Wednesday, June 30, 2010

She's a FISH!

Sofia LOVES LOVES LOVES to swim! She still wears a bubble, that straps around her body and supports front and back. But since we went on vacation in April, now she swims on her own, no holding on. Like a fish.

She has no fear of the water, apparently no problem with cold water, and doesn't mind drinking chlorinate water (in fact, I frequently catch her scooping a cup-load from the kiddie pool - yuch!).

However, 5:00 pm is NOT the best time for a swim lesson. And Monday, Miss Sofia was in the WORST MOOD EVER. All day. Started at 6am, standing buck-naked next to my bed, arguing about watching Mamma Mia (she wanted to, I felt it was a tad too early).

Fortunately she enjoys the babysitting at my gym (in fact, she can say all 4 syllables of 'babysitting' very clearly!), so that was a peaceful hour, and I had signed her up for 3 hour vacation camp at her gym (so I could get a much needed massage!). But otherwise, she was MISERABLE! Horrible. Arguing, throwing things, yelling, and overall just NOT cooperating.

With anyone.

Including her new swim instructor.

It was a bit of a nightmare. But we made it through about 20 minutes, and she actually DID learn something - now she says "scoop" when she swims with her arms.

Today's lesson was better, but still about an hour too late. She was totally ready to get out after 10 minutes, but we found a way to make her work hard for nearly the whole half hour. I sat on the side of the pool and threw toys out so she could swim to them with the instructor (and Micah).

She fell sound sleep on the way home, and has been in bed ever since. Hope she sleeps through the night!

Otherwise, it's been a fairly quiet week. Sunday was busy. Sofia sat through the entire movie of Toy Story 3 (after going to the bathroom 4 times during the previews!). She loved the movie, and kept yelling things at the characters.

After the movie, we stopped at the DS Babbies party - I got to feed a 6-week-old baby boy. SOOOOOO CUTE! Then off to Micah's camp, to talk to the nurses about his allergies, and meet his counselors. Fortunately, one of his counselors is from our shul, and the other is the identical twin of one of his last year counselors! And the unit head is also a friend from shul. So he's in good hands.

He was very nervous Monday morning, but calmed down when we got to the bus and saw his favorite bus counselor again. He's having fun.

Sam seems to also be having a great time. He's playing basketball, doing archery, and of course rock climbing. He got to the top of the climbing tower already! I miss him, but I'm so glad he's happy!

Yesterday after we picked up Micah we had to go to the Farm to get our Share. Sofia was asleep in the car (she'd fallen asleep after my Gala meeting got out at 4). There was a teen with a broken foot resting in the car next to ours, so we left her there (doors open, windows open, of course!), and Micah and my friend's daughters kept checking on her. When she did wake up, she did not want to get out anyway. So I was able to pick (snap peas and blueberries and kale and collards) in peace.

Last night I made Kale Chips, soup, a nice saute, and packaged up the veggies (and split out my share from H's - we each get half). So many things!

Not sure what is on for the weekend. Friends coming for Shabbos dinner. Maybe a trip to Maine, but since I could not get a babysitter for overnight, we cannot go to the "adults only" party J is having. So we'll have to go elsewhere. And to Sakonnet, to see my friend.

Happy Independence Day!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Whew, He did not go into shock!

Well, I screwed up. Friday, Micah requested homemade sushi for dinner. And he requested the spicy sauce that they usually serve in the restaurant. So I bought some. Without looking at the label.

And all day today, his eyes have been totally red and puffy. So I finally looked at the ingredients.

Sesame Seed Oil.

Ugh. Stupid move, Francine!

Micah's "first" allergy, the first one that made us realize he had bad food allergies, was sesame. We are (usually) very very careful about sesame.

Fortunately, he did not go into shock. The reaction was actually much more mild than it should have been. Previously, he would break out in hives all over his body. So I guess that's the good part, that his body handled the assault well.

But wow, was that DUMB of me!


Other than that, it's been a fairly boring week. Spent a lot of time at the pool (much to Micah's chagrin, since it's not his first choice of activity. But eventually I always get him into the pool AND smiling!

Today we had the Bar Mitzvah of my dear friend's son. It was lovely. I had to read Torah (which meant I was studying frantically last night, when I realized that I had not fully learned it!) and be "gabbai" (one of the people who helps conduct the Torah service). Not only do I know many of her family members, but C and I sang in Zamir together, and she has kept in touch with different people than I have, so it was great to see some old friends.

I also got to meet C's aunt, who is grandmother to a lovely 21 year old young lady with Down syndrome. I have heard about this girl since Sofia was born (they had just celebrated her Bat Mitzvah when I got my amnio results!), so it was wonderful to meet her grandmother and see some photos.

It was interesting to speak with her. She teared up when she saw Sofia (who was very very busy playing with a variety of games!), and we talked about what a difference each generation has faced. Her husband apparently also had a sister with DS, who had of course been hidden away - this woman had not even heard about her until right before her wedding into the family! That girl had been hidden, then institutionalized, and had died before this woman met the family. So seeing photos of her granddaughter going to Senior Prom, and watching Sofia play, was very moving!

Got a call from Sam's camp yesterday, just routine. He's doing GREAT. Having a really good time. For electives, he got Ropes, Archery and Basketball, all his favorites, and he is making friends very well (while still being lucky to have his best buddy with him). I also got a ltter from him, which included a great drawing he'd made of his friend sitting on the bunk in their cabin.

I'm so glad he's having fun. I scan the posted photos several times a day. Micah has missed him terribly. Fortunately, day camp starts Monday, so Micah won't be so bored and lonely.

Tomorrow I'm taking the kids to see Toy Story 3 (David has to work), then stopping at Micah's camp to drop off his allergy action plan, then off to a pool party for DS new mommies (Sofia will be guest-of-honor!).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Off To Camp

We took Sam off to sleep-away camp this morning! He'll be at Camp Ramah NE, about an hour from home, until July 18. The past few days have been busy, packing and running last minute errands on top of our regular madness.

Fortunately, his best friend is not only with him, not only in the same bunk, but side-by-side bed to him. Together they will be ok, and we have several friends who are counselors there as well who will look out for him.

He was nervous, but I think he'll be fine. I'm excited for him, and jealous. I wish I could go to summer camp!

The weekend was nice. Friday, my sister and family came up and we had a nice Shabbos dinner together. The twins slept over, while Melissa and Adam went to a hotel. In the morning, they picked up the twins and Sam and went to the road race that Adam was running. When they came back, we decided to head out to Springfield, to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Julia plays basketball on a team, and Sam loves the game. It's about 1.5 hours from here, easy drive down the pike. Had lunch out there. Finally, after 5 years, Sofia decided to not only acknowledge Aunt Melissa, but glom onto her! Sofia got drowsy after lunch, and nearly fell asleep on Melissa's shoulder!

The kids all had a lot of fun in the museum.

Said goodbye out there, and then I drove directly back to Logan to pick up David, returning from a week in Europe again. Good to have him home!

Sunday David and Sam went kyaking for Father's Day, while I took the other two to the pool and then took Micah to a birthday party. Otherwise, more packing.

Monday was our 12th Anniversary, and in the morning, we dropped Micah at his friend's house and then went back to Children's Waltham for Sofia's Cardiology checkup. Good news is that we don't go back for that for another two years, everything sounds fine. They can still hear the ASV and Pulmonary Stenosis, but no problems. But there was NO WAY we were going to get an EKG on that child! David, Sam and I held her while the nurse tried and tried, but she squirmed so much, the leads kept falling off. NOT a happy child!

And then today was camp. And then a NAP for me when we got home! And then the baby sitter arrived and Sofia kicked us out, and Micah took his Green Belt test in Tae Kwan Do. Wow, the kid is really really good!

And then tonight, I just got the nicest phone call. I am going to be one of Temple Israel's Simchat Torah Honorees this year! October 1 - stay tuned for more details. Pretty cool!

Friday, June 18, 2010

A "liberating" feeling

I had to take Sofia in to Boston Children's Hospital (the Waltham office) yesterday for her Orthopedics chechup. Children with Down syndrome are at a higher risk of something called Atlantoaxial Instability. She'd had her first screening at age 2.5, and everything was clear, but they wanted a recheck now at 5 years. So we went.

And, as I posted on Facebook, there is something liberating about being at Children's. In "real" life, I am always somehow aware that Sofia has Down syndrome. It happens in tons of little ways. Being aware that her speech is not so clear, and that I have to translate most of what she says, and that she does not say as much as her friends. Being aware that she is very very small for someone her age. Being aware of being so proud of everything she does!

But at Children's, EVERY child is unusual. Every child has something special that in the outside world would make them stand out somehow. And Every adult there is completely used to seeing special children.

I wasn't really aware of how stressful it is to be out and about with Sofia. I am so proud of her, so madly in love with her, so amused byt her, so used to her unusual ways. But walking around Children's, I experienced this really odd feeling of relief. It was nice. (And I got to see a one-year-old with DS, and totally oooh and ahhh over her!).

The appointment itself was...tricky. She needed to have xrays of her pelvis and neck. At 2.5 years, it wasn't too bad. She wasn't very mobile yet. But took three adults to hold her while the forth adult snapped the xray. It was a real work-out. She is one STRONG and STUBBORN little girl!

But she is completely clear of any AAI issues, and has doctor sign-off saying she can participate in things like Special Olympics when she is old enough. Whew.

We have to go back Monday for Cardiology check-up, which was supposed to be the following week, but there was a scheduling screw-up.

This week has been LLLLOOOOOONNNNNGGGGG. The boys finished school at noon on Tuesday. Our babysitter met us at school, and took Micah and Sofia home to play, while I drove Sam and some classmates to A's house for a party. I got to hang with two of my dearest friends, which was great.

After the party, I ran home to get Micah, and then met my friends at The Farm. They have all been participating in Farm Shares for several years now, but this was the first year I was brave enough to try it. I was supposed to have a 1/4 share, with R having the other 1/4 and H the other full 1/2. But I had SOOOOO much fun! We had to pick strawberries and herbs, and Sam picked garlic scapes, and then I got to collect all the greens. I've been eating yummy salads, and I made spinach quiche. Tonight is bok choy stir fry, with Swiss chard and onions. Yum!

So I promptly offered to buy R out of her 1/4 share, and she very promptly agreed! Yeah! Micah, having had a lot of earth and growing related topics over the last two years, is an enthusiastic farmer, so he had a blast, too. Sam is more of a city boy, but he had fun too.

My sister is on her way up now with her family. Dinner, and then the twins will sleep over while Melissa and Adam rest quietly in a hotel, so Adam can run a road race tomorrow in the next town from here.

Yesterday and today Micah spent most of the day with his buddy B, swimming in B's nanny's pool, while I took Sam and Sofia on lots of pre-camp errands. This afternoon, we all went swimming in J's pool, which was fun. Now home to cook. David returns tomorrow - yeah!!!

I had the oddest dream last night - I was attending services at Young Israel in Brookline. I have not been there since it was rebuilt after a fire many years ago, and in the dream, they had built an enormous men's section and forgotten about the women's section. We got a handful of folding chairs under the staircase. But many of my friends were there (both men and women), and for some reason they were celebrating a fake Passover seder. It was strange.

Ok, time to cook!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Another loooong weekend

Let's see, I last posted on Tuesday. Wednesday morning was Portfolio Day at the boys' school. We dropped Sofia at our neighbor's house (who then took her to school), and all went off. David started with Sam and I started with Micah, but Micah quickly made me crazy by trying to turn pages too quickly in his binder, so I couldn't see anything. So we switched.

After Portfolio, we had the first ever Fifth Grade Torah Siyyum. Sam's class has spent this whole year writing summaries and commentaries for every parasha (weekly portion) in the Torah. They taped the pages together, and made their own Torahs. My friend and I helped sew the covers a few weeks ago. It was a beautiful ceremony. Each child gave a short d'rash (words of learning), many about their own upcoming Bar- or Bat-Mitzvah portions. I was so proud of all of them, but of course especially of my Samuel.

Raced home so David could go to work and I could pick up Sofia. Regular busy Wednesday, with her gym class and some after school errands. And, oh yes, it was Sam's birthday that day! He is 11 years old!!!!!

Unfortunately, no present in the world was going to make up for the requested (and parentally rejected) iPod Touch, so he was VERY VERY GROUCHY. We went out for dinner (sushi, of course), and David's friend A came back from visiting his parents to join us. But Sam just scowled in the corner, even when faced with a "birthday maki" complete with a candle in the wasabi. By the end of the evening, I was emotionally drained and Sam was sobbing. Poor kid.

Thursday, however, was better. And Thursday night was the school's Annual Meeting. Sam and his remaining classmates (there will be 5 of them next year) were asked to attend as greeters, and they were so sweet to watch. They look so grown-up! Sam preened when he was able to suggest a fix for the glitchy microphone. I had to lead the singing of the national anthems (Star Spangled Banner and Hatikvah). It was a moving evening, with a speech by a young woman in a wheelchair talking about "The Power of One".

Friday I managed to get a little more shopping done in the morning. After school, Sam had his 11-year checkup, and Micah had a play date (whew!). Then home to say goodbye to David, who is in Zurich (and eventually Hamburg and Manchester) this week. Sam's friend (also named Sam) slept over, and Micah had a sleep over at his friend's house 40 minutes away. A neighborhood friend also joined the Sams for a movie. Mellow evening.

Until 10:30 pm, when Micah called from his friend's house, having an allergy attack. Not food related, just environmental. The mom (a dear friend) gave him a Benadryl. He wanted to come home, but it would have taken more than an hour before I could find someone to stay home with three sleeping kids while I drove out to get him, so in the end, he slept there while I stayed awake most of the night worrying. Which of course was unnecessary, since by 7am he was fine and really really wanted to stay there the entire day. Which he did.

The guest Sam woke up at 5:22, so I set him up in front of the TV and went back to sleep for a while (gave him his slow-acting ADD meds, too!). By 7:15 we were all awake. I made the kids breakfast and got them dressed. I had planned to go to shul, but Sam was not in the mood, and we really had a lot to do.

SO I took them on errands. First stop, the Natick Outdoor Store, for duffle bags for camp. Best price - I'd been checking all over. Then we met the other Sam's family at Old Navy...which was also having another sale, so I got even more stuff - more shorts for Sam, and $2 tank tops for me (basically free, since I had a coupon!).

Then took Sam for his camp haircut. He's NEVER had a buzz cut before. I couldn't believe how beautiful he looked. And the tail is definitely long enough to donate. YEAH!

Took him for another doctor appointment, some more errands, and then up to get Micah. We hung out there for a few hours; I passed out on the chair and had a bit of a nap, while Sofia terrorized the house and the boys all played. I needed that nap!

Then into Waltham, to have dinner with several friends who were up for Brandeis Reunion (they were a year ahead of me). Good to see everyone, but by that hour I was so frazzled and Sofia was so restless, it wasn't that much fun. Sofia was asleep within 10 minutes in the car, too. Whew. Got home and watched the end of the USA/UK World up game with the boys.

Today was also busy. We got up early and I made them breakfast. Sam played on the Wii most of the day (yesterday I'd gotten him Wii Sports Resort for his birthday, which made him a bit happier). Micah's friend J came for a playdate. They have not seen each other in a while (goes to a different school), so they very a bit rambunctious. I had to kick them out of the house a couple of times, and yell out the window a few times, too. But they had fun.

Meanwhile, I was upstairs watching Sofia's movies (oh goody, "Monsters vs. Aliens" AGAIN!) and ironing Sam's name into every item of clothing he's bringing to camp. Fun stuff.

This afternoon, Sam had a birthday party, so I drove all the kids out to Sudbury, dropped of Sam, chatted with the parents (good friends), and then met J's dad to drop him off. Then I took Micah and Sofia to see "Marmaduke" (which happened to be where the birthday party went, so we sat with them). Taking Sofia to a movie is exhausting. She needed to leave the theater about 8 times, to either go potty or just walk the halls a bit. Ugh.

Took the little ones to the bookstore to get a gift card, and let them pick out some books. Sofia was beginning to lose patience, and was yelling at me, at Micah, and at the sales clerk who dared ring up her books!

Then off to Papa Ginos to meet up with the birthday party again, give the gift card and retrieve Sam. Home, baths, more ironing, and finally they are all asleep. Whew.

Ok, here are the photos - Sam at 11 years old:

Happy brothers:

Portfolio Day (not sure why we all match, but it looks good!):

Marching in to the Torah Siyyum:

Sam's Torah:

Each kid designed their own pages. They had to write the first sentence in Hebrew, put a very short summary line, and their own Summary and Commentary. I was so proud of him for designing his as a Torah - others had things like ice cream cones and laptops!

Displaying everything:


The Tail:

Going into the hairdresser's:

It's off!

It's ALL off!

--- A few more:

Waiting with Sam at his doctor's check up:

Sofia enjoys a sample shake:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Weekend Photos

My sweet princess:

Bat Mitzvah - the ladies:

...and the gentlemen:

Waiting for Graduation - Laura with Sofia and Lilie:

My handsome boys:


In the Robing Room:

Getting my degree!

Back at the house - my mother-in-law and sister-in-law:

David and The Girls:

Monday afternoon, Sofia trying to comfort Micah as he waits for his allergy blood work:


I am DONE! What an exhausting week!

Tuesday morning, I helped out Sofia's class at Field Day. Annoying, since the events were all planned by parents...of "typical" kids...which means the Inclusion kiddos could barely do most of the stuff. Sofia did ok until she nearly fell asleep in my lap (!) but some of the other kids were way out of their PT comfort zone.

So I took the sleeper home and we rested. She didn't sleep at home, but then, when the babysitter was late, I had to take her with me to pick-up, and of course then she fell asleep (which meant that she was awake very late at night!).

Wednesday evening, Sam and I went to camp orientation. Cool. After, we went for ice cream with my friend and her son (who will be in Sam's bunk - whew!). They are going to have a great time!

And then it was Thursday morning. Dropped Sofia at the neighbor's house so she could take her to school, and raced the boys to their school, then raced in to Hebrew College. Got there just in time for the first presentation, a friend of mine. Then I was second.

It went really really well! Of course, I have no problem speaking in public, but I was glad that the content was well-received. Several people other than my advisor said they would like to see me expand the paper into a book, so I guess that is my task for next year.

Switched to the "other" room (I presented in the room with the Education majors, but my classmates were in the text-based majors group) to hear my program-mates, and then lunch. David and I sat with my program-mates, and one of the women asked in alarm "You have a son old enough to have a beard and mustache?!" We gently corrected her.

I was the very last (of about 25) to received my award. And it was actually a check - which makes me wonder - if I am getting an award for social responsibility, does that mean I have to donate the whole award somewhere?

Left after lunch so David could get back to work and I could pick up Sofia and then pick up the boys. Thursday evening, my friend S came in from Chicago for the weekend. I picked her up at the Logan Express bus and we did a bit of shopping before going home.

Friday, regular drop-off logistics, and then lots of errands, prepping for the weekend. Friday night, not only S, but the family whose son will be in camp with Sam, plus the grandfather from that family, all came for Shabbos dinner. And I managed to get rid of Micah; my yearbook co-chair came to see the proof, and she took Micah with her (her son is his friend) to the Concert on the Framingham commons. SO it was peaceful.

Saturday, S got to spend her birthday hanging out with my children, while David and I went to the bat mitzvah of my friend R's step-daughter. I know the cantor at that shul, so it was nice to hear her sing, and then we all had a blast at the lunch party. Danced with our friends, had fun.

David left at 4:00 from the bat mitzvah to drive down to CT for a wedding, and I got a ride home. Laura and Lilie had also arrived, so we spent the evening cooking and prepping for Sunday.

Sunday morning, off to graduation. It was fun. Two hours, and hot, especially in polyester robes, but really exciting. Apparently my husband and children are camera-illiterate, because there are no clear pictures, but I'm waiting for some from a classmate.

After the ceremony, raced home to set up for the party. Had about 60 people at the house. Very fun afternoon. The kids stayed outside as much as possible, until the thunderstorms. And late-afternoon, Sam and 4 other of his classmates went off to a birthday party, so that helped quiet things down.

And not only S (from Chicago), but also David's best buddy A from California both slept over, so we were up late talking with them.

Really really nice day.

Monday, S and I went shopping in the morning while Sofia was in school (I got some jeans - a size smaller than I've been wearing!!!!). Lunch at home, and then dropped S back at the airport bus. Got the boys, hung out, and then home. And then I was up until 1:15 last night finishing the yearbook, which went back to the printer this morning.


I promise pictures later...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Photos from Memorial Weekend events

The Wedding - I love the groom's brother's expression:

David and I, all dressed up:

Lilie and Sofia ready to go:

I love her new haircut!

Laura and Travis:

My in-laws:

My husband, looking ready to retire to Miami:


Sam and Micah with the Magician:

David with Great-Uncle Henry:

This morning at Preschool Field Day: