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...."


(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,


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!


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!


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.


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.


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.