Thursday, November 08, 2012

From Joy to Cockroaches

I woke up in such a good mood today for the following reasons:

  1. My first thought of the morning was, "Menachem gets home today!" This is after 2 solid weeks of miluim.
  2. The kids, who now share a room, both slept through the night. This has only happened one other time in the last few months. 
  3. There was the nicest, coolest breeze coming in through my windows. The weather forecast called for 79F degree weather -- the lowest it's been in about 7 months.
  4. Related to #2, the kids wore light sweaters and I wore jeans -- also the first time in about 7 months.
I took the kids to gan and then headed to the post office, lugging my backpack/computer so I could then do work at the mall. 

Things turned very sour when at the post office, a GIGANTIC cockroach climbed up my pants leg unnoticed. Bystanders said that they saw a cockroach by my feet, but that it was gone now. I said just thinking about that makes me feel like I've got cockroaches climbing on me. Then, I get my package and think, "It REALLY does feel like there's a cockroach climbing on me."

So I put the package down and put my hand up my pants leg and pull out that GIGANTIC DISGUSTING cockroach!

I screams so loud, as did other people. Everyone was very nice and helped me calm down as I said over and over that I'm going to have a heart attack. In moments of distress I cannot even try to speak in Hebrew, and everyone was very nice speaking back in English, telling me to breathe. 

I suppose looking back it was sort of funny -- a room full of adults screaming about a cockroach. But it was very traumatic at the time.

I went to the mall as planned, but as I walked around the pharmacy looking for antibacterial wipes to clean my leg, I decided that what I really needed was a shower.

So I went home. 

So much for a focused, efficient work day at the mall.

I think I'll watch TV now.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Chicken, Mangold, and Mushroom Stir Fry

Chicken, Mangold, and Mushroom Stir Fry

I just whipped this up quickly and it was delicious, so I thought I'd share.

2 portions

olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 basket of baby bella mushrooms, chopped
4-5 large mangold leaves, including stalks, chopped
boneless, skinless chicken breast, grilled and sliced
red wine

Note: My amounts listed above are estimates. I'm not a measurer. Nor do I look at the clock ever, so my timing here is also approximate.

1. In a large skillet, heat up some olive oil (like 2 teaspoons?)

2. Add soliced onions and saute about 8-10 minutes, until soft and lightly browned.

3. Add sliced mushrooms. Cook for 3 more minutes.

4. Add mangold and saute for another 3-5 minutes.

5. Add chicken slices and mix until thoroughly heated. I happened to have pre-cooked chicken. But if your chicken is raw, you can add it and just stir fry until cooked all the way through.

6. Add a few splashes of dry red wine. (I'm guessing it was 1/8 of a cup.)

7. Add salt to taste. I guess you could add pepper. I didn't.

8. Turn off burner and enjoy straight out of the pan. (You could transfer to a bowl or plate, but I'm just giving it over as I prepared/ate it.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Love/Hate Relationship with Cereal Sales

Some background information that you probably already know:

1. I love cereal more than most people.
2. Cereal in Israel is expensive, especially good cereals.

Here is the problem: When my favorite cereals go on sale (like Honey Bunches of Oats or CiniMinis -- that's Cinnamon Toast Crunch to you Americans), I have no choice but to buy them -- how could I possibly pass up an opportunity to spend 15 shekels on a box of cereal rather than 27 (you Americans can do the math here to dollars, but basically our sale prices are you non-sale prices).

Once purchased, I then have to deal with the fact that I have amazing cereal sitting on top of my fridge staring me down. I spend the 1-2 days that the cereal lasts either a) thinking about eating it, b) eating it, or c) wishing that I hadn't eaten so much of it.

When good cereal is around, I neglect all other food groups and end up eating cereal for every meal of the day. This is probably not healthy.

So what do I do?

I made sure to HURRY UP and get that cereal OUT OF THE HOUSE as quickly as possible.

But then -- we're out of cereal! So I need to go buy more. Oh no -- it's still on sale! And it begins all over again.

This is what they mean when they say love hurts.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Elimination Communication

A few weeks ago Meira (14 months) had a horrible diaper rash. It was her first serious diaper rash. (And also the first time that I was truly convinced that breast is really best -- I don't think it's a coincidence that she got her first diaper rash only after I weaned her. And Hila, who was formula fed pretty much from day 1, had chronic diaper rash.)

Anyways, it was really bad and I wanted to give her tush as much air as possible. So I took off her diaper and pulled out our little potty...just in case. At one point, I saw her squat and start to grimace, so I quickly picked her up and stuck her on the potty. She peed and pooped.

Later that day, while diapered, she made those same gestures, so I quickly took off her diaper and put her on the potty...and she pooped again!

Two weeks later and Meira probably pees and poops in the potty and/or toilet (with kid seat) 2-4 times a day. She still poops in her diaper sometimes (this is a kid who poops many, many times a day) and often pees on the floor, but we're having some fun with this pottying. Meira will sometimes run to the potty herself and indicate that she wants her diaper off (and always goes after that), or I'll pick up on her cues and initiate the pottying. Either way, Meira gets very, very excited and is clearly very proud of herself.

Now we just need to get daddy on board...

Review of Tea Garden Spa

The Tea Garden Spa is located about 15 minutes from Kiryat Gat. It is a Japanese-style tzimmer with small wooden, beautiful huts, landscaped gardens, en-suite Jacuzzis and sauna, A/C, and cable TV. Each room also has a little fridge, a kettle, coffee, and tea. When we entered the room there was a pot of green jasmine tea (according to my super taster tastebuds) heating over a candle with two adorable Japanese teacups nearby. In the fridge was a pitcher of water and two ice cold glasses of lemonade.

Sounds idyllic, right?

Well it was, but it was far -- very far -- from idyllic. 

Let me count the ways:

1. Our bathroom -- Our room bathroom did not have a door. Yeah, you read that right. It had a wall separating it from the rest of the room, but only on three sides, the fourth side was open, so if you were sitting on the toilet, you'd see right into the shower, which was located in the corner of the room (also not in its own room). And the interior wall that separated the toilet from the rest of the room didn't even go all the way up to the ceiling -- it stopped a few feet before getting all the way up there. Plus, I had to ask for toilet paper.

2. The shower -- The shower had a curtain, but no liner. Water got everywhere. They supplied dinky little packets of shampoo+conditioner. After extended Jacuzzi use, I needed moisturizer!

3. The bed -- It was a double. That's small for one and a half large people (is that a good way to describe us?).

4. The lamps -- First off, there were no night tables, so the lamps (large, Japanese lantern-style lights) were on the floor (that's fine). Now, if you're not going to have a normal light on a night table, you should at least make sure that the lamp is turn-off-able by hand from your bed. These had foot peddles as switches. So you had to get out of bed and step on the switch to turn it off or on.

5. The coffee -- But where's the milk? Or at least the powdered creamer?

6. The sauna -- The switch to the sauna was outside, around the back of the cabin. And who wants to sit in a boiling hot cubicle in the dead of summer??

7. The massage -- Because Menachem declined his 1/2 hour massage (part of our package deal), I got a four-handed massage. Parts were good, parts not so good. It's hard to focus on the intense pleasure of a shoulder massage when someone else is digging her pointy fingers deep into my thigh fat. I have bruises to prove it.

8. The cheese platter -- This consisted of a portion of goat's milk cream cheese, a portion of olive cream cheese, and a portion of sun-dried tomato cream cheese. There were also olives and crackers. It was tasty, but come on -- that's not a cheese platter. The wine was Young Selected. We love that sparkly soda-like wine, but I imagine that more sophisticated people may scoff at that wine choice.

9. The TV -- It was too small. And Israeli cable is stupid.


That being said, we had a wonderful, relaxing time. Complaining about this odd place was good fun and we had excellent, excellent meals at nearby restaurants (review of one to come). 

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Why I Hate the Beach

Top 4 Reasons Why I Dislike the Beach

1. It is hot and sunny. Unless you spend the entire time in the water, you will have no choice but to walk/sit/run after a kid in the boiling hot sun. If you've ever spoken to me for 5 minutes or more, than you know I have issues with the sun, but seriously, does anyone actually like that bright hot sun beating down on them?

3. Sunburn. I put sunscreen on, and yet still get burnt. And not just a mild burn, but a bad burn in streaks where I didn't rub in my sunscreen well. Okay, maybe that's my fault, but still.

4. The water. It is salty and stings. It is dangerous. People drown and get eaten by sharks and stung by jellyfish.

5. Sand. I've saved the best (worst) for last. Sand is my greatest enemy. There is just no way to get rid of it. It takes over your entire life. I guess it's fine at the beach -- it certainly gives my kids something to do (and eat), but then, you get home, and it's EVERYWHERE. In your bags, in your food, in your clothes, in your toys, in your hair, rubbing up against your sunburned skin. Maybe you finally manage to shower it all off your body, but then there's your house that's been attacked. Somehow sand got into the sheets of your bed, onto the rugs, on the couch, all over the floors. The bathtubs and the washing machine, while doing a good job of cleaning you and your clothes, end up being sandy and yucky themselves.

And you're telling me you LIKE the beach? I just don't believe you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Joyous Drop Offs

Dropping Meira off at gan in the morning is definitely the happiest time of day for me. Yes, it marks the beginning of 3 full hours of uninterrupted silence, but more than that, I get to see a room full of 2-4 year old Israeli kids go crazy over the arrival of my wonderful Meira. 

It gets better and better everyday too. 

I bring Meira at 9 when all the kids have already been there for an hour or two and are settling down for their morning circle time. In we walk and they all get up, jump up and down, and scream, "Meira! Meira! Meira!" 

I was always hesitant about naming my child a name with a "resh" in it (the R) since in my American accent I wouldn't be able to pronounce my child's name properly in Hebrew. While I do still feel like an idiotic immigrant when I say Meira, I have to admit that I absolutely love the way that it sounds in Hebrew. The trill of the R in Meira makes it sound much more beautiful that the boring R as we Americans say it. 

P.S. We also pronounce Hila's name like idiotic immigrants. It's supposed to be Hi-LA, and we say HI-la. We will be naming our next kid Bob, or some other one syllable name without a "resh."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Gan is Good, So Good

We are thrilled with Meira's new gan. We get such good reports everyday (which is really amazing considering how difficult she is getting at home) -- they say she eats and plays so nicely and is just maxima, maxima, maxima.

The best part of all is the attention she gets from the teachers AND the kids. The head gannenet (Zahava) said that every morning the kids all say, "Is Meira coming today?! Is Meira coming today?!" (she get's there at 9 and the other kids get there around 7-7:30). And then when she gets there, they're always so excited to see her. And then when she leaves (at noon rather than at 4 like the rest of the kids), all the kids gather around to say bye-bye to baby Meira.

And you thought sending a 1-year-old to a gan filled with 23 2- and 3-year olds was going to backfire!

Meanwhile, as I mentioned, Meira is becoming very difficult during the day when she's at home (whining, clinging, doing dangerous acrobatics), but she does continue to sleep like an angel, for her long 2-3 hour nap and at night.

Keep up the good work Meira!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Wonders of Childcare

It has been a monumental 2 weeks for our little girl. Meira started walking, stopped breastfeeding (cold turkey), and started going to gan. Monumental, I should say, and quite wonderful.

I thought weaning would be traumatic for both of us, but it couldn't be clearer to me that it was the right time to do it (I just couldn't bear saying "no" to her all day long -- 3 times a day wasn't enough for her and I wasn't willing to feed on-demand anymore). Today she had her first cup of non-breast milk since she was 2 months old!

And now with gan -- what a change! Instead of her whining and complaining around the house for HOURS, she's out with other kids and playing. (They're all 2-4 years old, but still -- she has turned into the little gan mascot, their human toy.) The teachers say she is excellent and never cries. She's there from 9-12 and then comes home and naps for 2-3 hours.

She has mostly stopped crying herself to sleep (yes, after a full year of trying EVERYTHING) and now sleeps through the night.

My afternoons go a lot smoother when she's so well rested and after I've gotten a full morning of working and cleaning and relaxing.

Things are looking up.

Monday, June 04, 2012

The Hunger Games - Mini Review

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games - Think Ender's Game meets Lord of the Rings meets The Giver. I couldn't put this down. I neglected all my financial/parental duties for a day. I look forward to reading Book Two.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

The Secret to Making Good Quinoa

I discovered the secret to making the fluffiest quinoa ever when I started making quinoa before shabbat, realized I didn't have time, and then let the quinoa sit, soaking in water in the fridge, for about 36 hours.


2 cups quinoa
2 cups boiling water
More water
Salt and pepper


1. Rinse and pick through quinoa.
2. Combine 2 cups quinoa with 2 cups boiling water in a small pot.
3. Cover pot.
4. When cool, place pot in the fridge to soak for as many hours as you have time for. I did 36 hours (because I forgot about it) but probably 5-6 hours or overnight would be good too.
5. Add water to quinoa to cover completely (the original 2 cups will have been long soaked up) and add about 2 teaspoons of salt and 3/4 teaspoon of pepper. Put on stove and bring to a boil.
6. Cover and turn heat down to low and cook for 15 minutes.
7. Uncover and fluff quinoa with a fork. Quinoa should be soft and fluffy.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Weaning Cold Turkey: 1 Day Down

I just completed my first 24 hours of weaning. And as I sit here, breasts engorged and a bit leaky, I am sad, but still confident that this is the right move for us. In fact, Meira, who was so breast-obsessed, seems totally fine. She fell asleep for her nap yesterday and then for bed last night just fine. She cried for about 5-10 minutes each time, but, sadly, that's normal for her, even if I do nurse her first. (I'm convinced that that kid simply enjoys crying herself to sleep. There is no other explanation why she should still be crying for those 5-10 minutes each time I put her down.)

In the middle of the night she cried (as usual), and Menachem went in, rubbed her back for a minute, and left, and she fell right back asleep! That doesn't usually work so well, so that's progress already!

In the morning, I swooped her out of the crib with a big smile and got her a cup of milk (that she didn't touch of course), but she was happy.

Now this feeling that I have (the physical side of this), reminds me of a very, very frustrating time at the beginning of Meira's life. At about 2 weeks in, I was going crazy with the difficulties of breastfeeding, and I quit. Cold turkey. I refused to go through this again (see earlier posts about Hila -- I don't feel like finding a link) and simply stopped. After 24 hours of engorgement, milk spilling out of me all over the place, and lots and lots of crying (on my part), I decided I wasn't ready to stop and started nursing again.

And here we are one year later, in a much better place.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Thoughts On Zumba

Did you know that I have a life outside my children? It's true! I go to the gym twice a week for two hour-long classes. It's just a little something I do to make me feel less guilty and lazy about sitting on the couch (my office) for the rest of the day.

Usually I go to step, body toning, or classic aerobics classes, but decided that I should give Zumba a shot to mix things up a bit.

When the music started and the class began moving, I was in shock. Really! I had no idea how provocative Zumba was. I had mainly heard about from my religious friends -- friends who are way more religious and...seemingly demure...than I. Where they really involved in such butt shaking, gyrating, thrusting dance classes?

I am not the type who can completely let down my guard and shake my booty. In a college dance aerobics class I took, I remember the teacher once singling me out -- there I was, trying to hide in the back row -- and yelling, "Hey, you in back! Shake your butt more!" I was mortified! I had spent my entire life detracting attention from my behind, and the teacher was encouraging me to shake it wildly for all to see! Not gonna happen.

So I'm in Zumba for the first time and feeling really, really awkward. The whole POINT of Zumba is to shake your butt!

I walked out of the class sure I would never put myself through that humiliation again.

Fast forward a few months. Somehow I got convinced to try it again. I decided to go in with an open mind and to relax.

I didn't hate it. I even wiggled my tush a bit.

I went again. Hey, this is an amazing workout. And I'm not too horrible at it....

I went again. I learned that if I really relaxed, I could let loose and feel the groove of the music. If I embraced the shaking and shimmying, then I could forget my insecurities and embrace the workout and the dancing. I realized: This is a class of women. There are no observers. There is no pressure to look good. I can do this.

I realized: I am pretty good at the butt shaking! I like a workout that encourages you to swing your floppy body parts around, rather than always clenching them and trying to harden them into oblivion. Why should I be insecure about my tush? I have one of the best tush shakes in the class!

And so...

If you can get past the awkwardness of Zumba (and it's not easy to do!) then I think you may like it too...whoever you are.

Yes, We're Ready to Wean...Or at Least I am

I love breastfeeding. I really do. But I'm starting to realize that it's no longer what is best for us. Meira is so so clingy, and is constantly pulling at my shirt, and I feel like if I'm not willing to feed on demand (which I'm not), then I shouldn't nurse at all. Maybe that logic doesn't make sense to you. So here:

Meira doesn't have a watch. She doesn't understand or remember day to day that she gets fed once in the morning, once before her nap, and once before bed. To her, she gets fed SOMETIMES, but not always, and not always when she wants. It makes me feel like I'm being arbitrary and that I'm confusing her by saying, "Sure you still get mommy's milk, but only when I feel like it." Well that just doesn't seem fair anymore for an older baby. 

Sometimes I just want to cuddle with her, but can't because she's always got ulterior motives. Sometimes she'll be playing nicely with daddy, and then I walk into a room and she goes crazy. I pick her up and she indicates that she wants milk. I am ready to embrace my role as a non-nursing parent.

Ultimately (like hopefully in a few days), I think Meira will appreciate this move. I think she'll be less distressed when she's around me. She won't have that constant nagging thought of "Oooh, maybe now is one of those random times that mommy is going to lift up her shirt for me." 

Out of sight, out of mind. 

It's been a wonderful experience. I look forward to nursing baby #3 (many years from now...).

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ready to Wean?

Yes, I am still nursing Meira. Next week she turns 1, and I am shocked and very, very proud of myself that we've made it this far.

I've become passionate about breastfeeding -- I truly love nursing my little nursling and appreciate the quiet, sweet cuddles that we sneak in throughout the day.


It's been a long year. Meira refuses to drink milk, soymilk, or formula, of any temperature and from any bottle or cup. So it's been my milk, from my breasts, everyday since she was about two months old (remember, I supplemented with formula and pumped a ton during those early months). Now we're down to four nursings a day (from like 10+ in those first six months and then 7-8 until just a few months ago), and I can't imagine how Meira will ever part with any of them. I keep trying to drop one, but she won't hear of it.

And it's not such a burden really. She nurses for 5-10 minutes (sometimes less) each time.

Sometimes I think that I could continue breastfeeding for...I don't know...longer. But other times, I feel like our family is ready to close that chapter in our lives.

I'm told one-year-olds don't really need milk if they're getting dairy and calcium from other sources. Meira is a fantastic eater, and I'm sure she'd be fine. She loves drinking water and finds comfort in her sippy cups of water. Maybe she'll learn to like milk later when I give in and add some chocolate to it.

I think the only way to wean Meira would be to do it cold turkey. If I dropped the day feeds and only nursed once at night and once in the morning, I think she'd claw at my shirt all day long. I feel feeding during the day needs to stop soon since we're considering putting her in gan, at least for part of the day.

Cold turkey, and she'd probably be fine in a few days. She'd forget all about it, right? She'll adjust just fine, right?

Well...maybe one day.

For now, I'm not ready. I'd miss it too much.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My Innocent Little Poet

Yesterday, while walking home from the park, we heard a monkey cackling!

Well, not really. There was a woman on her phone laughing very loudly (in one of the apartments we were passing), and Hila looked at me and said, completely seriously, "Mommy! I hear a monkey!" She really, truly thought there was a monkey.

And that reminded me of something else she said recently. We were outside and I pointed to some flowers and said, "Those flowers are beautiful." And then she pointed to some rocks and sticks and said, "Those rocks and sticks are so so pretty also."

And THAT reminded me of a Bukowski poem that I really like:

I Met A Genius

I met a genius on the train
about 6 years old,
he sat beside me
and as the train
ran down along the coast
we came to the ocean
and then he looked at me
and said,
it's not pretty. 
Charles Bukowski
His example is the opposite of mine, but his point is the same. No, it's not that kids are dumb; it's that they are so beautifully oblivious. They don't say the expected ("Those flowers are beautiful" or "The ocean is pretty"), but they look at things with a fresh, unbiased eye, and say what they truly think, describe what their eyes really see. 

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

"You were so cute!"

One day in the future, I'm going to say to Hila, "You were so cute when you were little!" and she's going to say, "How? What did I do?" And I, with my horrendous memory, will say, "Ummm...I can't remember." So, let's jot down a few notes that I'll be able to refer to in 5, 10, 30 years. (This blog is eternal, right?)

  • Cinderella used to be your favorite movie, and you had two favorite parts (or "fravorite" as you'd say): First, when Cinderella cleaned the floors and sang Sing Sweet Nightingale, and second, when the mean sisters ripped Cinderella's dress. You would get down on your hands and knees and clean the floor with a wipe and sing Sing Sweet Nightingale, and insist that we do the same. You'd also out of the blue, just blurt out sometimes, "Cinderella's sisters are SO mean! The ripped Cinderella's dress!"
  • And speaking of random thoughts that you'd share, you'd be playing quietly or we'd be  talking about something else, and you'd just say, "My hair is curly!" or "Kelev is dog!" About these outbursts -- to me, they were completely random, but not for you; these were things that you spent lots of time thinking about.
  • After pooping you'd call us into the bathroom. After being wiped, you'd straighten up, and with a big smile and cheerful voice, you'd say, "Thank you so much!" You're so welcome!
  • You loved Meira from the very first day that we brought her home from the hospital. I started calling her "Meiri" pretty early on, and you'd always correct me "No, not Meiri, Meira Aviv Pritzker!" For months that's how you referred to her, by her full name only.
  • Hila: "We don't watch TV on shabbat, right?" Parent: "Right." Hila: "Is today shabbat?" Parent: "No...." Hila: "So I can watch TV!"
  • You used to get a piece of chocolate every morning before you left the house for gan. (It was the only way we could get you to get dressed.) Then your dad went to America for a week and I was in charge of getting you out of the house. That morning snack quickly became replaced with something else. We called it breakfast. Cereal in a baggie to eat during our walk to gan.
I'm sure I'll add to this. Adorable things happen everyday. I just can't think of them now.


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