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, May 30, 2012

The fast track

I haven't said much about Moriya lately, but she has been changing the most - she is really coming into her own now, showing more and more of her personality. She is still pretty chill and smiley and good-natured, but now that she is increasingly on the move - cruising, climbing and standing on her own for longer and longer (walking, here we come!) - she also knows more and more what she wants, not just what she needs.

For instance, the other day I was with R&M in the park and we were blowing bubbles. It was time to pick up K from gan so I tried putting Moriya into the stroller. She arched her back like a crazed cat and started howling. I offered her sustenance, but no go. I finally spotted the bubbles and thought maybe she'd be amused again by the bubbles and settle down, but before I could even open the container she calmed down at the sight of it and happily started playing with it. She had been mad at me for taking away her bubbles container! Who knew? I don't usually think of tantrums as a step in the right direction, but she is clearly on the fast track from the need-focused infancy stage to the more want-focused incipient toddler stage.

Her communication skills are also on the rise. Her waving has become more purposeful, and she knows to wave when she hears "bye-bye." Her signs all pretty much look like her wave, but it's clear from the context that she intends it in different ways, like when she does it for "all done" when she's done eating (as I had suspected she was doing a while back). She has also started to sometimes raise her hands to get out of her high chair, as I've been teaching her to. But even when she doesn't do the signs, she gives this happy smile of recognition when I express what she wants - like if she's in her high chair and wants to get out, and I do the sign and say "all done" and "up." She stops fussing immediately and gives a big smile, and you can see that she understands what I'm saying and is glad I understand what she's saying, and then I take her out and wash her dirty little hands and face and send her off to bang some toys on the coffee table.

She also lights up at the sight of her sisters and loves playing with them. Rimonit plays particularly nicely with her (most of the time) and seems to take pride in how much Moriya likes her. She's also a useful extra set of eyes who lets me know if Moriya's putting things in her mouth that she shouldn't. The other day I was holding Moriya and standing next to Rimonit, so M was above R and she very mischievously plucked Rimonit's hat off her head with a great big grin - repeatedly. Fortunately, Rimonit was in the mood to perceive it as play rather than as theft, and was able to laugh at it. R is at the stage where she understands that she was once a baby too and likes hearing about it, and she knows - and often repeats back to me - that she also kept taking off her hat when she was a baby and that she didn't like having things on her head.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Baby sisters vs. babysitters

RP, after noting that a prospective babysitter has the same name as her friend's baby sister: Babies don't babysit. Because they can't put children to sleep. And they don't talk.

Not exactly the reasons I would have given, but can't argue with the logic.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A nice fight

Rimonit and Kinneret had a very nice fight today. The nice part was very significantly helped by the fact that both were in pretty good moods to begin with and neither one started tantruming. Here's what happened:

K (whether by accident or by design I'm not sure) knocked over a Lego tower R had built and put next to her bed. This was not just any Lego tower, though: It was the Beit Hamikdash (according to Rimonit) or the Beit Hamigdal (according to Kinneret). After all, RP needed somewhere to bring her bikurim on Shavuot.

I got summoned and was pleased to see that though R was upset, she was not having a fit or even attempting to beat K with the kodesh hakedoshim. I told her the real Beit Hamikdash also got destroyed (nice try, right?), and said they should both put the blocks away.

Instead, R decided she wanted her Beit Hamikdash to be rebuilt bimheira beyameinu and set to work - uncomplainingly. And then K volunteered to help her out, getting on the floor with her and saying "I can help you." Rimonit happily ordered Kinneret around and K did what she was told and they finished pretty quickly and went to bed. Maybe it really is the end of days...

Some things Kinneret has been up to lately

1. Filling the bathroom sink with water to the point that it started flooding the floor.

2. Throwing at least one of her bottles and (as W discovered while walking outside) one of Moriya's blankets out the window. Then tantruming that she wants her bottle.

3. Playing hide-and-seek with Moriya. By tossing a dish towel over Moriya's head.

4. Announcing almost every night, about two minutes after she has been put to bed and no matter how close to bedtime she has gone to the bathroom: "Ima, I need to make peepee."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Kol hakavod, boy!

Apparently not satisfied with bossing two little sibs around, Rimonit decided yesterday (and Kinneret immediately followed suit) to extend her orders to anyone she could see outside the window.

It was after their bath, and they were both standing on Rimonit's bed in their bathrobes (the better to see - and shout - out the window) when Rimonit calls out: "Everyone who's outside has to go home now so you can go to sleep!" (Kinneret: "Everyone go home!").

R: "If you don't go home you'll have to sleep on the street!" And then, catching sight of someone at the bus stop across the street: "The boy is waiting for the bus so he can go home. Kol hakavod, boy!"

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

File under: Things I never thought I'd hear myself saying

- "Only one person is allowed to sit on the toilet at a time!"
(after Kinneret schmucheled* onto the side of the toilet seat - where she likes to sit so she can hold onto the sink for support - even though her big sister had already placed herself in the normal position)

And a few seconds later...

- "No flushing the toilet when someone else is sitting on it!"
(also to Kinneret, of course)

Oh, the joys of having a second toilet-trained girl in the house!

*For non-South Africans: "Schmucheling" (pron. with a "sch" as in "sh," an "u" as in "soot," and a "chel" as in "cull" with a "kh") is totally the best word. Schmucheling is a bit like sneaking ("He didn't have a ticket, but he somehow schmucheled his way into the concert," "They said there was no more food available, but she schmucheled her way into the kitchen and schmucheled us out some cookies"), but so much more. Kind of a mischievous sneaking or a way of getting somewhere or something that seemed like it was off-limits or inaccessible. Kinneret is a master schmucheler ("Rimonit and Moriya were already in our bed, but suddenly Kinneret schmucheled herself in right next to me"). She must have gotten it from her father ("We didn't have anything to drink, but then Warren schmucheled us six glasses of ice-cold lemonade"). It kind of goes hand-in-hand with her second-child refrain of "also me!" - it doesn't matter what your plans are; she will find a way to schmuchel her way in.

Uh oh!

I found Moriya (now 10 months old) on top of the coffee table today!

In addition to climbing, she has also started standing on her own a bit. Nothing is safe!

On the Rimonit front, I recently realized why she suddenly started calling a "tzaharon" (after-school program - at this age, it's basically a late lunch and day care for 2-3 hours until the parents can come pick up the kids) a "tzahalit" - one of the women who runs a private tzaharon that I guess some of the kids in her gan go to is called Tzahalit. It all makes sense now.

Also, it seems that instead of counting sheep, Rimonit drifts off to sleep thinking of rhyming words. Or at least she did that Sat. night (I know because she called me in for an outside consultation) and then informed me on Sunday that this is the way she goes to sleep (which could very well mean just that it's the way she fell asleep the night before). "You also go to sleep thinking about rhymes, Ima?" she asked me. I told her no, but that it was a good idea and maybe I should try it...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Taming the tiger

1. Warren couldn't take the girls into gan yesterday, and so it was that as I was about to drop off Rimonit, she looks at the shul next door to her gan and say: "Ima, that's cinnamon?"

When I realized what she was pointing to, I figured, not illogically, that maybe Warren had introduced her to the word "synagogue" and she got a bit confused. But then on the way home from gan she pointed to a cement mixer on a different street and asked how the cinnamon comes out of the cinnamon truck, at which point I recalled that we had recently seen a cement mixer in action in front of the shul (which is perpetually under construction). And so I made a mental note: cinnamon = cement mixer, not synagogue. Now all I have to do is find out how the cinnamon comes out.

2. In honor of Yom Haatzmaut, Kinneret has recently been singing "Degel yisrael sheli yaffa v'gam porahat," which may not make that much sense (if a flag is blooming, does that mean it's moldy?), but does actually fit into the song really well, since "degel" has not only the same amount of syllables as the original "eretz" but also has a similar sound.

Oh, and the big news: Kinneret celebrated the week of Yom Haatzmaut with her own brand of indepedence - that's right, she is diaper-free! (During the day at least.) She walked around the barbecue we went to clutching a new pack of underwear, which she didn't want to let out of her sight (although she didn't need the extras - she has been fantastic!). Even Rimonit agrees that she has now officially earned the title of "big girl."