the 90th minute

Until September 2007, when my oldest daughter was born, this blog covered daily life and politics in Israel, as well as Hebrew-English linguistic issues, from the perspective of an American-raised journalist and translator living in Israel. Now it mostly serves as the SmunchMonk&Bear news agency, a portal into the bizarre universe of the little people. Read more at:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Historical discovery #2: Noah was trying to sail to Egypt

Since Rimonit keeps asking to see Pharaoh, Mitzrayim, etc. (um, have I mentioned how into the Pesach story she is?), I put on the Sipurei Hatanach Saba Tuvia DVD today and showed her "Pharaoh for pretend," then I started it from the beginning. Turns out that the reason Noah got into the ark was because he was trying to sail to Mitzrayim. Who knew?

Then she got on her toy phone to Pharaoh and asked him to "let people go." (Though I wasn't privy to the other end of the conversation, I can only presume that the reason she asked "why?" immediately afterwards was because he said "no no no.")

Monday, April 11, 2011

What I heard myself saying today

"If you don't stop crying, you won't be allowed to help me clean for Pesach."

And the best part? It worked immediately. Chalk one up for Shas gan brainwashing.

In other news, Pharaoh was sighted in Rimonit's room tonight. She caught him hitting, and he had to be sent back to Mitzrayim. Also, there were frogs in her tights.

Speaking of tights (her latest obsession, which she can now actualize in full thanks to the package Savta Lea sent), the other day Rimonit announced that she wants to wear tights because she wants to be beautiful. I pretty much stopped in my tracks, thinking 'Whoa, it's begun!' and gave her a whole spiel about how she's beautiful whether or not she's wearing tights, a dress, etc. etc. I've repeated it a couple of times since then and I guess it got through because as we were putting on her pajamas tonight she said, 'Ima, my beautiful!'

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Historical scoop of the week

Historical find of the week: When the Jews left Egypt, they said 'Oooh!'
Source: RPKW, Song on the Swing


Q: What's this Song on the Swing you're talking about?
A: Imagine a girl on a swing in the park singing a long song with an indiscernible melody at the top of her voice. It involves Pharaoh, Moshe, Mitzrayim, people saying oooh, a tall tree, the sky and airplanes. And back again.


The hazards of having a nephew named Moshe around Pesach time include fielding a question from a Smunchovitz like: Gila [sister of said cousin] live in Mitzrayim?

UPDATE: The morning after I issued a clarification that her 5-year-old cousin was not actually the Moshe in question, R announced: "Pharaoh say 'No no no!' Moshe say 'Let people go' - but not my cousin Moshe."


Kinneret may have said her first sentence today! Rimonit had a tiny tumble in the living room and I said the usual 'Oh, you fell down? You're okay! Let me give you a kiss' or some such. Kinneret was standing nearby and said: Niti down! (Okay, it was more like: Niti! Down! - but that still counts as a sentence, right?)

She also will now say 'ow' if you say a cat says 'me__' -- but if not given that prompt, continues to maintain, as a true sabra should (surrounded by feral cats as she is), that cats actually say 'Khh.'

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I love DST

Ever since Israel changed the clock to Daylight Saving Time (known here as summer time) at the beginning of the month, I have seen fewer dawns, and am quite happy about it. As I was eagerly anticipating, the girls' internal clocks keep them waking up at what had been 5:30, 6 a.m. (cue horrified gasp from pre-Rimonit me), but it's now "only" 6:30, 7 a.m.

Well, that's true for Kinneret. In other good news, I'm actually not sure what time Rimonit's been waking up (I'm also not 100 percent sure to what extent it's connected to the time change, but I'm not going to look too closely at the gift horse, or something). On Shabbat (two days after the clock change) I praised Rimonit for playing by herself and not waking up Ima and Abba when she got out of bed after we put her down for an afternoon nap, and since then (ptu-ptu-ptu) she has *not* been sneaking into our bed at the crack of dawn, disrupting my sleep for about half an hour and then demanding to be fed! By the time I get up she has dressed herself (often backwards, but still). Makes a nice change of pace.

The only down side ('cause there's always gotta be something to complain about!) is that just as Kinneret has made the miraculous changeover from desperately wanting Ima in the morning and physically pushing me out of bed to actually ignoring me and insisting that Abba take her out of her crib and get her some grub (halleluya!), Warren is now running off to shul (since she's now waking up later) so I have to get up anyway (urg!). But back to the plus side, if he gets her a bowl of cereal before he dashes off, I can usually sneak in a bit more shut-eye because the girls have recently significantly increased the amount of time they can play together before crying ensues. (I haven't actually timed it, but it's definitely noticeable.) In short, good stuff...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I wanna go to Mitzrayim!

So much to catch up on, so I'll just make a random list.

- Why?
That's what Rimonit has been wanting to know endlessly for the last month or so (and I had optimistically thought that maybe she had decided to just skip that phase). Coincidentally, I have recently discovered a keen interest in tautology and the art of rephrasing. (It's time to go to sleep now. Why? Because it's sleeping time.)

- Hug
Kinneret has been saying that since February, and who can resist a high-pitched bunny saying "hug"? Not one to be left out of the excitement, Rimonit has taken to announcing whether she wants just a hug or just a kiss, how many kisses (one, two or lots - though she can now count to 13, sort of, on a good day), where exactly the kiss should go (no not there, here!), and when would be the best time to provide the hug (now, after lunch). That's not to say there's no spontaneity - she is quite free with the hugs and kisses she dispenses (to Ki as well as to Ima and Abba) - but she is also quite strict when she chooses to be.

- Mitzrayim
Rimonit's response to hearing about Pesach: I wannna go to Mitzrayim! She was tired, and this became a full-on litany (in her lingo: "My want to go to Mitzrayim! My want to go to Mitzrayim!"). At first I tried to explain that she was kinda missing the point, but then I just went with it and tried to distract her with methods of transportation. No freier she, Rimonit decided she would rather go to Mitzrayim on an airplane than a camel. I was just entertaining the possibility that I had successfully diverted her onto a discussion of airplanes (she likes that they first go on the ground faster and faster before they go up up up to fly in the sky) when, after she was finally in pajamas and ready to hop into bed, she announced a clarification: "I want to go to Mitzrayim NOW!" At least she was kind enough to issue me an invitation (if not a ticket): she told me she wanted Ima to come on the airplane to Mitzrayim with her, er, now. She has subsequently been sighted looking out the window and saying plaintively, "Where Mitzrayim? I can't see Mitzrayim!" Looking at the map helps, but does not appear to be sufficient...

- Pharoah
Another favorite recent activity of Rimonit's is randomly announcing: Pharoah say 'No, no, no!' (don't forget the finger wagging!). That's because the only line I can remember from that English song about Pesach is Pharoah saying "No, no, no, I will not let them go." She sometimes does Moshe too (actually, she usually just asks me, again, what Moshe says), but she appears to have a greater affinity for her fellow autocrat (surprise surprise). What's interesting is that when pushed to express the part that comes after 'no, no, no,' she actually translates it into her own pidgin English rather than just repeating the phrase I've handed to her. Instead of saying 'I will not let them go,' she says something like 'My not let them go' or 'My not let people go.' (Why Pharoah say no no no? Short answer: Because he wasn't very nice.)

She also frequently invokes the presence of Pharoah, Moshe, Haman and Mordechai while she's playing. She'll say 'Ah, Haman here!' with a pretend look of shock - eyes wide, hand covering mouth, one hand sometimes pointing to the supposed location of bad guy (I presume this to be an imitation of my initial response when she started this around Purim time - What? Haman's here? Oh no!). And she'll have Haman and/or Pharoah doing what in her world are 'bad' things - taking her hat, touching the (nonexistent) cake (around W's birthday) - and announce 'Oh! Haman take my hat!' Or 'Pharoah touching the cake! Pharoah touching the candles!' Sometimes she'll give me very specific prompts, saying something like: Say Haman/Pharoah go away! Mordechai and Moshe often make an appearance too (I'm not sure if it's the gan's emphasis or what, but Esther seems to have made less of an impression on her); she either has the good guys refrain from doing the 'bad' thing (Mordechai no take my hat) or gives them permission to do it (Moshe allowed to touch the cake).

Not that surprising given the wide extent of her imaginary play, esp. her scenarios with kids in her gan or people she's recently seen, etc., but still very interesting. I haven't really seen her do this with other people from stories, say, characters from books (she does talk about Angelina, the mouse who is a ballerina, but she calls her ballerina doll Angelina, so it's more tangible than just giving the fictional character a role in her birthday parties or whatever). The closest I've seen is when she summons various animals - it's often similar behavior - Oh, there's a lion! And she sometimes gives me cue cards for the animals too, along similar lines - Ima, say lion go away, etc.

When we started transitioning from Purim talk to Pesach talk, one of the first things she wanted to know was whether we eat Pharoah's ears too. (She was very into the concept of eating Haman's ears - hamantaschen/oznei haman - for pretend.) Then she wanted to know if we wear funny clothes on Pesach; when I said no we wear nice clothes like on Shabbat, she immediately announced she was going to wear a dress on Pesach. Her ganenet just told me that this clothing/matching obsession has reached gan too, and that when they play outside, she's constantly coming over to the ganenet and telling her that this pink matches that pink, etc. (Her version of matching usually means that two things are the same color - she has informed me in no uncertain terms that I didn't match, because I was wearing black with some other color.)

Kinneret may have finally found a name for Rimonit: Diti, or so it sounded like (though it may have been a nasal Niti, which would make more sense). She heard R and was looking around for her and I said, 'Do you want to go play with Rimoniti?' and she said 'Diti!' and repeated it when she found her sister. Rimonit was quite involved in her own play (involving two kid chairs, a doll and a bandana, among other objects) and was not impressed. Lately it's occasionally been sounding like Kinneret has been referring to Rimonit as 'Ki,' which is what R calls her (though she also says Kinne'et - she solves the r/resh conundrum by just leaving it out altogether). Ki's 'Ki' does have a logic of its own (mother=Ima, father=Abba, sister=Ki), but we'll see if Diti/Niti will stick for a while...