Archive | March 2013

Easter

It’s just not that big of a deal to me.  I think it’s because Christmas is such an important holiday for me, and one that I invest so much time and effort into celebrating.  I feel like celebrating Christmas is such a statement – it’s very purposeful and discussed and debated and agonized over.  But Easter?  Eh.

It’s obviously a HUGE Christian holiday, and because I’m not Christian, it’s not my holiday.  (Whereas I get really personally offended when someone says that because I’m Jewish, Christmas isn’t my holiday).  Sure, it’s fun, everyone talks about the Easter Bunny, and my kids love decorating eggs, but the religious aspects of it, to me, are not applicable to me.   Christmas is different – that’s a holiday like Thanksgiving to me.  A uniquely American tradition that I have loved since I was a child, and I want desperately for my kids to have that experience.

Passover is a big holiday for me.   A much more significant one for me personally, it’s the first holiday that I met Marc’s parents, the first Jewish holiday I celebrated with him.  It’s also the holiday that I miscarried my twins on, and I think of them a lot at this time of year.

As the kids have gotten older, Passover has become ever more significant.  It’s an event, starting with Passover shopping, coming up with different meal options.  We have four major holiday parties for Passover, two regular Seders, one Seder that Marc runs for a local Presbyterian church, and then our own Passover Party this weekend.  We do Passover posters, the kids sing the four questions as they wander around the house, and we discuss the Exodus story over and over again.

Easter…. just isn’t that important.   I don’t know if it’s because Christmas is SUCH a big deal that I don’t have the energy to engage in another interfaith spiritual quest.  Or if it’s because Passover is such a much more meaningful holiday within the Jewish tradition – as opposed to Hannukah, which is a much less religiously significant holiday.   Maybe it’s that I have this holiday quota – and Christmas is necessary in December.  But in the spring, Passover is so much bigger that Easter tends to sort of fade into obscurity.

That being said, I’ve got eighteen eggs to hide, and three baskets to assemble on Saturday night.  But the biggest part of the holiday, for me, is going to be making sure that the kids can celebrate Easter with my family while still observing the kosher for Passover restrictions.

Marriage

It’s the background for my everything, and often I forget to notice it.  I’m good at noticing the little things about motherhood, the quiet moments when everything is so sweet that it aches, or when you’re so tired and touched out and desperate for a little alone time.  Parenting is my full time occupation – I write, I clean the house, but mostly, I take care of the kids.  And the relationship that makes it all possible has a tendency to fade into the background.

Not in a bad way.  I think it fades because it doesn’t always require that same level of attention and notice.  It’s just there.  I don’t ever doubt that Marc loves me more than anything, I don’t ever wonder what my life would be like without him.  He’s just there, constant and unwavering.  He’s my best friend, my first call.  He’s my reality check.   It’s precisely because he is so unwavering, because it’s so solid.  It’s the background only because it’s strong enough to support everything that we’ve built on top of it.

He and I together are the foundation for the whole thing.  Today I’m wishing for more time, I’m wishing for entire days when I had nothing to focus on but him, instead of the tiny amount of time we both manage to stay awake after the kids go to sleep.

I guess what I’m really saying is – anyone want to babysit?  Because I miss my husband.

Julie loves the potty

It’s her favorite room in the house, and there’s nothing she likes more than to be sitting on her little potty, hanging out. She’ll spend up to a half hour in there, just hanging. Sometimes she’ll demand privacy, and won’t let anyone in with her, but more often than not, she’ll holler out for someone to come “keep her company.”

She’s been potty trained since last summer, but she still uses her little potty on the floor. I know at some point, I’ll have to transition her over to the big toilet, but for right now, she prefers the little one. I’ve got my washer and dryer in the bathroom as well, and I’m a woman who does a ridiculous amount of laundry. There’s literally always some clothes to fold in there. I’ll fold, while she chats away about events of her life. Today we touched on why sharing is so hard, and explained why we couldn’t get a slide to put in the living room. We have long involved conversations in the bathroom. We discuss what she dreamed about last night, why some people like hot sauce and other’s don’t, and why her favorite cousin, Abby-with-a-bow (to distinguish her from her other friend Abi) liked the chickens at Auntie Cathy’s house yesterday. She’ll make her older sister sit in there with her, regaling her with princess fairy tales and her brother is often forced to entertain her as well, he sings for her. She even trapped Marc in there yesterday. She was singing quietly to herself, with hand gestures, and banged her hand up against the wall. Marc went in to find out why she was crying and then had to sit there for another ten minutes while she discussed and demonstrated. Several times.

I think it’s a power thing. She’s two, there’s not a whole lot she gets control over, really. She rarely gets to eat all the chocolate she wants, she has to take naps and go to bed and get in the car and run errands. But once she says the magic words “I have to go potty,” she knows she’s got us right where she wants us. There’s nothing we can do to stop it, and there’s virtually no way to speed up the process. She seems to delight in hanging out on the potty, taking her time, not a care in the world.

I try to remember that these days won’t last forever – Jessie wouldn’t dream of calling me into the bathroom to hang with her. But sometimes I find myself wishing she’d just hurry up and go already, so we can get on with our day.

Passover is hard

This isn’t one of those “getting ready for Passover with the cleaning and the baking and the cooking and the seders and the dishes and the cleaning and oh yeah, did I mention the cleaning” kind of posts.   Because Passover is hard for all of those reasons.  In theory, and in reality for many people I know, Passover is when your house is supposed to be completely chametz-free.   That means anything made with grain mixed with water and allowed to ferment, according to my friends at wikipedia.  It also means pretty much everything my kids eat, with the exception of meat, fruits and vegetables.  Pasta, cereal, cookies, bread, tortillas, pizza, etc.

Keeping kosher for Passover is a thing – and some people do it, some don’t.  My family does.  I don’t like doing it.  I don’t agree with the premise, I don’t like it.  I don’t like it, I don’t like it, I don’t like it.  I like keeping the version of kosher that I do keep.  I don’t mix milk with meat, because to kill an animal and then serve it with the milk that was supposed to sustain it, to me, is morally wrong.  But chicken isn’t meat, according to that definition, and I have an easier time following rules when they make sense to me.  Not mixing cheese with chicken seems like just following rules for the sake of following rules, and while I understand the theology behind it, I find that blind adherence to the rules just makes me really, really itchy.

But my kids, oh my kids.  They love keeping kosher for Passover.  They love the dietary restrictions, they love the specialness of this time of year.  They look forward to “Passover Shopping” all year, and nothing makes them  happier than when they’re making our annual Passover Plague Posters (which is a fun activity that costs me no more than $1 worth of posterboard at the dollar store and is both educational and time consuming – because they make these really detailed posters we hang up every year).  Everything they eat, they want to make sure is “kosher for Passover.”    Marc has always kept kosher for Passover, and he adores that the kids are so into it.  I don’t.

It’s very similar to what he goes thru in December, I think.  Because even though he knows that Christmas is important to me, and it’s a link between my kids and my own family history that I want to continue, even though he knows that he wants to honor my mother and it would devastate her if we gave up Christmas – intellectually, he knows all those things.  But it still is hard, and alien, and makes him feel like an outsider in his own home.

That’s how I feel about Passover.  I like the holiday, I like the seders, I’d even happily throw matzoh into the mix for a week or so.  But strict adherence to it is really, really hard for me,  because it’s not what I grew up with.   It feels strange to me, and I don’t like that there are so many arbitrary rules, like if you are one sort of Jew, you can eat rice, and if you aren’t, then you can’t.  I decided when I converted that I’d follow the most liberal guidelines, so we eat rice and corn and peanut butter.  But it all feels artificial to me, and it’s probably one of the hardest Jewish holidays for me to connect with, on a personal level.

And it’s definitely a challenge with my family – because inevitably, Easter and Passover coincide.  I decided long ago that I wasn’t going to make the kids feel bad if they wanted to participate in the Easter celebration at my mother’s house, and eat the bread or cake or cookies.  And I don’t make them feel bad, I don’t have to.  They’ve decided on their own to keep kosher for Passover, so now I make sure that we have Passover friendly treats for them there.   We’ll have macaroons and chocolate covered matzoh.

Part of the trouble I’m having right now is that I’m doing research on “mixed” marriages, and interfaith issues in general, and reading about too much of it makes me depressed.  For so many couples, this is really hard – and I just finished reading two books about interfaith marriages that were written in the 1980s and they just made me miserable.   All these interviews with kids (who are actually adults my age) who were raised by parents who tried to do it interfaith, and now the kids feel as though they aren’t tied to any particular religion and have no spiritual home at all.  I know that’s not what we’re doing – we made very deliberate decisions around their religious upbringing.  My kids know they’re Jewish, and their Jewish experience is obviously going to be very different from my own.  For me, following the rules on Passover seems arbitrary.  For them, it’s just part of the process.  Part of what makes it easier for them to understand and appreciate the history of their people.  I want that.  I want them to feel secure and validated – and so I’m googling recipes for more and ever interesting Passover food, and I’ve mostly talked my mother out of the pasta dish she was planning for next Sunday.  And I’ll do my best to keep my Passover issues to myself – and I can always sneak out for pizza and breadsticks while they’re at school :-)

 

 

Genetics

My kids all kind of look alike.  They all have my eyes, and Marc’s nose and mouth.  They all have dimples.

Sam obviously stands out, simply because he’s got a crew cut.  He looks dramatically different.  But Julianna and Jessica are virtually the same kid, appearance wise, just seven years apart.  Julie has her hair in a ponytail today and I keep getting vaguely confused when I look at her.  Because I had a two year old already WHO LOOKED JUST LIKE HER.  I was just in my bedroom, snuggling a Julie who was just waking up and looking from her little face over to Jessie’s little face, they both have big brown eyes, perfect skin, gorgeous smiles, and long brown hair, and it’s disconcerting.

Seven years ago, I was hugely pregnant with Samilicious Boy, and terrified of what having another baby would do to Jessie.  How would she react to not being my only one?  How would I ever love another child as much as I loved her?  Jessie, at two years old, almost three – it was a particularly precious time for us.  Because I was achingly aware of her, I was soaking up all of the one on one time I could get with her, because I knew it was coming to an end.  I think that’s why Julie looking so much like her is really striking to me today.  I look back on that time, I was super emotional and pregnant and worried about how I’d handle two kids and if she’d suffer because of it.  Probably not unlike every other pregnant mother of one child.

I love having three kids, and I have similar memories of Sam at the same age, but not the same fears.  I waited longer to have Julie after Sam was born, so he was about a year older, more independent.  And I wasn’t as scared when I had Julie.  I knew already that when you have more than one child, you don’t love the first any less.  It just multiplies.  The first, and the second become no less special – so I don’t remember panicking that I had ruined Sam’s life by having another baby.  But I did freak out pretty consistently during Sam’s pregnancy that Jessie’s life would be forever altered by our decision to have another baby.  Which, of course, it was.   But it’s been a wonderful change, an amazing change, and our lives are so much richer for it.

The point that I’m making here (and you know when I have to state the point that I’ve wandered fairly far off track) is that Julie, today, reminds me an awful lot of a little girl I once had.  A two year old bright eyed little munchkin, with big brown eyes, long brown hair in a ponytail, and a pretty little smile.  And I worried a lot about her.  I worried that she’d never forgive me for having another baby, I worried that she’d be miserable with a baby, that she wouldn’t be my baby anymore.

I was wrong about all of it.  When Sam was born, and she came to see me in the hospital, she came in demanding to see her baby brother, and absolutely adored him.  And she’s still my baby.  Beautiful and tall, so grown up I’m still a little baffled by it, but still, always, my baby.  And if I ever start to forget what she looked like… I’ve got Julie to remind me.

 

Such an odd thing to be happy about

(First, as an update – both Jess and Sam seem to be doing really well, and thus far, Julie has managed to escape concussion free.  Both kids came home yesterday with headaches, but made it all day today, and both have playdates at home this afternoon)

My son Sam has some anxiety issues.  Mainly around separation, but he also gets really nervous about new things in general.  He seems incredibly shy at times, but I don’t think he actually is.  I think he’s just really a kid who thrives in his own comfort zone and moving out of it is incredibly, incredibly hard for him.

School, as you can imagine, has been hard for him.  I hadn’t forced preschool on him, so kindergarten was the first time he’d been away from home every day, and it was incredibly challenging for him.  He was on the younger side anyway – in retrospect, I probably should have done preschool when he was five and started K once he was six.  But instead he’s on his second year of kindergarten and mostly doing really well.  Academically, he’s great, although still very apprehensive and anxious about anything new, and we’re already working on plans to adjust him to first grade.

It seems like I’m constantly dealing with teachers and school adjustment counselors and administration, trying to figure out the best way to get him comfortable and secure while he’s there.  I don’t mean to exaggerate the problem, because most of the time, he’s fine.  But when he’s not, holy moly… suffice it say that teachers don’t get paid nearly enough, and my son is extremely lucky to have such caring and devoted teachers and administrators at his school.

So today, I went to pick him up at school.  I like doing pick up, not just because it’s nice to see the other parents, but also because I get to check in with his teacher and hear things that I might not get to hear otherwise.  She told him that she bumped up his reading group, and he’s still in the highest group, but very anxious about the new challenges.  And one other thing – she’s cautioned me that it’s not just Sam, it’s more a class-wide issue, but Sam and two of his little buddies have been kind of wild and rambunctious and it’s starting to be disruptive.

I was so happy.  Not happy that my boy is a behavioral issue – but for a kid who’s had SUCH a hard time feeling comfortable, for a boy who’s had to be dragged into school on more than one occasion – for him to feel secure enough to actually have so much fun with his friends – HIS FRIENDS – that they’re starting to bug everyone is such a huge relief.  To me, that makes everything seem like it’s going to be okay.  He might be anxious, he might be unsure of himself, and it’s not that any of that goes away – but he’s also comfortable enough to be himself.   To be wild and rambunctious and crazy, like every other little six year old boy, like the happy six year old boy that I see at home.  It made my whole day.

Two kids, two concussions, seventy two hours

I’m drained.  Really, just flat out exhausted.  I got Samilicious Boy up this morning and thought he was just being a pain about going to school.  He doesn’t like going on a good day, but on a day when Jessie isn’t going, I know it’s going to be a battle. I had him on my lap, and he threw up out of nowhere.  My living room is, of course, an utter disaster, covered with toys and books and blankets, so I’m desperately trying to aim his little vomiting body so that he’ll puke in a spot where I can clean it up easily, while still trying to be all motherly and reassuring.

I put him to bed, clean up the mess, make Marc cancel his meeting so he can stay home with vomit boy, and take the two girls off to the pediatrician.    Get Jessie’s diagnosis confirmed, with the added bonus of having to talk the doctor out of an EKG because the computer system was down and Jessie’s heart beats funny.  She’s got PAC (premature atrial contraction).  It’s not bad, in and of itself, and since she’s otherwise healthy, it’s not a concern.  But with the system down, the doctor (who wasn’t her normal pedi) was getting concerned, and was ready to whisk her off for more testing.

Once I got Jessie home, I shipped Marc out the door.  As he was leaving, he bopped into the bedroom to kiss the boy goodbye, and Sam hollered in pain.  Because Marc kissed his head, and oh yeah, did I mention that Sam had gotten his head bonked yesterday?  No?  That’s because I was a wreck about Jessie’s concussion – AND MISSED ENTIRELY THAT SAM HAD ONE.

I was just starting to think about the bump on his head, and the vomiting… the connections are starting to come clear and Sam mentions, rather contemplatively, that my ceiling light in the bedroom keeps moving.  And by the way – did I know that my ceiling has purple splotches on it?

Five hours later and a very long ER visit later (did I mention that Sam has a tendency to go mute when strangers (like nurses) talk to him?), I had another kid with another mild concussion.  The ER docs were fabulous with him, and he really did relax and talk to them eventually.

Both kids are on restricted activities, and I’m assured that both will heal quickly with no lasting effects.  Headaches, nausea and visual disturbances are normal and to be expected and may re-occur off and on over the next couple of days, but unless they get worse, or they start passing out, getting super lethargic, etc, then they’ll heal and be none the worse for it.

But I’m exhausted, and desperate for a break.  Marc is on his way home, thank goodness, and I’m off for a very long, very hot and very alone shower.

Probable minor concussion

I brought Jessica back into the pediatrician’s this morning, because her headaches weren’t going away.  In fact yesterday, walking around triggered such a bad one that she was curled up on her bed sobbing in pain.  Her pediatrician said that it probably is a minor concussion, and the headaches should go away within the next few days.  No activities at all, she can go to school as long as her head doesn’t hurt, but no gym, no recess, etc.  She’s slightly dehydrated and tired, so I gave her a beverage and popped her back into bed.

Sam is also home today.  I thought he was just faking it, because Jessie wasn’t going in to school, and then he puked all over the living room.  Twice.

Keeping a VERY close eye on Julie, waiting for her to come down with a vicious cold.  I figure that’s all I’m missing before I hit the trifecta of sick and injured kiddos.  Thus far, she appears to be healthy, and is tickled pink that she’s got a sick Boy home and a sick J in the other room with her.  She keeps checking on them, bringing them little treats and kissing them before “locking” them back into the various bedrooms I’ve got them sequestered in.

 

Leprechauns

I don’t do much for St. Patrick’s Day as a rule.  If I can find a green outfit for the kids (which is harder than you’d think), I’ll toss it on them.   But that’s about it.  Corned beef and cabbage is not one of my favorites, and I’m not a beer drinker ever.  Making it green makes it not even a little bit more appealing.

But oddly enough, my kids and my husband were completely into it this year.  Marc went out and bought the ingredients for a boiled dinner, with cabbage and corned beef, potatoes and carrots.  We even threw in the old parsnips we’d had hanging in the veggie drawer.  Invited both Lilli and Sarah and the in-laws over, made a big salad and chocolate cupcakes with green food coloring frosting.

And Miss Jessie –  my poor girl who spent all afternoon on Friday and all day on Saturday in her bed, nursing her bruised little head, made leprechaun traps with Sam.  Jessie had had no use for Sam for years now, he’s been banned from ever going into her bedroom, and at best, she’s apathetic towards him.  At worst, she’s openly derisive and hostile.  But yesterday – she was so sweet and angelic towards him.  She taught him how to build the traps (which she had to have seen on television somewhere, I’ve never built them) by propping up a bowl and baiting them with something shiny.

Then she came out, instructed Marc on going in after everyone was asleep and leaving some coins on the floor for them.  He promptly forgot about it.  This morning, she woke her little injured self up, and came out to reprimand her father for forgetting.  Then got some coins and reeses peanut butter cups (the little ones that looked like pots of gold) and put them under the kids’ pillows for them to see when they first woke up.

First – how awesome is my ten year old for thinking of all of that and executing it?  And second – is it possible that the bonk on the head really did change her personality?  She hasn’t been that nice to her brother in a long time, he was so happy when I put him to bed last night.  It was delightful.

 

 

Head Injury

Poor Jessie bumped her little head today.  It’s not too bad, I guess, but I’m hauling her into the doctor’s anyway, just because it’s my Jessie and it’s her little head and I’m worried.  It’s a big black and blue, with a little bloody spots popping up just above the bruise.  She was running and slid, slamming her head into a whiteboard at school.  Oddly enough, she was running to get a pen so that her friends could sign her “cast” that we had put on her thumb.  Somehow she managed to get not one, not two, but FOUR paper cuts on her thumb on Wednesday, and by last night, they weren’t healing and hurt.  So we put a little bacitracin on it, and then a bunch of band aids, and then taped the whole mess up with medical tape so it would heal.

On the upside, the bump did make her forget entirely about her thumb injury.

I feel like Jessie is more prone to injury than the other kids.  Out of the three, she’s the only one that’s broken a bone (her wrist) or gotten stitches (twice, both times on her beautiful little face).  I think it’s because Sam is just more physically adventurous, and thus, more confident.  He’s got a better sense of his body and rarely actually gets hurt.  Julie is the same way – mainly because she’s spent most of the past two years chasing after him.  She’s tougher than Jessie is, tougher than Sam was at that age, I think.   Poor Jessie has to pay the price of being the oldest child of a somewhat awkward, not at all physically graceful girl who really didn’t like running around all that much.  Marc tried, but it wasn’t until Sam that he was able to get a kid who really thrived on rough and tumble play.   Jess would play fight on the bed with him, but it was nothing compared to the all out brawls that Marc and Sam will have, wrestling and trying to kill each other with pillows.

Anyway – we’re off to the doctor’s in a bit, just to make sure that she’s okay.  I’m sure she is, but she’s my girl, my only Jessie, and I want to make sure she’s fine.