Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Chanuka animated cheese

Trust me, that subject line makes sense.

(and it will undoubtedly make for interesting search engine results)

(note Llama mimicking every. single. video. of her and her sister when they were small, when each video ended with "wanna see video!" or some such)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Monday, November 14, 2016

milestone #16280


...wait. If I didn't take a picture, does it count?

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Let America Be America Again

Let America Be America Again
Langston Hughes, 1902 - 1967

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? 
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes. 

Why? Why? Why?

"Yoav!," says I, having sent Her Highness The Elder to get. in. bed, "Remember when the girls were like two and kept asking why? why? why? all the time?"

"Yeah," he says.

"They're still doing it! They're just using bigger words!"

"Um yeah," he replies, "because their brains are still working. Which is a GOOD thing!"

"I know, I know," I mutter. "But much like when they were two, I wish all that curiosity came with an off-switch around bedtime!"

Sroch, by the way, had trouble going to bed because she wanted to stay up for the election returns.

Yawn. I understand you, kid. I understand you.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Election day

I am truly astonished how emotional I am about this election. Was reading the girlies an American Girl doll book about the depression - sobbing. Read an article about record numbers of early voting in my home county - weeping.

It's just been so hard watching so many people divided over this.

At the end of the day - and the beginning, and throughout - God is in charge, not you, not me, and not whichever candidate gets elected.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Time changes stunt your growth

"Mommy, I'm so tired. I've been up since 2."

"No you weren't. I went to sleep at 3 and you were fast asleep."

"Oh, so maybe it was 4. I thought the clocks were wrong and it was 3. But I've been awake and all I want to do is sleep," she said at 7:30 AM, laying in bed, reading a book.

"You're going to school! I'm making you coffee!"

So that happened.

Caffeine: the legal way to drug your children.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Chol Hamoed and Sroch

It is fascinating watching their neshamos, their souls, grow.

Motzei yuntiv on Monday night Sroch went with a friend to a women's simchas beis hashoeva where Rabbanit Yamima Mizrachi would be speaking. When at 11:00 PM I finally went to collect it, Sroch was sitting right in front - yawning, but enthralled.

Last night we went to the local Beit Shemesh annual concert (yes, I have taught my children to revere Shlock Rock) but tonight we spent the day doing stuff (Police Museum tour and demonstrations, dinner out in Yerushalayim after picking up the car from the repair $hop) and ended with another concert - for women, by women, starring people we know and love and people we don't know and love, and winding up with dancing and joy and it was great.

We get home. It's after midnight. The girls haven't showered since... um, a while, so I send Sroch off to one bathroom and I shower Llama in the other.

When I come back to Sroch to get Llama's toothbrush....

Sroch, are you in the shower yet?

"No, I was cutting my nails."

Sroch, you should stop, you're not supposed to cut your nails on Chol Hamoed.

"Oh. I never knew that."

I put Llama to sleep, and go to help the post-shower Sroch with her hair.

She is upset.

"I'm very angry with my school! Why do they teach us things we don't need to know, like geographiah, when there are things we NEED to know like not to cut your nails on chol hamoed! I am 10 years old already and I NEVER knew that! It's not RIGHT!"

...and she begins to cry.

And all I can do is hug her tight.

.... Tonight at the concert, Batya Israel sang a beautiful song she wrote upon the birth of her daughter, called 'Thank You,' part of which discussed how she has to nurture the neshama of her baby.

It is easy to forget that basically that is my ONLY job. Sure they need to be fed and taught hygeine and social skills and all that.

But for as long as they will listen to me, I have to nurture their neshamos.

So I'm hugging Sroch, and I remind her that God loves her, and it's really okay, she didn't know, and it's not like a light switch on shabbos, etc, etc, etc.

And maybe she's crying because it's almost 1 AM and it's the final push over the line into total fatigue and emotional drainage.

....and maybe she's crying because it's a time of year when we are so close to God, and she is so wanting to serve him properly, maybe she's crying for the same reason I'm crying: for her own pure little soul.

Guten moed everyone!

PS.... oh yeah. I was able to calm her down. And when she went to bed, Sroch turns to me and says, "Mommy? Thank you for teaching me."


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Tisha B'av: How do you go to bed?

So unbelievable to be back on the floor again. It feels far, far too familiar. And I don't have anything deep to say this year. No solution to fix the world. The world is such a wreck at the moment I guess I may be too daunted by the task. 

As you know, yesterday was technically Tisha B'av, but it was also shabbos, so we observe the fast and mourn today instead. So we went from the delight of shabbos into a somber reality of sadness.

Shabbos ended, my parents and in-laws went to shul or to their respective apartments, Yoav went to shul and I went to put the girls to bed. Bedtime is late these days because of summer break, but both children had committed to being formal or informal counselors today, helping take care of other kids, so they needed to sleep.

Before they went to bed, we all sat on the floor for a bit and I reviewed the laws of the day with them, and the list of the Big Tragedies of the day. All things they know. Children growing up in Israel know tragedy.

My Sroch started crying. 

We moved into their room, they got into bed. I read them a story from the Mishpacha Jr. magazine, a story about a bus bombing and miraculous survival, the old story of Napoleon's proclamation that a nation still crying 2000 years later will still see the rebuilding. The girls listen and Sroch stops crying and focuses on, "There's hope, Mommy! There's so much hope!"

We speak about time zones, and how it's still shabbos in America but already tomorrow in Australia, and maybe mashiach will come first in Australia but can't come now cause it's still shabbos in America, and so on. 

We say shema. I try to leave the room. Sroch keeps crying.

"Mommy, can you sing a hopeful song?"

So even though at this point in Tisha B'av, strictly speaking, we're not supposed to be focusing yet on hopeful thoughts of redemption, I sing. We Jews have no shortage of sad songs, and thankfully, no shortage of hopeful songs.

It helps. She stops crying, mostly.

I go, eventually they fall asleep.

Some time later I go to bed myself, and I wonder: How do you go to bed the night of a tragedy?

People who lose spouses, children, parents. People stabbed, broken, destitute. People who receive horrible news, the worst news, final news. Within the last couple weeks, two people I know have had to bury babies. Not terror related, just babies who were not meant to live. How did they go to bed that night?

I tried to think of some of the hardest times in my own life - how did I fall asleep those nights? 

...And I don't know.

But soon I found myself asleep, if somewhat fitfully. 

Because God has given us these amazing human brains that can disassociate - forget - push aside. Not always of course, but it is possible.

...The thing is.... Tisha B'av is where we bring it all out, the whole year's worth of "pushed aside"s and that is when we feel the pain. Of the tragedies of last week - last year- last millennium.

Because if it was on our mind every day, all that pain, every day and night - we could never sleep.

So we have one day, one day to sit on the floor with God as we cry and bawl together, as we allow ourselves to feel it, all of it. From stabbings to inquisitions to molesters to the Holocaust to infertility to intifadas to crusaders to cossaks to libels to assimilation to the meraglim and the midbar and the beis hamikdash... and mean girls and hurt feelings and the thousand cruelties of elementary school. All of it.


The only thing I can add is - last night when Sroch was crying, I didn't shh-shh her as I would for her crying for anything else.

This is real.

This is part of being a Jew.

And she's growing up, which means learning to cry on Tisha B'av.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Thank God for this blog

I have contemplated the wisdom of having this blog on several occasions (actually, uses Savta contemplates it for me - hi Savta!).

But I am so grateful for it just now, because I essentially lost all the videos I have of the kids from Feb 2010-June 2014... except for what I had stuck on YouTube or the old Google Video because of this blog.


I am trying not to be despondent.

Always have a second backup, boys and girls. Always.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Sroch is ten

10 years is 3650 bed-times (more or less, jet-lagged accommodations notwithstanding).

It's over 10,000 meals attempted, if not actually consumed.

It's probably about 2000 times I went into my room and closed the door and hoped for a moment of peace - or inspiration - or restraint.

It's about 1000 "I can't find my shoes!" and about 500 "Oh, I didn't realize" and about 300 "I used to like it but now I don't."

About 200 times discussing "why do I have to go to school??" and about 150 intelligent discussions of human history wondering why Jews, blacks, women, etc were ever discriminated against.

Probably about 75 wet beds, but not for a very long time, bli ayin hara.

About a round dozen times I cleaned up puke off the floor.

10 times taking her to America (I think).

Getting closer to zero, we have times I hit her (once - and immediately we both started bawling), and broken bones (1 - many years after the time I hit her!).

She was born.

One labor.

About a day in labor, but in the hospital for three days.

9 months of pregnancy (9.5, bless her late little heart).

About - and this is an approximation - 370 injections in those 9.5 months.

6.5 years of waiting for her.

Blessings.... innumerable.

Thank you God for my beautiful, utterly perfect, perfectly flawed, utterly human and special and unique eldest child.

Happy birthday, Sarah Rochel. Happy birthday.

Who needs cake? Birthday sushi!

Now go do the laundry, kid.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Sroch made dinner!

Roasted potatoes and scrambled eggs! "I want to be a teenager already!" said she.

We supervised and turned on the stove, but she did it all!