Thursday, August 26, 2010

Guess where I was today?


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:


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:

And the Chief made sure nothing was still burning:

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:


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.


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:

My kids - I think this might end up being our Rosh Hashanah card this year:

And a nice shot of the beach:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Learning Learning Learning

(Note, if the photos seem too large, please reload your page - I spent a lot of time resizing them!)

Sofia has learned to:

- "swim" with her head under water for extended periods of time (making Mommy a bit crazy)

- screech when she is annoyed (making Mommy a bit more crazy)

- seek out her own food from cabinets and refrigerators (further contributing to Mommy's insanity)

- ride her bike, most recently around the rental house - the INSIDE of the rental house (Did nothing to help make Mommy saner).

- stay up very late without taking a nap (really really making Mommy nuts).

- Eat nonstop. (I'm not thrilled...)

Sense a theme?

But as much as she's driving me over the edge, I am just so enthralled with every step she takes at independence. She's gotten so "big" recently. Watching her in the pool tonight (hotel outside Washington DC - after 8 hours of driving!), I was astounded to see her standing on her own, swimming under water, and being very independent.

She is also getting very willful. A little while ago, she got angry at me because I would not give her anything else to eat (she'd already had 2 cups of pasta, a bag of cucumber slices and a piece of pizza - and she's not supposed to have wheat!). So she marched over to the hotel room door and started opening it! The only way to stop her is to slap her hand and speak very sharply, at which point she scrunches up her eyes and folds herself into a ball on the floor. I put her to bed. She has this whole "if I don't look at you, you don't exist" thing going on...

In the car, she was "singing" her songs - for a while I had some Singing Times songs playing on the iPod, and she was singing and signing along, and vehemently protested the quieter songs (nothing quiet and soft about my girl!).


We are on our way home from vacation traveling with children. Boat ride Thursday was lovely. The boat was a little catamaran. Captain was a year out of college (WPI, David's alma mater, so they had an interesting little conversation). He was young and not very outgoing, but polite enough.

We went around the bay, and stopped on Shackleford Island to swim on the back for a bit. This island has a ton of wild horses, left over from a Spanish shipwreck.



From the water, all you could see was a tiny stretch of beach, nothing behind it. Very cool:

Sofia was done and tried to wake up the captain:

Momma relaxing on the front of the boat:

Thursday night, we went for a nice bike ride. Emerald Isle has a bike path, but it started several miles down from our house. So we drove the car with the bikes down to the rec center and parked. Rode to the end, had a nice dinner, and biked back. It was getting dark by then, so Sofia and I went back to get the car, and then I kept meeting David and the boys along the trail until they got to the end. By then it was very dark, so we all drove home.

Friday, we relaxed, swam, and packed. In the late afternoon, we drove back to Beaufort for the Pirate Invasion. Micah fell asleep in the car:

The Pirate Invasion was...small...but serious. They have a lot of historically accurate information about pirates. The boys were shy about talking to the pirates, but eventually they did:

Sofia, however, wanted nothing to do with pirates:

But said "bye bye pirates" and waved, without turning to look at them.

On the way home, she was very clear: "Sofia, princess. Mama, queen. Dada, prince. Sam, Micah, pirates!"

In the evening, we wanted to go for another bike ride. This time, we decided to park down at the end, where we'd eaten the day before, and then bike towards town and have dinner. We also had to stop to get out henna refreshed.

So a nice bike ride...with an overcast sky. Sofia loved her fish taco:

But while we were eating, the sky opened. Wide. It POURED. We biked a block back to the stores, and found a nice wide porch to stay under. But the rain showed no sign of stopping. Eventually, David opted to ride back in the rain and bring the car back for us. Sofia was freaked out at first (it was late already, after 9pm), so we went into the store, but then we had fun waiting on the porch:

Micah's shirt says "G-d is busy, may I help you?"

We were completely drenched. But it was fun, and at least the rain was warm.

Today we packed up the car and hit the road. And drove. And drove. We took 95 this time, and it took us 8 hours with only minimal stopping to reach Herndon Virginia. Tomorrow, a little walking around DC before the rest of the drive.

I have to go get the laundry. I've done more laundry on this "vacation" than I usually do in a month! But I was glad the hotel had guest laundry. We all went swimming when we got here, and some of my children had gone through more than the allotted supply of clothing...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My children are well-behaved?

Apparently they really are. Tonight at dinner, David and I both stressed because 1) Micah would not sit down (because his pants were wet from the bumper boats we had gone on right before dinner), and 2) Sofia was ...being Sofia...and 3) they were all (what we thought of as) loud. I shuffled Micah and Sofia outside as soon as we were done eating, but when David was paying the bill, both the waitress and the hostess told him our kids were SO well behaved, they had hardly heard a peep out of them.

Either the ladies were being very polite, or the majority of children are not nearly as quiet! Yikes.

This afternoon was also interesting. The place we are renting is a duplex, and the folks who own the other side are also in, with their daughter and her 3 kids, a girl aged 3, and boys ages 8 and 10. Yup, perfect. All four boys spent most of the morning in the waves together, and of course MIcah and the 8 year old got along great. Micah makes friends very easily.

But after lunch, the kids came back up to the house, and Micah went next door to play. And then came back not long after, wanting to withdraw. "Mom, they weren't very well-behaved. They said the S word ["stupid" is a BIG no-no in our family], and the mom yelled a lot and they yelled at her." He was somewhat appalled. I was secretly thrilled and proud of him for making the choice to remove himself from an uncomfortable situation.

So. Despite Micah's inability to NOT have the last word, or Sam's inability to follow any helpful instructions, or Sofia's inability to go to sleep when we want her to do so, we are having a somewhat relaxing time here. We have not done too much - beach each day, plus a trip to the Aquarium, a ride into Beaufort, and some shopping at the beach stores on the island.

Sunday, the boys and I got something special:

(Ok, they are only henna, will come off in a few weeks. Micah got a NY Yankees logo on his ankle!)

And today Sam got something else:
(also fake - but oh, he looks so handsome, I think he will really have his ear pierced before his bar mitzvah!).

Here are picks from our dinner on the waterfront (with the waitress who totally "got" Sofia):

And at the Aquarium, Sofia wanted to sit up close to the sea otters, so she did a perfect split in front of the window!

We stopped at the Fort on the other end of the island, and in the store, Micah and Sofia played checkers - with Sofia's rules, of course:

Sunset from our porch:

My new hat:

Tonight we went to the bumper cars and bumper boats place. Sofia LOVED driving with me, and had a lot of fun working the splasher on the boat:


Micah was upset that he had to drive with Daddy:

But he had fun on the boats:

So did Sam:

Tomorrow we are going on a small boat - just the 5 of us plus the captain - to ride around the bay and see the wild horses on Shackleford Island, and hopefully swim in the quieter waters.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The code words we use

First day of vacation wasn't too bad. Sofia crawled into our bed at 6am, and fully woke up at 7, so I got out to the living room with her. Hung out for an hour, breakfast, TV, until all the boys woke up. Then I went back to sleep for a couple of hours. Then it was time for the beach. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Warm water, very strong waves and undertow, so we had to hold on tight to Sofia, and David had to pull the boys out a few times.

Sofia wouldn't stay out of the water, even when she was getting totally buffetted. The boys had fun with the boogie boards or just jumping waved. David took a little walk with Sofia down the beach, and then sat near the edge with her for a while. There are little girls to both the left and right of us - one is a sweet chatterbox and was playing with our kids on the sand for a while. There are also two boys next door, around the same age as ours, but they have not "clicked" yet.

I finally had to pull Sofia back into the house. I'd been swimming with her, and got very exhausted suddenly - probably too much sun and too much undertow. And Sofia would NOT sit still. So we went in, showered and lunched.

We all relaxed for a few hours. Then went out for a drive to get Micah a new boogie board (his is cracked). The boys and I got henna tattos! They only last a few weeks - I wouldn't want a permanent one. I got a flower on my shoulder, Sam has a small dragon on his leg, and Micah has the NY Yankees symbol on his ankle! Sofia slept through the whole shopping trip (which made it much easier!).

Then we went for dinner - and here's where the title of this post comes in. We ate at a small seafood restaurant, on the porch by the water rather than in the main restaurant. Food was good - I had grilled tuna. And we all LOVE the hushpuppies that show up on the table as soon as we sit down!

Anyway, our waitress was completely gaga over Sofia. And David and I have been disagreeing for the past several hours...he thinks she did not know Sofia has DS, and I am certain she did.

My clues: She said "I have a neice like her; she looks exactly like my neice." "I have two little friends like that." "Oh, yes, they are all such beautiful children." And, most telling for me, when Sofia finally woke up and ate enough to start talking a bit, the waitress said "Oh, her speech is very clear!" in that way of someone who knows that this is not always the case.

David, on the other hand, thinks she did not know. He thinks she was just taken with a sweet-faced little girl.

So how am I sure that she "got it"? Because of the "like her" and the "like that" and "they are all"... Never once did anyone utter the words Down syndrome. But to me, it was a very clear conversation with someone in-the-know. David is unconvinced. (I think he was too busy fighting with Micah.)

I have not seen anyone else with Down syndrome down here yet. And David is, I think, very conscious of being "different" down here. Aside from the DS, Micah always calls us "Aba" and "Ema", the Hebrew words for Dad and Mom, and I see David kind of cringe when Micah gets too loud. And he took the MWJDS magnets off the back of the car. Interesting. We are certainly in the Bible Belt, or some near cousin. There are about a bazillion churches, and there are signs of Christianity everywhere. But I also saw a tzedaka box for Chabad! And this is a vacation area. There was a synagogue in New Bern, where we stopped for breakfast yesterday. So I don't think we are THAT out of place.

It's just interesting. I am never uncomfortable being "different". Sofia's chromosome or Micah's Hebrew don't faze me - they are just part of who we are as a family.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

We made it to North Carolina!

After a rather stressful Thursday and Friday, spent packing, upgrading our iPhones (David got a 4, I got his old 3g), and getting maintenance done on the car, we finally left the house at 5pm Friday and were on our way to our family vacation. Well, traveling with children...not nearly as relaxing!

First stop was of course Rein's Deli in Vernon CT. When I mentioned this on Facebook, about 15 of my friends had to weigh in on their favorite dish there. Sofia loves the mushroom barley soup, Sam's a kosher hot dog fan, and the rest of us get pastrami and corned beef (which are Hebrew National and I was once assured are cut on a separate cutter...what I don't know won't hurt me...). Yum. But it was crowded last night, and service was very slow.


But we got back on the road at 8:30, and headed south. David, being a total maniac, drove all night, even though I kept making him "promise" to wake me up for a shift. I woke up many many times, to check on him or help him navigate changes in roads. But he did not relinquish the wheel until 6 am. And by then, we were already in Virginia!

So I got to drive for about 3 hours, while they all slept. Actually, Micah and Sofia had been awake at 5:30, but fell back asleep when David did, which was great.

We got to New Bern, about an hour from our destination, around 9:15, looking for breakfast. Walked around town a bit (lots of statues of Bears in New Bern!) before finding someplace. Yummy - grits and biscuits, plus egg for Sofia, pancakes for boys, and I had... trout! Yes, Trout and Grits. With a biscuit. Ah, the South.


Stopped at the Visitor's Center, and watched some boats at the launch...


Finally got onto the Island - lowest part of The Outer Banks. First we walked a bit in Atlantic Beach, then drove out to Emerald Isle, where we are staying. Couldn't check in yet, so played mini-golf...which was a bad idea, since Sofia has no idea how to play and Micah is a VERY sore loser! And it was very very humid.


But we finally got into the house. Nice place - 3 bedrooms, with Sofia sharing with Micah instead of with Sam (we figure they are the two who wake up earliest, and there is a TV in their room).

Got the car unloaded, and unpacked everything. David passed out. I took a shower (finally) and then took Sofia to the grocery store. Back home, the boys were exploring the beach:

That's our house for the next week!

Kids are asleep now, and David and I are thrilled with the lightening-fast Internet connection, so we are being geeky.

Tomorrow, probably beach and then aquarium, but who knows...

(Oh, and if you are a stalker reading this and thinking our house is empty, it's not, E is staying there and neighbors and police are all watching...)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

In Memory of Donna

An old old friend from my early years in Zamir was buried today. Donna Levy (was Donna Alon when we sang together). She had been sick with cancer. Which meant that, once again, we were faced with a friend who knew she was dying and was able to totally organize her own funeral. And it was beautiful. We sang "Durme" and "Yehiyu Le'Ratzon", and Cantor Sherr officiated - his daughter and Donna's daughter have been friends since preschool. The speeches were all a beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman.

I saw many faces I have not seen in years. But I really really wish I could see these people under happier circumstances. We had a similar funeral almost exactly a year ago. And while we were singing, I was noticing how some have aged more than others, or are not as healthy as we could wish, and I totally lost it.

The magic of Zamir has always been the connections we have made. It is a Family. We stay attached, long distance and through time. And we show up. And hug. And cry. And try to laugh as much as possible.



Ok, on a happier note, we figured out vacation. We are headed to The Outer Banks of North Carolina! We are going to drive straight through. Hopefully David will remember to wake me up for my shifts! But we can take an extra day or two coming home.

The house is right on the beach. We'll bring the bikes, bathing suits, beach toys and chairs. And relax! (Well, ok, the kids and David will relax. I will be a wreck trying to keep everyone safe and fed.)

Sofia is back to being a swimming maniac. She puts her whole face in the water, and opens her eyes (which means they are totally red and bloodshot all the time). She floats, she kicks, she uses her arms and legs appropriately. She just loves the water.

But the other day, she got right in without either me or her floatie. By the time she actually got all the way in, I was close enough to not panic, but I had kept saying "no" and she ignored me. So I watched her go right under water, and her eyes opened wide wide wide as she realized that probably was not a great idea. And then she swam back to the steps!

Micah has no camp this week, but I arranged some playdates. He had a great time today with his friend, and then when I picked him up, I took him for a haircut (finally!). So handsome.

So now I need to pack. But the place has laundry (and air conditioning), so I'm only packing for a few days, and we can wash. Just hanging out. Emerald Isles, NC, if anyone is in the area...