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Mar 13

So much snow…

Third Nor’easter in twelve days, and I’ve grown to love these mid-week snow days.  I now think it’s utterly normal to go to public school for a day or two, take a few days off, and finish up the week.  I usually try to homeschool on snow days, but with Marc home today, I let it be a reading day (or an audiobook day) and chilled out with the kids all day.

It’s been a quiet day.  Jessie is suffering from a variety of maladies, including transient appendicitis, a headache, and (at times) her arms hurt, her legs hurt, and sometimes she’s just crabby.  She did walk the dog once for me, though, so she’s currently my favorite child.  Julie has been in jammies all day, and has been coloring or playing with the dog.  Sam usually walks the dog a few times for me, but with a blizzard – I just didn’t feel comfortable sending him out there.  He can’t see that well, and there was so much snow everywhere.  So it’s been me and Lizzie Beth outside.   Nobody loves snow quite as much as that dog does, and she bounces everywhere, all over the place, and comes in covered in snow and delighted with herself.

We achieved a massive and major homeschooling milestone the other day – Sam actually attended a homeschool event.  He’s bailed every time I’ve tried it, insisting that he doesn’t feel good, or needs to sleep more, or just doesn’t want to go.  But he needs homeschooling peers, and so do I.  When one of the (millions) of homeschool groups I belong to started thinking about getting a get together, perhaps a gaming get together, in the library the next town over, I signed up.  Ever hopeful, because I sign up for stuff all the time, hoping that he’ll go.  I sold it this time as a favor to me, I needed new friends, and he went along with it.  I think it was so important for him to see other homeschooling kids – I worry he might feel like he’s the only kid in the world who homeschools – because for him, he is. I know there’s a big world out there, and lots of families homeschool, but he’s not seeing that.  It was so good for him to see other kids who aren’t in school during the day.  Hoping that this will continue, and possibly I can get him involved with other activities as well.

There’s so much snow outside, I can’t see out the window.   It’s been blowing all day, and the screen is totally snowed over.

Mar 03

Bar Mitzvah

There are internal clocks that go off for me, when I find myself in a certain emotional place for no specific reason, until I look at a calendar and realize what’s happening.  For example, every February, April and July, I usually find myself going thru a week or two of massive baby-fever, where I really do regret not having more kids.  And it always takes me by surprise, because I never connect it to the kids’ birthdays until a week or two after the fact.  And as it turns out – I also apparently feel the need to start questioning everything spiritually around the time when my kids are 11-13.

We know we aren’t going to have a traditional bar mitzvah for Sam.  Even before the vision issues, even without the anxiety that would make a performance like Jessie’s incredibly challenging – this kid has some serious and significant issues with organized religion, with belief in God in general, and participation within in a religious community in specific.

But he’s still going to 13 before too long, and I find myself very aware of that.  Very aware that he’s going to responsible for himself, in an official sort of way, and that I need to prepare for that.  Even if I’m not following the same path I did with Jessie, with the meetings with the cantor and the reminding her to practice, and throwing myself into more involvement in the synagogue so that I’d set a good example for her – it’s still part of the process, of having an 11 year old son, of getting ready for him to be a man.

There’s something I cherish about the bat/bar mitzvah process, the idea that we take these kids, at the cusp of their adult life, and have this formal process of welcoming them to the club.  Of saying “you have a voice, and we’re going to listen to it.  You are a welcome part of this community, and a responsibility to stand up and be a part of it.”  Even though he’s not a particularly active member of the Jewish community, he is a part of MY community and he’s going to be adult.  I’m feeling this sense of urgency, like I need to hurry up and prepare him for… what?  Being fourteen?

Because the reality is, with Sam, he already has a voice.  I have changed the way I parent him, the way he relates with the world because he’s already been thru hell.  We listen to his voice.  I don’t force him to do anything – because I’ve already had to force him to do incredibly painful and scary things, and I’ll only do that now when it’s a life or death matter.  And I’ve learned that Sam, fundamentally, is able to do the hard things, and make the hard choices, when I step back and give him space to do so.

On a lot of levels, I already had to face everything about having him grow up because he’s matured in ways that the average 11 year old hasn’t.  He’s faced incredible pain, and the loss of everything he loved, and come thru the other side.

With Jessie, her bat mitzvah was this huge public thing.  We had hundreds of people at the service that day, and it was overwhelming for everyone.  It was a very public and emotional day.  She was beautiful and eloquent and amazing.  And everyone could see that.  People I didn’t even know were there, and they celebrated right along with us.

With Sam, I don’t know that we’ll do much of anything at the synagogue.  We might, but it might be a Thursday  morning, with just us.  His won’t be public and he won’t be eloquent.  I’ll be lucky if he’s standing up at the bima with us.  But it’s that same feeling of…. overwhelming love and pride and wistfulness, wishing I could get the time back, wishing that it would slow down.  Being so grateful for this child, in this place, at this time.

There’s something magical about this time in a parent’s life, when your child is not a child anymore.

Feb 26

Worst February Vacation Ever

We spent all week sick.  Poor Julianna started running a fever and kept it up all the way thru until Friday.  Just in time for me to come down with the same cold.  We did nothing, went nowhere, had no fun adventures, Jessie and Sam watched WAY too much netflix, we slept too much and had nothing fun at all ever.

But onward and upward… so the girls went back to school today.  Sam went back to homeschooling. It occurs to me that we are more than halfway thru this school year at this point, and I’m thinking a lot about what the future holds for all three of them.

With Jessie, her education plan is set.  We’ve got no plans on changing schools, and the main focus over the next year and a half will be on scholarships for college.  She’s got big dreams, and all of them involve a LOT of education, and that’s going to involve a ton of money.  She’s planning out what AP classes she wants to take next year, thinking about extra curricular activities and I feel like, with Jessie, at least, we’re in good shape.  Physically, we’re dealing with the Osgood Schlatter condition, and the sleep problems.  Oh, the sleep problems.  My girl doesn’t sleep well anymore.  She wakes up all the time, and has trouble falling back asleep.  We’ve tried melatonin, and a prescription from the doctor, but it hasn’t really helped.

For Sam – there are still a lot of questions.  Not in terms of his education, exactly.  He’s thriving in homeschooling, we’re moving quickly thru Level Five of Build Your Library, almost done with the elementary portion of Life of Fred, and while there are still areas where he needs to improve (specifically in terms of writing and reading), I’ve got ideas on how to work around them.  The obvious challenge for Sam is the vision aspect – while he’s literate and CAN read, it’s hard for him to see the letters, which makes it harder for him to be able to sound out the word, so he guesses based on length and starting and ending letter.  We’ve got an appointment with his pediatrician tomorrow for his yearly physical,and I’m hoping to get some answers about finding him the support he needs, in terms of Orientation and Mobility training, and if I can get it outside of the school system.  I’m also concerned about the amount of sleep that kid needs, he sleeps more than the other two girls.

With Julianna – in many ways, she’s thriving.  She loves school, mostly, and is doing really well when she’s there.  Elementary school is easier for her than it was for the older two.  She’s got the academic ease that Jessie had, combined with the social ease that Sam had.  She’s definitely got a tinge of the anxiety that plagued both of them, but it’s not as hard core.  I still feel really conflicted about Flagg Street, and nowhere near as certain as I’d like to be about what to do with her going forward.  She’s doing well, academically and socially, there, and I think she’s on the same path that Jessie was on.  And if I can get her into GSA, I know she’d thrive there.  But do I want to keep her at Flagg Street on the chance that she’ll be able to go to GSA in 6th grade?  Or should I think about private school – there’s a private Jewish school in Framingham that looks amazing.  Of course, it’s in Framingham, which means she’d be out of the house all day, every day, from probably 7-4.  I struggle with 8:30-2:30.  Homeschooling is always an option – but she’s got so many friends at school, and she loves that aspect.  Homeschooling Sam is going to make homeschooling a lot less social – he fights it so much.  Although I might have an easier time getting him to doing social things if I had Julie as well.  ARGGGG!  I don’t know.  Seriously – I don’t know what the right decision is.

So there are still questions and nothing is settled.  But Marc is doing great at his job, and loves it.  He’s happy and busy and I miss him terribly, but he’s really a perfect fit for this position.  I love not working – and being able to settle in and focus on the kids and what they need.  Lizzie Beth is still a holy terror, but she’s housebroken, and still eating everything in sight.  She’s barking and jumping and running all over the place, but so full of love and sweetness.

I don’t take any of this for granted – and there’s a part of me that still waiting for the other shoe to drop.  But the reality is that we’ve come a long way since the accident, and it’s possible that there is no other shoe. I’m probably still going to watch for it, though, just in case.

Feb 05

To Jessica Mary – Fifteen Years

Fifteen years ago, I was hugely pregnant.  Pretty sure that I was going to be pregnant forever.  I had already started my maternity leave, because we had scheduled a c-section a week ago, only to realize that Jessie had flipped when I went in for the last check up.  So I was home, feeling like it would never end.  And that was okay with me, because I loved being pregnant.

I felt like she was safe and mine and wasn’t ready to share her with the rest of the world.  I feel that way now too sometimes.

She’s going to be fifteen on Wednesday, and I need to get ready.

I’m no more ready to share her with the rest of the world than I was fifteen years ago.  But in the same way that labor happened regardless of how I felt about it – she’s going to be a sophomore, then a junior and then a senior and then she’ll be… out in the world.

Mothering Jessie has always felt completely natural.  I wanted to be a mother, so badly – and from the first moment I saw her, it was like something that had been missing my entire life clicked into place.  But it’s with Jessie that I constantly feel inexperienced, and like I’m playing catch up.  I no sooner adjust to having an infant and then she’s a baby.  I blink, and she’s a toddler, and then dancing off to preschool.  I can’t quite keep up with her, because it was yesterday that I was somehow the mother of a middle schooler, and suddenly we’re debating which AP class she should take and what scholarships she should apply for, and how far away can she go without me losing my mind?  (That last one is a consideration that I keep to myself – but breathe a sigh of relief when she tells me that she wants to stay within New England.)

At fifteen, Jessie is taller than I am, and so beautiful.  She’s brilliant and sarcastic and literally one of the funniest people I’ve ever known.  She’s still as emotional and intense as she’s ever been, only now she’s got a little maturity to add to it.  A little self-control, a little bit of restraint.  She still hates to fit in too much, hates to do anything on committee, and group projects make her crazy.  Her little sister is the bane of her existence, and I’m not entirely sure she’ll ever forgive Marc and I for making her share a bedroom with her.

I love this kid so much, her craziness, her kindness, her empathy and impatience and drive and humor.  Fifteen years ago, when I first saw her, I knew who she was and I knew who I was now.   And as much as I want to keep her all to myself for the next fifteen years, I know that I can’t.   There’s going to be so much changing soon, too soon.  She’ll get her license, and then her first job, and then college and an apartment, and if I spend too much time thinking about it – I’ll just end up in tears.  Because I’m no more ready now than I was fifteen years ago.

Jan 30

I don’t even care

The dog is crunching up a piece of plastic in the living room, my feet are icy cold because the one pair of socks I can find is in the bathroom, where Julie has ensconced herself and will remain for the next half hour.  Jessie stopped sleeping thru the night six weeks ago, and is miserable and incoherent, and I ran out of cream one cup into the day.

It’s snowing.

This is not a day I’ll look back on wistfully.

I do try and be present and mindful.  Aware of the blessings and joys of raising these three kids, married to this man.  But on days like today, when the dog has decimated two plastic spoons, and thrown up in the living room…I actually prefer to pretend I’m elsewhere.




Jan 24

Happy 44th

First a quick shout out to Julianna, who has a delightful habit of remembering my age, and reminding me thoughtfully at random times.  Because honestly, I’d probably forget.  I’m somewhere in my mid-forties.

Actually, I’m exactly in my mid-forties.

I find myself looking back over the past year, and thinking that it’s still so impacted by the accident.  The ramifications last so long with an event like that.  It’s been two years this March, and that seems odd to me.  It still feels so recent.

I’ve changed since the accident.  I parent very differently now.  I’m hyper-responsive to Sam’s moods, especially when we’re out in public.  Even though he’s doing so much better, even though he doesn’t actually need to have me being right there, as the scaffolding for him.  It’s still second nature to me.  Monitoring the mood between all three of them, is Jessie being snarky?  Can I let that go, or is it going to spiral into Sam getting upset, which is going to morph into impacting Julianna.  Is Julie getting upset about some unseen conflict, and will she burst into tears at the slightest provocation, which will in turn impact Sam in a way that he won’t be able to handle?

I’m writing this post after going out to dinner with all three of them, at a crowded new restaurant with a ton of people, spending the two hours praying that it all held together and nobody fell apart.

Nobody did.  Well, Julie did a little, but it was minor and not really unprovoked.

At 44, this is still very much my world.   Especially now, when I’m home full time and my world revolves around getting the girls up and dressed and packed and to school, and then homeschooling Sam, and then launching into the pick up, fed, jammied and into bed.   Ten years from now, it’ll be a very different world.  Five years from now, they’ll be 19, 16 and 12.  But for now, my job is finding the narrow path between overparenting and benign neglect.

I like where I am.  It feels right, this place, with these kids and this husband.  It feels like I’m getting to the place I dreamed of those nights in the hospital.  Where everyone is healthy, and whole, and growing up.  Where there’s no significant goal on the horizon, just more of the same.

And so I’ll greet my 44th birthday tomorrow happily, because this, right now, is exactly what I always wanted.

Jan 23

Adventures in chili and chilly

See that little play on words there?  I’m so clever..

I kept the girls home today.  It was frozen out there.  Literally, frozen.  The stairs were icy, the poor dog slid all over the walkway on the way to pee.  My car is crap in the rain, oddly enough.  Maybe there’s a cap missing or something is off somewhere along the line, because when I go thru a puddle, I lose power steering for a minute.  It’s not a long time, but when you’re hurtling along and suddenly can’t move the steering wheels for thirty seconds, it’s disconcerting.  The temp has gone up, so it’s probably not frozen, but it’s still pouring and pouring out there.  There was a two hour delay, and even after two hours, it was still icy and scary out there, so they really only missed a few hours.

We made chili on Sunday.  And by we, I mean me, because Marc was at the gym.  It was good, really good, but the beans never softened.  Which, to be honest, did detract from the overall experience, but I thought I’d try it again today.  On Sunday, I boiled the beans for two minutes, and then let them sit for an hour or two, maybe.  One.  It was woefully inadequate.  Last night, we soaked the beans overnight, for a good twelve or fifteen hours, but they were still hard this morning.  So I’m boiling them again, and hoping that if I now let them sit for a few more hours, maybe they’ll soften?  Maybe?

(edited to add) They did not soften.  So I boiled them again.  Then I added some baking soda, as the google gods assured me that it help.  But I didn’t read it right, and instead of adding a quarter teaspoon, I dumped in a heaping teaspoon.  Then I felt bad, and dumped the beans into a strainer, rinsed them, and then put them back on to boil, this time with the appropriate amount of baking soda.  Finally, the beans softened.

I added them to the meat/onion/garlic/diced tomato mix, and then thought to myself – tomato paste.  That’s what this needs.

It did not.  Then I had a really bright red, overly tomato-ed chili.  I tried sugar to cut the acid, which worked… to make it super bland.  Then I tried to eat it with white rice, because I love jasmine rice.  I threw a little cheese on there, and then I tried BBQ sauce.

I’m officially giving up on chili.




Jan 14

So much vacation….

I could get used to this.

We had a snow day before Christmas vacation, we were off for a week, went back on Tuesday, took Thursday and Friday off for a snow day, and now we’ve got another three day weekend.

The only hitch is that I’m totally out of practice at sticking to a routine now.  Its all very laid back and relaxed.  Sam sleeps until noon, Julie’s up until 9:30 or 10:00, Jessie’s losing hours watching netflix.

I know I’ve been slacking on the blog lately.  Part of it is that the kids are getting older, and there’s a sense that I want to respect their privacy (and yes, I know that I was still writing a lot when Jessie was Julie’s age, and that means that I’m missing out on those really cute Julie stories…. the guilt is constant).

But that’s where we are.  Jessie is fourteen, and she’ll be fifteen in a few weeks.  I’m just going to leave that there, because FIFTEEN is ridiculous.  Fifteen.  It was YESTERDAY that she was so tiny, and I only felt real when I was holding her.

Sam is 11.  And that’s equally insane.

But the biggest one, for me, right now, is that my baby is almost eight.  I feel like I missed her childhood.  I know I didn’t.  I know I probably paid more attention to her babyhood/toddlerhood/early childhood than the other kids, simply because she was the last one.   But it FEELS like it all went by so quickly.  I was looking at pictures earlier, and there’s a shot from Jessie’s bat mitzvah and I was holding Julianna.  That was two years ago, and I can’t remember the last time I was able to haul her up on my hip and wander around.   I mean, I did. Of course, I did.  I remember thinking that I did it way too much with her, more than with the other kids, because she was the baby.  There wasn’t a baby coming up afterwards to push her out of my arms, so I held her constantly.  She didn’t reliably walk until she was easily 17 or 18 months.  Not because she couldn’t, but because I held her all the time.

I wish I had done it more.

They’re all so big now.  And I love that, I do.  I love that Jessie is so funny, and I love the way Sam’s mind works.  I love watching Julie fall in love with everything, how everything is new and adventurous and fun for her, and she’s so brave and bold.   But I miss my babies.  I miss Jessie laying her her little head on my shoulder and falling asleep, and Sammy toddling around after me, holding my book so I’d sit and nurse and snuggle while I read.  I miss baby Julie, who fell asleep every night snuggled up in my arms, and started every morning by crawling into my lap.

Misty and vaguely hormonal tonight… and it’s past nine.  I really should get that poor kid into bed.

Jan 01

Memories from Christmas Break 2017

- Christmas morning, we all sat on the couch and watched the Christmas specials we hadn’t had time to see during December.  We got a big flat screen television for Hanukkah and Sam could actually sit in the living room and clearly see the screen.  It was my favorite part of the day.

– We spent Christmas Eve at my mother’s house, and did Chinese food Christmas Eve (like the good Jews that we are).  Then had Joy and Sara and their families here for Christmas Day – and it was perfect.

– Picking up Glennys and bringing her down for the week was such a great idea.  I love these six kids – my five, plus Glennys.  And given that it’s our first year with Lilli off to college, it answered the question that’s been nagging me for a while… somethings never change.  Even when they all grow up, they’ll still come together on Christmas vacation, and it’ll feel just like it did ten years ago.

– The two three day weekends, with Christmas and New Years both falling on a Monday, made for a lot of quiet relaxing time for Marc.  I really love having him home.

– My dog is slightly crazy.  She is.  I mean, I adore her, but she’s mostly nuts.  She is, however, amenable to suggestion, and when I attach her leash to my wrist, and consistently repeat the phrase “calm, calm,”  she actually is.

– If you love dogs, you will adore mine.  If, however, you dislike dogs, mine is kind of your worst nightmare.  She’s like a dog times a thousand.

– My girls might end up killing each other by adulthood.  I don’t think they will, but they might.  Sam won’t kill either of them or be killed, but only because that lucky bastard has his own room.

– I don’t want to send them back to school tomorrow.  I know Jessie wants to, and she loves school, and she’s open about not wanting to homeschool, but Julie… I think I could talk her into homeschooling with very little effort.  I’m just not 100% convinced it’s best for her.  With Sam – he really hated all the things about school.  He liked his friends, but that was it.  The competition, the repetition, the lining up and the structure – he was miserable, and it was never a good fit.  Homeschooling is perfect for him.  Even without the injury and the vision loss, this would still be the right fit for him.  With Julie… I’m not convinced it’s the right move for her.  But I am going to miss them tomorrow.  Not the unending fighting, but the fact of the girls bopping around the house – I will miss that.

Dec 26

Christmas 2017

I made it.  It was my second one, post accident, and my second one after declaring that I would not fight with anyone about putting up the tree.  Happy to say that I managed, a few reposts of articles notwithstanding.  But I kept repeating that I wouldn’t argue with anyone – you do you, I’ll do me, and really, the reality is that I’ve been doing this for almost sixteen years, and my kids self-identify as Jews who celebrate Christmas, and I’m okay with that.

Most of the season was taken up in winding down at Literacy Volunteers, and dealing with Jessie’s sickness.  She’s been diagnosed with Osgood Schlatter disease, or as Julie calls it – the ocean water disease.  Basically, it means her knees hurt, nearly all the time, and always when she’s doing any sort of physical activity.  She’s also been fighting off a virus that’s taking FOREVER to go away.   She’s exhausted and grumpy and in pain, and it’s hard to watch.  Hard for her to be going thru this, and hard for everyone around her, because Jessie’s not a girl to suffer silently.

Julie is still doing great in school.  But… I don’t like it.  I just don’t like it that much.  Now that I’m homeschooling Sam, I look at education differently.  Is she being challenged, is she learning enough, could she do more?  She’s doing so well socially, and after Jessie, that’s wonderful to see.  Jessie really struggled in elementary school, so I’m extra grateful for Julie’s adaptability.  But we’re wondering about the Jewish day school in Framingham, and will be checking that out next month.  Not sure if we can even consider it, financially, but it’s worth checking out to see what kind of aid is available.

She wants to sign up for basketball.  Actually, she wanted to sign up for dance class, but the class she should be in conflicts with religious school, so… basketball it is.  I want her more active, and I think she’ll be good at it.

Sam’s doing well too.  He actually went to a Cohen family Hanukkah party.  Walked in, and actually talked to people.  Not a lot of people, and he was asking to go home twenty minutes after we got there – but he went and participated.  He spent most of our Hanukkah party and Christmas party in his room, but he came out for dinner.  He’s getting better.

I’m not ready for spring yet, and winter is barely started.  I’m happy here, in this place.  Marc’s job is going really well, and he’s happier than I’ve seen him in years.  I’m looking forward to settling into homeschooling in January, being able to really focus on what he’s learning and how to he’s learning and putting more time and energy into it.

There was a place in my life, before the accident, when things seemed so… peaceful.  Like there were little dramas that came up, but they were minor.  The kids were all healthy, Marc and I were healthy and happy.  It was… lovely.  I was so happy when the kids were little.  Busy and harried and broke most of the time, but everything was so… easy.  Then January of 2015 hit, and my whole world was thrown up and shaken around and it took literally years to get back to this place.  Where the dramas are small, and the kids are whole and healthy – and we’re just living our lives.  I didn’t take it for granted before, but now… I’m that much more aware and grateful for this time and space.  Where the kids are growing and thriving and Marc’s well and happy and I’m fulfilled and focused.

I’m ready for 2018.


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