Saturday, September 29, 2012

New Year, New Phones


The new year starts tonight, and in the last days of 5772 three four of the kids' telephones gave up the ghost, or are so close to it, that they are not reliable at all. Add two more kids, who needed phones, and today I ended up getting some for them.

You might shake your head at my pre-teens having cell phones, but it's neccesary for my peace of mind. My kids ride public transportation, sometimes alone, sometimes in small groups, they are at various places at various times, and we ned to be able to reach each other. There are strict rules about the phones at school and at home as well, and not following those rules results in loss of privileges. So far, so good.

So I went to the big, fruit named mobile provider to see what deals I could get on basic, cheap phones for the kids. We are part of a business fleet, so we usually get good deals on any phone that is over two years old... and oh boy, these phones were the first ones we bought in Israel.

Just imagine my surprise when the basic phones cost about twice as much than the cheaper smart phones! Samsung Galaxy Mini II cost about $4.00 with our business fleet discounts and they have free, practically unlimited internet! There were a few other phones that could be replaced for around $8.00, with a free case. Of course I ended up buying those for the kids, and for my Hello Kitty fan Noya I picked up a Hello Kitty Samsung Galaxy Y that was the last one at the store... free. Since Kevin's parents are about to come again for a whole year this time, I bough them phones, too. Some screen protectors and covers later I walked out with 9 new phones, and some concerns about how to make sure I can protect my kids online when they are not in front of my nose. I mean they can even sign up to Facebook from those phones! I chose to add the Norton Online Family app to their phones, which happens to be free and no, I'm not sponsored by them. This app lets me monitor my kids' online aqctivities, as well as restrict their access to certain sites. Now there are other apps to limit what apps they can download.

The idea is that while I trust my children, there are all kinds of ways to end up on sites and with apps that they shouldn't have access to yet. I also think that even the most trustworthy child can be overtaken by curiousity, and I am responsible for them and their safety. So while they are happily playing with their new phones, downloading games and music apps, we are having the online safety talk. Just the perfect way to end the year.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Baby calves have soft noses


The reason why I know that is I visited Yotvata as a child. Yotvata is a kibbutz in Israel, and they are famous for their dairy farm and the oh-so-yummy dairy products that come from there. Like their iced coffee product line. It’s not only tasty, it’s pretty, too!
I love their Latte. And their Ice Shoko. And their chocolate milk. Only the BYU Creamery chocolate milk beats that one, and then no one outside Mormon circles knows that one. Anyway, I was going to write about baby calves and Yotvata. By baby calves I don’t mean the legs of babies, but the newly born cattle offspring. They have soft noses. This extended weekend my kids will get to experience petting a baby calf. And yes, some Ice Shoko, too.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

After a Bag of Hawaiian Splash Beenies …


…I’m high on sugar (yummy sugar, have you tried eating the pinapple and the coconut ones at the same time?) and artificial colouring (all kosher).
And I’m not alone with that. Since these yummies were on sale at  ₪1.70, everyone got a bag of these super yummy beenies. So there are all kinds of crazy and fun things happening, like Izhar getting a hair bow. The first cross-desser in the family, I might add. He also has a pink collar, so yes, someone is really in need of another girl her age in the family. :D
Matthew’s face is healing nicely. It looked really not good yesterday, but it started to improve this morning, and he was good about not touching all day, and it looks so much better now!
After work I went shopping to start getting ready for Purim. I bought an insane amount of krembos.
If you don’t know what krembos are, they are a cream filled, cookie based, chocolate covered wonder. They are sold in various flavours, and are very similar to some sweets sold under various names in many countries. The cream is like a light marshmallow cream. The most popular flavours are coffee (mocha) and vanilla. They are similar to “négercsók” in Hungary, of which I love both the  banana and strawberry varieties.
Krembos are very popular in Israel, and one of my favourite religious singers, Aharon Razel even wrote a song about them! And Krembo has its own Wikipedia article. And there are statistics about how Israelis eat them: 69% from top to bottom, 10% from the biscuit to the cream, and the rest however happen to feel at the moment. There are 9 krembos consumed per capita per annum in Israel, and if you consider that some of my kids hate it, the average krembo eater eats more than that! We eat it primarily in the winter, but I prefer them in the summer, too, straight from the fridge, nicely chilled… yes, they are excellent that way! So I bought two dozen krembos, and yes, I have some saved for Andi! All the rest is gone. And I wanted to take photos! The two youngest ones first frowned at them, but they warmed up to the coffee flavoured ones. They, like me, are not a fan of vanilla krembos, but they had no problem devouring a bunch of vanilla waffers.
I also bought some other things I’ll let Andi take photos of when she gets them. :D
Want to try one (that’s probably totally flattened in the mail)? Then stay tuned for my giveaway coming up in March!
Now off to watch The Voice with Kevin. Gotta love DVR!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Shavua Tov, or Why I Dislike Sundays


It’s hard to live in a world where everyone pretty much agrees that Monday is the worst day of the week–except your corner of the world.
You see, the work week starts on Sunday and ends on Friday around noon in Israel. So as the night falls on the Shabbat, we start to wish everyone “Shavua tov”, or a good week to everyone, because our wekend is over for the next 5 and a half days. And then Sunday rolls around.
In Israel, Garfield hates either Monday or Sunday, depending on the translator. Well, I dislike Sundays.
I don’t like waking up my kids and get them ready for school, because the weekend was so short and they will be gone for five and a half days again. Sunday mornings are sleepy, Sunday mornings are cold cereal, Sunday mornings are back to the grind. The magic of the Shabbat is gone, and yeah, who likes the first day back to work?
There are two candle related ceremonies associated with the Shabbat. We light candles to usher in the Shabbat 18 minutes sunset on Friday, and then, at Havdala, we light a special candle at nightfall on Saturday during Havdala. These two ceremonies help us separate the sacred from the mundane, but the joy of the Shabbat carries over till bedtime on Saturdays. That’s one reason why Sunday is so undesirable. Or really, Sunday mornings are.
By the time the afternoon rolls around everyone in my family has discovered the joy that comes with otherwise not-so-fun things, like seeing friends at school or work, having all the shops open, normal television programing, and it no longer being Sunday morning. :)
Now my kids are at school, Kevin is at work. I finished cooking lunch/dinner. The American girls are running errands, and took the two youngest along, so they can stop by at the playground and let them roam and climb and jump and do what 3-year-olds like to do.
As a side note, I made yetserday’s breakfast again, with the minor change that I didn’t pre-cook my turkey bacon at all. It turned out a lot better, and I got the confirmation from Ágó that uncooked regular bacon works a lot better, too. And it was prettier as well.  This is what Ágó made today:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Big Family Brfeakfast Made Fun and Easy


I’m an avid Failbblog reader, and while I was reading back some, I found this awesome breakfast cake recipe. So I decided to make it this morning.
It was supposed to look like this:
epic win photos - WIN!: Breakfast Cakes WIN
Mine looked like this:
It tasted great, but I think next time I do it, I’ll change some things a tiny bit, especially since I had to use some substitutions.
1. Since I use margarine instead of butter, the bread is pretty bland. I’ll add some seasoning to the bread before adding the eggs.
2. Turkey bacon, if prepared fully in the skillet, burns before the eggs are done. So I’ll cook them only halfway through in the skillet.
3. It definitely doesn’t need to be in the oven as long as the recipe says.
It was a really nice breakfast with all the hiccups, and will definitely do it again. Soon.

Friday, February 17, 2012

And He Is Abroad


Yep. Yonah is now in Vancouver, BC as I’m typing this, with his boyfriend Yehiel to visit his family. He called us in the early morning hours (for us) to let us know that they are there safely, and put up in Yehiel’s old room… and Yonah has the top bunk! He told me that, his voice beaming with pride, like it’s the coolest thing ever. Maybe it is.
Just before Yonah left, he sat down to have a serious talk with Harel. He explained that while he was going to miss Harel’s first birthday, but he was going to bring him some awesome present to make up for that. To which Harel replied with “duckie”. So Yonah is on a duck hunt. :D
The thing that cracked me up? The text I got when they landed in Toronto: “The Two Little Africans Are In Canada”. That cracked me up. Yehiel, as I said elsewhere, is of an Ethiopian family and Yonah is half South African.
Yesterday after Kevin dropped them off at the airport, he drove a big box of “stuff” up to Haifa to Yonah’s apartment there. He says it starts to look like someone could actually live there. :D In a few days I’ll be going up with more stuff, and then next weekend, after I get back from Hungary, I will take up the tea set we painted at Made By You. I’ll combine that trip with a hospital run, and finally, just before he comes home, we’ll fill his pantry. Yonah will have 24 hours before landing back home and his first class, and he still wants to do laundry at home. I mean home. In our home. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I got a package!


I got a package from Andi. It had an adventorous journey to get to me. On the last leg of the journey it was my twin brother, who was made to sweat by the package. No, not the 4 kg weight caused the sweating, but getting food through customs. Because, contrary to what Andi said, the package didn’t contain a brick but…
Yes, that’s honey. Andi’s parents are beekeepers, and this honey is from their bees. Very yummy and perfect for my sore throat.
There were other things in that package, too!
És tökéletesen illenek a blogom nevéhez.
There are 4 retro style Coca Cola glasses! I love those! They look so cool! And they fit my blog’s name perfectly! That’s still not everything!
My name plaque arrived, too! If you’d like one, too, especially made for you, then go to Kérj bármit! The site is only in Hungarian at this point, but leave a comment, and I’ll give you their e-mail address or something, so you can work details out in email. Two members of our family already have their name plaques, so there are only 14 to go! And there is more! There are rulers (metric) and other fun stuff you can check out on the page.
In one of the many raffles on the Kérj bármit! Facebook page, I won an original drawing. It came in this package, too.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Discipline, Parenting and Other Delicacies, Part 1


There have been posts by Christie and Annie regarding discipline and corporal punishment that I highly recommend. There have also been questions about how we make a famiuly with 14 kids and young adults work, when we are not much older than many of our boys.  We sure must have a prenting philosophy or methodology or something. We must have our set methods for discipline and what not.
Well, we don't really. I mean... my best guidance is thinking of what my parents would have done in any given situation, and do the polar opposite. Because my childhood was that great and their parenting was that wonderful.  Of course the possibility is open that my kids will think the same about my parenting style!
One of the things is that having an adoption and trauma background myself, I use intuition a lot of the times.  I also read all kinds of parenting books (and have tossed both Campbell's and Gordon's books),  and especially read blogs and advice by other parents with more wisdom and experience, and boy, do I get the best ideas from them!
When it comes to discipline, I'm not a fan of corporal punishment. Yes, I've been known to slap the hand of a toddler who was reaching towards the oven, or other things like that before my kids were old enough to understand the dangers, but I think the last time I had to do anything like that was 6 years ago. Definitely long before any of our adopted/foster kids came to us. What I do believe in is grace based parenting. This was something that I always missed in my childhood. My Christian parents were all about grace, except when it came to parenting. Everything had a clear and never changing consequence, and resulting in a cycle of doing something bad, being punished for it, and it reinforcing that I was bad, thus resulting in a why care if I'm already bad attitude... Viscious, viscious circle.
While grace is not such a significant part of my theology as in Christianity--it surely is not emphasised in every second sentence of every sermon--grace is important to my parenting. Religion... not so much. Most of my older kids have been hurt in the name of religion, and they have turned away. Religion based parenting does not work with them. Mention of G-d can make a situation much much worse. So... I work with that. I can kind of relate to that issue.
So what is my grace based approach?
Forgiveness. I forgive, but don't neccessarily forget the offense. Remembering that it happened is not contrary to forgiveness. However, if it's a repeat offense, it can be addressed... the root cause can be found.... the incident resolved. I don't rub their past errors in, and I try to never react with anger. I try, I say, because I'm not perfect. I'm known to yell, to be impatient and moody. I'm not perfect, and neither are my children.  (TBC)

Hero

Today's first post is Harel Skaat's duet with Yehuda (Yuda) Poliker. Poliker is another one of our great artists who happens to be gay, and in light of that, the following song shouldn't be too much of a surprise. And the lyrics, translated by Nina Samokhina: "Now it is the time to touch life without fear, to look forward to the bright horizon,  To climb high, to get down from the ladder, to feel, to listen and to breathe the world  No, don't be afraid, not even if it will be difficult, dreams will come true, listen silently to the heart beat, and don’t forget that you are mortal Hero, take care of yourself, fly high towards the light, they will not break you, hero, take care of yourself, take care, fly freely like a bird, between the fire and frost  Go now to a new road, and get this blessing, a new land will be discovered within you, open your eyes, but stay innocent, let love do magic on you, you well know, that obstacles Will occur, and once in a while you will break the rules, and if suddenly unintentionally, you will make a mistake, learn the lesson from it, and take\embrace It as a gift  Hero, take care of yourself, fly high towards the light, they will not break you, hero, take care of yourself, take care, fly freely like a bird, between the fire and frost..."

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Those Puppy Eyes



How can you say no to such cute puppy eyes? And the dog's eyes are cute, too.
One thing my kids are all very good at is having the most convincing sad puppy eyes when they want something. I swear Izhar is taking lessons from them about how to have the best sad puppy eyes, ever.
Now at my kids’ school there are two days each semester when they can be absent without a doctor’s note or other official reason, and as we are just finishing the last week of the semester, they made use of those puppy eyes and requested a mental health day, staying home from school. As tomorrow is Tu B’Shvat and they all have a field day because of that, today being a half hearted day anyway, I didn’t say no.
While I do believe school is important and I hate it when my kids miss school for weird reasons (like after re-scheduling a doctor’s appointment 4 times during the summer it ends up being on the second day of school), there are days when it’s simply more important to be home with your family, even if you don’t do anything extra. Especially when you don’t do anything extra.
With my extended absence–first a trip to Hungary, then being hospitalized for a week–today has become quite a bonding experience for the kids and me. Especially Eli. He was thrilled he didn’t have to go to school and we didn’t have anything special to do either. No doctor appointment, no therapist, no paperwork to be done and taken to places, nothing. Just cooking breakfast together, going grocery shopping together, cooking dinner together, watching Festigal 2008 while doing so, talking about silly things and just being together.
Eli… I’ve been planning on writing an update on him. There are challenges in his life much greater than we originally thought or initially experienced. I just have to mention here that my initial gut feeling of him needing to room with Yonah has proved correct and beneficial.
And now that my kids got what they wanted and needed, they can go and practice their sad puppy looks for another 6 months before they can melt dad’s heart again.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Happy Again makes me happy, again!

So today is the day that Harel Skaat’s new album, “Happy Again” was released. This is a concept album, with 7 songs, centering around love and relationships in this 21st century. 4 of those were released as singles already, but the last three, oh my, were such pleasant surprises! I love them!
On this site all 7 of the songs of the new album can be heard. I have been doing that all morning (chemo day…) as I haven’t been able to pick up my own copy yet!  כדורי המואר is my favourite song so far (the third from top), because it’s, once again, simply beautiful! OK, so I know it’s not a very professional review, but what do you expect from me? I’m a fan!
All in all, my least favourite song from the album is still the first single,Love Awaits Me, which I found slightly weird at first. Now I don’t think it’sw weird, but the other songs are better! When it comes to videos,Ways is the best of the three. It’s simple and beautiful, a tiny bit reminding me of the video of Im Hu Yelech. That was a great video, also shot in black and white.
(Mentioning black and white, stay tuned for a review of Biljana Petrova’sawesome novella! What’s not to love about a story featuring a character called Miss Espresso?)
OK, back to what I was talking about. I love Mr. Skaat’s shoes on the cover photo. I have been eyeing a pair that looks similar, in Hungary again. I might just buy it.
Yes, I’m being distracted again. I’d better just get back to listening.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Censorship in the USA - SOPA and PIPA

My Dear American Friends,

I think many of you believe in your Constitution. I think many of you believe in free speech. I know most of you are bloggers yourself, and you find your blogs an important part of your freedom of speech.

The Congress are about to pass a bill that would allow the blocking of various sites to be viewed by US citizens. It's the same method that China and Syria use. This would pretty much put the content and availability of the Internet in the hands of corporations (who, are, you know, people, just like you and me, in your country, so I can't wait to see Texas execute one).

Before you dismiss the whole thing with a wave of your hand, just think of the sites that could be gone any time: Wikipedia, forums you frequent, your favourite blogs and your own site as well. Your Facebook, other social networking profiles and emails can be censored.

Furthermore, as the US seems to set standards in internet laws, this could affect most countries. Either that, or maybe finally the rest of the world will finally stop following the USA like sheep.

For a more detailed explanation, see this infographic by AmericanCensorship.org and contact your congressman to put an end to this nonsense. And oh yes, I got most of my info from there, from Wikipedia and from Wordpress.org.

Sincerely,
Hevel

Saturday, January 14, 2012

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