Tuesday, September 29, 2009

All Atoned and Starting Fresh

Shana Tova once more, Happy New Year and New Beginnings. This weekend was a bit of a whirlwind, although not actually horribly busy.

Friday, I got in THE MOOD to cook, having invited not one but two families for dinner - both the moms are my dear friends, and both are FOODIES. So Thursday at the Farmer's Market, I got all sorts of fresh stuff, and Friday I made some delicious Eggplant Parmesan. I can't make it too often, since I personally cannot eat it (eggplant is a horrible migraine trigger for me; the food has to be really delicious [like my uncle's fried eggplant] to be worth the headache). I made one huge pan, plus a smaller loaf size without dredging the slices in flour. The house smelled Yummy!

I also got a little carried away, and after making homemade challah, I decided to make homemade pasta! It's fun, but a lot of work. And I ran out of counter space, so when Sam helped me roll the dough through the slicer, it all just piled up on the tray and became one large clump - which meant re-rolling it piece by piece before tossing it into the water.

But it was all yummy, and Shabbos dinner was extra fun for having three families instead of two. Five out of the seven kids are at the day school, and the littlest boy is Sofia's dearest friend. And Sofia would gladly trade me for either of these two moms in a heartbeat!

Saturday, we were a bit worn out and decided to sleep a little later (well, all relative - the kids were up at 6, as usual, but David and I took turns going back to sleep off and on for the morning). Then David took Sam off for an errand (Sam has decided he wants to start building model aircrafts), and I got all the bikes into/onto the car and filled up the tires. Then we all met at Cushing Park, a nice wide paved stretch, 1.5 miles around, in Framingham, and did some nice bike riding (with stops at the two playgrounds in between). Poor Sofia: at one point, I was trying to get something out of the car, and had propped up my bike...with her on it...and she fell over! Fortunately she landed on the grass, but we spent the next ten minutes hugging and crying together.

We had family movie night (although Micah didn't like the movie, so he watched something else downstairs and fell asleep on the couch).

Sunday, soccer was canceled because of the rain, so we had a relaxed morning. I got out to the grocery store for a while. Then Laura and Lilie arrived, we all got dressed, and went to my friend C's house for erev Yom Kippur dinner. Yummy as ever, and lots of fun.

Then off to services. I think everything went well again. On Monday morning, the rabbi and I totally screwed up by not having people turn to the correct page for the Shacharit Amidah, but we covered well by having folks do the "wrong" one silently, and then picking up together on the correct page. Whew.

Sam managed to fast the entire day, although I forced him to drink some orange juice. I was not happy that he fasted the whole time - I even pointed out the halachic ruling that says he is too young (not until age 11). So OJ was the compromise.

Micah, on the other hand, wanted to fast but was definitely too young, and once he started eating, he kept finding more and more things he wanted.

It was a lovely day again, and I got home about an hour before they all did (David takes them to Temple Israel in the mornings, where there are age-appropriate children's services for everyone), so I sat on the front porch and fell asleep! Nice relaxing afternoon, then back to my shul for the evening service. I had the boys and my friend's two kids lead the Ashrei, which was very well received. And Micah blew an exceptionally long Tekiah Gedolah on his shofar - I think he may have taken an extra breath.

Break-fast was just us back at home, racing to get Sofia to bed and Laura & Lilie off to CT.

Here are my girls:

Taking a snack break:

Miss Lilie:

Oh, and please don't forget: our Buddy Walk is October 11 - please sponsor us, and join Team Sofia if you can!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


"BoyKa" is Sofia's name for her brothers - together. "Boy" is Sam (he calls her "Girl"), and "Ka" is short for Micah. Sometimes she will say the two names with a distinct pause between, but most often she says it as one word - BoyKa. Rhymes with Troika.

I just spent over an hour working on Micah's birthday invitation with him. I have worked for some pretty particular bosses, but he takes the cake! Exacting standards about font, point size, picture placement, wording, and even background color! I think the invitation came out pretty cute - it's got a whole collage of pics of him through his long 8 years (I don't want to post it, 'cause it has our address and my phone on it).

But all this for just 5 kids?! I'm nuts.

Busy busy day for Sofia today. She had to come with me to drive the boys, since David is away, and then she played in the cafetorium while I had a Recruitment Committee meeting. Then I took her to school. (I rested and then went around town hanging up posters). She stayed for lunch, and I had to pick her up a few minutes early. Off to Temple Beth Am for their Yom Tov program.

That was neat. She went to them last year, and that was usually the only time she saw these particular kids. This year, almost all the same kids in her age group returned (and the older ones are off to kindergarten). She fit right in, and had a blast playing with her friends and joining the party. It starts first in the chapel with the rabbi and cantor doing songs and a story about the holiday. The rabbi does a funny chant called "thumbs up" which Sofia loves - in fact, she calls the whole program "thumbs up".

After the program with the clergy, it's off to the social hall for a craft, then a snack, and then some running around. This time, since there were all the extra chairs set up for the High Holidays, the kids had a blast running through the maze of chairs.

It was so nice to see her fit right in.

We took a nice drive to waste 20 minutes, and then it was off to "Monkey Gym" (the mascot of the My Gym franchise is a monkey). It's a drop-off class, and I decided she would be much better off if I stayed away. And I was right. She did great! (And I hung up more posters).

Raced out of there to pick up the boys from school, then back to bring them to their therapists. I started getting a bad migraine around then, so Sofia and I had a snack and then waited in the car for them.

Back home, Micah gave me a nice back rub (apparently I owe him another dollar now) while Sam played with Sofia. Then supper (yum - since no David and no vegetarian babysitter tonight, I could actually make some beef!!!), baths, more playing, and I put Sofia to sleep while the boys were still cleaning up.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Parenting Compliment

Well, that was nice. This evening, after Tae Kwan Do, I took my boys out for sushi, since Sofia was home with the sitter. It had been a long day for all - after school, Sam and I had gone to the OCD doctor while Micah waited, and then we stopped for ice cream and homework before class.

Anyway, we were sitting at a table in the front room, which is also next to the small bar. There was a gentleman sitting at the end of the bar, right near us, through most of our dinner. As we were finishing our meal, he suddenly leaned over and handed me his card.

"Excuse me, but I couldn't help listening to you with your kids. You are terrific with them!"

We went on for more discussion (he's a portrait photographer, hence the business card). But it was so nice to get a parenting compliment. He was impressed with our conversation, and my apparent patience with all their endless questions and comments.

That felt so nice.

I love being a mommy, especially (of course) when the kids are good. And yes, even when they are not so good, I'm still glad I'm a mommy... But I really do love hearing what they have to say, helping them explore the world and digest new ideas.

We were actually having a long conversation about Micah's upcoming birthday. For the past several years, his party has been at a local arcade, which has a party room and decent prices. But he does not want to go there again this year (too much repetition, I think he's getting bored there). And school has a policy, because the school is so small, that you have to either invite 1) the whole class, 2) all kids of same gender in the class, or 3) only one kid.

Since Micah has a combined first and second grade class, that's 10 boys right there, and he is friends with 5 out of 8 of the third grade boys. So that's 18 before we even get to non-school friends (another 8). Then there was the discussions about brothers (could he only invite one but not the other) and specific kids in his class who he's not as close to. And outside friends who SHOULD be invited, even though he prefers to play with them one-on-one instead of in a group.

So it was an interesting discussion, filled with talk about shalom bayit (peace in the house) and being a good friend.

He eventually decided that he really justs wants a sleep-over party, with only 1 kid from his class, one from the 3rd grade, and 3 outside friends. So that was MUCH easier!

Good day overall. David drove Sofia to school again, which meant I could go in and read with Micah (his class has free reading at the beginning of each day, and parents are invited to join), and then I went for a nice walk around Cushing Park. Sofia and David and I went out for lunch, too, because he left this evening for Chicago for a few days. I got a migraine after lunch, and managed to nap while Sofia watched a movie (except for every 10 minutes when she would attempt to wake me up). Sitter arrived at 2:00, which left me enough time to get gas for the car and coffee for the migraine before picking up the boys.

And now they are all asleep (or at least almost sleeping but in their own room), and I can sort through the gigantic pile of papers on my desk...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Seen through loving eyes - The Boston Globe

Seen through loving eyes - The Boston Globe

A nice article, as usual, from Beverly Beckham at the Boston Globe about her adorable granddaughter Lucy.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Shanah Tovah

Happy New Year, everyone. Rosh Hashanah was this weekend, a very festive and wonderful time of the year.

Thursday afternoon was the day school's annual Tashlich ceremony. It's alwasy a lovely time. We gather at the school, and after a brief story for the kids, we all walk down, in groups, to the park nearby. The kids write their wishes for the new year - things they are sorry for, things they would like to change int he coming year. We symbolically cast our sins into the river (in the form of bread crumbs). And every year, it's been wonderfully lovely weather.

Friday the boys did not have school (it would have only been a half day anyway because everyone needed time to prep for the holiday), but Sofia did. So I let the boys watch the Scooby Do movie that they had taped last weekend and relax in the morning. The cleaning ladies arrived after Sofia was done, which meant she got the thrill of helping them/supervising. She LOVES "helping" the cleaning ladies.

Once they left, I was able to start cooking. The Trader Joe's near us has just started carrying kosher brisket, which meant I just HAD to make a brisket. Tasty - but tiny I had to figure out how to make a 2.6 pound brisket, when all my recipies are for 13-14 pounders!

Anyway, due to the smaller size, I also made...London Broil, a Turkey breast, and chicken soup (which meant soup chicken). And rice and asparagus. And I had made honey cake, and bought some other tasty cakes.

While I was cooking, my neighbor and her daughter, who is Sofia's buddy, came over to play. The girls were SOOOOO cute together. They were really playing together, not just parallel play. They kept pretending one was the baby and one was the mamma.

Right after they left, my sister-in-law and niece arrived. My gentle, baby-loving daughter somehow turned into a brute, and kept knocking Lilie over or pushing her or otherwise making life miserable for her tiny cousin.

My friend C and her husband and 2 sons joined us for dinner, which was nice, since I don't get to see them too often. I had to rush out after dessert, because I had to be at "my" shul, Sha'arei Shalom in Ashland, where I am the Cantorial Soloist for the holidays. Sammy came with me (dressed in his suit; VERY handsome), and David and Laura and the other kids arrived about 30 minutes late (looking like 5 clones of varying sizes - they all look very much alike).

Service went well. I was totally NOT ready, but once we started, the rabbi and I got into a good groove. I love working with her. She's a wonderful person.

Home by 9, clean up and go to sleep. Saturday morning, got all the kids fed and dressed, and I left for services. David took the rest of them to Temple Israel, as usual. My service went very well. We finished at 12:30 on the button! Lunch was at friends', which was lovely. Got home fairly early because Micah and I were having allergy attacks. Grown-ups took naps, but kids didn't, so mommies had to wake up.

More services today, but this time I was NOT working at Sha'arei Shalom. Budget cuts, I was only hired for two out of three days this time. So I got to go to TI for the first time since Micah was born. It was nice. We sat in the tent. After services, we walked over to our friends house for our annual holiday meal together (I've been going to their house since before I met David!). And after lunch, we (well, not David and Sofia and the husband and the grandmother, who all napped instead) walked over to the river for the Tashlich service. TI and Chabad are right near each other, so it is a nice opportunity for the two communities to get together (we have a lot of cross-over).

So here we are. Laura and Lilie are already back in CT, the boys are asleep, and Sofia, who took a very long nap, is watching football with David.

Ok, other thoughts: a few days ago, some of my DS friends posted a link to the Sceptical OB, a doctor who questions whether we should be sad about the possibility of DS disappearing because of earlier prenatal testing. I don't feel like linking back to her blog. But one section struck me. First she quotes Dr. Brian Skotko, who is a major DS supporter and leader in the Mass DS community.

Skotko: ...Parents who have children with Down syndrome have already found much richness in life with an extra chromosome. Now is the time for the rest of us to discuss the ethics of our genetic futures.

SOB: Richness? The use of that term is patronizing to both parents and to people with Down Syndrome. It is patronizing to parents because it implies that the lifelong burden of caring for a disabled child should be perceived as "enriching." It is patronizing to people with Down Syndrome by suggesting that their primary value is to enrich the lives of others.

HECK YES! Isn't that ALL of our primary value - to enrich the lives of others?????

I found that the few commentors who agreed with the SOB tended to agree specifically with this section. Which I found more upsetting than any discussion about Trisomy 21.

It's all related. On Rosh Hashanah, we talk about tefillah, teshuvah, and tzedakah - prayer, repentance, and charity, which is also called tikun olam/repairing the world. We each of us have the responsibility to care for each other, to care for our world. To enrich the lives of others.

Just because it may be easier for people with DS to enrich the lives of the people around them, does not make them less valuable. Less individual. Less worthy.

And when it comes to a "lifelong burden" of parenting, I don't remember anyone telling me that parenting was ever a temporary job. As far as I can tell, a good parent remains a parent all their lives. And sometimes it's not easy.

If I had to pick which "issue" I would rather do without in our house, first thing to go would be the Allergies, both food and environmental, for all of us (food for Micah and Sofia, environmental for Micah and me). Second "issue" I would ditch would be mental issues like Sam's OCD and anxiety and mine and David's depression. These things really impact our daily lives, and make me worry.

Learning disabilities - both Sam's and Sofia's - would be next to go. But I don't feel that the learning disabilities make as much of an impact on our lives as the allergies and mental issues. They are learning "differences", and my children will learn ways to learn, ways that work for them.

So that extra chromosome would be the last of our major issues that I would wish to get rid of. It isn't going to kill her. It isn't going to make her sick. It IS going to affect her life. But that just means her life will be different. Not better. Not worse. Different.

Ok, enough. Here are the pictures!

Sofia and Lilie taking a bath:

and then all dressed up for shul:

Thursday, Sammy and Micah blowing shofar at the school's Tashlich ceremony:

And the Rothkopf Family Rosh Hashanah card for 5770:

A Happy and Sweet and Healthy New Year, y'all!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What a Week

When I look at the titles of many of my posts, I notice a theme - constant insanity.

Ok, so last Thursday morning, there was a Champions training at the day school right after drop-off. David offered to drive Sofia to school, so I was able to stay and concentrate, not needing to race back for preschool dropoff.

Champions are people who are more than just "friends" of MWJDS. We go through training, to get the "message" of the school out to the community in a clear and concise way. Many people are Champions. Some are parents, some are grandparents, some are just community members who care about the school. It's a nice way to keep people involved.

Anyway, I had to leave training early, to have a meeting with the school psychologist, and the curriculum coordinator (who is also one of Sam's reading tutors), and the reading specialist. Poor Sam. He is still really struggling with reading. We came up with a tutoring plan, which I hope will not completely overwhelm him.

I left the school somewhat frazzled, because I am so worried about Sam. So I managed to get a pedicure in before I had to pick up Sofia - Yeah! Also managed to get her in for a haircut before we picked up the boys. Also Yeah. I went out for a Girl's Night and had a lot of fun, while David and E stayed home with the kids.

Friday I had to pack us all, since we were going to New York for my friends' daughter's Bat Mitzvah. David came home before I left to get the boys, so I was able to race over without Sofia. We left home around 4pm, and got to my friend R's apartment in Englewood NJ by 9 (stopped for dinner in CT).

R lives in a little apartment complex, more like townhouses, and her apartment is on the second floor. And her downstairs neighbor is apparently a complete silence freak. So poor R spent the entire evening and next morning panicking that we were making too much noise. "Don't walk! Don't put anything on the floor! Don't talk too loudly!" My kids are really not designed for apartment living.

So we were about an hour early to the synagogue the next morning, in R's need to get us out of her house. Which was nice, because everyone started arriving and chatting and saying hi.

This is a gang I went to college with, The Brandeis Crowd. I wasn't really close to most of them during college - most are one or two years ahead of me anyway - but I joined the group through R (who is one of my best friends) after we graduated. There's nothing like friends from your early adult life. We've been through SO much together. We used to all go to S's cottage in Rhode Island for a weekend every summer - 10 of us in a tiny little building. You get close.

So it's a little surreal that we are into the B'nei Mitzvah stage now. David and I missed G's, two years ago, because her mother had told me the wrong date to save! We were so glad to be able to make this one.

The service was nice. It was a Reform synagogue. VERY Reform. I don't think anyone was there who wasn't actually a guest for the Bat Mitzvah. The Cantor played guitar, and they also had a keyboardist. The Rabbi read just one or two lines for each Torah reading, and then discussed a bit in English. I thought there was some lovely insight. But my snobby husband, with his Orthodox day school background, and my crazy eldest son, with his fears of anything different, spent much of the service in the hallway. Which was ok, because most of the time they also had Sofia (except for the 30 minutes she spent on my lap, eating tiny pieces of rice crackers I found in the bottom of David's tallis bag).

(Sam said to me this morning "I'd rather go to Chabad than to a Reform shul". Hmmmm, so much for pluralistic!)

After the service, which was in Forest Hills, we all drove out to Woodbury, on Long Island, for the party, at the Crest Hollow Country Club.

Ok, I very definitely remember that the Save-the-Date email said "R's low-budget Bat Mitzvah". Apparently, they meant low-budget-for-Long-Island.

For those of you who have never experienced the Long Island Bar/Bat Mitzvah, there is little I can do to convey the true feeling of being there. And yes, I just checked back to my January '09 post about the last Bar Mitzvah we attended, and I did say almost the same thing. Sorry.

Anyway this one was "low-budget" in that it was afternoon instead of evening, not kosher (kosher food is very expensive), and not as big (head-count-wise) as an evening affair. There were only two dancers with the DJ.

But really, it was SO far beyond anything we would do here. When we finally get to Sam's Bar Mitzvah, they will all think we are completely frum (very observant). Which we really are not, but that's ok.

My kids had a blast, of course. Micah wasn't feeling great (he's since developed a full-fledged sinus infection), but he still partied. Sam is a total party animal at these things, and this one was more fun because he knew many of the Brandeis kids. And my daughter just LOVED it.

Sofia playing air hockey (oh, yes, there were several game stations set up for the kids):

And Micah winning:

Sam with much (but not all) of his DJ-provided chazerai (junk):

Mr. "I Broke My Toe, So I'll Just Sit Here":

Micah and Sofia playing basketball:

Sam dancing (notice his position next to the pretty DJ-dancer? NOT a coincidence! He spent the whole weekend flirting, with waitresses and dancers and a variety of young women):

Sofia dancing - we were VERY worried about the DJ's feet getting too close to her head:

Mama Francine in action:

And my Brandeis Crowd.

Really a fun fun day. (Oh, and on our way out of the building, I ran into a friend from Framingham, who was waiting to go into a different party - this place had about 6 different events at the same time - with her family!).

We got to our hotel around 7pm, took the kids for a quick swim, and I ran out to get some sushi while they got ready for bed. We were all exhausted, so it was an early night.

Sunday morning, David's cousin R came over for a short visit. His son recently died (mid-20s, was riding a Vespa on the Whitestone Bridge), and we wanted to visit but we all worried that the kids would be too much for his wife to cope with, so he came to us instead. I'm glad we had a chance to see him.

Then we went to Bethpage State Park, and met up with another cousin and his wife and their one year old daughter. We had a lovely time. The kids played on the playground, we took a short hike, and the guys played badminton while the mommies took the girls back to the playground again.

Grabbed some kosher deli dinner, and then hit the road. We made it home by 9pm. I slept most of the way, because I had a migraine.

Micah stayed home from school yesterday due to the sinus infection, but he was very bouncy. It was a busy day. Micah went with David, so I drove Sam, ran some errands, dropped groceries at home, then went to my own therapy appointment. Got Micah, got breakfast, got Sofia, went to pediatrician. Then dropped minivan at tire place to get new tires, so spent over an hour roaming the plaza with Micah and Sofia. Raced home for a little while, then back to pick up Sam (who at least was getting out late because he had Hebrew tutoring). Then off to the new OCD specialist - I let Micah play on the Nintendo, but it was difficult to keep Sofia contained for 45 minutes.

Got them home, quick dinner, baths, and then I went out to Chabad, to a Ladies' Night Honey Cake Baking evening. Very nice time. Yummy cake!

Today was better. Dropped off boys, dropped off Sofia - and her car seat, went to acupuncture, then went back to the day school for a Lunch & Learn with a very good professor/rabbi from my college. Fun to be in an adult ed class, and then I got to do a few tours of the school with people who hadn't seen it yet. I love showing off the school. It's very satisfying.

Meanwhile, Sofia had been picked up from preschool by my "backup-babysitter" A, who is going to take over Tuesdays from E. I ran home after the Lunch&Learn, but Sofia greeted me with "Bye. Out. Drive. Car. Bye." So A said she could stay.

Back to school, playground and mommy chats, and then Tae Kwan Do. Without Sofia, I was able to FINALLY start prepping for Rosh Hashanah. Made it through most of the service. Whew. Nothing like last minute.

Kids didn't get to sleep until after 8:30, and David didn't get home until 9:30 from dinner with friends, so now here's my blog.

If I don't post again this week: Shanah Tova to everyone. A Happy and Healthy and Sweet New Year.

Oh, and Miss Sofia on the first 'real' day of preschool lats week:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Busy couple of days

Well, THAT was an interesting two days...

Tuesday was just a whirlwind.

1. Drive boys to school
2. Chase Sofia around the playground
3. Drive Sofia to school (YEAH!!!)
4. run home to finish breakfast
5. dump some paperwork into the savings box at the bank
6. Trader Joe's for a few items
7. get thoroughly beaten up by the acupuncturist
8. race back to pick up Sofia
9. home for a very quick lunch
10. get gas for the minivan
11. go see the new psychotherapist recommended for Sam's OCD
11 a. chase Sofia around said psychotherapists office while trying to have a coherent conversation
12. take Sofia to a playground to burn off some energy
13. pick up boys and two extras
14. drive to J's house
15. SWIM (nice heated pool!)
15 a. don't really swim, just try to keep Sofia from drowning
15 b. hand off Sofia so I can comfort Micah about something
15 c. try to rush my children to get dressed because we had to...
16. drive to Tae Kwan Do for the boys' first class of the school year
17. chase Sofia around TKD
17 a. break up six arguments between Sofia and another little girl re: toys
17 b. search for Sofia...and find that she's stuffed herself into a locker in the boys' changing room...and doesn't want to get out
18. Drive back home again.

By the time David walked in, I was very very near tears. I prepped some leftovers for me and Sofia, left out other food he could give to all males, and tried to ignore them for a few minutes.

(But the cute story: before dinner, I was laying flat on my stomach on the living room floor. I was in quite a bit of pain from the acupuncture treatment [all better today], and really wiped out. Sam was trying to rub my legs, Micah was bouncing around, and Sofia kept climbing on my back and shoving her face near mine and saying "Mama? Eat!" So Micah said "Hey, SOfia, do you want to go watch School House Rock?" "OH WOW! Yes!" She was very cute. And Micah was very helpful.)

Anyway, we got them into bed, I managed to read quietly with Micah after Sofia went to sleep. Poor Sam was going into OCD mode, and David had a nice long serious chat with him. I got into my own bed and was reading, when David and Sam came in. We continued the serious conversation, and then started getting a little sillier, until David and Sam were playing a little game of Tag in our room...

...and David made it all the way around the ottoman EXCEPT for his pinky toe.

Fractured. And hanging out at a 45 degree angle. Much pain.

So it was a rough night, made even more difficult by appearances by each of the three kids, somewhere in the 2am vicinity.

Ok, this morning, David was still in a lot of pain, and kept getting nauseous and almost passing out when he tried to stand. Mr. Martyr was going to drive himself down to his (conveniently already scheduled) doctor's appointment (an hour away - he still sees all the docs from before we were married).

I made the executive decision, arranged for my wonderful neighbor to take Sofia to and from school, we raced off to bring the boys to school and then got to spend the morning at his doctors' office (it's a big Medical Center, with a lot of departments). Turns out his actual appointment was canceled, but since he is there every 8 weeks for his Remicade infusion, he is well knkown and loved by the nurses, who rushed him through for an Urgent Care visit and an Xray. Orthopedics took forever, and ultimately all they could do was buddy-tape the toe to the next one.

But at least I got to spend the morning hanging out with my hubby. If it weren't so bizarre, it would have been lovely.

Anyway, got back just in time to get Sofia (who did NOT want to leave the neighbor's house - someone else's toys AND a dog!), and take her to her first gymnastics class at the new place. She loved it, especially the trampoline (of course!). There were only 6 kids, and she's one of the older - I put her in the 3.5-4.5 class instead of the next age up. Good choice. She wandered away a few times, but by the end she was getting the hang of it. The lead teacher knows her from past birthday parties, and was very good with her. The assistant needed a little training. But it was a good class.

And a full hour, so we had to race out to go get the boys. Then race back to the same building to drop Sammy at his regular therapy appointment. Then I screwed up, and took Micah to HIS appointment, but he won't start for another two weeks. Walked the little ones around a bit, then we just sat in Sam's waiting room until he was done.

Whew. Dinner, baths, Sammy homework (5th grade is a lot tougher!), David is asleep, and I just spent a few hours prettying up the handout for the High Holidays. I hope the Rabbi likes it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

My Wild Daughter

Friday evening, I took my kids to my friend N's house for Shabbos dinner. Her son is a good buddy of Sam's, the daughter is 9 and either plays with Micah or Sofia, and my kids have a field day with all their toys. Miss Sofia especially loves to play on the Wii! ANd I get to talk with my friend and her husband, although sometimes (like this time) I have to fix their computer...

So we didn't leave their house until 10pm, and they live 45 minutes away. Late night. Sofia had been begging me to go home for at least an hour before we finally left.

So no way was I going to wake up in time for shul in the morning. We slept in (well, technically, I tried to sleep in, but my children still woke up obscenely early).

Finally got our act together and went to Stow, to my friend R's house, for a BBQ and block party. Great time. They have a big trampoline in their back year (with a net around it for safety).


She loved it. She didn't care how many other kids were on (we tried to limit it to 4 at a time, but sometimes that had to not include her...).

Eventually, I did have to pull her off, because there were too many other kids waiting (and she was getting very overheated). Oh boy, did she SCREAM at me! Massive tantrum. I had to bring her into the house, and kept putting water on her face and neck to cool her off. She just kept screaming. My friends watched, and one did have a positive comment: "Just listen to how many WORDS she is screaming at you!"

It was pretty impressive. Eventually she was able to go back on the trampoline, and stayed and stayed. She would just sit while other kids bounced, and when she got really tired, she laid flat on her face - and still other kids bounced around her. She was so happy in there!

It was a great day for all of us. Aside from the trampoline tantrum, I mostly got to relax and talk to other grownups. Later in the afternoon, the bigger kids went out on the block and played water balloons and scooters on the street (a cul-de-sac that had been blocked off from traffic). I had my three plus A (from Sam's class). I took Sofia out front and she had a blast riding around in a motorized car for a while.

Then, way cool, someone on the block put up a large screen, and once it got dark, they showed a movie! (Witch Mountain, the new one). It was lovely. Sofia fell asleep in my lap almost immediately, but the others had fun. We finally left at 9:30, had to drive A home, so didn't get home until 10:30.

Micah and Sofia were of course asleep, but Sam had to take his shower. Then he had a massive OCD tantrum. He refused to wear any of the clean pajama pants in his drawer, because they were "contaminated" from going to camp or vacation. Really upset, and not completely lucid. Eventually, we got him a pair of David's pants (my husband is "petite" but much larger than a 10 year old!).

Sigh. I found myself wishing for one "normal" child. Then I thought a bit more, and decided that would be horribly boring. My kids may all be "special", but there's rarely a dull moment!

Sunday was busy, too. I got the kids out, and took them to Brookline. First we attempted the Israel Bookstore, where Sofia had a bit of a prima-donna tantrum about wanting to shop in different areas or maybe rearrange all the books. We survived that, and then braved the Butcherie.

Now, a word for those of you unfamiliar with the Boston area's largest kosher meat market. It's the size of a very small convenience store, yet it has at least 8 aisles of kosher and/or Israeli packaged foods, a deli counter, a whole wall of meat and chicken, another section for dairy, a small wine section, and usually at least 30 customers and almost as many staff (most of whom do not speak English). It is a nightmare at the best of times (and by best of times, I mean 5:30 am the Sunday morning two weeks before Passover. Without kids.).

So I'm trying to navigate around this nightmare, find all the items I can't get anywhere else, and keep Sofia from jumping out of the carriage. And keep the carriage from falling over with her (which it did once, in front of the store manager, who was VERY releaved not to have to explain "liability" to my children...).

Made it out, loaded all the meat into the cooler, maneuvered the minivan out of the incredibly small and crowded parking lot, and headed to Logan Airport. And for some reason, I took a very long way around, but at least the kids got to see some of The Fenway (which is the lovely park area that runs past the Museum of Fine Arts. Fenway Park, where I'm told some sports teams occasionally muster, is at the other edge of The Fenway.).

Waited in the Cell Phone Lot until David landed. Kids were bouncing around in the car. Eventually got to pick him up - yeah, all done with the Czech Republic!

Drove from Logan to Westford, about 45 minutes away, to attend a surprise party for one of his friends (well, mom and kids are our friends, too!). Stayed about 2 hours, then spent an hour driving back towards home; had to drop Sam off at shul for a Kadima (5th/6th grade youth group) event.

Took David and the little ones home, had dinner, bathed Sofia, and went back to pick up Sam. After all that driving, it's no wonder I need new tires (after I replaced them a year ago) and a new radiator. Ugh, my project for this week.

Today was better...eventually. David is still on Eastern Europe time, so he went into the office at 5:30, and didn't come home until after 11am. Which meant that I had to take all three kids to the grocery store. Nightmare. Sofia kept screaming at Micah, they both kept racing up and down the aisles, and Sam was stressing about.. something (I just didn't even want to know).

But we survived that, too, and then had a lovely BBQ here at home with our friends (their son is in Sam's class, daughter a year older than Micah). Sofia tags along with the big kids most of the time. The dad plays guitar, which had Sofia completely enthralled. Really fun. And more relaxing than yesterday.

Whew. Tomorrow they ALL have school - hooray! I have acupuncture while Sofia is in school, we're all going swimming at J's house when the boys get out, and then it's off to the first day of Tae Kwan Do for the school year.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Nine Years of Preschool

At 10 pm last night, I suddenly realized that Sofia's "Meet & Greet" Orientations at Preschool were THIS week, not next week as I had in my calendar. Which means we missed the Monday/Wednesday/Friday group already. But we went today. (This also means she starts school a week earlier than I'd expected - yeah!)

Yes, my ninth year at a preschool orientation. (Ok, maybe there were one or two I did not attend for the boys). I am SO done!

Miss Sofia was very happy to be back in school. Mind you, she spent 5 weeks this summer in the same classroom anyway, but her primary teacher was only there for the first week of the summer, and one of the aides had been out since February recovering from surgery. So it was nice to have all three teachers (primary plus 2 aides) together again.

Many of the kids in Sofia's class are younger - it's the Integrated classroom, so there are still kids her age, including three of her girlfriends from last year. But it's not officially a Pre-K class, and for some of the families, this was really the FIRST day of preschool.

They let the kids get acclimated, then take the parents down to the music room for an orientation with the principal. When I returned to pick up Sofia (I had to leave, to get home for my meeting with the rabbi to go over High Holiday services), Sofia was NOT pleased to see me.

"No! Mama. Go. Car. Out. Go."

And she made a pushing gesture, to reinforce it.

Ok. Glad she's happy in school.

I finally dragged her out of there (promised her food, of course!).

Ok, back up a sec. I've been worrying about something recently. You see, a few days ago, one of my FaceBook DS-Mommy friends posted a bit about how the difficulties her daughter was having this year, because she was in a class with kids she did not know and her own friends were on a different schedule. And that all got me thinking:

Let's say all works perfectly, and Sofia is able to attend the day school for at least 3 glorious years. From what I've studied, the academic difficulties start to really appear around 3rd grade. So what if, in the best interests of the child, we decide it is necessary to move her back to public school around 3rd or 4th grade? How will she integrate into an essentially new school (although she will probably know a few kids, and maybe some will remember her)?

Anyway, on the way out of the preschool this morning, I managed to find the SpEd coordinator. She's an interesting lady; I like her. I'd been warned about her by some of the Early Intervention people, because she can be tough in a meeting, but so far, she has been terrific about Sofia. Very wry and dry, but I am comfortable talking to her with my questions and concerns, and I feel that she does take us seriously.

So I voiced this little emotional drama in my head to her. She made me laugh: she looked down at Sofia, who was doing her very best to escape my clutches and open the door, all the while greeting the families that were coming in for the next orientation session. And then she said "Ahh, I don't think you or your daughter need ever worry about making friends!"

Here is my warrior-princess on the playground before we went in to school:

And here she is with her classroom aide:

Oh, and apparently there were 17 (out of 59) kids in the nurse's office today at the day school, including Mr. Micah, who seems to have a bad case of "there are 19 kids in my classroom this year, not 9 like last year." (they combined the first and second grades this year) I was called, and already on my way, so he got out 15 minutes early. And was fine for the next 2 hours that we stayed to play.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

First Day of School

"It's the MOST WONDERFUL time of the year..."

I know, I know, if you are a teacher, it's not so much, but oh MY, those last few weeks of summer really are difficult! SO I was thrilled to take the boys back to school this morning.

I really do love the school, for many reasons. The excellent academics. The detailed attention given to each child. The programs. The wonderful environment.

But I also love it because I love all the people there! The teachers, the staff, and the parents. And yes, even the kids...

So Micah was awake by 6am, quietly went downstairs and ate breakfast, then got dressed. By 6:20, he was in my room, trying not to talk too loudly (Sofia was asleep in my bed. I, alas, had woken up at 5:30 when she came in...)

We managed to get out the door without too much drama; both boys were excited, I'd been efficient and packed as much of the backpacks and lunchboxes as could be done in advance (although somehow, Sam's shofar got OUT of his backpack, possibly when it went through the dryer in an effort to "sanitize" the "contaminated" section. I'm really NOT liking this OCD crap!)




Sofia and I stayed at school for the Family Connection meeting and some playground time, and then came home to rest and watch TV. After lunch, I was going to take her to a playground, but she fell asleep in the car, so I ended up at school an hour early, put her in the stroller (still asleep) and walked around the building a few times.

We stayed and played for about 45 minutes after school, and then meandered home. There are about 75 road construction spots between home and school, so now it takes forever to go back and forth. I hope they finish some of them soon!

This evening, Sam was looking at a photo of me from when he was younger, and said: "You haven't changed much, Mommy . In fact, you look like a Trophy Wife!"

I don't know whether to be happy or really really worried...