Saturday, March 9, 2013

Moving on

I'm writing a book.  Really.

I've been thinking about it for years, and it's unbelievably scary to actually put it out there as something that I'm doing.  But I am.  I'm getting serious about my writing.  So I purchased a domain and transferred the blog over to it, and that's where I'll be blogging in the future.

My website is and that's where you can find my blog (including all the archives), as well as some information about the book, and hopefully other projects that I'll be working on as well.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


I'm a horrible cook.  I don't enjoy it, and I frequently put stuff on the stove and then wander away, get distracted and come back just in time (if I'm lucky) to whisk the pan off the heat before it burns.  I'm not a creative cook, I can do a couple of things well, I'm a functional cook, enough so my children won't starve.  It's definitely not a strong point of mine. But baking - baking I'm really good at.

I didn't bake much with my oldest.  I was thinking about this the other day, and the first kid I really baked with was my son Sammy.  I started to feel guilty, because what was I doing that I managed to miss out on baking with my girl child?  Then I remembered that Jessica Mary was my first, and for three and a half years, she was my only.  I did EVERYTHING with her, and it hadn't occurred to me that I should try to bake cookies that don't come in a handy roll from from the grocery store.

By the time my son was born, I was really starting to think about converting to Judaism.  The first thing I loved about Judaism was the weekly Friday night Shabbat dinner.  A long, relaxed family oriented meal, where we sat and talked, blessed the candles and the kids, drank wine (or grape juice) and were grateful for all that we had.  An important element of that is the challah.  I decided that I'd master challah.  So I googled (I love google) and printed up several recipes and went to work.  We were living in a tiny apartment then, and the kitchen was minuscule.  Sam and I would carry the ingredients out to the dining room, and he'd get so excited about carrying the vanilla and the cinnamon and the flour (vanilla and cinnamon aren't really traditional ingredients, but the recipe I have is really good).  We'd bake every Friday, and I still make some of the best challah I've ever had.

After the success of the bread, I moved on to cookies.  Cakes.  This year, I mastered hamentashen (the triangle shaped cookies that get baked at Purim - I have the BEST recipe, seriously.  These are good enough to make all year long).  Sam's at school now during the day, and my helper is now my younger daughter.  Julie is an exceptionally enthusiastic baker, and gets visibly upset when I refuse to make another batch of cookies.  Or bread.  Or cake.  Not that we eat all that much of this stuff - most of it, I end up giving away.  But there's almost always fresh chocolate chip cookies, or homemade bread sitting on my counter.

I like to bake.  I'll never be a cook, and my repertoire may never get any bigger than the rotating cycle of five or six meals that I can reliably produce.  But baking is such an easy and fun thing to do, especially with kids.  And for what it's worth, after trying a zillion different versions of the chocolate chip cookie, for my money, the best recipe is the Nestle Tollhouse one on the back of the bag of chocolate chips - cook until vaguely light brown and then get them on a cooling rack immediately or they'll continue to cook on the pan.  And the very best recipe for homemade bread is a cup of warm water, a teaspoon and a half of dry active yeast.  Let it bloom, then add a tsp of salt, a tsp of sugar and a tsp of softened butter/margarine.  Mix in enough flour to make a soft, sticky dough, and knead for about five minutes.  Let it rise in oiled bowl until doubled. Dump it out, pat it down. Form it into a loaf shape, and plop into a bread pan.  Brush with melted butter.  Let it rise again and then bake until light brown.  It's awesome, a really good, crusty white bread that's absolutely yummy.  And a perfect companion to the ragu sauce I dump on a box of pasta :-)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Way Back Wednesday - Volume I

I thought it might be fun to look back at some of my archives, because I've been blogging since 2008, and find an older post that has some relevance to where I am now.  Plus, it's an easy blog post, because I've (mostly) already written it.  So here's a post from March of 2009 - and the reason I chose it is because Sam is, today, walking around with a goofy looking hair cut because he rebelled towards the end of it and refused to let us finish it.  Some things never change, apparently :-)

Sammy's haircut (March, 2009)

I have a very stubborn son. In my head, he's mild mannered and laid back, I think, only because I have have two of them, and Jessie is so much more emotionally intense and dramatic. But Sam - he's no slouch in the strong personality department. And when there's something he doesn't want to do, be it visit the doctor, give his grandmother a kiss (or even a glance of acknowledgement), or take a bath, he makes it abundantly clear. I can still win a battle with him - because he's two and I'm thirty five - but it's a major struggle.

Which brings me to the latest battle. His hair. Sam's got great hair, it's straight, baby fine, and a gorgeous honey color. I love it. We had one bad hair cut experience, involving Marc's clippers (I told myself that Sam was his son too - and let him cut his hair). Needless to say, he cried, I cried, it was a HORRIBLE haircut and I was so glad when it finally grew out. Now we do a bowl cut, and I trim it myself. The second to last haircut was done by holding him down on the floor and whacking away at his hair while he screamed. It took both Marc and I, and didn't look all that great... but it was out of his eyes, and he's so cute anyway, I thought he still looked beautiful. But that was a while ago, and it's getting longer and longer... and in his eyes and it just needed to be cut.

We talked and discussed, and I kept bringing it up, and he kept saying "No cut my hair!" but I persisted, and randomly, about ten minutes ago, he agreed that it would be a great idea. It would tickle, and he was game... I cut his bangs, and it's not in his eyes anymore, but then I got too ambitious and cut one side of his head, so it didn't hang over his ears. I was going to continue around the back and finish up on the other side, but then he rebelled. And is now lopsided. He got more and more upset, and since I was afraid that he'd move too fast and I'd end up cutting off his ear, I gave up. He's running from me, screaming "Not cut my hair never ever again!" He looks goofy - although maybe I'll get used to it. Maybe lopsided will be the new trend - little boys the world over will start to follow his lead... and they'll all look ridiculous together.

It's a good thing he's so cute, I'm just hoping that nobody notices that the hair on one side of his head is an inch longer than the other side.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Rough day

Because it's not all hearts and flowers around here...

It was a good weekend, Saturday, we had a "friend" birthday for Jessica and Glennys.  Which was lovely, good friends, my sister Aimee came over with her boyfriend.  Aimee is living in Belgium these days, getting her PhD, so I haven't seen her in a while.  My mother and sister Mandi both came as well.  Aimee is my stepsister, so she wasn't quite as open about rearranging my house as both my sister and my mother were.

For some reason, both my mother and my sister Mandi believe firmly that I live a life filled with clutter, and spend most of their time when they're here putting things away.  Things I like not put away.  For example, I like my dishwashing detergent on the side of my sink.  My sister likes it under the sink.  I like my hair stuff on the bathroom counter, my mother likes it in a drawer.   I still don't know where they put my cinnamon/sugar mixture - I had it in a little tupperware container by the coffee filters (which I like to keep next to the coffee pot, they like them in the cabinet).   So I've spent the last 36 hours or so trying to find all the stuff they put away.  Which, honestly, did nothing to improve my morning.

Then my Sammy boy had issues.  Going back to school after a vacation is never easy for him, and it wasn't easy today.  I had him set to go - he had pulled himself together after the initial freak out, got dressed and ate and was out the door, but then he ended up late because of snow removal issues.  Being late is NOT OKAY in his world, and he flat out refused to go.  Since he has proven more than capable of screaming for hours when we force him to go, I just gave up and brought him home.  Where he devoted himself to torturing his sister.  

I'm exaggerating, kind of.  He wasn't torturing her, so much as he was playing with her in ways she didn't appreciate.  If you don't play her way, Julie has developed an ear piercing screech that's not at all pleasant.  It's effective - I'll grant her that.  Because if the kid on the receiving end doesn't immediately stop or give her what she wants, I'll start yelling at the older kid to just make the noise stop.  Effective.  And has the added bonus of making me feel like a crappy mother, because really, it's not fair.  She's getting her way because she's freaking LOUD.

I liked Jessie today.  Mostly.  She was good.   There's the grumpy voice in my head that's saying it's because she left here nine hours ago and hasn't come home yet, because she's got school and then religious school.  But really, she was great this morning.  Other than the one fit, when she claimed that Sam was insulting her because he said he had shoveled yesterday.  He wasn't.  She still wanted him punished, and was most disturbed when I failed to appreciate how victimized she felt.  Because he said he had shoveled.

See?  Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy.  And it's not beneficial for anyone.  Really.  On the upside, my mother and sister love me, and while I adore them profoundly, I'm also glad it's usually me visiting them and not the other way around.  And someday I'll find that cinnamon and sugar container, and it will be a good day.  And ten years from now, it's not really going to matter if Sam went back to school on Monday or Tuesday, and if anything, this just gives us the added incentive to make sure the little bugger is at school before the bell rings.  Julianna... it's tough to find a bright side to the screech - but she's strong willed and emotive and able to express herself.  No worries about her not being able to stand up for herself, right?  And my Jessie, oh my pretty Jessie.  I think she just wanted to fuss a little bit, get a little attention.  And I missed her all day long.  That being said, if you don't like that your brother gets positive attention for shoveling and you don't, go out and shovel along with him.

Here's hoping for a better tomorrow...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Relinquish Control

I have three kids.  And I adore them.  Really, I do.

I also have two stepdaughters.  I also adore them.

I've got a Glennys - who's not a daughter, exactly, because she's got parents, but she's my oldest's best friend and practically lived with us until she moved to North Conway a couple of years ago - and yeah, I adore her too.

But wow - what an unbelievable disaster they create.  And I have to just step back, and remind myself that February vacation only comes once a year.  It's not Christmas vacation, when there are a zillion Christmas and Hanukkah gifts to play with.  It's not April vacation, when the weather is warmer and I can throw them outside without guilt.  It's February.  It's cold.  And they're bright, brilliant, creative children.  And again - wow, what an unbelievable disaster they create.

My poor beleaguered dishwasher is running thru again, with three meals a day, times at least six kids and two adults, and a toddler who believes that every day is better when there's baking involved, it's definitely working overtime.  My washing machine isn't speaking to me anymore, but continuing to crank along, washing load after load.  You wouldn't think there'd be much laundry, as everyone seems to be in pajamas all the time, but still.  There's lots of laundry.

And my living room, oh, my poor, sad living room.  Blocks and board games, books and flutophones, barbies, Noah's Arc animals, Hello Kitty and Dora figurines are EVERYWHERE.  Paper, crayons, pens and pencils, markers and erasers and scissors litter the floor.  I do my best to keep the television off and am actively working on cultivating patience and persistence.  Because only by virtue of the two, patience to keep reminding myself that I love them, and they are bright, brilliant and creative - and persistence, by not ever really stopping picking up, a little bit, all the time - only by virtue of those two qualities am I maintaining any hold on my sanity.

This is the only February vacation I'll ever get with a ten year old, a six year old, and a two year old.  And a thirteen year old, and two eleven year olds.  But really, this'll never happen again.  So I'll smile, hopefully, and won't scream in frustration and start hurling toys into the trash.  I'll be grateful for creativity, and hours spent building worlds with dollhouses and barbies, and drawing for hours.  And remind myself that it's just a few more days until we get back to normal again.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Eleven Years

It's not a flashy anniversary.  And after eleven years, we've got a lot more in our lives together than just us.  We've got three kids to get up and fed and dressed, two to drop off at school, a toddler requiring care and attention.  Girls Scouts this afternoon and Boy Scout tonight.  Dinner will be fish sticks, brown rice and mixed veggies, and the kids will exist in a perpetual sugar high until they finally crash at night.  

But there's incredible beauty there.  It's the beauty that comes with waking up early and nursing your youngest child.  The one you named after your love, her middle name is a reminder of the promise he made as we were starting our family.  "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried."   

There is beauty when you kiss briefly in the kitchen, only to be interrupted by the toddler, who's up far too early but appeased with little boxes of chocolates your husband bought the kids last night.  Thrilled by her treat, she immediately wakes the other two, showing them their chocolates.  You spend the morning getting clothes, starting laundry, unloading the dishwasher, serving breakfast and trying to remember where you put your coffee.  The coffee your husband fixed for you, as he does every morning.  There's beauty in that.

There is beauty when your son, bouncing off of the sugar from his morning truffles, decides to have Daddy help him get dressed by hanging upside down and demanding that he yank his clothes off.  He's a monkey, bouncing and delighted to have his Daddy home and with him, and secure in the family we've created.  

There is beauty in your oldest, the one who cemented your relationship in the first place.  Packing up her bag, and her cookies for class, her poster for girl scouts.  She's so much like him, and so much like you.  There's so much beauty in that.

There is beauty in the text messages, sweet voice mails and frequent phone calls that'll go back and forth between us all day.  There is even more beauty in knowing that it's not just because it's today, we do it every day.  Ours is a relationship that exists in frequent and small contacts all day long.  It always has.  There is beauty in knowing that it always will.

Because that's what eleven years means.  It's not an accomplishment, it's not a  victory that you've made it that long.  It's an acknowledgement that this is your life, this is real and constant and something that's as rock solid as it can be.  It's the foundation for everything else, and everything else is more than you ever dreamed of.  There's an incredible beauty in eleven years together, and I'm so grateful to be here today.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Devious Toddler

Julie and I are the only ones home during the day.  The older two are in school, obviously, and Marc's off at work.  And we aren't joined at the hip.  Julie normally bops around the house, doing this or that.  Watches far too much television (but I justify it to myself by remembering that there's eight feet of snow out there and it's damn cold - plus she's watching educational stuff...), she colors and builds, plays doctor.  I do whatever it is that I do, sometimes it's laundry and cleaning, sometimes I read, often we'll cook together or I'll read to her.  But she's used to entertaining herself, and as long as it's not dangerous, I'll usually let her play with whatever.

I wandered out of the bedroom and glanced into the living room, only to find my toddler sitting on the floor, playing Apples to Apples.  She wasn't really playing it, so much as she was sorting the cards into little piles.  She's big for piles.  But the Apples to Apples game belongs to her older sister.  And she knows that.  She knows that she's not allowed to play with it.  I pointed out that Jessie would kill her if she knew what she was doing - and Julie looked at me meaningfully for minute and said "If you don't tell her, she won't know..."

And, because really, if you're mature enough to make that connection, and to think of it as a logical response, then you're probably old enough to handle the consequences.  So I just laughed and told her to put it away when she was done.  Which she did.

Sometimes, I really have to work hard at remembering that this kid is only two years old.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Weaning sucks

I'm a breastfeeding mom.  I nursed my oldest until she was eight months or so, Sam stopped when he was three and a half (or so) and Julie is still nursing at two.  Not only did I do it way longer than I ever planned to with Sam, I also nursed thru thrush, staph infections, multiple fissures, nipple confusion, nursing strikes and mastitis with Julianna.  I've gone down the road with this, and I'm so ready to stop.

First, let me say that I can't imagine not nursing my babies.  It's a fundamental part of the way I relate to my babies, it's a big part of the way I define motherhood in the beginning.  The ability to immediately soothe and calm a baby - both Sam and Julianna were HUGE comfort nursers, and I encouraged it.  Why wouldn't I?  It was EASY.  Perfect.  Jessie loved her pacifier, and nursed strictly to eat.  Once she had solids, she weaned on her own.  It was peaceful and gradual, and while she continued using her pacifier for years afterwards, I felt really good about that weaning experience.

Sam wouldn't ever use a pacifier - believe me, I tried.  Really, really hard.  But he hated it, and for a very long time, would only calm down from nursing.  He nursed non stop.  I remember counting each time he latched on, starting with first thing in the morning and hitting 24 by two o'clock in the afternoon.  It wasn't that he didn't transition to solids easily enough, he loved to eat.  He just also loved to nurse.  He loved snuggling and settling down and relaxing.  It was... easy.  It was the perfect solution to whatever bothered him.  He was a child with huge stranger and separation anxiety and it seemed to reassure him.  It was a quick easy reconnect when we were apart, and stopped a tantrum cold with little to no effort on  my part.

But he just kept going.  It wasn't unusual, in my circle of friends to nurse a toddler.  Two of my closest friends had babies around the same time, and both of them nursed until well after their kids were two.  But two came and went with Sam and he showed no interest in stopping.  I put off getting pregnant, he obviously wasn't ready for a sibling.  I got tired of waiting for him to be ready and we conceived Julie in August.  He had turned three in July.  I nursed until I was four or five months along.   I just looked it up (and here's why blogging comes in handy) he nursed for three years, five months and two weeks.  And that last five months or so was hellish.  I didn't want to nurse, but he wasn't ready to stop, and as much as I was ready, I wasn't willing to make him miserable for it.

I hoped, oh, God, I hoped that Julie's transition out of nursing would be easy.  Like Jessie's.  Gradual, peaceful.  Just an outgrowing of the need.  It's not happening.  She's still a nursing little kidlet and shows no sign of outgrowing.  It's simply her favorite.  I've moved way past don't ask, don't refuse.  I never, ever offer anymore, and refuse as often as possible.

The nursing relationship with Julie was so challenging at first - it seemed as though we spent the first four or five months struggling.  She went on a nursing strike on the third day and I was so devastated when she refused to nurse.  It ranks as one of the worst days of my life, I literally sobbed all day long.  Granted post-partum hormones obviously played into it, but still... that day, Sam's circumcision, and the first day I went back to work three months after Jessica was born - they all measure about the same to me.  We got thru the nursing strike, went almost immediately into a case of thrush that was so bad it morphed into open cuts all over my nipple (TMI, I know...) and then into a staph infection.  AND I KEPT NURSING.

So it seems odd, now, after having fought so hard for this, that I'm desperate for it to stop.  Not desperate.  Just... yeah, I'm ready to be done.   Yes, it's great that putting her to bed is a breeze, she nurses for a bit and goes right to sleep.  It's an instant mood lifter, nothing tranforms a cranky toddler faster or heals a bump on the head like a couple of minutes of nursing.  But I'm tired of it.  I want to be done.  I feel like she's grown up so much - she's talking and walking and potty trained, and I'm just waiting for her to be done with this.

And pushing her to be done.  I refused to nurse her all day today, and she didn't fight it that much.  I'm limiting it to just before nap and bed, I think, and I'm working towards night weaning as well.  I know that the day will come when she's done, and there's a part of me that'll be sad, but not that much.  Mostly, I think I'm ready to move onto the next step - I just want her to be ready too.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow....

If I had to describe my perfect weekend, it would look an awful lot like this one.  Starting with Thursday night, when we went out for dinner, Marc and I and the five kids, plus the in-laws, to celebrate Jessica turning ten.  Dinner was lovely, as only dinner with a zillion kids can be.  We went to the Chinese buffet (because if you're taking a ton of kids, it's best to do it at a huge restaurant where the waitstaff LOVES babies).  Afterwards, Marc went to run half the kids home (the perils of a stepfamily) and then came back to pick up the rest of us.  Because I had the two little ones (Sam, 6, and Julie, 2), it made sense for him to leave first and come back to get us.  It was frigid freezing cold, but I bundled them up, with hats and gloves and scarfs and we spent ten minutes or so outside, with the two of them racing along the wide sidewalk and making up games.  Of all the kids, I think those two PLAY the best - not that the rest of them don't get along, but those two are the most likely to make up grand adventures and act them out.

We kept my stepdaughter overnight on Thursday.  Friday and Saturday, thus far, have blended together into this easy, peaceful sort of time together.  We've shoveled, we've played in the snow (and by "we", you understand that I hate all things cold and wet, and was more than happy to stay inside and keep cocoa on standby), we've napped, we've watched movies.  I've baked.  A lot.  Cakes, chocolate and vanilla for Sam's boy scout banquet on Sunday, and a yummy apple cake I made earlier.  I baked bread and cookies.  It's been... just lovely.  There have been a few minor squabbles, but nothing that took a lot of energy or lasted very long.  Lots of arts projects, I've got two kids currently drawing on the couch, a boy watching Inspector Gadget II on the floor, and a toddler and husband napping.  The roads are still too bad to drive on, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  We live on a giant hill, so it gets bad earlier and stays that way longer - and I'm really happy about it today.  We've got errands to run, things we could be doing - but when I look at the snow covered road out front, I'm just as happy to pretend that the driving ban wasn't lifted.  I've got a pot roast bubbling, hot coffee perking and a bag full of library books just waiting for me.

I love the blizzard of 2013.  I missed the one in '78, I had just turned four, so I remember none of it.  But this one, this one I'll remember for a long time.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ten years

Each child is special.  And vital and important in their own right.  But one of the reasons that Jessie's birthdays are so significant for me is because she's my first.  Ten years ago, right at this very  moment, the snow was starting to fall a little harder (we ended up getting a foot of snow the day she was born) and I was on my way to the hospital.  She was late, and had been breech up until the last moment.  A c-section had been scheduled, and then cancelled when she flipped into position a week before her due date.  The due date had come and gone, and I was scheduled for an induction on Feb.10.  But at 6:28 on Friday morning, I woke up with a horrible back ache.  It came and went, every five to seven minutes, and I was terrified.  Thrilled, but terrified.

We got to the hospital (Marc insisting that I sit on a towel in the car, in case my water broke), only to find out that my regular OB wouldn't be there, her husband had fallen on the ice and broken his leg.  My mother, as luck would have it, was also at the hospital, she had also fallen on the ice and was going to the ER.  I think she ended up with a knee brace, or limped a lot - that detail is somehow missing from my memory.

The labor went well, they broke my water pretty quickly, as I remember, and I made good progress, about a centimeter an hour until mid afternoon.  I got the epidural when I was around seven centimeters or so, and after that... my labor just stopped.  I stopped dilating and then Jessie started showing signs of distress, and eventually, I ended up with a c-section.

Jessica was the prettiest baby I'd ever seen.  Because she hadn't been down the birth canal, her head was perfectly shaped, and she had the biggest, most beautiful eyes.  Her nose was perfect, and her mouth really did look like a little rosebud.  But it was her hands that made the biggest impression on me.  They were my hands, just in miniature.

Right from the very beginning, my relationship with her was ... I don't have words.  Which is rare, I like words.  But it's impossible to explain what it was like, having her for a daughter.  I was a daughter, and was very, very close with my mother.  But this was different.  Similar, although obviously from a different perspective.  But different.  I was, and am, in love with her father, and trust him as I did no other, but this was different.  More... primal and absolute and absolutely overwhelming.  She simply was the most important thing I'd ever been a part of, and I'm failing miserably to explain how profound the change was.  From Melissa, before Jessica, to Melissa, after Jessica.  Everything was different.  Having her changed every aspect of my life, not just the way I got along with my siblings and family and friends, but the way I approached my job (it was now strictly something I did for health insurance and food for Jessie) to the way I thought about myself.  I no longer defined myself as me, I was me with her.

And ten years has passed, and the intensity has lessened.  It has to, of course.  She's her own person, with thoughts and feelings and actions that are entirely her own.   And I have two more children now - and love and adore them as much as I do her.  But she is still my baby, my girl, my first introduction into the me that I am today.  And she's ten years old, and that absolutely astounds me.

At ten years old, Jessica is tall and slender.  Still underweight, all long legs and long arms.  Long brown hair that she wants desperately to have be curly, and still the most gorgeous eyes.  She's all drama and intensity, with this goofy side to her that comes directly from her dad.  She's horrible to her brother more often than not, but sometimes she forgets that she hates him and then they're wonderful together.  She dotes on her baby sister, and is better than almost anyone at distracting her and calming her down when she gets upset.  She's stubborn and funny, showers for hours on end and loves the trashiest television.  This child would watch Dance Moms and Honey Boo Boo for hours if I'd let her.  She likes books about tragedy, she's not a fluffy book reader at all.   I read indiscriminately - she reads very deliberately.  And she reads like her dad, slowly and remembering everything.  When she picks a book, she's going to live with it for a while, so she's careful with the selection.  She still sleeps with her teddy and her Poopadoo baby doll is now relegated to a cradle out of Julie's reach, because she's been so well loved, it's a real risk to have her be played with - she may well fall apart.

After ten years of motherhood, I can say that it's so much more than I thought it would be.  So much harder, so much better.  I couldn't have predicted that my heart would break as easily or as often, watching her learn how to navigate in this world.  I couldn't have predicted how much I would love her, how grateful I'd be, every day, for the chance to be her mother, to have her for a daughter.  There are times when she's driving me nuts, there are times when I wish desperately for an off button so that she'd just go to sleep already, and there are times when just the mere fact of her is still enough to make me catch my breath in awe.

She's what started it all for me.  It's been ten years, and I can't remember who I was before I had her in my life.  But I'm so, so grateful for the past ten years, and the thought of the next ten, and the ten after that, and so on and so on is enough to make me smile.  Being a mother, being her mother, is all that I ever wanted to be.  And it's so much better than I thought it would be.

Happy birthday Jessica Mary - I simply adore you.  I'm so glad I got you for a daughter.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The dreaded cold

Oh, I'm sick.  I've got a cold.   It's been a while coming, I've had a sore throat for several days, a little bit of a nagging headache and now I'm sneezing and congested and just.... yucky.  It's been kind of a wretched day too - Sam still won't go to religious school, and ended up tagging along to a Tot Shabbat service.  I'm still befuddled at how Julie just participates in these things, I never expect it.  And I'm not USED to it, because I don't know quite what to do with her.  Do I stay next to her all the time?  The other parents seem to stick fairly closely to their kids, but my instinct is to NOT stay within reach all the time.  Because past experience has told me that if my kid is happy without me there, I should encourage that.  Because if I put myself there, most of the time, Jessie or Sam would opt out of participating to sit on my lap, so I tend to let her go and just watch her like a hawk from across the room.  But then I feel guilty, especially when Sam is there, because I don't know if I'm indulging him in being clingy and should be ignoring him and sticking with my two year old.  So I ditch Sam, leaving him under a chair where he's hiding to avoid well meaning people trying to talk to him (seriously - if my son is being totally anti social, avoiding eye contact and snarling at you - just leave him alone.  It's better for everyone that way, I don't condone rudeness, but I'm always wishing people would stop trying so hard to engage him - he warms up so much faster if you pay no attention), and go hover over my toddler.

Went from one synagogue to the next, and went to another toddler service.  This one, Julie cried thru.  Because it's good that they alternate between being miserable - that way I get to shake it up.  She sobbed when she wasn't allowed to open the arc that holds the Torah and insisted that the entire group sing the Bim Bam song.  Twice.  After that, we dropped Jessie off at dance and stopped at the library.  Because, dammit, I need books.  I just do.  So I loaded up, and the thought of the sixteen new books waiting for me in the other room is the only thing getting me thru this.  Then we went to the dollar store, for reasons that I can't remember, and Sam got all stressed out trying to pick out a toy.  Marc got even more aggravated because Sam was taking too long and I was left standing there, in the aisle, with my sobbing six year old who couldn't choose a crappy toy from the long wall full of crappy toys and husband hollering from across the store because he was ready to go.  It wasn't fun.

I hate being sick, I just get crabby.  I'm normally a much nicer person.  But when I'm sick, I kind of hate everyone.

Marc's overtired and not all that cheerful himself.  Actually, he's in a much better mood after having slept for a while this afternoon.  He's got such a killer schedule, 12 and 15 hour days all week long, and I don't blame him for being tired.  Much.  Although I'd like to point out, in true crabby fashion, that when he's working 12 and 15 hour days - so am I.  Only I'm "working" at home, taking care of laundry and dishes and overseeing homework and baths and refereeing the unending brawls that break out between Sam and Jessie or Sam and Julie.  Jessie and Julie rarely fight with each other, but both do a nice job of battling it out with their brother.  Poor Sam.

I just spent the past hour cleaning my living room and dining room.  Kitchen is still in shambles (although Marc is cleaning that) and I'm embarrassed to tell you how much laundry I've got piled up.  So much so, I'm afraid to start, because facing it would be that I'd be starting a project that's going to take hours, and right now, all I want to do it take two benedryl and hide under the covers.  Only... Julie is still up and Jessie needs to get in the shower, and Sarah and Sam are currently building a fort in my room and I can't find the bed.

I hate being sick.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sick baby

I noticed that Julianna was getting warm last night.  I have to confess, one of my major parenting fails is an inability to take my child's temperature.  Thermometers just don't seem to last in my house, I don't know why.  And even when I can find one, it always reads some implausible temp - like 97.3 when the child is clearly burning up with fever.  So while I can tell you with some certainty that she was definitely running a temp, I can't tell you how high it was.  Suffice it to say that it was a fever.

Sam, my second child, is prone to fever.  He'll run one more often than the girls combined, not that he seems to get sick more often, just that if he's going to get sick, there's going to be a fever.  But my girls tend not to have them.  In fact, other than Jessie's tendency towards ear infections as an infant/small toddler, none of my kids tend to get sick all that often.  Garden variety colds, rarely serious enough to require a trip to the doctor, and even less often, throwing up.  But Julie, this morning, was definitely sick.

She was super clingy, in a way that made me realize how UN-clingy she is most of the time.  She and I are home alone during the day, and often times, we're doing our own thing.  I'm cooking or cleaning or puttering around the house, and she's building blocks, going thru her siblings' things while they aren't here to yell at her (always a favorite activity) or coloring, watching television, etc.  She's busy during the day, not much for just sitting and cuddling anymore.  But today - all she wanted was me.  And other than the fever, she didn't really seem all that sick.  No runny nose, no coughing, no fussing.  She wasn't complaining at all, she was just sitting with me.  She's still little enough so that we can sit together on the chair, I curl my legs up underneath me and she fits perfectly in the little spot next to me.  And we sat and hung out all morning.  I finished a book and started another - and she watched a ridiculous amount of Disney and Noggin television shows.  Nursed a lot - which she's really cut down on up until this point.  We're down to just nursing for bed and naps - but this morning, she seemed to want to nurse a lot.  She pushed away the toast I offered and refused the offer of cereal or anything else.

Then she asked for leftover shepherd's pie.  Which was a huge mistake.  Because the first bite was immediately followed by her vomiting all over me.  She was horrified, and sobbing and I was covered in puke and completely taken by surprise.  I cleaned her and myself up, and then we resumed our sitting.  Nursing.  Napping.  She brightened up briefly when her brother came home from school, but once he left for boy scouts, she immediately asked to lay down again.  I snuggled her up again, smoothing back her curls and feeling her hot, hot skin.  Thank goodness she's still nursing, because I know she's not dehydrated, and she can definitely keep that down.

But I'm extra grateful today because I'm at home with her.  There was nothing else I needed to do today - everything could wait.  Because my baby was sick, and the only thing she wanted was me.  To sit beside me, not doing anything other than being together.  Those days are rare, and she's my little baby.  It's been a while since we could just sit and be.  Granted, it's a lot more fun when she's not feverish and feeling crappy, but there was a beauty to it today that I couldn't help recognizing.  Being a stay at home parent isn't always fun and easy, often (like most things) it can be monotonous and it feels like shoveling in the middle of a snowstorm, hard work that immediately negated by the fact that you have to do it all over again.  But today - today, I accomplished something in a way that nobody else could have.  If I wasn't there, and her dad was, or her grandmother or any of the other adults in her life was, they could have cared for her, but it wouldn't have been as easy for them.  Because Julie just wanted exactly what she had, me there, sitting beside, kissing her forehead and rubbing her back.

I'm sure if this sickness makes the rounds thru the house, and I'm spending day after day with a sick kid and cleaning vomit up for weeks on end (which happened notably last spring), I won't be as philosophical and grateful.  But just for today, I'm glad for the small blessings that we get, even in the midst of vomit and upset bellies - when I can make a feverish girl smile and feel better with just a kiss and a snuggle.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bat Mitzvah

I get weekly emails from my synagogue, and, a few weeks ago, I noticed that there was a little paragraph tucked in between notices from the Sisterhood and requests for coat donations. A bar/bat mitzvah meeting for parents of kids fourth thru sixth grade. It took me a minute, but I realized quickly that it meant me. My daughter is in fourth grade. It's actually time to start thinking about her bat mitzvah.

Wasn’t it a week ago that I was pregnant with her and couldn’t fathom how she’d be able to have any kind of clear religious identity with a Jewish father and me? I agonized over it, who would she be? Wouldn't she feel torn between her Jewish father and my own cobbled together, doesn't really follow any organized religion but still incredibly spiritual belief system? She was the springboard for me to learn about Judaism in the first place - I couldn't have a child self identifying as something that I didn't understand. And it feels like it was just the other day that I realized that she was self identifying as Jewish the way she considered herself Irish. But because I hadn’t converted and hadn't had her converted, according to our Conservative synagogue, technically, she wasn’t Jewish.

I didn’t think she’d really remember the mikvah, she was only five or six, but I remember it so vividly. The mikvah with two small water phobic children is not an experience I'll ever forget.  While I'm sure that there is enormous emotional and religious significance for most converts, going to the mikvah, for me, was incredibly challenging, strictly in a "I have to dunk my kids three times and they have to go completely under without being held" kind of way.  We were living a completely Jewish life, we were Jewish, this was made it official.  Kind of like getting married - by the time we got around to doing it, we had already joined our lives together in such a real sense.  I didn't feel any more married after the wedding ceremony, and I didn't feel any more Jewish after the conversion.

But suddenly – we’re here.  A bat mitzvah.  And I have a feeling that it's going to be a lot more significant that the mikveh was.

And the more I thought about it, the more emotional I got. Which isn’t surprising, I cry at pretty much every milestone. Dance recitals, preschool graduations, her first real report card. But a bat mitzvah seems like it’s so important. Not only because she’s the first in my husband’s family, of her generation, to read from the Torah. Not only because my family will come, of course they’ll come, but won’t have the foggiest idea what we’ll be doing. But also because the bat mitzvah has so much meaning attached to it. It’s coming right when I’m starting to realize that this baby girl, this tiny little baby of mine isn’t always going to be mine. She’s her own person – and that’s terrifying and wonderful and, yeah, I’m welling up with tears as I’m writing. I’m going to be in so much trouble with this…

That’s what the bat mitzvah is – it’s a public acknowledgement that we’re Jewish, and that Jessica is Jewish. That she’s responsible for herself now, that she’s going to take ownership of her own religious identity in a way that I’ve been worrying about since before she was born. I've spent more than ten years now, thinking about her spiritual identity.  Worrying about how she'll blend two very different traditions into her life.  What will her religious identity be? She’s Jewish, yes, but not only Jewish. She’s inherited a rich family tradition dating back thousands of years. She’s also the product of my side of the family, a family filled with people who have no strong tie to any organized religion but a very strong and heartfelt connection to God.

She’s all intellectual questioning, rules and ritual on the one hand, and on the other, she’s got a sincere and absolute relationship with God that, as far as I can see, she’s never doubted. She loves the ritual and traditions of Judaism, she dances around the synagogue like she's grown up there, because she has.  But she's got a "Believe in Magic" sign above her bed, and a conviction that fairies do exist.  She blends both of us, the Jewish side from her father, and the spiritual intensity from me. She’s got an extra dash of drama and wonder and intensity that’s all her own. And it makes me cry. I’m not sure if I’m crying because I’m grieving the loss of the little girl who’s growing up so fast, or if I’m crying because I’m so incredibly proud of the woman she’ll be.

When she was born, my husband picked out her Hebrew name. It means “beautiful celebration.” That’s what she’s always been for us, a celebration of love and life and so much joy. And on her bat mitzvah, she’ll stand in front of our friends and family, and she’ll read from the Torah. She’ll be exactly who she is. And that’s amazing to me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


When Jessie first started school, I was very hands off about homework.  She started getting it in first grade, which seemed ridiculous to me, but my assumption was that I wasn't supposed to help with her homework.  If she asked for assistance, sure, I'd help out, but hand holding and correcting?  Nope, I didn't think I was supposed to do that.  

I was wrong.  Which her second grade teacher helpfully pointed out - oh no, Mrs. Cohen, you're supposed to be correcting the homework and double checking it and overseeing the whole process.  Which is fine, I'm more than happy to help her, she's my daughter.  And since every other parent apparently already got the memo on how parents are supposed to supervise (to an unhealthy degree, I believe) all homework and take home projects (don't even get me started on how Jessie's handmade valentines looked ridiculous compared with her classmates - because hers were done by a six year old and the rest of the class had serious adult assistance), I didn't want her to be left behind.  So, okay, I'll help.  I'll be INVOLVED with homework.

But we quickly fell into this whole routine whereupon I nag her, she procrastinates and complains, and eventually, after a while, sometimes taking time out for a sobbing fit about how much we really, really hate homework, we manage to get it done.  And on the upside, I'm learning all kinds of things that I'd managed to forget, about how rocks form, and how to reduce fractions and how to correctly form letters in cursive (turns out I do most of it wrong).  But homework sucks - to be blunt.  I feel like most of the time, there's far too much of it, it's just busy work that adds an unnecessary imposition onto her already limited free time, and gives us something to fight over.  

Yesterday afternoon, she was hanging in her bedroom, watching television (yes, I know, a television in her bedroom - I agree, horrendous idea, but if I'd had a playroom, I'd have put it in there, and with five kids here on the weekend, a toddler who naps in the bedroom (thus rendering one tv unusable) and a husband who firmly believes that he is morally obligated to watch whatever football game might be on without interruption - having a tv that I can send cherubs to go watch occasionally is a lifesaver). I went in, sat on the bed and began the homework battle.  Then I stopped, paused... "hey, how about if I don't nag you at all and you just assume total responsibility for your own stuff?"  

AND SHE DID.  Happily.  Packed her own bag, even.  Which is another issue, frequently, Jessie would get done with her homework, throw down her pencil and run as far away from me as she could get, so I'd always be trying to repack her folder and make sure nothing got left on the table or thrown away.  But she not only did all her homework (coming out twice to ask for help briefly) but then she packed it all neatly, and then asked if she could please pack her own lunchbox as well.  

I think I'm really going to like having a ten year old.  She's still a few weeks away, but thus far, I'm loving it :-)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Being a writer

I was always going to be a writer.  My two favorite literary characters growing up were Jo from Little Women and Emily from the Emily trilogy by L.M. Montgomery.  I kept a diary from the time I was in second or third grade, and just kept writing.  By the time I hit high school, I had settled into an identity of being a bookworm (twenty years later, I can't tell you how many people have told me their main memory of me in school was that I would walk thru the halls reading) - and I was really good at writing.  I had perfected the essay, English was the one class that came ridiculously easy to me, and I was more comfortable with a pen in my hands than I was at any other time.

But... I never really pursued it.   I went to Emerson College, and studied creative writing, and loved it.  But the love wasn't enough to overcome the misery that came with being away from home, I hated the city, hated the commute and just wanted to start my life.  So I didn't stay in college, I moved home, started working full time, and moved out soon after to share an apartment with my cousin.  I found working to be fun - I liked all of the different jobs that I had.  I worked for a while doing retail and moved over into administrative positions and stayed there.  I was good at it - and while I kept writing, I thought of it as just a thing I did.  I was everyone's first call to write a resume.  I kept reading - I was (and am) always reading, and kept gravitating to books about authors.

Then I met Marc and soon after had Jessica.  This, really, this felt like a calling.  I was delighted when my boss laid me off a couple of months after she was born.  I collected unemployment until it ran out and then settled into stay at home motherhood.  I loved it.  I love it.   I haven't worked full time since just after Jessie was born.  I went back part time, to an entry level receptionist position when she was a toddler and quit after Sam was born and never looked back.

I've been incredibly fulfilled by motherhood.  I'm not sure why, I know not every mother is.  Not every mother loves being home.  A lot of parents get bored and are better parents when they have another job - a job outside of the home.  But I loved it.  I threw myself into it - I, of course, read every book I could find on parenting and child care and spent probably way too much time pondering my children.  But I think I'm good at it - I've got good kids.   And there were definitely times when it wasn't easy, but I don't regret a minute of staying home with them.  With being that available for them.

But... they get older.  Jessie will be ten in a few weeks (I keep repeating it to myself because the thought that I have a child who's actually a whole decade old is freaking me out) and Sam is six and a half.  Sam, in particular, was a kid who demanded an enormous amount of intensive, one on one attention.  That's lessened a lot over the past year.  And Julie - my angel girl Julie, she's going to be three in a few months.  She's potty trained, talking, she's ready for preschool.  I'm rapidly reaching the point where keeping her home, where not enrolling her in preschool would be actually holding her back from developing.

So I've got some time.  And I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with it.  I'll end up getting a part time job, I'm sure.  And I'll probably love it, because I like working.  But I wonder sometimes... if maybe it's time to put a little time into my own dreams.  To not defer them the way I did when I was 19, and decided that I should drop out of college and then I was working because I had to support myself.   I could write.  I do write.  I write now, not only for this blog, but on MassMoms and on, and I've had a couple of blogs on blogher.   I wonder if I could do it, is there an audience out there that would read my stuff.

Monday, January 14, 2013

I'm not there yet

The link above is to a post on starting a new chapter. On moving from growing a family to raising one. To saying goodbye to the part of your life when you're having babies. And while I thought, have thought, for a while now, that we're probably done with that chapter - I realized after reading this blog post that I still don't know for certain.

Three kids is perfect. Five kids (including my stepdaughters) is also perfect. I always planned on three kids, I have my two glorious girls and my boy that I adore. My life is hectic and busy, and sometimes (often) I'm overwhelmed and sure I'm screwing all three of them up in different ways. I've got a daughter on the cusp of adolescence, a son who's still struggling to stand on his own without me there, and a baby who's really not a baby at all anymore. Is this it? I thought so - but after reading that blog post again, and getting all teary eyed for the second time, I'm not so sure.

I'm very, very close to having a ten year old, a six year old and a two year old. If I wait another six months, another year, I'd have my perfect three to four year age difference between kids. Another baby right now - no. I know that's not what I want. But no more baby EVER? I don't know. What she was describing was so sad to me - "Never again will I dart furtively down an aisle in a drugstore toward the pregnancy tests, never again will I carry the thrilling secret that a new baby is coming, never again will I usher a new life into the world, hear my newborns' strident cries or rub their tiny backs." I don't know that I'm ready for that. I'm not ready to say never again.

I'm willing to go with probably not. I'm almost forty. My husband will be forty four this summer. And where would I put a baby? Am I ready to sign up for another couple of years of my body not being mine? I've been nursing or pregnant for almost seven years straight now. If I get pregnant within the next year - that'd easily bump that up to a full decade (because really, I don't see Julianna weaning before she turns three in the spring - but that's a whole other blog post...)

In the end, I know that this decision may end up being out of my hands. By not deciding, my body my decide for me. I think I've got a while before I lose the ability to bear a child, and certainly, pregnancies come with more risks the older you get. Julianna's pregnancy was utter misery - my liver stopped working right, I ITCHED everywhere, and I'm pretty sure they induced because I was flirting with pre-eclampsia, my blood pressure was sky high and I was on bed rest at the very end. And I've learned that raising kids just gets harder. The problems get more difficult and the solutions so much harder to find. 

I might be perfectly happy with my two glorious girls and my boy that I adore. I already have so much to be grateful for - and maybe it'd tempting fate to ask for more. But I don't know that the day is ever going to come when I can say for sure and for certain that I'm absolutely, completely done. That I know that I'm never going to have another baby. For me, for us, I think we really want to keep that door open. Yeah, it's close to shut, and it might drift that way - but I don't think either one of us wants to be the one to slam the door on the possibility of another baby.

Friday, January 11, 2013


I loved my grandfather. I loved my grandmother as well, but my grandfather was special. He and I were kindred spirits, and I have these amazing memories of times we spent, just the two of us, at museums or hiking or stargazing at the golf course. We were the only readers in the family, and he bought me a subscription to National Geographic magazine because he wasn't at all impressed that I was spending so much time reading Sweet Valley High books. He taught me to play chess, he taught me about politics and history and I still think of him every day, even though he passed away a few years ago. 

Marc was very close with his grandfather as well, spending time over there after school and on vacations. In fact, when we were thinking of a name for our son, it made perfect sense to name him after both of our grandfathers, Samuel and Earl. He was also very close with his maternal grandmother (which is where we got the Anna of Julianna). He still talks about her, and she died before I met Marc. 

Our own kids are blessed to have both sets of grandparents living locally. Marc's parents live in Worcester and my parents are just out in Clinton. And while they see their grandparents all the time, I don't get the sense that there is as tight a bond as I'd like. I'm not sure why. But I think it has to do with alone time. We see them all the time, as a family. They come here for dinner, we go there for the afternoon. Get together for ice cream or to go to hockey game, go shopping or out for lunch. But it's always as a family. 

The kids are getting older now - but for a very long time, I always had a little one. A little one that was nursing, specifically, and cried hysterically when I left. Sam was an extremely attached baby/toddler, and leaving him anywhere was next to impossible.  As a result, I didn't often leave. So while my older daughter Jessie has a closer bond with both sets of grandparents, Sam and Julie's exposure to them has always been with either Marc or I there. What I never really thought about was that having a parent there, in a real sense, was a buffer that kept them from really bonding to them individually. 

But just lately, things have gotten easier. Sam has become a lot more relaxed about going to visit people without one of us there, and Julie - well, Julie has always been pretty cheerful about hanging with people other than her parents. And I've really noticed that as they get older, they enjoy their grandparents so much more. They light up at the prospect of going to see their Grammy and Dzidia (polish for grandfather), and dinners at Safta (hebrew for grandmother) and Papa's house have become cause for celebration as well. 

One of my birthday resolutions (I always make resolutions at the end of the month at my birthday instead of the beginning) is going to be to really encourage those relationships. My kids are blessed with really wonderful grandparents that love and adore them. But they need time to nurture those relationships, time to build the same kind of memories that their dad and I have of special times spent with our grandparents. And in order to do that, we have to get out of the way. Let them be together, just the two of them, without having a parent to be in the middle. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Paper towels

Marc's job has grown to include nights.  Not all the time, but mostly, at night, he's not home until nine or even  later (all this week, he's been working until midnight).  So I've had to develop my own new routines for putting all three kids to bed.  Since they're all different ages, with different sleep needs - I put them to bed one at a time.

Sam is my boy who requires the most nighttime sleep.  So I make sure to get him asleep by eight thirty at the latest.  Lately, he's been reading to me at night before bed.  After dinner, I clean up and putter around, trying to find lunch boxes and make sure homework is in the right folder and backpack.  Sam and Julie usually play together in the living room, while Jessie does...  stuff.  She's usually busy in her bedroom, rearranging her treasures, or curled up on my bed, watching television.  The two little ones play so well together most of the time, they get a little (okay, a lot) loud at times, but mostly they get along and can really play together on the same level.

Then I'll holler that it's time to get ready for bed, and Sam always bops into his jammies and brushes his teeth, gets a cup of water.  Then he'll come and sit with me, sometimes Julie will come and listen to him read as well.  His reading skills are improving so much - sometimes he struggles with trying to guess what the word is based on the picture, and I'm always surprised that he doesn't just LOOK at the word before blurting something out there, but he's getting better every night.   And the best part is that it's all self directed - he WANTS to read to me each night and I love it.

After reading, we switch it up.  This is the time when Sam and I go lay down and snuggle, chat about the day, watch Iron Chef together while he drifts off to sleep.  Jessie takes over with Julie - they get ready for bed together, sometimes they'll brush their teeth together, and sometimes she'll sit and read with her.  It's wonderful - Jessie is such a great big sister to Julie.  She dotes on her, taking care of her and Julie loves every minute of it.  Julie loves Sam like a playmate, he's her go-to sibling for playing - but Jessie really is like a second mother to her.  And the time when I'm alone, hanging with Sam, is the time when they really get to spend together.

Once Sam's asleep, I'll usually fix Julie her "second supper" because she normally skips the first one.  She got into the habit of waiting to eat with Marc at night, and more often than not, she'll just play with dinner while the rest of us eat and then she'll eat with Yaya when he comes home.   Only lately, he's not coming home until so late - so I try and get her to eat a little something while I'm putting Jessie down, or I'll eat with her after both the older two are asleep.  Jessie doesn't require a lot, in terms of putting her to bed.   A quick snuggle, a little chat, and usually several reminders that she needs to actually close her eyes to go to sleep...

Ah - to my original point.  While I was putting Jessie to bed, Julie was in the living room.  I had put on a show for her (her current favorites are Team Umizoomi and Dora/Diego) and when I came out of the bedroom, she was sitting in her little rocking chair, completely absorbed in ripping off paper towels off the roll.  One at a time, it was one of those rolls that has the little six inch long strips, so you can take as much or as little as you'd like.  Apparently, Julie wanted a lot of little pieces.  I looked at her, and she looked at me, and I asked what she was doing.  She blithely answered (as though it should have been obvious because it brought her enormous satisfaction) "I ripping dem."  So now I've got paper towels all over the floor, because, honestly, it didn't hurt anyone, and stopping her would have really bothered her.  Pick your battles, as they say, and now if you need a paper towel at my house - no worries, I've got a bunch pre-ripped waiting for you.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I went out today.  Not for long, just for lunch and shopping with my mother in law and Julianna, but when I came back, Jules went down for a nap.  Marc went to pick up the kids from school while I was putting her down, and when they got back, Jessie and I sauntered down the street to return her boots at Payless and get the right size.

None of this is remarkable, except that when I came home... my house looked as though a bomb had gone off.  It was clean, really clean, as of last night just before bedtime.  But there was an hour or so this morning where Julie was playing wily-nily in the living room and then an hour or so while Jessie and I were out and about, with Marc here and the Boy playing.  And the house... my good God - it was just stupendously messy.  Dishes everywhere, army guys and dollhouse furniture battling out for supremacy in the living room.  Laundry scattered around the house, dishwasher not loaded, laundry not folded...

I'm at a loss.  I should be cleaning, I'm just too tired to attempt much more than basic upkeep.  So the dishwasher is going, the washer and dryer are both running and that's as good as it's going to get until tomorrow.   If I ever want to feel essential, and the kids/husband aren't enough to make me feel loved and needed, I'll just take a day off and let the house fall apart - because apparently, I perform such a necessary task of CONSTANTLY PICKING UP CRAP that when I stop or take a few hours off to go shopping, all hell breaks loose.  I'll be playing catch up for days...

Marc is working nights this week, and I'm a sad and lonely girl without him here.  Julie is a sad and lonely girl, and Sam asked sadly if Daddy had no work tonight, knowing that he did and just hoping for another answer.   Jessie is actually just really happy that there's a new episode of Bunheads that I recorded for her, but I'm sure she's missing her dad as well.  We got all her homework finished earlier and now all that's left is for me to nag her into the shower, get her hair brushed afterwards, Sam and Julie need jammies and Sam needs to read to me,  Julie skipped dinner again (she's got a habit of skipping dinner when I feed the other kids and eating later on when Marc gets home - sadly, he won't be home tonight until well after midnight...), so I need to try and shove a little food into her before bed.

Nothing really earth shattering going on here today - just a normal sort of Tuesday.  Harrison was here for a playdate and Joy and I had coffee and caught up while the boys played and Jessie avoided doing her homework.  Julie sat mostly on my lap, nursing off and on.  Tomorrow is religious school for Jessie, although I'm seriously considering keeping her home to hard core study, study, study for her unit test in math.   Aimee will be here for dinner tomorrow night, she's heading down to NY on Thursday on the bus, and it's easier to catch the one in Worcester - so at least I'll have a little adult companionship tomorrow night.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Eve

I don't really do New Year's Eve.  It feels redundant to me, with Rosh Hashana as the Jewish New Year, and my birthday in January, I've already got the holiday covered.  So having another day to celebrate another beginning of the same year... I'm okay with skipping it.   That being said, I do have children who believe wholeheartedly in New Year's Eve.   Complete with take-out, a desperate attempt to stay up late enough to see the ball drop, and a rocking dance party.  All of which we did last night.   We rented Shrek Forever, I think it was called.  The last Shrek movie, and everyone sat and watched it.  Even Julie - and she's not great with movies.  But this one made sense to her, because the "Yaya was so sad."  She immediately got that Shrek was a dad who had lost his wife and his three kids (his Mama, G, Boy, and Baby).    After the movie, the kids danced for a while.  They danced to every song on the credits, and then we switched to the New Year's show, and they danced to that.  By 10:00, I was done, exhausted and could see that they were too.  I took Julie off to bed, and then came in and got Sam.  Sam was so cute, he said to me "I'll just pretend the ball just dropped - YAY!" as he got into bed.  Then I shut off all the lights, set the auto shut off on on the cable box for a few minutes after midnight and told Jessie and Glennys they were on their own.

So we're up, rocking migraine and kids still bouncing off the wall.   Glennys is going home today, and my kids are going to miss her incredibly.  Jessie has already broken down sobbing three times over the fact that she was going home, and Sam and Julie... it's going to be ugly.  As much as they love having her come down, they hate having her leave.

I don't generally post recipes here, mainly because I really don't like to cook, and it's so ridiculously easy to get recipes on line, it seems silly to put them here.  But I found a couple of recipes this week and my kids LOVE them.  One is for finnish pancakes.  You take half a stick of butter, stick it in a pie plate, and melt the butter in a four hundred degree oven.  While the butter is melting, mix together two thirds of a cup of milk, two thirds of a cup of flour, a teaspoon of cinnamon and suguar, and three eggs.  Dump it in the pan when the butter is melted and bake for 20 minutes.  After twenty minutes, pull it out and sprinkle more cinnamon and sugar on it, and then bake for another five minutes or so.  It's awesome.  I also had my mother dig out her cinnamon bun recipe, and that's kind of awesome as well.  So I baked a lot this week, made chocolate chip cookies, lots of bread, and four batches of finnish pancakes.