Tuesday, October 31, 2006

You Votin' For Me, Punk?

Big news in the Raggedyhouse - Robert DeNiro called! Really! Well, maybe it was a recording of Robert DeNiro. And maybe he "wanted to talk to me about Hillary Clinton's voting record . . . blahahablaIdon'tknowbecauseIhungup" Grrr . . . Few things irk Raggedymom more than celebrities who endorse politicians, (ab)using their fame as a platform to sway votes. Or, as a wise friend of mine said, "Celebrities are politicians, they are just paid much, much more."

I resent this almost as much as people who engage in "electioneering" right outside of the polling places, when it is illegal to do so within 200 feet of the building (as far as I remember, maybe 100 feet?). There is nothing like trying to pressure me into voting for someone, to make me vote for the other guy. When I was in Queens College, I wrote an incendiary article about this very topic.

Even though I'm not a politics person at all, I take civics very seriously. Particularly as the only member of this household eligible to vote, and as an immigrant to America myself, albeit as a child. So if Hillary ever had my vote (as if), she and her buddy Bobby DeNiro just lost it.

Monday, October 30, 2006

"Besides, comparisons are odious" (Jack Kerouac, On the Road)

Ann (3 years old): "Papa, you love your family. You are lucky. Mommy, you like your vacuum and you are lucky too!"

Thanks, Ann!

Friday, October 27, 2006

On Children from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children."

And he said:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

As the year progresses with Ann in preschool, it is bittersweet to see her make friends, become attached to her morahs (teachers) and generally be . . fine without me. Ouch. It's humbling to no longer be in control of everything she sees, hears and learns, but the fault was mine for ever thinking that I was in control. For thinking that as long as she was home with me, by delineating the parameters of her environment, I was somehow the owner of who she would become. When I come to pick Ann up at 2, I overhear her class benching (grace after meals) in song, the same song I know but was not the one to teach her.

My parents fell pretty high on the overprotective spectrum, and it was only magnified for me as the youngest and the only girl. I remember those struggles for independence (not that long ago!) and once or twice even considered showing my parents this piece by Gibran (teenage arrogance!) but decided against it - "It'll hurt them and they just won't get it and I still won't get to go!" Seeing Ann, and even Andy, start to test their wings and make their first tentative attempts to break away from me and their Papa, brought this piece to mind.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Where did you get that accent?!

Parsha time
Originally uploaded by momraggedy.
Ann told me today that Noach (Noah) was a good man. But all of the people around Noach were "weaken."

"Weakened?" I asked. "No!"

"Wiccan?" (Maybe, sort of . . .) "No! Weaken!"

"Oh, wicked?" "Yes, weaken."

The irony is not lost on me that we moved to the U.S. from Israel when I was five and I really sound like a native English speaker, but my daughter's preschool teachers are both Israeli, and she's becoming the one with the accent! The paper shoes she made at school for Yom Kippur were pronounced "sleepers," (slippers) and new, funny examples of this phenomenon happen every day.

Considering that RaggedyDad has a Russian/Belgian(Flemmish)/etc. accent and speaks to the kids in Russian, and my own Israeli father still refers to lettuce as "letters," these kids are going to sound very interesting as they grow up. Fortunately, RaggedyMom has degrees both as a teacher of English as a second language and as a reading specialist. We're going to need all the help we can get!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Three Words

Almost at the orchard
Originally uploaded by momraggedy.
Spectacular. Fall. Foliage.

I think I can, I think I can

Parked at a 'scenic overlook'
Originally uploaded by momraggedy.
This is the RaggedyMobile. We love our car, but it was totally not made for driving around upstate (see apple posts below) on dirt roads and within the apple orchard on paths with a lot of mud and several hilly ditches. I was not made for this kind of driving either (barf). But, we got there, we got back, and we don't disparage the car while in the presence of the car. '95 Corolla, baby!

Ann at the orchard

Ann at the orchard
Originally uploaded by momraggedy.

You Sure Know How to Pick 'Em

RaggedyDad and his girl Ann
Originally uploaded by momraggedy.
We had a big family outing to Masker Orchards in Warwick, NY (about 60 miles away) this past Sunday. My brother, sister-in-law, and their 3 kids were going there and we decided to join them rather than visit the 'park with the big red tree' a.k.a Caumsett Lake State Park, which we will probably try to do another week, weather permitting.

The drive was beautiful. I was about to write spectacular, but I feel like that word is totally overused to the point of being meaningless on every website's description of every autumn activity that exists. As in, "Visit Park XYZ, it promises spectacular fall foliage" or "Just outside the museum, visitors will appreciate the spectacular fall foliage" or "The zoo is located in close proximity of some spectacular fall foliage." Every single place is using that three-word term. Spectacular. Fall. Foliage. Aaaahh!!! Enough already!!

I had never picked apples before this past Sunday. We really enjoyed it, although I think coming 2-3 weeks earlier might have meant more apple varieties, more apples closer to the bottoms of the trees, and weather a few degrees warmer. Because of all of the holidays, though, this was the first Sunday we've had for going places in a long time.

I think what made it the most fun was being with family, especially extended family. Even though we live about 30 minutes away from each other, we don't see my brother and his family all that often. My other brother and all of RaggedyDad's family live overseas, so we should get together more.

My sister-in-law is one of those people who is funny without intending to be. She has a knack for asking for help or directions from the person least likely to actually know the answer or speak English. And she's very sweet and naive about it. Case in point: our cars were parked on "Sauce Lane" within the orchard (apple terms abounded here) and we were trying to get back there. RaggedySIL sauntered up to someone about three times her size who probably just broke out of Sing-Sing and was picking apples to throw at the prison guards and help break out some of his friends. "Excuse me, do you know where Sauce Lane is, sir?" The guy did not even know what to make of her question. He certainly did not know how to help us get to Sauce Lane.

RaggedyDad did a good deal of the drudge work on this outing - including but not limited to: lifting the kids onto his shoulders since most of the apples that remained were of the waaay up high variety; lifting all of us over some of the more intense muddy ditches that are just part of the fun at a country orchard; most of the driving; wiping down the apples for any eating we did while at the orchard. RD gets the good sport award for the day, and we all have enough apples for apple cake, applesauce, apple pie, apple kugel, baked apples, ad infinitum. And the fall foliage was spectacular!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Harvest Time

Originally uploaded by momraggedy.
Ann and I were very ambitious this summer. We planted vegetables in the communal backyard space of our apartment complex. A neighbor of ours who moved away had used the space for gardening, and another neighbor and I decided to plant some veg there this season. She was mainly interested in planting Swiss chard for some kind of dumpling recipe. I wanted Ann to see the process of planting, tending to, and harvesting our own vegetables, on as much of a scale as possible in this semi-urban area. Amateur gardening was a great chance to talk about science, the Creator, healthy eating, and to get our hands dirty and just be outside, which I love. Poor Andy kept trying to eat the grass and had to be relegated to a stroller during most of our gardening sessions.

When I taught English as a second language, back before Ann and Andy came along, one of my more language proficient students told me that he knew how to make an apple. He must have been around five or six years old. I asked him to explain (humor me, kid). He said, "First you take apple sauce (I can still hear his raspy, lispy voice - so sweet). Then you make it like a ball. Then you wrap red paper all around it." Wow. "Erik," I had said at the time, "What about apple trees? Have you ever seen one?" Let's just say I didn't want Ann thinking the same thing in a couple of years.

We planted green and red peppers, which all turned out to be green. Those grew nicely, but we tended to pick them before they got very big since squirrels around here are very aggresive and vicious. Must be a NY thing ;)
We planted zucchini, which grew into the biggest, leafiest thing ever. And really spiky - who knew? We got quite a few beautiful zucchinis which I use in soup and sometimes just as raw matchsticks dipped in dressing.

And then, the tomatoes. Although we staked the plants (don't ask me, I'm a city girl - my swiss chard buddy and my dad were very helpful with the staking) I don't think they got enough sun exposure, and many, many of them stayed green for weeks. Now that it's getting chilly, it was time for my buddy and I to harvest it all and cut our losses. I am trying to figure out what to do with the green tomatoes (frying?) since they aren't getting any redder sitting in this bowl. In the meantime, I just like how they look.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Good neighbors

Originally uploaded by momraggedy.
I locked myself out today. Yikes! This is a recurring nightmare of mine, and today it came true. I was on my way to walk with Andy to pick Ann up from preschool and I closed the door behind me with that annoying automatic locking button pushed in on the doorknob. Yep. Luckily our neighbor downstairs has a copy of the key, and after some confusion and paging my neighbor at her job, her babysitter located the key. The only trouble is, Andy is so heavy, and holding him for that long (not just today but on a regular basis) has given me a major crick in my hip. If you see someone limping around with the above pictured set of keys on a string around my neck, just say "Hi, RaggedyMom, how are you enjoying your exersaucer? Are the kids over their colds yet? Watch out for that doorknob!"

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

You may already be a winner!

Originally uploaded by momraggedy.
I know everyone says this, but we really never win anything. Ever. So imagine my surprise when we were chosen to be inflicted with, I mean blessed with this toy for "research purposes" (haha) by the Kids2 company. Apparently, I responded to an email survey (why, oh why?) and Andy fits the criteria in terms of age and weight for this exersaucer type toy.

I never owned one of these with Ann, and frankly, feel that they are expensive (this one retails for about $80!) and take up way too much space, which we don't have a ton of in our apartment. Ann was a very calm child who almost never tried to get into the sort of exploring-mischief-making of which her brother has proven himself to be so fond. He's very, very different than she is. As in, "Quick, run and close the bathroom door before Andy goes and swishes his hand around in the toilet bowl!" I know, I know, wait until he learns how to open that door!

Although at a year, and getting ready to walk any week now, Andy is really at the upper end of the age limit for this thing, I figured it was worth a try and it might be a great way to, shall we say contain him, for the five minutes necessary to prepare his food, use the bathroom, etc. We had been putting him in the Pack n Play used as a playpen, but I was eager to try something else.

Of course, Andy haaaates this contraption. He stiffens his legs so that it's really hard to get him into it, and once he's in it, he flips his torso manically. He just does not like to be contained, like most kids I suppose. Swishing around in the toilet is a lot more fun. Ann, on the other hand, although she is over 3 years old, weighs about a pound and a half over the weight limit of this thing. She's too tall to bounce in it, but she stands up. As luck would have it, my preschool child thinks this toy is a blast. The irony . . . ! Maybe I can ask her preschool teachers if they can take Andy from 9-2.

As RaggedyDad told me, there is a saying in Russian that for free, even vinegar is sweet. Enjoy the vinegar, kids!

Laundry Party

As my favorite writing professor once told me, skip the intro stuff - (as in "I'm starting this blog to blahblahblah . . .") and just jump in with both feet. Give the reader credit for being able to catch on.

So let's begin. My kids, "Raggedy Ann" (3) and "Andy" (just turned 1) are sick. Not doctor sick, but sniffly, congested, sneezing and snoring sick. Which makes a tired RaggedyMom (me), and enough laundry to fill a cruise ship. I'm not sure why having bad colds has produced this much laundry. Let's just say it's a good thing I gave up the dishwasher space in my little kitchen for a washing machine, and found a way to stick a dryer in one of the bedrooms, because otherwise I'd be really, really overwhelmed right now.

On the bright side, Ann cheered me up when she asked where we got a CD of gratingly annoying yet mesmerizing Barney music and I told her I thought it was from Babies R Us. Ann said, "Maybe you mean CDs R Us, Mommy." Gotta love her.

Basket Case

Andy helps me with the wash!