Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Baby is 6 years old!


In all the fuss of vacation week, I sort of forgot to blog that La Principessa Sofia Phoebe Daniella Rothkopf turned 6 years old on February 18!

That was the Friday before vacation week. First thing in the morning, we gave her presents from the family: my folks "got" her (ok, I bought it, from them) another pillow pet, and various books from me and David and the boys.


In the afternoon, I went in to her classroom to read a story. Her best buddy H and Sofia had a great time hugging and mugging.


That Friday night we had Shabbos dinner at the principal's house! Saturday evening we were at our friends' and able to have candles in (gluten-free) cupcakes.


And today was the party. Laura and Lilie came up last night (David had taken Sam and Sofia down to CT to see his grandmother), so the kids had breakfast together and then we got out to the party, which once again was at her gymnastics place.

Party was a lot of fun. We had requested our favorite teacher from last year, plus this year's great teacher (a guy, whom my boys adore!). Had 9 girls including Sofia, and 4 boys including mine. A good size.


My favorite video - Sofia was SOOOO happy!


Ok, so he's kind'a goofy:

After the party, we got a quick bite, and then dropped David back at the Logan Express bus. He's off to California for more than a week. Boo hoo. I miss him.

But then we took the kids to the mall, because Laura had gotten Sofia a Build-a-Bear gift certificate. The girls got matching pink bears (with different outfits), Sam got a plain bear ('cause I said I would only spend $10 on each boy), and Micah splurged on an Owl with a Harry Potter costume (yes, he paid me back $20 when we got home! Having a little buyers remorse, but I hope he does enjoy the owl.).

We couldn't find a rental stroller, but managed to locate a shopping cart at Sears, and got plenty of odd looks as we wheeled around the Natick Collection. But it kept the girls corralled!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why I Don't Homeschool

I admire people who can homeschool their children. The moms I know (I'm sure there are dads who homeschool, but I have never met any!) are very patient and thorough teachers. The children I know who have been homeschooled are generally amazing - thoughtful, intelligent, confident, kind.

However, when people ask my why I don't homeschool, I have one simple answer:

Some animals EAT their young!

I just worked with Micah on his Wax Museum reading. He is going to be John F. Kennedy. Yet Micah, who has a huge stack of books on his night table and who considers himself a very good reader, has decided that he CAN'T read the biography. Just CAN'T.


(This holds true for all my children. Sofia's favorite 'get out of work' line is "Noooo, CAAAAANNNNN'TTTT").

So, after applying food (Micah woke up in a MISERABLE mood this morning!), I snuggled with him in a chair (Sofia joined us for a while until Sam took her to play outside) and started reading "with" him.

Well, "reading" is a generous term for what we were doing. I would say three or four words off the page, and he would make a comment. Or ask a question. Or take a bounce around the room.

I think third grade teachers are generally the most incredible people. How an adult cold possibly have the patience to deal with a whole classroom full of these ... these.... creatures is beyond me. (I have told Micah's teacher of my admiration for her several times, mostly after accompanying them on field trips!).

We got through two whole chapters. So far, I think Micah is still confused as to whether JFK lived during the Revolutionary War or the Civil War. I have not yet been able to convince him that he's (a-hem) incorrect.

Ok, off to deposit children and pick up other children and generally try to survive another day of vacation week.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

School Vacation Week as a Special Needs mommy

When I started up the computer this morning, I was going to blog about how my children are mostly driving me crazy this week. But I ran out of time, and had to take Sofia to our synagogue for a concert. And now my topic is a little altered.

Had a Special Needs Mommy moment at the concert, which was sponsored by the nursery school. This is NOT the preschool Sofia goes to (although it is where her brothers went). Since there are no specialists for speech, OT, PT and inclusion, Sofia goes to the public preschool.

My complaint these past three years at the public preschool is that there is very little chance for parents to interact - the teachers take the kids out of cars and bring them to the cars, so we are not milling in the hallway at drop off and pick up (as is the case at the synagogue school). Consequently, in three years, I have really only made one mommy friend at Sofia's school (and I'm very glad to have that lady as a friend - I definitely appreciate quality vs. quantity!).

But I forgot how unfriendly and closed off and cliquey preschool moms can be! I had made most of my mommy friends when Sam was in preschool; by the time Micah got there, either his classmates were younger siblings, or it just was not as important to make more friends. So this morning was difficult on several levels:

- I only recognized a few mommies, mostly from synagogue, and most of those were busy with their other friends.
- Sofia is six years old already. Most preschoolers are between 3 and 5 years. There were only two kids I saw who she might know from synagogue, but they were busy with their own friends.
- Little kids can be just as unfriendly and closed to unknown kids as their mommies can be to unknown mommies. So when it was time to dance, and kids were forming dance circles, Sofia had no one to dance with.

That's what did it. She looked so sad and dejected, trying to convince someone to hold her hand.

Eventually the dancing changed to more of a line, so she was able to be involved. But it made me so sad.

And it doesn't help that she's always got either her tongue or her finger up her nose!

I was glad to see the nursery school director, whose daughter used to be in Micah's class and who is a good friend and understanding listener. She was able to point out some of the positives as Sofia got more into the concert. And she was able to sympathize knowledgeably.

Sofia has been driving me NUTS all week, of course! Yesterday, my sitter canceled, so I had to take Sofia with me and Sam into Brookline to pick up my grandfather's tefillin, which was being checked in preparation for Sam to use. It was very cold, so I had to carry Sofia on my shoulders, which compressed my spine and gave me a horrible headache all day. She kept fighting me or running off as we were trying to do errands. It was a frustrating day.

In the evening, took the boys to Tae Kwan Do, and Sofia managed to lock herself in a storage closet. Then she gave me lots of hands-on-hips "NO!"s when I tried redirecting her. Pain in the butt.

The boys were wonderful last night and this morning. Last night they put her to bed, and this morning they shut my door and kept her away and occupied so I could sleep a bit. They also stayed home and actually did homework while I took her to the concert (too babyish for them). Good boys. I'm loving this age, where they can stay home for a bit during the day without worry. Monday, David and I actually went to buy the replacement dishwasher (ours died) without any kids, as the boys were wiling to watch their sister, too.

Stressing, too, about Sofia's birthday party this Sunday. Only have about 5 kids coming, due to vacation plans. And David's nearly-100-year-old grandmother fell last week and had to have surgery on her leg (she was bleeding inside)! She made it through fine, but that's another stress-er.

Ok, enough complaining. Time to get moving...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday morning

(She was playing "Throw-Catch" when I left off my last post - there were toys everywhere!).

We had a nice relaxing weekend. Fun Shabbos dinner with friends, including the kid Sam goes to overnight camp with, and his school chum, who has become my "Friday Child" - we drive him home on Fridays and he frequently stays for dinner.

In the middle of dinner, Sofia came to me with a lose tooth:

and by the end of dinner, it was out (and there was blood all over the place!)

Went to shul Saturday morning. I never even made it into the main sanctuary, because I was with Sofia in the children's service all morning.

Saturday evening, picked up Sam from his friend's house, dropped Micah at a birthday party, took Sam to Whole Foods to grab a bite to eat before a Kadima event (Kadima is the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism's youth group for grades 5&6). Met up with other friends headed to the same event, so I left Sam with them. Saw him through the window, eating dinner with his friend from school and smiling madly.

David and Sofia and I went for some really interesting food in Natick - I had a Korean dish and some sushi, David had some Thai appetizers as his meal, and Sofia chowed on soup and sushi and rice noodles.

Picked up Sam and three other kids, took them all to ice cream (sleeping Sofia and I stayed in the car while David took them in), then dropped one kid off at the birthday party ('cause his sister was there) and picked up Micah. Drove the other two kids home. Finally made it home around 9:30! Then David and I started watching "Watchmen" - I'd never seen it before. I fell asleep, so finished it last night. Interesting. You end up not liking any of the characters, but it was interesting.

Sunday we had an awesome event at the day school - Build Jerusalem with Legos! See here for some great photos. David and Sofia came in time for clean-up. which was fine for Sofia!

Then we went in to Brookline. I have my grandfather's Tefillin, but it needs to be checked before Sam starts using it. And then we dined at Rubin's, the kosher restaurant, along with about a million other people (and it's a very small place!).

Here are some pictures of Sofia getting her hair cut last week by my friend Kathy at her store, Hometown Designs in Natick.

Friday, February 11, 2011

"Shhhh Qui-at"

That's how Sofia tells us to be quiet. I'm appreciating the relative quiet this morning, because yesterday we had a playdate. There was no preschool again, for conferences, so I had Sofia's friend H over since her mom had to work. This is the only family we've really connected with in three years at preschool. Sofia and H are in the Inclusion class together, and go to speech together once a week (Sofia also gets one-on-one speech). H has delays and something going on with the 21st chromosome, but it's not DS, so she does not have "the look".

I have never seen two kids who are more alike and yet more different!

The two of them CAN play well together, when they feel like it. But I have forgotten that I actually have a quiet child. Sometimes I feel like Sofia never shuts up, always yelling at me (Mama! C'mere! Want Cheese! Please!) or chattering to her toys.

Well, Miss H certainly set me right. "Uh, Sofia's Mom?" Every other minute. Seriously. Constant chatter. And she does not have Sofia's attention span, so she was flitting from one thing to another with rather alarming speed. I've gotten used to (and forgotten to appreciate) Sofia's ability to focus for long periods of time.

Mid-afternoon, the speech therapist called to discuss prep for Sofia's IEP, and she laughed when I told her H was over. She said the two girls boss each other around, play together, yell at each other, and have a ton of fun. I could see it.

Since H's mom works until at least 4, I took both girls with me to pick up the boys (plus an extra boy). Then took the whole crew to get Sam a haircut - Micah and M (the other boy) were in charge of the girls while I worked with Sam and the hairdresser.

Then Sam needed something at Staples, so I left the other 4 in the car - M has a cell phone, and is 12 and a half years old. Sam wanted a mechanical pencil. But not any mechanical pencil. No, he wanted a very specific one. Which of course cost twice as much money. But he promised to pay me back (and he did!).

Then I took them all for ice cream, since I figured why not sugar 'em up! Very loud and hectic, but I got into a fun conversation with a guy at Friendly's while we were waiting for our order.

Dropped Micah at gymnastics, dropped Sam and M at M's dad's auto shop, then dropped H home. AH, my ears! Picked up Sam, and enjoyed the calm

My head cold was awful the past few days, but thankfully today I'm starting to feel better. Went to sleep early last night. I've been having REALLY weird dreams all week. Some about Sam's Bar Mitzvah, superimposed over scenes from my wedding (since I recently downloaded the VHS file to digital). Some about the boys' school (I remember dreaming that one of the teachers was actually 2 years older than me (she's SO not!), and telling another teacher but then realizing that that teacher was 6 years younger than me! Also a lot of feeding people dreams, probably brought on by excessive playing of The Restaurant Story, my family's new obsession on all the iPhones!

I got a call from the school nurse this morning - both boys were injured playing dodge ball in gym. I thought they outlawed dodge ball?! Micah hurt his back, but there's no bruise, and Sam got hit in the nose and has a headache.

Ok, I hear my "quiet" daughter tossing toys all over the living room now...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sitting in "My Office" (i.e. Starbucks)

Our power went out this morning. I've been waiting for that to happen. The wind has been so strong, and the trees are so heavy with ice and snow, it was just a matter of time.

So I'm sitting in "my office", soaking up the sun on a comfy chair and lovin' my laptop (and the classical music they've got playing today).

On Facebook, many of my original online friends from the forum I joined when I found out Sofia would have an extra chromosome have started a FB forum. It's nice, because we can share joys that no one else would understand (most people do not throw a party when their 7 year old learns to pull down his own underpants!). I just posted a question there about biking, and got a terrific answer:

For the past few years, Sofia has been riding in a child seat on the back of my bike. She LOVES to ride, loves the feel of the wind in her face. Other than having to take away her shoes and socks ('cause she'll just chuck 'em anywhere), she's very good about keeping her helmet on and not unstrapping her buckles. And she's even taken some quality naps back there.

But at the end of last season, I noticed that her legs were getting too long. Maybe it was just that they were dangling several inches past the stirrups, or maybe it was the increase in the kicking of my kidneys.

What to do, what to do? Now that both boys are decent riders, we liek to go to a Rail Trail for a family ride in nice weather (yes, I'm sure we'll have nice weather again one day!).

Well, someone just posted this: Buddy Bike.

OMG!!! I'm so excited about this! We had thought about a tag-along bike, but we were totally worried that Miss Sofia would just jump off when she got bored. I don't want to lock her into a trailer like a baby - that takes all the interaction away.

This is exciting. She's able to pedal her trike at school ok, but she's still little enough that there's no way shoe could keep up with us for any length of time.

This could be IT!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy Sunday Night

The boys are all watching the Game in my room, David nearly asleep ,Sam cuddled next to him (Sofia was with them, but she has since passed out and been transferred back to her own room). Micah in the rocker. I'm at my desk, so I can turn around and watch the commercials, the only worthwhile part of the show.

It was a good weekend. Friday night D&E and the girls came for dinner. We made some really yummy sangria, using some of the banana and pineapple liqueurs we bought 12 years ago in Tahiti (plus some dark rum, red wine, a bit of leftover white wine, a can of mandarin orange slices, and ....uh... I thought there was another ingredient but I can't remember what it was!).

We had intended to go to shul, but David was exhausted, so we slept late. Afternoon, I took Micah and Sam and Sam's friend B to meet Micah's buddy and some other kids at Ward Hill, the very local ski place (they apparently call it "Ward Bump"). Sam had taken his snowboarding lessons there, so he went snowboarding while his buddy skied. Micah and his gang went Tubing and had a birthday party. It also rained while we were there, so they were all soaking wet. But very happy. I took Sam and B home when they were done, and Micah got a ride halfway back (I met them in the Walgreens parking lot).

Evening, Sam went to a party at his friend's house - they watched "Valentines Day", which he complained is "really a Chick Flick" - and David and I went out with friends for REALLY yummy sushi in Berlin, at a place called Shiro. We had fun, and then went to the Harvest Cafe in Hudson for live music - first time in YEARS - and coffee. Nice evening.

Today was busy. Sam had a Tefillin workshop at shul for the pre-Bar Mitzvah class. I was very proud of him; he had learned how to wrap Tefillin at camp, so he was very confident and was helping me and my friend R and her daughter. He was so cute!

Micah came with us, and then he went roller skating with the youth group for his grade. He had a blast. He is still friends with some boys from preschool. They have not seen each other much in the past few years, but 3rd grade is when youth group starts, so now they get to see each other again. (The other kids go to public school and the religious school, rather than day school).

Took Micah to Old Navy - always a joy (NOT) - and then met David and the other kids for pizza (great place that has gluten free for Sofia).

Expecting a quiet week, although David resumes travel, starting with exciting Akron (apologies for anyone who actually lives there and/or likes it there).

My Food For Thought: Does the Massachusetts mandated anti-bullying law apply to in-school Antisemitism, and how will our kids know the distinction? David asked me recently if the kids will be learning how to cope with antisemitism, since most will probably go to public high schools. David went to an Orthodox yeshiva from kindergarten through 8th grade, and then inner-city (New Britain) high school with 4000+ kids, only about 3 of whom where Jewish. He had a lot of experiences with antisemitism.

Ok, enough deep thought, impossible to think with the drivel from the TV behind me. I just downloaded about 2 months worth of pictures from my camera. I'm slipping. I used to take tons of pictures. But this year, both my point-and-shoot and my "real" camera are broken, and I'm stuck with Sam's very substandard point-and-shoot, or the camera on my iPhone (which, by the way, now has a cracked screen! I'm going to attempt a repair, already ordered a kit).

So here are a few pics:

Sofia snuggling:
Sofia snuggles

and making "Shabbat" dinner for me:
Sofia made "Shabbat" dinner

The lovely view at the Ritz Carlton Palm Beach:
Ritz Carlton Palm Beach

And my gorgeous, 99 year old grandmother, Doris:

Me and my Grandma


The following weekend, I went to Maine with my girlfriends, and on Sunday we "shmeid" around Kennebunkport:

Sofia has taken a few naps in the car recently:
Sleepy girl

But sometimes I get a lovely smile from her:
Pink Girl

The school is buried under so much snow:
School in February

But Sam had fun snowboarding:
Sam snowboarding

And here are more Tefillin workshop shots:


(Yes, Micah still hides from the camera. He also moves so much and so fast, when I do manage to get a shot, he's blurry. Trust me, he's adorable.)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow snow snow and more snow

I guess I am not tired of snow days yet, because I wasn't here for MLK weekend, and my kids keep themselves amused (television, movies, computers, books, and toys galore), and I have plenty to do in "free" time, or I just love being lazy. I DO like not having to drive anywhere or put in my contact lenses.

It's been a busy week and a half since my last bubbly post. I am glad you all enjoyed my thankfulness words. I was really bubbling over with happiness and wanted to make sure you all understood how much you mean to me!

The week went by in a blur. Helped out at Whimsical Wednesdays, the preschool program at the day school. This tie, Sofia did not try to leave the room, and she was very attentive and somewhat helpful with the littler kids. No school last Thursday, which means I did not get my massage (boo hoo), but hopefully tomorrow I will be able to go.

Friday evening was the beginning of the Day School Shabbaton (aka "Shabbat Yachad", which means "Shabbat Together". I guess in Israel a Shabbaton is more like a sabatical). Services were at the Conservative shul in Framingham, which is smaller than the one we go to but really lovely. We had a great turn-out from the school community. Each class led one or two prayers. The best is the Kindergarten - they always get "Lecha Dod" which is very bouncy and repetitive, and ADORABLE!

Dinner was yummy (I thought so at least - there are always people who complain). Oh, and my inlaws came up for the weekend, too, so they got to see the kids lead services!

Sofia had a blast running around with the big girls, and the boys with their friends. We went back there in the morning for more services. Sam read Torah very nicely, and gave a short commentary - he did a great job.

By lunchtime, however, my head was going to explode. It was VERY loud, with kids running all over the place. Some families are more strict than others when it comes to what their children are allowed to do during services, so there was a good-sized crowd of rowdy kids in the hallway making waaay too much noise, and during lunch they all started running around the social hall and screaming.

Finally got home - my inlaws left, and Micah went home with a friend for a playdate. Sam wasn't feeling great, so we sent him to his room to rest, we put on TV for Sofia, and David and I fell asleep for most of the afternoon. Ahhhhh. In the evening, I picked up Micah, and we all relaxed at home some more.

Which was good, since at 4am on Sunday, Sofia was screaming that her belly hurt. I was in her room (as was Micah, since we hadn't changed the sheet in his room and his grandfather had slept in his bed, which is more comfortable than the pullout couch), so I did not get much sleep.

And when I got up at 6 to move back to my room, I realized that the heat was off :(

The heating guy came around 11am for an emergency call. Boy, that's a good gig. $314 to tell us that the heater was actually fine but the chimney was blocked.

Sam's friend came over, and the plan was that David was going to take Sam and his friend to slot car racing while I took Micah and Sofia to a birthday party. However, my Samuel had a temper tantrum, which caused his father, already stressed from the cost of getting the heat back, to flip out.

So I ended up taking all 4 kids to the party, which was for a 7 year old girl. There was another 4th grade boy there, so I left Sofia at the party (which was for my friend D's daughter, so D was able to watch her), and I took the 4 boys to the Arcade for a while. Then back to the party in time for Dodge Ball. Then I took the 4 boys and Sofia - quick stop home to check (David had gone to his office to work and get more stressed), and then I took them to slot car racing.

UGH. Left the boys there, paid for their half hour, and sat in the car with Sofia and a splitting headache. Sofia slept.

Back home to pack, drop boy #4 home and then to our friends' house (boy #3) where the kids and I slept over. We went back out to meet David for dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, The Aztec in Framingham. The 6 kids (they have two girls and one boy) had fun watching "America's Funniest Home Videos" on the TV in the restaurant while the grownups enjoyed being together.

Very grateful to stay at their house, which was nice and warm. David opted to stay at our house, and got up every hour to run the water so the pipes didn't freeze.

Monday morning Micah went to school with our friends, while I brought Sam back to Ashland for his reading group, and then Sofia and I took him to school. Then Sofia had her dental checkup. She was so good! Hopped right in the chair, wore the pink princess sunglasses, opened her mouth like a champ! I didn't even have to hold her.

Dentist was totally impressed with her articulation and lack of dental decay. Yeah!

Chimney guys came in the afternoon, and not only showed us how to properly use our chimney (by this time the house was filled with smoke, because we'd tried lighting a fire before the heating guy came!), but also told us the things that were actually wrong with our heating system. And the chimney was not actually blocked, it just wasn't venting properly.

So now we have heat again, AND we know how to have a fireplace fire without killing us.

Which is good, since we were home again today. Boys got out at 11:00 yesterday, Sofia had no school (and was sick - she fell asleep with a fever in the middle of school on Monday afternoon!). We hung out at D's house for lunch and a movie, then home. Here for the duration.

Stay warm and safe, everyone.