Sunday, September 30, 2007

Technology Woes

As I mentioned, last week I purchased an iPhone. Oh, I was so excited...until I got home and discovered that the iPhone does not work with Mac OS X 10.3, which is what I have. Yes, 10.4 has been out for nearly 3 years, but I have just not needed any of the additional cool features it offers until now. And of course, "now" is less than a month before 10.5 is released (we think), and my local geek at the store is fairly convinced there will not be a reduced cost upgrade for us late purchasers.

And in the mean time, I have a PowerBook G4, and supposedly iLife 08 has some features that are not supported on a G4, only on a G5. And I only have 512 MB RAM, so just as I was about to upgrade that, I discover that the darn machine is obsolete anyway.

Grrrr. Add to that my husband's extreme lack of enthusiasm for spending money, and I find myself in a quandry. BUT: David has finally agreed to find me some money for a technology upgrade. BUT it's not, of course, as much as I'd need for a complete replacement.

SO, now the questions are:

1) Do I buy now, or just wait a few more weeks until 10.5 is released. (I think I'll wait; it seems silly to buy now if there is no upgrade discount, and "only a couple hundred" is still too much for a student mom with 3 small kids.)

2) What do I buy? I want to do a lot with video and photos and DVDs. The MacBooks, being the cheaper laptops, don't have great video. The PowerBooks cost too much. So do I get a regular iMac, which is a desktop machine, but costs around the same as a MacBook but with more power? And do I then keep my old PowerBook for when I'm out and about (using mostly Word but sometimes my Hebrew processor), or do I just suck it up and use the PC Laptop that's languishing in the closet?

3) And until I make a purchase, what the heck do I do about the iPhone? I could activate the phone technology by logging on from the PC (how's that for irony?), but I'm not sure I can get my Addresses and Calendar transfered over, which is a big part of why I wanted the iPhone - my PalmPilot is dying.

So that's my Technology Woes.

In other news:

Yesterday I drove out to Longmeadow MA for my cousin J's baby shower. She's not at all religious, and her husband is Irish Catholic, so that explains how I have a cousin having a baby shower (Jewish mamas generally don't). It was a lovely event, on the front lawn at her friend's house. There were flowers everywhere (the baby will have 2 flowery names, and my cousin's middle name is also a flowery name). She got tons of baby-loot; I seem to have been the only person who gave something just for J & J (I gave some money for going to see a movie, plus a DVD I made of their wedding reception and her dad & new stepmom's ceremony). My mother and sister were there, along with my new aunt and another family friend from Vermont. Very nice event.

But very long drive for me, over 90 minutes each way. I was soooo tired. Easy drive, mostly on the Mass Pike, but I had to stop for coffee both times.

A little rest at home (where apparently my husband and children had done nothing much all day), a quick dinner (which of course I had to make), and then we had to drive Sammy out to his friend's house in Lincoln for a Sukkah sleep-over. The mom, who teaches at the school, had invited the entire 3rd grade to sleep over (which is traditional in Israel and other warm climates, but fairly unusual in Massachusetts!). The kids had a blast. And since were were in that area, we stopped to visit with some other friends, so Micah could have a playdate with their son and we could see them (and Sofia was sound asleep on the couch the entire time).

Today, we were up bright and early to head off to Newton for soccer. It's fun, because there are a lot of MWJDS families this year, plus we have friends who go to Schecter (where the games are). We were all cheering and laughing at how little kids "play" soccer. (Another dad picked up Sam and his friend from the Sukkah party and brought them to Newton in time for their game).

Fly out of there at noon to drop Sam off at a birthday party (and Micah is invited to the younger brother's party next week). Then the 4 of us had a quick lunch, and then into the Mall to check out the Macs. Fortunately, this time I cornerd one of the really knowledgeable geeks. But we didn't buy yet, because I have to investigate - and fortunately so, since when I got home I realized I'm eligible for a student discount, too!

Picked up Sam, came home for about 90 minutes, got Sam showered, and then we were off again to our friend's house for dinner in their sukkah (and they are coming to us tomorrow). Then home, wash Micah and Sofia, and now they are all IN BED! Yeah.

Oh, so now I have about 18 pages of Hebrew homework, so ta-ta!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Twisty Ties

Do I lose my status as a Domestic Goddess if I use twist ties from the produce department to tie my daughter's hair back? My neighbors thought it was a rather Martha Stewarty-thing to do. I couldn't find any hair bands and we were on our way out the door to play (and the boys had grabbed handfuls of the twist ties when we were shopping). Anyway, it really did work, held that pony tail better than some of the "official" hair bands we own!

"Twisty Ties" is also a good name for this post, because this morning we followed the twisting turns of our lives to have a playgroup with people (to whom we are "tied"). (Ok, I'll stop with the metaphor - it makes sense to me, but 'nuff said). Anyway, back about a year and a half ago, they'd held a Down syndrome playgroup/meet&greet at our EI center. There were a handful of moms and kids, ages ranging from about a year to nearly 3. Several of us moms had planned to get together on our own - and that very week, one of the babies in the group died suddenly (see Because of Sophia, Maria's blog). So we never got together. But this summer, another mom started emailing us, and eventually I had the idea of asking to use the center (and invite new families).

It was lovely. Unfortunately, two of the original planners didn't make it (kid issues), but we had my friend N and her 2 month old, one of the other "original" kids who is now 3, another boy Sofia's age, and an adorable little Miss of 15 months. We also got to use the center, and our Speech Therapist and another OT stayed with us.

I was proud to be the official facilitator, and I called on everyone to share their stories or words of wisdom. It was so nice to meet or see everyone!

Here's Sofia, hinding in the stairwell after playgroup - she loves this spot!

I'd forgotten when I scheduled this that today was the 2nd day of Sukkot and the boys would not have school, so before the playgroup, I dropped them at my friend J's house - her two girls are very good friends with my boys (her older daughter and Sammy look identical from the back, same long dark hair, slender bodies, same height). They all came back to our house after the playgroup, and we had lunch in the sukkah, and the kids rode their bikes and played while J and I relaxed and chatted a bit.

Then I packed my gang back into the minivan to race to Sudbury for my haircut (which I'd also scheduled for during the holiday!). Sofia fell asleep in the car and stayed asleep in the stroller during the cut, but of course woke up for snack at the Cafe afterwards.

Here are Micah and Sam playing on the Nintendo DS during my hair cut:

A quick stop at the grocery store, and home again. Micah and I were on the computer (I made a DVD last night for my cousin, of the wedding pictures from last July), Sofia and Sam were playing. Eventually Sofia and I went outside with Sam to visit the neighbors (that's when I grabbed the twisty tie for her hair).

We had a really nice dinner in the Sukkah. The weather has been just lovely today. Not too hot, not cold yet.

Oh, and I just love the fact that Sam askes every week who we are having over for Shabbos dinner, and gets really annoyed if we are not having company. Today he invited the other neighborhood kids (but they couldn't come). We still had a nice Shabbat, but I'm so glad that he's taken the idea of Guests so seriously.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Just stuff

Too many individual topics to be able to tackle them all at once with justice, but her egoes:

1. One of the little girls on our T21 online board has just been diagnosed with Leukemia. Dr. Leshin, on, says the following about leukemia:

Leukemia is more common in children with DS, being seen anywhere from 10 to 30 times more often than in the general population of children. The vast majority of cases occur in the first 5 years of life. In the first 3 years of life, nonlymphoid leukemia is the most common form of leukemia in children with DS; after age 3, approximately 80% have acute lymphocytic leukemia and 20% have nonlymphocytic leukemia. The actual treatment of leukemia is beyond the scope of this article, but it is worth noting here that children with DS who develop AML seem to respond to chemotherapy better than do children without DS; with ALL, the response rate appears to be about the same.

It's always terrifying to find out a child has a terrible illness. Our online community will hold C and her family in our hearts as they enter this new phase of their lives. For more info, see Carey's blog, Dream Big.

2. Sukkot started tonight (I promise, I'll take photos soon). Since David is on his way to Utah, I had my friend D and her girls come over. They brought a Muppet Show video - I think D and I had more fun watching it than even the kids did - and then we ate in the sukkah. But the MWJDS kids had all gone Apple Picking today, in 90+ degree temps, so they were tired and crabby, and Sam and A started melting down at each other.

3. I bought an iPhone!!!! I gave the poor sales guy a hard time, because he was new and clueless (I actually had a word with the manager, suggesting more training). BUT then I got the phone home and discovered that I don't have the appropriate version of the Mac operating system to use iPhone!!! Grrrrrrrr. Fortunately, a friend of ours has a family pack and an extra license, so he's coming tomorrow to let me upgrade. How annoying.

4. Thank you all so very much for your thoughtful comments about my previous post. It does help to know that I'm not the only mommy who sometimes forgets that their child has an extra chromosome and sometimes gets confronted with it rather suddenly.

Monday, September 24, 2007

My daughter has Down syndrome!

Ok, yes, I've know this for 3 years, since before she was born. Yes, we work with it every day. But once in a while, it just bumps into me.

Today was one of those days. We had ballet class again. And this time, since there was no photographer to distract us, the class could stay formatted as it should be. So I got to watch 7 little girls somewhat follow along with the teacher, and Sofia just take it all in.

She did participate a bit, including putting on a tutu (and cleaning everything up, better than anyone else). But when we got to the songs, which were new or new versions of songs we know, she couldn't keep up. They were too fast.

It didn't bother me. It was just interesting. And it gave me a little taste of what life might be like for her when she's done with the coddled and protected world of Early Intervention.

David says he "sees" this all the time, but I don't. We've got three little friends who are all about the same age as Sofia (all their names start with "A"!). I've watched Sofia around these girls all their lives, so I don't "see" anything different. This is just the way they are together.

But seeing a group of girls I don't know, and moms I don't know, and a teacher I don't know, threw me for a loop. It wasn't quite a punch in the tummy, because it didn't make me sad about the situation specifically, but it did make me fearful about how her life will be if she doesn't have someone really looking out for her in school. I hope that she always had good, caring teachers, but how can we always be sure?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Here it is, Sofia's newspaper photo, from the MetroWest Daily News, Local section, Wed. Sept. 19, 2007, photo by Allan Jung. (There, that's the best I can do for a credit!)

I'm not sure which version of the paper had it in color and on the first page of the Local section. All the papers I bought had it in black and white on the 2nd page, but my neighbor left this color copy in our mailbox. MetroWest Daily serves a whole bunch of towns, so there are probably different Local sections for each area.

Yom Kippur went well, but I really think the boys and I are allergic to the church where we hold services. I had a pounding sinus headache all day, which got worse after I ate in the evening, and Micah was all stuffy both evenings, but fine at TI in the morning.

David went with us to Soccer this morning, and it was really fun. We have a lot of parent-friends there (and there were some extra friends I have not seen in a while). After soccer, we went to lunch with another family and their boys. Crazy - the 4 boys were STARVING, and Papa Gino's was understaffed.

We put up the sukkah this evening, and I started hanging lights. Will do more tomorrow. Now I've got to catch up on my Hebrew homework!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

In honor of Micah's head

Well, we were having a delightful time playing on the playground after school today, right up until Micah fell off the monkey bars. I thought he was just ouch-hurt and scared, so I was hugging him, but then I felt something wet. His head was bleeding. And heads bleed A LOT! My shirt was soaked, I had blood all down my check and neck.

Fortunately the school was still open, so we ran inside for ice. It's really just a tiny cut, too small even for a stitch. But it took a while to get it to stop. His hair is all matted down now. He's promised me that he'll be more willing to wash it after he watches a movie first.

Last night was Parent Night at the boys' school. It was the first time I've had to bounce between 2 grades, but it worked out (especially since I already had a meeting scheduled for today with Sam's teacher and the reading specialist anyway). It was so nice to see what they've been doing for the first 11 days of school. Micah's self-portrait was really incredibly detailed. He even spelled out "Niagara Falls Canada" in tiny press-on letters because that was the shirt he was wearing.

Sofia continues to trash the house every day, and then finally fall asleep in the car on the way to pick up the boys. Ugh. I have to figure out how to get her to nap earlier.

Oh, and she was in the newspaper today! A friend called at 7:30 to say she would bring it to school. Delightful picture of Sofia sitting in my lap, wearing a crown and doing some stretches.

And I bought new eye-glasses today, although I can't go pick them up now (since my shirt was covered in blood, we decided to come home instead). Tomorrow, then.

Monday, September 17, 2007

You Know She's a Toddler...

...when you lock yourself in the bathroom for a few moments of privacy, and suddenly she starts BANGING on the door and screaming.

...when the baby who always went to sleep at night really easily cries so much it wakes up Micah and he begs you to go sing to her more.

...when she refuses to nap, and instead trashes the house, but as soon as you get in the car to pick up the brothers, she falls fast asleep.

...when she wakes from her naps, cuddles for exactly one minute, and then runs off to climb the jungle gym at the brothers' school playground - with no help.

...when she grabs your hands to show you that she REALLY wants you to pick her up NOW.

...when she tries to draw on the minivan and the garage door with chalk, and when you gently try to guide her away, she does a nice little fake-out and goes around you to do it some more.

So anyway, here's my "Tiny Tot in Tutu":

Taking things off the shelf:Sorting stars:

And this evening in the driveway (the chalk incident, among other fun things):

Sofia and Sam:
Sam and Micah:
Yes, Mommy and Sam!

Infiltrating the "Typicals"

Yup, we did it. Sofia took her first ballet class! A last minute decision, since I just found the Ashland Rec Center brochure yesterday and noticed this class. I registered at 11am, and the class started at 11:30. Whew.

I'd decided (and our speech therapist agreed with me) not to mention anything about Sofia when I registered. I did write "Down syndrome" under the "Medical Issues" section of the registration form, and when we got to the class, I let the teacher know that Sofia uses sign language. But that's it. Otherwise we made no mention of anything.

The class is for ages 2-3, so most of the kids were all over anyway. Sofia was very happy exploring the room, especially the wall of mirrors, and was quite fascinated by a baby in a carrier and by the newspaper reporter who was taking pictures of the class. She kept walking over and smiling for him (it looks as if he did get some great pictures!). She's such a little ham!

The teacher said she was really thrown off by the photographer, so I hope next week will be a little better, but it was a good chance for the kiddos to get used to the room and try on tutus and crowns. We had a black leotard and a lovely peach ballet skirt in the hand-me-down bag, so Sofia was wearing that and absolutely refused the purple tutu we offered, but she did enjoy wearing the crown.

Now we're back home. I have to try to do some Hebrew homework. I finished the review quizzes last night, and I didn't do as well as I expected, especially on the last section. So I really need to review more. Sigh.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Lazy Day

Well, we survived Rosh Hashanah. Dinner Wednesday evening was here, just the 5 of us and Laura, David's sister. David was exhausted and excessively stressed. Services weren't until 7:30, so at least we were not rushed.

The evening service went ok. We hadn't made too many changes.

In the morning, I sent David and Laura and the kids to our shul, for two reasons. One, the kids' services at TI are much more robust than in Ashland (I was leading the grades 2-6 service in Ashland). Two, since so many of our friends' kids have had lice recently, I didn't want to take a chance with the carpeted playroom at the church in Ashland!

So I went by myself. We'd made a LOT of changes to the service, most importantly to move the UneTaneTofek up to Shacharit and dramatically chip Musaf. I didn't like it. Musaf was insanely short, and when the rabbi introduced Hineni, she just said "now Francine is going to sing the Cantor's prayer." Since there was hardly anything else after that, it seemed meaningless. Also, since she's really taking them in the "post-modern" self-spiritual mode, I felt quite superfluous.

I got home well before 1pm, and after cleaning up a bit, went to meet my family over at the M's house, where we go every year for RH dinner (they come to us for seder). We had a lovely afternoon, as usual. Sofia wore the same dress she'd worn up in Vermont:
The boys had a great time playing with B's Lego collection. David and both fell asleep on the couch at different times, so we were there until 6pm. When we got home, I had to make soup for Friday, and the kids played while David did some work.

Friday morning, I sent them off to TI again, but this time Ashland felt much better. It was a "Family Service", dramatically different from the regular service, but I felt more a part of it (and I didn't have to lead a separate kids service, which helped). It was short, 'tho - I was home by 12:10! So I took the extra time (they didn't get home until after 1:00) to set up for our guests.

J and her families (both girls are in school with my boys) arrived around 2:30, and we had a lovely afternoon. At some point, all the other neighborhood kids came over, and we had a very large chalk mural on our driveway.

Today it was pouring, so we opted not to go to shul. David had a noon flight (to California), so the kids and I have just been relaxing. The boys and I are still all in pajamas, playing computer games. Sofia is dressed, and now I think in need of a nap, since she just keeps crying.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Such a lovely wedding

This weekend, my friend R got married, and I was honored to be the one to conduct the wedding ceremony! I had gotten a one day "License to Solemnize" from the Governor's office, and religiously there is no specific requirement other than a bride, a groom and 2 kosher witnesses.

So Saturday morning my parents came up to stay with the kids, and David and I took off for Cape Cod. We were all staying in Hyannis - I'd booked 5 rooms (although L&M had to cancel for lack of a babysitter). David and I arrived first, so we walked into town looking for lunch. We started drinking margaritas with a couple sitting next to us. Eventually R&J and D&E arrived, so we met up with them. J&M joined us soon after. We went back to the room for a quick rest, and then back into town for dinner - and more drinking.

R&J had arranged a dinner for 14 of us (J's friends, too). It was so nice of them. Unfortunately, the waitresses are NOT nice (and D and I both had bugs in our drinks), and later (after David and I had left), the groom actually ended up getting KICKED OUT because he'd taken a photo of his friends and the waitress didn't want her picture taken. Silly - he'd just spent about $1000 there, and hadn't actually done anything wrong, but still he got kicked out. Makes for an interesting pre-wedding story, at least!

But we all had a lot of fun all evening. It was sooooo nice to get away without the kids, together with these good friends. The bride and the other women and I are a "gang" from the day school - we all have kids in 3rd grade together - and our hubbies also all get along well, so it's a blast when we get together.

Sunday morning, after breakfast and a flash-back to college dorm times (we kept going to each other's rooms to borrow things like conditioner and lotion and stuff), we headed over to the wedding. The reception was at a lovely Inn right on the water, and the ceremony was also on the beach. We all went to the reception first, because we had to sign the Ketubah. I had to run that ceremony, and J was signing as one of the witnesses (and we needed E there as a native Hebrew speaker in case we had any language issues - the other witness needed help signing his name in Hebrew).

David and I got to ride in the limo with R&J and their 4 kids (two each - her oldest daughter is in Sam's class). That was fun, because they are turning into such a lovely family.

The chuppah was set up right on the beach. Everyone was standing in the parking lot when the limo pulled up, so we sent them to their places, and then we processionalled in: me, then the groom's parents, then the groom and his kids, then the bride's daughters, then the bride and her folks.

The ceremony was lovely (if I do say so myself!). We'd found some nice explanations and readings, including a beautiful reading about StepFamilies and another reading about the Circling custom. It was so nice to have all the friends and relatives gathered in close to the chuppah, but the bride and groom and their kids were the primary people under the chuppah, with the 4 parents standing very nearby. Since I know both their parents and a lot of the family and friends, it was such an honor for me to participate.

After the ceremony, we all went back to the Inn for a very very lovely reception. They had a steel-drum band playing during the cocktail hour and a great DJ for the rest of the party. We danced up a storm! And when we weren't dancing, we sat on the beach and had so much fun talking and being funny together.

David and I left the Cape around 7:30, got home about 9pm. It was terrific.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Shes big, but sleepless

My little girl started "school" yesterday! A two and a half hour "Transition Group" at the Early Intervention Center. I've met the teachers before, but she's never had them for a group, so this is great practice for us in what we have to communicate to them. I'd given them a list of her words 2 weeks ago, but already we had more to add!

Here's Sofia in the morning with Dada, Sammy and Micah:

Here she is with her new backpack:

And here she is peaking out from behind my leg as we got ready to go into the Center!
She dismissed me with a cheery "bye", and they said she had a great time. I was excited until about 5 minutes before we got there, when I realized that I was dropping off MY BABY! Yikes! But I did get my pedicure while she was in class (the place I'd made my appointment never opened, but I found another place that could take me).

Sofia was very tired at the end of class, and lunged into my arms. For a few minutes she wouldn't even acknowledge anyone else, she just kept hugging me.

I was afraid she'd fall asleep in the car right away, but she managed to stay awake until we got to N's house. N is the lady I know who just had a baby with Down syndrome. N and her family are still adjusting to this unexpected fact. So I wanted Sofia to be awake when we visited, so we could show off. Sofia had fun exploring all their toys (N has 2 boys, each about a year younger than mine), and showing her many signs.

We visited for about an hour. Then she did fall heartily asleep in the car, and stayed asleep for more than an hour and a half. Woke up when we picked up the boys, and we all played on the playground for over an hour.

But once again, Miss Sofia would not go to bed. She just couldn't settle down. I ended up turning on the "Goodnight Show" on Noggin for a while, just to calm her down. She eventually went into the crib after 10pm.

Today I'm so tired, and I had thought she'd nap. So far I've fallen asleep twice, but she's still awake and exploring the house. Oy.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


One of the babies on my T21 forum died recently, and in her honor, many of us have been taking "Piggie" (i.e. pigtail) pictures of our kids. Sofia was no problem (other than keeping the bands in place long enough to get out the camera!), but it's taken me a few weeks to convince the boys to try.

But finally, they did it. Here's Micah:

And here is my SON (really, he's a boy, I swear), Sam:
All this was made easier by the fact that there was a case of Head Lice at school today and I had to do a nit check on both of them, so they were already in a "mommy plays with our hair" mode. Fortunately, they were both clean. Whew. And YUCH!

Sofia starts "school" tomorrow! She's going to the two and a half hour transition playgroup at our EI center. I'm so excited. Today, I had to go to the Israel Bookstore to buy my Hebrew text book for this semester, and I found the most adorable little backpack for her. I promise I'll take a picture of her tomorrow and post the update.

Monday, September 3, 2007

No Nap = Night Terrors

Drats. I hate this. When Sofia does not nap, she gets night terrors. And since she is in the process of giving up her nap (believe me, it's not my idea!), she gets night terrors alot. So right now she's screaming in her crib. I've tried comforting her twice, to no avail. Just have to wait it out.

We spent all afternoon at the pool club for closing day. Why in the world do pools close after Labor Day? It will still be plenty warm this week!

Sofia had a blast, running here and there. David actually joined us for a while, so she got some cherished "Dada Time". And of course she fell asleep in the car on the way home, at 6pm. But now...