Saturday, December 25, 2010

Lovely but weird

For all who celebrated today, Merry Christmas. And for all who observed Shabbat, Shavua Tov (a good week, the traditional greeting when Shabbat is over).

We actually had a "traditional" meal last night - we went out for Chinese food with two other families! I must admit, I far prefer home-based Shabbat dinners! The restaurant was loud, the food was not very good (the boys had mediocre sushi, Sofia and I had awful Special Veggie dish. David at least got to eat shrimp, but he said it wasn't good either.). And I really can't wait until next week, when the same two families are coming here for Shabbat and New Years Eve!

Today was nice. Of course Sofia woke me up waaaaaaay too early, but eventually we dragged ourselves to shul. Sofia was in a miserable mood, got angry at David, and would only be happy in Mommy's arms. Sam and Micah and their friend led Ashrei, and did a great job, although they were all so short you couldn't see them over the top of the reader's table.

After services, there was a lunch - this was the first time they had asked for donations, and I guess enough of us had paid the requested price and several people had paid way more, so it was MEAT! This is a community that doesn't get much kosher meat, at least communally. Deli - YUM! (Why? 'Cause there is no place close by to get it, nearest is 40 minute drive, and kosher meat is VERY expensive!).

After lunch, there was a quick minyan (second service of the day) and then Game Day. Everyone had brought lots of board games and other non-electronic games. It was lovely to sit around and talk with friends and play. Sofia had fun with her princess dolls and some other girls (although she did drop several dolls over into the lift shaft of the small elevator that lifts a wheelchair to the stage - David had to climb over the wall to get them back).

Just as we were getting ready to go home, David came in carrying a magazine. There is a big brochure and literature display in the hallway, and he had found this magazine. Which would normally be just a normal publication from another Jewish organization, except...

...the older lady on the cover is my great-aunt Toby. Who passed away several years ago.


So that was reallyt weird. I started crying a bit. I really miss her! What an amazing lady she was. Here's the post I wrote when she passed away.

Ok.

Anyway, when we got home, David and I took naps, despite Sofia's best efforts to keep me awake. Then Dr. Who marathon, and now we are getting ready for the new Dr. Who special. YEAH!

It's supposed to blizzard tomorrow. We'll see.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sam's IEP

Whew! I survived Sam's IEP meeting. Of course, the normal drama before: Sofia woke up at 4am with a stomach bug, and I spent all morning (while I was getting a massage!) trying to find a sitter since my morning sitter had to leave for work by noon. Sofia ended up watching Disney movies at my friend's house - and barfing on their carpet. But I was very appreciative!

Anyway, the meeting was good. There is NO DOUBT that Sam still qualifies for services. We were able to highlight the specific problems - anxiety, self esteem, reading, processing speed, word retrieval, etc. We only spent about 10 minutes on the actual IEP document, but we brainstormed a lot. David is in Baltimore, so I had him write out his statement, which basically boils down to "Whatever we're doing, it's not working. Sam can't read or write."

So.

We discussed some of the other teaching methods for dyslexia, and will be following up with several. We are also going to have Sam go to the public school for some reading support (yeah, more driving for me), which will not only get him support, but will also get him to start interacting with other kids who he will probably be with in high school.

So.

I'm satisfied. Maybe I'm naive, or we are just charmed. I hear from my friends who are either IEP parents or advocates how tough the public schools can be about services. Yet for my kids, it feels like they give us everything we ask for.

I also asked the public school OT, who has been involved with Sam's IEP since the beginning and who is also on Sofia's plan, to attend, and she was able to voice the question about whether he should stay at the day school, which eventually led to the compromise of having him come for some services.

Whew!

So now I have a sick child sleeping on my bed. Hopefully she'll be better and sleep longer - I'm tired!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fish Killer!

Poor Sam. Sofia has killed "Gefilte Fish", the goldfish he got at school.

How did my delicate daughter manage to do this? Well, apparently a 3/4" long fish stands no chance against the following items being thrown into the tank:

- vampire "teeth" (poor fishy was trapped under these)
- a small (half-inch) teddy bear
- a larger (5") plastic grizzly bear
- a 2" round flat rock

Gefilte received a burial at sea this morning. He hung in for many hours after The Incident, but he looked so miserable, even Sam wasn't sorry when the end finally came.

In other news, I simply love our pediatrician. Sofia needed nebs again at 1:00 am (has needed them at 5am for nearly a week), and now has a rash all over her torso, so not only is Miss Sofia on antibiotics, but doc gave me scripts for both boys, who continue to be less-than-completely-healthy. So hopefully we will finally get rid of this "cold" that has been haunting us for two weeks.

Sofia came with me Thursday to cook at shul, but she did go back to school Friday. The luncheon was well-received on Shabbos - since it was Camp Shabbat (with reps from various overnight camps), we had a very kid-friendly meal of pizza, tuna, egg salad, veggies, and brownies. And lemonade! David was in charge of our kids, while I was in the kitchen the entire morning.

Saturday night, we got to go out as grown-ups with another couple, and had a FABULOUS time. And a bit too much tequila. But really GOOD tequila. And great sushi. YUM.

Sunday, Sam was singing in the Day School concert (all the area schools together). We got him a ride there with the principal, and David had to leave for the airport, but I got to the concert with the other kids about 45 minutes late, so I missed most of it. But heard the high school a-cappella group do an awesome version of Todd Rundgren's "Honest Work".

Took my kids and my "adopted" daughter (Sam's classmate, my friend's daughter) to Taam China for kosher Chinese food. Crazy, but fun. And David's flight got canceled, so I brought him some take-home food. (He left this morning instead).

Finally figured out how to get Sofia's movies loaded onto the hard drive of the Blu Ray drive, so now we don't have to touch the dvds any more. Whew!

I'm TIRED. Up half the night helping Sofia breath.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sick Week

Both boys stayed home from school on Monday. Sam had a tiny bit of fever in the morning, threw up (on my carpet, thanks), and then was absolutely fine. Micah just felt awful.

Sofia did go to school, and Sam hung out at David's office with my friend D while Micah and I went off to Newton Wellesley Hospital. I had a hand checkup and he had his allergist checkup.

While we were waiting for my appointment, Micah popped a fever. Since my doc was running late, we went over to his appointment first. Poor kid felt awful. Slight temp. Just enough to feel bad.

And of course he lapped up the attention from his allergist, reporting, amongst other things, that he was being "hit and slapped and kicked" by a girl in his class. A-hem. In reality (I checked with the teacher the next morning) it's one of his best buddies, and not nearly as violent as it sounds...

So, after we finally saw my doc (I need to go to hand therapy, for "post op pillar pain" relief), we went to my friend D's house - she and Sam had picked up Sofia from preschool and we all had pizza. David showed up, too!

Micah stayed home Tuesday. In the morning the sitter was here, so I took Sam to school, and got to stay for all-school Tefillah. It was lovely, and especially nice because my mentor, the cantor who taught me my High Holiday "stuff" was the guest speaker. And Sam rocked his Torah reading!

We did go to tae kwan do, but Micah felt totally awful afterwards. But then, our former nanny, Betty, showed up for dinner and her yearly visit, so the boys were up until after 9pm. But they were very happy to see her.

So Micah stayed home again today. I took Sofia with me to drop Sam off, then came home and fell sound asleep for two hours! And Miss Sofia was giving herself a snot facial all morning, so she stayed home, too.

Micah's feeling better but Sofia's certainly worse. She seems to be feeling ok - went to gymnastics - but she looks horrible, face all red, eyes and nose running. Poor baby. Which means she'll be home again tomorrow. No fever, though, which is good.

So now I'm sitting in bed next to my honey, watching "Chances Are" and trying to figure out how to get more movies transferred over to the new blu ray drive. Yeah.

Tomorrow I have to cook for camp Shabbat at shul, but I also have to go to hand therapy and I'll have Sofia with me. Ugh.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tuck & Roll

It's been a loooong week! Being on Benadryl for 2 weeks, and Steroid eye drops for a week, made focusing my brain on anything VERY difficult. Which wouldn't have been a problem if 1) I didn't have these kids and 2) I didn't have 35 lines of Torah to read on Saturday!

Sofia's been in A MOOD all week. Friday, it was "tuck and roll" when I took her to school - I couldn't wait to get away from her!

By Friday, I was also panicked because the 35 lines were not sticking in my brain, so thankfully I was able to give 10 lines to someone else.

And thankfully, my dear friend H invited us to dinner on Friday evening - Micah went home with them for a play date right after school, and Sam and Sofia and I went over later.

Thursday morning I also had a nice time shopping with my other dear friend D - we got a little punchy as we shopped, but it was fun. Put together our gift basket for the faculty and staff at the school.

Saturday, the boys looked SO handsome! Sam had his new suit, and Micah actually wore a sport coat (although his "dressy" pants turned out to be jeans - I lost that argument - but the outfit really worked).




Unfortunately, Sam started feeling ery sick during shul, and fell asleep as soon as we got home. Woke up with 102.7 temp, poor kid. Which also meant that he missed his other friend's bat mitzvah party in the evening. Fortunately, he is feeling better today - we went to pediatrician this morning, and strep test was negative.

So we hung out all afternoon. David came home from Copenhagen around 8pm, and after Sofia went to bed, the rest of us stayed up watching a DVD.

Today David had to deal with what we call "re-entry" - trying to get back into the swing of having three little kids around. It's difficult. Besides the trip to the pediatrician, I had a Zamir lunch to attend (we were honoring the Alto Section Leader, so a lot of us alums needed to be there), and Micah had a birthday party (which also meant he needed to buy a gift). Soit was kind of a crazy day.

But eventually we all had dinner together, and lit the chanukiyot (menorahs) together.





Oh, and a story from last week about Sofia:

Friday afternoon, we were eating lunch with my sister and the girls, and talking about Micah's gymnastics class. We were about to change topics, when Sofia piped up:

"Fia! Monkey Gym! Class! Fia!!!"

She didn't want us to forget to talk about her gymnastics class, too! It was the first time I was really sure she had been following the conversation. She was so totally engaged!

On another note, I heard from Dr. Skotco on Friday regarding the results of the sleep study.

- No Apnea
- No unusual Limb Movements
- Cardiac was fine

However, she had elevated CO2 and low Oxygen. Which of course could either be normal for her (since they didn't have waking levels) or could be a result of having to sleep prone on her back all night (if you've got low muscle tone, it could be just harder to breath fully when laying on your back).

So they are recommending a chest xray and blood gasses. I'll do the blood work when we do her regular blood tests for endocrinology. Not sure if I want to follow through with the chest xray. Will take the appointment with the sleep specialist, to hear what he has to say, but not making any firm decisions yet.

Meanwhile, she's successfully wearing underpants every day, and only having accidents once in a while. Biggest challenge is "spray" - she has an uncanny nack for peeing across the room - I'd thought only little boys could get that kind of coverage! It's because she's so interested in the fact that she's peeing, she leans over too far. Gross.

Micah has been having a lot of mood swings, especially during school, and we were starting to get worried...until Friday, at the school talent show, when we realized that all he truly needs is a microphone! They had to pry it out of his hands, and he was SO happy! (But I am still altering his diet, and pulling sugar and much of his starch. Now I need to find a protein he will actually eat.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Hanukah Miracle

My husband just experienced a Hanukah miracle. In Copenhagen, trying to find matches so he can light the travel menorah I gave him this year. Can't find matches anywhere. Tries and tries and tries. Sundown is coming...then he looks down, and finds...a LIGHTER on the ground! Just in time!

So here's another video... there are SO many!

So Far today

So far today, I have been:

- warming blanket (for Sofia in my bed)
- alarm clock
- bathroom monitor
- respiratory therapist (Sofia needed nebs, thanks, Lilie)
- psychologist (Sam was bemoaning his dyslexia)
- orthopedic expert (Micah twisted his ankle)
- short-order cook
- hair stylist
- chauffeur
- athlete (hey, humor me there - I worked out as hard as I could!)
- tech support geek (got the blu ray and the VCR both working!)

And it's only 10:00! Can I go back to sleep now?

But tonight is the first night of Chanukah, so here's one of my favorites:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Well, I guess we survived the weekend

Ok, it's been weird. Thanksgiving day was as painful lovely as expected. The boys had a great time with their cousins, Hannah and Julia. Sofia played for a while, then escaped to the mud room with mama's laptop, Monsters Inc. and her pillow pet. David helped wash some dishes, and otherwise hung out watching three different football games with my brother-in-law, father, uncle, and assorted cousins. I mostly tried to stay out of my sister's way. Whenever I help, I manage to do something wrong. This time, I set the table and gave my cousin silverware that was too small. Got thoroughly ridiculed for it.

And all the while, my allergies were in full force. I walked around holding a kleenex box all day. Nose running, eyes itching like crazy.

(And of course I am never so aware of the fact that my daughter has Down syndrome as when I am with my family. I noticed a picture of my cousin when she was little, and realized there was a resemblance between her and Sofia, but when I pointed it out to my sister, she concentrated on the chromosome more than the family relationship. And on Friday, she actually described something as "retarded" - I caught my breath and didn't say a word. It's not worth the effort.)

Friday was a little better. I get along with my sister much much better when there are no other relatives around and when she's not stressed about serving dinner. She and I went to the gym in the morning, and then we took the kids to see Tangled. Loved it! (Sofia has spent the past several days saying "Princess? Long Hair? Hannah Julia? Come! Line UP!" and running to the door.) David spent the time at the bookstore nearby, which was heaven for him. We had a quick lunch back at the house, and then back up home - me still on Benadryl, of course.

When we got home, Sam and I had to go run some quick errands, so Friday night was very low-key and not so Shabbos-y. Saturday morning, David went to shul, but I 1) felt awful and 2) had a ton of cooking to do, so I stayed home... which of course meant that the kids did, too.

So I cooked, and we cleaned, and got ready for our company. My in-laws arrived around 3pm, Laura and Lilie and Travis shortly thereafter. Our friends D&E and their girls also joined us for dinner. We had a really pleasant afternoon. The boys taught my mother-in-law how to play various card games, while Sofia and Lilie played with toys and trashed the house.

My inlaws slept over, and Laura left Lilie with us, too, so it was a full house. David and Sam and my father-in-law stayed up late talking. I got Sofia to bed, then put Lilie (and coincidentally my mother-in-law) to sleep downstairs.

But all day, although my sinuses were a bit better, my eyes were much much worse. I could barely see, and there was tons of gunk.

Woke up Sunday morning with my lids swollen almost completely shut.

David took me to CVS, but the nurse at the clinic wouldn't take me - told me to contact primary, since she was not allowed to deal with eye issues. Got some Zatador, awesome allergy OTC eyedrops, which at least took some of the pain away and allowed me to open my eyes. Called primary, and was told to go to ER.

Sooo, my second ER visit this year. And yes, I did drive - by this time, my eyes were a little better.

Doc at ER thinks it was actually an allergic reaction to the antibiotic drops I'd been taking since the previous Saturday! Stopped those, continue Benadryl and Zatador, and go see my eye doc today.

Which meant we got to go see my eye doc today, of course. The boys didn't have school today (professional development), and Sofia doesn't start until 12:30, so the whole circus got to go. My eye doc is also a friend from the shul where I cantor; I had tutored his son for bar mitzvah a few years ago (the kid started college this year!).

Steroid drops RULE! He said my corneas were ok (ER had also checked that), but whites and lids completely swollen. Drops every hour today and tomorrow, then a few times a day for a week. I'm already feeling a bit better.

Took Sofia to school, and then took the boys shopping. Had a blast. My sons really like Old Navy, and tried on a bunch of clothing. I had a coupon for 20% off everything, and we really used it! Needed it, though - winter jacket for Micah, jeans for Sam and for me, sweatshirt/Chanukah presents for the boys, etc. Yeah. We also went to some other stores, and found a sports jacket for Micah (HE wanted to wear it!) and a suit for Sam, which he needs for the bar mitzvah this coming weekend. I'm psyched that Micah wants to get more dressed up!

Odd side-note: Both my boys are very good about holding doors open for people when we are out and about. So is David. Well, today, some lady was so overwhelmed by Sam's courtesy, it was sort of embarrassing. And David said that the other day, when he held the door for someone, she said no one had done that for her in a long time.

Really? No one holds the door for people any more? How sad.

Oh! Mind-track change again. Sorry, I forgot all about Wednesday!

Half day for the boys, no school for Sofia, lots of packing, cleaning and relaxing in the afternoon. Boys had appointments until 5pm; then we met David over at Best Buy and finally joined the 21st century by getting 2 flat screen TVs! Plasma for upstairs, LCD downstairs. BIG. Probably bigger than we needed. But fun!

David and the boys took the TVs home, and Sofia and I went to Children's Hospital in Waltham for her Sleep Study. That was weird. Waited in lobby too long; Sofia nearly fell asleep in my arms after we got her into pjs in the bathroom. Then the tech said she needed to stay up another 45 minutes to get set up - it was already way past bedtime.

I snuggled with Sofia on the bed, watching a movie on my laptop while the tech got prepped. Then we started wiring my baby. Started with her legs, then her chest. I had to bear-hug from behind, wrap my legs around her legs, grip her hands. Poor baby screamed "Let Go" over and over until she fell asleep. Good thing, too, since I don't think she would have held still for the head wires!

About 25 wires attached to my baby's head, then gauze wrapped all around her head. She looked like she'd been in a bad accident. Very fragile. AND we had to keep her flat on her back all night...which meant I got nearly no sleep, as I had to move her every time she shifted. I started out on the couch/chair, but ended up squished into bed with her so I could hold her still.

Not too sure how that's an accurate test for how she regularly sleeps. And of course the tech couldn't tell me anything.

6:00 AM, tech pops in and says "all done" and by 6:20 we were in the car. Weird. Got home at 7, and couldn't go to sleep (so we set up the TVs instead). I slept in the car on the way down to CT.

Whew. Oh, and David left for Copenhagen last night for the week. Which was partly why my eyes were such an emergency - I'm back to single-parenting again this week. Boo hoo.

Home phone line is dead, Comcast tech coming tomorrow. And while I was online with them, I figured out that we can actually watch movies on my computer, too, so now the boys are watching "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" on my desktop.

Chanukah starts Wednesday night. YEAH! And I still have to learn my 35 lines of Torah for this Saturday. Getting there, but I lost a couple of days with my eye problems. UGH.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

An early happy thanksgiving to all. My sister "owns" t-day (after The Incident With The Knife - my father, my mother, a carving knife and a lot of yelling...), so we will head to her house Thursday...after Sofia and I return from Children's Hospital Waltham, for her sleep study. Should be interesting.

Then we'll come back home, and my in-laws will join us here on Saturday for round 2. And David is then off to Copenhagen. Sigh. It was nice having him home this week.

Went to friends' for Shabbos dinner, always fun. Then David had to work in the morning, and I was going to take the kids to shul, but my eyes were killing me, so we went to the eye doctor instead. Since Sofia had conjunctivitis, I figured I should get checked, too. Sure enough, eye drops for me, too.

Lazy the rest of the day. Sunday, we got up early and went to CT for Lilie's 3rd birthday! I can't believe that little girl is 3 already! The party was at a "jump" place, lots of blow-up climbing structures. Got a great pic of David, Sam and Sofia playing basketball:



Nice to see everyone. Stopped by his grandmother's on the way out, but she refused to get out of bed (unfortunately, she is at 'that' stage...). Then I had a massive allergy attack, and we had to find some Benadryl, quick! Stopped at Rein's for dinner, and I nearly fell asleep in my fries. Got home, and slept 14 hours.

Allergy attack continues, however. Took Benadryl again last night, and about to take some tonight. Other than the sneezing, itching eyes, and trouble breathing, I feel fine, so I don't think it's a cold. Weird. Not sure what I'm allergic to, unless maybe the new carpet. Which does not explain why it gets worse in the car...

Anyway, safe travels to all! I am thankful for many things, but especially for my beautiful family.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

November So Far

Sorry for the lengthy absence. It's been a little insane.

The month started well - first a Gala meeting and then a much needed massage. The boys had no school on Nov. 2, so we had Micah's 9 year checkup and ran some errands while Sofia was in school. On Nov. 3, Sofia and I went to Children's to see the Behavioral Psychologist. Good appointment. This was the first time someone explained sticker charts for potty training in a way that didn't seem completely impossible to do. And in the middle of the appointment, Sofia asked to go to the potty!

We had the Selections Fundraiser on Thursday - a local boutique gives 20% of all proceeds for the day to the school. I got some lovely items - a sweater, a shirt, socks, and a few gifties.

That weekend, we had two extra kids all weekend. Sam's friend S and his sister J (who is Micah's friend) stayed with us while theri parents went to NJ for a wedding. Great kids. Sam and S and I all read Torah at the children's service in the morning, and they hung out all afternoon.

And Sunday the 7th was Micah's birthday party! We managed to narrow it down to about 10 kids (9 boys and the above-mentioned sister J, who is very much a tom-boy and fit right in), and I found a very inexpensive magician, Crazy Davy. Who also brought a 7 foot tall balloon art:

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The Magician did a good job of keeping the kids busy for an hour:
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Sofia was especially thrilled, and wanted to be his assistant:
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After the show, Micah had put together some sort of Harry Potter themed scavenger hunt, and as I watched all these clueless little boys run around the house, I had only one thought: "THESE are the future captains of industry???"

Cake was yummy - Micah requested chocolate cake with fluff in the middle and strawberries and whip cream on top. Punch was good, including the eyeballs floating in it (love shopping the week after Halloween!). Kids left in a timely fashion. WHEW.

And then I was in full-out Gala Prep mode all last week. Crazy. So much to do. And on Thursday, the kids had no school. Dropped Micah in Wellesley for a playdate, took Sam and Sofia to the day school for Conferences (Sam had to be at his, Sofia stayed in babysitting), then hung out with friends all afternoon - I worked on my laptop and also taught my friend how to do her presentation in PowerPoint.

And Sofia stayed in dry underpants for 7 and a half hours!!!!

Yup. Even without the sticker chart (which I figured I'd start after the gala), we can do it - as long as she's not watching TV! Being out and about is good, since I'm more aware of the timing. At home, I get distracted. But she can do it!

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Ok, took a break there for another day...

So anyway, Sofia is wearing underwear a lot, and it's still going well. As long as she's not watching TV, of course.

Friday the carpets got pulled out, which means my house was a mess all weekend (and still is).

Anyway, after a full week of gala prep, I took it really easy on Saturday, and even stayed in bed until after 1pm. NICE.

Sunday was the gala. I left home at 11am, stopped to pick up some things, and was at Gann (the Jewish high school, where the event was being held) by noon. Until 10pm.

Lots of work, lots to set up. Lots to manage. Stressful.

But fun. And the guests all loved it.

Silent Auction only took in 8K, but Live auction took in 20K, so overall, the auction paid for the whole event, and anything taken in for tickets and program book was fundraiser, going toward tuition assistance. Whew.

So this week I'm relaxing...in my own way... Wednesday, the FLOORS arrived! Sofia's room and the upstairs hallway now have laminate instead of dirty rugs. The stairs were supposed to get new rugs today, but they are coming tomorrow morning instead.

Today was Sofia's Thankful Feast at school. Very very cute. Nice to see Sofia really participate with the songs. It was very cute.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween 2010

It was a gorgeous, clear day, although very COLD! We went out for breakfast at the local cafe. Halloween Pancakes - with Reeses Pieces! YUM.

Then we took a walk at Elm Bank in Wellesley, the home of the Mass Horticultural Society. Lovely place, although at this point in the season, somewhat bare.

The giant rocking chair:
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Don't forget about Micah...and his pitchfork...
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The boys had fun climbing this tower. Sofia wasn't so thrilled - she only ever made it to the second step.
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My Sam:
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Micah:
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My husband. Doesn't he look happy and welcoming? (NOT - he was too cold)
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Satan takes a nap:
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Mama has a turn in the chair:
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In the evening, of course, the kids joined the local mayhem. Sam has been going trick-or-treating with his friend/neighbor B since they were both babies, and they once again had a blast together. Micah had a school chum join him. Sofia made it to four houses before David said "she's done" and I had to take her with me. I got to leave candy on the porch and go hang out with the other mommies, while David walked with Micah and his friend (and friend's parents, who spoke Hebrew to each other the whole time).

My "Belle":
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(She had no idea it was Halloween until the pumpkin bucket appeared. Until then, she'd been fighting continuously about the costume and the hair [obviously] and the sweater. But when the pumpkin bucket appeared, she brightened up: "Oh! Candy!")

My charming children:
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(Sam claimed he was a goth preteen vampire. Micah was going to be the headless horseman, but 1) we couldn't find his "faceless" mask, 2) we couldn't find the cape, and 3) carrying a pumpkin head proved to be way too much work for him. So he was...uh... Micah.... with a pitchfork and sunglasses.

Ok, back to GALA work. Go BID on some items, please!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Kvell and Tell

kvell/k(ə)vel/ - Verb: Feel happy and proud.

Today, not only were there services in the main sanctuary, but there were three different kids' services - preschool, younger grades, and grades 3-6. So the boys of course went to the 306, which is held in the chapel, and today was led by the rabbinic interns.

Apparently, Micah was volunteering for just about everything, and Sam was also very involved. But when I stopped in, they were in the middle of the Torah service. Sam had already carried the Torah around the room, and he was at that moment acting as Gabbai, the person who follows along as the reader reads from the Torah. The Torah has no vowels or trope (melody) markings, so the gabbai follows from a book that has both.

So Sam was already proud of himself, and I was pleased to see him participating so happily. But I have seen him do this job before, so it was not a surprise to me that he could do it so well.

The really cool thing was that Micah, when I walked in, was wearing a tallit (prayer shawl), and had a card saying that he would have the second aliyah. The aliyah is the honor of being called to the Torah - not to read, but to say a blessing before and after the reading.

Usually, children under the age of bar/bat mitzvah do not get an aliyah, but since this service was specifically for the kids, they were able to. But Micah's never done this before. And he's never studied the blessing before.

So I was blown away when he read it - in Hebrew - absolutely perfectly! Cool as a cucumber, too.

I am so thrilled that my boys love the big-kid service this year. They are both very comfortable with tefillah (prayer), and really love it. Micah, in school, frets when his classmates are slower to learn a prayer than he is, or when he sees the older kids doing something that his class has not yet learned.

Meanwhile, Sofia and I did spend a bit of time in the preschool service, and she loved marching in the Torah parade (in the preschool service, they used stuffed toy Torahs!). But she was also really happy to be in the main sanctuary, exploring thr large box of childrens' books in the back of the room, or sitting with the Rabbi for the closing prayers.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Clean Carpet

A friend of ours gave our number to the local Kirby Vacuum rep, and today, I got the entire bedroom carpet cleaned and shampooed for FREE. Took over 2 hours. Of course, she showed me the machine and all the nifty attachments you could get with the machine. But the darn thing costs over $1000, and ...oh yeah, I'm ripping out all the carpets this year and getting laminate flooring.

But it's sure nice to have this room clean!

Flooring has been ordered. Just waiting for an install date. Yeah!

Sam and his class returned from Teva camp retreat last night. They had a terrific time. "I didn't like it - I LOVED IT!" was the response form several of the kids. They presented to the whole school at Shabbat this afternoon, with cute skits and songs about what they learned.

I scored a "Belle" dress for Sofia at CVS this afternoon. I usually don't buy costumes, especially before Halloween, but I could not resist this little dress, and it was 25% off. She's wearing it now. I have the feeling she'll be wearing it all weekend. :)

Micah now has a "Happiness Journal" that he carries with him (EVERYWHERE) to record anything that makes him even remotely happy. Obviously, leading the pre-Shabbat prayers at school (birthday kids get to lead) didn't make him happy - he looked like he'd just had his fingernails peeled off.

Hosting a few of Micah's classmates and their families tomorrow night for a movie night. One family going through a very bad cancer bought, this is to let them know how much we love them. Of course it's at my house - it was supposed to be at the school, but not enough families could come, so I was ..... gently manipulated guided into offering to host.

It's been nice having my husband home all week. Next week, back to travel and "single-parenting" again. Boo hoo.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Anita

In this poignant drama, Anita Feldman (an extraordinary debut by Alejandra Manzo) is a young woman with Down Syndrome. Lovingly cared for by her mother (Oscar® nominee Norma Aleandro), Anita helps run her small stationery store in their Buenos Aires Jewish neighborhood. Everything changes on July 18, 1994, when a car bomb explodes outside the AMIA Jewish community center, killing 85 people and injuring hundreds. Disoriented, Anita wanders the city for days – trusting to chance and deeply affecting everyone she meets." In Spanish with subtitles.

(SPOILERS AHEAD)

Tonight was the first night of the Boston Film Festival, with the showing in Framingham of "Anita". I actually got to go on a 'date' with my husband (who is miraculously home this week - the only week for months), along with my friend J, the principal from the boys' school (CK), and a movie theater filled with people over age 60.

It was beautifully acted. Beautiful. The mother is portrayed by one of Argentina's best actresses. The brother was excellent. And the young woman who played Anita was terrific.

But.

At the beginning of the movie, you see the mother painstakingly caring for her daughter, who is probably in her 20s. Some of it was totally "on". At a visit to the cemetery (dad is passed away), mom turns her back for a moment and Anita is gone...wandered down the path to collect stones. But that look of panic on mom's face, totally real.

[Did I mention that the principal, CK, has a grown son with Down syndrome? Just to put it into perspective for you. Two mommies of kids with DS, although her son is in his late 20s, so certainly at a different point than Sofia.]

But.

The mother takes care of her daughter at all times. Helps her undress, talks her through taking a bath. Anita has lovely table manners, and loves helping mom take care of the stationary store.

I wanted to ask CK if the look of weariness that frequently passed over the mother's face was real, or just heavy acting. The tenderness of the relationship, however, was totally real to me.

Brother Ariel is married, but visits each week along with his wife. But he wants to get along with his own life, and doesn't want to have to take his sister to the zoo - he'd rather watch the World Cup game. Sister is disappointed, and you get the feeling this is a frequent occurrence.

Then comes July 18. Mom leaves Anita at the store while she runs over to the AMIA to pick up Anita's benefits check. Anita climbs up on a ladder (which mom had told her not to do), and Boom, the bomb blasts.

Dazed, Anita wanders out of the store, is shepherded onto a bus to the trauma center, and treated for superficial cuts from her fall off the ladder. And then she wanders away. Out of the hospital.

And this is where it gets annoying.

Sweet, innocent Anita, wanders in the cold (July is winter in Argentina, remember?). After a night on the streets, she sees someone using a pay phone, wants to make a call, but doesn't know how. And meets Felix. A down-on-his-luck photographer, fighting with his ex-wife, owing money. You know the stereotype.

And sweet, innocent Anita reaches out her sweet, angelic-looking hand, and of course he helps her!

So Felix takes care of her for a day or two, never bothering to call the police (ok,
this is post-Pinoche Argentina. It took us all a while to understand the fear of the police that would be totally natural there). Then he ditches her on a bus.

And Anita finds herself in her next situation. This time, after the screaming Chinese grocer lady kicks her out of the store twice, aged Chinese mama insists she be helped instead. And she is taken into the family.

Felix even comes into the store and sees her...and runs away.

She stays with the Chinese family (mama screaming all the time), until a robbery scares her away. Sweet, scared, innocent Anita wanders the streets again.

This time, some guys collecting junk (apparently illegally) find a sick and sleeping Anita under a bridge. One junk collector insists on taking her to his sister, a nurse. Sister, of course, fights it but eventually takes Anita in. Even comes to really care for her.

Meanwhile, through all this, brother and sister-in-law are waiting to hear. Are mama and Anita among the survivors? Those scenes, listening to the rabbi and social worker read the list of "those still missing", were harrowing.

And throughout, you can see that brother is torn. If they are both gone, that is one terrible thing. But the horror of having mama die but Anita found scares him *^^*less.

But he keeps looking, while Anita becomes part of the nurse's life. Eventually, they are reunited.

Ok.

But.

Of course, all the folks in the audience were SO MOVED by this. It tugged every heart-string. Oh, how sweet.

Well.

Anita's speech was very clear, and her table manners were excellent. Knife and fork, difficult fine motor skills, perfect.

Yet she couldn't say anything more than "mummy said when the big hand gets to that top number, she'll be back."

No one ever asked her more. Other family? Other things about her neighborhood?

And she knew nothing. Didn't know her own last name - only gave the nickname her mom called her. Didn't know her phone number, address. Nothing.

Sitting there, with David on one side of me and CK on the other, I kept thinking about my five year old daughter. And about CK's son. Even now, Sofia is starting to be able to say Rothkopf. She would certainly talk about Micah and Sam, along with other people in our lives. Yes, I have a 'taggie' on her, pinned to her shoe, with her name, address, and our phone numbers - something this overprotective mother would not have bothered with, since she was always with her daughter.

But Sofia would know how to use a phone. She might not dial the right numbers, but she already knows how to pick up a phone and dial (randomly, I have learned the hard way).

CK said no way would her son have gone hungry - he would have charmed food out of anyone. I could see that with Sofia, too. "Hungry!" Not meek.

Maybe that's just a family difference. My family, as well is CKs - not especially shy or retiring people. A quieter family may produce a quieter person.

But really.

CK asked, when the movie was over, what was the point of making the "foil", the pivotal person, someone with DS. My answer is equally cynical - because they could. Her sweet, angelic presence "deeply affected" all these less-than-perfect people she ran into.

Ok.

Sigh.

Like I said, beautifully acted. But long, and emotionally manipulative. Which made it disappointing. But did I mention beautifully acted?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Just Keep Swimming, swimming, swimming...

We roll merrily along as usual. Micah's birthday party has morphed - I got him to narrow his list to about 11 other kids, and I found a decently affordable magician, so we are having it at home. If he really really wants a pinata, it'll be out in the driveway, hanging from the bedroom window. No more dents in my walls, please.

Sofia started her new gymnastics class today. The My Gym in Framingham had to close this summer, but the corporate office took it over. So this afternoon's class was taught by a guy from North Carolina who is up here to train new staff. He was good, knows his stuff, and it was fun to watch Sofia adapt to a new teacher. When he tried to do the warm-up routine in a different order than last years' teacher, she insisted on doing things in the CORRECT order! He just has to learn not to mention Food or Home, 'cause she drops from whatever she's doing and heads for the door...

But really, the difference a year makes is amazing. She follows almost all the steps, really stays with the class (ok, "class" is kind'a generous - there was only one other kid!). She knows how to do things, and when she needs help, she knows how to ask. Cool!

Sam is getting ready for his class camping trip to Teva, the Jewish ecological retreat center. I love their Philosophy Statement:


Thousands of years ago our ancestors lived with a keen awareness of their dependence on the natural systems that support life. Through their daily interactions with soil, water, and air, they developed a great respect for the Earth and sensed the presence of the Divine within all of Creation. Although many Jews today have lost this connection, our ancient relationship with nature is nevertheless reflected in Jewish law, in our prayers, in the celebration of our holidays, and in the core values of our tradition.

The Teva Learning Center exists to renew the ecological wisdom inherent in Judaism. By immersing participants in the natural world and providing structured activities which sensitize them to nature's rhythms, we help them develop a more meaningful relationship with nature and their own Jewish practices. This process also facilitates personal growth, community building, and a genuine commitment to tikkun olam, healing the world. All Teva programs are built on a thematic progression - from Awareness to Interconnectedness to Responsibility.


I saw a documentary on this place when I was taking "The Place of Nature in the Bible" a few years ago. I'm totally jealous! Sam's whole class is going, I guess along with 6th graders from one of the other area day schools, for 4 days. He leaves Monday, which happens to be Micah's birthday.

But David will be home all next week, so it's sort of a trade. We even have a sort of "date" planned - Tuesday we are going to see a film at the Boston Jewish Film Festival, about a girl with Down syndrome.

He's been traveling again - Chicago this week, he's on the plane to come home now. And over the weekend, he went for a "Guy's Weekend" up to Maine. My girlfriends and I decided that we needed to 'let' the guys get away, but I guess the guys didn't really know what to do, so they fixed the toilet and went for walks and drank a bit. Sort of an organized playdate for our husbands.

Meanwhile, we had fun. Shabbos dinner on Friday evening was back at H's house with J's family. The kids all get along, and the three of us ladies spent about an hour hiding out upstairs and talking. It was nice.

Saturday, Samuel and I both read Torah in the Family Service. He did great. I did ok, was glad my 10 year old friend was able to gabbai for me on the second portion. Lunch at shul, and then...Sofia walked out of the shul. I turned my back for a moment, to put my coat on, and she was gone. Eventually, the cantor's wife found her ...IN THE PARKING LOT. We think she went out the front door and wandered around the building to the back.

UGH.

But she was fine (and miffed that I got so angry at her!). Micah went to his friend's house, and we took an extra Sam home. The two Sams played downstairs, Sofia played upstairs, and I rested a bit. Then I took them shopping. Sam got his first personal invitation to a bar mitzvah party, but the bar mitzvah kid informed him that he had to wear a suit for the service! We found a suit, but it was too big. Poor Sam is in-between sizes just now. Too big for a 10, too small for a 12.

Quiet night at home. Sunday morning, dropped Sam at another friend's house, and took Sofia and Micah to the Maccabees pre-K program at the day school. It was fun. We stayed and played on the playground for a long time after. Picked up Sam, fed them lunch, and when my sitter arrived, dropped Sam at another friend's house. Then I got to go to a fundraiser at a Spa & Gym. Cool. My friends and I all got our hair blow-dryed out (straight - really fun, since most of us are curly). I also took a pilates class - ouch! Won a gift certificate to Lucy, a store in the mall.

David was home when I got home, but left the next morning for Chicago. I can't wait to see him again.

Scheduled Sofia's visit with the Behavioral Psychologist at Children's today! They called, from the referral from the Downs clinic visit. Going in a couple of weeks. Should be interesting.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October in the air

I love love love October in New England. It is simply beautiful. The colors, the crispness. Everything.

Except this year I am getting migraines! Usually they are mostly confined to the J months - January, June and July - because the barometric pressure is all over the place. But with last week's rain, I guess my system is confused. I've had 4 migraines in 4 days. NOT FUN!

First migraine happened right in the middle of the Buddy Walk. I spent a good stretch of the walk holding onto the handle of the stroller as David pushed it, keeping my eyes closed and hoping I didn't trip on anything (or anyone, especially Sammy, who kept jumping in front of me).

Buddy Walk was fabulous. I want to say "as usual", but really, this year was the best, because RACHEL COLEMAN from Signing Times was there!!!!! Here are my photos. Sofia and I were both completely mesmerized as Rachel sang, and I nearly burst into tears along with lots of other moms as she comforted a sobbing and grateful mommy on the stage. Even more fun was that my friend K was inside the Hopkins suit, so I got to see her, too!

Sofia wanted nothing to do with a life-size Rachel and 7' tall Hopkins, but Micah has the potential to become a stalker when he grows up. He wouldn't leave them alone!

We were joined by our friends and our sitter, and it was a gorgeous October day.

In other news...not too much else going on. Micah should probably win some sort of Emmy Award for Most Dramatic Taking of Medication. It takes him a full 10 minutes of gagging and spitting to drink 2 teaspoons of zithromax liquid, even with the added grape flavor (he hates cherry meds).

Sam completed 6 weeks of cleaning his earring, and now we upgraded to a tiny gold hoop. Very very cool.

Monday, the kids had no school, but David flew out to Michigan again. So I took the kids to help me do a mitzvah. An older couple who are dear friends of ours are both having physical ailments - spinal problem for him and broken rotator cuff for her. We went to their house and helped clean and take out the trash. "We" of course is kind of a stretch. Sam had a complete "OCD" attach because he hates garbage. Micah ended up getting a trumpet lesson from the guy, which was great both for Micah and for the wonderful man. Sofia found tea-party toys (my friend S refuses to grow up!). It was a lot of fun.

After that, I actually took my kids to the Mall, and did not sell any of them! We got Sam his hoop earring, and looked at a lot of stuff and had lunch. It was ok. Fun, even!

Now I'm trying to figure out Micah's birthday. He wants to have a party, and has 27 kids he wants to invite. He just cannot pick a place to have it. So tonight I sent out emails asking for quotes from magicians, and I'm considering actually opening my home to Micah's friends... something I am REALLY not so thrilled to do. Micah's friends are...well...a whole bunch of 7, 8, 9 and 10 year olds. Mostly boys, but some girls, too. And sicne his birthday is October 25, I cannot just plan to throw them all outdoors. I need an indoor space. UGH. Of course he refuses anything like Teamworks or PumpItUp or gymnastics or Tae Kwan Do. Maybe the arcade, but they want $15 per kid, which is a bit much. I really just need a big room.

Gotta go work on the Winter Lights Gala Auction!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saturday

Well, my first experiment with Crock Pot cooking came out YUMMY. I copied a "recipe" from my friend D, and since her idea of a recipe is the same as mine ("some of this, some of that, oh, and don't forget that...") I was able to come up with a most scrumptious stew. Onions, garlic, leeks, lots of mushrooms, soup, stew beef "for tzimmes" as the package said, carrots and celery. YUM.

My neighbors came for Shabbos dinner, and we had a lovely time. Their little girl is one of Sofia's best buddies, and it was cute to see the two girls in action. But Micah wasn't feeling well. So this morning, he REALLY wasn't well, and I took him to the pediatrician at 10:15. Fever, blurry vision, tummy ache, the works. Quick test for him was also negative, but ugly throat and swollen glands, so meds for him too.

Which fortunately we started before noon, so that in 24 hours he will no longer be contagious and we can go to the Buddy Walk!

So Micah and Sofia and I stayed home most of the day, while David and Sam went into David's office. They came home for a little while, and Sam and I went to check out the new bead store in town. He was a kid in... well, a bead shop, not a candy store, but you get the idea. He had a blast.

Brought him home, and they both went back to work. I'm waiting for them to pick up sushi for dinner.

In other news, the Trisomy 21 Online chat board I was so involved in when Sofia was born has just been reinvented on Facebook. Let me know if you are interested in connecting. Unfortunately, the impetus was a sad one - yesterday, a little girl named Renee passed away. She had cystic fibrosis as well as DS. Very very sad.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Long delayed update

It was a long couple of weeks, very busy but fun.

Tuesday 9/28 I got to chaperon Micah's class field trip to see Mr. Cohn's sukkah. There were reporters, and we got a very nice writeup with 3 photos in the MetroWest Daily News.

It was fun to accompany the kids. Besides really wanting to see this sukkah (I studied with Mr. Cohn, and his brother was one of my professors. I've been hearing about his very special sukkah for years, but this was my first visit.), I got to observe Micah's class in action.

Poor Micah is having a tough time. He is the oldest kid in the class, and waay more mature than the other boys in the class. But he's still a little boy, so the girls get ticked off at him, too. Third grade is a transition year. And to make matters worse, his buddies in second grade are no longer sharing a classroom with him (last year they were combined, this year separate).

Ok, anyway. It was fun.

Wednesday was a whirlwind. I have GOT to find a babysitter to help with Wednesday driving. Both boys have appointments every other week, and now Sofia is going to have gymnastics.

But after all the appointments, we drove down to my friend D's house in Sharon for a wonderful dinner in her sukkah. I love D and her family. And the food was yummy!

Thursday was Shemini Atzeret. Rather than sit in shul another day, I dropped Micah and Sofia at a friend's house for playdates, while Sam and his friend and I met up with several other families at the Farm. We spent about an hour cleaning shallots (until I had an allergy attack!). Then picked up the kids, and playdate continued at my house. (Actually, I think Micah stayed at his friend's house, and Sofia went to preschool). Sam had over the new kid in the class, and it was great. He's a very sweet boy and really really happy to be at MWJDS this year.

Unfortunately, however, Thursday morning also brought the demise of "Moishe HaDag", the boys' fish.

Thursday evening was Simchat Torah. Temple Israel does a GREAT job with this holiday. In the evening, we have Klezmer musicians, and dancing all around the sanctuary and social hall with ALL the Torahs (I think there are 9 or 11). Sofia had a blast - she loves to dance and loves the excitement of waving flags or holding her stuffed Torah and dancing in the circle.

Friday morning was more Simchat Torah, and this time I was one of the honorees - each year three people are chosen. It was nice, but kind'a embarrassing. I was the last, since I was reading Haftorah (I was called "Kallat Maftira", "bride of the maftir/extra portion"). I had to stand under a chuppah (held by four good friends plus my sons), and liten to the Rabbi talk about me. He does great at that kind of thing, and he was very funny. Dayenu (it would have been enough).

My parents came up, and were overwhelmed by the whole thing. Of course, my mother does not approve of all the things I do, which were instrumental in my being chosen, so she wasn't thrilled. Aside from more dancing, we also do this really neat thing in the morning service: all the kids sit on the floor in the center of the Social Hall, while the adults make a large circle around them, and we unroll an entire Torah. The Rabbi walks us through the scroll (Micah and his friends were very intent on following every word and line, and clustered around the Rabbi - it was lovely).

Then, when we return to the sanctuary to actually read the Torah, the aliyot (honors) are called in groups rather than just individual people. So a whole 1/4 of the room was invited up at one time. When my parents returned to our seats, my mother muttered "yeah, we don't do anything like this at our synagogue." Hmmm.

Looong service, so lunch didn't start until after 1pm but overall a wonderful morning. Then my parents hung out all afternoon at our house (nothing like spending a few hours with my mother to make me feel like the worst parent in the universe), and stayed for Shabbos dinner.

Whew.

Saturday we took it easy. Went to the fish store again, got a lesson in ammonia testing and got another betta fish (the boys call him Lucky but I'm sticking with "Yitzy HaDag"...). So far he's still alive...

Sunday morning, we had Bar Mitzvah prep meeting at shul for Sam and his grade. The kids stayed with the Cantor, and I'm glad Sam was comfortable with the boys form the religious School - there are a few he has become friends with in youth group and some he knows from nursery school. The parents all met in the chapel with the Rabbi and asked all sorts of detail questions about the bar mitzvah year.

Leave it to one guy to drop the "r" word when describing the invitation process. And then he walked out. My friend had to practically sit on me to keep me still.

Oh well. While we were all meeting, Micah and Sofia very nicely stayed in the lobby with my laptop, watching a movie.

Then we drove out to Springfield to go to the Big E, the New England States Exposition. It was hot and noisy and crowded. I had fun. Sam was a bit panicked for a while, but calmed down eventually. Boys discovered "fish on a stick" smoked salmon, their favorite treat. David was a total kill-joy at the carnival part; I let each boy do one carny game, and then he lectured them about wasting money. He realized his error the next morning.

David left again Monday. Quieter week, now that the holidays are over. But Tuesday, as I was driving to Newton Wellesley to get my stitches removed, the preschool called to say Sofia had a fever. I had to have my neighbor pick her up, but neighbor had an appointment so another friend had to then go get her. I met them back at the day school. Poor girl, fever and belly ache.

So no school for her Wednesday, although I had to bring her to Sam's team meeting. And her gymnastics class was canceled, which made life a little easier. Sam did his blue stripe test in Tae Kwan Do, whew.

Sofia was fine most of Wednesday and Thursday morning, so she went back to school....and got sent home with another fever (which I couldn't actually detect on the thermometer). So off to pediatrician. Quick-test was negative, but throat is red, so she's on antibiotics at least until the long strep test results come back.

So she's home today with me. Making a mess.

This Sunday is our Buddy Walk, so I've been busy making t-shirts for the team. One more to go...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Moishe HaDag and The Man in My Ear

There are some new men in my life:

Moishe HaDag is what I have decided to call the newest addition to our home. He's a black/blue/red Betta Fish (דג "dag" means "fish" in Hebrew), purchased by the boys (well, by money now I don't owe them...) whome they call "Dragon" and who is THEIR responsibility. Really. And it Moishe HaDag dies from lack of food or too much food or a filthy tank, it's NOT MY PROBLEM.

The other new man in my life is the voice on the Bluetooth earpiece I have taken over from David. I purchased my old Bluetooth with a 2 year warranty. And that was 2 years and 1 month ago. Which means my old one has now died. So I adopted the one that David has but doesn't use. Which comes with a man's voice saying "Say a Command" or "Cancel" or "There is no phone connected to this device". I'm starting to get used to him. But he's a little weird...

And right now the boys are interviewing a candidate for mother's helper/boy-sitter. A young man recommended by my friend's day care lady. I had been looking for someone to watch Sofia while I took the boys to tae kwan do, but maybe I'll stay home and let him go off with the boys. It's worth a try, but I have to discuss with David, and check other references, etc.

So those are the new men in my life. For now.

Lovely weekend. N and her kids came for Shabbos dinner in the Sukkah. David called at 7pm from Atlanta - his flight had just been cancelled because...the TSA folks had just carted a man wearing a pilot's uniform off the plane, slumped ashen in a wheelchair. Not a good thing (but pretty hysterical a story). David did eventually find a flight, but to Providence instead of Boston, which meant I had to find him a ride home (good thing I couldn't find a sitter at that late time - he didn't get home until 2am), and Saturday morning I had to get him to the Logan Express bus so he could go get his car.

After dropping David at the bus, I took the kids to Ashland Day. It was, improbably, in the 90s, and a really glorious (but hot) day for a fair. Sam went off with a friend, and once David returned with his car, he took Micah and I took Sofia.

Finally melted out of there and went to a sukkah party, then had friends here for dinner in our sukkah again.

Sunday, dropped Sam at the synagogue for the Kadima (youth group) boat ride, then took the little ones to Concord. We were aiming for a sculpture garden, but the weather didn't look like it would be worth paying admission, so instead we found a really nice playground. Then later we went to friends' for more sukkah dinner.

David left for Ann Arbor this morning, so I'm holding down the fort again. My hand is healing nicely. Bandage is off, saw doc today, stitches out next week. And no tingling in the fingers! I can't wait to do the other hand!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Why Sam remains the most chellenging of my children

Ok, I understand. Sofia will always have Down syndrome, and as she gets older, she will encounter more challenges. But we are fortunate to live in a time and place where we have many, many supports in place.

Micah will likely always have food allergies, which indeed could cause serious medical problems if not outright death. But we are fortunate to live in a time and place where we have many substitute foods available to us, and where knowledge of food allergies is growing.

But Sam. The OCD flare-ups are probably the worst, because they come in the middle of regular bad-mood tantrums, without warning, and cause him to be even less cooperative and helpful than usual. Today, his favorite jacket was suddenly "DISGUSTING" because he had thrown up on it last week. Never mind that it was just coming out of the laundry today. It's still disgusting. Do I had to wrestle him to sit down. Talk him through. Tame the Beast. "So you won't walk on the kitchen floor because there was barf on it?" No, of course not, it's been washed. "So you won't sit on the chair because it had barf on it?" No, of course not, it's been washed.

And by the time he realizes that it's just an OCD attack, he starts to feel foolish for wanting to avoid the item so much, and then he lashes out erratically. UGH!!!

And add in the budding teenager-ness, plus his standard "oh woe is me, I'm the ONLY kid who doesn't have...."

UGH!!!

(Ok, complaining done).

Yesterday was lovely. My sitter came in the morning, so I didn't have to take Sofia to shul (and Sofia didn't miss any school). So I was able to sit in shul for the whole service, since the boys are self-sufficient there. I did ok with the Haftorah reading (although once again I learned that there was a word repeated in that reading that should be pronounced differently than it is written. I need to find a list of these...).

Lunch at shul was nice, as always, and then both boys brought home friends. The weather was warm and lovely. Sam and his friend stayed outside. It takes them a while to figure out what exactly to do together, since they are both very task-oriented. They took a bike ride, then hung out, and eventually washed my car and started a garden task for me! Micah and his buddy played on the Wii for a while, until I kicked them out of the house, and then I saw them playing - there was a slow-motion basketball game, and swords and shields involved.

Meanwhile, of course I cleaned the garage some more. With my hand still bandaged.

Left at 4 to pick up Sofia, drop off Micah's friend, then drop Micah at gymnastics. Drop Sam's friend, stop at another friend's house to drop off the borrowed roof bag we'd used on vacation, and then grocery shopping. Pick up Micah, and find out that another child will be sleeping here. So stop at his house (he's Sam's classmate, but in Micah's gymnastics class) to pick up his stuff, and then home. cook dinnere at in sukkah until the mosquitos chase us back in the house.

Got Sofia to sleep, and the boys watched a movie. Eventually I came downstairs to find that Sam had gone to bed and Micah had fallen asleep on the couch, so I sent guest-child off to bed, too. Very cute.

They are all playing nicely today. Sofia starts school at 12:30, but my cleaning ladies are coming soon, so I'm trying to have them help with the straightening up.

More kids coming later today,a nd then a friend and her two for dinner tonight in the sukkah. Tomorrow, shul and sukkah-hopping, and then guests for dinner. Sunday more sukkah-hopping, and Sam is going on the Kadima boat cruise.

Gotta go clean!

---

Oh, back for two more things. Definitely looking forward to a sleep study for Sofia. For the past two nights, I've listened as she's fallen out of her toddler bed (OVER the railing!), then rolled around the hallway for several hours until she finally rolled into my room and rolled around my bed for a few hours. Poor kid must be exhausted!

But I just refreshed my spirit by peeking in at Conny Wenk Photography. Gorgeous gorgeous photos!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

getting all the medical stuff done

This has been a busy week. i know, not unusual Chez Rothkopf, but still...

After a relatively uneventful Yom Kippur (except that Sam started throwing up at 3pm. so he and Laura and Lilie stayed home in the evening), we had a day of "get stuff done" on Sunday. Cleaned out the garage, took lots of things to the trash compactor at David's office. Fun lunch at Whole Foods, although both little girls were hungry while shopping, so Laura and I had to go fast.

Finished the sukkah. Looks nice, but the shach (the branches on top) keep flying away.

Microwave died in the morning, so after we dropped Micah at a birthday party at Glo Golf in the mall, we went to Sears for a new one. Nice deal on last year's model. And then spent the evening helping David install a microwave.

Monday morning, sitter arrived 7:30 and we tried to race to drop the boys off at school...but Framingham is having some massive traffic problems in the morning. So not only weren't we early, we were nearly late! Which meant late to Newton-Wellesley hospital.

But all worked out ok, a,d around 10:15 I had carpal tunnel surgery on my left hand. Slept most of the day. The boys got a ride home, and I woke up in time to remind David to pick up Sofia.

Hand is sore, but otherwise fine. (yes, i'm typing one-handed). David requested a hard cast, but instead they did a bulky dressing, which can come off tomorrow night.

Tuesday I had to drive the boys to school (took 45 minutes with traffic!!), since David had his Remicade infusion (he has Crohne's, and gets an infusion every 8 weeks).

Spent some time at Sofia's gym, then headed into Boston, for Sofia's appointments at Children's Hospital and the Down syndrome clinic. First stop was Ophthalmology, where they at least confirmed that her eyes do have a tendency to to go in, but it doesn't need correcting yet.

Then clinic, where we had a long meeting with Dr. Brian Skotco and Dr. Emily Davidson. Lots of topics covered: celiac possibility, sleep apnea, behavior, potty training, communication.We are on the cancellation list for a sleep study (I can farm out the boys easily), and had to get a blood test and x-rays. Took 5 adults to hold my little girl down for her x-rays!

Boys went hom with my friend D, so we had dinner there (didn't get to her house until after 6:30.

Quiet today. David leaves for Atlanta tonight, and i have to learn a Haftorah reading for tomorrow - last minute request from the cantor! Yikes!

Friday, September 17, 2010

G'Mar Chatima Tovah

If I have in any way offended you in the past year, I am deeply sorry.

If you are observing Yom Kippur, I also wish you an easy fast.

May each of you be inscribed for a sweet, happy and healthy new year.

With Love,

Francine

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Rug Burn on the Nose




Look what Sofia managed to do yesterday. Yup, that's a Rug Burn on her NOSE.

How did she do that? Well, we were at her gymnastics place (which miraculously has re-opened after a sudden closing this summer). She wanted very much to crawl UNDER the trampoline. Her teacher and I had other ideas. She got upset, and put her head on the floor. And then she SLID her face across the entire room.

Since it didn't seem to be bothering her at the time, I didn't stop her. But when she picked up her face, her nose was bleeding! YIKES!

Ok. Weird enough. But I heard from another DS mommy today that her daughter had also given herself a nose/rug burn. That freaked me out. I mean, as odd as it may be, is that "typical" behavior for our chromosomally enhanced lovies?

In other mommy musings....

Micah has developed a new habit. He leaves the house without shoes. And doesn't notice until we are some (far) distance away. The first time it was a major inconvenience was when we went on vacation, driving from MA to NC. He had to wear Sam's crocs all week, which 1) were too big, 2) meant Sam had no crocs, and 3) Micah broke anyway.

So Tuesday, we had about 45 minutes at home before heading back to Tae Kwan Do. Then back off to Sudbury for their class (Sofia fell asleep, so the ladies spent the whole time in the parking lot). Micah didn't notice he had no shoes until we pulled into the parking lot! So dinner was take-out instead of restaurant.

I was worried this morning that I had completely ruined his life by not going back to the house for a tennis ball, but apparently he got over it.

Our NEW SUKKAH arrived today, and the kids and I were able to put it up with only a couple of tantrums - Micah was just a tiny bit too short to reach the top while standing on the slide (as Sam was able to do), but he wanted to do the top loops. Sofia wanted to stand on the ladder. It's tough to be a Rothkopf...


So we got the walls up. Early, but we couldn't resist. I had first built our old sukkah when Sam was an infant, and it's been progressively rotting each year. Plus, the old one is very heavy and large, and I couldn't get it out of the garage myself. This is nice and light and easy and secure and portable(ish). David and the boys can do the roof on Sunday, and then we can decorate.

But I'll have to decorate on Sunday, too, since I'm having Carpal Tunnel surgery on Monday! Yup, been putting it off for several year. Now's the time. Was supposed to do the right hand, but I got an allergic rash from raspberry picking several weeks ago, and it keeps coming back, smack in the middle of my wrist. So we'll do the left hand first. Which is sort of a relief. How was I planning to get everything done in the next two weeks without the use of my right hand?!

Still no babysitter, but following up on a few leads. Managing. Sofia now loves after-care, following her initial pout-her-way-into-a-nap. Today, I came in and found that she had been VERY busy in the pretend kitchen, setting out an elaborate meal for a trio of baby dolls.

Last night, since she'd taken a nap, she was up for a long time, so she helped me cook. Vehemently. She didn't want me to stop. She kept pretending to do more! My little domestic goddess.

Had a flooring guy come in to look at the upstairs hallway, Sofia's room and the staircase today. Glad I did; he spotted a problem the Home Depot flunkie never mentioned. Our floors are not actually flat under the carpet (which explains a lot!). That would be a problem with the laminate I was looking at. So he'll put together a few different options. Whew. I guess the stairs are going to have to be rug, since you can't do laminate on stairs (and I don't want real hardwood - too stressful with the ungentle people who live here!).


Oh, and Sofia has a new way to grocery-shop this week. She sits on the handle of the shopping cart, with her feet where her tushy should be, and grips my neck like a python. It's a little difficult to reach the milk (or to breathe), but it's nice to get such lovin'.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Whew! Been a bit busy!

Ok, let's see. A number of articles in this "issue":

- My Aunt's 80th birthday party
- our visit in NY state, including dogs and rafting
- Sofia's first day of school
- Rosh Hashanah
- A really really fun Shabbat
- a nice family hike
- my thoughts on DS and allergies and dyslexia - all the various things that invade our house.


Auntie Celine's 80th Birthday Party


We had a nice time seeing my cousins and mom's cousins at mom's sisters birthday party in NJ. Micah charmed everyone by taking about 200 photos, and Sofia managed to get in on almost every group shot - she also started the afternoon by hugging all Celine's friends, who are complete strangers to us.

Mine were the only kids at the party, but we had fun. My cousins Bruce and Harwin (he goes by Fred, but I grew up calling him his real name...) live in California with their wives (Madlyn and Diane), and my cousin Judy lives in The City (NYC for those of you not from the East Coast). So we don't get to see each other that often.

I was only mistaken for my mother once, and later my sons told me I looked a lot like Auntie Celine, but not as old. Whew.

Photos of the party are here.


Visiting cousins

Then we drove up to NY state, near Port Jervis, to stay with David's second cousin Jared and his family. They bought an old old farm house, which we think will take them about a century to renovate, but it's gorgeous, and on an amazing parcel of land in beautiful country.

Many photos here. On Sunday, Jared took us rafting down the Delaware river. It was a lot of fun! Poor Micah was too short, so he and Sofia hung out in the parking area with first Daddy (while I went) and then me (while David went), but later the guys took him down the river to a calmer area. Sofia kept busy exploring the inside of David's car, and tossing rocks into the river.

Jared has 3 Newfoundland dogs, and Micah fell madly in love with one, Snoodles. Of course, being allergic, he had to wear surgical gloves to pet the dog (we were ok sleeping, since the dogs don't go upstairs, and otherwise we stayed outside). One the drive home, suddenly Micah was SOBBING, tears pouring down his face. "I Miss Snoodles!" he wailed. And he's been saying it daily ever since, in a rather mournful tone. He spent part of this week trying to figure out how to save his money to buy a dog and what kind of dog should he get and could Sam pay for the electric fence.... Not gonna happen, my friend. Three kids is ENOUGH for me!


Sofia's First Day of School

Tuesday was Sofia's first real day back at school. She did better, going somewhat willingly to her teachers at drop-off, but it was also her first day of after-care. And she was NOT happy to be in a different line. So she pouted her way into a nap! When she got to the after-care classroom, she folded herself in half, and eventually fell asleep.

Of course, I was late the first day, since I'd foolishly tried running an errand between picking up the boys and picking up Sofia. And I was thoroughly adonished by the principal "if you're going to be late every day, this won't work and she won't be able to use after-care." I promised I would never do it again (and if she doesn't stay in after-care, I most certainly WILL be late every day, since I don't have a helicopter or a transporter, and cannot possibly get from the boys' school to her school in 10 minutes time).

And then she missed the second day, due to a stomach bug all day. Boo Hoo. Hopefully she'ss do better this week. At least the tummy cleared up over night. Whew. That was gonna make the holidays difficult!

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Rosh Hashanah

So Wednesday morning we had the Tashlich program at the boys' school. The entire school, plus parents or other family members, walks down to the river to reflect. It's a lovely event. We thought it was going to be rained out for the first time in 7 years, but the sky cleared in time.

As I mentioned, Sofia stayed home from school - she'd stayed home with a sitter in the morning - so when I got home with the boys at noon, we didn't have to leave again until night time. I spent all afternoon cooking - we'd stopped at The Crown on the way home from NY (Crown is the very large kosher butcher in West Hartford), so I made brisket and also chicken cacciatore. Served the chicken that night, just us and Laura and Lilie. Brisket for Shabbat.

Services went well, over all. Wednesday night was a little rough. There were a few things no one had bothered to bring, like candles or kiddush wine or challah, even though they were listed in the outline. But I love working with Rabbi Sonia, and we got into a grove fairly quickly.

Thursday morning my family went to our regular synagogue, Temple Israel, while I went back to Sha'arei Shalom to be cantor again. It went really well, although we were 15 minutes over our time limit at the end (they really want us to end by 12:30). There are a few minor things to go over in our debrief, like teaching the congregants what to do when they are on the bimah for the Torah service, but otherwise, all was fine. Nice sized crowd.

I met my family at our friends' house for lunch and we stayed until after 7pm. Walked over to join the Temple Israel tashlich, so I got to see everyone there (along with the local Chabad, which is on the same road). Really fun afternoon. Plus naps!

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Laura and Lilie went home that night, so it was just the 5 of us on Friday morning. I was not working at Sha'arei Shalom (they needed to save money, and they don't hire me for 2nd day), so we all went to Temple Israel together. It was fun, but WAAAY more people - we get about 900 inside and 400 in the tent (where we sit), compared to maybe 250 total at Sha'arei Shalom and the usual 100 at TI on Shabbat. It was a bit overwhelming, but still nice. Sam and his friends led Ashrei in the tent, and did an excellent job. I also had to help the cantor's wife with the children's service a little - we had all the kids try to blow shofar, and the Rothkopf family owns 3...

Friday afternoon, we went to J's house for a while to swim.

Shabbat

Then Friday night, J's family and two other families all came to our house for Shabbat dinner. Really great time. The 8 kids (not counting Sofia) sat in the playroom for their meal, so the adults (plus Sofia) had the kitchen (our usual dining area). After the kids ate, they all went upstairs. Sam had his best buddy M, who was at camp with him, plus two of the three girls from his class, who both kept trying to kiss him!

We had a great time, eating, drinking, talking all evening.

Shabbat day was quiet. David had to be in the office, Sam had a play date, and I took Micah and Sofia to Natick Days Festival for a little while and then just hung out. Evening, pizza, including gluten-free option for Sofia.

Hiking

Today we went on a really nice hike around the Ashland reservoir. Sofia did very well - she spent some time on David's shoulders, a little on mine, but mostly she walked. I was very impressed.




My thoughts on DS and allergies and dyslexia - all the various things that invade our house.

Well, I wrote that title about 5 hours ago, when I started this post, so it'll have to wait. I had some profound thoughts, but they are all gone now.

Shana Tovah and G'mar Chatima Tova. May you be inscribed for a sweet, happy and healthy New Year.

Friday, September 3, 2010

School is Finally In Session

The boys started school on Wednesday. Tuesday, Sam's class had a meeting with their teachers, so in the morning we had a pool party. It was so nice to see them all together again, and they got to meet the new kid (from our town, yeah!)

Micah came out of school on Wednesday looking very unhappy, so I was nervous to ask how it went. But I guess it was just the heat (the school is VERY hot this week!), because when I ask, he got a huge smile on his face and said reverently "I went through the Wall of Happiness." Whew.

Sofia doesn't start until Tuesday, but we had meet-and-greet yesterday. She's in the same classroom with the same teachers, so we just went in for a little while - I was not about to sit through my TENTH solid year of the principal's greetings! But Miss Sofia was not feeling well yesterday, and as soon as we walked into the classroom, she latched onto me like a barnacle, and would not let go. Very unusual behavior for her. So we left - and later she had some massive poops and a long nap, so obviously something was not feeling right. She seems much better today.

Lots of driving this weekend (in the rain). CT tonight to my folks, then NJ tomorrow for my aunt's 80th birthday. Then spending the rest of the weekend in NY with David's cousin. Then one and a half days of school for the boys (two days for Sofia) and it's HOLIDAY time! Yikes!

Wishing everyone a sweet, happy and healthy new year. Shana Tova.
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Guess where I was today?

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A softball game between the Jonas Brothers and Marquis Jet - and my friend K is the sister of the own of Marquis Jet, so we had VIP passes...

It was fun. This was it, one 10 second handshake and photo, and then a lot of sweltering heat and screaming girls. K and most of the rest of our group left a few minutes before me, I stayed with Micah and the other boy for the first inning. It was just too hot to stay.

But fun.

In other news, I finally ordered a dryer. On back-order until Tuesday, but at least it's done. I was wasting more time and gas going from one store to another trying to find the best deal, and then spending a fortune on Fluff & Fold. Enough already.

And the 4 solid days of rain didn't help. Today, after the game, I took the boys and Sofia to the pool, and ALL the kids were insane.

Can't wait for school to start next week!

Sam comes home form CT tomorrow. I pissed him off tonight, though - his NEW camera, that I bought him before he left for camp, is already broken. So it's no longer HIS camera.

But I will let him get his ear pierced this weekend...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Finishing up the summer

Whew, I finally posted a job listing at the local college for a new mother's helper/babysitter. E and A had the nerve to graduate! E is off to Spain for a year to teach English, and A will be teaching at an after-school program (she'll still be around to help me in mornings). So I need need need someone to help in the afternoons. Sofia will be getting out of school at 3:30. The boys get out at 3:15. The schools are at least 20 minutes apart. Not gonna work.

Ok, last week was a speed train. After the Dryer Fire and pool party, things were a little calmer, but not really. Wednesday evening we all went to Sears to see what we might buy, and decided we should probably research on line first. But Sofia and I had a nice Indian meal in the food court at the mall - one of the best Indian restaurants in this area is in the food court. YUM.

Thursday, I had to drive out to Sturbridge to meet my parents and give them Sam, who is now in CT until this Friday. Had lunch, and then raced back. Had about an hour to work, then David and I went in to Boston for a Harbor Cruise. Had a really nice time. We were with a party sponsored by our Financial guy, and we probably brought the average age in the room down about 20 years, but we met very nice people and heard wonderful stories.

Got home at 11, and I stayed awake until 2:30 working on the Baby Naming service. Friday afternoon, I officiated at the naming ceremony for my friend's niece. I love working with unaffiliated families, helping them celebrate Jewish milestone events in a meaningful way. I'm proud of my work - the service was short but lovely.

Friday morning my friend R came over and we all went to the pool for a while, then she watched Micah and Sofia at a playground while I was doing the baby naming. Then she joined us for Shabbat dinner.

And Friday morning, I also finally got all the tomatoes froze, and made fried peppers. Yum.

And eventually I mostly learned my Torah readings for Shabbat. I was originally supposed to do one reading of about 18 lines. Ok. Had it going fine. Then we realized that Sam would not be around to do his 7 lines. Which meant I had to pick that up, too. Ugh. My brain is just not up to that many lines of Torah - every word has to be pronounced correctly and hopefully sung correctly, yet in the Torah itself there are no vowels and no music marks, so it all has to be basically memorized (except that you MUST read it, you cannot do it totally from memory). It's hard. And I think I would have been ok with just one reading, but two was really hard. I'm glad it's done.

Saturday afternoon, we wanted to go see my in-laws. Kind of a mess, and David has been in a majorly bad mood for a week already. We ended up in massive traffic on the pike, and got out to the Berkshires much much later than we'd planned. But it turned out ok. My MIL bought food, and I cooked us a nice dinner. David and his dad both talked a lot, and his mom and I had a nice visit. Today is her birthday, but yesterday was also the anniversary of the day David's brother died. So it's a tough time, and I wanted to be there.

I'm glad we went. We did not stay over - I had been getting us prepped to sleep over, but then David said he wanted to come home late at night, so I didn't pack. And then he wanted to stay over, but we didn't have our stuff. But Micah was stressed - my in-laws have dogs, and even though the dogs stay in the basement, the house is in the woods and Micah is terribly afraid of having a bad allergy attack. Poor neurotic kid.

Today we slept late, and eventually went looking at dryers again. I think I've picked out the one I want, a GE, now we just have to order it. Later, we attempted to go bowling, per Micah's request (at first, he and David were going to go slot-car racing but the place was closed). Bowling was a nightmare. Sofia got VERY excited and just wanted to roll balls down the lane (candlepin). Micah was excited and going faster and faster. And David got completely frustrated and angry because we weren't "playing" a real game. So that put Micah in a terrible mood, which made David even angrier. But he calmed down when we got home. Eventually we got some sushi, and had a nice dinner together. He's flying again tomorrow, so I'm glad he calmed down before he left.

Gotta arrange some play dates for Micah this week. And maybe Sofia, too.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Well. That. Was. Interesting.

Had a bit of craziness this evening, after an already crazed day. I'd just gotten back from the farm (where I picked 4 quarts of cherry tomatoes! I'm drowning in tomatoes. YUM!). David was home, getting ready to take the boys to a Red Sox game at Fenway, and we had to forbid Micah from wearing his Yankees t-shirt :) Sam got hom from swimming with a friend just in time, then they had to take my car instead because they were meeting other friends. In the mean time, I was trying to unload the veggies from the farm and get Sofia ready for the day school pool party.

So the guys leave, Sofia is in her bathing suit, and I go into the bathroom for a moment to change into mine.

And I smell smoke.

I pop back to my room, where Sofia is sitting watching a Signing Times DVD, and don't smell smoke. Ok, that's good.

Out in the hall, however, Smoke.

Rush to washer and dryer (which are on same floor as bedrooms) and shut both off. I've been doing laundry almost non-stop since we got home at 2:30 Monday morning.

Yup. Smoke.

Ok, grab Sofia and call 911.

We live in a very nice neighborhood, and I think our house has had the most emergency calls in the past 12 years (we've had the ambulance twice - once for David's grandmother and once when baby Micah had a febrile seziure - and the police/EMT once when Sofia locked me out of the house).

Well, looky who arrived - VERY quickly:

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Another truck pulled up a few minutes later.

So a herd of fire fighters went into my house which is filled with mounds of laundry and vegetables.

Eventually, they do decide it's the dryer. They were very thorough, and checked the entire house including basement and attic.

So the wonderful firefighters of Ashland were kind enough to remove the offending dryer:
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And the Chief made sure nothing was still burning:
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The lady from the gas company turned off the gas (it's a gas dryer) and our neighbor the plumber came to cap the end a little while later.

And then the party was over:

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Sofia hung out (in her bathing suit and her rain boots) at the neighbor's house. Lots of other neighbors ran over to make sure all was ok.

WHEW!

I really appreciate living in this town, on this street. Fabulous public services, and wonderful neighbors.

Sofia and I made it to the pool party about an hour late, but that didn't stop her from swimming or me from getting a kosher hamburger!

Once we got home, I got her to bed, and spent an hour sorting through veggies. Tomorrow I will begin making lots of tomato sauce.

Found some more vacation pics on my phone:

First day, after 12 hours of driving:
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My kids - I think this might end up being our Rosh Hashanah card this year:
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And a nice shot of the beach:
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