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Missing in Action

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So, as a brand new iPhone owner I really should blog more. The last few weeks have been crazy busy! Let me try to remember when I last blogged… Oh yeah, the elections that didn’t end with the results I had hoped for. Let me just stop there. Even though Bibi is, in my opinion, far from the besz thing for this country, he was elected by the people. And that itself is something that needs to be respected.

 

 The week before the elections my oldest daughter got married in Prague,  Czech Republic. It was a sweet and short wedding, with kids taking their job seriously. It was a great trip. We even joined a free walkong tour and the kids did wonderfully on the nearly three hour activity. Judy was carried on Kevin’s shoulders for part of it and walked part of it. The other kids walked the whole time! We stopped at the Bake Shop about halfway through, and I offered the kids some super expensive treats… And they turned me down. That was a first.

Judy turned two, and in the almost two weeks her vocabulary has grown like crazy. So has her curiosity and her independence. The great thing is that there is always someone around to keep an eye on her and only intervene if absolutely necessary. She is starting to play with other kids, and entertains herself surprisingly well for chunks of time. 

Getting back, it has been super busy. Between work, medical appointments, and homeschool I have very little free time. In fact most of our homeschool teaching is done by Kevin’s mom and the Open University. We decided to keep the littles in school for next year, too. They thrive there and are in a mostly Hebrew environment, so there is no reason to change that. 

In my limited free time we caught up on American Idol. I actually enjoy this season, though I wasn’t exactly impressed with most of the 80s week performances. I especially disliked Joey’s awful rendition of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and Jax’s Bon Jovi attempt. Clarke, on the other hand, was great. Nick was the best! I generally thought that the soundtrack of my childhood was trampled on. I know Boy George’s voice is not what it used to be, but he was still the best in the group performance of Karma Chameleon. Which, by the way, is one of my favourite songs from that decade. 

http://youtu.be/xvqlA41mxzY

Another thing I realized is that I must have a Jewdar. I’m not even kidding. We have been binge watching Salem. There are two characters I especially love: Cotton and Isaac. Part of the reason for that is that I find the two actors, Seth Gabel and Iddo Goldberg incredibly hot. After googling them it turns out that the former is a Jew from Florida and the latter is Israeli-British. 

Mentioning Salem, we need to do some Salem Witch Trial and English phonology and phonetics projects with the kids, lest they believe that Cotton Mather was against witch trials snd Increase Mather was sctive in them. Plus back then Brits spoke like Americans. So yes. I have a week of furlough, we can work on those.

Passover is fast approaching. We are mostly done with cleanong and preparing for eight days of unleavened bread. This is usually. Challenging week for me, because I don’t like matzah, but this year Kevin found some great recipes with it.

While cleaning is mostly done I was dreading all the cookibg for the Seder. Some of my friends suggested to just take it easy and serve a simple salad or sandwiches or something equally simple, but that is the equivalent of a simple salad and sandwiches for Christmas dinner. Luckily my awesome stepmom invited us to Seder! It is partly catered, so everyone wins.

We as a family also decided to spend the days of the counting of the Omer–the seven weeks between the Seder and Shavuot–eating vegetarian, at least till Lag B’Omer. No, not eating vegetarians, just following a meatless diet. We are drawing inspiration from Indian cuisine as well as Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty.

I have finally decided to try filet crochet. 

 

Five for the Weekend – Week 6

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1. Yes, I missed week 5. I was abroad, and there were too many things to do and too little time. It was also the beginning of birthdaypartygate, and all I could have posted at that time was rants at anti vaxers. And rants about governments. And rants about elections. And generally just rants. I like to save those for Facebook and my poor friends.

2. On Thursday the former Chief Rabbi of Hungary, József Schweitzer passed away. I was not going to go to synagogue yesterday, but I decided to do it, to be among those reciting the kaddish for him. I always enjoyed his lectures and classes that he taught for various schools and organizations, and I really, really looked up to him. He will be missed by many. May his memory be a blessing.

3. My kids discovered Frozen. Their aunt gave them a DVD while I was away, and now… Nothing. Based on everyone’s description of Let It Go taking their lives over, I fully expected my girls going crazy over Frozen. Didn’t happen.Yeah, Shiri likes to watch it once every few days. Watching is an exaggeration: she puts it on in the girls’ bedroom for background noise to do homework, or read, or draw, or something. Oh, and there is a new Elsa sticker on her sticker door. I have to admit, some of those tunes are catchy.

4. You know what other tunes are catchy? Ivri Lider’s new album! I had pre-ordered it, and it finally became available for download this week. Can you guess what I’ve been listening to?

I am so happy for this album. Some songs are already permanently logged in my brain. Now if only Mr. Skaat hurried up with his new album!

5. Guess what I got? I got some awesome patterns from my friend Shellie from PlanetJune! She bought me the complete cat set of patterns. I’m starting to make a rainbow cat. Of course the yarn is not the correct weight, so we shall see what happens. Planet June has awesome patterns! I haven’t crocheted much since a problem with my wrist a few weeks ago, so I will need some time to get back into practice!

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7 Quick Takes

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— 1 —

It’s been a long time since I listened to Harel Skaat’s Lauf.

With Chanukah only about a month away, we have more and more ads for Festigal. And this will be the first year since we moved here that none of us will actually go to Festigal. While my kids always enjoyed it, we can’t justify the cost and the costumes are weird. The two are not related, but I asked my dad not to surprise us with tickets this year. None of the kids expressed much of an interest to go, so we will do something else for Chanukah. I will have a few days off, so we might take a little trip somewhere in the country. Maybe take my brother Chaim up on his offer and visit him, and camp out in his garden. Or, depending on the snow and war situation, a ski trip to the Golan can happen. We shall see.

— 2 —

Mentioning Chanukah. My dear Christian friends, it’s adorable that you are planning to do Chanukah crafts/activities with your kids, but when you kidnap the activities and add all kinds of Christian symbolisms, it is no longer Chanukah. Chanukah has its own very specific history and symbolism, and adding Christ in the mix (beyond a mention of  John 10:22) is not only meaningless, but it’s also offensive to many Jews. When adding non-existent Messiahnic meaning to Jewish holidays Christians send the message that they degrade Judaism to the status of being a prelude to Christianity. Of course many Muslims consider Christianity to be that for Islam, and I’m sure most of my Christian readers would disagree. Now, if you want to recognize your religion in the tradition, you are very welcome to do it, just please rename the holiday appropriately. Like Christian Festival of Lights. Or whatever.

Christians can celebrate Chanukah, and some people believe they should. I think it is a wonderful celebration of the survival of the children of Israel and our faithfulness to G-d’s word and refusal to assimilate. Celebrating with us makes the party only better. 🙂

Couple of years ago one of my LJ friends posted videos and photos of their Chanukah tradition. They were very enthusiastic to celebrate this holiday that their saviour celebrated. I remember telling S that… they weren’t doing it according the Jewish tradition. She eagerly picked my brain to find the proper way to light the candles and recite blessings, and they changed the way they celebrated Chanukah. They, however, also loved their own family tradition that they continued to do in addition to the Jewish way of celebrating. Their own tradition became a cherished family festival, carrying all the layers of meaning added to it during the years–both personal and Christian religious. The two traditions continue side by side for them, and I think they have doubled the fun!

— 3 —

A couple posts down I wrote about our holiday plans, including Chanukah and Russian style New Year celebrations. One of my readers chatted me up on Facebook, and asked a very valid question. She didn’t want to ask in a comment, because she wanted to avoid any kind of potential drama, but she agreed to me answering it publicly: If we are so secular, why do I not let my kids celebrate Christmas at my BIL’s?

My answer to that is very simple, and it is very much the same message that religious Christians are trying to send: Jesus is the reason for the season. As commercialized it has become, Christmas is a religious holiday, celebrating the birth of, from the Jewish POV, a false messiah. It’s kind of like Christians not celebrating Krishnashtami. At the same time the absolutely secular Christmas replacement of the Russian New Year is part of some of my kids’ culture, so I can convince myself easier to celebrate it.

Of course we also live in a country where Christmas is no big thing. Every Jewish family in the Diaspora has to make the decision about what to do with Christmas. Some will write Christmas songs. As Wolowitz says in TBBT: “Must be the one Christmas song not written by a Jewish guy.” Some choose to ignore the day. Some make some fun traditions since it’s a day off… or just volunteer to cover the holiday shifts for their co-workers who do celebrate.

— 4 —

We are busy getting ready for Chanukah. I haven’t learnt to sew, and I still can’t afford buying gorgeous Chanukah stockings on etsy, so I made up my own crochet stocking patterns. And I made some stockings.

2014-11-14 13.33.24Yes, I believe they can be used for Christmas, too. 😀

 

— 5 —

Why is it that I start to write seven quick takes on Wednesday, write three in quick succession and then I’m stuck? Here I am on a Friday afternoon, and considering including cartoons and a cute video for quick takes 6 and 7. Of  course I spend a lot of time writing, because it’s November, but then this blog is getting little to no inspiration. I’m sorry about that.

— 6 —

Last year at Rosh Hashanah I promised myself I wouldn’t knowingly eat pork and not-kosher seafood. 5774 happened to be a long year, with a leap month. At times it was hard, because I love shrimp and bacon. Now 5775 has come and now I could eat all these without breaking my resolution, but suddenly… I don’t really miss any of it. Weird. Maybe finding the best fake bacon helped. 🙂 Today I’m making chicken liver and prunes wrapped in turkey bacon. Good thing I have help in the kitchen, because we can eat a lot a lot of it!

— 7 —

Writing so much about Chanukah put me in a great Chanukah mood. Did you know that the best Chenukah song was not written by Adam Sandler but by Steve Page of the Barenaked Ladies?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes — 29

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— 1 —

Now it’s Wednesday, and I might end up posting my 7QT today, because I have no idea when I’ll get to blog tomorrow if at all. While I said that I would be blogging less, recycling two posts from the past, and sharing an experience during an air raid made my blog busier than usually. Oh, by the way, go read that post. It involves coffee, it’s less than 300 words long, and it’s pretty good.

Mentioning air raid experiences, If you speak Hungarian, here is an article titled “One more air raid and we’ll be late to the theatre” by Hungarian writer/TV personality/journalist/celebrity Kristóf Steiner, who lives in Tel Aviv with his husband, Matan. It references the current trend of posting shelter selfies (that the very handsome Harel Skaat also participates in), making fun of Hamas, and just making the best of an unpleasant situation. A similar post in English is here. Actually I generally recommend his blog. After reading my post about the air raid the other day, of course.

— 2 —

Yesterday, after too long a time, I finally made it to another Harel Skaat show. As usual, it was fabulous. I had a little too much to drink before and after the show (no, I still wasn’t drunk, but one more drink would have made me drunk!) and for a change I relaxed and went to sleep without any meds. In this most un-normal of times an evening felt oh so normal. Even if song selection and commentary by RL was heavily influenced by current affairs in Israel.

From an earlier performance, RL singing the 121st psalm:

 

 

— 3 —

My youngest has recently started to put words together when she signs. She has also discovered that if she says something I react to it, but I will only sign back to her. It’s kinda funny, because now she seems to have an active sign vocabulary that differs from her active speech vocabulary quite a bit. She has about 20 words and 15 signs that she uses as of today, but there are new words appearing every day! Her signing is slower, and as long as she understands what I sign to her, I am not too concerned.It is only in sign, however, that she is using phrases now, so I think we are right on track with that as well. Of course she hears a lot more speech than she sees signing, and then often even my signing is accompanied by someone’s interpretation as well, so who knows.

— 4 —

I have been planning on sharing more about our crafting and cold porcelain adventures. I tweaked the recipe I use a bit more, and we have some pretty things to show. Like this flower. We painted this one with acrylic paint after it dried, and I think this will be an approach for colouring that we will use. I have also made owl eyes from pre-coloured pieces of cold porcelain, and I need to glue them onto some crochet work and show pictures as well. 2014-07-08 20.05.32

— 5 —

Mentioning crochet. I finally finished a few pieces I have been working on. I found several descriptions, usually translated from Finnish, for “converse” slippers, which, again, I tweaked. I am planning to post my tweaks and the link to the original description as soon as I finish my third pair. Till then, here is a pair I made for my daughter, but ended up my niece’s and the first adult one. 2014-07-16 15.55.07Crochet is my one remaining activity resembling normalcy. I am usually too tired to make any significant progress with my work, but I try to crochet (or knit) a few rows each day. I usually do it as Kevin FaceTimes with the kids in Hungary. The kids have a blast with Uncle Dan and cousins, and can’t wait for the rest of the family (except Itamar and I) to join them early August for two weeks. While they are gone, if the situation doesn’t normalize, two families who are friends with my family with house sit for us. They are from the south (see next quick take) and they could use the break. I am planning to stay somewhere in the city for those two weeks. I hope to crochet a lot and go to another Harel Skaat concert!

— 6 —

While it might seem from my blog that the situation in Israel is not all that serious. As I have said before, in many ways, Tel Aviv is its own little bubble. It is not like the rest of Israel in many, many aspects. So while it might seem that rockets are a mere inconvenience for Israelis, it is not etirely true. While Tel Aviv experienced two or three alerts a day, there are areas that got several each hour. People in the South are advised to stay within 15 seconds from a bomb shelter at all times. Can you imagine living your life with an eye on a shelter all the time, and not even being safe enough to go to the grocery store, or even to get into your car? I can’t, and I’m in the same country, in the same conflict, but twenty, thirty, hundred kilometers away.

Some of you have been telling me you are worried about my safety, and I really appreciate your concern. While indeed it is not always safe here, it is a lot safer than in other parts of Israel, or in areas of Gaza. Those of you who pray, please don’t forget to pray for the people you might not know, but for whom rockets are more than an annoyance. Please also pray for the 70k people in Gaza, who were left without electricity. One of the rockets fired from Gaza damaged a power line near the border in Israel, and this line supplies southern Gaza with electricity. Because it was too dangerous for crews to repair the damage, it seemed like they would be left without power indefinitely, but Israel Electric Corporation employees fixed it amid continued rocket fire.

Yesterday (Tuesday) in accordance with an Egypt brokered ceasefire agreement, Israel halted air strikes in Gaza for six hours. During this time over 50 rockets were fired from Gaza to Israel. Hamas didn’t even consider the ceasefire.

I have quoted Golda Meir before, saying that there will be peace when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us… I think many, many Arabs love their children more than they hate us, but they have not the courage or power to rid themselves of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

— 7 —

I’d like to thank Jen for volunteering to post this to the link up! I don’t have access to the link ups from my new work, and I am on my own laptop at very random times. However, email subscription to my blog has been finally fixed, so feel free subscribe to be kept updated! Thanks for visiting!

 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

 

 

7 Quick Takes – 11

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— 1 —

I'm so on top of thingst hat I completely forgot to shop for Purim. As I described before, this is a holiday where we are to send food portions to at least two of our friends. So this morning I braved the crowds at two grocery stores, and finally I have a decent base to start to put some mishloach manot together. Early this morning we wrote the list of potential recipients, and what we'd like to give them, and then bought items for a few extra goodie bags in case someone unexpected sends any of us anything. I'm really not a big fan of ripping up packages we just got to gift someone we weren't prepared for.

And this is another reason why I love homeschooling. Purim is the candy gift nightmare of Judaism. But this year I don't have to prepare the small bags for the gazillion and one classmates.

Another mitzvah of the holiday is giving to the poor. I had to stop by the bank machine and get plenty of cash so every family member can fulfill this mitzvah. Last year a wealthy couple in my kids' then school gave us quite a bit of cash, because they thought we could use it. We also gave to other families within our means, and I know they gave to people who had less than them… We even met a homeless man at the bus station one year who was also giving his two coins to charity. Now I feel fairly prepared, because I even got noisemakers to take to synagoge for the reading of the megillah.

— 2 —

Someone told me recently that they liked Jews, because they seemed so normal and not as extreme as some Christian groups in their area. I was shocked by that, because I tend to think of our haredi community as the people who make Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips seem normal.

So, meet the lovely folks of Lev Tahor.

— 3 —

About a month ago my eldest daughter informed me, again, that we were out of cotton makeup pads. You know, those round thingies that boys use for acne tonic, and girls use for I have no idea what. Upon realizing we were spending around $10 on those things per month, and thus create unnecessary trash, we decided to remedy the situation. Going through my yarn stash, we found some white and light coloured 100% cotton yarn, and started to crochet. It took approximately six minutes to create a pad, and using leftovers that were absolutely not enough for any other project, we made about 30 of these pads during homeschool hours. Since then we have made about 100 pieces that are used in various bathrooms in our home.

2014-03-14 08.47.18

We washed them before first use, and both the white and the colours have ben working great since then. The trick is that even washing them is not bad for the environment, because we squeeze them in with the regular wash loads, using one of those wash bags sold at dollar stores.

Gosh, I feel so crunchy. If it goes like this, I might attempt making my own detergent again.

— 4 —

Kevin and I went on a date yesterday! We haven't really been on one for a long time. We went to the Dizengoff Center and shopped for birthday presents. Three of our children have birthdays in the next three weeks, so we had quite a bit of shopping to do. Since two of the birthday kids are reading my blog from time to time, I will not post what we got them. We had dinner at a fast food place, and just generally had a nice time hanging out.

— 5 —

My only birthday child who is definitely not reading here is Judy. She is turning one on Sunday, and I can't decide if I'm the awesomest or the most horrible parent on earth. Since she is the youngest of many, she has more clothes, books and toys than she can ever use, so in addition to a few wooden puzzles, I wrapped three huge boxes in multiple layers of fancy paper for her. I know she will love them.

— 6 —

Yesterday I realized that it's not just that I don't like mozzarella. I don't like mozzarella, oregano and basil. I don't eat pork or non-kosher sea creatures. I'm going to Rome in May. You see my problem?

— 7 —

Shabbat Shalom!

 

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