Monday, April 28, 2008

My Paper for my Class

Ugh. I'm supposed to "present" my paper on Wednesday of this week, and I'm having a crisis. See, the class is on "The Place of Nature in the Bible", and we've developed these Ecological Principles as we've studies the text - looking at the beginnings of Genesis, at the whole of the Abraham story, at the Plagues, we ask how the values of Habitat, Interdependency, G-d as Creator, and so on, can be seen.

But I'm writing about Upshirin, that apparently obscure Kabbalistic custom of not cutting a child's hair until the third birthday. And the more I try to write a scholarly paper about Upsherin, the more I realize that I can't. It's based on mysticism and spirituality, not logical text interpretation.

I'm not good at Spirituality. I'm good at Practicality.

For me, the process of not cutting our kids hair until the third birthday always felt very organic, very natural, and I loved it. I was able to use the concept of the Upsherin in my own way, to make a point to myself and to others that each child was an individual creation.

Trying to write about the "formal" development of the tradition is frustrating, since most of the literature I can find about it is just from non-scholarly spiritual leaders, who can grasp at any piece of the text and make it mean what they want. And then trying to apply the Ecological Principles to these "out-there" interpretations is even harder.

So I just core-dumped my frustration into an email to my professor. Is it too late to change my topic?


In other news, the kids went back to school today!!!! YIPPIE!!!!

Pam, Rhett's mommy, absolutely ROCKS. She is going through so much (read her blog), and yet is such an awesome force in her child's life.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Art and the end of vacation week

Whew! They go back to school tomorrow. Mommy does the Happy Dance!!!

Actually, given that it was a holiday all week, the vacation wasn't too terrible. After the weekend of seders, we had the Boston Marathon and the dentist on Monday, a trip to Garden in the Woods and a playground in Sudbury before Tae Kwan Do on Tuesday (with my mother's helper!), a playdate at our house, try on clothing, and then another playdate at a playground on Wednesday, a full-day playdate on Thursday at the D's home (both boys are friends with their boys), followed by TKD again, and then I took the kids to CT on Friday to visit my family.

We got to my folks around 1pm, and my sister wasn't due with the kids for a few hours, so I went off for a manicure and pedicure. When Melissa and the girls arrived, Melissa and I ran an errand for Mom and did a little browsing at Payless and Pier One. Then a yummy dinner (mom makes the BEST meatloaf!). The twins slept over also, so all 4 kids were in my old room (the one that is now a closet!), and Sofia slept with me downstairs on the pullout sofa.

Saturday morning, a nice breakfast, and then Mom came with me and the kids to Target. Then I dropped the boys at my neices' soccer game and took Mom home. Picked up the boys (Sofia was asleep in the car) and drove back home.

David landed right about when we got home, so he arrived not too long after us. The kids were all over him. A quick dinner, and then the babysitter arrived so he and I could go out.

We went to the art gallery in Worcester again, to meet the artist (Lauri Blank) who did the large painting in our room...and apparently now we are "collecting" her, since we bought TWO MORE PAINTINGS! Yikes. My husband is bizarre. He has no problem buying art but will question me about $17 at TJ Max. That's a different conversation...

So we will soon be the proud owners of:
Aspen Glow

And also "Autumn Leaves", but I cannot seem to find an image of it. We're getting #1 of that printing!!!

Both gorgeous. I have NO IDEA where they will go. These things are big!

We already have (and love) "Sunday Morning":

Ok, anyway, this morning, David left at 7am to catch his flight to Israel (he just landed and called me a little while ago; had a layover in London for a few hours). So this afternoon, I met my friend R and her kids and we took all the kids to see "Horton Hears a Who". I managed to fall asleep in the movie theater with Sofia on my lap! The kids liked it, 'though.

Then we went to BJs, where I stocked up on all sorts of household stuff, and then off to Bugaboo Creek for an early end-of-Passover. I couldn't take it anymore, and the kids were really bugging me!

So then home, unload, get them to bed, and I just spent 4 hours working on the yearbook. Gotta go to sleep now!!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Remembrance, Recipie, and Just Stuff

First, Remembrance: I attended the funeral of Herb Ginsberg yesterday morning. Herb was the grandpa of a kid in Micah's nursery school class, and I got to know him well during two years of preschool drop-off. He took care of his grandson most weekdays, since his daughter, a single mom, works full time. Herb was a delightful man, a member of my shul, and I was so glad to get to know him. The funeral was as lovely as he was. The rabbi who officiated was a cousin of his and a dear friend, so it was a very moving eulogy. The weather was gorgeous, as a fitting send-off for this wonderful man. I will miss him.

* * * * * * * * * *

Next, Recipe: I hit upon a big winner last night, Passover Cheese Lasagna. In my normal cooking mode, I found a recipe, and then added to it as needed. Here's (I think) what I eventually did:

Into the Mini-Prep (my tiny one-cup Cuisinart for Passover), throw the following (or whatever else might be available:
- Carrots
- Leeks
- mushrooms
- broccoli
- green pepper (foams up nicely!)
- parsley
- dill (doesn't chop well, but the flavor was nice)
- some cherry tomatoes

That took several rounds in the mini-prep. Chop it all up really fine. Toss it all into a frying pan with some oil. Saute.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix:
- 1 egg
- about 8 oz sour cream
- 1 package Farmer Cheese
- some salt and pepper
- some tomato sauce

(yes, I don't measure! Sorry. I cook by instinct.)

Stir it up, and add in the veggies. Stir more.

Now take a baking dish. put a small layer of the goop on the bottom of the dish, and then make layers - wet a piece of matza and put it in the dish, top with goop, wet another matza, etc. I think I did about 6 layers.

The recipe I'd looked at said 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Of course I didn't have patience for that (I started cooking late). So I cooked in the over about 20 minutes, then microwave 10, then about 5 more in over.

The boys each had 3 helpings!!!!!

* * * * * * * * * *

Today is relaxing day. I got a massive migraine last night, and fell asleep before David got home. Sofia was still awake (she was watching "Chocolat", the lovely movie with Johnny Depp).

This morning, Micah has a friend over from school. They've taken a break from playing Pokemon to go watch a Pokemon movie. The kid's mom is going to come over later for a playdate with me, yeah!

At 4 we have to go meet another of Micah's friends at a playground in Wayland. It's a good spot, because it's a nice playground for all three of my kids - plenty to do, and well shaded.

I'm also hoping to have Sam try on all his clothing today, so I can see what doesn't fit anymore.

Sofia is watching Signing Times again. And again! ARGH! Who has the &*%^ frog??????

Monday, April 21, 2008

Passover 2008

What a busy but nice weekend! Thursday after we picked up the boys, I made David help me clean out my car. We had to remove the car seats in order to vaccuum:

I spent most of Friday cooking (or driving kids places - Sofia had school, Sam had testing in the morning at Sofia's school and at lunchtime at another school, as part of his IEP, and Micah had a friend over). Laura and Lilie came up Friday afternoon too. I borrowed back my exersaucer and jumping swing from my neighbor so Lilie had a "command central" to sit in...but Sofia had to get into the act:


I think she's too tall now:

So she settled for "holding" Lilie in her lap:

Friday afternoon (after the cleaning ladies left!) we finally got around to burning our chametz (we symbolically burn those last remaining traces of leavened items, and then say a specific formula stating that we've done the best we can and anything else in our house that is not kosher-for-Passover is not our problem):

The weather was just gorgeous all weekend, so the kids played outside alot while I prepped for seder. It only took us 8 years to realize that we could put a baby gate on the front porch and play out there with the door open...

Our babysitter E came to help out Saturday evening - here she and Sofia review the table before the guests arrive:

David's cousin came with her husband and sons - here is David holding Lilie and Heather holding Ian, who is only 2 weeks older!

The seder was good. Some guests were a little restless and caused others to be a little disruptive (no fingers pointed). Food was great - 24 pound turkey came out great!

Micah fell asleep on B's lap at the end of the evening:

Micah also told the complete story of the exodus, complete with diagrams (which he had drawn in school) both nights - I will edit down that video eventually.

Sunday night was good, too. The veal roast was delicious! My parents, my aunt, and David's grandma and great-uncle came, along with lots of good friends:

When we opened the door for Elijah, we had a surprise:Photobucket
(it's really Sammy and Micah pretending to be Elijahs)

Today was the Boston Marathon, which runs right past David's office, so we drove part way there and then walked down the hill to watch:

Laura and Lilie left around 4pm - Sofia was sad to see "her" baby leave:


Oh, and I finished reading "Roadmap to Holland" - more hugs, and tremendous congratulations to Jennifer.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Too Much Loveliness

I really really REALLY should be prepping for Passover. My kitchen is a wreck. I've packed up most of my every-day dishes, but the boxes are all still in the kitchen (waiting for David to get home from Chicago in a few hours). I've only run one dishwasher load of Passover dishes yet.

But instead, I made my coffee (the boys got a ride to school, and Sofia has PT at 10:30), and sat down to read more of Jennifer Graf Gronenberg's Roadmap To Holland. If you do not yet have your copy, I HIGHLY recommend you race over to the bookstore or jump online and order it now - unless, of course, you are also prepping for Pesach, in which case I recommend waiting until at least Monday!

I "met" Jennifer through "Gifts", and this is her own full story of the first two years of life with Avery, who has an extra chromosome. Deliciously written, incredibly honest. I want to give Jennifer a gigantic HUG!

But reading her book also makes me think about my own experience, learning that Sofia would have Down syndrome. I'm starting to feel a bit like a freak, because I only remember crying for 30 seconds when I got the Amnio results. David and I were both very quick to "accept" the diagnosis and move on to more practical matters like "how do we set up a Special Needs Trust" or "is it to early to sign up for Early Intervention?" (yes, 5 months pregnant IS too early, by the way!)

David and I discussed it the other night (he was actually home). Although he was certainly plunged into "worry", he also did not have the saddness that seems to accompany so many other families.

And I feel a little guilty about how excited I was - I've felt since high school that I was supposed to have a child with Down syndrome (because of a beautiful experience in Israel at Ma'on Latinok, that home for children with DS). Also, since my mom and I had an awful fight when I found out the gender of the baby and wouldn't tell her until I'd told David (who was in Switzerland at the time), I was relieved to know that at least THIS mother-daughter relationship would be "different" (whatever that would mean...).

Ok, I have to go - MIss Sofia is DEMANDING an egg, and I really really have to finish the kitchen so I can start cooking!

(Oh, and my Bog title today is because I get such a wonderfeeling reading Jennifer's book, and because Miss Sofia decided that she did not like the dress and diaper she was wearing, so she stripped naked - of course - and got dressed from the ground up...socks, shoes, then pullup, skirt and shirt!).

And because it's a beautiful day out.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sofia's New Skill

Well, I suppose I could look at it on the optimistic side: Climbing Ladders is a really good Gross Motor milestone.

But now Sofia can climb up to Sam's top bunk all by herself!!!!!

ARGH! And it's one of those "convenient" ladders that are built right into the bed frame, so I can't move it without taking apart the whole bunk bed.

Sigh. These kids never stop keeping me on my toes, do they?

Busy busy week, getting ready for Passover. Not much to say besides I'M INSANE!!!!!!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Losin' It

What a very long and stressful day. Some of it was lovely, but some of it was just too much.

Let's start with the car-ride to school. Micah spilled a tiny drop of water on his pants...and proceeded to SCREAM the entire way to school, demanding that we turn around and go home so he could change. I didn't, we were already late. When we got to school, Sam ran in, I grabbed Sofia, and spent about 10 minutes just coaxing Micah out of the car. Then we dropped Sofia in Kindergarten (where she was SO happy!), and Sam's reading teacher and I spent another 20 minutes trying to get Micah to calm down.

Eventually we did, so then another few minutes getting Sofia to leave Kindergarten. I was supposed to attend a meeting at the school, so we went into the cafeteria, and while I was in discussion, Miss Sofia located a blue Sharpie pen and proceeded to draw...everywhere. Her clothing, her face, the floor.

Outside, it was a glorious day, bright sunshine and increasingly warmer (we went over 70 today!). I took her out to the playground to burn off some steam, but she kept trying to ditch me.

Made a quick stop at Christmas Tree Shop, saying "sit down, Sofia" the entire time (she never did). THen dropped her at PT for my 25 minutes of peace.

After PT, we came home for a little while, then went back out again. She got angry at me because she wanted to go for a walk in her stroller, and I wanted to put the stroller in the car and drive to somewhere else. So I had to struggle to get her in her car seat. And of course she fell asleep just before we got to Shoppers World. So when I transfered her to the stroller, she was wide awake.

We did have some fun shopping. Mostly she stayed in the stroller, until the shoe store, where I let her out and again, she kept trying to ditch me. She also danced with her reflection in the mirror - I'll post video later. Very cute.

Back to school to pick up the boys, and we stayed on the playground until 4:30. Sofia kept throwing rocks, so I had to scold her and/or move her, and she kept getting more angry with me. The boys were ok, although Micah got upset when he wanted to trade Pokemon cards with his friend, and both the friend's mom and I said "no trading".

Quick run to the hardware store to get a new mailbox (ours has a giant hole in the front), then met my friend R at Bugaboo Creek. Sofia kept poking me in the arm with a crayon, right where I'd just had a mole removed. Ouch!

After dinner, off to the Bookstore, where the school held a Poetry Reading. It was lovely - almost all the kids read poems they had written. Micah of course didn't bring a poem but volunteered to do extemporaneous poetry...yeah. Sofia at first would not sit still, but eventually she was ok. And I represented the parents with:

There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
And when she was good,
She was very, very good,
But when she was bad,
She was horrid.

Then we all went to the Children's Section to pick out books to buy, since the school would get a percentage back. I asked the Curriculum Director from the school to work with Sam to pick out an appropriate book. But it was a very very long evening, between Sofia pooping and Micah getting a bloody nose and Sam arguing about wanting to read books that he's not ready for and then both boys wanting Pokemon books.

I finally snapped, and pulled them all out of the store. Sam and I both managed not to cry on the way home, but when we got here, we both cried (he only now, an hour later, has stopped and fallen asleep).

See, when Sam starts to lose it, that makes me so very sad, and I feel helpless. And I can't afford to feel helpless when I have to take care of all three kids.

So we left. I already have "mommy-time" planned with Sam for Sunday, so we've discussed it and we will also go pick out a book at that time, based on what he worked on with you tonight.

Fortunately Sofia fell asleep in the car, but Micah was still bouncy and demanding his Pokemon cards (which were in my purse since the bloody nose). Now, however, they are all asleep.

I would like to either scream or cry or just go to sleep now.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Visiting EI

Today the Early Intervention center had it's Spring Social, and Sofia and I went to say hi to all our friends. She'd just fallen asleep when we arrived (despite me blaring loud music and shouting "Stay Awake" in the car!), so she was a bit groggy when we first got there, but she quickly got into the swing. She gave giant hugs to K and T, her Speech Path and Development Specialist, and hi-fived everyone. My girlfriend M was there with her lovely ladies (including her adopted daughter, whom I had not yet met - I'm in LOVE - this tiny little being ran right over to me and gave me the hugest hug and cuddle, as if we'd been old friends!). M's older daughter was so excited to see Sofia; we'd just had a play-date a few weeks ago.

Sofia had a blast exploring each of the rooms. We spent many many hours over her first three years at this place, and we know all the toys so very well. This picture is for John (you'd better comment, boy!):


We used to meet in the Baby Room every week, and Sofia would wedge herself into this corner with a book. Now she's SO HUGE!

Anyway, it was very fun to see everyone. T is excessively pregnant, but I'm so glad we got to see her and meet her lovely little daughter.

Let's see, in other news, I've just spent far too many hours working on the Yearbook. I'm having fun, but it's midnight already!

Miss Sofia did NOT want to go to sleep, and eventually spent quite a bit of time trashing my room while I typed. She's finally out now, on her couch. I have to move her to the crib before I fall asleep.

My front door has been painted, second coat going on tomorrow. And the contractor is fixing my bathtub tomorrow (the drain broke last night), and we discussed my revamped renovation plans, so now he has to go back to the drawing board (literally).

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Really Shabbat

What a wonderful day we had yesterday. David and I have finally agreed to take the next step in our observance of Shabbat - no TV, no computers and no video games. It was so relaxing..for us. The boys, on the other hand, kept complaining that they were bored. (But then they managed to find things to do).

In the evening, our old nanny came to babysit, and David and I had a lovely dinner at The Elephant Walk in Boston. Very yummy. Then we went to The Butcherie, and spent nearly $500 on Passover food. The Turkey (all 24 lbs of it) was $90! I did manage to get a boneless veal loaf that might be large enough.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Beyond the Ramp

I was honored to represent the Mass Down Syndrome Congress last night at the "Beyond the Ramp" event at the JCC in Newton. It was a resource fair sponsored by CJP, with both main-stream and Jewishly-related resources for people with disabilities. I had a ton of FUN! I must have had too much caffeine, because I talked a blue-streak to anyone who would come to my table. I kept telling people it was my first time and I was just a parent volunteer, but they all told me "you're doing a great job!".

I did get a little new information for myself, and I got to meet some of the folks I've only spoken to on the phone or in email. I had a couple of uncomfortable moments, speaking to women from two different organizations, both of which leave me unsatisfied (at least for my own children's needs), but I think I managed to be respectful and not insult them. (I hope so!). And there was the older lady who went on and on about "Down syndrome children" and "how wonderful and sweet they are" ad-nauseum. I need to develop a thicker skin on the person-first language issue and the generalizations. I was a little shocked at how angry she made me feel, and I was so glad that I was at that moment also talking to someone who is a professional from one of the organizations and whose own daughter just graduated high school - she (the mom) was a great example for me [plus I got to see prom and graduation pictures!]

Miss Sofia is still hyped up on steroids, and wants NO part of being with mama. This morning I had to drag her away from David, and then, when we met up with my friend at the grocery store, Sofia only wanted R to hold her, would not even let me put her in the car!

Cleaning ladies coming today, so now I can start getting ready for Passover. The Butcherie is opening tomorrow night after Shabbos, so I got a babysitter, and David and I (and hopefully my friend and her hubby) are going out to dinner and then doing all my Pesach shopping tomorrow night. I think I'm making Turkey and either Lamb or Veal. Not sure.

And we're going to cousin A's birthday party in CT on Sunday, which means another glorious day with my in-laws and that extended mishegas of a family. After that, I think David is off to the Dominican Republic for a few days.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Finally, a decent Family Picture!

Micah's class had Family Tree day this morning, and it was really sweet. They each made trees (out of paper towel rolls, with lots of photos), and had displays about their families.

But the coolest thing was that we actually got a good picture of all 5 of us:

Let's see, what else... Just really really busy. The bathroom is done, and I got more decorative stuff today, like a shower curtain and trash can. Very cute. I'll post a pic eventually. The front door is in; they will paint it tomorrow. My house is otherwise a complete mess, but the cleaning ladies come Friday. Whew.

Saw a film during class tonight, "Renewal", about 8 different projects by a variety of faith-based groups to deal with environmental issues. It was interesting. If you have a chance to see it, I do recommend it. But I'd much rather DO than DISCUSS. So I get a little depressed seeing all the problems.

Oh, last night was quite funny. I'd gone out to dinner with a friend, and when I got home at 9:30, Miss Sofia had a massive BUZZ going. She was zooming around the house like a madwoman. Could not settle on anything. The Pulmicort was definitely rushing through her. It was a lovely evening, and she kept asking to go into the car, so eventually I did indeed put her in the car, in her carseat, and I sat with the door open singing songs to her until she calmed down enough to try to go to bed. I was signing and singing or reciting a bunch of Sandra Boynton stories and songs!