Monday, June 29, 2009


We had the D.A.D.S. Family Outing yesterday, at David Farmland. It was really fun. Sofia has absolutely NO FEAR of the animals, and kept demanding to hold the baby goats. She fed any animal that came near her, and begged for more feed from any grownup around. She also "cared for" some of the smaller kids, and had a massively grand time on the playground with her brother and my friend's twin boys (age 7, one with DS, one without).

I had a blast seeing the little ones. I miss that stage, the nearly-two-years-old, still petite, adorably interactive. SOOO sweet!

What was really interesting to me was a feeling I got as I watched Sofia with the other kids. As ever, the children with Down syndrome displayed as much of a range of behaviors as their siblings did. But so much of my time I spend thinking how extraordinary Sofia is. And what I saw yesterday is how utterly ordinary she is, within her chromosomally enhanced peers.

I'm used to her communication style, and in a vacuum, it's just Sofia. But surrounded by other kids with similar challenges, I could see so many of her behaviors in them, and theirs in her.

A few months after Sofia was born, my friend C told me I was still in denial about my daughter's differences. Am I? Am I still?

Or am I just doing my job - expecting the most from her, and helping her get there in her own time?

Heavy stuff. No answer here...

On other notes, we retrieved Sam from my parents on Saturday afternoon, and the boys immediately started fighting. Ugh. And Sam has been fighting with me off and on most of the weekend, too. But he's off to camp today - YEAH! I dropped him off at his ride before 8am.

Micah's home still, doesn't start camp until next week, but hopefully tons of playdates all week. E's coming to babysit this morning while I go to my doctor and see if I can get a different migraine medicine. This weather is killing my!

I need to write my d'var for July 11. Want to somehow use Zelophedab's daughters and Serach Bat Asher to lead into Inclusion... Hmmmmmm....

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Adaptive Gymnastics Class!

Sofia took her first gymnastics class today. Boy, am I tired! She did great, but I had spent the previous 2 hours driving around trying to get her to take a nap, and she DIDN'T nap, so she was crabby/wild when we got to Gymnastics.

The Adaptive teacher is good. There were only 2 other kids today, two boys somewhere between Sam's and Micah's ages, both of whom have already been taking gymnastics. So it was really good that I was in class with her, since I had to follow her around and guide her to each assigned activity.

At first, of course, she'd been in line with a herd of little girls waiting for the Shining Stars class, and she just went right into class with them! I had to have her retreived, which did not help the mood.

But by the end of the 45 minute session, she was starting to lean into forward rolls without prompting, and she climbed through the Pit multiple times. She seemed to LOVE all the movement!

I am really glad we did the adaptive class, rather than plunging in to the regular class, because she is still a bit behind on some of the motor skills (like forward rolls, but also things that require upper-body strength).

Micah enjoyed an extended playdate at his friend J's house today, and we joined them for dinner, too.

Yesterday, I took Sammy down to CT, and we got to visit with my grandma. Then my parents took Sam, and my sister and her family, and grandma and me and the little ones drove up to Longmeadow to meet my cousin and her family for dinner (and to transfer grandma).

I did not know that my grandmother could play piano, yet my wonderful 97 year old grandma sat down at Melissa's piano and played beautifully! Amazing.

Micah is watching "Mamma Mia" again in my room. Songs are permanently stuck in my head.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Vacation (AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!)

Yup, school is out. For the whole summer. For all three kids.


Ok, not really that bad. I know. But STILL....

Wednesday was the last day for the boys, and thankfully it was a beautiful day (the ONLY one we've had in weeks!). We played a bit after school. The original plan had been for Sam to stay on the playground while I raced Micah over to a birthday party, but he wanted to play so much. So we all stayed until just before 4pm. Then my friend kept Sofia with her, while I got Sam over to his therapy appointment and then brought Micah to his party late.

I was going to have him only stay about 25 minutes, but the mom said he could stay with them until later. Whew. So I raced back to pick up Sam (realizing on the way that I had NO kids in the car...briefly contemplating making a run for the border...).

Grabbed Sam, raced up two towns over for the birthday party he had to go to. Met Sofia there, where my friend was trying to hold her still because she'd pooped in her diaper. Changed her in the minivan (stinky!), then went to Firefly's with another friend and her younger daughter for dinner. Phew.

Then back to the arcade to pick up Sam. Since we were early, Sofia took a run through the giant climbing structure...and got stuck at the top of the slide. Sam was still in laser tag, so I had some other kids try to get her down. One of Sam's classmates managed to drag her off the platform and closer to the actual slide, but she didn't come down until Sam came to get her.

David picked up Micah, so I didn't have to go all the way back to Framingham. Got home just before 8pm.

Thursday, Sofia still had school, so the boys lunged in front of the TV while I ran her over. Then they decided we needed a run to Target; I opted for the Milford store, which we don't usually get to.

Mid-way through the shopping, Micah's hunger kicked in and he got into a stormy mood. We found a nice bagel place, and the lady at the counter picked up on how charming he really could be almost immediately. It helped.

Picked up Miss Sofia, fed them a quick lunch, and then met a bunch of friends at the movie theater. I was going to have my sitter meet us and take Sofia, but she text messaged me just as we left the house - her boyfriend seemed to be breaking up with her (turned out not to be as bad), so I took Sofia with us.

We saw "Imagine That", which was ok. A little disturbing to see Eddie Murphy doing such a great imitation of my distracted husband on his cell phone! Sofia freaked out in the theater as usual, then pooped in her diaper (it's a trend) and promptly fell asleep on my lap. She woke up before the movie was over, so I got her cleaned up.

After the movie, Micah went to B's house, while I took B's sister and two other girls and Sam and Sofia to the public library. Met my friend D there; one of my extra girls belonged to her.

Then back to B's house...where we stayed until 9pm! This is my friend H, who co-chaired the yearbook with me (she does all the business work, selling ads and keeping track of sales), and she has 3 kids, each 2 years younger than each of mine. But they all get along terrifically. Sammy and the older girl disappeared upstairs, "talking and listening to music" (they are still young enough for us to believe that!). Micah and B built what can only be described as a model of their Corporate Headquarters out of magnetic blocks. It was stunning. And Sofia and GiGi had a BLAST taking all the toys from GiGi's play kitchen and tossing them into the shower stall:


(Here they are on the playground after school Wednesday)


We had a great time. It is rare that two families of 5 can match up so nicely (David gets along with the dad, but both of them were working late).

Our playdate for Friday got canceled (other kid was sick), but I took my 3 to the mall. Sofia slept in the stroller while I walked around with the boys. I had told Micah we could go to the arcade, but my head was pounding. I've had a migraine for weeks because of this funky weather. So intead, I took them to buy Webkinz.

We didn't have any formal company for Shabbos dinner except our sitter, who needed some family time with us. It was actually really nice.

Saturday, we had a bar mitzvah at shul, and there were a lot of friends from Chabad at the lunch, so we took an extra kid home and then his parents came over later to hang out. After they left, I called another friend and he brought his 3 kids over for dinner.

Sunday, Father's Day AND our 11th Anniversary! We drove in to Boston to go to the Museum of Fine Arts. They were having Community Day and admission was free, which was nice. David did buy tickets for the special exhibit (Micah and Sofia are young enough to be free admission), but the little ones did not last more then a few minutes. I let David and Sam have time together at the exhibit while I took the others to the cafe for a snack.

We wandered the museum for a while, until they were all too tired or crabby. Sofia kept trying to run away, and Sam was in a MOOD.

We walked, in the rain, up Huntington Avenue until we found some food. I got Sofia an ice cream while David took the boys to order pizza. After eating, as we were walking back to the car, Micah announced "This is the most best fun day ever!" He's been in a VERY good mood recently!

I fell asleep in the car, and David and I both passed out when we got home. We had intended to go out for dinner, but instead I made comfort food (tomato soup!) and we let the kids watch "Spy Kids 3" on TV.

This morning, David left for Edmonton (returns Thursday) and I took all 3 to Micah's allergist, at Newton Wellesley Hospital, for his regular check=up. We concentrated more on the environmental allergies today, instead of foods (Winter is time for food testing; right now we have to deal with POLLEN!). She put him on a steroid inhaler in addition to the Albuterol.

Got them all lunch at the Cafe at the hospital (good selection, very inexpensive), and then met their friends at....shudder.....Chuck E Cheese. Nightmare. Thankfully, the other kids' grandmother offered to follow Sofia for a while. She turns into a little maniac there, wandering and trying machines at a rather rapid pace. The noise, the lights, the insanity.....

Survived. Stopped at the boys' school to drop off his OT evaluation, then took Micah to his therapy appointment. Ran to CVS while he was there. Picked him up, came home, then E showed up to watch sleeping Sofia, and now I'm at Tae Kwan Do with the boys.

Oh, so tomorrow, Sam was supposed to have his 10 year checkup, but the pediatrician's office called to cancel today, because doc had an emergency. Which would usually be fine, but he goes to camp next week and needs an updated Health Form! I spoke to camp, and hopefully they will accept the letter the doc is faxing them, since we couldn't reschedule until after he's all done with the camp!

It's only the first real day of summer vacation. Is it done yet?

OH! And Save the Date: Saturday, June 16, 2012. Sam's Bar Mitzvah!!!!!!

Monday, June 15, 2009


Yesterday, Micah finally noticed his "glasses" in the car. He tried them on, and noticed that one side was a little cracked. He pointed it out to me.

I asked if that was ok.

"Yeah. It's ok, Mom. I don't need them for seeing any more."


And today, Sam had his evaluation for Assistive Technology at the public school. It was fun, because I know both OTs, so it was nice to see them in action (both wonderful women). We tried out the Kurzweil Reader and CoWriter and DragonSpeak. Now we have to figure out which will be best for him.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

So there's a Torah in my car...

Not actually a joke (although technically, now the Torah is on the kitchen table). For the Bar Mitzvah (more in a moment) we borrowed a Torah from the congregation where I am the Cantorial Soloist for the High Holidays (Sha'arei Shalom, here in Ashland). Since they do not have a building (just borrow the local Congregational Church), the Torahs are stored in someone's house when not in use. So I picked it up Thursday.

And it was with much excitement that the boys and I walked over to our next door neighbor's house, with the Torah, for our last evening of Bar Mitzvah tutoring. Then my day school dollars started paying off: first, Sam helped me roll the Torah to the correct spot (it's one big scroll, with all of the 5 Books of Moses written out in Hebrew, and you have to find the correct location for that week's reading...and this Torah does not get used that often, so it was rolled to a totally different area).

We were able to find our place because just that morning, at All School Tefillah, the Masoret (tradition) teacher had described an unusual feature about this week's reading: there was a sort of make-shift parenthesis (made from the letter Nun) around the paragraph (Numbers 10: 35-36). We spotted it right away!

So after we found the correct spot, we were each (me, Sam, my student and his mom) able to practice our Torah readings for this Shabbat. It was really sweet to see how excited my neighbor and her son were - it was rather thrilling to have a real Torah with us!

The Bar Mitzvah was yesterday morning, and it was LOVELY. The setting was wonderful - she'd rented a hall at Clark University, and the stage was backed by full-length windows looking out on the garden. They only had about 50 guests, at least half of whom were not Jewish (the Dad is not Jewish). So it was up to the Rothkopf family to really represent a religious community (since her family also is not very observant). Hopefully we did a good job. My student was wonderful. I've known this kid since he was 2 years old, and it's so cool to see what a delightful young man he has become. He worked really hard all year, learning the prayers and learning how to read from the Torah. Sammy read, too, which was great, and also acted as the Second Gabbai (the gabbais are the people who stand on either side of the Torah and make sure the reader is pronouncing things correctly - the Torah has no vowels or music marks, so the Gabbi gets to read from text WITH vowels and music, as a guide).

David was supposed to read Torah, too, but was having a lot of trouble getting it to stick in his head. So Sam followed in the Torah while David read his section from the book instead. David also had to be First Gabbai, which means also calling up the various people for the honors. He had to, because I was reading 3 other Torah portions...

(Sofia, by the way, stayed home with a babysitter, which made things much easier, and Micah managed to hook up with a delightful young lady at the Bar Mitzvah, and they apparently played hockey with all the candy out in the hallway during the service...)

The paternal grandfather used to be a Presbyterian minister, and he gave a very moving speech before the Torah reading. A's speech, about the Torah and Haftorah readings, was lovely. I also had a few words to say about the day.

It was a very sweet and moving experience, marred only by the stress of knowing that the importance of it was completely not understood by nearly everyone else in attendance. But I am so proud of my student, and of my friend (his mom) for all the hard work they did this year.

David and I both took naps when we got home, and Sofia was already sleeping, so the boys played quietly downstairs. Once we woke up, we all went outside to enjoy the gorgeous (finally!) weather. The kids all washed the cars, and David and Sam played basketball, while I cleaned out the garage. At night, we had Movie Night, watching "Mamma Mia" all together until 10 pm.

Today, both boys had birthday parties. David took Sam to M's house, where they all got in N's car and went to Fenway Park for a party in the Batting Cage! (or something like that - I know almost nothing about baseball!).

Micah's party was at a My Gym in Newton, and it was all Orthodox boys (except Sofia, who barged right in...) wearing tzitzit and kippahs...except Micah... But he had a blast. The birthday boy is the son of one of the local kosher caterers, and he and Micah have been friends for a few years, having met at our shul and at Chabad the few times we've gone there. Micah's friend EJ was also there, so that was a bonus (bonus for me, too, since his mom is one of my dearest friends!). Sofia also had tons of fun. I loved seeing how she was able to do so much, but it did convince me that at this age, she'll be better off starting in the Adaptive class at the gymnastics place, because of her attention span...or lack thereof...

Miss Sofia is lounging on my floor right now, having declined David's attempts to put her to bed. She's asking for "ice" (i.e. frozen fruit puree, her favorite dessert). Tough, kiddo, it's 10pm!

Ok, pictures:

My three kids at Sam's Birthday Diner on Tuesday evening:

Sam getting his birthday candle:

Thursday at the day school, they had a choir concert, and Sofia and her friend GiGi had a blast coloring, and then admiring themselves in the mirror. For some reason, they were both chicly dressed all in black that day:

Today at the Gym party - Sofia in the Ball Pit:

Micah and Sofia:


The first time, Micah managed to turn completely upside down:

and the second time, he conned them into letting him go backwards (and upside down, but my camera was too slow):

After the flying, both my kids found other places to hang upside down:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Miscellaneous Ramblings

Now that the Yearbook is done, and the DVD for Sam's class is done, and my own classwork is done, and Austin's bar mitzvah prep is done (it's this weekend), I find myself with a bit more free time. It's kind'a nice, kind'a weird and disorienting.

I did get an A in my class, which feels odd because all the other classes I have taken have just graded on a pass/fail basis. Having a formal grade takes me back a few years.

I'm looking forward to writing my Masters Thesis/Capstone Project. The first part of it will be what I write for my d'var Torah for July 11. At our shul, in the summer, the speeches are given by select congregational members instead of by the rabbi. We have a lot of very learned members, so it's interesting to hear from them. I am supposed to speak about inclusion (of course!), both for special needs and for children in general, within our service structure. I lucked out on my choice of weeks - July 11 is parsha Pinchas, which includes the story of the 5 daughters who demand to be allowed to inherit their father's property, since they have no brother. Once I get the speech written, maybe I'll post it...

I took the three kids out for sushi last night in honor of Sam's birthday. My dear friend R came with us (which was great for a number of reasons!). The kids were a bit exuberant, but it was mostly fun. And Sofia pooped on the potty at the restaurant (four times...).

I'm trying to clean up my computer, now that the Yearbook and DVD are done. My 250GB hard drive only has about 5 GB free right now! Fortunately, we recently purchased a 1.5 Terrabyte backup drive for some ridiculously low price, so I've got plenty of space to archive!

I was pondering the "oh, woe is me" attitude of some parents, and wondering why people are like that? Am I a freak for thinking "well, every person is unique and different, and that's a good thing"?

I'm tired!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Being a Mommy

Tomorrow, my Sammy celebrates his 10th birthday. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE????!!!!

I also finally got copies of the pictures from the photo shoot Sofia and I did for Jewish Family and Children's Services when we participated in the Yoga class:


Oh, and Micah has not worn his "glasses" in more than a week!

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Yearbook is DONE!

I am looking at the Proof copy right now, and I'm SO HAPPY!

Well, sort of happy, since I'm generally in a really really grouchy mood today. Part PMS, part weather (it's going to rain soon), part exhaustion, part frustration with the kids. And the house. And my endless To-Do list.

I am, however, in awe of my daughter's physical and mental ability. I watch her on the playground, and marvel at all she does. I realized last night, as David and I were dreaming of being somewhere without children, that Sofia is the only one of the three kids who figured out how to REMOVE the child-proof door knobs so she could get into our room (or into the basement pantry, where all the yummy snacks and out-of-circulation toys are kept!). There's simply no stopping Miss Determination.

Great great great for her. Exhausting for the rest of us!

Micah has been tremendously sweet all week, even when he gets in a bad mood. I reward him with extra Nintendo time, which helps his mood.

Sam calmed down today after his session with the public school psychologist. Hopefully he'll maintain this calm throughout all of next week, since both my husband AND my babysitter will be away!!!

Shabbat Shalom, everyone. Sam's having 2 friends sleep over for his birthday tomorrow night (Saturday is actually David's birthday; Sam's is next Tuesday). We might take them all to the drive-in. Again.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Sometimes dealing with Sam's mood is really really frustrating. He is generally a very sweet child, a polite and kind young man. But today, he was one roiling ball of entitlement and misery.

He's pissed off now because I would not agree to take him to a sushi place in Sudbury which is so expensive, David and I have only been there once (on a gift certificate).

He screamed bloody murder when told to do his math homework.

He had a tantrum instead of collecting the trash pails, which is his chore for Wednesday evenings.

And he was RUDE RUDE RUDE. All afternoon and evening.

Meanwhile, Micah not only entertained Sofia in the bath, but now he's getting her dressed and ready for bed! It's always good to appear especially saintly if your brother is being miserable.

And Sofia had a massive crying tantrum in Trader Joe's this afternoon - application of "pop-pop" (popcorn) helped.