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Oct 13

Jewish holidays

I like the Jewish holidays.  I especially like the fall Jewish holidays, because they’re the ones that I can celebrate just as a regular Jewish person.  There’s no conflict with Christmas, like there is in December and Hanukkah.  There’s no stress over whether or not I can give the kids cereal or pasta, like there is at Passover. Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot and Simchat Torah – those are much more accessible for me.

Rosh Hashana is the New Year – and I was good with the New Year celebration.  In theory, anyway.  I like a new year.  The conflict this year was that Sammy didn’t want to go.  I mean, Sam doesn’t often want to do much of anything that has to do with the synagogue this year, and family parties are challenging.  Not impossible, but hard.  But I have three kids, not two – and celebrating the holidays with one third less children was really hard this year.  I just missed him.  He was home, perfectly content, playing video games and hanging with the dog – and bringing him would have been really hard for him.  But I was miserable and sad without him – so the day wasn’t all that much fun for me.

The thing with Yom Kippur – it’s a little more weighted.  Yom Kippur is the day when you reflect and pray and the myth is that God seals your name in the Book of Life, decides who will live and who will die.  Who will suffer and who will have an easy breezy sort of year.  You see my problem?  I refuse to believe in that sort of diety – the one who decided on a September day last year to make last year a living hell for my boy.  And the thought of apologizing for my sins, the idea of reflecting on what I did and how I could have done better – it just seemed… wrong, on so many levels.  In terms of my own mental health – the last thing I want to do is look back and wonder what I could have done better or differently.  There’s so much guilt there all the time, just under the surface, and I deal with it.  I’m not going to deliberately go down that road.   I told Marc that I was unilaterally sorry for anything I had done to hurt him, and that I unilaterally forgave him for anything – but also that we had survived the year.  We got thru it, with our marriage, our kids, our finances, our mental health basically intact – and any harm incurred during the process…. well, we did our best.  And sometimes, when the chips are down, and you’re in and out of the hospital and your son is wishing he was dead… you do your best, and if you’re still standing on the end, you count it as a win and move on.

It wasn’t a great year for the fall Jewish holidays for me.


Oct 10

Columbus Day

It’s been an odd month.  Rosh Hashana was last week, and that took up Monday and Tuesday.  The kids went back to school for Wednesday and Thursday and then had Friday, Saturday, Sunday and today, Monday, off.  Back to school tomorrow, and then off on Wednesday for Yom Kippur and then back for Thursday and Friday.  Marc is working a zillion hours a week, rarely home before nine or ten most nights, and I’m home with the kids.

Jessie is in eighth grade this year.  Eighth grade is almost high school, which is a heart beat away from college and college – well, that’s pretty much an adult.  She’s morphing ever faster into this teenager, but still can spend hours playing on the floor with Julianna and some dollhouses.  Which happened today – and it’s blissful when it happens.  Miserable when it deteriorates into sniping and squabbling, but when it’s good – it’s lovely.  She spends a lot of time in her room, doing homework and working on Model UN research, but she snuggles up to me at night and comes with me to walk the dog.  She still likes me.

Sam is …. my Sammy.  He’s improving – he’s open to going out and doing things, and is willing to go shopping or apple picking and is counting the days until he can start playing D&D with Marc.  It’s still hard – he can’t see well enough to DO all the stuff he wants to do.  He wants to ride his bike and it terrifies me.  He wants to start a car fund to start saving money for his car – and there’s no guarantee that he’ll be able to see well enough to get his license.  He falls apart at the thought of getting eye glasses, and just mentioning an upcoming doctor’s appointment freaks him out.  But he’s happy – he’s cuddly and cute and friendly most of the time.  Homeschooling – this is going to be an exploratory semester for us.  We’re still waiting for the equipment and information from the Mass Commission for the Blind, so we’re going slowly – working on trying to catch up with math and studying the upcoming election.

Julianna is thriving.  Just thriving.  She’s doing very well in first grade, she’s got a real strength in writing and reading.  She’s getting better at navigating the playground and the social politics.  I want to homeschool her too – but when she’s doing so well, it’s hard to justify taking that on as well at this point.  Sending a kid to school is easier, you don’t have to plan the curriculum or worry about the future – it’s all packaged and ready.  Just add kid and go.  So to speak.  My hope is that she’ll continue to thrive, and then get into the GSA program that Jessie did, because that was transformational for her.  If not, if it starts to get to the point where I see her struggling, I can always pull her at that point.  I don’t honestly see Sam going to back any time soon.

Sep 30

September Round Up – Sammy

I haven’t posted in a while… no real reason.  Life got a little crazy lately.  I don’t know that it’s that life “got” a little crazy, I just… haven’t posted.

Sam is officially legally blind.  What that means… is that he’ll be able to access services through the state to get equipment to make it easier for him to see.  Is he actually blind?  No.  He can see to walk around, to see trees on the side of the road.  He can live his life, and if you aren’t paying close attention – you’d never know.  But he can’t see well enough to read, or put together legos, or write.  Is that something that could be fixed with glasses?  Will it get better?  I don’t know the answer to either of those questions, and nobody else seems to either.  He’s still way too traumatized to sit through a visual exam, and he’s young enough that the doctors won’t rule out (or guarantee, for that matter) that his eyes won’t just fix themselves.   If I had to guess, I’d say that his vision is probably better than we think, and that getting glasses will help.  But guessing doesn’t help, and until he’s able to participate in an appointment with an eye doctor, this is the situation we’re in.  Or maybe I’m just being overly optimistic, and I should accept the disability and adjust accordingly.

There are certainly deficits in what he can see.   But I don’t know how profound it is – the low vision doctor says he needs 6X magnification and the contrast has to be really pronounced.  It’s not that I can hand him a worksheet and expect that he can see it and fill it out.  But I can point out the foliage on the tree outside, and he can describe it to me. I can hand him my phone and send him out walking to go pokemon hunting and feel like he’s safe and capable of navigating the walk.

His taste buds are starting, so, so, slowly, to heal.   Just this week, we’ve added in cinnamon toast, apple cake, taco meat and rice, and shepherd’s pie.  That’s… phenomenal.   We’re not 100% yet, he still won’t really touch dairy, or red sauce, or chocolate.  And of course, fruits and vegetables are off the table still.  But they’re starting to come back, and last night, he said (after telling me a few times that he wasn’t going to go trick or treating because he can’t eat any of the candy) that he would go out with us on Halloween, because that way, when the taste buds heal entirely, he’ll be able to eat the stash.  He’s got a little hope now, that things are getting better.

Homeschooling is going better.  It depends entirely on the day.  Some days, I feel really optimistic and in control, and some days, I feel like a dismal failure.  We’re doing a lot of audio books and documentaries and reading out loud.  I’ve got a math curriculum and we’re working through that.  Until we get the equipment to help with the reading, there just isn’t much more I can do.  We’re starting an election unit after the high holidays, and then moving into a history of Thanksgiving.  I’ve set up playdates a few days a week after school, so that he still gets opportunities to see his friends.


Sep 13

September Updates

We’re settling in.  The first few weeks of school are underway, and so far, this seems like a much easier year than last year.

Jessie LOVES eighth grade.  She’s waking up on her own, getting her homework done right away and loving all of her classes.  She started a new discussion group at the synagogue last night, and it was happiest I’ve seen her at the synagogue in years.   She had such a rough time last year, with the bat mitzvah.  On a side note – the bat mitzvah had the exact opposite impact on her – I was hoping it would really cement her relationship with the synagogue and her Jewish identity.  Instead, she walked away thinking that she didn’t want to go back to the synagogue ever again, had no interest in ever reading Torah or being actively involved in services at all.  She agreed to take the class conditionally, but walked away loving it.  She’s taking Model UN, of course, on Wednesdays, and then maybe yearbook or knitting.  She’d also like to me to investigate singing lessons (not signing lessons, which I inadvertently spent some time searching for as well).

Julie is rocking first grade.  When she’s there.  She still hates getting up in the morning, and begs most mornings to stay home.  I’m trying hard to keep the faith – she does LIKE school, and she’s happy to be there.  But every single morning – she wakes up crying and trying to stay home.   But she’s happy while she’s there, and she was so proud of herself yesterday afternoon.  She BROUGHT HOME HOMEWORK.  Granted it’s first grade homework, so she had a bunch of work sheets (each of which took all of three minutes for her to complete), and it wasn’t due until Friday.  She finished all of it yesterday.

I think I’ll probably end up homeschooling Julie.  Not certain of it, because things might change.  Maybe she’ll continue to love and adore school… but if this goes well with Sam, then I think I’ll want to do the same thing with Julianna.  With Jessie – I’m not as certain.  She’s older, for one thing, and she really LOVES school.   We’re tentatively planning on South High for her next year.   It’s a big urban high school, which terrifies me a little, but we’ll see.

Homeschooling with Sammy – it’s going… well.  I think.  I’m going to be an eclectic homeschooler (which you’d predict, I think).  And this year in particular is going to be a little haphazard.  We’re still trying to get a grip on what he can see, and what is the best way for him to learn.  Right now, we’re reading out loud, all the time, and when we aren’t reading, he’s audiobooking (which I’m now using as a verb).  We’re working through a math curriculum and then we’re just reading.  Big appointment next week with the low vision doctor, and I think we’ll get some answers there about what he can see, what kind of technology is out there that he can use, and what he’ll qualify for.

Sep 06

J Massage

Julie has created a small company for foot massages.  She’s been an accomplished foot massager for a while now, and has recently decided to step it up a notch.  She now does full blown pedicures, with foot soaks.  The best part is that she’s taken to calling me to schedule my appointments (by using the landline to call my cell).   She also likes when I call her to schedule the appointments.  Last night, I got a call, from my home number, and it was Julie.  She wanted to let me know about a discount program that she was offering for frequent customers, I could get a card that would enable me to get foot massages for free.

Flasback to the J Cafe that Jessie had created when she was younger…

Sep 02

Roasting chicken

I’m not a good cook.  I’m not a terrible cook either, I’m an apathetic cook.  Which is why there are certain things I make that are phenomenally good.  For example – pancakes.  Granted, I have made them almost every day since the accident.  But they are the simplest things to make – you literally just add water.  I don’t bother to measure, I just dump some powder into a cereal bowl, run enough water in to mix it up and then fry them in butter.

Sam thinks I’m magic.,Every Friday, I make Shabbat dinner.  We’ve done it for years, but it’s taken on a special meaning for us since the accident.  It’s the day that everyone looks forward to – the crowded table, the candles, the laughing, the fighting for your turn in the conversation… it’s what we do.  And I really always kind of make the same thing.   Chicken.  For the past couple of months, I’ve been making it two ways, I take a big package of chicken breast, and half of it gets shaken and baked, and the other half, I dump into a baking pan with a bottle of bbq sauce.

Jessie asked earlier this week for roasted chicken.  Like, a whole chicken.

Since I’m an apathetic cook – I didn’t give it much thought until this afternoon when I was at the store.  My only real experience with these things is the  Thanksgiving turkey – and that’s a 20lb disaster that takes most of the day to cook.  I found a guy who was wearing a white coat (presumably a butcher of some sort), and asked him if I was insane to think about roasting a chicken for Friday night dinner at four o’clock.  He assured me that I was not, and handed me two chickens, one four pounds, one five, and sent me on my way.   Two hours, he claimed.

I came home and hit pre-heat, and turned to my helpful friends at google.  The wasn’t a clear consensus – I read it could take four or five hours, or maybe just an hour and a half.  Martha Stewart claimed that an hour and a half would be good – and I think the longer time frame was when you were adding the pounds together, i.e. a nine pound chicken instead of a four and a five pound chicken.

So I lugged out the roasting pan, and cut off the plastic.  I fished out the yucky stuff (with tongs, because I’m classy), and then I rinsed them out.  Martha suggested that I rub butter all over them, and season them under the skin, but all of that seemed…. complicated and I was mildly concerned that the butter would burn, so I just sprinkled a bunch of adobe seasoning on the top and shoved them in.

Sep 01

Three days in

It’s the first week of school.  I specifically didn’t start homeschooling this week, because I wanted focus on getting the girls into a good routine.

The first day was rough.  Not for Jessie or Julie – both of them were delighted to go back to school, psyched about their new lunch boxes and new school supplies and happy to get up early, get dressed and bounced out the door.  Jessie didn’t want to take the bus on the first day, because she wanted to be at the school to help welcome the new scared 6th graders.  Marc dropped Julianna and I off at Flagg Street, drove Jessie back to school, and then came back to get us.

At Flagg, on the first day, parents always walk their kids to school.  Julie doesn’t like me to walk her to class, it’s always easier for her to have me drop her off quick, in the car pool lane, and then she bops out to class.  If I walk her there, she has TIME to get misty and think about the fact that she’s going to be at school all day without me.  But on the first day, I insist.  Mainly because I don’t want her to be the only one without a mom there, and partly because  I like to see everyone.  It’s tradition, and I’ve been doing it since Jessie was six years old.

This year was different, and a little bit tough.  I have peer groups with each kid – I know the eighth grade parents, the fourth grade parents, and the first grade ones.  I smile winningly at parents of kids in other grades, but the ones who match up with mine – they’re my peeps.  On some level, at least.  And this year, I don’t have a fourth grader.

Anyway – this week is about the girls.

Julie asked, last night before bed, if she really had to get up and go to school tomorrow.

I do think she likes school.  She certainly adores her teacher, and she loves learning.  She soaks up knowledge, just soaks it all in.  She struggles sometimes with the social complexities of first grade, but that’s part of the process. But because I’m homeschooling her brother, and becoming steeped in that whole culture, there’s a part of me that wonders if she’ll be homeschooling eventually as well.  She’s got a playdate this afternoon, and I’m trying to sign her up for girl scouts or art class or some sort of THING for after school.

Jessie is growing up.  I mean, of course, she is.  That’s the whole point, right?  But she just is…. it’s not just the height (although I had no idea how disconcerting it was going to be to have my baby taller than I am).  It’s the general sense of … completeness.  Does that make sense?  She’s just grown – she feeds herself, dresses herself, figures out what she needs, how to get it, has her own likes and dislikes and opinions and presents them in a coherent and friendly manner.  Unless she’s got five blisters (which is what happened on Tuesday – and she sobbed like a two year old for most of the night).


Aug 26

Last official day of summer

I’m ready for summer to be over.

Normally, I try to stay present, enjoy the stage that we’re in and not rush things.  But this summer has been kind of sucky.  We were really, really struggling financially, after Sam’s accident.  We’re so lucky that we had great health insurance and don’t have any medical bills – but the time off from work for both of us, and the reality that I had to cut my hours by 2/3 permanently was a brutal blow to our budget.  Add in some massive car repairs (we ended up having to replace three tires and a broken axel on the van), and the reality that we are down to one car, plus the limitations on Sam’s diet… we didn’t DO anything really.  We went to ocean once.  We went to the lake a few times, but only hit the pool down the street once.  We went out for frozen yogurt a few times, but we weren’t able to do the drive-in because he can’t see the screen.  We didn’t do the star gazing, because he can’t see the sky.  We didn’t DO a lot of things.

I’m ready for summer to be done.

I think the fall will be better.  I think once we settle into a routine of girls back in public school, Sammy homeschooling, Marc working in his new office, apple picking and pumpkin pies, Jewish holidays and Halloween and Thanksgiving, – it’ll all be easier.


Aug 25

New Stages

I took the kids for a walk yesterday.

In and of itself, this isn’t that remarkable.  They required a little incentive, but a $1 ice cream from the dollar tree was sufficient to get everyone dressed, shoes on and out the door.  So off we set, wandering down the hill, going the “tricky way” around the restaurant and into the shopping plaza.  We talked about poison ivy and why the pool wasn’t that crowded today, and whether or not it was a good idea to go swimming tomorrow.  We talked about school and homeschooling and what we liked about this summer and what we wanted to do this fall.

I was struck, as we walked down the hill, and then back home, by how OLD they all were.  Sam lost patience with how slow we were going (because I had to literally drag Lucky back up the hill – he kept trying to lay down) and snagged my keys and walked ahead.  Julie and Jessie alternated between race walking and then resting until I caught up.  There was no carriage to push, nobody begged me to carry them home.  This was an entirely different experience.

I used to walk with the kids all the time.  I walked when I had just Jessie in the super expensive pram that I had to have.  I laid her in the bed, and would push her all over the place while she slept.  I walked with her in baby carriers and then in bigger strollers.  I walked with Sam in a sling, Jordyn and Harrison in the double stroller and Jessie trudging alongside.  I walked with Jessie in the stroller and Sammy using his little monkey leash, and I’d pull on the tail to keep him from falling over.  I walked with Julianna in the pram and Sam running along beside me.  I walked in the rain and sunny weather, with kids sobbing and kids laughing and kids sleeping.  I’ve walked more with my kids than I’ve done anything else.

But now… we’re going for very different kind of walks.  I take a kid with me to walk the dog, and we talk about stuff.  All kinds of stuff, about politics and nature and street signs and what the future might hold.  I’m not doling out snacks and water bottles and goldfish crackers, I’m not insisting on hands before crossing the street.

I’ve really struggled, this summer, with coming to grips with the family I have.  With accepting that there will be no more babies, that the children I have are all that I’ll get, and that’s perfect.  That my job now isn’t so much to be creating a family as it is to be raising one.  It’s not easy, I don’t think I’ll ever not miss the idea of another child.  But I’m learning how to find the beauty in just these three kids.  In Jessie’s height and grace and intelligence, in Sam’s sense of humor and resilience and his ability to survive, in Julianna’s sweetness and sarcasm and style.  In the reality that I don’t have little kids anymore.  I have three kids, and our adventures are different from what they used to be.

Aug 15

Home Stretch

Two weeks left.

I don’t think this summer flew by.  I think it went by at a reasonable rate.  It wasn’t necessarily a summer I’d like to do again – but it got the job done.  We’re in a much better place, all around, than we were in May.

I’m excited about the fall, I’m looking forward to easing into home schooling with Sam.  I’m happy about Jessie starting eighth grade, and I’m cautiously excited about Julianna starting first grade.  I feel like she’s going to end up coming home with me eventually as well, because I feel like homeschooling is going to go so well – but for now, she likes the idea of going to public school and seeing her friends.

I want apple picking and homemade chocolate chip cookies.  Hot chicken soup and cuddling up under a blanket.  I want the dog to stop shedding so much.  I crave structure and stability and routine.  I want high holidays and halloween and Thanksgiving.

I’m ready for the end of summer, not in a bitter oh-this-summer-was-horrible kind of way, but in a this-summer-filled-it’s-purpose-and-now-I’m-done.


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