Monday, March 30, 2009

Haveil Havalim is up

This week, Jack himself is hosting Haveil Havalim. I don't know how often we in the Jewish blog world let Jack know how much his efforts at organizing this weekly blog carnival are appreciated. It is a thankless job, and he certainly doesn't have to do it. But he does because he cares, and because he understands that collectively our voices are much greater and stronger than if we each stood (or wrote) alone.

So go on over to his blog. Don't just read Haveil Havalim, read the rest of it as well and I think you'll be entertained and informed by his eclectic mix of Random Thoughts. And if you haven't yet hosted and edition of HH, sign up. It's fun, it increases your traffic and it's a good way of showing Jack he's not alone.

I'm available in the summer, Jack. I'll contact you for the specific week.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Between the sheets

A few posts ago, I took a survey. I asked you to tell me how often the sheets were changed in your home. For some reason this post garnered an unusually high number of comments. It seems that people are literally ready, able and willing to air out their dirty laundry; all you have to do is ask.

If you think I'm actually going to take the time to figure out the average, well, then you really don't know me that well, do you? But the range went from weekly changing (but the few who did it that often admitted to having their cleaning lady do it--good for you!) to "You're supposed to change your sheets?". Most people seem to change the sheets every other week (my friend Laura said, "unless Pnina says otherwise"; Pnina is our local lice lady.)

I'm going to come clean and tell you that I change the sheets every other week in my mind, but many times I let it go that extra week. For example, the last time I changed the sheets was two weeks ago this coming Sunday, but I'll wait the extra week in honor of the upcoming Pesach holiday. Because I'm afraid I won't have enough to do the week of Pesach itself. (But please, nobody take a survey of how often I wash the blankets).

I was inspired to take the survey as I was changing the sheets to my own bed last time. I love a freshly made bed. I love the smell, the crispness. For my bed we have three different sets of sheets and I rotate them. I'm always happy when its my favorite set's turn to be put on the bed. I love the feeling at night of putting on a fresh pair of pajamas (every six months or so) and slipping between those newly laundered sheets.

The second night of clean sheet is just not the same. By then I'm starting to feel the grains of dust the kids have left behind. Why can't they wipe their feet before they get in my bed? Better yet, get into your own bed!!! Sigh. And then of course the corners of the sheets keep popping off the bed. After a few nights the bed is just not as much fun anymore, if you know what I mean, and I'm looking forward to the next batch of sweet-smelling sheets.

By the way, SuperRaizy, was interested in how often people changed their underwear...I'm not, so you can head on over to her blog to answer that question.

And finally, Haveil Havalim has been up at Benjy's What War Zone?. He's really funny, you should go take a look.

Shabbat Shalom and a great weekend to all.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

1,000 days

What were you doing on June 25, 2006?

That year it was a Sunday. I was probably having a lazy day. Perhaps I was packing Liat up for camp, doing some shopping. It's likely that we were barb-b-q-ing, either at our home or at a friend's. I know I was thinking about our upcoming month-long vacation in Israel in August; we had been planning and saving for this vacation for over two years.

While you and I are were going about our business, early on Sunday morning Gilad was captured by Palestinian terrorists who attacked an Israeli army post on the Israeli side of the southern Gaza Strip border after having crossed through an underground tunnel near the Kerem Shalom border crossing. 1,000 days have passed since then.

What did you do today?

What do you think Gilad did?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Finally, a date

It's been a long time since Isaac and I have gone out, alone, to a nice place, just to relax and be together. But lately we've had some occasions to celebrate, so we decided to take the time and do just that.

We went to Buffalo, a steak restaurant on Emek Refaim. I'd take the time to describe the ambience of the restaurant, but I'm tired, and who are we kidding, what you really want to know is what we ate and how much it cost. The food was really yummy. I am usually all about dairy and pasta, but those eateries are a dime a dozen here, all serving those "tostim" and salads. I wanted meat, but didn't want that Jersualem Mixed Grill type of place with all the salatim and chumus (sorry, Benji) and techina. I don't love steak, but Buffalo wasn't only about the steak. To start, Isaac had sweet-and-spicy chicken wings with a ranch dressing and I had tomatoe soup. The wings were tangy and had a great kick to them and the tomatoe soup tasted like grilled tomatoes. My mouth is watering as I am remembering this. Best part of this course is that Isaac doesn't care for tomatoe soup so I didn't have to share, but of course he had to share the wings with me. But he didn't mind. After all, it was a date.

For the main course I had roasted chicken in some kind of yummy sauce (I'd really make it as a food critic, wouldn't I?) with rice and salad. Isaac had some kind of boneless chicken that was extremely tender, but not so flavorful--it was the only dissappointing part of the meal. But it also came with a salad and these huge french fries, which of course he also shared with his beloved. That would be me.

Am I boring you yet? Aren't you glad we don't go out more often?

For dessert we shared the chocolate souffle, which just melted in my mouth. The waiter looked horrified when I asked for non-dairy creamer for coffee, so that was a bummer, I had to settle for tea with nana which just isn't the same.

The evening was a real splurge for us. It's not a cheap place. The sodas were 12 shekel a piece (note to self: drink water in restaurants!) and the souffle was 39 shekel. I won't translate that to the dollar, because it will just depress me. It's an expensive restaurant, so if you're on budget, beware. If you're not, go often.

We also had entertainment at the restaurant. Or rather we created our own. Isaac and I are big people watchers. We were the only ones sitting in our corner of the place when we arrived, but another couple arrived soon after. She was a gorgeous, willowy redhead with snow-white skin and he was a tall handsome fellow, clearly American, while her English sounded European. When the waiter came around (he was Italian), he was decidedly besotted with the redhead, who stated she was Ethiopian. The waiter looked to her partner to see if she was kidding and he shrugged and said, "I don't know, I just met her". Needless to say, that couple got excellent service the entire evening. Or at least the redhead did.

Meanwhile the restaurant filled up. Over at the next table a young couple sat, bored to tears. At one point the girl was so slouched down in her chair, I thought she had fallen asleep. Her partner wasn't even making eye contact with her. I didn't sense any tension between them and it didn't seem like it was first-date behavior, so I decided they had to be brother and sister. The male did seem to like the waiter, who was keeping his eye on the aforementioned redhead. Hmmm.

Finally, at the last table in our section a couple walked in as we were finishing. They decided to sit next to each other as opposed to across from each other. They seemed to be really comfortable and happy with each other. Now why didn't I think of that?

And that's about it. A rare night out on the town for Isaac and Baila. So enjoyable, we may just do it again soon.


And here's a late reminder that the latest edition of Haveil Havalim is up at Chaviva's. And look for the new edition coming this Sunday.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

There is one word that strikes abject fear in my heart...

...this time of year.

"Pesach". (otherwise known as Passover).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Taking a survey

I need help for a post that's been running around my head. I'd appreciate it if you could help me out, even if you don't normally comment.

How often do you change the sheets in your home? (Or how often are they changed if you aren't the one doing the changing).

Now, I need you to be honest here. If you're going to lie and tell me you change it everyday or every week, when you don't, well that's not helpful to me. I want brutal honesty, even if it's gross.

Of course, that doesn't mean I need a blow-by-blow account of your cleanliness habits. Some things just come under the guise of "TMI", if you know what I mean.

Thanks for the help; I know I can count on my "blogger community".

Monday, March 9, 2009

Triple Celebration

Yep, a triple threat, with lots to be thankful for.

First, it's Purim, and we can't help but be happy about the Jewish nation being miraculously saved from the evil Haman. May G-d continue to watch over us and save us from the our modern-day Haman.

Second, it's my birthday (secular calendar)! And I may be getting older, but I'm also getting better...believe me I am NOT the person I was 20 years ago, but I like myself alot more....

Finally, Isaac and I celebrated 17 years of marriage yesterday (Hebrew calendar--we got married the night before Taanit Esther [Fast of Esther]). We have been through so much in the past 17 years--life throws lots of curveballs, huh? Still, we're here to tell the tale to anyone who'll listen and I'm thrilled to have him by my side. Happy anniversary, hon!

More to celebrate:

Haveil Havalim is up at The Real Shliach. Lots of fantastic posts there. And I've been remiss about not linking up to Leora's blog for her recent presentation of JPIX.

Happy Purim!

Hamentaschen and mothering*

*[Hamentaschen are a traditional cookie that is triangular shaped and filled; it is prepared for the Jewish holiday of Purim which begins sundown, tonight.]

When I was much, much younger (and obviously, single) I used to think I would be a great mother. I really did. I envisioned playing endless games of Candyland, fingerpainting, baking together and in general completely and totally encouraging my children that were yet-to-come to be creative and independent thinkers.

And until Liat turned about two-years-old, that is exactly what I did. Why, I let her crawl everywhere in an effort to encourage her exploration of the environment. This came in particularly handy when she would crawl under the table. I rarely had to use a broom in those days.

When she turned two, we moved into the house in Cedarhurst,complete with finished basement. "Perfect", I thought. "Let my child's creative juices flow". I bought her an easel (Remember Little Tikes?), and stocked up on Play-Doh, of course with all accessories that Toys R Us sold. After we settled into the house, I took Liat down to the basement and began the process of painting with her. In about three seconds, I realized two things: I hated painting with a 2-year-old and that although the idea of a basement is great, no 2-year-old can be down there alone without supervision. Or wants to be. I remember finishing up the activity quickly and telling Liat "Listen you'll be doing plenty of painting and play with play-doh when you start Pre-school. No need to do it at home." She looked at me adoringly (because in those days that's how she always looked at me) and proceeded to have one of those two-year-old tantrums. You know the ones that make you wonder....well, never mind.

But I never learn. It was a few years later, in my never-ending quest to be a great mom, that I announced to the girls (by then they all had arrived)that we would be baking Hamentaschen together. I wanted to give them an experience that they would remember forever. Have you ever tried to bake Hamentaschen with three children ages 1 1/2, 3, and 5? Of course, you have, because you also want to be a great mother. In that case, you must know that I did indeed create a memorable experience for them. One they'll probably need years of therapy to forget.

And so, over the years I have looked my shortcomings as a mother in the eye and I have faced them. Admittedly this has become easier as the girls have become older. They now know that I can be short-tempered, get cranky when we go shopping for clothes and hate to bake and cook "together". They hear me use occasional expletives and tolerate it. They also know that I have a good sense of humor with them, am patient with all their dramas and will defend them to the end of the earth if need be.

Yesterday we baked Hamentaschen together. And I barely got my hands dirty. They are old enough to get out the ingredients, measure, mix, cut out the shapes, fill them and put them in the oven. There was a bit of discussion regarding filling the circle shapes. We used Nutella chocolate, because really it's their favorite so who am I kidding by putting other stuff in it (only next year Robin is going to remind me to buy the cheaper Israeli version of Nutella because it's just as good. Right, Robin?) I told the girls to use less chocolate and close up the Hamentaschen tight so they would not split open in the oven. My kids didn't care if they opened, they just wanted lots of chocolate. Here's how their Hamentaschen came out:

And here are mine:

Ten years later. Making Hamentaschen with kids ages 11 1/2, 13 and 15 is a whole different ballpark. What a great time we had.

Maybe I'll make Mother-of-the-Year after all.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Driving the 446....

Every day I drive route 446 to my job in the Kiryat Sefer section of Modi'in Ilit. The road starts right at the end of my city, Modi'in, and passes the Israeli yishuvim (villages? towns? gated communities?) of Kfar Rut, Lapid, Oranim, Chashmonaim before I make a left into the city. Following Kiryat Sefer, the road stretches and winds through the West Bank, passing both Arab villages and more Israeli Yishuvim.

The road crosses over the Green Line and officially becomes the West Bank after it passes Chashmonaim. Actually, I believe about a quarter of Chashmonaim is considered to be the West Bank. And there is an Arab village right down the road from them. If you live on Chashmonaim you can hear the call to prayer from the nearby Mosque several times a day; sometimes my friends who live on that Yishuv tell me they hear gun shots.

I see things on this road. I see Arab men crawling through the torn fence. I see Israeli soldiers walking through the foliage on the side of the road. Last week I saw a group of about 20 Arab men being watched over by Israeli soldiers as their identity cards were checked. I was waiting to make a turn out of Kiryat Sefer as I watched the soldiers check ID's and then send the men, one-by-one on their way. I've seen men hiking the road in miserable heat that noone should be out in. And yesterday, on my way home I saw four Arab men running to catch a bus that was picking up passengers outside of Chashmonaim. I watched as the bus pulled away right as one of the men arrived at the door. If the bus driver didn't see the man, surely the passengers who just got on the bus did.

I hate to think about this stuff, but I can't help myself. Most of you who know me or read the blog probably know that I believe in a strong Israel and a strong army. Our enemies want Israel to stop existing--and I know they are a serious threat. I know the reason that terrorist incidents have dramatically decreased since the height of the intifada, is because of the wall that was built and because Israeli soldiers check identity cards and in general make it difficult for Arabs living on the West Bank to move around freely.

And a part of me says, a hard part, says, "well, it's their own fault. we wanted peace with them, have given up so much, would have given up more if only they wanted the same peace." But the other part of me, the American in me that grew up watching people fight for equality says, maybe just maybe, these Arabs are crawling through fences and trying to catch buses because they to need to find a way to feed their families.

I was different.

I know that we do what we have to do to protect our citizens (and sometimes we don't do enough). But, yet. If Oslo had worked, if we would have peace now...what could life be like in this country if there were peace? If Israelis didn't have to put up checkpoints or build fences or bury our people before their time? If Arabs could build their roads and their schools and their hospitals and their commerce, and use their infrastructure for their intended purpose, rather than as a jumping off point to attack Israel.

As an Israeli, I want peace. I want the Arabs living here to be able to support their families. I don't want them to have hike up a difficult road in the mid-summer heat. I want the busload full of people to shout "Hold the bus" so they can catch it. Does the average Arab want the same?

It does something to us as a nation having to live this way. It hardens us. Maybe it takes a bit of our humanity away from us. For me, it makes me into a person I sometimes don't like.

And yet. Kassam rockets keep falling on our cities. Today their was another terrorist incident involving a tractor in Jerusalem.

Is there another choice?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ozzy's finding religion

Here's a project Orli's been working on:

He better not start lecturing me or I'll put some bacon in his dog food....