Monday, December 31, 2007

Reflections on my Children

We had a great day yesterday. We drove out to Springfield and went to the very nice set of museums - Science, History, Art and the Dr. Seuss sculpture garden. We never made it into Fine Arts. After, we got to visit my cousin J and her hubby and their new baby (also named Lily, 4 days older than Laura's Lilie!).

It was wonderful visiting them, because it was thrilling for me to see my "little" cousin (J is about 5 years younger than me) all grown up and a mommy. My aunt passed away about 7 years ago, and I think that really was hard for her daughter. I'm so glad to see J so blissfully happy now!

We had a conversation about the kids, and it got me thinking. Today, Dec. 31, would be a good time to take a "snapshot" of my three kiddos:

Sam: what a wild man. I swear he'd lose his head if it weren't attached. Remember PigPen from the Peanuts? Well, it's not that Sam has a dirt cloud following him - it's more like a paper trail. He has scraps of paper everywhere. His hair, which is still growing, gets "unbrushed" almost instantly. His backpack is usually stuffed to the brim and open wide (so that things can fall out at an alarming rate). He loses everything. His seat in the minivan is surrounded by junk - toys, papers, wrappers, crumbs. He flits from one distraction to another. At this moment, he is dressed in too-small sweatpants, a kimono from Japan that fit him well when he was 4 (he's 8 now), and a yellow costume belt, and he and his brother are swordfighting (again). He draws pictures of weapons and wars all the time - beautifully, and almost exclusively in pencil. He gets freaked out in crowds, and yesterday, when the guards announced that the museum would be closing in 10 minutes, he started to panic, and would not do anything except hurry us out. His coping skills are coming along, but are still rather minimal. He loves to learn, and is so excited to be able to "read" Torah (in reality, he's just memorizing from the mp3 his teacher made). He had a great time at the Webkinz party he went to the other day with 3 of his girlfriends, and just as much fun playing video games with one of the boys from school.

Micah is my serious little guy As neat as his brother is messy, he is the Felix Unger to Sam's Oscar Madison. When Sam spent the week at my parents' house last summer, Micah and I cleaned their bedroom. Micah was brutal, throwing things away that even I would have saved! Micah has taught himself how to play chess, via the computer, and now he's so good that I can't even LET him win. He is also starting to "learn" piano, just a few songs. I really need to find him a teacher already. He is so sweet in school, and reportedly he is a friend to everyone. On the playground, there is usually a crowd around Micah, either boys or girls. Age doesn't matter; one of his best friends from school is in 4th grade. He's only in Kindergarten, but already he's starting to read. He is very serious about his allergies, without being freaked out by them. He doesn't get upset when others eat something he can't; he is cautious and asks before taking something new. He even checks with me about soap (after an experience with nut-based soap). He switches into pretend mode very easily, turning into "Smokey the Dog" or The Captain (he's swordfighting now too). He has learned to control his strong little temper much better than when he was in preschool. He often seems older than 6, although I love it when I see the little boy in him.

Sofia is a raging toddler. Right now she is in eating mode and exploring mode. Yesterday, she wanted to run all over the museums, touching everything and saying "hi" to everyone (including some statues). She and I spent some time in the courtyard, where she kept running back and forth shouting "whee!". At my cousin's house, faced with bowls of grapes, crackers, and popcorn, she had a look of glee and never an empty hand.At the restaurant, she handed me some money, which she had taken out of my wallet! She wants to do everything her older brothers do. In CT, she also copies my nieces, down to the hand motions and expressions. I do not worry about anyone ever ignoring Sofia; she pushes her way into every crowd.

I am so proud of all three of my children, and I marvel at how different they are. I am thankful for the opportunity to parent them, and to learn from them. Last year, when I did the weaning ceremony for Sofia, I found this lovely poem (also a song, by Sweet Honey In The Rock):

On Children
Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

A Happy and Sweet New Year to you all!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Week

Ah, we're back home again, and David is also home from Israel. Back to "normal" (HA!)

The rest of the time down in CT was nice. On Monday, we just hung out at my sister's house so the kids could all play together. Laura brought the baby over, too. At the end of the day, my parents took the boys home, and Laura and I (along with sleeping Lilie and sleeping Sofia) stopped for a quick "hi" at Grandma Ruth's house.

Tuesday, we went to my uncle's house in Stamford for Christmas. See, my dad's father was not Jewish (although he grew up in the Garment District in NYC and spoke better Yiddish than anyone I know!), and my uncle's wife (and therefore my cousins) are all Catholic. When I was a kid, we always spent Christmas with my grandparents (before my aunt came along, generally everyone there was Jewish except Grandpa!). Once my grandparents moved to Florida (25 years ago), my uncle took over.

However, when Sam was a baby, I took him to my uncle's, and my mother put all of Sammy's Hanukah presents under the Christmas tree! It freaked me out. She did it because she hadn't seen us since Thanksgiving, and granted Sam was only 6 months old, BUT I really wanted him to be able to understand the difference.

So this was the first year we've been back for Christmas. It was really nice. My grandmother is up from Florida, and my twin cousins are both in from college, their older brother was there, their parents (of course - it's their house!), my folks, my brother-in-law and the twins, and me and my kids. My sister was on-call (sucks to be the only Jew in her Cardiology practice!), and of course David was working in Israel.

The kids had a blast. Sofia had fallen asleep in the car on the way in, and was very shy and clingy when we got there, but she perked up soon enough. They have a little dog, which at first Sofia was terrified of, but by the end of the evening, she was trying to drag the dog around by its leash. My cousin P took the kids outside to play soccer (he teaches at a school for kids with Autism, in NYC, and he's really terrific with kids!).

At one point, my grandmother made a very tactless and uncalled-for comment about my weight. I took a little walk and called David, and then, I'm proud to say, I pulled Grandma aside to tell her she'd hurt my feelings. We had a nice chat, and she did apologize (actually, she started crying, which my BIL saw, but since he had not heard her comment, he thought something else was wrong, so I got a phone call from my mom last night...)

Anyway, it was a really nice day. I'm so glad we got to go and help them celebrate "their" holiday. It's a really pretty time. And my uncle is a FANTASTIC cook (learned from my grandfather). YUM. It's worth the migraine I get when I eat the fried eggplant he makes.

Some photos:
Sofia with my cousin Kara:
Sofia with Kara and my dad

Sofia with my dad:
Sofia with Pop

Paul and Kara with the 4 kids:

Sam with my grandma:
Sam with Great-Grandma

My dad (with the camera) and his brother (with the scarf):
My dad and his brother

Miss Sofia investigates the jingle bells:
Sofia figuring out the bells

Paul and Micah (ok, I DO have to explain - Paul gave the kids those plastic blow-up bubbles, and he was teaching Micah how to do it...but from that angle, it just looked...uh...suspicious...):
Paul and Micah

Me and my grandma:
me and my grandma

Wednesday, Mom and I took my kids and met my nieces and their nanny at the children's museum in Bristol, then out for pizza. Then I took a brief nap, and carted my gang back up to MA. Sofia slept the whole ride up, and Micah fell asleep halfway. Well, Micah stayed asleep the rest of the evening, but Sofia woke up, and stayed watching TV with me and Sam ('tween Disney shows, yippie). Sam went to sleep aroud 8:30, but Miss Sofia was still up at 11:00 - at which time she puked all over my bedspread and then went to sleep. It stinks; I have to take it to the drycleaners now.

Today, Sam had a playdate, but the kid lives 45 minutes away. So after we dropped him off, I took Micah and Sofia to the local arcade, then for lunch, then we had to pick up David, then back to pick up Sam, then back home (LOTS of driving!). David had to go to work and do the payroll, so he didn't get home until nearly 8 pm. Then I went out again (grocery shopping). He's asleep now.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Visiting the Babies

I took the kids down to David's cousin's house today, to see the babies (cousin's baby is 6 weeks, and Laura was there with 4 week old Lilie). We had a fun time.

Sam holding Lilie:
Sam and Lily

Snackin' Sofia:
Sofia eating


At one point, we had the two babies on the playmat, and Miss Sofia decided to get right in there with them!

3 babies

Baby Faces

(Nice nose, huh? Fortunately, she's doing much better with the cold. The Zithromax really helped quickly.)

Micah had a half-awake tantrum in the car on the way home, but fortunately they are all asleep now.


Oh yeah, and this morning, Miss Sofia took a SHARPIE and made a mural...all over the floor, the credenza, the picture frames on the credenza, and on her hands... My dad had some cool goo that removed everything, but oh boy!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

'Roid Rage in CT

Well, we finally made it down to my parents' home in CT. MIss Sofia has been getting the nebulizer at least once a day, and she's basically a raving maniac now. Yesterday it was a solid 4 hours of "na-na-na-na-na". Right now, she's unpacking her brothers' suitcase and trying on all their clothing. Yesterday morning, in the bookstore, she found a wheelie backpack and went careening around the children's section for about 20 minutes solid. My girlfriend and I just planted ourselves and our coffees at the entrance to the section, and let her go.

Ok, I just entered the contest at 5 Minutes for Mom, for a year's worth of Orville Redenbocker popcorn and Netflix. Cool.

Let's see. I don't want to get into the craziness of my husband's family, but perhaps we might see my sister-in-law and/or her parents tomorrow when we visit his cousin.

David is in Israel, and just spent Shabbat with our friends from T21Online. Can't wait to talk to him tomorrow.

Tonight, I treated my folks to a dinner out, in honor of their 45th wedding anniversary!

The biggest news of the week: I handed in my Hebrew Final yesterday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hmmm, perhaps I should help Sofia start re-packing...she's going after the dirty laundry, also...


Well, now she's destroying the whole room. DId I mention I had to take her into the pediatrician this morning, too. She's wheezing when she wakes up, which sucks, but now she's on Zithromax.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Snowstormy day

What a weird day. We had a big storm last night and most of this morning. Everything we'd planned to do today was either cancelled or we just could not get out of the driveway (the birthday party at the mall that Micah was supposed to go to was apparently still on at 11 am, but David had only just started to plow!). So the little ones and I were inside all day; poor David took more than 3 hours to do the driveway, in the wind and rain, while Sam spent almost the entire day either outside or next door playing with his friend.

I just submitted my last Hebrew Homework!!!! I can't believe it. By 6pm tonight, I'd barely begun Lesson 8, but I just spent all evening working on it. All that's left now is the final (and anything the teacher says I need to re-do, but so far so good). Whew! But how in the world am I going to find a specific 24 hour period between now and Dec. 27 to do the final? David is going to NJ tomorrow for the day (by train), and then flying to Israel on Tuesday until the 27th. Sofia came down with a head cold today (it might be a tooth, but I'm not sure), and one of the boys is hacking away in their room, but I'm not sure if it's Sam or Micah. I'm supposed to take them all to CT on Saturday afternoon, and we have a full day planned for both Sunday and Tuesday down there. Whew. Well, maybe I can go hide out in the library down there on Monday or Wednesday.

Super-sad news from the T21 board: one of the moms passed away last night. I did not realize it (because I don't read all the threads), but she'd been sick with cancer for a while. Scary. And the fact that I have an unexplained dot on my palm for the past week does not make me feel any better. I am going to try to see the dermatologist tomorrow. It's starting to freak me out. At first I thought it was a blood blister, but it has not changed in a week.

I took Sofia to the Metrowest Down Syndrome "holiday" party yesterday for a few minutes. I just wanted to stop in and see if there were any other kids close to her age (there weren't, at least not at the party, except one 2 year old boy). I did get to meet a few people I've only "met" via email so far, and I saw the 2 moms I had met last year. Sofia was tired and it was hot and loud, so she started clutching my shoulder. We didn't stay long. She was also freaked out by the Santa (and I was a bit weirded out by it, too).

The day school gala was cancelled tonight. Sigh. That would have been fun, although David was a wreck after doing the driveway all day. It's still really windy and cold out; I'm not sure we'll have school tomorrow. Yick.

Rambling. Time to go to bed.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


There is really no great English equivalent for the Yiddish word "kvelling". Merriam-Webster's online dictionary lists this:
Main Entry: kvell Listen to the pronunciation of kvell
Pronunciation: \ˈkvel\
Function: intransitive verb
Etymology: Yiddish kveln to be delighted, from Middle High German quellen to well, gush, swell
Date: circa 1952
So that's what I'm doing, swelling with pride. My Samuel, the kid who "CAN'T READ", just read from the Torah for the first time this morning! And Sammy got to hold the yad (pointer) for his group, which was a special thrill for him.

That sighing and giggling at the end is me and my friend R, whose daughter is the tall girl next to Sam. I think we were both holding our breaths the whole time they were reading!

Ok, Sofia just found the Nintendo, and is "playing" on it just as seriously as her brothers! Little copycat!

School is closing at 1:30, and I have to go food shopping and distribute the challah, so time to run.


So I made it to school by a little after 12noon, and distributed the challah while Sofia enjoyed visiting the kids in the lunchroom. When we got out, it had just started snowing. We raced over to Linens & Things to get curtains and a pole for the boys' bedroom closet (I'm tired of having the door fall on them!). When we got back outside, it was really coming down hard, and it took twice as long to get back to the school.

We got the boys, and then it took nearly an hour to get home! Fortunately we made it with no problems other than boredom, and the boys and I finally cleared out the garage so I could pull the minivan in (because I can't reach the top of the van to clear snow!).

David is on his way home, but it'll take a long time. Sofia is still napping (fell asleep after the store), boys are watching a movie. I REALLY should do homework!!!!

Stay warm!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Shlock Rock Concert!

Gosh, that was fun! I rushed the kids out of the house this morning, gassed up the minivan, and we made it to school before the teacher was out to collect the kids! Then Sofia and I went for our regular Starbucks breakfast with D and her daughter A. Miss Sofia sits so nicely now, coloring or playing with a doll, while I jump into line to get coffee and food. She also cleans up the table and throws everything in the garbage!

I dropped her off (begged her teachers to come into the room a minute early) and raced back to school to catch the bus. I got to assist with the kindergarten, so Micah was my bus-buddy. The kids in this school are so darn CUTE! The bus ride was very very loud, and one kid almost got sick, but we made it in time for the concert.

What a riot. The concert was in the gymnasium at Maimo, which is celebrating its 70th year. Now, Maimo is an Orthodox school, and most of the other guest schools were also Orthodox. So it was interesting to see how our kids would fit in.

Mind you, Sam not only wore his "tallit katan" (the little undershirt with the tzitzit/fringes), but he insisted that I change from jeans to a skirt! So I had to wear my long Jerusalem skirt (very very comfy, but the shoes weren't as comfy). I looked quite frum (very religious). Sam and only one other of our kids has a tallit katan. All our kids had on their choir T-shirts, which makes them look like a colorful array of M&Ms, but they stood out from the plain blues and whites of most of the other schools.

The band was great, but it was tough to hear the words, and they are the kind of band that you NEED to hear the words in order to get the "joke". They take popular music ("We Didn't Start The Fire", "Oh When The Saints", etc.) and put lyrics for nice Jewish boys and girls to it. It's tough to describe; go check out the band's website.

So I'm glad to say that eventually our kids did get up and dance. Again, this was not what they were used to; since it's an Orthodox environment, the genders shouldn't mix for dancing, so there were conga lines of boys and conga lines of girls. I had to make sure our kids picked the correct line! But we had lots of fun, and my little friend A and I were doing The Swim and a bunch of other goofy dances. A lot of the MWJDS kids conked out halfway through, and they all ended up sitting on the bleachers for a while, but a few of our kids were totally into it.

We left the concert promptly at 11:30, and I was able to meet David and Sofia back at Whole Foods just as they were finishing lunch.

Sam is reading Torah tomorrow for the first time. He's been practicing, and this afternoon when we got home, he was able to do it perfectly! I'm so impressed at his ability to learn the trope (music) by listening to the mp3 over and over. I'm very very proud of him!

So I'll post that video tomorrow, I hope, but for tonight, here is Miss Sofia, swinging on the swing in the doorway this weekend (T21Online friends, this is the same video I posted over there):

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Good Day

Well, today has been good all day, and just got better. Busy, of course, but fun.

1. Drop the boys at school.
2. Race to the mall to meet out Speech Pathologist at the playspace at 8:30am. Had fun watching Sofia interact with another little girl (who is coincidentally also in the EI program).
3. Speech left right after Occupational Therapy arrived.
4. Sofia got ored with the playspace halfway through OT, so we all walked around the new wing of the mall, exploring lose flooring (Sofia did a great dance on a piece of sheet metal).
5. My girlfriend C arrived just as the OT was leaving.
6. We sat in the American Express Lounge at the mall for a while, having a snack.
7. We roamed the mall for a few hours, having a great time (I don't get to see C that often, and I love her dearly).
8. Just as we were about to go to lunch, we ran into my other dear friend, R, so she joined us too! (And she's the one who is so great with Sofia, so Sofia was also very glad to see her).
9. Sofia fell asleep just as C and I got back to the other side of the mall, where the cars were parked, but she did not stay asleep when I transfered her to the car. (boo hoo!)
10. Drove around trying to get her to sleep.
11. Gave up, and parked in front of the school waiting for the boys.
12. Got the boys, raced to the pediatrician's office so Sam could get his flu shot and his chickenpox booster.
13. Went to Tae Kwan Do (where today I got to meet a few of the dads instead of their wives).
14. At TKD, had the pleasure of hearing my eldest son recite his Torah reading (for Thursday) almost perfectly!
15. Sofia fell asleep in the car on the way home, but woke up when I tried to transfer her to the crib. Ugh.
16. Ordered pizza on the way home, but it took over an hour, so the kids were all melting down when it arrived. But they perked up after they ate.
17. Lit the Chanukah menorahs for the last time. Tonight we lit 5 chanukiyot (menorahs), for a total of 45 candles (8 plus one "shammash" in each).
19. Eventually got the kids to bed and started working on my homework.
20 Just got a call from the boys' head-of-school, inviting me to chaperone tomorrow's Shlock Rock concert at Maimo! Yippie! And David is going to be working in his office, which means he can pick up Sofia from her playgroup.

So now I'm in a really good mood. Yeah.

Quick shout out to my online friend AF, who can't read this anyway because she lives in the Midwest and has no power. Stay warm!

Back to Hebrew Homework.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Baby Naming

We were proud to sponsor the kiddush (snacks) after Shabbat services this weekend in honor of the baby naming of our new niece, Lilien Eve W. Lilie's Hebrew name is Lila Chava Talia - Lila in memory of David and Laura's brother Larry, Chava/Eve in memory of their aunt Barbara Ellen AND in honor of grandma Esther Ruth, and Talia in honor of grandma Toby.

The baby is adorable and tiny. She's such a little mush! Laura seems to be handling things ok. The naming was lovely. David and I had the Levi aliyah, and then Larua had the next aliyah, so we were all on the bima with her. The boys came up. At one point, my friend E sent Sofia up, but she was too disruptive, so my other friend D took her back down. My parents came, as did several good friends (S, N, D, L) and some surprise friends (J&L).

We had bought decorations for the kiddush, and there were latkes and bagels. It was very relaxed and "haimish" (homey). Everyone hung out at shul for a while. Then my parents and Laura came back to the house, and D brought the girls over later. After D left, my neighbors came over with their 1 year old and we had more latkes and did Havdalah and lit the chanukiyot again.

But in the middle, Laura and David had a quick run to the ER, because Lilie had a very stuffy nose and Laura's pediatrician said to take her in. The ER doc listened quickly and then sent them home - it was all just upper, nothing in her chest. Whew!

It was a very nice day, marred only by the fact that the baby's own grandparents were not there and her mother is a very young girl. I hope they are ok.

Friday I took Laura shopping for nursing tops, and I felt like I was in full grandma mode myself. I made brisket for Friday dinner (David was out), and I helped Laura give her daughter a blessing when we lit the Shabbat candles.

Sunday was fun - Sam had a K'vutza event (3rd-4th grade youth group) at Plaster Fun Time. D brought her girls, and she and I talked while I painted my own project; then she helped me with Hebrew homework. Then the 3rd graders had a birthday party in Holliston, so we dropped them off, had a bite to eat, and walked around with J.

In the evening, David and I went to my grad school program Hanukah party. It was nice. The lady who hosted has a lovely, very "grown up" (i.e. breakable) apartment, but there was also a fire in the fireplace and tons of scented candles and a small dog, so my allergies got really bad. I wheezed most of the way home. I'm better now

As for my mood, I'm better than last week. I got some sleep on Thursday and Friday nights (although then I woke up at 5:30 on Saturday and 6:00 on Sunday).

Today we had an ice storm. The drive to school was fine, but our driveway, which is very very steep, is a solid sheet of ice. The minivan slide all the way down. Right now I had to park at the bottom.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Descending into the Abyss again

Ok, what's going on? I am exhausted, but I can't sleep. I'm 2 full lessons behind in my Hebrew homework again, and the end of the semester (and therefore the final exam) is fast approaching. Miss Sofia just said "BABY" very very clearly, and has been adding lots of other verbal words and sounds, but she's also still refusing to nap at home and we spend hideous amounts of time wasting gas with the car running.

I spend lots of time worrying about Laura and the baby and what their life will be like. I fret about my MIL and how she has let herself be a slave to a paranoid and sad man.

Sofia just put her hand directly into the mist of the vaporizer, so now she's unhappy (and yet STILL begging to watch another "Signing Times" video). And she keeps whining.

Micah's got something brewing, and has been excessively grouchy for the past several days, which makes life really challenging.

But David has been great, and Sam actually helped me calm Micah down yesterday instead of goading him into a frenzy. And I got the most delicious kiss from Micah for a present the other day.

Ok, some photos before I head to the minivan again:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Catching up

So much to catch up on.

So David and I spent Thanksgiving weekend in Quebec City. On Thanksgiving Day (after my last blog entry), we stopped at the mall and I amazingly found a decent and on-sale bathing suit on the first try. Then we drove - in a snowstorm - about 30 minutes north of the city, ot a nordic spa, Le Nordique.

This is what it looked like when we walked outside, after putting on our bathing suits:

So first we sat in the Sauna, heated up our bodies. I don't have a great tolerance for heat, so we only sat about 10 minutes the first time.

Then we went outside and took a very fast dip in the cold pool (5 degrees C). Then back inside to relax in a warm room, then a dip in the (outside) whirlpool.

Then we repeated, the second time trying the Steam Room instead of the Sauna (I liked Sauna better, so I only did the Steam Room once).

One time, instead of dipping the the Cold Pool, we ventured down to the river, which, at 1 degree C, actually had snow slush floating on it.And it was SOOO cold!


Anyway, the rest of the weekend was lovely. We had fondue twice, sushi once, mediocre pasta, yummy breakfasts. We walked in very cold weather and several light snow storms. We shopped. We relaxed. We ate. We drank. We talked. We had so much fun!

So we came home on Monday (the boys did not have school, so there was an extra day of vacation for everyone). Within about 2 minutes of walking into our house, it was crazy again - the kids and my folks had just gotten there too, and the boys were bouncing off the walls.

The week was busy. Since bedtime at my parents house is so late, the boys had trouble getting up in the mornings for school. I spent evenings working on a video for the day school's gala (and ignoring my Hebrew Homework). Friday we had Shabbat dinner at the home of friends.

But boy, yesterday was SOOO busy!

1. At 8am, we went to my hairdresser for the following transformation:

Yup, David not only cut off all the hair to donate to Locks of Love, he also shaved the beard and mustache! I have never seen his top lip! The kids were so excited.

2. We drove to CT to spend the afternoon with Grandma Ruth and David's sister Laura and her new baby and their cousin Heather and her new baby and hubby and son. I posted a bunch of pictures on a new webpage, but here are a few:I get to hold 2 babies, and then hand them back!

Ian Robert and Lilien Eve - he is 2 days and 2 weeks older than her, but so much larger!

After a long and somewhat emotionally charged day, we left Grandma's at about 6:30. But of course I'd forgotten that it was the night of my 25th high school reunion, and my friend J had flown in with her hubby from Omaha! I'd totally forgotten to RSVP! So I figured I'd just stop by and say "hi" while David and the kids waited in the car...

but everyone wanted me to stay, so I sent David off to drop the kids at my parents' house, and then we crashed the party! It was so much fun to see everyone.We were there until after 11, which means we didn't get to our house (after picking up the kids) until after 1:30 am. I am SOOO tired today!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I awoke this morning with a whole list of things I am Thankful for swirling around in my head. Here, in no particular order, is my list:
  • I am thankful that my children are having a wonderful time with my parents and my sister’s family, while my husband and I are enjoying private time in beautiful (but chilly) Quebec City.

  • I am thankful for my beautiful children, for the imagination which runs in their spirits, for the generally good health they have been blessed with, for the love I feel for them, for the skills they all are learning each and every day. I am thankful for the opportunity and ability to see each of them grow into their own individual person, so different from each other and from anyone else in the universe.

  • I am thankful for my husband, because we are best friends and sweethearts and we have so much fun together just walking around and talking. I am thankful that we both enjoy things like talking to strangers and meeting people, being the host/hostess, having friends, traveling around the world, exploring new places, wandering bookstores for hours at a time, learning and investigating ideas.

  • I am thankful that I live in a time when, as a woman, there is no hindrance to my ability to study the texts and stories of my religion. I am thankful to live in such a vibrant Jewish community, to have institutions such as Hebrew College nearby for me to study, online resources including just about every holy book in the canon, Jewish Day Schools in abundance (last Shabbat, in the K-1-2 service, there were 3 different day schools represented among the children, plus the religious school!).

  • I am thankful for my brain, which allows me to observe, appreciate and understand all of this!

  • I am thankful for my girlfriends (and today I’m listing you by name!): Renee, for her sweet and gentle way mixed with her quirky and funny sarcasm; Jody, for her strength and organization and sheer joy in life; Debka, for her seriousness and caring; Cheska, for her earth-mother feel and wild-woman reality; Ruth, for her thoughtfulness and fun; Brenda, for her caring and her love of Judaism and her children; Michelle, for her cautious ways and infectious laugh; Nicki, for her goofiness, her guidance and the insane amount of clothing she hands down to my daughter; Debbie, for her wisdom and her guidance in the Jewish-Special Needs arena; Sara, for her warmth and sweetness; Cari, for her own strength in the face of Special Needs and our customary “rock talks” even when they don’t take place on a rock any more; Elyse, for her dedication to her projects and her quick thinking; Toni, for her humor and her knowledge of people; and all the other friends whom I am sure I am forgetting to name but I am never forgetting in my heart. You are all special women, and I am so fortunate to have you in my life!

  • I am thankful for my ability to be friends, real friends, with men also: Peet, who is the Kahuna to my Gidget; Michael D., my geek-twin; Eli, sweet and gentle and patient with his beautiful family; Michael K., a friend since 7th grade, who patiently allowed me to be the tag-along tomboy, then continued to stay in touch as we became adults, and who now, improbably so, also has a daughter with DS (and a beautiful family in general). Again, there are more, I’m sure, but all of them are important to me, important to how I see the world.

  • I am thankful that my sister-in-law, Laura, yesterday delivered a healthy baby girl, Lilien Eve, 6 lb 4 oz, 18”. This “thankful” is tempered, however. I am thankful that both Laura and the baby are healthy, but so sad about a host of things: my mother-in-law was not “allowed” to go to the hospital to be with her only daughter because my FIL wouldn’t “let” her; instead, Laura’s erstwhile boyfriend was there with her, and at the end of the day, it was his family who got to hold the baby (however, I am willing to take it as a possibly good sign that he did stay with her all day – maybe he’s not as horrible as I thought). I hope this all turns out ok. I feel guilty for not being available to her, but that same guilt made it clear that it was very wise of me to plan to be out of the country at this time!

  • I am thankful for the decently good health my family has. Yes, we all have our “stuff”, but it is really so minor compared to what other people are going through. My skin cancer was quickly discovered and easily cured, and now I have access to a wonderful dermatologist and RN, who are overly cautious and willing to test just about any spot. David’s Crohn’s Disease can be annoying for him, but he also has a great doctor, and usually the medications he receives keeps it fairly well controlled. Sam is getting terrific reading guidance to learn how to cope with Dyslexia, and he uses his time with his therapist really well. Micah’s food allergies are also controllable, and he is so good-natured about what he can and can’t eat (and we’ve been so lucky to have nut-free schools!). Sofia’s Down syndrome has brought us nothing but joy – joy in the ability to appreciate every milestone, joy in the way our friends and our community have showered her with love, joy in the new people we have met because of her extra chromosome, joy in the fact that she is really “high functioning” (as much as I hate that phrase) because she can do so much already. I am thankful that her cardiac issues are so minor, and that her gastric issues do seem to be settling. I am thankful that all of us have wonderful healthcare professionals, who are all willing to work as a team to take the best care of us.

  • I am thankful for my extended family. I love my grandma, and am so thankful that even at my age, I can still enjoy special conversations with her every week. My parents are loving and caring, and so willing to take care of their grandchildren! My sister and her family are also loving, and my sons have so much fun with their cousins. My own cousins, spread across the country, are all interesting and fun people, and my aunts and uncles have always been fascinating personalities for me to learn from. I miss my great-aunt Toby, who died last summer, and my grandpa Benny, who died 2 years ago, as well as Grandma Sarah and Grandpa Ralph, both of whom have been gone for a while now, but I am thankful for the time I did get to spend with each of them, and for the ability to know them all even after I became an adult. You see different things as a child than you do as an adult.

  • I am thankful for the safety and prosperity that we enjoy, that allows us to do all the things we want to do.

Ok, now that I have typed all of this, my brain is settling back down. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone

Oy, what a week! And it's only Monday ;)

Well, tomorrow, after the day-school student concert (which I have to videotape), the kids leave with my parents for a week in Connecticut, and David and I are off to Quebec City! Hooray!!!

However, I'm handing over Sam, who has some sort of winter virus (he gets red spots on his cheeks and very dry skin around his lips); Micah, whose eyes "felt like they had lots of sand and dust in them" today; and Sofia, who has...

1. a stuffy nose
2. diarrhea (from the stuffy nose)
3. a yeast infection (from the diarrhea)
4. horrible diaper rash (from the yeast infection)
5. croup (because we were silly and visited our friends for Friday night dinner even though both their little ones had croup); and
6. a double-ear infection.

Well, at least she's on antibiotics now. The doctor and I had to practically sit on her to keep her still while doc pulled large clumps of wax out of both ears. And this morning, before we went to the pediatrician, we had her first visit from the public pre-school's director. Miss Sofia croupy-coughed throughout the session, but otherwise did very well (right up until she fell off a chair and split open her lip!).

(Oh yeah, 7. a split lip).

But now that we've seen the doc and gotten meds, I feel slightly better about handing her over to my mom for the week. Slightly.

I went craft-fair hopping on Sunday afternoon (all by myself) for a few hours, and got a few gifts for people.

Mazal Tov to my cousin J and her hubby J on the birth of baby Lily Iris this morning.

Mazal Tov to David's cousin H and her hubby P on the birth of baby Ian Robert 2 weeks ago.

(Now we're all waiting for David's sister, who is due next Saturday).

Mazal Tov to my friend S's mom for her recent marriage. (Not so sure S thinks it's worthy of a Mazal Tov, though!)

Deepest condolences to my online friend A on the loss of her best friend.

I have to go finish packing - I think I've gotten the kids' stuff done, now it's just my stuff. David is responsible for his own gear!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone; drive carefully, drink responsibly, eat thoughtfully. And try not to stress too much!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The return of Smokey

After I dropped Miss Sofia at her playgroup today ("bye bye mama"), I did some shopping. We'd broken the ancient plastic paper towel holder a few weeks ago, and it was time for a change. Well, not only did I find one, but I got really inspired, went to the Container Store, and got stuff to clear up a lot of space on my kitchen counters! New drying rack (smaller and nicer), glass pouring bottles for the Olive and Canola oils instead of the giant plastic bottles. Things like that. It's nice to be able to accomplish so much for so little.

Then I went SHOPPING. The day-school had a fundraising event at a local boutique, and I went a little nuts. I actually had to go home to get more money! I might return a couple of items, but I got the coolest jean jacket (really comfy and it fits perfectly) and a pretty grey long skirt that I can wear to shul.

Miss Sofia fell asleep in the car on the way to my therapist's office, but she woke up when I tried to transfer her (to my coat spread out on the floor in D's hallway). Sofia rested the entire session, not even standing up until the very end, so it worked out ok.

Picked up Sam (Micah stayed on the playground with friends) and dropped him at HIS therapist's office, then raced back to get Micah, then BACK to pick up Sam. A quick stop to drop off library books (the Framingham library does not have a drive-through book drop!), and then home... Sam having a complete melt-down. He proceeded to scream at me almost continuously for about 3 hours. And Sofia got a massive diaper rash (the food from last night's dinner did not stay well in her belly), so she was really whiny and uncomfortable, and then Micah wanted lots of attention, so....

"Smokey" the dog has returned. Unlike "Fire" and "Koda", who are just invisible, Smokey actually appears, looking exactly like Micah pretending to be a dog (shades of Sybil). But Micah has been mourning the fact that Smokey had moved away a few weeks ago (to go live with his real owners), so he was much happier when Smokey arrived. It's amazing how kids cope.

Sigh. I'm beat now. Fighting with Sam, or rather trying hard NOT to fight, or scream, or burst into tears, really is exhausting.

OH! But on the wonder-front, Miss Sofia is now fairly strongly signing things like "Want-More-Crackers-Please" and she's attempting to verbalize a lot of those every-day words, too! I can't at this moment remember which, but several were really clear today. COOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLL! It was fun to watch her on the playground at the end of her playgroup today. She's the only girl, with about 6 boys. She certainly holds her own! She kept perching herself at the top of the toddler slide, but every once in a while, one of the boys would come and shove her down the slide. She'd say "Whee", and then make them go down the slide too - so that she could get right back to her perch! TeeHee!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Life in Suburbia

How is it that, just as Sofia and I were about to start walking around the Mall, the fire alarm went off and we had to leave the building?

Why is it that we were seemingly the ONLY ones to leave? (a friend of ours made it down 63 steps in the Twin Towers just in time because he left when the alarms started, so I don't mess around with fire alarms!)

And how come I managed to exit as far away from our car as possible, including having to walk down 6 ramps of the "Diamond" parking garage?

Ah, the joys of life in the suburbs.

Oh, and since David was coming home late from New Hampshire today, I took the kids to Friendly's for dinner after Tae Kwan Do. Yippie. They do not serve things like Vodka at Friendly's. Too bad.

Oh, and Micah's teacher mentioned to me that Micah because one of his friends' great-uncles had died and now all his friends' great uncles are dying. Micah can get very deep about death sometimes. We're not quite sure whose uncle is dead - possible his friend "Fire" (Fire is an imaginary person, but do NOT mention that fact to Micah!).

Here's Sofia, watching Muppet Show clips on YouTube:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veteran's Day

Sam reminded me this morning that it was Veteran's Day, and he warned me that he would be drawing lots of pictures of guns amd weapons today!

We had Micah's parent-teacher conference. I dropped the boys off with a friend for a playdate (two brothers, both best friends with my guys), and Sofia stayed in the babysitting in the gym - she was thrilled to have the run of the place.

Micah is doing REALLY well in kindergarten! I love this teacher, she's so enthusiastic and so on top of his needs. Because the school tries to specialize in "differentiated learning" (i.e. each kid learns at their own level), she's giving Micah lots of more challenging problems and activities to work on, but she's mindful of his frustration level. He's a really intense little guy. I'm happy (and not surprised) to report that he's a classroom leader, and he loves to get up and explain things to everyone.

We have Sam's Team meeting on Thursday. It was tough for David and I not to "compare" the two boys - some of the stuff that Micah is doing so well is still really hard for Sam. Som of the "age-appropriate" stuff didn't surprise us this time around, but I remember wondering about it with Sam.

This morning, Sam and Sofia were watching a Signing Times video, and Sam asked me if he sister would ever talk. When I reminded him that she already does talk, and has 40 verbal and 100 signs, he said that wasn't like "real" talking. Sigh.

Oh! The Concert! Well, first we all went to a restaurant in the North End (Italian section), and had a fantastic time. (We also had 4 bottles of wine for 8 people!). My friend R and I agreed that we could have stayed there all night. It was so much fun to be with these friends. And the "extra" couple that we had invited, David's friend from day-school and his wife, hit it off just fine with the other two couples; it turns out their daughter went to camp with J's daughter last summer!

The concert was funny/fun. I swear, there were only about 12 people under age 30 at the Garden. I also have not been to that part of town in years, and have never been to the new building (last concert I saw was at the original Boston Garden in 1987 - John Cougar Mellencamp!). So I was totally disoriented by the lack of overhead road and T-tracks!

The band sounded...well, like they were playing a charity concert for their drummer (who did earn his keep by working very hard). The hands of a 50+ old guitar player are NOT meant to be shown up-close on the giant screen of the arena! And Sting wasn't going for the high notes, which meant some of the more a-tonal songs just sounded plain old off-key. It was a little painful, musically. But fun.

We didn't get home until 12:30, much to our babysitter's chagrin, because J&M wanted to go out for drinks after (which was fun). And both David and I have tummy aches today (probably due to too much wine!), and David's already asleep; I'm not far behind...

Oh, here's an updated picture of Miss Sofia, that I took for a post on the T21 website today:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Nice Young Lady

I took Micah and Sofia to the playground today, for some much-needed fresh air and exercise. David and Sam went for a nice long hike around the reservoir.

While we were at the playground, a family came in with a pretty little 10 year old girl, who raced for the swingset. At that moment, I was de-sanding Sofia after she'd practically buried herself in the sandbox (I picked her up and got a faceful of sand from her coat hood!). The dad came over and started chatting with us, and it was clear that he knew all about DS. Yes, his daughter is also chromosomally enhanced. And such a lovely young lady. She came over to meet us, and remembered my name from that moment on. We kept chatting, and she helped Sofia on the slide and climbing the stairs.

It was so nice to meet a young person (not a toddler) with DS. She was a honey, and gave me a kiss on the hand when she met me and a big hug when we left.

Tonight David and I are off to see The Police. He's napping now, while I'm supposed to be doing Hebrew homework. The boys have a friend over, and Sofia is trashing the house (as usual). Can't wait for the babysitter!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Just checking in

It was a busy week, but not much really happened. I kept Micah home from school on Tuesday because he started getting a cold too. Sofia was fairly stuffy-nosed all week, but she is progressively improving now. Sam was actually ok this week; minimal screaming, occasionally agreeable. Micah stayed healthy enough to go to school the rest of the week, but he stayed home last night (the rest of us had a dinner at shul; fortunately my mother's helper could stay with him).

Today we just hung out all day (actually, David went to work for several hours!). I sorted through lots of the piles of junk I'm storing in my room - Sofia's progress reports from Early Intervention, the boys' arts and crafts from school, etc. So much STUFF.

Now I'm working on HOMEWORK. I just finished the 2nd review (only 2 weeks late), and am about to launch into this week's lesson (last week was a make-up week, whew). I was supposed to have a phone conference with my teacher on Friday morning, but she didn't answer the phone when I called, I left a message and tried again, but she didn't call back, and then she emailed saying she'd been in her office for an hour waiting for my call. So obviously we didn't connect. Oh well. Hopefully I'll be able to catch up for real and not have to do special sessions with her, just the regular conferences with the class.

David has mostly lost his voice (that doesn't stop him from talking, of course!). He sounds like Brenda Vaccaro.

I updated Sofia's word list. She's got more than 100 signs and 40 verbals! Woohoo! She's so funny. She likes to use PlayDoh. The Developmental Specialist always has her use the Rifkin Chair (ok, I could not find a link TO a Rifkin Chair, but here is a similar chair. I did, however, find all sorts of links about kids with Autism being put into Rifkin chairs as punishment! That surprised me - Sofia loves to use her chair!). Anyway, so whenever Sofia wants to use PlayDoh, she says "roll-roll" and then climbs into her chair! She looks like such a big girl. When J first gave the chair to us, more than a year ago, she was so tiny, I couldn't imagine her using it. Now, it's just great for her. Thanks, J! (I'll get a photo up here soon).

Ok, back to Hebrew Homework. Tomorrow night, David and I (and several friends) are going to see The Police! (You know, Sting's other band...).

Monday, November 5, 2007

It's all "Relative"

Whew. We survived the weekend. And what a whirlwind it was.

After school Friday, Micah had his 6 year checkup. My babysitter met us there and took Sam home so they could do tutoring, and I took Micah and Sofia on some errands after the doctor's office. They both got flu shots.

Friday night was nice - a mom and her 2 sons from the day school came for Shabbat dinner, and we all had a lot of fun. But about 30 minutes before they arrived, both Sam and Sofia popped feers (Sofia's was probably form the flu shot, but I don't know what's wrong with Sam). Saturday morning it was pouring rain out, so we slept late and I made challah french toast for breakfast (yum!).

And then the fun began. We spent the weekend visiting with David's family. But that's not nearly as clear-cut as it sounds, since his father won't talk to/be in the same building with David's sister or either of David's grandmothers and especially not my parents. Sigh.

So that means we:
1. Met his parents at a youth soccer game (in 40 degrees and pouring rain), so they could present the trophy in memory of David's brother Larry (who was killed by a drunk driver when he was 13). Of course my in-laws were 30 minutes late, and my FIL had to make a big rambling speech, in the rain. I sat in the car with Micah and Sofia for an hour, because it was just too cold for them.

2. Went to an early dinner with my in-laws. But it's much easier for them to sit around and talk than it is for the kids. So after about 2 hours, the kids started getting really restless.

3. Sat in the car for another 20 minutes with the kids while David and his parents continued talking ouside in the cold (at least it had stopped raining).

4. Spent the next 3 hours at his maternal grandmother's house. Grandma R feels the need now to divest herself of all her "stuff" - and she's certainly got tons of "stuff" - so we came out of there with about 6 paintings, 2 shoe boxes and a large shopping bag full of "stuff". It was kind of fun. I'd rather get the important things now, while she can still remember the stories behind them. She gave us the kiddush cup her parents used at their wedding; I'll put a label on it before I put it in the cabinet. Oh, and Laura stopped by, so we got to see how the belly is growing.

5. Got to my parents' house at 9 pm to sleep over. Of course, we couldn't tell my inlaws where we were sleeping - they had suggested a hotel. When David finally did tell his mother, she didn't understand why we'd go there. (Uh, it's free, it's 10 minutes away, and they're my parents!). Sigh. But I had a nice visit with my folks, and the kids had fun.

6. Sofia, having stayed awake until after 10:30, then had night terrors at about 1 am, so I pulled her into bed with us. Then her nose got really stuffy, and she didn't stop moving and thrashing all night. Not very restful for any of us.

7. Left my folks' house at 9:30 to go meet my inlaws for a Lion's Club pancake breakfast. Of course they were late, and Sam was stressing about going into an unknown place (the Senior Center) with a lot of people. It was ok, 'though, and I got to see some friends of my parents, which was nice.

8. Then we went to visit David's paternal grandmother, who is going senile and is very angry at her son (my FIL), so all she did for 2 hours was rant to David. I let David and Sofia stay in the overheated house with her, and the boys and I played outside for 2 hours.

9. Our quick run to The Crown, the kosher meat market in West Hartford, was longer than expected due to a VERY slow deli counter, but I got to spend time with just Sam (the others stayed in the car), and saw some more family friends.

10. Then an hour drive south to David's cousin's house. This was my reward, because I really like his cousin, and the boys have fun playing with her son. She was due last week, but hasn't popped yet, so we all kept yelling at her tummy "Come out baby!". Her aunt and uncle and cousins were there when we arrived, so it was nice to see them for a little while.

11. We stayed until 7:30 (I'd brought deli), and got home around 10pm.


Oh, I won a pair of silver earrings in the Bloggy Giveaway!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

157 posts?!

Holy Cow! That's wild. All for hippos and Starbucks? And I thought the hippos were so lame that I just needed to sweeten the deal anyway ;) [No really, they are awfully cute, we just already had a very similar toy]

Well, I'm so glad to have participated in the Fall Y'All Bloggy Giveaway. This has been so much fun - and horribly addictive, so I can't wait for it to end! I have better things to do than sign up for all these prizes...but I can't remember exactly WHAT I'm supposed to be doing...MUST SIGN UP.

(Poor David is talking about something, but I'm trying to type...)

I had a talk with Sam's teacher and the SpecEd coordinator and the Curriculum Coordinator this afternoon. I've been concerned about the homework that's been coming home, whether it meets his adaptation needs appropriately. He is so tired at the end of the school day, that doing homework is just an emotional train-wreck even when he can do it easily. When it involves reading and comprehension and writing, it's a nightmare.

So it was a good talk. Basically, they will check with the reading consultant to make sure the homework is indeed in the correct format, and make changes as needed. The teacher or the reading specialist will make sure to jot me a note on the homework explaining the assignment better and giving me any notes I might need from the class. I will do more of the reading for Sam, taking that stress away (they are doing a lot of reading during school), so that he can concentrate on the content instead of the mechanics of reading.

This came to a head because of this week's homework. The paper had two paragraphs. Before the first, the instructions only said "Write the topic sentence" and after the second "Write the concluding sentence". I had Sam read both paragraphs, but he could not understand the content at all. I had to re-read them before he understood what they were about. So he wrote the sentences, and then the homework was sent back the next night with a note saying that he'd done one incorrectly, and he had no idea what it meant. So I needed to get it straightened out. Whew.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pink Dyson

Ok, another giveaway! Check out the Pink Dyson button -->

This is all part of the Giveaway Carnival.

Sofia discovers YouTube

Uh oh, I've created a monster. I took a moment to check out a cool video on YouTube (link below), and now all Miss Sofia wants is to see and hear more music on the computer!

We've been exploring videos from the Hip Hop Hodios, Chutzpah, and The Lee Vees. All cool.

Here's what we started with:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Odd Experience

I got to go to a "concert" tonight at our synagogue, by two Israeli women. It was not quite what I expected. One was sort of a singer, the other was sort of a storyteller. Unfortunately, the storyteller would frequently sing, and the singer would frequently talk. And they were very Orthodox women, talking to a group of very Conservative women. It was not a good match. The frames of reference were so off, it was sort of painful.

One of their songs was about braiding challah, and the lyric went something along the lines of "help me see that there is meaning in this work" - I just wanted to yell out "get that woman some therapy!" Two of the stories, although traditional Chassidic stories, were so offensive to women that I had to fight myself not to stand up and walk out in the middle (fortunately I did get to escape with a friend at the intermission).

But another story really bothered me: this one was also a Chassidic folk tale, about a "crippled" groom who tells his bride-to-be (who has of course rejected him because he is a cripple) that before they were born he realized that she was supposed to be the cripple and he chose to save her from that fate and take it on himself instead. UGH. Besides the use of the word "crippled" (over and over again), it really bothered me to think that any of my kids need "saving" from their particular gifts.

I feel strongly that each of these challenges - Down syndrome, dyslexia, food allergies - serves a purpose, and that my job is to both help my children learn how to make their ways successfully in this world with those differences, and to learn for myself how to deal with things better.

Harump. I'm a grumpy mama now. Oh, and the singing was just painful! Oy.

(Oh! But the one cool thing about the concert was that the last song they did before intermission was the song used in the Gifts photo montage!)

To cheer up, I direct you to Nicole's Blog, She's got some really powerful comments about her wonderful daughter, along with some horrible stories of the insulting and idiotic ways people can look at our kids, and some ideas for how to respond back.

In other news, both my Hebrew teacher and my program advisor want me to continue taking Hebrew. My advisor wants me to take the placement exam for the in-house class, but then I'd need to find a babysitter and shlep into Newton for class. My teacher is going to talk to her director about a plan she's wanted to implement anyway, letting people take twice as long for this particular class - apparently I'm not the only one who's had this problem at this level.

Miss Sofia refused to nap today, and was really really tired by the end of Tae Kwan Do (although she kept trying to join the class and practice her kicks!). So she fell asleep just before we got home - I dropped the boys off (the babysitter had already arrived) and drove around another 10 minutes. Whew.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fall Y'All Bloggy Giveaway

Congratulations to AutumnFawn, winner of both the hippos and the coffee card! Thank you all for playing!

Rocks In My Dryer is hosting a Fall Y’all Bloggy Giveaway carnival on her Bloggy Giveaways site!

Ok, two prizes. The ever-popular $10 Starbucks gift certificate, and/or a new, unopened box of Alex-brand Whistling Hippos:
Leave a post below, and let me know which one (or both) you want to win. I'll figure out the winner on Friday afternoon 11/3, sometime before sundown. Congratulations to AutumnFawn, winner of both the hippos and the coffee card! Thank you all for playing!

In other news, Miss Sofia has added two- and three-word phrases to her signing repertoire, including new words like "helicopter", "butterfly" and "want".

Turns out my old guitar is actually SMALLER than the crappy one I bought for Sam, so he will use mine from now on (whew, saved some money and storage space!).

Micah leaned over my shoulder while I was reading a book, and spelled out a word! (Actually, it was only a syllable, separated from the rest of the word by a line break and hyphen, but he sounded it out perfectly).

My parents are back from Spain and Portugal.

David's cousin and sister are both still pregnant (cousin is due this week, sister has another month).

It got COLD today! It was 26F when we got up, only 32F on the way to school. Fortunately it did warm up a little by afternoon. I took Sofia to a playground for a while, and then she played more when we picked up the boys.

David just told me he hasn't read this blog in several months. Hmmmmm..... Maybe I should say more (tee hee hee).

I feel positively narcoleptic, I think because of the weather change and still recovering from last week's bug. I did manage to take a nap this morning (while Sofia watched TV, grrr), and I went to sleep early last night, but I'm exhausted now. Maybe it's also the backlash from being freed from Hebrew homework!

Preparations for this Wednesday include: I found a "crystal ball" (actually a paperweight), so I will be the fortune teller at the neighborhood pizza party. The dads will get to take the kids house-to-house. My guys have opted to wrap themselves in toilet paper as mummies. Yeah, an easy costume! Miss Sofia might be wearing her fairy princess skirt and wings, but I doubt.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Peaceful Shabbat

I'm more relaxed than I've been in a long time, and that tells me I've made the right decision: I'm dropping the Hebrew course. It remains to be seen whether that also means I'm dropping the whole Masters program. I have a call in to my advisor. Hopefully I'll be able to drop this, and next semester take a regular text study class (which is what my Masters is in), and later (in a year or so), take this 4th semester of Hebrew in person at the college rather than online.

But I am so much happier already, just making the decision!

We went to shul this morning, and I got the nicest compliment from a friend:
You look so happy when you are with your daughter!

It's true. I just adore Sofia. And even as she drives me insane with the intensity of her toddler-ness, I'm so proud of her and all she's been able to achieve so far, and I have so many dreams for her future. I am really having a great time with her!

After services and lunch, we cam ehome and relaxed. The kids and I watched "Angels with Dirty Faces", a great Cagney movie, while David of course slept. I also worked on the music players for the boys - for Micah's birthday, I bought them both little mp3 players, and I've been transferring music from my iTunes for them. (Yes, I bought for both even though it was Micah's birthday. I can justify it by cost and by the fact that Sam spazzes out when Micah gets something he wants and by the fact that Sam's the one who has been requesting one for a while [but he chose half as many songs as Micah!]).

Thursday for Micah's birthday, we went to dinner at Bugaboo Creek. They have a giant talking buffalo head on the wall, and Sofia was so funny, watching the buffalo. And Micah got to "kiss the moose", which is the big thing there. After dinner, David took the kids home, and I met some girlfriends for drinks (I also got to go to the bookstore by myself!).

Friday there was a funny bit with Sofia: on Fridays just before school ends, the kids celebrate Shabbat together in the cafetorium, and the parents are invited to attend. The students all sit on the floor in a big circle, for prayers, a story, and a presentation by one of the classes, and then they do Israeli dancing. Well, during the story, Sofia kept walking over many of the kids, patting them on the back and waving and smiling into their faces! She looked like she was running for office, greeting each one individually. Some of the kids, especially the older classes, were very cute with her, but some of the young kids were annoyed. It was interesting to watch. Eventually, she settled into the lap of one of Sam's classmates, and contentedly listened to the rest of the story.

Tomorrow morning is the last day of soccer - hooray - and the trophy ceremony.

Ok, another passing thought: I am reading yet another book about King David, and there is a mention about all the various infertile women in the Bible - Sarah, Rebekkah, Rachel, Hannah... And the other night over drinks, I was listening to all the other women talk about the problems they'd had with fertility. So I got to thinking: do women like the biblical Leah, or like me, "count" any less because we are fertile, because we have no trouble getting pregnant? Do I love my children any more or less fiercely because I could conceive on schedule? [note, I do not think so at all, but it did make me ponder a bit...]

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Micah's 6th Birthday Party!

We survived it - but only barely. 15 rambunctious little boys at a video arcade! Plus one toddler and one stressed out daddy on the phone and one stressed out mommy trying to hold it all together. Whew!

The birthday boy:

Blowing out the candles:Sam hugs his brother:

Of course Sofia had to try out the games, too!

She sat "driving" this game for a very long time:

Monday, October 22, 2007

To Sleep, perchance to...

stop stressing about everything! Oy. I passed out (with the TV on) at about 10:30 last night, but I woke up at 12:30 for more than an hour. I was worrying about silly things, like the fact that some families let their kids behave like banshees during the Friday dinner and how can we get the parents to get off their butts and stop their kids? (That was a biggie for me).

So today I'm spacy and tired again. Sofia and I had a fairly relaxed morning after dropping off the boys, but we left the house at noon because there was no way she was going to take a nap in the crib. She was asleep in 10 minutes. I drove around for a good 45 minutes trying to figure out what to do. I ended up dozing in the car in the middle of Framingham commons for a while.

It was a gorgeous day, so we stayed at the school playground a long time. Then I took the kids to Shoppers World to try to find Micah another sweater - he refuses to wear Sam's hand-me-downs, and he'd left his hoodie at school over the weekend. Fortunately we did find something decent.

Ok, Sofia's screaming in the crib. Gotta go.

- - - - - - - - -

Added much later:

Sofia woke up at that point to finally poop (it's been a while), and fortunately she went right back to sleep.

I just spent the past several hours totally avoiding my Hebrew homework, and making a mock-up of the yearbook for the boys' school. What am I going to do about this Hebrew class???

Ok, I know I had more profound things to type, but Jon Stewart is calling...(not really, but The Daily Show is starting now...)


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Micah-isms, and Barf-Fest continues

Well, I made it through the dinner Friday night (PLEASE, if anyone who attends the dinner reads this, PLEASE consider helping out - I love serving you and your family, but I'm just a volunteer, with my own family too!). I left both Sofia and Sam home with the babysitter, and David got home to take care of them at 6. So it was just Micah and me, which was lovely. He had a grand time, because he had a lot of friends, and he was very helpful setting the tables.

But it really was a lot of work for me, and I'm so grateful to the shul's custodian for helping me serve and clean up!

I collapsed into bed as soon as I got home...and then the fun began. At 3am, Sam started barfing. And at 6 am, so did I.

We stayed in all day Saturday, while Sam and I alternated barfing and sleeping. David did about 40 loads of laundry (did I mention that Micah also pee'ed in his bed?). I just couldn't drag myself out of bed all day. Finally, at 4:45 I took a shower. We did manage to go out to dinner with our friends N&P to celebrate their anniversary, but all I had was some potatoes and rice, and I practically fell asleep at the table.

I must have had a fever at midnight, because I was freezing but David said my skin was very hot. After I took some acetaminophen, I felt much better 'tho.

So this morning, Sam and I both felt well enough to go to soccer. David stayed home with Sofia, so I could just sit and relax at the game, and the weather was really nice, so it wasn't too bad. When we got home, I took a quick shower (hadn't had time in the morning), and then we met David and Sofia at our friends' house for a reunion of the Chaverim Club (young parents' club) from shul. It's been 10 years since we all met.

We stayed until 5:30 (well, David left at 2:30 to catch a plane to Baltimore). The boys and Sofia had a blast. But I think I have an ear infection now - I'm really dizzy. This is NOT fun. I feel awful. (And I can't seem to do my Hebrew homework at all!).

Anyway, here are the Micah-ism of the week:

1) Last Sunday, as we were leaving the renaissance festival, Micah insisted on buying a red rose, which he named "Rosie". He talked to Rosie the whole way home, and every day this week, he's checked on her. He even has a coffin ready for when she dies (I did explain that Rosie has a very short life expectancy).

2) On Wednesday, I was driving my guys and another boy, M, to school. The 3 boys all sat in the back, giggling and talking. There was a momentary lull in the conversation, and then Micah chimed in:
"Behold, I am Zeus, G-d of Flashlights!"

3) This is the best. On Friday, after my sleepless night with sick Sofia, I drive the boys to school, and they are argueing like crazy. Sam is in the crabby start of this tummy bug, and Micah was just really irritable (he also refused to put on socks or sneakers that morning). The big argument was :

Sam would not turn down the volume on the imaginary DVD player!

Micah was ballistic. "IT'S TOO LOUD".

Nothing I did would help. "Micah, I turned it down up here." I saud, trying to give in to his fit of fantasy. "No, it's too loud!". "

"Micah, you realize there's not actually a DVD player in the car, right?" "Sam has to turn it down!"

I could not wait to get to school and get them out of my car!

Just remember my mantra:

I love being a mommy. I love being a mommy. I love being a mommy.

Uh huh.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mid-year Review, barfing baby

Ok, it's been busy the last 2 days. Yesterday morning, Miss Sofia had her half-year review. David and I met our Speech Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, and Developmental Specialist, and they put Sofia through about 45 minutes of games and challenges.

She did really well, but of course it's always difficult to get your kid tested. Actually, the testing itself wasn't so bad (except when David and I had to clamp down on each other to keep from "helping" her or cueing her).

But scoring is hard. Instead of the lossy-goosy "she's doing so amazingly well", you get a number. That number represents how old the "typical" child would be doing those skills.

So here it is, Miss Sofia's score, at 32 months of age (scores in parenthesis are how she did back in March at 25 months):

  • Fine Motor 26 (23)
  • Gross Motor 22 (11)
  • Cognitive 27 (19)
  • Social/Emotional 30 (26)
  • Self-Care 29
    • Feeding 35 (27)
    • Toileting 19 (15)
    • Dressing 33 (27)
  • Receptive Language
    • Verbal 18 (16)
    • Sign 18 (16)
  • Expressing Language
    • Verbal 16 (15)
    • Sign 24 (?)
Only Verbal Language counts on the scoring, but K does a sign score just so we know what's going on. However, I very clearly remember last March, that Sofia scored ABOVE her age for expressive sign, so I was quite concerned this time. K looked at the scores again, from this time and last time, and thinks she just madea scoring mistake last time. Which makes sense, but bugs me because all this time I've been so excited about how well she did!

But you can see that she made a huge leap ahead in Gross Motor, and is doing great in Self-Care and Social/Emotional. She's doing great in everything, really, I just thought she was doing even better in Fine Motor and in Language.

Oh well. It's just a benchmark, it doesn't change anything on her IFSP, we're not making any changes to her services. And the public school will come do their own evals in January before placing her in the preschool anyway.

Sofia went off to her playgroup while the ladies scored the results and David and I signed paperwork. Then I had exactly one hour - just enough time to get my nails done! When I came back to pick up Sofia, I was delighted to learn that several new kids had joined her group, including another boy with Down syndrome. I met his mom over a year ago, and we've been in touch only on email since then, so it was nice to see her. But we had an interesting chat as we put the kids in their carseats: she really feels that she's had to fight to get her son appropriate services from EI, which was a real shock to me, because I have considered EI to be a great experience for us. So I got all paranoid, thinking maybe I'd missed something and had not gotten Sofia everything she needed.

I talked about it this morning with the Developmental Specialist. I guess some people are more concerned with the Titles of the people giving their kids treatment, and less with the skills and strengths those people have. For instance, our Dev.Spec. is officially a Psychological Specialist (or something like that). However, she has been so incredibly important to Sofia's language and fine motor growth, I can't imagine what we would have done without her! Our original OT (who dared move out of state - I know you're lurking, J! We still miss you!) was great at integrating speech and motor skills for my little baby.

As Parent Liason for our EI center, I will suggest that they create write-ups, both of the general job descriptions and of each individual service provider's skills, to give to the parents when people are assigned. It might help clarify expectations and avoid conflict.

So we had a busy time yesterday, and Sofia didn't nap until we picked up the boys (although I fell asleep on the living room floor for a while). But then she stayed awake until midnight! We just could not get her to sleep again. She sat on our bed, watching late-night TV, while I dozed with my arm around her.

Well, turns out she's sick. I left her and David home while I drove the boys to school (he'd stayed up late, too). When I got home, Sofia was really crabby. She wouldn't cooperate with the specialist, and kept wanting to hang on me instead.

So after her session, I tried for an hour to get her to nap. She screamed bloody murder if I put her in the crib. So I ended up rocking her in the chair, and once she was asleep I put us both on the bed and I napped too.

I woke her up for lunch, which she just cried through, and then she started explosive wet farts. Eventually we ended up back in the rocking chair, and at 2 she barfed all over me. We were both drenched, but obviously she had to get something out. So we took a bath together, and then picked up the boys. She climbed a little at the playground, but then settled into cuddling again. Back home, she's been crabby all evening. I had my mother's helper eat with the boys and get them to bed while I rocked Sofia again. She was dozing on my bed for about two hours, but now she's crying. Gotta go!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pain? Disability? Hardship?

I just read an interesting article in last week's Newsweek, about Holly Robinson Peete and the widow of Brandon Tartikoff. The article is part of a series about women and power. In this article, there is an emphasis on the hardships and pain that both women have faced: Tartikoff's husband died of cancer and her daughter suffered brain damage from a car accident, Robinson-Peete's father (Gordon from Sesame Street!) died of Parkinson's and her son has autism.

The article made me wonder, though, about the words we use to describe life. Is it a hardship that my daughter has Down syndrome? Do I feel pain because one son has dyslexia? Are Micah's food allergies a "disability" to him?

I spend so much time looking at all the positive things about my kids - how incredible they all are, what their unique talents and personalities are, how they handle their individual lives - that I sort of get pushed back when I hear the "sad" words applied.

I'm NOT sad that Sofia has Down syndrome. I'm thankful that she is able to do so much and that she is so much fun to be with, and I consider myself so lucky to have been included in this special world of T21.

I'm less positive about Sam's dyslexia, because of his personality. This will always be a challenge to him, and he gets so anxious about everything. So I worry about him. But I wouldn't trade his creativity for anything.

I fear for Micah's health, if he eats something he is allergic to, but I also know how to deal with it - a few weeks ago he accidentally ate some crackers with sesame, so I gave him Benadryl and watched him carefully for 2 hours, but the few hives that appeared quickly went away. And I am so impressed with how he handles it himself. He's very cautious (usually!) and very clear about what he can and cannot eat. He's calm, and neither panics if he's near something he can't eat nor gets overly jealous about it.

So I don't consider that our family has received an unusual amount of "pain" or "hardship". Ours is just more concrete, more definable, than others. We have a loving family, the monetary means to live the way we want, the resources to get our children the best education and health care available, and the community to feel comfortable and at ease with ourselves.

It will be interesting to see how the Transition from Early Intervention to public preschool goes. My online friend A recently wrote on our discussion board about getting her daughter's eval, and how it's difficult, because in every-day life, we are so accustomed to focusing on what our kids CAN do. Having to evaluate my daughter in terms of what she CANNOT do, or what she IS DEFICIENT in, requires a big mental shift. And, as A stated, it's absolutely necessary to define the deficiencies, because otherwise our kids would not be eligible for services!

Ok, enough musings. Sofia is sound asleep (yes, she fell the noon today, but only because we were out shopping all morning) and I should do some homework. I bought bth boys little MP3 players - it will be a birthday present for Micah and a treat for Sam, so don't tell! They were really cheap - 1 Gig for $25, little clips to attach. Should be fun. They'll be great for our trip to Israel in December.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Renaissance Festival

Today was busy. After our morning sojourn at soccer (45 minute drive and 3 hours trying not to get too frustrated watching little kids "play" soccer), we headed to King Richard's Faire, the local RenFest.

We haven't been to a festival since the one in Pennsylvania 2 summers ago. That one is bigger than this, and when we'd gone there it was Pirate Weekend, so the boys were just a little less impressed today, but we had fun.

There was indeed a Pirate session for the kids. Here are some pics.

David and the kids watching the pirates:

The boys getting Pirate badges from the captain (not ONE person thought Sam was a boy!):

Sofia enjoying the spectacle (but I had to take her out from the joust - she HATED it!):
We also got to do some archery:
Me helping Micah (yeah, really, it's not because I WANTED to shoot!):

(ok, I lied - I really really wanted to do it!)

Sam takes aim:

Unfortunately, David is depressed today, so he's not all that enthusiastic. I'm not sure how to help him - he can't seem to clear his brain.

Sam and Sofia fell asleep in the car on the way home; Micah stayed awake for dinner and a bath. Oh, Micah also insisted on buying a ROSE before we left. He calls it "Rosie", and he's just so CUTE about it!

And speaking of cute, here's a photo from the other day, of Sofia watching a "Signing Times" video. Notice the boys' underwear fashionably worn on the outside of her pajamas: