Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Coundown to the First Day of School From the Other Side of the Desk - One Week

Ladies and week from tomorrow will be my twenty-third first day of school, but it will be my FIRST day of school as a teacher!

I have been working on some crafts for my classroom, since educational stores seem to sell a lot of expensive classroom items that can really be made by hand. The other reason is that there is really not a lot of space in my classroom, especially since I'm sharing it, and there is simply no room for all the pocket charts and such that are being sold.

I'm really excited to be teaching fourth grade, and at the same time I'm pretty nervous. Any readers who have any words of advice for the first few days in the classroom, they would be much appreciated!

Maybe I will post pictures of my crafts when they are finished.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Shana Rishona Tidbits

Unbelievably, the Hebrew date of mine and Jughead's Hat's anniversary has already past. Our English date is coming up next week. Can you believe we've been married for a year already? I can't!

I still remember my conceptions of married people while I was single, and, having been married for a year now, I have learned some things I did not realize or think about before I was married.

1. Regarding Nidda. I knew what Nidda was, of course, and I knew it involved things like no touching and no passing. However, there are several elements of Nidda I did not know about before I explicitly learned them prior to getting married, such as not being able to eat off the same plate, not sitting on the same bench or couch cushion, etc. That last one sometimes makes things awkward when you're at someone else's house and they make room for both of you to sit on the couch and it's on one big cushion, and you're like, errrrr, thanks but I don't feel like sitting....

Interestingly, the two harchakos of Nidda I was most familiar with (touching and passing) were the two I made the most discoveries about after marriage.

A. No touching. It is amazing how one can intellectually be aware that, at times, married couples cannot touch, and yet also assume married couples can always touch each other. I find this paradox to be the case often when people are, for instance, organizing group pictures (even really small group pictures). There are other random times, as well, when a married couple will be part of a group of people who cannot touch each other, and the marrieds are assumed to be the bridge between the members of that group. It is then extremely awkward when the married couple does NOT act as the bridge, basically announcing that they cannot touch each other, and are therefore in nidda. Though I knew, while I was single, that there were times when married people could not touch each other, I did not internalize this fact until after I was married and went through it myself. Now, I find myself much more sensitive to the idea regarding other couples and their possible not-being-able-to-touch-ness.

B. No passing to each other. I did not realize the power of this particular harchaka until I experienced it. Before I was married, I never thought twice about passing things to people. It was something I did automatically, as second nature, not requiring any thought, and certainly not having any particular meaning. Now that I am sometimes not allowed to pass things to JH, the act of passing something has taken on a whole new meaning. It suddenly seems like an act of intimacy to hand something to a male someone else--even during times when I am not in nidda. If the person is a Rabbi or a yeshiva guy, I often feel as though I am violating something by passing to that person; that person is too frum for passing! Isn't it incredible how not allowing something gives that thing so much more power?

Other times not being allowed to pass to each other becomes slightly awkward: when you're at a shabbos meal with a table full of big plates of food and they're all being passed around and there is nowhere really for you to put the plate down so as not to pass it directly to your spouse, at havdala when the b'samim is being passed around (and that's another issue too, because the guy is not allowed to smell b'samim out of the girl's hand), whenever you leave a place, to make sure you're each holding the things you want to be holding, because it is more difficult to switch who is holding what once you're out in public.

2. Regarding sheitels. So many people comment how sheitels are so fancy, they make your hair look perfect all the time, they never get frizzy, etc. etc. etc. I would like to give everyone a reality check. Sheitels get frizzy. They are only fancy if you constantly get them done (or do them yourself), much like anyone's natural hair. And they are much more expensive to wash than your natural hair. They pull on your hair when you wear them, kind of like the way braces pull on your teeth, though I've gotten used to that feeling, and your natural hair is always in the way somehow, usually in too big of a bump underneath. I am still trying to figure out how people wear hats with their falls, since my hair underneath always prevents the hat from going all the way on.

A small piece of advice for anyone who wears a fall or will be wearing one in the future--always carry an extra headband with you when you go out. You never know what could happen. For instance, on Shavuos, I was wearing a mitpachat on top of my fall in that pirate look you sometimes see. It was my first time wearing that look out in public. I was wearing a wig grip headband underneath and everything. Well, walking home after our meal at night, I suddenly felt something funny. I reached up and the mitpachat had slipped off my head, onto my shoulders. The wig grip had fallen off, too. Why? I have no idea. Luckily, I had a spare headband in my pocket, so instead of trying to put the mitpachat back on in the middle of the sidewalk, I just put on a headband and was all good.

These are just some of the many things I have learned since being married. Most importantly, though, I have learned that despite all the logistics and hurdles that come with marriage, I love being married to JH and cannot wait for our second year of marriage to begin!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pharoah the Mitzri

Reposted from 2009. A parody of Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss. Enjoy!

In the far-away country across from the Nile,

Pharaoh the Mitzri was king for a while.
A bustling land. It was rich. It was neat.
The water was warm. There was plenty to eat.
The Mitzrim had everything Mitzrim might need.
And they were all happy. Quite happy indeed.

They were… until Pharaoh, the king of this plenty,
Decided the Jews in his land were too many.
“I’m ruler,” said Pharaoh, “I stand at the helm.
But the Jews overpopulate throughout my realm.
Perhaps they'd revolt in this land by the Nile.
What if they took over? How horribly vile!
Their ill-boding strength - it just cannot go down.
They ought to be fewer!” he said with a frown.

And Pharaoh, the Mitzri King, gave a command

To all of the midwives who worked in his land

That each Jewish baby, if it was a boy,
They throw in the Nile, to kill and destroy.
He made Jewish mothers get rid of each son
But Yocheved was smart and sent hers on the run.
She made him a teva and lined it with tar.
And sent him a'floating - though not very far.

Meanwhile, Pharaoh said, "Now I am strong!
My kingdom is safe. Not a thing can go wrong!
I’m the king of Mitzrayim! And I rule the Jews!
I’m the king of the Nile! I can never lose!
I’m Pharaoh the Mitzri! Oh, marvelous me!
For when I am ruler, there's nothing that's free!”

And for some time after, he sat up there high
Saying over and over, “A great king am I!”
Until ‘long about bathtime. Then Batya went out--
His daughter, to wash and to swim all about.
And she saw, in the Nile, a baby float by.
She stretched out her hand to console him his cry.
Looking up, she said, “Moshe shall be his name.
For I've drawn him from water. Who knows whence he came?
We'll have to adopt him - he seems rather tame.”

So Moshe grew up in the home of the king
And Pharaoh knew not what bad news this would bring.

Over time Pharaoh started to fear once again
For the Jews were not lacking some big and strong men
And so he declared, to assert his position,
His vision of slavery come to fruition.
"I'll give them hard labor!” his royal voice thundered,
"And then all will know I am king times a hundred!

“Hardship! More hardship!” he bellowed and brayed.
And the Jews in Mitzrayim were very afraid.
They trembled. They shook. But they came. They obeyed.
From all over the land, they came working by dozens.
Whole families of Jews, with uncles and cousins.
They did not have much choice, were too scared to revolt.
And they got no respite, not a moment to halt.

Meanwhile Moshe had run far away

For he killed a Mitzri and so could not stay

Thus he lived in Midian and he watched over sheep

When he saw something that would make anyone leap!

A bush! And on fire! But it did not burn!

Through it, God spoke to Moshe, said, "It's Pharaoh's turn.

Go down to Egypt and take out the Jews.

And Moshe went down, though he tried to refuse.

But Pharaoh the Mitzri who sat up on high,
Did not care one wit 'bout the Jews and their sighs.
“Begone!” shouted Pharaoh. “I’m the king of the trees!
I’m king of the birds! And I’m king of the bees!
I’m king of the butterflies! King of the air!
Ah, me! Do not whine 'cause I really don't care!
I’m Pharaoh the Mitzri! Oh, marvelous me!
And I'll make your work harder - that is my decree!”

Then again, from below, on the palace room floor,
Moshe and Aharon said one thing more.
“Your Majesty, please… we don’t like to complain,
But our Jewish brethren are feeling great pain.
If you won't let them go, we'll be frank, won't be vague,
Our God will come smite you - He'll bring you a plague!"
Though Pharaoh's magicians at first said, "Yeah? Bring it!"
With just a few proofs, knew God's finger was in it.

“You hush up your mouth!” howled the mighty King Pharaoh.
“The Jews can't go free! I will give them more sorrow!
I rule from the clouds! Over land! Over sea!
There’s nothing, no, NOTHING, that’s higher than me!”

And, while he was shouting, his heart was quite hardened
It seemed that the Jews might not ever be pardoned.
Until the plague of blood and the Nile was scarred-ened.
“What’s THAT?” snorted Pharaoh. “Say, what IS that thing
That dares to be higher than Pharaoh the King?
I shall not allow it! They'll work harder still!
I’ll keep myself higher! I can and I will!
My Jewish slaves shall not ever go free!
I'll keep them forever, now please let me be!"

But, as Pharaoh, the Mitzri King, lifted his hand
And gave out his orders and barked his command,

That bustling land that was rich and was neat

Where the water was warm, where there's plenty to eat

Was smote by God's hand, nine more plagues on the way
Frogs and then lice and wild animals -- nay
They weren't enough, the Jews still had to stay.
Then the animals of the Egyptians all died

Boils, and hail, even locusts, God tried!
Then thick, heavy darkness, which was not enough still

So God killed the first born of each Mitzri until--

Pharaoh, who thought he was king of the trees,
And king of the air and the birds and the bees,

Said, "Get out, you Jews! Go on out of here, please!"
For Pharaoh, the King of the land 'cross the Nile,
Was no match for Hashem, who beat Pharaoh with style.

And today we remember how God set us free,
How He saved us from Egypt, so His we may be.
We got our first Mitzvah after that escapade
For a nation we are now, and so long we have prayed

That next year in Jerusalem our seder'll be made.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Danger of a Single Story

I had to watch this for my Children's Literature class yesterday. I thought it was true and powerful enough to share with everyone.

Monday, December 12, 2011

"The Bad Boy"

You pull all the books off the library shelves
You sprawl on the floor, then jump up and
Turn a chair on its head,
You hug other children until you topple them over,
You roll up the rug, then you roll yourself
Until I scoop you up,
Put you on my lap,
And say, "Look at me, look at me,"
But you don't.
"Look at me," I say.
But you won't.
"You're being very wild," I say.
Are you even listening?
I can feel the shivers bouncing through your body,
Your blood gushing like a rushing little brook
That slaps at every rock and bug and leaf it can reach.
You push out of my arms and laugh,
Flying around the tables,
Little velcro sneakers barely touching the floor,
You throw your head back as if to breathe beyond the stale classroom air,
And I see your eyes dart rapidly,
Looking for somewhere to run to,
For some way of expressing your jubilation at being alive and three,
And there they are--
In one smooth bound, you sail from the tables to the toy chest in the corner
Upon which the class's art from that day is resting to dry.
You fling your hands into the glittered paper
And toss the projects like a salad,
Grinning and breathing fast like a train,
And like a train, the teacher screeches upon you,
Yet I am the one caught in the headlights,
As she picks you up and plops you on the floor in the corner,
Reprimands shooting out of her mouth like sharp rocks,
And you sit there looking up at her,
Still with that grin.
I think: your grin turns those sharp rocks into boomerangs of nonsense.
Do you even know you are in trouble?
Can a boy be bad if he does not know he is being bad?
And as you sit there on the floor wearing that persistent grin,
I see you in elementary school--
The kid in the rickety chair (it is always rickety, isn't it?) when everyone else sits on the rug,
And in high school--
Slamming into lockers while the others are in class,
And I think--this is your future--
Sharp-rock reprimands and time-outs in the corner--
Because grown-ups will not often understand you,
And teachers will have to worry about the other 25 children in their class,
So they will unintentionally fail you,
Unless you get lucky, and maybe have a teacher who knows a child like you at home,
And I wonder--like you wriggled off my lap,
Will you wriggle free from being branded the bad boy?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Overheard In The Elevator

(Two guys in their mid-20s or so enter the elevator mid-conversation)

Dark-Haired Guy: But you are what you eat man. I mean, if all you eat are carrots all day, you're going to start developing some characteristics of a carrot. And the same thing is true of celery. That's how I feel.

Light-Haired Guy: That's crazy, man.

Dark-Haired Guy: Yeah, but it's true. If you eat, let's say, Tabachnik Soup and that's all you eat, you're going to start developing some personal characteristics of Tabachnik Soup!


Speaking of "you are what you eat," this issue of the New York Times Magazine is quite interesting and important. I especially enjoyed this QandA at the end by Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma. I'm in the middle of reading his book right now, and I have to say, it really makes you think about what you eat. Every decision you make in life should be informed and a conscious choice, and deciding what you put in your body is no different. (Then again, I don't think you'll start developing personal characteristics of Tabachnik Soup, no matter how often you eat it. What are personal characteristics of Tabachnik Soup anyway?)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Overheard On The Bus

Tall, Pimply Girl: I once went into Subway and they didn't have any cheese.
Short, Straight-Haired Girl: No!
TP Girl: Yeah. It was...Kosher and stuff. But still--they should at least have the option! I was so mad. It's Subway. I mean, it's not like--
SSH Girl: Yeah, it's a chain! What does that mean, they didn't have cheese?
TP Girl: It was in this real Jewish neighborhood. But [deleted] it, I want a [deleted] discount if I can't get any cheese!