Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Vacation musings

G-d, I love vacation.

The seder turned out to be really fun. After a few tense-filled teenage/parent moments, everyone settled down to a good time. This year we had my sister visiting from the states, Abuelita (Isaac's mother, who usually does a large chunk of the cooking) and Marta and co. Marta's daughter brought some Pesach riddles to the seder and at lunch we had Charades and Taboo, courtesy of Tali and Liat. Both meals were really enhanced by these games. Food was great, too, and we are no longer starving.

Last night my sister did her own private seder as she observes two days of the holiday. That was a first for all of us. We did not sit with her, but I didn't turn the computer on until she was done. Liat did sit with her, but I'm not sure if it counts if she was reading the latest Jodi Picoult book. Orli did read the Mah Nishtana for her.

We have lots of fun activities planned for the intermediate days. Today we are going ice skating in Tel-Aviv, but until it's time to leave, I'm having a lazy day. House is clean, leftovers or matzah and cream cheese for dinner and I-am-lovin'-it!

What are you all up to over your vacation?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Here's a yummy, easy, one-bowl Passover recipe

Pesach Blondies, that I got from my friend Ruthie Sharon Z, who got it from our friend Sharon Z. Ruthie.:

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup regular sugar
4 eggs
1 cup oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp baking powder
1 cup potato starch

chocolate chips, as much as you can stand (I used the whole bag)

Mix it all together, fold in the chips, bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes and VOILA!

If you make them today it won't make it to the seder--just warning you.

Okay, mine don't exactly look like these....

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Something cute I saw in the local paper yesterday

ועדת השמות העירונית דנה השבוע בבקשה חריגה לאחר שדיירי בניין מספר 9 ברחוב אב בשכונת הכרמים פנו אליהם בבקשה להחליף את שם הרחוב. לדבריהם הקונוטציה השלילית הנובעת מהקישור בין מספר הבניין לשם הרחוב פוגעת בהם. בוועדת השמות הוחלט ללכת לקראת התושבים ולהמליץ על שינוי השם לרחוב ט"ו באב.

The Modi'in Name Committee discussed an unusual request this week after the inhabitants of building # 9 at Av Street in the Carmim neighborhood asked them to change the name of their street. According to the inhabitants, the negative connotation between the number of the building and the name of the street is troublesome to them. It was decided by the committee to honor their request and to recommend changing the name of the street to "Tu B'Av".
(Source, here).

For those of you not understanding this, the residents who live at 9 Av street are uncomfortable with having an address commemorating the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, Tisha (9) B'Av. This is the anniversary of the day the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) was destroyed. Their request to change the name of the street was honored and it will be now be called Tu B'Av Street. Tu B'Av is the 15th day of the month of Av on the Jewish Calendar, and is a much happier day for us.

Items like that in the paper just tickle me.

Wishing you all a great week.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

When my pet name reduces me to tears

I received a phone call several days ago that my father had fallen and was taken to a local hospital.

My father has not been well for some time now. It's not a specific illness, but rather a general sense of non well-being. A touch of high-blood pressure here, a fall there, a heart thing somewhere else. Over the past, say 10 years, he has been hospitalized on a number of occasions, most of the time for a couple of days and always returning home and back into the fabric of his life with relative ease.

But this time, the phone calls have had more of an urgent tone to them. Thank G-d he is stable. But he is not recovering as quickly, isn't cooperating at the hospital and according to my mom and siblings is at times disoriented.

Herein lies the obvious dilemma for someone like me. Some who made the decision to move thousands of miles away from aging parents.

I guess it doesn't really matter at what age you move to Israel. Even if you are young and your parents are fine, eventually we all age. And if your parents haven't followed you to Israel at some point you will have to deal with their aging from a distance.

It's hard to watch from the sidelines. I am lucky I have siblings who are there who can advocate and care for my parents, and I know it must be harder for them. Maybe they even wish they lived thousands of miles away. They are figuring out ways to be with my father as much as possible as they navigate their own lives. With the holiday looming, this means two days of my father possibly being alone if he is not released--and it does not seem likely at this point that he will be...

All I can do from here is worry. And feel guilty. And try not to annoy my siblings by being a know-it-all from far away.

When this started, Isaac told me I should consider "hopping over there for a few days". But that is not so simple. I know some people have the resources to fly in and out for a couple of days to check things out, but we don't. That, and everything that needs to be done to get ready for Pesach. I have to decide if it's a true emergency, if it's imperative that I am there. There will likely come a time when it is, but I'm thinking this isn't it.

But when I spoke to him and he said, in a weak voice, "Hello, Bailkaleh" using the pet name of my childhood, I have to wonder if I'm making the wrong call.

Because you never know.

My father's name is Moshe Ben Devora. He could use your prayers.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Finally, swedish meatballs

Today, to celebrate our (18th! [bah]) anniversary, Isaac and I left the girls in the dust (literally; we had them sweep and do the sponga) and took a trip out to Rishon L'Tzion, which recently acquired the newest branch of Ikea.

(Sometimes I think Israel is looking more and more like a Long Island mall. Between Gap, H and M, Ikea, all that is missing is Old Navy and Target.)

The place is huge. Since Friday is Israel's Sunday, it was packed. This is after all, the time of year when people are busy cleaning their homes for Passover. This has nothing to do with being religious; the non-religious clean just as zealously as the religious. Everyone not only cleans, but paints, repairs, buys new towels and shower curtains and adds new touches to their homes, large and small in honor of the upcoming chag (holiday). And so we joined the horde of people converging on the store.

Ikea, as you may know, offers babysitting with a fun-and-saliva-and-other-bodily-excretions-filled giant ball pit. Unfortunately, lots of parents didn't take advantage of this so there was lots of whining from little ones as the big ones admired wooden hangers for 6 shekel a piece. Most of them didn't find it at all helpful when I suggested the service. Oh, well.

I enjoyed the models where they showed how you can fit a whole apartment worth of Ikea stuff into a home the size of 22, 35 or 55 square meters (230-600 square feet). Makes the place we bought look huge by comparison.

We didn't go for any serious buying. Isaac wanted a feather pillow to replace the one that is falling apart; he loves that pillow and stapled it together, but I refuse to go near it, as in change its pillowcase, because everytime I do, the feathers fly everywhere. He found one and is testing it out even as we speak. From the sound of it, I think he'll be happy with it.

But the highlight of the day was visiting the massive cafeteria and eating those KOSHER swedish meatballs. As Isaac and I sat there, reminiscing about the Plainview, LI and Elizabeth, NJ Ikeas we had visited in the past, we both felt amused at the self-satisfaction a little 'ol meatball eaten in an Israeli Ikea could bring.

Shabbat Shalom, have a great weekend!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tips for getting ready for the biggest, most annoying Jewish holiday of the year. That would be Pesach/Passover.

If you actually thought you were going to get that here you obviously are not a long-time reader.

I mean, seriously.

But there is a method to my Pesach-Prep madness. (And it is madness, trust me). A couple of weeks before the actual holiday (like yesterday, in this year's case) I figure out when the kitchen is going to be changed over from Chametz to Passover. I then work backwards. I'd give you the details, but to be honest, it's really not that effective.

One excellent thing that got us started this year: Isaac saw a vacuum cleaner on sale and bought it. When he came home, he immediatedly took it out of the box and spent hours vacuuming behind beds and sofas. Which is why I encourage him now to buy any home appliance he wants to.

I am clever enough to write a list every year at the end of the holiday of things I do and don't need to buy for the next year's holiday. (Gila, who inspired this post actually keeps all her lists and has a kind of time capsule of all her previous Passovers). I don't have lists for previous years, but the list contains things like, "Buy another pan for dairy" and "Don't need another turkey baster, you already have three". One memorable year, I think it was after 9/11 and I thought the world's end was imminent (I still do, actually), I titled the list "Pesach, 2003. If we make it till then."

Back to the list, delivered to you exactly as I wrote it last year:

Pesach 2010, Be'ezrat Hashem (G-d willing--I see I'm still not taking chances)

Need: 1 sharp knife for dairy
1 measuring cup
a milk pitcher
(our milk comes in bags, not containers)
ONLY 1 potatoe starch
2 bags of ground nuts
3 containers of oil
3-4 bags of matzoh meal.


(uhm, yeah, we do. We broke all our chametz glasses early this year and had to take the Pesach ones down).
wine glasses. You buy them every freaking year.
sucra-lite yellow poison packets for coffee.
cake meal
alumininum to cover sink.

I helpfully added this to myself:

Baila, don't be such a dumba** next year and read the list BEFORE you shop.

And on the side, an addition from Orli:

Don't forget to buy Orli lots and lot of clothes for Pesach.

Which reminds me how much I hate taking my girls shopping.

What's on your list?

(If you really need some Passover tips, you'd do better, here).

Yachdus is hosting Haveil Havalim here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

What's been playing on the radio

As a Shabbat/weekend present, I'm leaving you all with this song that's been in my head. Orli and her friends love this guy. Apparently my taste in music is the same as pre-teenage girls. Sophisticated, I know.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Happy birthday to moi

If your a blogger, you probably understand this:

You'll be driving somewhere, or sitting on a bus or train, or laying in bed, when all of a sudden an idea for a post comes to you. You start writing the post in your head, sometimes even finishing it.

The problem is, of course, when you sit down at your computer and try to access that information stuck in your brain.

I had a birthday today and I had a post stored up there somewhere in the gray matter that was both witty, yet bittersweet, poetic yet sensible.

But then our internet went down. As in, kaput, a problem with the line somewhere outside that not even Isaac could fix. And with the internet being down, that meant my American phone line was down.

And now I don't remember that great post that was in my head.

I do have to admit that the numbers are starting to feel big. For this I'm grateful, truly I am. I just wish I still had that young, dewy look.

Several years ago, while still in the US, my madrich (counselor) from my year in Israel happened to be in town and called to say hello. He asked how old I was and I said, "38-rapidly approaching middle age", to which he said, kindly, "Lots of people don't make it to 76; I'd say you're no longer approaching the middle age mark", thereby forcing me to remind him that he is ten years older than I am.

But he was right--now I'm in the throes of middle-age (my kids wouldn't agree, they just think I'm old). In some ways I really feel my age in terms of the life experiences I've had. In other ways, I still feel really young and vulnerable. I don't know enough about the world to be the age I am, you know?

It was a good day, quiet without the internet. Gave me time to think. In Israel, there is a very sweet tradition in which the birthday person gives out blessings to those around her.

My wish for all of you is that you, too, celebrate many, many happy birthdays with those you love...

Monday, March 8, 2010

They bought the farm(ville)

I know people call it a time waster, the domain of couch potatoes and other derisive mongers, but I gotta tell you, I love Facebook. I know that I probably would not be in touch with many of my friends from different parts of my life if it weren't for Facebook. It's impossible to stay in touch with all the people that walk through the different doors of your life, but through Facebook I see what many people from my past and my present, are up to. I enjoy hearing that they are buying and selling houses, changing jobs, their children are getting married or their husbands came home from Iraq. I like that feeling of connection, of remembering that all of these people have impacted my life in ways big and small.

Still, I know that like blogging, Facebook can be addicting.

Last night I met my friends Marta and Pearl for dinner and as always when three intelligent, witty women who have known each other for years get together, the conversation was, well, intelligent, witty and I'll throw in stimulating, as well.

Most of it was anyway.

At one point we got to talking about addictions, both general and personal. We discussed whether our time on the computer keeps us from being functional in our parental and professional roles.

And then the two of them started talking about their farms. And this is where I lost them.

All of a sudden my two dear friends, city girls both, started talking about neighbors and barn-raising, about crops and gold nuggets and blue ribbons. They asked each other how many neigbors they have and what crops they were raising and what they were harvesting and selling. They talked about cows and pigs and chicken coops and compared notes on what levels they were on. Marta befriended a bunch of strangers on the Farmville Fan Page so she could have more neighbors. She chose what she described (her words, not mine) as "old, fat women, who are as pathetic as I am" to befriend in order to increase her chances of succeeding at the game. Her goal, she noted, was to reach Pearl's level. She also mentioned the merits of playing Farmville on her new 42 inch plasma TV screen, as opposed to a regular old computer screen.

And Isaac thinks I waste my time on the computer.

So what did I do after I heard this conversation? I did what any good friend would do: I introduced them to my other Farmville obsessed friend, Andrea, so the three of them can help each other out and raise barns together.

Which makes me a total enabler.

PS If any of you are crazy Farmville players and need friends, let me know, I'll be happy to make the introduction.

ImaBima has Haveil Havalim up at her site.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The long walk

After the orgy of Purim sugar, where I may just have hit rock-bottom, I decided to take control. By this I mean, no sugar, as in no Mekupelets, kif-kafs, pesek zmans, nestle's crunch bars (I think I finished all of yours, Tammy) or mentos will cross my lips for the foreseeable future.

Not exactly the Atkins Diet, but its a start.

And I'm going back to the gym/pool. Because when Isaac tells me in May (when the membership expires) that there is no money in the budget for something we don't use, I'll be able to say we use it all the time.

Today I called Monty's mother, Ilana, and asked her if she wanted to go to the gym with me. Without hesitation she said yes, which made me throw up a little in my mouth.

She offered to drive and when we arrive at the gym, she takes out two bags which make it look like she's planning on sleeping at the gym for a few days.

"What's all that?" I ask.

She tells me that after her workout she likes to shower at the gym, thereby using their water and not her own (I keep telling you water is expensive in this country, don't I?)

Which means I will have to wait for her, since I didn't bring shower stuff or clothes to change into.

How long do you work out for?, I ask her.

"One hour", she glibly answers.

ONE HOUR? I will drop dead of a heart attack, I think to myself. When she asks if it's okay, I say "Sure, no problem", but I gotta tell you, I was worried.

Thankfully, I had my headphones. All the treadmills in the gym have their own individual TV's, with cable. That was the only way I was going to get through this hour. I started walking. So did Ilana. Then she started running. I tried to ignore that. I kept walking, sometimes faster, sometimes slower. After 45 minutes I slowed the thing down to a stroll. I was watching The Chamber with Chris O'Donnell and Gene Hackman and it was getting really good. Then Ilana says she's going to shower, so I told her I'd stay and watch more of the movie. I was still walking and watching when she came back. Unfortunately, it was a short shower so I didn't get to see the end, but I assume the guy dies.

I walked for a total of 78 minutes. That, combined with another chocolate and sugar-free day and I'm feelin' pretty darn good.

And next time I use the gym's water for my shower...

PS Happy birthday to NW. I wish I was celebrating with you!