I like politics.  I don’t closely align myself with any particular party, having migrated from a die hard Democrat in my teens and twenties into a much more thoughtful Independent voter in my thirties.  But regardless of how I vote, I have always, always loved voting. I registered to vote on my eighteenth birthday and haven’t missed an election yet.  Well, except for that one time when the kids were really sick and it was snowing.  But mostly – I vote.  I pay attention, I figure out my responses to ballot questions ahead of time, and one of my favorite things about Marc is that he’s the only person with whom I can honestly debate and discuss politics.  He’s flat out brilliant and I love bouncing ideas and thoughts around with him.  I tend to avoid a lot of political debate, mainly because it’s so easy to get mad when you run into opposing thoughts and opinions.  I avoid conflict, mostly, but with Marc – we can (and do) talk for hours about government philosophy.

My kids are thoughtful and intelligent (although I don’t know many moms who would claim that their kids are careless idiots) and like to follow elections along with us.  It may be that I used political talk shows to help put them to sleep as toddlers, or just that they’re used to hearing Marc and I debate and discuss different candidates.  But they both have strong opinions.  In the past, Jessie voted mainly for the “girls.”  She was a huge Hillary fan, and also strongly supported Sarah Palin.  In 2008, she was five.  Voting for the girls, any girls, made sense to her.  She hasn’t made up her mind yet on this years election.  I think that’s progress, at least she’s giving Scott Brown a chance, despite his double X chromosome.  And Sam’s opinion is that there is far too much change in the world.  He’s perfectly happy with whoever the incumbent happens to be, and has declared his steadfast support for Barack Obama, with the follow up that he’d then like Joe Biden to take over.

My grandfather was an enthusiastic voter as well, and always encouraged me to pay attention and get involved.  But one thing he wasn’t great at (the only thing – because otherwise he was absolutely wonderful), was explaining both sides of the issues.  Because that’s a tough thing to learn – that no one side has a monopoly on the truth, and that when you blindly follow along with one political party without really thinking about the issues and where you stand, it’s just as bad as not getting involved at all.  So I try to answer their questions fairly, explaining both sides and then explaining where I stand on it.

It’s similar to my feelings on religion.  I have a knee jerk tendency to want to not influence them too much, to let them make up their own minds, but have an equally strong desire to let them know why I feel the way I do, and to give them a strong moral foundation that they can use to make their own decision.  Marc and I both try to balance those desires, to give them the information, let them know why we think the way we do, but also that it’s their obligation to decide these issues for themselves when they’re old enough.  So in the same way that we teach them about the tenants of Judaism, not just because we’re Jewish, but also because with a strong foundation, there’s no telling how far they’ll go.  We teach them about paying attention to the government, having educated opinions and being able to back up those opinions with facts.  We’ve had long, honest discussions about taxes and health care and abortion rights.  Age appropriate, obviously, but I think kids understand a lot more than we give them credit for, and the more enthusiastic I can get them about being involved and excited voters, the better.  We make a big production out of voting each time, waiting until we can all go together, and then going out for a special treat afterwards.  Because it is a reason to celebrate – being able to have a voice in our government is a responsibility and an honor, and one I hope my kids never take for granted.

Marc and I took the three kids to Holden Days yesterday. Marc was actually there to help out at his business association booth, and I was wandering around with all three kids. It was a mob scene, with thousands of people and tons of noise and chaos. I don’t really like events like this – for example, I’ve only ever been to the Big E once, and swore never to go back. It’s just not my thing, I get a little panicky in big crowds, and I’m always afraid of losing one of the kids. But yesterday was lovely. Julianna sat happily in her stroller (the steady supply of lollipops from all of the booths certainly helped) and Jessie and Sam were happy to bop around with me, checking out different booths and collecting frisbees (why do so many places give away frisbees?).

It made me think that I was really content with my three kids. I’m never certain if we’re done having children, and while it’s not an immediate decision we have to make, it’s one that’s always in the back of my mind. But yesterday, there was this odd sense that maybe this was perfect. Maybe three kids is exactly what I want. I didn’t feel overwhelmed or stressed out. It felt… right. Like it was enough, and one more might be too much. 

I thought about it off and on during the day. After Holden Days, we stopped at my sister’s house for my niece’s birthday party. There were a bunch of kids, ranging in age from toddler to teenager, and my three kids immediately found friends and spent the afternoon playing. It was… easy. Julie is reaching the point where she’s a little more independent, and Jessie is reaching the point where she’s not just independent, she’s actually a huge help. Without being asked, she fed Julie lunch. Not intentionally, but she got her food and sat down and Julie sat down next to her and helped herself to her sister’s hot dog. I was getting Sam lunch and realized that I didn’t need to get Julie anything because Jessie had happily handed over her plate and got herself another one. After nine years of constantly having a either a baby or toddler to care for, I found myself actually able to kind of chill out and relax. 

I’ve found that raising children doesn’t get EASIER, exactly. In fact, I personally find infancy and toddlerhood to be the easiest stages to handle, as they get older, the challenges get more complicated and the solutions less easy to see. But there is something to be said for reaching the point where you don’t have to carry a diaper bag anymore. For sleeping through the night, and not having to include naptime into your daily schedule. I’m not out of that stage yet, but I’m within sight of it, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Part of me is looking forward to it, absolutely, but can I say for sure that I’m ready to never go back to that? 

How do people know when they’re done having children? I’ve never known. I’ve asked other moms who are convinced they’re done, and they always say they just knew. Absolutely. One was great, or two was perfect. But I’ve already had more kids than most of my friends, and I’m not positive. I think maybe we’re done. Probably. Right now, three seems like it’s perfect, especially when I add in two stepdaughters. But it’s hard to close the door completely on doing it all over again. If I had stopped at one, I would have never have known the incredibly beauty of having a son. If I had stopped at two, I would have missed out on all the joy and awe that goes along with Julianna. Each child has added such depth and meaning to my life, to their siblings’ lives. It’s hard to say we’re done. But I think we might be. Maybe.

“… the time when the things you thought you knew about the spiritual life turn out not to suffice for the life you are actually living.”
     – Lauren F Winner Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis

I like to read.  All kinds of things, from fiction (Nora Roberts, Elizabeth Berg, Maeve Binchy, Anne Rivers Siddens), to mystery (JD Robb, Robert B. Parker), to science fiction (Sharon Shinn – I flat out adore everything she’s ever written).  I also love any kind of history book, books on religion, cooking, parenting… you name it, I’ve probably at least skimmed a book about it.  Thanks the beauty of the Worcester Public Library, I can go once or twice a week and take home whatever little books strike my fancy.  This week, among others, I picked up a book on religion.  The title intrigued me – mid-faith.  That’s an interesting time, because it’s not the beginning – where you’re learning, and it’s not the end, when you’re accepting.  It’s the middle.  It’s when you’re living the faith.  The belief system.

I think religion isn’t so much about rules that you follow and deities that you worship.  Not for me, anyway.  Religion is a community, and place to raise your children.  It’s about a foundation from which your children can grow.  It’s not an exaggeration that I only became interested in organized religion after my children were born.  Spirituality?  That interested me.  I LOVED it.

I’ve always been spiritually inclined.  I enjoy theological discussions, I like reading about religion and spirituality, and for a very long time, I was happily pagan.  I had my tarot cards, I had my crystals and my broomsticks.  I loved every little bit that I discovered about that spiritual path.  I believed in white lights, that you get back what you put out, and that the first rule was to harm none.  I believed that everything happened for a reason, that you didn’t get challenges in your life you couldn’t handle, and that if you held something true in your heart and in your mind, it would be true in your life as well.

And that worked for me for a long time.  I felt… cherished.  I felt a part of the universe on a level that other people didn’t seem to feel.  I felt… connected, for lack of a better term.  I had a relatively easy life.  There were circumstances of my life that weren’t ideal, of course.  But overall, I was pretty damn lucky.   I was healthy, my mother loved me, I had wonderful friends, a roof over my head and a job I loved.

But then I met a guy, the guy, and got pregnant.  I wasn’t planning on a pregnancy, in fact, I’ve never been as shocked as I was when I did the math and figured out that I was late.  And from the beginning – oh my God, I loved that baby.  I felt like if the baby managed to be conceived on such an odd set of circumstances, it literally happened the one time we didn’t use protection, it was meant to be.  I felt this bond that was unlike anything I’d ever experienced.  This was MY baby, the baby that chose me and fought to be conceived.  And when I started miscarrying, I didn’t have any place to turn.  I didn’t have a spiritual place where what was happening could be explained.  When the doctor explained that it was twins, and that I had lost one, I grasped at that.  This baby, the one I still had, this one I could keep.  Maybe I needed to lose one to keep the other.  I did everything right – I held it true in my heart, true in my head.  I surrounded it with light and love.  And I miscarried that baby a week later.

That was the time when the things I thought I knew about the spiritual life turned out not to suffice for the life I was actually living.  Is it any wonder I turned to Judaism?  I wonder sometimes if it was Judaism or just Marc that I turned to – because for a very long time afterwards, Marc was the only person that made any sense to me.  Only with him did I feel safe, only with him did I feel like there was the possibility that I might heal.  His faith isn’t that strong, in the end.  He’s more culturally Jewish, he’s not certain of anything spiritually and is okay with that.  Spiritually, I think I’ve got a stronger sense of something being out there.  But his religion gave him strength.  His religion gave him rules and guidelines and a path to follow.  A way of being – and that was incredibly appealing to me.

So I’m Jewish today, and as it turns out, I’m kind of a Republican as well.  Or a Libertarian, I guess.  But either way, I’ve traveled far from my original path as a liberal, pro-choice, anti anything that sounded at all conservative, pagan Witch.   And I feel connected.  I feel cherished by a universe that loves me.  I don’t claim to understand it anymore.  I don’t claim to be able to control parts of it.  But I’m at peace with it, and I’m content with my spirituality.

I’ve posted before on my conversion to Judaism, and I’m not going to rehash it all again.   I know it was the right choice, for a whole bunch of reasons, but I also know that my spirituality is constantly growing and changing.  My political identity is the same.  I’m not having a mid-faith crisis – but there was a time in my life when the things I thought I knew about the spiritual life turned out not to suffice for the life I am actually living.

And even now, when things are hard – there are some things I know to be true.  I know that sometimes crappy, crappy things happen and it’s not because of anything you did on a spiritual plane to ask for it.  I know that wishing reality was different doesn’t really do anything other than make the reality harder to deal with.  I know that this life may not be all that we have, but it’s all we have now, and that perception counts.  That we can’t change the reality, but we can change the way we view it, and sometimes, changing your view is enough to make it easier to handle.  I know that Judaism gives me ways to feel grateful for all that I have, and a way to handle it when I don’t feel grateful.  It gives me a roadmap for handling the hard things, and I like that.  I need that.

In the end, or in the middle, because that’s where I am, what it comes down to is not that I’m having a mid-faith crisis.  But rather, I’m acknowledging the ways in which I’ve grown, the lessons I’ve learned and the spirituality I’ve discovered.  I don’t have all the answers yet, I don’t think anyone does, but I do think I’m making progress on figuring them out as I go.

This really has been the best summer.  I think because Julianna is bigger and more verbal, it was the first one where I really had three fully participating, engaged kids.  We didn’t DO much.  My van is not happy, it’s still running but not fabulously, and we were really on a tight budget, and Marc is working a zillion hours a week with no time off.  But despite that, it was lovely.  And here are the reasons why –

Jessica Mary – at nine years old, she’s as fascinating to me as she was at nine days old.  She’s old enough now to have more control over her emotions, more control over the drama.  She still throws down with her brother, but more and more, I’m seeing a genuine appreciation of him.  She’s so mature with her little sister as well, and has stepped up into this delightful big sister role that I’m so grateful about.  She still curls up with a baby doll, but has Rolling Stone posters on her wall.  She’s into lip gloss and nail polish – but still heads straight to my lap every morning.  This may be my favorite age so far of hers, because she’s this beautiful combination of grown up and little girl.   Having her home this summer has been an absolute gift, and I’m going to miss her more than I can express.

Samuel Earl – at six years old, he’s so grown up that it takes my breath away.  He’s READING.   Really, honest to goodness reading.  And the tears are welling up in my eyes because I’m unspeakably proud of him.  He’s sleeping on the top bunk, picking out his clothes and getting himself dressed every morning.   He’s matured so much in the past three months.  He still snuggles with me to sleep at night, and makes a beeline for my lap every morning, but sleeps alone in his bed every night now.  He’s still shy at times, and while swimming lessons and soccer camp were a bust, this summer, I know that he’ll be able to handle kindgarten a lot better this year.  He had his birthday party the other day, with six little boys over here, and he was so HAPPY.  I’ve never seen him have that much fun in a party setting – but he’s grown up so much.  He’s not afraid of people and chaos anymore.  Having him home this summer has been just fun – he’s a fun kid to have around.  He worships Jessie, and now that she’s relaxing a little bit around him, he’s just lighting up with her.  The two of them will play for hours with blocks and barbies and army guys.  And Julianna – she flat out adores her “Boy.”  I loved having him home with me all summer long, and have to hide how much I’ll miss him during the days once he’s back in school.

And my Julianna Ruth – she’s just freaking awesome.  She’s two and a half, almost, and such a huge part of the family, I can’t imagine how we managed so long without her.  She’s always happy, never cries and even if she does, she’s instantly consoled by picking her up.  She’s pouty and dramatic, and SMART.  I’m maybe going overboard with academic prep with her, but she’s counting up to 12, knows all her colors and shapes, and has a vocabulary that’s outstanding.  She’s still nursing, but less and less, and will move into a big girl bed later on this month.  She’s had the best summer, I think, because she’s had all the attention from her two older siblings, and her heart is going to break when they go back to school without her.  But she’ll get all that lovely one on one time, and as much as I’m going to miss my older two during the day, I’m really looking forward to this time with her.  I had both Jessie and Sam alone when they were this age (because Jess was in school by the time Sam was two).  Some of my favorite memories are of my two year old kids.

I’m not ever going to have a summer with a nine year old, six year old, and two year old again.  And I can’t imagine how this summer could have been any better.

I had an utterly lovely weekend.  It wasn’t all hearts and flowers, but mostly, the weekend was fabulous and I’m feeling very grateful and content this morning.  Saturday morning, we got up bright and early and ran errands with all three kids all day long.  We hit the dry cleaners (getting lollipops for the kids, hope they’re always that easy to please), dropped off four big bags of clothes at Savers, went to the library (because as Jessie said “Mommy needs to load up on books.”  To which I responded “Hey, some mommies drink” – there are worse habits to have than needing a steady supply of fresh reading material).  Then we hit Walmart, and lost literally hours there.  Part of it was that poor Sammy lost his little mind, and had to be carried kicking and screaming out of the store for a time out because we refused to pony up the $50 for a new Batman castle and then we couldn’t find each other afterwards.  But we bought all kinds of party supplies and shopped for rest of the week.

After we got home, I put Jules down for a nap, and the kids puttered about.  Marc’s parents came over for dinner, and Julie has recently fallen in love with her “Wafta.”  The kids call his parents Papa and Safta (Hebrew for Grandmother).  So that was lovely to see – Julie was so excited she was coming over and stacked up books for her to read.  Wouldn’t eat dinner until she arrived, and stayed right by her side until she left.  I let the kids stay up ridiculously late Saturday night, because they were playing SO well together.  When they like each other, I’m reluctant to stop them.  So they were overtired a little to start…

But Sunday dawned bright and sunshiney – and the pinata that Marc had been building diligently burst in the stove (where we had put it to bake).  So off to Walmart again to get a store bought one.  We had water guns, water balloons and a pinata and Sam’s sixth birthday party was really really nice.  Sarah and Jessie hung out a little with the kids, but seven six year old boys and water guns spelled disaster for older sisters, and they quickly retreated to the living room and Disney movies.  Julie got to finger paint with one of the boys’ little sister.

After everyone left, Marc and I cleaned everything up, and then made homemade soft pretzels with all five kids.

I’m a stay at home mom. This is my job, in many ways. Raising these three children to adulthood. Teaching them how to live without me. In a real sense, that’s what I’m doing. Teaching them to be adults. Teaching them not only how to emotionally handle all that life will throw at them, but also the nuts and bolts of daily life. Everything from how to talk and walk, to getting yourself dressed and brushing your own teeth, to doing laundry and how to cook. 

Because I’ve got between three and four years separating my three, I’ve got one at each stage. Julianna is two and learning so much about who she is and what her thoughts and feelings are separate from me. She’s learning about emotions (really embracing the pouty face, at the moment) and about how to communicate her wants and needs to me with words. Sam is six, and still dancing along that path. Separating from me, becoming okay and secure when he’s outside of my immediate sphere of influence. Learning that he’s capable and strong – but that’s a whole different blog post :-). But my Jessica, my nine year old – she’s learning to cook.

I’ve never been a great cook. In fact, before I had kids, I was proud of my inability to actually cook anything. I’m the sort of girl who would happily eat every meal from a restaurant, and I’m not at all domestic. I dislike anything crafty, I can’t arrange flowers in a pretty sort of container (I generally dump them into a juice container because I can’t remember where I put the vases), my parties are not elegant, it’s bags of chips in plastic bowls and pots of coffee. I can’t decorate, my furniture is mismatched and it doesn’t bother me at all. But somewhere along the line, I did learn to cook and to bake. Partly because eating out every night (especially with three to five kids) is ridiculously expensive, and partly because I got tired of having Marc do all the cooking.

It started with straight up chocolate chip cookies. I’m a HUGE fan of the roll of cookie dough. But after I had Jessica, I wanted to do all those “mom” things. I picked up a bag of chocolate chips, and went down the list of ingredients, buying things I’d never had in the house before, like vanilla extract and baking soda. And we baked together. After that, I moved onto snickerdoodles (after vaguely remembering the name and googling it). I became a baker. I started making my own challah and matzoh ball soup, dragging Jessie and later on, Sam, down this domestic diva path with me. 

Last summer, I decided it was time for Jessie to learn to bake on her own. So she started small, with boxed brownie and cake recipes. She did well with that. But this year, she’s graduated to meal planning. It started because I realized that she was becoming more and more of picky eater, and theorized that if she had more control over what she was being served, she’d be more likely to eat. It worked. It was an easy step from picking out the meal to cooking it. I’ve learned that if she’s squabbling with her brother or lying on the porch moaning about how bored she is, the quickest way to make her smile is to hand her a cookbook and tell her to pick something out, and if we have the ingredients, she can cook it. 

She’s watching cooking shows and perusing cookbooks now, and last night, whipped up Alton Brown’s recipe for soft pretzels – and they were AWESOME. 

More and more, I’m seeing her grow up. And as much as it freaks me out, I know that it’s what she needs to do. She needs to know how to assemble a meal from the contents of the fridge, she needs to know how to crack an egg and why you need to proof the yeast before using it. She’s more confident, more secure and scarily enough, I can see her on her own now. The day is going to come when she moves out, when she’s on her own, and I want her to know how to do more than bubble up a bag of ramen noodles. And in the end, I’m enjoying this new found freedom from doing ALL the meal planning and cooking. Now if I could just get her as enthusiastic about loading the dishwasher… 

I know – it’s a completely mundane topic, but one that’s relevant to my life right now, and since it’s my blog – I’m just going to bitch a little about it.  (On a side note, my cousin Nicky is continuing to improve, but it’s long and slow and hard.  It’s the nature of this type of injury, the damage was so severe, it’s going to take time to heal.  But everyone seems optimistic – he’s got sensation back, and the theory is that if there’s sensation then eventually there will be motion as well).

Okay – so back to laundry.  For the longest time, laundry has been my favorite chore.  Well, that and vacuuming – because it’s so EASY to see tangible results afterwards.  A freshly vacuumed floor screams productivity in a way that doing the dishes does not.  Because I’ve always got new dishes to do.  Always.  I’m never done.  Ever.  And laundry – laundry used to be a joy.  An empty laundry basket was delightful.  I could wash/dry/fold/put away and it was done.  

But then I had Julie.  I blame her.  Not really her exactly, but I had that third kid – and now I’m never, ever, ever caught up.  Ever.  I’m not exaggerating.  I do a load (or two, or three) a day, and the folding is never ending.  Even if I do manage to get anything folded, I’m never going to actually get it put away.  And if I ever do put it away, I’ve got a load waiting to fold, one in the dryer and one in the washer waiting for me.  This week was crazy – I was stressed out, worried and BUSY, trying to keep up with any new developments with Nicky.  And I didn’t fold.  At all.  I washed clothes – and dried, and put them in the basket.  And washed them, dried them, and put that basket on top of the other one, until I had a mountain of clean clothes stacked up in the bathroom and was too afraid to start folding.  It seemed like a job that, once started, would consume me and I’d never ever stop.

So today, in a fit of inspiration, I dumped all the clothes out onto the floor, and lined four empty clothes baskets up.  One for me, one for Marc, one for the boy and one for the girls.  Marc jumped on his basket and immediately took it (understandably – he’s afraid I’d stack them all back up and call it a day).  I then systematically went thru Sam’s dresser and completely reorganized it.  We played “let’s see what still fits” and I put together two big bags of clothes to donate.  Then I emptied out his basket, with everything in the right drawer.

Tomorrow – I have to do the girls.  And I’m scared.  That’s a LOT of clothes, especially because I have to sort thru what still fits and what doesn’t.  Julie has outgrown a lot, and Jessie just needs her wardrobe weeded thru – she’s got more clothes than the rest of us combined.

It’s been a rough couple of days, but it’s almost settling into the new normal.  Every morning I wake up and immediately call around to get the latest update on how Nicky is doing.  He’s making progress, and thank God for that, but it’s slow and hard and I wish so much that I could be there at the hospital.  But I can’t.  I’ve got three kids here, sometimes more, and even when Marc gets home, the hospital is so far away.  It’s not possible.

But life is still moving along here, and we’re winding down to the end of summer and the beginning of school. Jessie is delighted about going back to school, she had such a great year last year.  I went thru her clothes yesterday, and she needs leggings and sneakers.  She’s got a lot of tops but her legs have grown so much, and even though we’ve got a lot of jeans that fit her and look great, she HATES wearing regular jeans, and won’t wear denim leggings if they’re too dark because it makes her feel “goth.”  Which amuses me, but I know her well enough to know that she’s no joke when it comes to getting dressed – I’m long past the days when I could just toss a cute outfit her way and expect her to wear it.  That actually never happened, by the time she was old enough to put on her clothes, she was old enough to stop thinking that my opinion of what was cute was in any way shape or form valid.

Sam – I don’t know what he needs, because he won’t play “let’s go to your room and try on pants” with me.  His sneaks are still good, he got them at the beginning of the summer and has been barefoot ever since.  I think he’s okay with tops, probably needs socks and I think a pair of jeans or two.  We’ll see.

We’ll need new backpacks and lunchboxes, and hopefully some new ideas for lunches as well.  Neither of my kids are great at bringing lunches.  Jessie just doesn’t eat during the day (unless I send in just junk food), and Sam refuses to take anything other than yogurt.  I really don’t like that they starve all day and then come home and start eating at three and don’t stop until they go to sleep, but that was pretty much the pattern all last year.  Whatever I packed for Jessie came home, and Sam got so upset when I tried to pack anything other than just a little carton of yogurt for his lunch (their lunch period is so quick, and he was already feeling so pressured at school that the added pressure of having a lot of food to finish made him really anxious).

Sam will be doing boy scouts on Thursdays, and Hebrew on Saturday mornings.  Jessie will have Hebrew or dance on Monday (we still haven’t decided), Hebrew on Wednesday, girl scouts every other Thursday, and Hebrew/Dance on Saturdays.

And my little Julianna and I will be alone again.  It’s been a pretty good summer.  We really didn’t do much, finances just weren’t there for elaborate vacations, and I didn’t want to drive the van too far with the problems that we were having with it.  But we spent a lot of time at the pool down the street, did a couple of day trips hither and yon, and the kids spent a lot of time just playing outside.  And inside, right now, Sam and Julie have done something in my living room that involved dragging all of their bedding in there, and I think they’re building forts to hide from the dreaded Blue Monster.  The Blue Monster being a mythical creature they made up months ago.

Julianna has a particular speech pattern where she claims ownership of everyone.  It’s “my Boy” and “my Yaya.”  And I find myself thinking in those terms, because my Nicky got hurt.  Not that he’s exclusively mine, but I find myself feeling especially possessive and protective of him now.

I’m the second oldest of a zillion grandchildren, and my aunt Cathy’s kids were some of my closest cousins.  Her oldest son, Nicky, is ten years younger than I am, and I grew up babysitting for him, his little brother Shane and his baby sister Lea.  My mother and his mother are super close, and we spend a ridiculous amount of time over at their house.  Nick was born when I was ten, and I was primed for a new baby in the family.  He was MY baby, I loved nothing more than to be put in charge of watching him, and spent hours watching him sleep, and taking him for walks around the bog and watching Winnie the Pooh videos with him.  I babysat them every weekend for years, and I still think of them as much younger than they actually are.  For example, Nic has gotten married, fought in two wars and fathered three children.  And I still refer to him in my head as Nicky as opposed to the much more manly and grown up sounding Nic.

He was playing in a pool with a bunch of family and friends Saturday night, and somehow, got really hurt.  Really, really hurt.  It’s a neck injury, and he’s still in ICU, awaiting surgery, and it’s all I can think about.  His wife, his little girls – his oldest daughter Rosie is a few weeks younger than my Samilicious, and his twins are a few years younger.

It’s just horrible and I’m so scared for him.  For his mom, his sister, his brother, his dad, his wife, and mostly, for his girls – because they love their daddy so much and I’m so afraid of what the future will be like.

I’m not a girl who requires a lot of exercise.  Not that I shouldn’t get it, because of course we all need exercise – but my mood is not dependent on it.  I can spend the entire day on the couch with a book and be perfectly content.  As a contrast, if Marc goes more than a couple of days without a really intense, punishing workout – the kind that I would personally never partake in, he gets really crabby and/or morose.   I think it’s just a physical thing, a reliance on the endorphins of exercise, you either need it or you don’t.  I need coffee, not a lot of sweating and serious muscle pain.

Sam is so much like his father on so many levels.  And one that I frequently forget is that he requires a lot more physical activity than I do.  It’s more than Jessie needs.  Jess, like me, is perfectly content to lounge around.  But I’ve noticed, especially lately, when it’s hot and sticky outside and we’ve spent most of the day inside with air conditioning, building forts, playing board games and reading – that around four thirty or five, Sam loses his little mind.  He gets wretched, bugging his sisters like you wouldn’t believe, and seemingly going out of his way to get into trouble.  After one particularly bad afternoon, resulting in a screaming temper tantrum and an endless time out (six minutes at a time, and at the end of the first two, he immediately landed himself back on the chair) – I made the connection.  This kid needs to get outside and run.

So yesterday, I packed them all up.  Popped Julianna into the carriage she rarely uses and even coaxed Jessie into coming along – and we went out.   It’s about a mile, around the block.  I live halfway up a huge hill, so our walk went down one side, and then back up the hill, down the other side, and then back up and half way down.   We chatted with neighbors, admired different houses and noticed flowers.  It was delightful.  Sam ran almost the entire way.  And we all had a much nicer night last night.  I was a hot, sweaty mess by the end of it – but it was definitely worth it.  He was so much calmer, so much more relaxed.

He’s like a big ole Labrador puppy – he needs room to run.