Sunday, December 31, 2006

Our Current Favorite Toy

Until this past Chanukah, we owned a nice amount of MegaBloks, or those jumbo-sized legos. RaggedyDad almost always spends time every weekend with both kids and these blocks. When we first got them a couple of years ago, RaggedyAnn was big enough to understand and enjoy the concept.

Once Andy started getting around, the main activity was for RD and Ann (3 1/2) to build something before Andy could destroy it. Now that Andy's a little bigger (14 months), he has started adding on pieces to their creations as well. He enjoys walking around and searching for the right spot, and calling it "tatta" before plopping on another block.

Watching them play with this toy for big stretches of time is great. It's not a messy toy, nor is it a noisy toy. The only noisy thing is the occasional "crash" of a tower, usually followed by Andy saying "tatta" or more recently "uh-oh".

When RD and I were discussing what might make for a good, unannoying Chanukah present this year, he suggested "more MegaBloks!" mainly because he wants more MegaBloks. My husband actually enjoys these things all on his own once the kids are asleep. Shhh, don't tell him I said that! He gives long-winded explanations about the structure, style, and durability of his creations. He studies other people's "building styles" and gives suggestions for making their MegaBloks towers earthquake proof. No, I'm not kidding.

When I was in Babies R Us, that bastion of combining diaper sales with diaper coupons, they had 80-count bags of said MegaBloks on sale for less than the 70-count bags. I think they came to about $10 and change each. So, two sacks full of MegaBloks made their way surreptitiously into my bedroom closet and remained there until Chanukah. Eventually all of the MegaBloks were combined into one giant comforter bag.

Here's the latest Raggedy creation that uses nearly every MegaBlok we own.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Act Weird and Let Them Wonder

The title is taken from a pin I used to wear on my backpack before I sold out to the man and became a grownup. SWFM tagged me with this meme. I like the idea of finding out six quirky things about fellow bloggers. I do think that if I filled this out tomorrow the list would be totally different. Weird, huh?

Without any further delay . . .

Six Weird Things About RaggedyMom

1. Growing up, I always felt very weird and out of place in my family. I’m the only girl (besides mom), the only real redhead, the only one with blue eyes, the only lefty. Will RaggedyMom’s real family please come to take me back to our home planet already?!

2. Macaroni with cottage cheese and ketchup is a great meal as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know anyone besides my brothers and my own kids who would ever eat this.

3. In the hottest of weather, I must have the blanket up to my chin and around me like a cocoon. Embrace the cocoon.

4. As a child I hated being photographed so much that there are several family shots that include me completely turned around with my back to the camera.

5. I love to sing out loud around the house, in the car, and even in a very low undertone in a parking lot or other public place. Having kids with you makes this look a little less crazy.

6. My birthday is the same as my area code. (7/18)

Let's see . . . I think I'll tag Table Nine, Hila, and Oriyenta. Good luck, weirdos. Venture forth.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Night Out on the Town With the Raggedys

Tonight was one of those rare nights at the Raggedys that called for a babysitter. Close family friends were making a vort (engagement party) for their son and future daughter-in-law in a nearby shul's hall.

Now, I could tell you about the frenzy involved in getting ready and getting the kids off to bed in time for them to be asleep for the babysitter. Let's just say that there were several false alarms for Ann going to sleep involving needing to drink and needing to use the bathroom . . . hmm . . .correllation, perhaps? That about 20 minutes before the babysitter was due to arrive, I checked on Ann who gave me a big smile from her bed? That I called the babysitter and asked her to postpone her arrival by 20 more minutes? Note: The original babysitter was sick and sent us her sister, so I wasn't eager to introduce the kids to someone brand new on a late night.

I could also tell you about figuring out what to wear (actually, I will, later in this post). However, in the spirit of the type of blogging I admire most, the self-deprecating kind, I will instead regale you with the Thought that gripped me and my husband. Namely: Do you think there'll be sushi at the vort??

Don't get me wrong - we've been to many, many beautiful simchas of all kinds and by no means do we measure them against this standard. However, because of the nature and location of this vort, we had strong reason to suspect that sushi would be featured. I know that most people who live in the civilized world are totally over sushi, but I still can't get over the fact that it's sushi and I'm eating it.

In fact, once we arrived, we were not disappointed. A very respectable array of sushi did indeed await us at the vort. After talking excitedly to the baalei simcha for a few moments, RaggedyDad and I got to work. Since we did not know anyone but the hosts, we wasted little or no time mingling. We went straight into stealth sushi-machine mode. Yes, there were plenty of salads of the pasta, leafy, or bean persuasions there to distract us from our goal. There were even some marinated mushrooms, of all things. And of course, the dizzying selection of desserts. But the Raggedys remained undeterred. For us, it was all about the sushi.

After eating enough sushi to either make us sick or meet the equivalent of twice our babysitting costs, we attempted to catch up with the "boy's parents" once again. To be fair, there were quite a few people also demanding the attention of our family friends. What choice did we have but to swoop down for yet another brief and final round of sushi? Luckily, after that, we had a chance to talk to the baalei simcha once again and we inwardly reminded ourselves that there was a reason we came to the vort having nothing to do with raw fish, rice, and soy sauce.

In the final analysis, RaggedyDad and I were able to point out several key mistakes in our strategy.

1. The clothing we wore was unintentionally conspicuous. RaggedyDad was one of just about, oh, no other men who was not wearing a suit and tie. My clothes were equally wrong, since they weren't lacy enough, tight enough, or high-heeled enough. Also, the color of my top was a little bright to be subtle about our sushi-fress-fest.

Of course, as RaggedyDad so thoughtfully put it, "It's not that you're out of fashion. But you're not exactly in fashion, either." Thanks, RaggedyDad. Time is quickly running out for you to excuse these types of remarks as the innocent ramblings of a foreigner. Suffice it to say that I've been wearing the same things to these events for about a decade. Before which I was in high school.

2. We continually returned to the same sushi area, and then returned to the same seats. If anyone was watching, it was very noticeably exactly what it looked like. A young, married couple eating as much sushi as they possibly could in 45 minutes.

3. We travelled to and from the table as a team. Tag-teaming would have been more suave and undetectable. Poor RaggedyDad - trying to be undetectable while working the room with a redhead is a lost cause.

I'm sure there were several other critical errors we made, but, er - the point of this thing wasn't actually the sushi. Right?

When all is said and done, however, all the sushi in the world doesn't amount to coming home to the kids snoring in stereo in their room, and the scent of their shampooed heads while they sleep.

Local Heroes

Today I had the pleasure of accompanying RaggedyAnn's class to the local fire station. Since I'm usually available during the day, I like to come along on class trips when I can. I was even lucky enough to be able to leave Andy with my mom for the hour, instead of bringing him along like I'd anticipated. He's a little young for anything but being shlepped around and held by Mommy the whole time, so leaving him at Grandma's house made it a little easier.

When the kids arrived on the van, the firefighters actually had to go on a "call," so the class waited on the van and munched some cookies until the other fire truck returned. When one of the firefighters asked me if the kids were allowed to have some cookies baked by a firefighter's wife, and I had to say that they couldn't (kashrus), it helped that I told him they'd also had treats while waiting for the truck to return.

What is it about firefighters that just makes me so grateful and so proud at the same time? Every time I tried to talk to these men, I got kind of choked up. There's something so humbling about seeing the inside of the firehouse, all of the gear and equipment lined up, the chalkboards and the trucks. I'd never been inside a firehouse before today, so this was as exciting for me as it was for the kids.

For most of our brief visit, I was helping to snap pictures, holding Ann's hand, reassuring the kids who inexplicably started bawling (mostly boys, I might add!), and making sure nobody stepped in any oily truck reside puddles. I did mention to several of the firefighters that I give them a lot of credit for their willingness to open the firehouse up to the kids and talk to them about fire safety.

Since I wasn't able to express my real gratitude to these men in person, I thought of mailing a thank you card including a picture of the guys and the class, and telling them how much we appreciated not only the visit, but all that they do every day. What do you think?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Chocolate Phraseology

I think I may have just coined a new phrase.

Snacktivity: (snak-'ti-vi-tee) A snack that also involves an activity.

RaggedyAnn is not a junk food kind of kid (I know: Thank you, G-d). Therefore, the small stash of chocolate Chanukah coins she received held little appeal after she tasted one and felt compelled to spit it out into my hand. (Why does she still do this at three-and-a-half years old? Is it too late to institute a "No spitting out food into anything but a napkin rule?).

Ann decided that since she doesn't like the coins, and Andy is a little young for me to let him experiment with chocolate, that gateway drug to candy . . . RaggedyDad and I should eat her coins for her. No problem, Ann. I settled down with a cup of coffee and the coins, and it struck me that these things are all the more enjoyable because of the effort involved in first peeling off the gold wrapper. This part was always tricky for me growing up, since I'm a recovering nail-biter. It was difficult to actually get to the chocolate with minimal melting and smashing while I really struggled to get the peel off altogether.

Of course, now that I have, for the most part, left this nasty habit behind (how anyone could change poop diapers on a regular basis and maintain a full nail-biting schedule is beyond me), it's far easier to sit back and enjoy this little snacktivity once in a while.

Lastly, I'm not sure why I get such a kick out of this, but I think it's hilarious.

**Update** Upon further research, it has become evident that I did not, in fact, originate this term, although I think my usage differs somewhat from the example given on Urban Dictionary. And once the Canadians are in on something, it's pretty much last year's news. Alas. I'm going to need some more chocolate coins to get over this.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


There's something about Play-Doh that takes me back to being five years old. The texture, the smell, the cute little Play-Doh tools . . everything about Play-Doh is very sentimental.

RaggedyAnn enjoys playing with Play-Doh, and it's the perfect activity for when there's not much to do but avoid stores and public places on this most hectic of calendar dates.

The downside of Play-Doh is, of course, the way it will stick to and ruin carpeting, clothing if it gets entrenched in the fabric. We have a Play-Doh rule that involves laying out wax paper on the table and playing only on the wax paper. I also am a big stickler for one color of Play-Doh at a time. Lastly, any Play-Doh crumbs that land on the rug (we do live upstairs, and have to carpet the majority of our floor) are summarily picked up or cleaned up. And a little carpet cleaner never hurt anyone either.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cooking with My Crew

I always enjoy cooking with Ann, and now that Andy's getting bigger, he'll be darned if he gets left out of the action. Cooking with them pretty much means letting them touch, smell, look at, and gently mix some ingredients, and then ushering them out of the kitchen and over to some toys while the actual heat-related stuff is taking place.

They say that the best cooks are the ones who love to eat, and thankfully, that applies to these two! It's farmer cheese latkes for supper over here, and because the kids had a part in making them, I think that ups the chances of them eating this meal by about 200%. Although Andy, to his credit, needs no prompting when it comes to food.

Andy got to mix a few drops of water in a bowl with a little spatula. Ann helped design this made-up job to keep him away from her job, which is to beat the eggs, a task at which she has become quite proficient. Afterward I added the other ingredients, and she helped "make them all 'corporated" which basically means mixed in thoroughly. Aside from accidentally trying to eat Ann's imaginary friend, Andy did pretty well for his first time on the stool, especially with me hovering about 3 inches behind them.

Finally, it is our first night this year of lighting the Chanukah candles without RaggedyDad, who had some vacation time earlier this week, so I'm including a picture of the menorah that I recently asked my mother to borrow, one that I remember from my childhood as "the lion one," as in, "It's my turn to get to light the lion one this year!" Considering that Ann is a Leo I guess it is fitting. And that's the end of the astrology voodoo portion of this post.

Happy Chanukah! Chag Urim Sameach!

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Raggedys and Too Much Consumerism

Fortunately for the Raggedys, RaggedyDad was obligated to take 3 vacation days before the end of the calendar year, and was able to roll over the maximum remaining five for next year. (Important, since it's a weekday-heavy Yom Tov year.) Even better, he was able to coordinate these three days so that he could attend RaggedyAnn's school Chanukah performance, and be home for the two days of school Chanukah vacation.

Growing up, my father worked six long days a week at a business that had to be on his mind even when the gates were down. He did miss a lot of performances, but he was there for the ones that really mattered, and he always managed to make his kids feel like there was nothing he wouldn't do for us, despite being out of the house nearly all the time.

Although I know RaggedyDad won't be at every performance for every child, it was really nice that he was able to be there for our first child's first school event.

Yesterday (Sunday) we visited the Long Island Children's Museum, and like all frantic parents, became members. I laugh because ten years ago, this would have been the most lame thing on the planet. RaggedyDad and I have moments where we look at each other and think that we have totally fallen into step and become "Mom and Dad" (or Mommy and Papa, in our case) and not much else. But, in the same breath, we say, baruch Hashem, thank G-d. It was surprisingly uncrowded, but full enough of frum Jews at the right time for there to be a mincha minyan!

Today, since RaggedyDad was off from work, it was a big "accomplish all the things you need to take care of during the workweek" day. First off was a solo journey for RD to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Thankfully, I've got a few years left on my license before I have to return to endure that hellish place.

Afterward, it was still very early, so we ventured over to some stores to buy some stuff. Necessary evils. Aluminum foil. Ziploc-type bags. Overnight diapers. Even more childproofing paraphernalia. I think we're done for the next three years, but then again, it always seems that way after a nauseating morning spent shopping with the kids. I hate stores. I hate shopping. This is possibly the worst week of the year for someone like me to have to set foot in a store. The crowds. The grabbing. The hysteria. I even saw an ambulance outside one of the stores.

I'm glad we got it done, and I'm glad I was with RaggedyDad and the kids. But tomorrow, on RaggedyDad's last day of vacation, we'll be the ones staying home!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Wrist Blintz

A while ago, my mother told me that she was having a lot of wrist pain, and after seeing her doctor and then an orthopedist, the recommendation was that she wear a splint on her wrist. Oddly, just wearing a simple $7 drugstore device for a few days and nights actually made the pain stop. Or the pain just went away, and the splint was merely a strange accessory to wear while passing the time.

Unfamiliar words can sometimes get garbled over the telephone, and when my mother described the "treatment" recommended to her, she said "wrist splint" and I heard "wrist blintz." (Okay, maybe I'm just always thinking about food.) So we henceforth took to calling the contraption a "wrist blintz" and got a little laugh every time we said it.

Months later, I developed some wrist pain of my own. Off to the pharmacy I went to get my very own "blintz" and just wearing it for a couple of days actually got rid of the pain. Shlepping my heavy boy Andy is not the best for a sore wrist, but some time with my blintz every few months keeps the pain at bay.

Whether you prefer blintzes or latkes, Happy Chanukah!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ode on Two Kugels

five pounds of potatoes
so hot in here
is that the end of the barney video already?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Book Things Come to Those Who Wait

After living in our current (upstairs) apartment for over three-and-a-half years, we finally, finally closed off the ledge of doom!

This was so unnervingly dangerous that I'm sorry we let it go for so long. We had considered just putting up a wall to close off the ledge (think: ugly and industrial-looking), or limiting the openness with closely-spaced bars (think: giant crib), or even plexiglass (think: bird flying into closed window).

Ultimately, though, the best idea was to close off the entire L-shaped ledge with book shelves. Several carpenters came over to scratch their heads and pick their wedgies while considering the plausibility of this venture. Most of them wanted exorbitant amounts of money and would not have been able to start the job for weeks or months. The prospect of putting aside any of our tax return started to elude me like a piece of lint floating down over said ledge.

Finally, a messenger from the One Above, under the guise of a hardworking Polish carpenter, came along to ensure that my safety nightmares would stop. Kazik did the job in about a week and a half, charged literally just over half the cost of the other guys, and installed the whole thing last night with another worker.

The work is professional, functional, and much nicer than I had imagined it to be. I thought of closing off the ledge as a necessary evil, and was willing to sacrifice asthetics and a feeling of openness to achieve peace of mind. However, now that it's done, RaggedyDad and I both feel like the wraparound bookshelves give a warm, classy, home-library feel to an otherwise dead space.

We have LOTS of books. Many of them are still in boxes, waiting to be given their spot on the shelves. Our other bookcase unit, bequeathed to us when my brother made aliyah, also has plenty of room on it now, and I'm eager to organize toy bins for the kids on the lower levels.

What's great about having more space in our shelving is that books can actually be stacked single-file in terms of depth so they can all be seen, and books can be organized in a logical way. For instance, my cookbooks (without which I'd still be making only toast, macaroni, or microwave popcorn - WITH the help of an adult!) have a home that places them nearer to the kitchen. RaggedyDad's Russian books along with his father's chess manuals can have their own section.

Religious books can be organized (somewhat) by type or topic. Our relevant college textbooks can all hang out together in a nondescript place and look intellectual all they want. Childrearing books, billions of childrens books, creepy Russian sci-fi books, lame used novels picked up at garage sales, etc., etc., etc. have finally been placed! It's almost movingly beautiful.

Like all home improvement projects, this one is a work in progress, but I'm posting some of the photos. Have a look! (The top photo is "before," the next one is our old set of bookshelves, and the bottom two are views of the "after". p.s. the top molding on the shelves isn't as dark in real life as it looks in the photos)

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Today we took the kids to the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. This was the Corporate Sponsorship free day for this event, and the Raggedys are not ones to pass up something for free ;) RaggedyDad reminds me of the Russian saying that for free, even vinegar is sweet. Tell me that that's not the most Russian of sayings. I love it. Though today's outing was no vinegar. It was great.

The show was really fascinating. First off, we'd only previously visited the rose garden in late June, and a fraction of the remainder of the gardens. Walking around inside the Conservatory on the way to the show was amazing. So many different climates and regions were recreated inside the area, which itself was a sort of labyrinth of greenhouses.

Once inside at the actual event, we were able to see amazingly accurate replicas of dozens of NYC landmarks - buildings, bridges, The Statue of Liberty, everything - made entirely out of natural things like branches, bark, berries, and leaves. I really wasn't sure what to expect from reading this description ahead of time, but in actuality it was very beautiful. More exciting still was the fact that working model trains were circulating on tracks throughout the whole exhibit.

The truth is, our kids, at 3 and 1, are totally too young for all of this stuff. Definitely baby Andy. If we were paying, it would run our family ($18/adult, $5/child 2-12, free/2 and under) over $40. Pricey, no? It really was one of those things that we adults wanted to do, and shlepped the kids to, though Ann did find the trains fascinating, and also adored the "The Little Engine That Could" puppet show (also free for corporate employees - score!).

I cannot ignore the fact that for me, the train show fell decidedly between a 4 & 5 on the "other people's holiday's scale" immortalized by JT at DaBoysof905. It wasn't a Christmas show per se, and there was a big effort to use the term "The Holidays" often, but who are we kidding? The decorated trees, the color scheme, the music, and the atmosphere all had a very December 25th feel.

Having gone to a secular and then a Catholic university, and taught in public schools, this didn't really get to me that much, but I see that Ann is getting a little *jealous* of our neighbor's decorations, and going to see a holiday-ish show is a little bit confusing when you're 3. It sounds kind of lame, though, if I tell her that I know our neighbors have all those lights and candy canes outside, and I know she really likes how they look, but we have our own beautiful menorah . . . and by the way, look at the holiday trains!

In summation, the show was beautiful, and the Statue of Liberty makes me cry every time I look at it, even in a replica or in a book, and two great things we did were to bring sandwiches and to get an early start (Street parking! Shorter lines! Being home by 2!). Happy . . er, holidays!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

My very first meme

Many thanks to Baleboosteh for tagging me with this meme. I'm not going to go all rock-star here and pretend I don't like these things, and ain't this a drag, and blah blah blah. As a very new blogger, this is kind of exciting. I put my "yes" answers in capital letters. But naturally, I felt the need to comment on several of my "no"s too.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. CLIMBED A MOUNTAIN. Maybe more like a hill.
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive. No, although I sat inside a Jaguar at the car show once and had an emotional little moment there.
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
09. HUGGED A TREE. This was a hobby of my five-year-old self.
10. Bungee jumped. Noooooo Waaaaay Everrrrr.
11. VISITED PARIS. RaggedyDad and I once took a one-day side trip from Belgium, land of "Family of RaggedyDad"
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Seen the Northern Lights. Unless you count the fire trucks going down my street at all hours.
15. GONE TO A HUGE SPORTS GAME. Jewish Day at Shea, anyone?
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa. Woah, talk about shlepping.
18. Touched an iceberg
20. CHANGED A BABY'S DIAPER. There hasn't been a day in the last three and a half years when I have NOT done this.
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. GOTTEN DRUNK ON CHAMPAGNE. Not hard for RaggedyLowToleranceMom
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
26. HAD AN UNCONTROLLABLE GIGGLING FIT at the worst possible moment
27. HAD A FOOD FIGHT. Note to self - RaggedyDad will always win the food fight.
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. HAD A SNOWBALL FIGHT. Note to self - RaggedyDad will always win the snowball fight.
31. SCREAMED AS LOUDLY as you possibly can. Childbirth, anyone?
32. HELD A LAMB. Note to self - RaggedyDad will always win the lamb fight. Just kidding. I'm getting really good at throwing lambs.
33. Seen a total eclipse of the moon.
35. Hit a home run
36. DANCED LIKE A FOOL and not cared who was looking
37. ADOPTED AN ACCENT for an entire day. Likely without even noticing I was doing it.
38. ACTUALLY FELT HAPPY about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer. Maybe. Ask RaggedyDad.
40. Visited all 50 states. Wait, Ezzie - there are other states outside of New York? :) I've probably only about a dozen or so, if even.
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales. What's with this meme and ocean life?
45. Stolen a sign. No, just took it off a shelf at Brach's to prove that, in fact, salami was on sale.
46. BACKPACKED IN EUROPE. Actually, this should read Diaperbagged through Europe. With a double stroller. And enough kosher food for two weeks. And a massive headache.
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach. Who stays up that late on purpose?
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland. Everyone thinks I'm Irish, though. Why?!
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. LOUNGED AROUND in bed all day. Maybe about 10 years ago.
60. Played touch football. No, just had to hold the football while my brothers practiced tackling. Really.
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed IN THE RAIN
63. Played in the mud
64. Played IN THE RAIN
65. GONE TO A DRIVE-IN THEATER. When I was a camp counselor, this was considered the coolest day-off thing to do ever.
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. FALLEN IN LOVE and not had your heart broken
69. TOURED ANCIENT SITES. Like freaky Belgian monk crypts.
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight. What is that?
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an "expert"
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. BOUGHT A HOME. Bought an apartment that is.
91. Been in a combat zone. Does Shimon's Pizza the night after Pesach count?
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. RAISED CHILDREN. A work in progress.
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. SANG LOUDLY IN THE CAR, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery. Does fixing toys count as doing plastic surgery?
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived
105. WROTE ARTICLES for a large publication. Which publication is larger or more significant than the Queens College Knight News?!
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback. What??
108. Piloted an airplane
110. Broken someone's heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. BROKEN A BONE. 1987. Jungle Gym. Left arm. (and I'm a lefty!)
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. FIRED A RIFLE, shotgun, or pistol. We actually did this at my crazy camp.
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. RIDDEN A HORSE. Note to self - If your horse is named Jughead, don't be surprised if he tends to walk into trees.
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. SLEPT FOR MORE than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours. Benadryl. Massive mosquito bites. Same camp.
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states. RaggedyDad has done this.
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. EATEN SUSHI. Whenever I can - I'm not over how cool it is yet.
129. CHANGED SOMEONE'S MIND about something you care deeply about
130. GONE BACK TO SCHOOL. I went back every day until I was finished, degrees in hand.
131. Parasailed
132. TOUCHED A COCKROACH. With a shoe, that is.
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. READ THE ILLIAD AND THE ODDYSEY. Mainly I just listened very, very well in class.
135. SELECTED ONE "IMPORTANT" AUTHOR who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. Eww, what is this, survivor?
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. COMMUNICATED WITH someone without sharing a common spoken language. RaggedyDad's Babushka and me - Smile and Nod 101.
139. BEEN ELECTED (DICTATOR) to public office. I was elected Communist Party Leader of my high school, if you can believe it.
140. Written your own computer language
141. THOUGHT TO YOURSELF that you're living your dream. This is oddly phrased.
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair. No, but old ladies used to stop me and ask me to come to the salons because they wanted my color. I'm very popular with the 65+ set.
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone's life

Tagging: TableNine, Hila, SWFM.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Singer-Song ReWriter

Ann's Chanukah presentation at school is coming up, and I've been hearing bits and (mangled) pieces of some of the songs around the house for weeks now.

One gem: (classic Adon Olam tune that I learned in elementary school)

Antiochus, the weekend king (I'm assuming wicked, but I give up on this word)
To the Jews, he was so mean
He made the Bais haMikdash unclean
And besides, he was so . . clean!

RaggedyMom: Ann, shouldn't it be "he was so mean?"
Ann: No, he was so clean. He was very, very clean. Yes. Clean.
RaggedyMom: Okay. It's good to be clean. Let's eat.

p.s. I finally figured out how to link, and I'm having way too much fun with it. And besides, I'm sooo clean.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Picture Day

Tomorrow is RaggedyAnn's very first preschool picture day. I'll admit to a lot of trepidation here. For the past several months, Ann's reaction to having her picture taken has been a classic example of the "confusing smiling with dentistry" phenomenon so aptly described by PsychoToddler.

So of course I'm nervous. Our best shots of Ann are when she's being caught off-guard and doesn't have time to squint her eyes closed and open her mouth in a demonic way.

Lately, I've been going about it almost in a fashion-shoot kind of way: "Ann, tell me about where we are today." Snap, snap. "The Botanical Gardens with you, and me, and Papa, and Andy." Snap, snap. Sometimes in that moment where she's thinking of her response, before she contorts her mouth into saying the words, picture magic happens.

When she was a little younger I used to say, "Where is my face, Ann? Look at my ears/eyes/nose," etc. The trouble with this approach is that nowadays, Ann will just point at the part of my face I mention. To further complicate matters, Ann has the funny/not-so-funny habit of pointing with her - ahem - middle finger, no matter how many times we show her that it's not her "pointer." After half a dozen or so shots of my kid flipping the bird, trust me when I insist that this approach needed to be abandoned, and fast.

Three-and-a-half year olds are not the neatest of eaters, and every Wednesday, her preschool orders kosher pizza for lunch from across the street. Ann's teacher allayed my concerns that pictures would be taken of crusty-pizza-cheeked kids. No, no, she insisted, as soon as they come in we get it done so they can relax the rest of the day. The photographer even hands out little combs to each child. I told Ann's teacher that she might want to lightly wet Ann's hair first, since my daughter's hair tends toward the wispy and fine, nothing like my own long, thick braids at her age.

I wish I could be a fly on the wall tomorrow and watch these goofy three-year-olds get their pictures taken. I wonder what the kids will be thinking. What the outtakes will look like. What in the world the photographer (and his assistant?), with nerves that must be made of steel, will say or do to make it all happen. What a massive effort it will be to pose the whole gaggle of them for the group shot. Let's hope for some beautiful smiles tomorrow! Cheese!

**Update** Ann and her teachers told me that Picture Day went smoothly. Ann said that the photographer was asking her about what she loves (apparently bananas, cookies, and ice cream) and helping her style her hair. Ann's teacher also combed her hair. The photographer climbed on a big ladder. He took two pictures of the whole class. Seems like she found the whole thing fun and interesting. We'll see the final product in a few weeks!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Rockin' Moroccans

This week the Raggedyhome hosted two young, married couples for Shabbos - one married for a little over a year, the other married barely more than a month. Aside from being cute and lovey-dovey, these guests showed no signs of aggressively rude behavior. Which is a big step up for us! Au contraire, these guests were gracious, sweet, and pleasant every step of the way.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous about our company. For one, they are all native speakers of French, which, aside from two years in high school that were mostly spent devising new and creative ways to cut class, I have little or no experience with. Basically I remember the initial three-sentence greeting we learned that has to do with entering French class, sitting down, taking out my textbook and notebook, and saying hello. Fin. That's about it. At that point I think I excused myself to go plot my communist takeover of the school.

RaggedyDad, international man of mystery that he is, had no trouble conversing with our guests in rapid-fire French. It's okay. I was able to follow the topic if not the details of the conversations, and each guest made a concerted effort to steer the conversation back to English. Or RaggedyDad would turn to me and give me a quick rundown. By now, I’m pretty accustomed to being surrounded by Russian or Flemish being spoken around me, picking up the few words that I recognize, smiling, nodding, and eventually excusing myself to the kitchen to “prepare something.”

In truth, it was a very interesting thing for me to observe, since languages, and particularly bilingualism and/or multilingualism, fascinate me a lot. Watching these couples in action, from backgrounds that were culturally similar, yet geographically diverse, and the interplay of languages, was like being a linguistics major in college all over again. Those were the days . . .

Aside from the Frankish aspect of the Shabbos, the main thing that got my RaggedyNerves in a knot, was the fact that my husband kept emphasizing that the food I usually cook may not appeal to Moroccan tastebuds. Can I help it if I grew up with Polish cooking where a little sugar in anything never hurts? (Except I guess it does hurt my father who has type 2 diabetes, and maybe children who tend toward hyperactivity. But besides that, is sugar really such a bad thing?!) So I rifled through my spice cabinet and tried to incorporate, among some of my classics (sorry, but we are NOT adding cumin to the potato kugel!), some interesting twists on the Shabbos food. I mean Shabbat food. Everything was devoured regardless of the extent of its spiciness.

This Shabbos, RaggedyDad learned that guests from other backgrounds can enjoy chulent as much as flounder in spicy tomoato sauce. I learned that if you want to hear some of the most beautiful singing to ever grace your Shabbos table, invite some Moroccans over. My kids learned fluent French (just kidding!). Our guests learned that Ashkenazi people can be cool. A little. In a word, it was magnifique!