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, November 23, 2011

Moriya update

She's now 4 1/2 months, and is very into doing pushups. She also rotates herself clockwise or counter-clockwise when she's doing tummy time, and sometimes she'll crane her neck like an owl to keep tabs on her sisters. She has a fantastic smile, which she deploys quite frequently, and so far she's been the most chilled out baby of the three (well, K was actually pretty chilled out but she wouldn't eat, which pretty much counteracts everything else). I know parents are supposed to be eager for their kid to progress and all that, but I'm happy where we are - in the mornings I can just put her on her mat on the floor and sit at the computer near her, taking occasional feeding breaks - and kind of dreading the crawling, omg-i-forgot-to-babyproof-that! phase, not to mention the whole sweet-potato-mush-all-over-the-walls thing. But let's go back to the moment - about which, believe it or not, I have no complaints.

Light bulb

Funny how we expect kids to learn to speak from us, but we find it amusing when they actually do. To wit: Rimonit's latest phrase is "I have an idea" (which she must have picked up from me) - usually followed by her latest plan to avoid eating dinner/taking a bath/going to bed (as in, "I have an idea! I'll play a little bit more first!").

I have been quite good at not laughing or smirking when she uses it, but it did make me think about how there's this meta-awareness on the part of adults regarding what words or phrases kids "should" use, even if that makes no sense based on how children learn to speak (ie from hearing others speak) and even if we give them no cue that this is a "grown-up phrase" - and why should we? they'll eventually have to speak like us, after all.

Monday, November 21, 2011

1 verb + 1 verb = Snack Time

Another two-verber from KL: I want to eat Bamba! (Repeat ad nauseum)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sounds like...

Rimonit has finally started to figure out what I mean when I ask what sound something starts with (she had been giving me a whole syllable or several letters at once, like 'cupcakes' starts with 'cup'). She's all of a sudden quite good at it - this morning we went through a whole bunch of sounds. She started, saying something along the lines of "'Bowl' starts with 'b'" (the sound a 'b' makes, not the name of the letter). Then when I asked her if she could think of other words that start with "b," she was able to come up with one or two, and we did it for a few letters. Then later in the day she came up to me and Moriya and said "baby" starts with "b," and when I asked her if she could remember another word that starts with "b" she picked a different word that we hadn't even mentioned in the morning ("bag," which she saw lying around). Very exciting! Planning to put up a page with the letters of the alphabet on her door so we can easily transition from sounds to letter identification. She can identify "her" letter ("R") easily, and we've done a few others (not sure if she remembers them), but would like to play this game a tad more systematically. Nothing formal, and we stop when she doesn't feel like it anymore, but it is exciting that she's suddenly able to get this whole "sound" idea much better...

Who's your daddy?

Scene: Friday morning. Warren playing with Moriya.

Kinneret (running over in distress and laying claim to Moriya by touching her legs and kissing her): No Abba baby! My baby!

UPDATE: Warren adds that Kinneret did not just lay claim to Moriya - she actively pushed him away from her baby! (Better, I suppose, than pushing Moriya away and shouting "My Abba!")

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Same, but different

Two things that slowed us down a bit this morning: 4yo (somewhat unusually) wanting me to help her get dressed, and 2yo very much wanting precisely the opposite (Me! Me! Me!).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Another one

Forgot a good one by Rimonit. Something along the lines of: Clothespin have same sound as close, just like open and close.

The hole in the middle of the Cheerio

KL, in full sentences:
Moriya smile at me.
Help me fix stroller please. (Two verbs in one sentence!)

RP, picking out sounds:
Pumpkin that's like pump.
Cornflakes that's like corn.

(Speaking of which, out of nowhere K decided she doesn't eat Cheerios - they normally eat them both together, but for the past week it's been all "Cornflakes. No cereal. Cornflakes." They insist on calling Cheerios "cereal," no matter how many times I try to explain that both are different kinds of cereal. What's funny is that in Israel it's kind of the opposite: "Cornflakes" is used as a generic word for cereal [though there is a proper Hebrew phrase - deganei boker] that can include Cheerios, Rice Krispies or anything else.)

R has also had a few misses on the sounds, and seems to mix up "p" and "b" sounds; she told me "pumpkin" starts with the same sound as "bus." But she's definitely heading in the right direction (I think).

R's English is currently stronger than her Hebrew. I've especially noticed a lot of holes in her Hebrew vocab (though the holes will prob be in the other direction soon), and she can't pronounce a resh (Hebrew "r," esp problematic since it's the first letter of her unusual name, and people have a hard time just guessing what she's trying to say). She sometimes fills in with English or just makes up words (leaving whoever she's talking to a bit out of their depth), though sometimes she just changes direction and drops whatever she's trying to say in favor of something else. Like I heard her talking to two kids about what food they take to gan for lunch, and R was trying to say she takes in cereal (they beg for cereal in a bag to munch on the stroller on the way to gan - not that they haven't already had breakfast, mind you) but she was saying "cereal" in the middle of a Hebrew sentence and they didn't understand what she was trying to say. She repeated it the same way, then switched directions entirely and basically changed the topic (can't remember to what).

Yesterday I noticed she was imposing English grammar on a Hebrew sentence when she said something about a "yarok motzetz" (the equivalent of a "pacifier green"). I'm pretty sure most of the vocab and grammar issues will get sorted out more or less by themselves - eventually. And in the meantime, she's showing a heartening interest in the sounds that words make. If only she hadn't mysteriously forgotten how to count...

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Rimonit has been very into the idea of getting bigger, and the role that food plays in it.

We have a Little Critter book about all the things he's planning to do when he gets bigger, and then it ends with him saying "But I'm not bigger yet." When we first got it, it didn't really resonate, but I guess I just had to wait until R got a little bit bigger. :) Now she's all about planning what Moriya's going to do when she gets bigger, in addition to thinking about herself (and Kinne'et). Like before Simhat Torah she wanted one of those cuddly toy Torahs, which we got them, and she specifically requested one for herself, one for K and one for M, for "when she gets bigger." (After gan one day she asked if Hashem gave us toy Torahs also.)

And whenever there's something she's not allowed to have (either at the moment or at all) she'll now often say (if she's in an accepting mood), "When I get bigger?" I don't really like to say yes to that if it's candy or whatever because I don't want it to become this thing she seeks throughout childhood and then overdoses on when she does get bigger, but W has recently been telling her that candy doesn't make children grow bigger (she's been a bit obsessed about the role of food in making her grow - as she'd be in mid-chew, she'd say "I getting bigger?" like "Am I growing an inch with every bite I take?" to which my standard response is "You're getting bigger every day"). So now she's gone on health patrol (when she's not busy telling me not to look at her as she tries to sneak a taffy, that is): After the aforementioned biscuit-seeking by K, Rimonit goes, "No, Kinneret! Biscuits don't make you grow!" (Shockingly, this did not deter Kinneret the slightest bit.)

One leg at a time

Despite what I wrote recently, I've noticed that K has actually been getting her "me"s and "you"s straight a lot more often. And she also seems to have grasped that "please"s can move around in a sentence. On a recent morning, after trying to get her pants on herself, she came to me and said: "Help me please! Please help me pants!" With a request like that, even if I were, bizarrely, inclined to let her go to nursery school without pants, I still would have put them on for her...


Kinneret's signature phrase of late has been "Alsoalsoalsoalsoalso me!" Oh, the life of a middle child...

She has also been speaking in full sentences more. They often seem to involve food.

While eating pretzels: "Iya no eat pretzels. Eat milk!"
While Warren was eating tea biscuits: "Abba eat biscuits. Alsoalsoalsoalsoalso me!"