wasn't

Poor Itai. Today is his 7th birthday, and where is he? Upstairs sleeping in my bed, his body wracked by fever. He's really sick, and SO disappointed. We had to cancel the celebrations in his afternoon program today, and needless to say he will not be showing all his friends his new Maccabi Haifa soccer jersey* today. We tried to cheer him up a bit by offering to celebrate his birthday this morning instead of waiting until tonight, but the poor thing just couldn't get out of bed.

So instead of the birthday cake and festivities planned for him at his afternoon program he'll get a few cupcakes out of the freezer arranged like a seven (I did at least put his name on them) . I just hope that he's healthy again by Friday - he's supposed to celebrate with his class then, and his actual birthday party (bowling - the latest fad among the 7 year old set) is scheduled for Friday afternoon (and lest anyone think I've lost my birthday cake decorating drive, yes, I'm planning on making an actual cake for that one, I just didn't figure he needed two different ones in one day).

Keep your fingers crossed that this passes quickly - and that it doesn't strike anyone else in the family! Jay and I are supposed to go away for two nights mid-next week and we don't have coverage if the kids are sick!

* The new jersey has quite a story behind it. Last week Itai and I were leaving our building when he saw a man in a Maccabi Haifa jacket waiting for the elevator. He immediately started talking to him about the team. Next thing I know the guy was asking Itai who his favorite player was and what is his shirt size. Turns out, he's the official printer for the national soccer league. He promised Itai a team shirt. Since I had no idea who he was or how likely he was to follow through I warned Itai not to get his hopes up. Imagine my surprise when there was a knock on the door last night and there stood this same neighbor and his 3-year old daughter, Maccabi Haifa bag in hand! He was grinning from ear to ear as he presented Itai with an official #12 soccer jersey - signed by nearly the whole team! Itai was so excited I'm surprised he didn't sleep with the shirt last night. One of the first things he said when he realized he couldn't go to school today was that now no one would see his new shirt. (See my previous post for a picture of my oh so proud soccer fan modeling his new threads.)

Seven Years Old Today

Monday, February 11, 2008

Laying low today

Or rather wishing I could.

I had a minor surgical procedure done today (no big deal, I'm fine), but it was a bit more "surgical" than I had originally thought and has left me looking and feeling a bit frail and out of balance, not to mention conspicuous. The lesions I'm left with as I heal are worse than what went before, so I'm having trouble remembering that I actually wanted this procedure done. Instead of celebrating I feel more like getting into bed and hiding under the covers for a few hours but I've got a day and evening full of commitments.

Maybe I'll just lie down for a little while...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Nearing Seven

I still find it hard to believe, but I have been on this mothering journey for nearly seven years. Seven years exactly come 4:15pm on Wednesday. After all these years, and despite this having been a very much planned, hoped for and wanted pregnancy, I still wake up sometimes marvelling at how my life has changed. How my family has changed. How that tiny little baby with the matchstick fingers has grown into a real boy. A sports-obsessed boy who's not half-bad with a soccer ball (where did he get that, certainly not from his parents...). How he's been joined by a sister who loves singing and dancing and Dora and Mickey Mouse. And ice cream. They both love ice cream. (So does their mother for that matter.)

My life has changed so much since he arrived in our lives, but I think that inside I have changed even more. I can barely remember what life was like before (though I do have vague recollections of being more rested and less sticky). I am more patient (most of the time) than I would have ever dreamed possible. I get more pleasure out of shopping for my children than I do out of shopping for myself. (Though I think all that extra weight they helped pack on me may account for that - why can't there be some way to preserve the beautiful inner changes without all the not so beautiful external ones?). I know what unconditional love is, and I know about raw fear. I can spend hours poring over birthday cake pictures or choosing the perfect party favor just to put a smile on my child's face as he proudly hands them out at school, even though I know that the silly little favor from the dollar store will be all but forgotten in a day or two.

I've learned that I can be soft, and that I can be hard. I learned that these mothering instincts extend to the children of strangers as well when I ran in to swoop an unsuspecting toddler out of the way of a high flying swing while his babysitter chatted on her cellphone without a care in the world (note to self: do not hire this babysitter). I've learned to be more giving and less selfish. I've learned the importance of setting boundaries, and the importance of allowing those boundaries to bend when understanding is what's needed. I've learned that no two days will ever be the same. Never the same, and never predictable. My world has changed, and I have changed with it.

Into a mother.

And I thank my lucky stars for that every single day.

The Writers Island prompt for this week is changed.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Fridge Space

Fridge space - inside, outside, and on top - is definitely at a premium in our house. I'm choosing to see it as a sign of a home that while somewhat chaotic and cluttered is still well-functioning and happy, rather than as a sign of some kind of compulsive neurosis.

School papers, bills to pay, reading lists and "important papers" all vie with children's artwork and an insane number of magnets (I think that odd socks must morph into fridge magnets when no one is looking) for space on the front.

Inside it's all the things that keep a household functioning and keep two cooks happy - 2 kinds of milk, several kinds of yogurt, the strawberry yogurt drinks the kids are both addicted to, a ridiculous number of cheeses both hard and soft, a white bean and tuna salad, vegetables purchased this morning from the greengrocer, all sorts of fresh fruit (except fresh pineapple - that one didn't make it an hour today), a kilo of chicken breasts waiting to be turned into schnitzels later today (coated with those horrible orange commercial bread crumbs instead of nice healthy homemade ones so that said schnitzels can then be placed in the store-bought schnitzel package and thus passed off as mass-produced garbage to my connoisseur children who stubbornly refuse to eat the homemade), various sourdough starters all waiting to have various things done to them at various times, chocolate milk, beer, white wine, a ton of eggs, and all sorts of condiments, sauces, leftovers and other assorted odds and ends.

The freezer is also completely stuffed right now - it holds packages of meat, two kinds of hot dogs, an empty bag of store-bought schnitzels waiting to be filled (see above), cream of eggplant soup saved from a batch I made two weeks ago, 3 tubs of ice cream (all leftover from this year's ICFBD, even after I begged everyone to take them home again. My friends simply cannot be trusted!), two tubs of spreadable butter my husband just bought on sale only to discover that they will shortly expire (hence the freezer), a small loaf of blue cheese bread, a few pitas, and of course "The Door of Flour" (doesn't that sound like the door of doom or something else ominous? It's really quite benign, except for the fact that I'm constantly afraid that the shelf guard is going to collapse under the pressure and all those kilo bags of flour will fall on my feet and then burst in a cloud of floury kitchen devastation).

Now given all of this, why isn't there anything to eat?

Just kidding... Sort of.

Visit Sunday Scribblings to see what others do with their fridge space.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

TT - 13 Spices on my Shelf

I buy most of my spices fresh by weight from any one of several local stores. The only thing is they all use short round little containers to sell the spices, which were wreaking havoc on my spice shelf (the bottom part of which is visible just above my blog title - there's another little shelf and a small cabinet above that). I was delighted to find a bunch of plastic spice bottles at a paper goods store last week for just a few cents a bottle so I stocked up and have been happily transferring things into these much more manageable containers all week. Since I've got spices on the brain here are 13 of the spices currently stocked in my kitchen. In no particular order they are:

1. Paprika - sweet and hot (I'm Hungarian after all)
2. Cumin
3. "Shata Esh" chili powder - devastatingly hot
4. Cayenne pepper - both crushed and flakes
5. Oregano
6. Marjoram
7. Nutmeg
8. Cinnamon
9. Allspice
10. Dried coriander

11. Baharat - a Middle Eastern spice used in kubbeh. I also really like it in savory puff pastry dishes.
12. Cardamom - both dried and seeds
13. Curry

And of course salt, 3 different kinds of pepper, ginger, garlic powder (not that I use that that much, I greatly prefer fresh garlic), cloves, Mexican spice mix, Cajun spice mix, and a whole host of other stuff, but that would put me way over 13, so just pretend I didn't say anything ;-).

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tagged! and Bling!

Lucy from LuLu's Petals tagged me for the 5 random things meme a while back.

These are the rules :

1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.

2. A. Share 5 random and/or weird facts about yourself on your blog; or

B. Share the 5 top places on your “want to see or want to see again” list; or

C. Share 5 things you never pictured being in your future when you were 25 years old.

3. Tag a minimum of 5, maximum of 10 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.

4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.The tagees have a choice of which they want to do.

I'll go for A - five random facts:

1. I'm banned for life from wearing contact lenses. My eyes are too dry and the lenses end up stuck to my eyes. Not good.

2. Our house is home to the amazing travelling betta fish - he was blue, then went off on vacation and came back with a suntan (red), then went back to being blue again once the "tan" faded, and now he's off on vacation again. He will reappear as soon as I get around to visiting the pet store ;-).

3. Our home, like most in Israel, is built of concrete blocks. Because of this and because it doesn't get any afternoon sun, it's actually colder INSIDE than it is outside. It's a gorgeous day out but I'm sitting here with the heat on because it's freezing inside!

4. I have an incredible weakness for chocolate frosting straight from the can. Thankfully it isn't available in Israel right now.

5. I can still speak "Ibe" language - a crazy imaginary language my bunkmates and I all spoke one summer at sleepaway camp. Our counselor's name was Eve, which was too easily recognized in Ibe, so instead since she didn't shave we called her Hairy (in Ibe) all summer long so that we could talk about her behind her back right to her face. She deciphered Ibe language by the end of the summer and was able to understand everything we'd been saying about her. 11-year old girls can be very cruel. I hope we didn't hurt her feelings too badly.

I'm going to leave this tag open for anyone who'd like to do it. If you do leave a note in comments so that I can swing by for a visit.

And now for the bling:

I've got a whole heap of bright shiny goodness to pass out. (Yes, I really should do this before it all piles up in an embarrassing heap, shouldn't I...)

First is the True Blue award from Maddy - if you haven't discovered her wonderful writing and insights into parenting both typical and autistic children you are really missing out. And she said I was witty too. Love that woman. Love her.

I'm going to award this one to the amazing and incredible Susan - WhyMommy. If anyone epitomizes inspiration it is Susan. Help cheer her on as she beats inflammatory breast cancer.

Both Janet and Susan surprised me with the You Make My Day award. These are two amazing women.

Janet takes the most beautiful photographs and writes about all sorts of things, from Lord of the Rings to delicious recipes for Japanese food (and I will hopefully get to meet her next summer!).

Susan is working her tail off to give publishing life to Trevor and the rest of the ShapeShifter gang over at West of Mars. Go read their antics and you'll agree that this woman deserves a big fat book contract! And, she's very generously sending me a book just because the title is the same as my birthday!

This one goes to Melissa Garrett, who always makes my day with a funny story or an inspiring post from the trenches of a WAH writer/mother, and to Grace over at Sandier Pastures. One of my most faithful readers, where would I be without Grace's generous spirit and her fascinating insights into a country that is near and yet still so far away from me.

I'm also passing it to Josie Two-Shoes (no link) because her latest news has put a big huge smile on my face, and to all of you readers out there. Just knowing that you are there, actually reading what I write, makes my day. Love you guys.

Next up is the M'Wah award from Grace.

I'm going to plant my own big sloppy one on Jen, Just Jen, Maddy and Kelley (who gets an extra one since its her 18th anniversary today - it is still today in Australia, isn't it?), for helping me and cheering me on as I figure out what it means to be the mother of a very special child.

And last but very definitely not least, this one from Suprina, who I didn't even realize was still reading and who said one of the very nicest things anyone has ever said to me.

This one I am going to pass back to Susan, for all the hard work she is doing to promote her fellow writers, and to Phyllis, who is the coolest rabbi mama I know. She's got all sorts of great things going on on her blog - and I'm going to meet her soon too, because she's coming to Israel for a visit!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

It's a kind of magic

I've been thinking about this prompt for two days but I just can't get past that lyric. Every time I try Freddy Mercury's voice fills my head and Christopher Lambert's sad eyes smile before me. Every. Single. Time. I finally decided that I do not in fact need the universe to hit me over the head with an actual sledgehammer before getting the message, so I am caving to the inevitable and writing about the magic that is music.

At its best, music can transform your very soul. It can raise you up, or cast you down. It can set your feet to tapping and your eyes to dancing. Music can unite, and it can divide. It can be as fleeting as a one-hit wonder, or it can endure for centuries. Did you know that the Animals' song The House of The Rising Sun has roots over 400 years old? It began its life in the 1600's as a song called The Rising Sun, and has grown and changed over the years, until the ubiquitiousness of modern technology caused the Animals' version to implant in all of our brains. As a long-time folkie with a particular affinity for the folk process and the more academic musicology side of the genre (I used to have a recording of 17 different versions of The Unfortunate Rake, probably more familiar to many of you as either the St. James Infirmary Blues or The Streets of Laredo), the way these songs reach out to us through the ages, their staying power, is something that defies rational thought and instead touches something indescribable deep inside of us.

Now you tell me.

Isn't that a kind of magic?

Aaaaaaand the winner is...

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:301
Timestamp: 2008-02-03 06:25:13 UTC

Number 301 - the very lovely LaLa from Ladybugs and Dragonflies will be drinking her tea and coffee in style with her new porcelain tea set for two! I can't wait to see pictures a few years from now of her beautiful Annslee and hopefully home very soon Malia having their own sisters tea party with it.

LaLa, please e-mail me with your contact info so that I can go stock up on incredible amounts of bubble wrap and get your package on its way.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The thing about traveling

Is that you never know just what you are going to encounter. Sometimes it is the highlights you remember, and sometimes it is the lowlights.

Years ago Jay and I took my parents, in Israel for a visit, down to Jordan to visit Petra and Wadi Rum. We engaged a private guide who took us on the most wonderful adventures, the kind of trip that you remember for a lifetime. Everything went perfectly. He had us hike to Petra through a deserted back entrance, not a tourist in sight, coming upon the city just as the setting sun turned it to gold. We had tea in the desert with some of his Bedouin friends, who even went so far as to make up my mother and me with traditional Bedouin makeup. We finally ended with a picnic in the desert and then it was time to head for the border and return home.

En route, we stopped at a roadside stand for a icy cold cold lukewarm drink. Never ones to miss an opportunity for a pitstop, after finishing our drinks my mother and I headed around the back of the building looking for a bathroom. We found what may very well have been the very foulest outhouse on the face of the planet. I'd have preferred to just go behind a bush, but unfortunately tall bushes are in a bit of a short supply in the middle of the desert, so it was this vile hole in the floor or nothing, and we had a long way yet to travel. To make matters worse, the signs on the doors were only in Arabic. Which door to choose? In desperation, we finally split up, one going one way and one the other, determined to get in and out quickly enough that we wouldn't have to draw a breath inside.

When we finally made it back across to the Israeli side of the border, I was in a big hurry to get to a clean toilet. Unfortunately, that was the day the security people chose to train new employees. I stood there dancing from foot to foot as the woman asked her trainee "look at that shape, what does it look like to you? How about that one? What about the square one?" The trainee was having terrible trouble with the square shape and my situation was becoming increasingly desperate. After three fumbled attempts by the trainee, I couldn't take it anymore. I finally yelled to her "it's a soapdish! A damn soapdish! Now can you FINALLY let me through so I can get to the freaking bathroom already???" Needless to say her trainer was less than amused, but she finally stopped glaring long enough to let me through.

Yes, all the glory of Petra, the magesty of Wadi Rum, and it's the bathrooms that stand out the most in my memory. I'm nothing if not sophisticated.