Sunday, September 30, 2007

What's the buzzing sound?

So, it finally stopped raining and we have been able to have several meals in our sukkah. We even slept in it on Shabbat. I know it's a mitzvah to sleep in the sukkah, but let's just say I don't think that mosquito season is over here in Florida. Oy do mosqito bites itch!

Here's wishing that all of you are enjoying a lovely (and mosquito free) chag.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It is STILL raining

Day FOUR. It is still raining. I looked out the window at our unfinished sukkah this morning and it looked so sad without LO's little decorations adorning it. I hear there's a chance the weather will clear up for a bit later today. We are very hopeful.

LO, PHD, and I wish you all a Chag Sameach.

update: I just saw is not looking good.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It's sukkah time...

and apparently that means it is time to rain non-stop in South Florida (great for our draught conditions, bad for our sukkah building conditions!) Our new catch-phrase should be, "If you build it, it will rain". B"H this year the rain didn't come complete with a hurricane on the way (keinahorra...poo, poo, poo).
We had fun STUFFING my car full of palm branches for our s'chach and putting up the frame in the rain. Kelev even jumped into the action at some point...I have to say, there is nothing quite like a wet dog in your sukkah.

We are now on our third straight day of rain...if only it would stop for a bit so we could finish.

(If you are looking for some ideas for sukkah decorations, be sure not to miss Juggling Frogs' post here. She is AMAZING. I have to say if I could go back to being a kid, I'd want to be one of hers!)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Rosh Hashanah is not only ONE day

Last Thursday LO hands me her interim report from school. I looked at the grades and there were no surprises there. But then I noticed that she had an unexcused absence on it. Certainly she hadn't been absent without me knowing, so I sent a note to the teacher asking for an explanation of when exactly LO got this unexcused absence.

On Friday I went to pick LO up early from school so that we could prepare for dinner followed by Kol Nidre. I ran into her teacher and she explained that LO had received an unexcused absence because she was absent on Friday, September 14th. Apparently it didn't matter that I had sent a note in with LO to explain her absence due to the second day of Rosh Hashanah. The teacher went on to explain that she had discussed it with the secretary in the front office and that Rosh Hashanah is only observed for ONE day. (I should probably point out that neither of them are Jewish, so it is probably safe to assume that neither of them are qualified to make this statement.) I hate to admit it but as those words came out of her mouth, I was so angry that my blood started to boil. But I kept my cool as I explained that the holiday was indeed observed on both days. She told me that I needed to take it up with the front office. I took LO by the hand and stormed up to the front office. Turns out that the secretary was at lunch. But...the assistant principal was there so I decided to address it with her. This time I was told that it is a Miami-Dade County school policy that Rosh Hashanah is only observed for one day. (I can't begin to explain how much angrier that statement made me.) I decided that I better drop it at this point before I blew up so I told her that I thought she might want to re-check that policy and I left.

On the way home I could picture it in my head..."the Orieyentas take on the Miami-Dade School Board in a quest for the right to observe Rosh Hashanah for TWO days." And then I started to worry. What will happen with Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah? Will a whole load of unexcused absences ruin her almost perfect grades? And how come this wasn't an issue last year? And oy, why didn't I send her to Jewish Day School this year?

I got home and really needed to focus on getting dinner ready and getting into the Yom Kippur frame of mind and decided that there was not much more I could do about this until after the weekend. Thankfully, motzei Shabbos/Yom Tov when we checked the answering machine there was a message from the school secretary admitting that she was incorrect saying that there was only ONE day of Rosh Hashanah and that there are indeed TWO days of Rosh Hashanah. LO's unexcused absence has been changed to excused. Hopefully we won't have this problem for the upcoming chags. Oh the joys of sending your child to a secular/public school.

ed. note: I thought I should point out that in making the choice to send LO to a secular school, I certainly realize things like this are bound to happen sometimes. I'm relatively ok with that. What I was truly mad about was being told by TWO gentiles that Rosh Hashanah is only one day.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Is it time to eat yet?

LO really LOVES to eat. You'd never guess it if you saw her because she is and always has been smaller than all the kids her age. Needless to say, a day of fasting should seem like the end of the world to her. We obviously don't require her to fast but she does try to make an effort to at least skip a meal and possibly a snack. The funny thing is that she will ask a million times and then a million more times, "Is it time to eat yet?" Then I'll tell her to go ahead and eat. Of course, then she'll decide not to eat. I think she just likes to keep asking me over and over again, "Is it time to eat yet?" Or maybe she just likes the bagels, lox, herring, whitefish, etc. that we serve at our break fast. Whatever it is, here we are ready to hear, "Is it time to eat yet?"

Little Orieyenta, PHD, and I wish you all a meaningful and easy fast. G'mar Chatima Tova.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

LO's Newest Friend

Guess what we just got?

Direct from the Miami-Dade Animal Services, please meet the newest member of our household, Kelev. (For those of you who don't know, it's the Hebrew word for dog. And yes, it was LO's idea to name him this.)

LO had been asking for a dog for a long time and PHD and I finally decided it was time. We definitely wanted to rescue one from the pound rather than get one from a puppy mill or a breeder and so we set on a search to find a dog.

We wanted it to be a surprise so PHD went and picked Kelev up today while LO was at school. LO had no idea that we were planning this. When she came home she actually didn't notice the dog right away but as soon as she did she was jumping up and down with joy. She's so excited that we are lucky we were able to get her to go to bed tonight. B'ezrat Hashem this is just the start of a very wonderful friendship.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A glimpse at our Yom Tov

We had a lovely Yom Tov and we hope that all of you did as well. I kvetch when I am cooking and baking and covered in flour, oil, etc. but it really is rewarding when it is all over and done with. We had some funny moments so I thought I'd share a few of them:

A phone message from my born-again Christian mother...

"Hello, I called to wish you a Happy New Year. (laughing) La-shay-na something or other. I heard them saying that on the radio."

My mother originally was not all that happy when I officially converted. Slowly but surely she has been trying to be a little more accepting of it (no more Chanukah gifts wrapped in Christmas paper, no more Easter baskets for LO, etc.) So for this phone message, I have to acknowledge that and say nice try Mom.


A conversation I had with the woman who sat next to me the first day of Rosh Hashanah at Shul...

"You are so beautiful. You have such an oriental look about you."

I then explained that I am Chinese. And she responded...

"Oh well, that explains it."

Ummm...I think that was a compliment.


A conversation LO and I had...

"Ima, when I grow up, I'm going to get married to a nice Jewish man just like you and Abba. He'll be Jewish and handsome and strong and he'll teach me how to use credit cards!"

Where the heck did she get the idea that a Jewish man would teach her how to use credit cards?


LO waking up from what looked like a crazy sleep, her bed was all messed up and her head was where her feet usually are and her feet where her head usually is...

"Oh my gosh. What will we do if our succah leaks?"

Nice to know that she is planning ahead.


And a classic that I am sure anyone who has kids has heard - LO at Tashlich...

"That man threw a whole loaf of bread in the water. He must have been very bad this year."

Oy am I hungry. Wishing all of you who are fasting today an easy fast.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sweet like apples and honey

I'm sure I am not alone in feeling a little meshugganah this week. I can't believe that the holidays are just a few days away. I definitely feel like I am far from being prepared. Yesterday I sat staring at my recipe book trying to figure out what to make...kasha varnishkes? kishke ala Juggling Frogs? plain honey cake? chocolate honey cake? kugel? many choices.

Since I am sure the week isn't going to get less hectic, I thought I'd go ahead and share our Rosh Hashanah picture from this year...I got a good giggle from comparing it to last year's picture here. I still think she is just as sweet as apples and honey.

LO, PHD and I wish you and your families L'Shanah Tovah and Ktiva v'Chatima Tova.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Winston's New Kippah

You may recall one of my earlier posts about Winston when LO asked if her favourite teddy bear was Jewish. Since then, Winston has become a regular part of our Jewish community. He attends Shabbat services with us, has been to Hebrew school, and he even golfs with our Rabbi.

Not long ago, LO decided that his regular golf clothes (khaki pants, a polo shirt, and a baseball hat) were not nice enough for Shabbat clothes, so off we were to buy Winston a new Shabbat outfit. And no respectable Jewish bear could be caught at shul without a kippah...right?

LO was simply kvelling at Shabbat services over her little bear's new kippah and made sure that everyone saw it. (Me, on the otherhand...I still have that feeling of disbelief that I was actually sitting somewhere sewing a kippah onto a teddy bear's head.)

Special thanks to "Tante Ruth" for crocheting Winston his new kippah! Winston (and LO) love it.

Shabbat Shalom from the Orieyentas and the bear with a kippah.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Shofar Factory

(Rabbi Sholom Galperin from our local Chabad)

Our Hebrew school took a field trip yesterday to the Shofar Factory. The Rabbi from our local Chabad does a presentation where he talks about the holidays, shows how to make a shofar and then all the children get to make their very own shofar to bring home. Sounds fun right?

Picture this. Thirty children in a room. Each child has a horn, a piece of sandpaper, a paint brush, and a bowl of shellac varnish in front of them. A horrible storm is passing over and then...the lights in the synagogue go out! Much high pitched screaming ensues (with a few shofars being blown thrown in there.) Luckily the lights were only out for a few minutes and we all made it out of there without a gallon of shellac varnish in our hair. Amazing.

A warning to Hebrew school parents everywhere...if you are going to volunteer to drive for a field trip, this may be the one you want to skip. Let me just say, three kids, three shofars, enough said.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Ima, what's a bris?

Anyone who is a parent will surely agree with me that every so often there comes a time when their child asks a question that catches you off-guard and you're not quite sure how to respond. I recently experienced one of those moments.

Now that LO is back in school, one of her homework assignments is to read 30 minutes every day. It came as no surprise to me that the first book she grabbed from her collection of books was "The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden". (Written by the wonderful and talented member of our very own Jblogosphere, Robert J. Avrech.) Every night after reading a chapter we discuss it. After reading the last chapter she asked me, "Ima, what's a bris?" Had I been prepared for this conversation I might have said something like, "It's the time when a Jewish baby boy is welcomed into a covenant between G-d and the Jewish people." Yeah, that's what I would have said....if I had been prepared. But...I was not not and so the conversation carried on something like this...

Me: Well, it's um,'s when they cut a small part of a baby's penis off.

LO: (shocked) What?

Me: (dying that I actually have to say it again to her) It's when a mohel cuts off a small part of a baby's penis.

LO: What's a mohel?

Me: (thinking this conversation is not going well) It's a man who can be a Rabbi or a doctor who performs the circumcision which is what it is called.

LO: Why?

Me: (thinking when is this conversation going to end?) Because a very long time ago, G-d and Abraham made an agreement that all Jewish males would do this.

LO: Did Abba do it?

Me: Yes, Abba did it.

LO: (wide-eyed) Can I see?

Me: (wanting to die from this conversation) No - you can't see it silly-head.

LO: Well, thank goodness I'm not a boy because I bet it would hurt.

And just as out of the blue that this conversation started, it ended and she started talking about school and her teddy bear Winston as though this conversation had never happened. And oh was I ever thankful.