Friday, December 10, 2010

Conversations at 6am

Yaakov and I both have a cold, so this morning, at 6am, when the kids woke us, I went to the kitchen to make tea for both of us. The tea was a weak yellow color. The following conversation took place:
Yaakov: Is that chamomile tea?
Leah: No, it's green tea.
Yaakov: Oh, so it's good for the environment, that's why it's green.
Leah: No, green tea has anti-oxidants.
Yaakov: What do anti-oxidants do?
Leah (thinks for a moment): They keep you from rusting.
Yaakov (deadpan): People rust?
Leah (equally evenly): Yeah, that's why old people's joints creak.
Yaakov: OK. (drinks his tea)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Confessions of a Marching Mouse

In December of '84, I was a marching mouse in Woodland Hills (Lawton, Oklahoma) School's presentation of "Achoo Saves Christmas." I wore a leotard and tights and had a tail made of one side of a pair of pantyhose, stuffed with newspaper. I had paper ears on a paper headband. I marched into the auditorium, sat on the steps of the stage, and sang about how "Achoo is blue, blue-be-do be do be do..." How I ended up in this play was that my alternative was sitting in the principal's office while everyone practiced.

Yesterday, I went to a different kind of show. I went to Kinneret's gan party. Kinneret, too, wore a paper costume and walked around and sang songs in a winter(?) show. But Kinneret was a candle in a Hannuka show. As I watched her, I thought about my marching mouse experience, and I actually sobbed. I mean, one of the grandmothers there had to break out a box of tissues for me. I am so glad that Kinneret was singing about how she will light up the dark and how G-d will bring the redemption, and how we won't let the Greeks keep us from learning Torah.

She will never be a marching mouse. She will always be a candle!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Being the Video Lady

As my loyal readers know, I started a short while ago. I make presentations/slideshows for Bar/Bat Mitzvas, weddings, trips, whatever.

Business has been slowly picking up. Today I finished up my first order. It was really exciting. The video came out great. The Bat Mitzva girl is very photogenic, so the pictures were beautiful. She chose her own song, "You'll be in My Heart" by Phil Collins, which worked really well with the pictures. I did a little playing around with the invitation to make it a part of the video. All told, it took about 4-5 hours to make the video. Those of you with calculators realize that at 150 shekels a video (introductory offer ends this week), that leaves my hourly wage at.. pathetic.

BUT..I really enjoyed working on it. I worked on it even when I had videos to watch and games to play, even though I wasn't up against that hard a deadline. So while I will be raising my prices and trying to get my process speeded up, I'm pretty happy.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Badmouthing Children

I read a personal finance blog, and the subject of being childless by choice comes up a lot. Leaving out halachic considerations, I generally think that people should only have children if they're 100% sure they want them, so I usually stay out of this discussion, but this comment really enraged me, so I figured I'd post my response:
"...mucking it up with one or more noisy, smelly, expensive, messy, self-centered ungrateful brats?"

This is what makes us parents angry at those who are childless by choice.

You were once a noisy, smelly, expensive, messy, self-centered ungrateful brat yourself, and yet here you are...

I don't mind if you say that you don't want to have children of your own because they require a lot of energy and care and time and money, but saying nasty things about children in general is just rude.

Are my children-
  • Noisy? Sometimes. 
  • Smelly? Rarely. You probably smell worse, since children's sweat is basically odorless. 
  • Expensive? Only because we have them in daycare. If I had them at home, having the two of them would cost substantially less than the cost of a car each month. 
  • Messy? Sometimes, but even my almost-2 cleans up when reminded. 
  • Self-Centered? Sometimes, but aren't we all self-centered sometimes? I certainly didn't think it showed self-centeredness when my 3.5-year-old saw me crying and patted me on the back and said "shhh. it's ok mommy" Sometimes, she's the most caring and giving child in the world. 
  • Ungrateful - Yep, they're often ungrateful, but sometimes, you give them some tiny thing and they run at you to hug you and their gratitude is worth more than a thousand "thank you" notes.
  • Brats - My kids aren't brats. Neither parent is career military. (I'm an army brat, so... that's what a brat is to me)
Go ahead and don't have children if you don't want them. If you're not fully committed to being a parent, don't do it. It'll be terrible for you and worse for the children.

But don't dare badmouth my kids. Or my choices.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

One More Thing to Say

A lot has been written about RivkA bat Yeshaya. Everything important about her has been said. She was vivacious. She always had a smile, even when she was in pain. She had incredible strength. She loved her family. Her favorite color was purple. She loved pistachio milkshakes (ok, maybe no one else mentioned that). Each of us says one thing we remember, and it gives the rest of us one more thing to hold on to.

But I didn't know her that well. I spent the day with her twice. I kept meaning to spend another day with her, but time got away from me, and then the time was up. If I could have had another day, just another hour, I would have wanted to give her one more thing.

I don't have much to give. I would have made her a milkshake again, if she was up for it, brought a bagel again, if she thought she could eat it. But what I really wanted to do was bring her my memories of my trip to Finland.

RivkA had been to the juggling convention in Israel last year, and when I told her that I was going to Finland for the juggling convention, she was one of those who lamented being too large to fit into our luggage. I said I'd tell her all about it, and I never got to.

I wrote down what I wanted to tell her. I wrote about the trip, and about the things we did. I wanted to give her as much of the experience as I possibly could, because that was the only gift RivkA wanted - more time - to be with her family more and to experience more. I couldn't give her more time with her family, but I wanted to give her one more experience.

So here's what I wrote for her.

Dear RivkA,
I still haven't had a chance to tell you about EJC (European Juggling Convention) 2010 - Joensuu, Finland.

It wasn't at all what I expected. First, I expected cold, or at least cool. Ha! That's a laugh. It was hot almost every day. One day, it got up to 40 C, breaking records. We only used the heat in our cabin one night.

The shows were interesting. I only saw a few, because - well toddler attention spans. A lot of it was this super-European art juggling which is kind of boring.
The action in the gym was more interesting. There were neat passing patterns everywhere and all kinds of cool tricks to watch.

We spent a lot of time talking to a German guy named York (Jork?) who heads a church-based juggling group in his home town. He'd come with his two teenage children and another five kids who weren't his. His daughter played accordion for our kids and he played guitar. He and Yaakov did a lot of passing. I started to learn rings. I expected it to go well, but it just didn't, so I'm still working on it. It's slow going.

We're also working on building a duo act so we can take shows. Again, slow going, but we wing it.

The campsite where we stayed was on a lake, so we went into the lake a few times. The water was SO COLD! But it was really amazing on the hot days. Ephraim was terrified of the water, but Kinneret really loved it.

I think I really enjoyed the white nights more than I would have expected to. The experience of it being midnight and still light out was just so different. The first week, I went to the campsite's office for a beer, internet, and to watch the lack of sunset. I never enjoyed beer so much.

Helsinki was filled with walking and blueberries and finding places for the kids to play. Again we were on the beach, and we enjoyed the water.

Russia, well, we got some great photos and souvenirs, and I just read a book in which the characters traveled to St. Petersburg, and it was really amazing to be able to picture the scene.

So that was our trip. And then we came home and there's no place like home.


I'm sorry I never got to say this. I'm sorrier that RivkA never got to go to a European Juggling Convention, that she won't be at the next Israeli juggling convention, that no matter how much I want to, I can't give her any more experiences or any more time.

Goodbye RivkA. I miss you.

Monday, November 01, 2010

How to Glue a Banana (an Important Parenting Skill)

Ephraim in His Rocking Chair
Each day, I pick up Kinneret at her gan (pre-school) and Ephraim at his daycare (which they also call a gan), and we walk home, except sometimes, if I don't feel well, or if I'm running late. Then, my mom helps me get the kids. One day last week, my mom helped me get the kids.

We brought them inside, and the two children sat in their rocking chairs. They asked for bananas. Ephraim said "nana" and Kinneret went along for the ride.

I made sure not to open their bananas (a cardinal sin), until they asked for help. Then I opened the bananas, and Ephraim's broke, causing tears, screams, moans. It was truly tragic. My mother and I sat there, trying to determine what to do.

Logical Mommy said "I'm sorry your banana broke, Ephraim" but the wails continued.
Logical Mommy tried again, "Eat the broken part fast Ephraim" but to no avail. He kept screaming.
And then Savta, who couldn't stop laughing whispered two magical words...(which shall soon be revealed)

Logical Mommy gave up, took the banana, took a knife, went to the cabinet, and got some magical banana glue (a.k.a. peanut butter.) and glued the banana together.

Ephraim took the banana. The tears ceased. The wails stopped. The banana-eating proceeded. Life was good.

Sometimes, you just have to glue the banana.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Words Fail Me

My friend RivkA bat Yeshaya from is gone.
I have no words.

I have too many words.
I have too many feelings.
It silences me.

Baruch Dayan Ha'Emet.
Blessed is the true judge - easy to say, hard to believe.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Are you planning a simcha?
Do you want to create a video to show the guests?
Are you perplexed by how to do it? Do you not have enough time?
Are you the one who DOES do these and you just don't have time to do one for your neighbor's brother-in-law's cousin? has the solution.

Just give us your photos and short video clips, tell me a little bit about them, and we'll help you pick a song to create a short movie you can share online or on-screen in high quality!

Special Introductory Offer:

Just 150 shekels for a video clip including:
  • Up to five minutes of music and pictures/video with up to 60 pictures
  • One song of your choosing - hard-to-find songs may cost extra
  • Up to four photographs or one "strip" of negatives (6 pictures) scanned
  • Basic picture touch up for up to 10 pictures
  • Your video delivered on disk-on-key (dvd available upon request)
  • Free upload to YouTube (please let us know if you prefer for your video to remain private)
Negative scanning and photo scanning available!
Please visit us at http://www.simchavideos.com to see samples of the videos, and get more information about our services.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A New Psychological Test

Have you ever heard of the HTP test? It's a personality test that can also test IQ.
Apparently,it's quite hard to score. The creators have written a 350 page manual to score it.

I've written a more simple test called the house test. It'll tell you all about a person in just one easy drawing.

Ask the subject to draw a house. If the subject is normal average, they should draw something like this:

A Normal House

If they turn up something like this, you've got a geek on your hands.

A Linux Geek House

The House that Mac Built
Last but not least, if the subject is particularly artistic...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Lost and Found

Remember how I was talking about this game in my last post - the virtual reality game at Dizengoff Center. So apparently, there is a record of this game - if you know the NAME of the game. My friend Jason managed to get me this all-important piece of info. He's an expert Googler...

The name of the game is Dactyl Nightmare, and here's a video of it.

There are actually rumors of a re-release...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Not Everything is on the Internet

Back in the summer of 1996, there was a virtual reality game that you could play at Dizengoff Center. You put on a helmet, held the handle of a 'gun' and hunted your opponent on a platform. I was dating a total geek back then, and the two of us couldn't get enough of it. We kept going back, paying the ten shekel apiece and playing the game, which ran about 5 minutes. The people at the stand got to know us, and they got to know that I used to beat Oren every single time.

So one day at the end of August, we went in, plunked down our cash, and put on the helmets. We played. There was no one watching except the guys manning the booth. There was no line for the game, and the guys manning the booth really wanted Oren to win. We played for 21 minutes. He eventually got one point up on me, and they killed the game.

I staggered out, and we never played again. Today it occurred to me to wonder if that game is still available anywhere, because maybe we could have an online rematch... There's no mention of the game anywhere online, so I can't even find out what it's called. All I know is that it was run on a toaster (Amiga), it ran at Dizengoff Center, and there was a bird who would pluck you off of the platform, but before the bird came, the game would warn you saying "Birdie Hungry....He's Coming."

There is one description of the game, but it doesn't include the name of the game, or where I might find another version of it today.

And W. Industries is listed as working with metals.

Not everything is on the internet.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ten Interesting Things About Finland

1. Finland's population is about 5.3 million, substantially less than that of Israel. Its land area is 337,030 square km, over 15 times that of Israel, which has 20,770 square km.

2. Finland's official languages are Finnish and Swedish. Finnish uses some extra letters/symbols/diacritics in addition to the standard alphabet and is not a European language. This leads to the interesting situation of my telling my Norwegian neighbor "so when we didn't understand things, we read the Swedish." and him saying "but you don't speak Swedish either." True, but we were actually able to figure out a fair amount of what we read in Swedish and almost none of the Finnish.

3. Blueberries are called
mustikka and are very popular, though not very cheap. Blueberry pie, called mustikkapiirakka is considered a traditional Finnish food.

4. Most of Finland's trains are electric, but have diesel backup, because snow and electrical storms can down the wires. If the tracks are entirely unavailable in an area, the train providers provide buses for the shortest possible part of the route.

5. Many of Finland's trains contain a family car. On the family car, there are private compartments for families, as well as a children's area containing a mini-library, a small slide, and some other toys. Other cars on Finnish trains include the dog car and the dining car.

6. There are trains from Helsinki to St. Petersburg and to Moscow daily. The morning train from Helsinki
to St. Petersburg is a Finnish train, while the afternoon train is a Russian one, and vice versa. On the Russian morning train into Finland, they offer you two choices for breakfast - apple juice and cake or beer and nuts. Air conditioning on Finnish and Russian trains is spotty at best, and not all are equipped with windows that open. When it's 27 degrees out and you have a baby sleeping on you, this is unpleasant.

Almost everything in Finland is wheelchair/handicapped accessible. In places built before elevators were around, there are elevators that follow the path of the stairs. This is highly cool.

8. Because of the enormous number of lakes, streams, rivers, etc, there
are enormous numbers of mosquitoes and other biting/flying insects in Finland. They all think Kinneret is very tasty.

9. Swimming in lakes in Finland is very
different from swimming in the Mediterranean in Israel for a number of reasons. The one you'll notice first is the temperature. If the water temperature is 24, that's considered warm.

10. Public places, including public restrooms, including those at campsites, are immaculate.

And finally, a video on Finland:

Monday, July 26, 2010

One Olut, Kiitos!*

So here we are in Joensuu, Finland, and I'm too lazy to upload photos.

It's beautiful here. Behind our cabin is a small creek. Cross over the creek on the bridge and you'll arrive at a gate. Go through the gate, and you'll find a game of volley-club going on. Walk past the game, and you're on the shore of a lake where the water is cold and refreshing. It's a very gentle slope, and we've taken the kids walking into the water. It's lovely, but very very cold.

The weather has been playing a game of cat-and-mouse with us. We've seen rain, almost freezing temperatures (5 c), and today was hot hot hot (30 c). Our cabin is heated but not air-conditioned. It's not even well-ventilated. There are two windows, but the hinges on one window are broken so it can't be opened. (i tried on the first night, with somewhat disastrous results.)

Food has been an interesting challenge. We've been eating a lot of fruit, including MANY bananas. The kids are addicted to blueberry yogurt. We've eaten too many potato chips, a fair number of omelets. You can get Philly cream cheese here, some of the bread is kosher, and you can get lox! We had rice and tuna for lunch, and our kids are big fans of tomatoes...Most interesting is the little miniature pies that we've been devouring... they come in apple and blueberry - super yum.

And the juggling... We bought 5 more hats, and I'm working on hat juggling now. we're hoping to work on a hat act. Right now it feels worse that starting fresh with balls, but each day is a new day.

Finnish words
*kiitos-thank you

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ephraim - Cuter than Ever

Rachel Inbar commented on my last post, saying: You could have mentioned the fact that Ephraim takes this all incredibly well and is cuter than ever...

She's right. The kid's a total trooper. He wakes up the morning after surgery in an unknown place and as soon as he sees Mommy, he's all smiles. He's really incredible.


A few weeks ago, Ephraim had a recurrence of the abscess that took us to Hadassah for surgery last year. At first, I thought it was no big deal, but then I wasn't so sure. I ended up taking him to Terem - an urgent care clinic - about an hour and a half before Shabbat. They sent us to the ER. I called my mother and she and I went back to Hadassah (Mt. Scopus) - with Ephraim of course. We arrived at the hospital about one minute before sunset...

Around midnight, they operated on Ephraim. Needless to say, the situation was stressful. Moreover, the surgery was not fully successful. He will need to have more surgery in a few more weeks.

The surgeon wasn't clear about that or what to do in the meantime, which has led to a little more stress along the way. For those keeping score at home, this will be operation number FOUR for Ephraim. He's not yet 1.5.

I was reading an article about delayed gratification. These days, the most I can muster for delaying gratification is not eating the batter before the cake gets into the oven...

It's been a stressful few weeks.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Sabbath candles

Rules: My niece is doing a bat mitzvah project on lighting candles. She would appreciate your responses to the following questions. Please click the link at the bottom to fill it in for her. You can then post it on your blog, your Facebook, or just leave it on SleeQo.
  • When did you start lighting candles for the Sabbath?

    I think when I was three, I started making the blessing over the candles with my mom.
  • What made you start lighting them?

    my mom told me I could, I guess.
  • Do you light candles every week? If so, what makes you keep lighting them each week?

    Yes. I'm an observant woman, and I've always kept Shabbat, so I've always lit candles, with very few exceptions.
  • Do you have any special traditions related to lighting the candles (e.g., my husband always gets them ready, I cover my hair, etc.)? If so, what?

    I always say a prayer for the wellbeing of my family.
  • How do you feel after you have lit the candles?

    usually I feel very calm after I light candles.
  • Are you the first generation in your family that lights candles for the Sabbath?

    no. my mother lights candles, my father's mother lit candles, and at least one of my mother's grandmothers lit candles for Shabbat.
  • Do you have any memories to share from previous generations?

    not really.
  • Is it important for you that your daughters light candles for the Sabbath?

    yes. very.
  • How meaningful do you feel it is to you to light candles for the Sabbath and why?

    Very meaningful. It seems to fill the house with a special kind of light, and it gives a real distinction between "week" and "Shabbat"
  • Is there anything else you would like to add about lighting candles for the Sabbath?

  • Do you agree to be quoted on the things you have written above or would you rather your name not be mentioned?

  • If you have filled this in anonymously and agree to be quoted, please give your name.

Everyone tagged
Click here to fill in this meme

Monday, March 15, 2010

5 Pieces of Information that New Olim Should Know

I'm playing around with a new tool called Sleeqo which automates the whole meme process. This is my first meme creation using Sleeqo. Be sure to try it out yourself!

5 Pieces of Information that New Olim Should Know

by triLcat
Rules: Post 5 things that a new immigrant to Israel needs to know. No politics!
  1. Israeli doctors don't have thermometers. You're expected to have taken your temperature (or your child's) at home.
  2. If you want to make a graham cracker crust in Israel, you use tea biscuits.
  3. The best time of year to buy new dishes, pots, and pans (in terms of deals) is right before Pesach.
  4. We don't have kool-aid here, we have syrup, called petel, which means raspberry. It's called petel even if it's grape flavored.
  5. Almost every supermarket has delivery for about 15 shekels. If you buy enough, it may be free. You can also order groceries online or by phone.
Click here to fill in this meme

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My New Earrings

About two months ago, a webmaster named Sarah randomly contacted me and asked me if I'd like to try a pair of earrings from her site, Lushae Jewelry and write a review of them. Never one to turn down something free, I said sure. So she let me pick a pair of earrings and sent them to me, and here it is... my turn to tell you how I like them.

First, a word about me and jewelry. I like shiny things, but I rarely wear much jewelry. I wear my wedding and engagement rings and I wear the necklace that Yaakov gave me at our wedding. Other than that, I rarely put on a pair of earrings. Even on Shabbat, I don't always quite manage. The other thing is that my jewelry breaks down into two categories; real gold and real cheap. I have quite a lot of stuff that you could pick up for under $10. I have a few nice pieces, including the above mentioned wedding/engagement jewelry and a few heirloom pieces from my grandmother. I have pretty much nothing in the middle.

So these earrings, gold-plated with a pearl, with a price tag of $65, are somewhat of a novelty for me. I have to say, I was expecting them to feel cheap, and they really don't. They feel nice.

They shipped quickly, in a beautiful box. The style is delicate and elegant enough that it looks like the real deal. People have complimented me on the earrings every time I've worn them.

Would I buy them for myself? I'm not sure. Would I be thrilled if my husband did? Absolutely!

P.S. They ship internationally, including to Israel!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Travel Meme

My travels

Rules: Fill in the following questions & tag 5 friends (try friends who travel a lot).

  • My best trip ever...

  • My worst trip ever...
    7.5 hour layover in Amsterdam where I was both quite sick and too scared to leave the airport

  • Most important thing I ever lost on a trip...
    passport, but I found it!

  • Most important thing I ever forgot to take on a trip...
    the phone number of the person we were supposed to be staying with. (though we did get it... just took some international calls)

  • Thing I miss most when I'm away...
    Poofy, home-cooked meals, Israel

  • Thing I miss least when I'm away...

  • Favorite travel partner...
    Yaakov, Rachel

  • Place I hope to travel to someday...

Nobody tagged

fill in this meme


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Subsidizing Inner City Tomatoes

I was reading Hannah's Cooking Manager and she pointed to another post...
Vered at MomGrind wrote a post called Fat Acceptance, and it triggered all kinds of angry feelings in me and in a bunch of her readers - you can read the comments. And then I looked back at what she'd written and I pulled it apart again to figure out why.

Here's the thing. I agree with the second part of her post - modern societies need to work on better food education, better food choices, and better nutrition. When I was in Philadelphia a few years ago, I paid about a dollar for a single tomato. I grant you that this was in a smaller convenience-type mini-market, but still! A dollar for a tomato, when a whole bag of chips that could keep 3 kids from whining "I'm hungry" for at least an hour costs less than $2? There might need to be subsidies for inner-city families to get vegetables at reasonable prices without having to go far outside of the city to places they may not be able to get to because they may not have cars or simply may not have the time.

The first part of her post, though, made me angry. Who are you to judge? What possible benefit could your staring have? How could your judgment help her?

The reality is that Vered has no idea of this girl's story. Maybe the girl is suffering some terrible trauma. I put on about 30 lbs the year that my best friend died and my grandmother died. A year later, I took it all off. Maybe this girl has a thyroid problem and no matter what she does, she doesn't lose weight, so she figures she might as well at least enjoy herself. (A friend of mine got down to 500 calories a day and still GAINED weight.) Maybe the girl just doesn't think about it. What is certain is that society's stares and mistreatment will cause the girl to hate herself and lose self-respect and while she may lose weight from self-loathing, it will probably be through bulimia and self-starvation, not through the sensible, healthy life choices that come from self-love.

Am I missing something? Does anyone really think that their stares and nasty comments and mistreatment can help the problem?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I've talked about how I take Ephraim to a clinic in Haifa for his eye. At the clinic, pretty much everyone has at least one eye that is "broken" in some way. Some, like Ephraim, have a small eye which needs to be enlarged. Others are cancer survivors who had to have an eye removed. In any case, pretty much every patient is one-eyed. Tuesdays are children's days, and there are a lot of toys. One of the toys is a big teddy bear. When I was there yesterday, I noticed that the teddy bear was missing an eye, and someone had taped an X of masking tape over the place where the eye had been.

I simply didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Obama's New Anti-Terrorism Plan! Totally Foolproof!

Following his success with running a presidential campaign by stealing cartoon character Bob the Builder's slogan of "Yes we can!" Obama has been hard at work figuring out how to wipe out airline terrorism. He has it all figured out now.

He will be using a clever take on Dora the Explorer's slogan of "Swiper, no swiping!" and will be hanging up signs that say "Bomber, no bombing!" in airports and on airplanes. The plan took a long time to come up with because:

1. Dora the Explorer is really high above his comprehension level.

2. The extensive changes to the slogan were quite complex for Barack Obama and his team.