My Jessie – all drama and intensity, but with this utterly odd little dash of goofball mixed in.  Samilicious Boy, my angel boy cuddle bug, who’s world is complete only when he gets his chapter of Harry Potter every night, wakes up first thing in the morning for a snuggle.  And my Julie – my little Julie, curles and smiles and utter ruthlessness when she’s crossed.  I love the three of them together and each one individually.  I love the dynamic of all three, and each individual relationship – the Jessie/Julie big and little sister, how Julie looks up to her sister, and how Jessie mothers Julie.  The Sam and Jessie dynamic, when they’re mortal enemies and best friends, over and over again, constantly cycling thru, and Julianna and Sam, they’re buddies and playmates in the sweetest of ways.

I love these three kids.  I know, intellectually, that they are no more special and wonderous than any other group of three kids – but secretly, I don’t believe that for a minute.  They’re mine, and Marc’s, and combination of the three is magical in ways I could not have anticipated.  I can see my husband in Jessie’s intensity, in Sam’s sweetness and in Julie’s odd compulsion to line things up in a row.  I can see myself in the dramatic tendencies in Jessie, in Sam’s shyness and in Julie’s conviction that her way is the best and only way.

Feeling extra blessed this morning…

“A boy at school today told me that I wasn’t going to go to heaven because I don’t believe in Jesus.”  We were lying down last night, just before she drifted off to sleep, when my nine year old rolled over and told me that.  I was… stumped.   I had no idea how to respond.  I grew up Catholic, in a completely homogeneous environment.   That wasn’t a schoolyard taunt that I had ever heard before.  I didn’t have any childhood experience to look back on, any quick responses that she could fire off to respond.  So I paused, perhaps for too long, and then realized what she was saying.  I reassured her that it wasn’t true.  God doesn’t care what you believe, he cares that you are a good person.   But then I was stuck.

Because I didn’t know what to say to her.  We’re Jewish, we don’t believe that Jesus is the son of God. Should I tell her that the kid is just wrong, that nobody has a monopoly on deciding what happens after you die.  Do I tell her that he’s a jerk for saying that, when he’s just echoing what he’s being taught?  That’s a tenet of that faith, I believe.  You kind of have to believe in it in order to get to heaven.  So, in his mind, he’s not wrong, he’s perhaps legitimately concerned that my girl is doomed to never get into heaven because she’s Jewish.  How do I explain in such a way to make her understand, and not make her feel victimized and angry?  Because that was Marc’s first reaction.   His suggestion of what she could have said would not have gone over well at school, and I don’t think Jessie would actually kick the kid and swear at him, which was what he was recommending.  Sam suggested that she call him an evil, gutless rat (but I think he just liked saying “evil gutless rat”) – which had the advantage of being not being classic obscenities but still… not quite the response I was going for.

In the end, I told her that if it came up again, she could just quietly respond that he was entitled to his own religious beliefs and so was she.  And to please respect her beliefs and not say things like that to her.    I think, in some ways, she’s more prepared to handle religious differences than other kids her age, precisely because of her background.  While having a mother who didn’t grow up as Jewish may mean that I don’t call her by Yiddish endearments, don’t ever voluntarily feed her lox and cream cheese on her bagels, and stumble over the songs at the Tot Shabbat services, it also means that she has a really clear idea that different people believe different things, and that’s perfectly okay.  She knows that her Grammy and Aunties and cousins on my side are just as good, just as likely to get into heaven, as she is.  There are no bonus points for being Jewish or Christian or not belonging to any particular religion.  Simply that different people believe different things, follow different traditions, and that’s okay.  She doesn’t have to believe in Jesus, and believing in Jesus doesn’t make the little boy on the playground inherently different or better or worse than her.

I woke up this morning late.  Actually, I woke up early, but refused to get out of bed.  By the time I wandered out of my bedroom, my entire living room had been turned into a giant barbie house.  With blocks and trucks and blankets and assorted other figurines.  The entire living room.  As I glance in there, one couch has a blanket, huge stuffed cupcake pillow and a unicorn pillow pet.  The chair next to it has “big fat Dora” as she’s known around here, and the stuffed baby sister bear.  The other couch has three pillows, a blanket, and a bunch of plastic food on it.  And the tables and floor are littered with giant cardboard boxes and there are hats and figurines and baby dolls all over the floor.  The dining room is borderline better, but the dining room table was apparently being used as a bunker, because there are toy guns and swords and a plastic hatchet underneath it and on the benches.  The kitchen is clean, kind of – because I had loaded the dishwasher last night, but there are remnants from the kids getting breakfast this morning scattered all over the place.  The bedrooms are just… disasters.  Sam’s isn’t as bad (because the bunker was in the dining room) and could probably be straightened out quickly enough, but the girls room is beyond words.  In order to find clothes, Jessie still believes firmly that the best and most efficient way to do it is to take all of her clothes out of her dresser, throw them up the air, and wear whatever falls closest to her.  At least I’m assuming that’s what she does, because there’s no other logical explanation.

I keep reminding myself that it won’t always be like this.  That one day, all of the children will be grown up, and the house will be clean and pretty and lovely.  I’ll have scented candles that don’t get used for kitchen games, and pretty vases filled with little glass rocks and gorgeous flowers.  I’ll have furniture that hasn’t been peed on and spilled on and taken apart and jumped on for years.  I’ll have bookcases filled with my books, and all of my ponytail elastics won’t be in the barbie bin, as they are right now.  One day, I’ll wake up, wander out of my bedroom, pour myself some coffee and sit in my pretty living room, pick up my book that’s right where I left it the night before and think back on this.  I think I might miss it.  But not positive.  I might just be incredibly grateful that it was wonderful and great, having five healthy, gorgeous, creative children growing up in my house.  And be glad that I can walk without tripping over an army guy, or a doctor kit.  I think I’ll pour myself another cup of coffee, on that mythical day far into the future, and just smile.   Because it is great and wonderful – and it’s not going to last forever.  Someday, my house will be clean.   And I will never stop appreciating it.

I had to go to the registry today to update my voter registration and get a copy of my title for the dead van so that we can get rid of it.  Marc and I both went, as we were both on the inactive voter list.  We had to wait for over an hour, and Julianna was mostly awesome.  She ate her goldfish and sipped her water and when those activities lost their appeal, she sat on the floor and went thru my wallet.

I was sitting there, half reading my book (the new Anna Quindlin memoir) and half watching to make sure that she didn’t lose my license and other assorted cards in the wallet when it occurred to me that Marc would never have just handed over his wallet for her pleasure.  Just would not happen.  But it bothered me not at all, in fact, I was pleased that I had such a cheap, easy, accessible way to keep her occupied and quiet.

I’m not sure if it’s a difference between a mom and a dad, or a difference between men and women, or a difference between us, in specific.  I sense it’s more of a difference between he and I.  For as much as we are alike, there are major and distinct differences in us.  Somehow the differences work, mostly.  And if they don’t, the things we have in common are enough to smooth it over.   But the differences between us are huge when you think about it.

He’s much more organized and single minded than I am.  I’m more laid back about things and better at keeping vague track of a lot more information.  He never loses his keys and his peanut butter, but I know pretty much all the little details of the house and the kids’ lives.

I’m always going to give my wallet to a toddler and he’d never dream of it.   Because it’s just not that critical to me, if the price of keeping her content and happy is a confused and mixed up wallet, well, that’s not all that much of a price.  Especially given that it’s all jumbled up from the last time she did it.  It makes him nuts when his license is behind his health insurance card, or when his socks are to the left of his underwear instead of the right in his dresser.  It wouldn’t occur to me to mind.  I consider myself lucky to get socks and underwear into the dresser at all.

He’s better at stories than I am.  Every night now, he reads a chapter of Harry Potter to Sammy and tells Julie a Princess Julianna story.  Sam will reluctantly let me read to him if Marc really can’t do it, but Marc reigns supreme for Julie, in the story telling realm.   I’m better at setting limits, and at taking emotional control of a situation, assuming command of a tantrumming toddler (or rabid six year old, or dramatic nine year old).

He’s steady, emotionally, where I’m a lot more… mercurial, shall we say?  I’ve got a lot more highs and lows, Marc just exists at this steady content level.  I’m much more likely to get frustrated or impatient or irritable, or wander around singing and dancing or giggling to myself.  I’m a lot more in touch with my emotions as well – I can tell you exactly how I’m feeling.  Marc has trouble articulating it.  He can spend hours explaining in exhaustive detail about constitutional law or some abstract scientific principal that proves… something I can’t remember – but ask him to explain, in detail, his thoughts and feelings regarding an emotional issue?  He’s baffled.  It’s like asking me to know where north is – I don’t know.  I can, with a little time, orient myself eventually, but only if it’s daylight and I can remember that the sun rises in the east and then figure it out from there – but Marc knows instantly.   Exactly where he is, geographically, and where he’s going.  I spent at least 80% of my time when I’m driving at least a tiny bit lost, he’s always aware of where he is.

So why do we click as well as we do?  Part of it is the bigger issues – we’re both strongly connected to our families, we both want the family we’re building together to succeed in ways that our own might not have.  We both have a strong spiritual inclination, and tend to put emphasis on the same things.  We’re both aware that the two of us together is bigger than either of us, apart.  I just read (in the aforementioned book) that the biggest indicator of why a couple stays together is their own determination to NOT get a divorce.  I’d say that we’re the opposite, or rather it’s the combination of his absolute commitment (he’s already done one divorce and won’t do it again) and my exceptionally high standards (I see so many miserable unhappy marriages, or worse, resigned unhappy marriages and can’t understand why anyone would accept that as status quo.  I was raised by a single parent, that’s my default way of seeing adulthood – nobody is more surprised than me that I’m actually in this really great marriage) – that’s what works for us.  We have to stay together (for him) and we have to be happy (for me).   Not that I’m not committed and not that he doesn’t also want a happy marriage, but I think we put the emphasis on different things, and the combination is what works.

One thing is for certain – there’s nobody I’d rather sit at the registry for over an hour with than him.  There’s nobody I’d rather raise children with, nobody I’d rather wake up to every morning than him.  He’s the best and most consistent part of my life, he’s the person who’s always on my side, no matter what.  He’s my partner, in the truest and best sense of the world, and I’m always, always aware of how lucky I am.

Home safe and sound with my son after a very exciting weekend at Treasure Valley Boy Scout reserve in Rutland.

On the way there Friday night, Sammy asked why it was called Treasure Valley – did it have a lot of buried treasure? I told him I didn’t think so, but maybe the treasure was the natural beauty there.

I awoke at sunrise this morning, with Sammy cuddled up to me for warmth, both of us safe in our tent.

38 degrees and raining. I left him to sleep and packed up almost all the gear except the tent, his sleep gear, and cooking gear.

Got the camp stove set up in a dry spot under the lean-to, and got it started with my 11th match. Sam woke up to the scent of sizzling eggs. Huddled up eating eggs and granola bars when the Camp Rangers came around with an envelope marked “Pack 54” – special awards printed for recognition of exceptional participation in every event.

Smiling, laughing, cold and wet, battered but unbowed, we found the treasure in Treasure Valley.

I love you Sammy, and I’m very proud of you.

I had a whole post that I was going to post about how being a fourth grader is hard, because it is.  Then I had a thing with Sam, and remembered that it doesn’t suddenly get hard in fourth grade, being a kid is flat out hard at any age.  You’ve got no real control over your time, no ability to make decisions for yourself.  Half the time, you’re lucky if you can even articulate to yourself what the problem is, let alone communicate effectively enough to let the adults in your life know what’s going.

Full disclosure – I hated being a kid.  Really.  I didn’t like it.  Didn’t like playing outside, didn’t like getting dirty, didn’t like doing stupid things.  I remember being outside with  my two cousins, Becky and Bridget, and they decided that since our little plastic pool had a hole in it, we should TRY TO PLUG IT WITH MUD!  They were delighted with the idea, and threw themselves into it.  Which, at five and seven, they absolutely should have.  I get it intellectually.  But at six, I thought it was stupid, it wasn’t going to work and was an utter waste of time.  I wasn’t GOOD at being a kid.  I didn’t like being told I was too young, I didn’t like anything about it, really.  So it probably does color my perception of my kids today.  I like to think that I have a better understanding of how tough it is, but it’s entirely possible I’m just projecting my own issues onto them.

That being said… my poor Jessie is struggling now.  Her regular school as well as her religious school changed completely this year.  She had no say in it.  It’s not like she decided to look for a new job, was seeking a more challenging position.  She was perfectly content with the way third grade was run, and really loved her tiny little religious school.  But she’s growing up, and things change.  It’s certainly not unique to her, and I can’t even say that it’s not, in the end, going to be hugely beneficial for her.  But it’s a lot of changes all at once, and she’s having a hard time adjusting.  School is hard, suddenly, and it never was before.  And all I can do is just watch.  Try to help, without overprotecting her to such an extent that I prevent her from learning how to handle it on her own.  Just watch her, and it breaks my heart sometimes.

Sam has other issues – his challenge is that he is just so incredibly introverted.  He and Marc are camping tonight with the boy scouts and he’s having a wonderful time.  But he certainly didn’t think he would, and the stress of anticipating it nearly pushed him over the edge.  And the reality, which was that he had a great time despite being surrounded by crowds of people he’d never met, was so much pressure that the prospect of going to religious school this morning was just too much.  Reduced him to a screaming hot mess, sobbing and begging not to have to go.  In retrospect, we should have anticipated that Friday night campfire, Saturday morning religious school, followed by another afternoon of camping activities and sleeping over would be too much for a six year old boy – but in a stunning parenting fail, we thought he’d be fine.  He wasn’t, and completely melted down this morning.   He’s so young – and while Marc and I KNEW that he’d have a great time,  he didn’t.  He’s too little.  He doesn’t have the experience that we do.  Which brings me back to why being a kid is HARD.

In the end, nobody went to religious school, and Jessie skipped dance as well.  It’d been a hard week for them.  And it was a pretty crappy morning for me with Jessie and Sam alternating sobbing fits, so we just stayed home until around eleven.  We started up a keshet service for little ones at the Beth Israel, and it was the one high point in my day.  Julie is just so… normal.  She loved it.   She sang, she danced, she laid on her belly and listened to stories.  It was so EASY.  Sam would have hated that.  I tried a couple of times when he was a toddler and he was horrified by them.  I was shocked by Julianna.  She just sort of joined in, like it was perfectly okay to be hanging out with people you don’t know well.

Julianna Ruth will be two and a half at the end of the month (two and a half??? it seems like yesterday she was two and a half weeks), and she’s still nursing. I nursed both Sam and Jessie as well, Jess self weaned at about eight months old.  Sam was a hard-core nursing addict – he weaned after considerable effort on my part when he was three and a half. I rarely nurse in public anymore, because still, even after nursing a much older child, I still feel self conscious and not willing to expose either myself or Julianna to other people’s judgement. Which does beg the question of why I’m blogging about it… I suppose this is my attempt to normalize it. Because this is normal, it’s just not common, unfortunately.

Extended nursing is still not mainstream. While there’s so much support for nursing an infant, there’s little to no support for nursing a child into toddlerhood. It’s not the same thing, Julie isn’t nursing for sustenance anymore. She’s more than capable of eating and drinking. But this is still something she needs. She’s not even close to stopping, while she can and will go for long stretches of the day without it, she still nurses to sleep for nap and bed at night, and it’s the quickest, most effective way to calm her down or reassure her. I’ve often heard the criticism that nursing past infancy is more about the mother’s needs than the child’s, and believe me, it’s not. You can’t make a toddler nurse any more than you can make them eat broccoli or go to sleep on command. I mean, I guess you could force feed them broccoli or put them into bed and cry themselves to sleep, but that’s not the same thing as doing it on their own. And I’ve got no interest in forcing a toddler to nurse, more often than not, I’m offering a drink or a distraction or straight out refusing to nurse when she wants to. When she needs to – when she’s coming down from a temper tantrum, or has fallen down and bumped her nose, or just is so exhausted she needs to sleep, then absolutely, I’m going to nurse her happily.

Part of my reluctance to wean her is because we fought so hard to have this relationship. She lost a LOT of weight after birth, and was jaundiced. Right when she needed to nurse the most (the pediatrician had told me to nurse her non-stop for the next 24 hours to flush out her liver and prevent the jaundice from getting worse),she went on a nursing strike. This coincided almost perfectly with massive postpartum mood swings, and a baby that wouldn’t nurse devastated me like nothing ever had before. She had to have formula for close to a week, because I couldn’t get her to latch on. We then cycled thru thrush and nipple confusion, a staph infection, breast shields, etc. It was months before nursing was easy, and I don’t take it for granted at all. 

Part of it is that she’s already growing up so fast. She’s potty trained, and talking all the time. There’s very little about her that’s babyish anymore, so I’m not pushing to take away nursing. Because I’d have to push it, there would be tears and heartache, she’d be miserable and confused if I stopped nursing her. Nursing isn’t about feeding her anymore – it’s an aspect of our relationship that she’ll outgrow. In the same way that I can’t pick up Sam anymore if he gets hurt, and it would be ridiculous for me to think that Jessie needs my help brushing her teeth – she’ll outgrow this. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there’s a huge part of me that looking forward to that day – I’ve been nursing or pregnant for well over six years now, but I’m comfortable waiting until Julianna is ready. 

Just a general round up post –

Marc took the middle three, Sarah, Jessie and Sam to the circus Saturday night.  He had awesome seats, was in a luxury box, with a dessert buffet set up.  The kids came home at nine thirty or so, so revved up on sugar that Sam literally couldn’t stop running thru the house.  I was lying in bed with Julianna (halfheartedly attempting to put her to sleep) when they got home, and Marc and Jessie immediately started telling me about the circus while Sam impersonated the cannonball guy who was shot out of the cannonball while on fire (he did this by running laps thru the house, hurling himself into the bedroom and onto the bed, hollering “I’M ON FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRE!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  Jessie was raving about the cookies and I commented that they must have eaten so much junk food, and Sam hollered in as he passed by the room “I HAD FRUIT!”

Had a zillion kids over today, Leah and Devin plus one of Jessie’s friends from school.  And a neighbor kid, oddly enough.  We don’t really see other kids often in the neighborhood, but apparently Marc met her dad the other day and she bopped over for a while.  We made vanilla pretzel cookies (so good) and then I randomly figured I’d whip up some chocolate chip cookies as well, because after all, the butter was already softened.  So now my house smells delightful, and my kids are so hyper that they’re vibrating….

Julie has struggled with the kids home for the four full days.  She has such a hard time napping when everyone is home, so she stays up later, naps around four or five, and then is up until midnight.  Then sleeps later the next morning, napping later, and staying up later.  It’s a vicious cycle, compounded by the fact that she’s still nursing – and far too busy during the day to nurse – so she likes to do it all at night.  Consequently, I’m exhausted and she’s crabby – but this morning, I poked her awake (which I hate doing) and got her up around eight.  She took a nice three hour nap this afternoon (I got her to sleep around 1:30), and I’m really, really hoping for a better night’s sleep tonight.

I’m reading a fascinating book, by Harold Kushner.  I think I’ll probably blog more on this, because it’s such a thought provoking topic for me.  The book is a discussion of the Book of Job.  My biblical knowledge is sorely lacking, but this book thus far has introduced me to the concept that there are three statements, and only two of them are true.  1 – God is all powerful.  2 – God is completely good.  3.  Evil exists.  It’s shaking up my whole theology, or actually, it’s more addressing a theological debate I’ve been having with myself for the past ten years.  Why do bad things happen to good people?  Is there a reason?  I want so badly to think that there is, and am reluctantly realizing that I’m no longer comfortable with that.  It seems too simplistic, too childlike.  Because really, sometimes life is unbelievably crappy, and believing that it all happens for a reason is cold comfort.  Believing that I have the ability to change those things is even harder (  I can literally only read it in small doses, so that I can pause to think about it.  His book To Life: A Celebration of Jewish Being and Thinking was incredibly influential for me, and I think that this one, read five years later, might do the same thing.

I love babies.  I do.  I love infancy, with blankets and onesies and pacifiers and up all night and spit up everywhere.  I love swings and strollers and slings, and baby socks and pureed bananas and nursing.  I love rolling over, and sitting up, and those first steps and first words.  The main reason I couldn’t imagine ever saying I’m done having kids is because that time is magical.  As hard as it is, it’s freaking magical and wondrous and I loved it.

One month into fourth grade, and I just thought to myself – “This is it, I’m not doing this anymore.  I don’t want any more kids, because this is breaking my heart.  I’ll be lucky to survive getting thru raising the three that I have.”  I just found out that my girl was the only kid not invited to a birthday party, and I can’t believe I sent my daughter to school to find out on her own.  The girls in her class all went to the circus last night, and Jessie wasn’t invited.  I want to cry.  I did cry.  The mom emailed me this morning, apologizing and saying that she must have had the phone number written down wrong, she had tried to call last night when they realized that Jessie hadn’t been invited.

I’m devastated.  My poor girl.  She’s not going to know that they tried to invite her, she’s just going to know that every other girl went and she didn’t get invited.  I want to rush to the school and scoop her up and tell her I love her and feed her ice cream and lollipops.  Which is so not the right way to respond, and I get it, I’m probably bringing a lot of my own baggage in here – but holy moly, my heart is breaking for her right now.

This is why people stop having kids.  I know now.  I never understood why people could say they were done.  How could you be done?  How could you not want to do this again?  Feel that magic, that love, that connection?  This is why.  Because your kids are going to go thru stuff that’s just so hard, and there’s only so much your heart can take.  There’s only so much capacity – and they’re way too vulnerable to be walking around out there, with girls not inviting them to parties.  That ridiculous quote that I hear all the time, something about having a child is to let your heart walk around outside your body?  I understand that now.   Because I feel like she’s just out there, no protection, and there’s nothing I can do to shield her.

I know I’m being slightly ridiculous.  I know that this stuff happens, and that Jess will get her heart broken a dozen times before she’s done.  I even know that if this is the worst thing that happens to Jessie today, she’s still profoundly lucky.  She’s healthy, beautiful, intelligent and well adjusted.  This won’t devastate her for long, because she’s got the capacity to move on, to roll with it.  It might not even devastate her, she’s certainly smart enough to understand that it was just an oversight and they wanted to invite her but had the phone number written down wrong.  She’s going to be fine, but I can’t stop myself from feeling… horrible.

I’m in a crappy mood.  Not a crappy mood, a depressed mood.  Not serious – just verging on it, it’s because of the dream.  You know when you have a really realistic dream, and it’s awesome – and then you wake up and realize that it was just a dream?  That’s what happened to me this morning, and since the phrasing of that bugs me – realizing your dream isn’t your reality, I’m challenging myself to come up with a list of why my reality is my dream.  Which is to say, I’ve got a lot, a whole lot, to be happy about – and I’ve got no business being resentful and sad that my dream (in which someone gave me $3000 just for being me – and $3000 would be incredibly helpful right now) isn’t reality.

So – here’s my official “I have no business being unhappy, and should spend some time reflecting on the many, many blessings in my life” list.

1 – My husband is awesome.  He’s tall, handsome, brilliant and the nicest person I’ve ever met.  This is not just my opinion – everyone I know agrees that Marc is without question the smartest and nicest guy they’ve ever met as well.  He’s unfailingly upbeat (as long as he gets to the gym), relentlessly optimistic and always, always aware of how lucky we are.  It’s hard to get really sad when your husband is Marc.

2 – He really, really loves me.  His pet name for me is “my beautiful wife” and is always the first to compliment me.  In fact, he loves me most when I’m ragged and exhausted and my hair looks like cats have been fighting in it (where did I read that phrase?  I can’t remember it, but it’s staggeringly apt this morning).

3 – He works so, so hard for us.  We have such a great dynamic together and are always, always on the same team.  With the same goals and dreams and desires, and I can’t imagine what my life would be like without him beside me.

4 – My daughter Jessica is fabulous.   She’s intense and dramatic and funny and sweet.  Gorgeous in ways that continue to surprise me and everything I ever wanted in a daughter.  Even now, when we’re on the cusp of adolescence and there are times when I want to strangle her and myself, there’s a connection there that’s stronger than anything I’ve ever experienced.  She’s my whole heart and I adore her.

5 – My son Sam is the sweetest kid you’ll ever meet.  He’s Marc all over again, the same devotion and love and just utter awesomeness – he even looks just like him, but has my eyes grinning back at me.  He’s so earnest and sincere and passionate and stubborn.  Nobody loves me like Sammy does, nobody has taught me more about patience and love and motherhood and I miss him when he’s not with me like I’d miss my arm.

6 – My daughter Julianna is absolutely and utterly charming.  She’s unbelievably smart and beautiful and completely adorable.   She’s my prize, my reward.  She’s confident and secure that the world loves her, and from the moment of her birth (which was such a precursor for raising her – less than ten minutes of pushing and I was laughing as she came into the world), she’s been such a joy and a blessing in my life.

7 – My mother, my aunts, my sister, my cousin, my stepsisters.  I come from a family filled with women, and I’m forever grateful for it.  I’ve got a legacy of sarcasm and support and love – and they have formed me in ways that I’m still discovering.  These are the women I talk to every day, these are my touchstones, my reality checks, and I’m grateful.

8 – I have incredible friends.  Sara, Joy, Annie, Ellen, Danielle – I’ve got a whole group of women that I can call on when I need help or a friendly ear or even just someone to bitch to.   At this stage of my life, when so much of my focus has been on my husband and my kids, to be able to have these friends who stick by me even when I’ve got no time, is wonderful.

9 – Even when things are at their worst financially, they aren’t really all that bad.  I’ve got a roof over our heads, food in the cabinet, a car to drive, and my kids want for nothing they need.   That’s not something that everyone can say – and something that should never be taken for granted.  If my worst problems are problems that can be solved with money, then those are the kinds of problems to have.  Because my kids are healthy, Marc is healthy, I’m healthy, my friends and family are healthy – and that’s a blessing that can often get overlooked.  Until something happens, like a diving accident that rips your whole world apart, or a boating accident that comes out nowhere and kills someone – both of these things have happened to people I love.  I have no real problems when you put it into perspective like that.

10 – Julianna is still asleep, and both my older kids went off to school with a kiss and a hug and smile on their faces.  My husband just called to check in and tell me he loved me.  I have a glorious half hour or so to relax with a book and a lukewarm cup of coffee that Sammy made for me before he left for school.  My life is better than anyone I know.  I’m not depressed or sad anymore – I’m just grateful for all that I have.