Sunday, August 31, 2008

School and Labor Day Weekend

Whew! Such a busy week.

First Day of School - here is our traditional First Day picture at home:

And here is Micah surrounded by kids during line-up:

After school on the first day, a bunch of us went to the pool club, and then out to pizza - 15 kids and associated moms (and David joined us for pizza). It was fun, but a bit of a zoo, especially at the pizza place. On the ride home, Sam had a complete melt-down.

Fortunately the second day of school went better for him (he has to adjust to two friends leaving his school, and the logistics of a new teacher). Micah did better, he seems satisfied with his class.

Sofia has been a maniac on the playground. She climbs every ladder like a pro, no help needed (usually!). Driving me crazy!

Thursday evening, I met here with the new rabbi to prep for High Holiday services, and David did bath-time with the kids:

Yesterday we went to Lyme Rock Park, a race-track in northwestern CT. It turned out to be a very very sunny day!

I took this picture looking into the mirrored surface of a car-carrier truck:

Sofia and Dada:

About the tails:

Both boys left "tails" when they got their haircuts. They intend to donate the tails when long enough (to Locks of Love or some other organization that makes wigs for cancer or alopecia patients). Sam's tail is thick and curly, and looks like a squirrel's tail. Micah's, unfortunately, looks like a squid.

Today we (and our next door neighbor and her son) took a bike ride on the Lexington Rail Trail. It was nice...until Sofia started chucking her shoes and trying to remove her bike helmet, and started kicking me (she rides in a baby seat behind me).

I had a lot to say, but my brain is fried. David has been in a bad mood, and the boys are rather on-edge (and tired).

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Last Day of Summer Vacation

I'm doing the Happy Mommy Dance. I will slow down and let them "tuck and roll" tomorrow (ok, not really. Gotta take pictures on the first day of school!).

I just wish the insane toddler started sooner than the 8th. But she'll probably be in a much better mood when she's not fighting with her brothers. Today she was such a drama queen, sobbing miserably into my lap whenever Micah took something out of her hands (which he does often).

She also has a new obsession - Angelina Ballerina. YUCH! I bought one DVD of the dancing mouse back when Sam was in his Pink Phase (around age 3, I think). We have barely touched it. I find Angelina to be a prissy snot. But Someone put the DVD on for Sofia one day, and now she's hooked. "Linalina?" "Linalina?" Fortunately Sofia's hearing is very good, so we can put it on when she wakes up and keep the volume really low in our room.

I treated myself to a massage this morning (E stayed with the kids), and then we went swimming at my friend J's pool in the afternoon. Yesterday, my friend N and I brought my 3 and her 2 kids to the Museum of Science in Boston. The three boys were great, and her daughter, age 7.5, was a terrific helper, but Miss Sofia was on a rampage, trying to run-run-run as far as she could. I was exhausted!


I got two nice compliments today. My friend R informed me that David and I are the funnest couple she and her husband know. This took us by some surprise, since we consider ourselves rather boring fuddy-duddies, but I must admit we make a great comedy duo. So we are going to the Jimmy Buffet concert with them on the 6th!

The second compliment was in an email from the lady who runs "Operation Housecall". This program matches medical school students with families where at least one kid has Special Needs. Every rotation, they send 2 kids to a family for a few hours, to see what real life is like with "Special" needs. I've enjoyed being a host family for this program. We have so much experience dealing with medical professionals, and I love to show off my little zoo! But what she said was just so nice:

your family has been a terrific family, the students who visit are filled with hope, amazement, and inspiration. They see family life as fun, "normal", and even better than "normal" at times. Despite the challenges. Every pair of students visit a unique family of course. But they come back and share what they have learned. There is a wide range of valuable experience that they collectively talk about in the last get together when they review what their home visits taught them. I think it is the compassion that you have, and the warmth and humour, that you have that really teaches them. Thank you for making these young doctors so inspired, less afraid, more confident and interested. And very committed to our families growth and good welfare.

Makes me blush!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Neil Diamond at Fenway Park!

Yes, we got to go see Neil Diamond last night! CCCCCCOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLL (ok, maybe not exactly Cool. more like completely un-hip. But "wicked fun!") My friend R's hubby gets a lot of free concert tix through work, so they offered us these. I forced David to go. All the way in to town, he kept joking about us bringing the average age in the stadium way down, cracking Viagra jokes, etc. But I had an awesome time. ND is a great performer, and who among us did not grow up singing all his songs (besides, apparently, my dear husband)?

After the concert, we met up with R&J and another couple at Jake Ivory's, a piano bar on Lansdowne Street. I haven't been to Jake Ivory's in nearly 20 years (a college chum of mine became a regular there for a while). It was also fun, except that I spent the whole time staring into people's armpits (I'm somewhat short!).

David and J got a wee bit smashed, so we all went for McDonalds in Kenmore Square at 11:45, which was a fairly frightening thing, especially since the boys are both LOUD drunks! I drove home, watching my adorable husband stagger to the car and turn into a bobble-head in the car.

Today, we're understandably exhausted and a bit hung over (I was fine to drive, waited several hours after the last drink before I drove, but the excitement of the evening did me in). David went into the office for a little while, and then we all went over to my friend L's new house - L's younger son is in Micah's class and the older son is friends with Sammy. They have a pool, so we all enjoyed the lovely weather.

9:20, and I'm the only one awake. Not by much - I'm going to sleep now!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Nice week

Micah-ism of the day:

They don't call me Mr. Something for nothing!

We survived the last week of summer vacation without too much trauma. Aside from my own angst about the family that's leaving the school (see previous posts) and about my bike getting a very SLOW tune-up at Dicks (note to self, make sure to only deal with Mike or Ben in the Bike Department, since the others are jerks), we had fun.

Today I took the kids - by myself - to the Southwick Zoo. I think we've hit a milestone: the boys are old enough now that I can manage all 3 by myself without too much trouble. Sofia mostly stays in a stroller, and when she's running, the boys are basically helpful about chasing her.

We had a really nice time. I love this particular zoo (and I generally don't like zoos), because it has a Deer Forest, where the deer are running around with you. It's very peaceful.

One thing I did notice, though, was that Sofia seemed to be the ONLY person with DS in the whole zoo. I kept looking, as I usually do, but it felt odd.

Sam showing Sofia a wallaby:

I could NOT get Sofia out of the Petting Area. She had a blast feeding the baby goats and pigs:

Of course we stopped for ice cream:

Sam took my picture:

More feeding, this time the deer:

Sam and Sofia in the Deer Forest (why do I like back-shots so much?)

Micah coaxing Sofia onto the slide - first she has to swing:

After the zoo, we went to the pool for a while. Sofia fell asleep in the car and stayed asleep in her stroller the whole time we were there, so it was nice and relaxing. Then, since it was still early, I took the kids to Bugaboo Creek, since our babysitter E works there. It was fun to see her in action (she's terrific there, too!). And we got home early enough for baths and everything.

Of course, Miss Sofia is still wide awake. Her tummy is a bit gassy, so it woke her up. David came home from a week in Miami (doing an audit) around 9:15, so she's cuddled up with him now watching TV.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Apology Accepted

Ok, I finally talked to the other mom, who did indeed apologize. It turns out they only officially decided 2 weeks ago (even though the rumors have been flying - that'll teach me to listen to rumors!), but she acknowledged that they should have told us as soon as they told the school.

So we all have a play-date together on Shabbat afternoon. And they are indeed moving, so that will be the last time at that house. Supposedly the new house is closer to us, so maybe one day they will be here instead.

Today I drove out to Sturbridge to meet my parents and pick up Sam. Then we came home, relaxed a few minutes, then took Sam to his therapy appointment. I took Sofia and Micah to a local playground during the appointment, and of course Micah was instantly part of a cluster of little boys (all playing Bakugan, whatever that is). He's an amazing little guy, able to fit into a crowd immediately.

Of course, he's also an impossible little guy. Before we left this morning, I made him try on all the pants that I thought were his size in the closet. Apparently NOTHING fits, but it was an amazing thing to watch. He would either suck in his gut so the pants slid down his waist, or puff our his belly so they'd be too tight. I now have a nice neat stack of pants that we will try again another day. Sigh.

I'm exhausted. All three of them were screaming, either at me, at each other, or at their food, during lunch, and the boys kept on screaming all the way home, and in the living room. At least after the therapy appointment, they all played outside a while with the neighborhood gang. Even Sofia was with them a bit (I kept a close eye out).

Oh, yesterday I also took Micah to Stride Rite to get his feet measured. Then we tried on some shoes. The clerk was very confused when Micah complained that one pair was too tight. "They are a half size bigger than he needs, and a double-wide. How can they be too tight?" I explained that it was just a personality issue, nothing to do with the shoes. He did eventually get a pair, Barfaramas (complete with neon green "slime" on the sides), but they are hideously expensive (even I don't get shoes that cost that much!), so he has to wear them IN the house every day for a week before he is allowed to take the tags off and wear them out. I already have 2 pair of practically unworn sneakers (fortunately just from Target and Payless), because he has a nasty habit of deciding he does not like something immediately AFTER he takes the tag off. Anyone need Size 12 boys' sneakers?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hurting for my Son

Oh, the pain of being a mommy. I'm so upset right now, and it's mostly on behalf of Sammy.

There is a family who has been at the day school as long as we have. Their older son has been Sam's best friend since kindergarten, and their younger son has been Micah's best friend since before they even started at the school.

In late May, the younger son announced to his classmate that he was going to be going to a different school next year. I called the mother that night, and she did confirm it. And at the time, she said she was not sure what she was doing with the older son.

Well all summer I have heard rumors that the older son would also not be coming back. But I did not hear them from her, and Sam did not hear from his friend.

Finally yesterday I spoke with the principal (about something else) and she confirmed that the older son was not coming back either.

I had mentioned to Sammy a few weeks ago that I thought it was possible that his friend wasn't coming back. He didn't understand why the kid hadn't mentioned it to him at all.

In the mean time, Micah wants a playdate with his friend, so I emailed the mother to see if the younger boy was available this week. I was told (in email) that yes, the kid would love to have Micah (to his house, no possibility of me NOT driving the 40 minutes each way while shlepping my other children), and that she would be gone with the older son for a few hours in the morning but relatives would be happy to welcome Micah.

Ok, I can take a hint. Please drop off Micah at a time when the older boys will not have to see each other. Got it. But how do I explain to Sammy that his former best friend does not even want to see him, let alone speak to him?

Sigh. I hate parenting.

(Oh, and I got to take Micah to see "The Clone Wars" today - loud and boring, I actually managed to fall asleep during the movie. But he enjoyed it.).

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Tropic Thunder post

Ben Stiller's new movie, "Tropic Thunder", has created two stirs:
- people are saying it is the funniest movie of the summer
- people are protesting the use of "The R-word" (retard)

Here, for those of you who have not yet heard about the protesting, is a selection of links, from organizations, news, and individuals, that explains it all:

Emily Elizabeth's rant

News Reports: WRAL, CT Fox61, KCRG, KWW, The Morning Show.

Timothy Shriver's "Why Tropic Thunder Shouldn't Be Seen"

My Turn Now

Yes, it's an R-rated movie, but you would have to be incredibly naive to think that the only people who see an R-Rated movie are thoughtful enough to know "it's just satire". There are way too many ber-swilling idiots out there who will just love the line.

And assuming they don't let their kids see the movie directly (yeah, right, how many people under 17 actually see R-rated movies!), those kids will still be the beneficiaries of their parents' talk and the marketing campaign surrounding the movie.

My daughter has Mental Retardation. The verb "To Retard" is defined as "to delay or hold back in terms of progress, development, or accomplishment." Yup. Sofia has delays in her progress and development.

But the noun "Retard" is considered an offensive word. Just like lots of other words that I do not want to type: the N-word, words that are used to negatively describe Jews, Chinese, Japanese, Hispanics, Italians, Lesbians, Gays, Irish, and any other group you can think of. If a movie made a big scene about "You Never Do the Full ***" (fill in a slur), that group, and hopefully many people NOT in that group, would protest.

But people with Mental Retardation don't necessarily have the ability to protest by themselves. So we, their friends, family and advocates, must do it for them.

Do I think the movie should be pulled? No. It's a movie.
Do I think it should be boycotted? Yes. Register your anger.
Do I think Stiller and company owe an apology? Yes.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Lovely Vacation Week

We had a terrific time, although it was just as eventful as you would imagine. Sofia had massive diarrhea for a few days, Sam got stung by a jellyfish, and Micah and I had to visit the local Emergency Room because he apparently has Lyme Disease (well, we were in Old Lyme, after all!). The weather was not awful - the amazing thunderstorms were mostly at night, and it just rained occasionally during the day. The jellyfish made beach-time less interesting, but my kids had a blast with our friends' three kids.

Each morning, I would get up with the kids (usually around 6:30 - I'm convinced my husband is a vampire, since he would stay up until all hours of the night but then sleep late in the morning). By 7am, at least one of the Burg kids would be on our couch, too, or else my boys would have made it across the porch to their cottage. By about 7:30, I gathered all 6 kids for a bike ride around the neighborhood; three long roads, with short blocks, all flat, all "private gated area", with tons of extended family and friends.

It turns out we knew a few people in the area - there was a rather large contingent from New Britain, where David grew up, so we met people who knew his folks, and we also met up with a guy we both knew, I.F. I knew him from USY, and David knew him from the New Britain synagogue.

Oh, there was a tiny little shul, and on Friday evening they had a children's service. My darling Micah grabbed the microphone to lead "Lecha Dodi". Sam was too shy.

Ok, let's do these in order:

On Sunday, we all went on Kathy's uncle's boat. Here's Sofia in her Life Vest:
And here are the other five kids:

Unlce had to shuttle us back to the cars in two groups, so while we were waiting for the second group, Micah and Arlie tried to remove his first lose tooth:

(Micah and Arlie have been in school together for three years already, and aside from looking like twins, they sound EXACTLY alike, which, at that pitch, is something everyone should worry about!).

Monday morning, all six kids watched TV in my living room:
(notice how the Burg children pose so nicely, while my three are just sprawled out?)

Kathy is a former professional hairdresser, so Tuesday afternoon, she gave everyone haircuts:

Sofia and Kendra watch Sam play his guitar (David keeps telling him "it's all about the chicks!")

There is a carousel and ice cream place around the corner, so that was the usual nightly event. Tuesday night, the other Sam (yes, Kathy's son is also Sam, and her husband is David!) lost his privilege and had to stay home, so we took the girls. Here are the girls and my boys waiting to go on the carousel:

and everyone eating ice cream:

Laura and Lilie came down on Wednesday, and we went to the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat. Sofia slept through much of it:



and of course more ice cream:

Friday my folks came down, and we went to the children's service, then they took Sam home to their house for a few days of spoiling:

Playing ball in the street before shul:

Sofia tries to make a run for it:

Grandma Korine and Sofia on the carousel:

My kids were great at catching the Golden Ring (which wins a free ride):

We stopped at a country fair before coming home, and Micah and Sofia went on a kiddie ride:

I think Sofia liked it:

Whew! We got home yesterday afternoon, and the babysitter arrived 2 hours later so we could go to dinner with R&J. Today I did mounds and mounds of laundry, and we took a nice bike ride; Sofia fell asleep in the bike seat!

Many thoughts, but I'll try to gather them coherently this week.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pirates and Emperors - Schoolhouse Rock

Sofia was demanding some quality time in front of the iMac, and I happened across this one when I searched "schoolhouse"...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

vacation week!

The car is crammed full of stuff and we are on our way to the Connecticut shore for the week. 3 bikes hang off the back, another bike and a houseload of clothing, bed linens, towels and toys are inside.

Micah is getting cranky, we should feed him soon.

Micahism of the week: During Mommy & Micah time on Tuesday, he sighed and said, "I wonder what they're dpi g this week at camp without me."

Just when I was about to worry that he was upset a out not going, he added, "probably just laying their heads on the table and crying."

Good thing he doesn't have issues with self-esteem!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Blog to share: Check out Dave Hinsburger's Chewing The Fat blog. Both today's post and yesterday's post just blew me away.

Ok, what a DAY I have had! Let's see.. I overslept (David and I watched "Night at the Museum" last night until late), so I was rushing to get Sam and Sofia ready for school. E came to take care of Micah, I dumped off S&S, and raced to Natick to (first pick up coffee! and then...) join David to meet with our couple's therapist. Yes, the glamorous duo of David and Francine sees a therapist on occasion, just to try to keep things on track.

Anyway, while we are there, David's gastrointerologist called. David has been sick for a few days, and tomorrow he was supposed to have a colonoscopy, but we were concerned that the pre-op instructions called for him to take a WHOLE BOTTLE of Miralax. That would probably kill him, especially when he is having a Crohn's attack. So Dr. Sung calls to say "Go to the E.R. now!" Fortunately, David's cell phone is loud, so thetherapist and I could both her the conversation very clearly.

Ok, so now my husband is off to the E.R. with a potential bowel obstruction...and I'm supposed to drive three small children to New Hampshire in the rain to look at a asleep-away camp. I make him promise to call me continuously, and arrange for my friend R to be his back-up driver if he needs help.

I also have to call my friend K to see if she can track down the guy who owns the condo we are supposed to rent next week (next door to K's mother-in-law), because I still have not heard from him and we are supposed to arrive this weekend!).

I pick up Micah, we pick up pizza for the car, then get S&S out of school early, and hit the road. And the Monsoon starts. White-knuckle driving most of the way.

We get to camp only about 10 minutes late (I had called to tell them we hit traffic and bad weather). In the office, I see a girl I grew up with; her own kids are at the camp and she works there part-time. Wildly small world.

The director meets us, and I'm trying to herb my three small children in the rain, juggling Sofia's stroller and 3 umbrellas (we gave up on those eventually) and managing Micah's many complaints, all the while trying to listen attentively and ask useful questions.

I'm afraid Camp Yavneh did not win us over the way Camp Ramah did. Beyond the bad-karma of the visit, when I questioned the director about how they handle kids who need a little extra mental assistance, she basically told me they are not equipped to handle that.

So no Yavneh for Sam. Whew, at least now we know where he'll go; we just have to decide when now.

So far, that was non-stop racing all day. After the hour-long tour, she walked us back to the car and we were dismissed... I left the kids in the car and ran to the bathroom, and then got back on the road. About 20 minutes away, I found a mall, and fortunately there was a kiddie play space, so I let them bounce and climb and run for a while.

Around this time, David calls to tell me he has been discharged from the hospital, after an Xray and a CT scan and an MRI. They couldn't really find anything bad, just a definite Crohne's flair-up. They gave him a shot of Prednisoln, but he does not have to continue taking it (whew! That makes him miserable!).

We also attempted to have dinner at the mall, at a Mexican restaurant, but it was fairly miserable. The boys kept fighting, Sofia kept yelling, and I spilled a whole Coke. Sigh.

Hit the road around 6:45. A little before 8, my own tummy took a turn for the worse, and I had to pull over to a hotel, leave the kids locked in the car (with my cell phone and R's number), and race to the bathroom there. Sympathy Crap?

So we're finally all home, kids are asleep, David just returned from going out with the guys on the street (he only had ice tea, really). I'm going to SLEEP now! I don't een rmember yesterday (i do recall that, by 8pm, I couldn't even remember the rest of the day...something about Mommy & Micah time at Target and the library, and then ...Oh! yeah, we had a Down Syndrome Meet & Greet at the EI center. It was lovely...and my friend N showed up, and took Sammy with her to pick up her kids from camp, so we had dinner at N's house...)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Visiting Sleep-away camp!

Yikes! We took Sammy to visit Camp Ramah (New England - Palmer) on Sunday. This is one of the many Jewish summer camps in the area, and part of a national organization of camps sponsored by the Conservative movement.

We are going to look at another camp on Wednesday (Yavneh). I'm only focusing on these two because I think they would be best for Sam. I'll describe Ramah now, Yavneh after I learn more.

We know quite a few friends at Ramah; our rabbi has been on staff for many years and sits on the Board of Directors; there are several shul-kids both attending and now working as counselors; my dear friend E works in the office there.

Ramah also has two "extra" programs: The Tikvah Program is a full Special Needs program, a show-piece in the country. The kids in Tikvah have their own programming but are mixed in within the rest of the camp, especially at meals and services. The Inclusion Program is what I am interested in for Sam: the kids in Inclusion have the same programming as the rest of the camp, but there are extra counselors for each group, and more attention paid to the particular needs.

I spoke briefly (during a very LOUD lunch) with the director of the Inclusion program, and I will be speaking with him more if we think this is really the camp for Sam. Basically, there is no such thing as "typical" in the Inclusion program, because each kid has something that makes him/her need that extra attention. (For example, there are two kids with DS in Inclusion this summer; I have no doubt Sofia will end up there when she's old enough!).

When we got to camp, we had some free time to explore. David took the boys to climb the rock wall while I followed Sofia around (first she jumped on the trapoline, then she latched on to the "Gan" (staff's kids who are too young to be campers) and we followed them to their playground. We also ran into another friend from the day-school.

Eventually, however, David called me to say "Sam's freaking out." Sigh. It was a lot of stimulation for him to take in, and he was starting to get squirrelly.

I took over with Sam while David took the little ones off for a while. Sam calmed down a bit, and I assured him that no way would I send him to sleep-away camp until HE thought he was ready. He did calm down, and at that point said "I know. I'm actually ok, Mom."

He had his arms wrapped tight around him, biting his fingers the entire time, but he was bright-eyed and took it all in. We explored the Art building on our own, and then the tour started.

We'd met the Assistant Director, a young rabbi, a few months ago when he did a presentation at our shul. Micah had latched on to him then, and repeated that now. I warned Micah to be good (Rabbi E said "I'll try to be good, too!"). For the most part, he behaved. We had to remind him about "public questions vs. private comments" a few times during the tour.

For the most part, Sam maintained his wrapped-arms position. But when we got to the Alpine Climbing Center, there was a huge change. He dropped his arms, puffed out his chest, and seemed to grow about 3 inches taller. "I can do that!" I think that section alone sold Sammy on the camp!

Unfortunately, when we got to the lunch-room, Sam completely shut down. 500 kids, singing and shouting, was a wee bit too much for him. David managed to get him over to the salad bar, and when he came back he was a little bit better.

So all-in-all, Sam liked camp. Of course he talked about it the whole way home. We had to assure him that he wasn't expected to remember all the rules NOW.

It should be interesting on Wednesday. I THINK we know people at the other camp, but I'm not sure who. And David isn't coming, so I'll have to manage all 3 kids alone.

Endocrinology CheckUp

Sofia had her Endo checkup today. Doc was very pleased with how she's doing. My darling daughter has actually made it onto the "typical" height and weight charts. (Height is about 2% - 35", and Weight is 8% - 12.5 kg/27.5 lb). We did a blood test, and it requred three of us to hold my little strong-lady still. She's VERY strong! After the blood test, I took her to the cafeteria for lunch, and she refused to lift that arm; she kept yelling "hot" when I tried (I think she meant "hurt").

Micah and Mommy Time

Since Micah is not in camp this week, I got to bike all 3 kids up to Sam's summer-school this morning. Micah refuses to ride Sam's old bike and insists on sticking to his bike, which is too small and has a bald tire on the back. Sofia managed to pull off her helmet three times on the way home, prompting Micah to complain "I wish Sofia wasn't here. We never get any Mommy and Micah time any more."

So tomorrow, since both Sam and Sofia have school, I'll have to do something special for Micah and Mommy time. Dunno what!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Tech-free Shabbat and a Discussion Salon

My best friend from college, Ru, visited this week. She came up Thursday afternoon, and left after shul today. It was great to see her. Thursday we did some errands with Sam and Sofia until time to pick up Micah (it was pouring by the time his bus arrived), and watched a movie after the kids went to sleep. Friday we shopped a bit and went to the pool for a while.

An Old-fashioned "Salon"

Last night was terrific. In addition to Ru, my girlfriend R also came over, in addition to another couple and their son. The couple both went to Brandeis, as did Ru and I, and when you add in David and R, we had hours of terrific conversation (and about 4 bottles of wine!). Their son is one of Micah's good friends, and Sofia couldn't even be bothered to eat dinner because she was so busy playing. Sam was in a bit of a mood, but he took a shower and went to sleep early.

Shabbat at Shul

I read Haftorah and the maftir Torah reading this morning, so we all went to shul. I think I did a good job; I'm always fairly critical. The one thing I did learn (because two people came over to teach me) is that when it's spelled "yerushal'm" (in Hebrew, of course), that's just the old style of spelling "yerushalayim". Cool.

The Rabbi Emeritus (retired) at our shul is none other than Rabbi H. Kushner, who wrote all sorts of famous books such as "When Bad Things Happen to Good People." (Our regular Rabbi and Cantor are both away for the summer, Rabbi at camp and Cantor in Israel, so Rabbi K and other lay-leaders take over).

The Torah portion I was reading talked about bringing an offering on behalf of G-d. Rabbi K told us that the tradition holds that this is for G-d to apologize for the fact that there are bad things in the world. Ok, I can somewhat accept that idea...but then he went on to list the "bad" things, and started right off with something about 'for every child born with a mental disability'. As he was walking to his seat, I told him "I'll have to argue that one with you later." He smiled, and said "You wouldn't be the first!"

Nothin' like picking a fight with a world-famous rabbi right before you have to read Torah and Haftorah! Yowza! But basically, I cannot consider Sofia's "mental disability" as "bad", I MUST continue to consider it just as "different".

The cute thing was that, right near the end of the service, Sofia wandered up to the podium. She wasn't making any fuss, just looking around and watching the proceedings. She was reading one of the weekly "what's going on" pamphlets, and Rabbi K took it from her and handed her one of the baby-naming pamphlets (which is pink and has teddy bears on it). She got such a kick out of that!

There was a nice lunch after services, in honor of a baby naming and MM's birthday.

I just love non-tech Shabbat

In the past few months, we made the decision to try to do an electronics-free Shabbat afternoon. It doesn't always work, but today it did. After shul, Sofia fell asleep in the car, and David and I both fell asleep shortly after we arrived home. The boys made a scavenger hunt for me (they draw a series of maps, with pictures as my prize at the end), and woke me up for the search. We played games, hung out, cleaned the storage area in the bathroom, and relaxed.

Of course, David tried to sleep longer, but the boys woke him up, which got him angry, so he's in a bit of a mood. But after dinner, I read stories to the kids while they all played and David quizzed Sofia about her words.

Miss Sofia, having taken a very long nap, is now wide awake and playing ball with David (who is also watching both "Tomorrow Never Comes" and "Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle"). Giggles abound (but she just managed to toss the ball into David's eye..).

We are going to visit Camp Ramah New England tomorrow, to see if it would be good for a sleep-away camp for Sam next summer. Wednesday I'll take him to see Camp Yavneh also.

Micah decided he does not want to spend time at my parents' house this week. Sigh. Gotta make some play dates!