I never planned on getting married.

I always wanted to have kids, and I always wanted to have a committed and involved dad for those kids.  But I didn’t know how to get from A-Z.  I didn’t know that a committed and involved dad was a lot easier (not necessary, but a hell of a lot easier) to get when you were married to him.  I didn’t know that a happy marriage was actually attainable, not really.  I had seen a lot of horrible marriages, and a lot of … not good marriages.  I didn’t want that.

When I got pregnant, it was a shock.  Literally.  I’ve never, in my entire life, before or since, been that straight up floored as I was when I took the test.  Marc wanted to get married immediately.  I said no.  I wasn’t ready – I couldn’t conceive of making that kind of commitment to a man at that point in my life.  The pregnancy was more than I could handle.  Marriage wasn’t even on the table for me.

When I lost my twins, I lost myself.  It was like I was completely broken, and had to rebuild from the ground up.  Everything I believed, everything I had known my whole life to be true had failed me.  My faith in God, my faith in myself, my faith in the world as a good and safe place.  All of that was gone.  What was real, what was true… was Marc.  He had lost the babies too.  He was the only other person who had lost what I had.

Out of that came us.  We conceived Jessica, and built a life together.  We got married, had Sam and Julie and twelve years later, he’s still my best friend, my strength, my support and my other half.  He’s what makes it possible for me to be who I am.  I’m what makes it possible for him to be who he is.  We make each other better.

There are two things that make us work – one is absolute commitment and the other is really, really high standards. But there are a couple of other things that make our marriage what it is.   I’m not saying that these will work for all marriages, but this is what makes our work.

1 – Always be honest.   This is the one person that you have to be honest with, you have to tell the truth.  Because if you aren’t going to be real here, when it’s just you and him, then why are you bothering?

2 – Understand that he’s telling the truth too.  Even when it’s ugly and not helpful and really would have been best not said – you take the good with the bad.

3 – It’s not just about fighting fair – it’s about recognizing your strengths and weaknesses and vice versa.  In our marriage – I’m the communicator and Marc is not.  Words come easily to me, I’m fluent in emotional conversation, and while I’d be clearly, dramatically overmatched in a physical fight with my husband, the same is true in an emotional fight.  He can’t play on the same field that I can.  What comes easily and naturally to me is for as difficult for him as it would be for me to wander onto a playing field and do something with a ball.  When we disagree, I have to be careful because I can clobber him without realizing what I’m doing.   He has to be careful because I’m going to be a lot more impacted by the words he chooses.

4 – Always give the benefit of the doubt.  At the end of the day, what Marc wants most is for me to be happy, and what I want most is for him to be the same.  We want what’s best for the other.  Even when it doesn’t seem that way – reminding myself that he truly does want me to be happy, he doesn’t want to hurt me or fight with me.  He might not be able to communicate that in a way that I can understand, but reminding myself of that has made a huge difference.

5 – Take time out for yourself.  This is one that I forget a lot.  He’s not a mind reader, and it’s easy for me to forget that.  To assume that he should KNOW that I need to take the afternoon and disappear with a good book and so should offer to take the kids and encourage me to go.  But he doesn’t.  He’s happy to take the kids solo and handle all the stuff without me there, I just need to speak up to make it happen.  My happiness is my responsibility, not his.

6 – Say I love you.  A lot.  Kind of all the time.  Take every opportunity to sit next to him or snuggle up next to him.  It’s SO easy to lose that connection when there are three (or five or a thousand) kids running around and the dishes need to be done and you haven’t seen your dining room table in a week because it’s so cluttered.  But remembering to stop and look him in the eye and acknowledge out loud that there’s nobody you’d rather do this with… that’s what it’s all about.

My baby – my littlest, probably my last.   There are so many memories of my pregnancy with Julie, I remember staring at the first test, trying to decide if there was a second line or not.  I remember the first wave of nausea, and the times when I’d run to throw up.  Marc and both of the kids would come and rub my back.  I remember I was hugely emotional, all the time, and every time I’d cry, I’d have to throw up.   I ate a ton of sesame chicken, and itched and cried and itched and threw up the entire nine months.  It was absolutely the worst pregnancy, and made the other two look like a walk in the park.

But her’s was the easiest, most peaceful and loving and relaxed and blissful birth imaginable.  I had my mother and Becky (who was newly pregnant with Abby-with-a-bow) and Marc there with me the whole time.   I was in hard labor for all of ten minutes before I asked for the epidural, and three hours later, I was ready to push.  After two pushes, there she was.  I was laughing when she was born.

Jessie was my first, and everything with her is new.  Sammy is my boy, and new on a whole different level.  With Julie, I assumed that I’d pretty much done it all, and it would be super easy.  But she made sure, right from the very beginning, that she stood out.   Both Jessie and Sam were easy nursers, latched on and it was never an issue.  Ever.  But with Julie, the first few months were hellish, starting with a nursing strike, and then thrush, a staph infection, bleeding, nursing shields, various antibiotics and it was a good six months or so before nursing was second nature for her.  She never really ate traditional baby food, we were baby-led solids all the way.  She walked late, she was close to a year and a half before she was consistently up and moving.  She talked early, and potty trained, on her own, just after she turned two.

She’s my angel baby girl, and brilliant and sweet and loving and funny.  She’s tougher than Jessie was at this age, because her immediate example of childhood is her big brother, and she’s an accomplished sword-wielder, karate maven, and loves all things lego related like her big brother.  She’s also convinced that all of Jessie’s nail polish is really hers, doesn’t understand why Jessie won’t just give her all the lip gloss, and steals Jessie’s clothes all the time.  She sleeps with a zillion different stuffed animals, but only ever one at a time.  She’s incredibly stubborn, demanding and imperious, but when the everything goes her way – you’d never know a happier girl.

Julie is my blessing – she’s happiness and peace and joy and chaos and fun.

It’s like there was a memo that went out, and suddenly all the trees in my neighborhood are green.  We started playing the forsythia game last week sometime, where one of the kids hollers “FORSYTHIA!” and then we all high five.  There are days when my hand literally aches a little, from high fiving three kids every few feet as we drive.  The yards are green, the flowers are budding, the streets are swept and I’m loving springtime.

I’m also loving that school is almost over for the year.  My kids don’t adore school.  Sam actually likes it a lot, once he’s in the groove.  He was a breeze to get ready this morning, and bounced off to school like it was no big deal.   Jessie is a lot more emotive in the mornings on a consistent basis, and was pretty wretched about heading in today.  She got into Goddard Scholars Academy for sixth grade, and will be starting there in the fall.  It’s an Innovation School, for advanced and highly motivated kids – and the best part is that it’s part of the public school system, so it’s like a private school, with small classes (there’s only 48 kids in each year), incredibly involved and dedicated teachers and tons of extra learning opportunities and it’s free.  She was invited to apply (along with eighty seven thousand of her closest friends – anyone with at least a proficient score on both verbal and math for MCAS could apply) and we waited with baited breath for her to get in.

They accepted everyone with advanced/advanced scores, and a few of the advanced/high proficient got in.  Everyone else was on a wait list.  She was advanced for verbal, and two points away from advanced for math, so she got a low wait list number (#8), and we got the notice last week that she was in.   I think, now that she knows she’s definitely not going to be at the school next year, she’s just done with it altogether.  Or maybe it’s just that it was Monday, after a vacation week, and she didn’t want to go back.  Or it could be that she was just overtired and not used to getting up at the crack of dawn anymore.  Tough to tell, but this morning was rough.

But spring is here, and the summer isn’t too far off.  I’m a happy, happy girl today.


There aren’t that many April vacations, in the overall scheme of things.  And this is the last one where I’ll have an eleven year old, a seven year old, and the last full week that I’ll have a three year old.  As luck would have it, it was also the last week that I’d have a fifteen year old, two twelve year olds and a couple of bonus eight year olds as well.  It was that kind of week – one where my house bubbled over with kids and chaos and I gave up somewhere around Wednesday night trying to keep the house clean.

My life is relatively hectic.  There’s not a lot of hang out and read, or relaxing with a cup of coffee or taking a nap.  There’s a lot of running, running, running everywhere, and a to-do list that keeps getting longer.  But there was a time in my life when it was a lot calmer, when my days were a blur of midnight feedings, and diapers and napping children, and I kept telling myself that it was all just a stage, and tried to enjoy it as much as I could.  I’m doing that now – even though I’m in the car more often than not, and I’ve got three busy kids and a husband who works retail (with hours all over the place) and one car – it’s just the stage I’m at now.  And the day will come when I miss it.  Just like I miss that two a.m. nightly get up and rock the baby stage…

In the end, we didn’t do a whole lot of actual stuff this week.  Went out to dinner once, on Tuesday night.  We went to Pinecroft Dairy (home of the $2 kids meal on Tuesdays) and then stopped by the carnival at the Greendale Mall.  Wednesday, we picked up Glennys from up in NH, and Thursday night, all four girls (stepdaughters, Jessie and Glennys) slept at my sister’s house for the night.

Sam learned to ride his bike, which was notable.  Hugely so – because Sam’s a kid who really gets anxious about trying new things and failing at them.  But he was determined to ride, and no matter how many times he fell (and he fell a lot), he kept getting back on the bike.  I was so proud – not just that he learned, but the whole process of learning to ride went really, really well.   We spent time with friends, and were able to play outside most of the time.

April vacation is a good preview of summer.  It’s almost like a little tease – this is what your life will be like in a few short weeks.  And while it makes me tremble a little bit (because seriously, my house is a disaster right now), mostly I’m just really looking forward to it.

This is where I was and what I was doing… and here’s a pic of what my Sammy boy was doing (the first time he was brave enough to climb the green snakey thing at Elm Park.


Just really kind of pudgy. That’s why the baby isn’t coming out – I’ve just had really bad indigestion for the past nine months.

At home for a while today – Jess spent the night at Lilli’s birthday slumber party, and was up until past midnight. With that information, I quickly decided to spend the afternoon anywhere else but here, because truly, an exhausted Jess is just no fun at all. So Becky and I are going to go see a movie. Our car is being held hostage by a mechanic, not really being held hostage, because he claims he’ll give it back eventually, but it was supposed to be ready yesterday afternoon with a brand new motor and is now there until at least sometime on Monday. This makes me a little insane, because I’m stressing out all the time anyway about how to get to the hospital and childcare arrangements (enough to make me understand why so many women go for the scheduled C-section – it’s so much easier to plan for it as opposed to living for a month knowing that at any point, you could have to throw all your plans out and rush to the hospital for three days). But I’ve been assured over and over again, by pretty much everyone, that we’ll be just fine, we have lots of friends and family, and everyone is looking forward to the opportunity to step in and help get us there and watch our kids for the duration.

Watched television last night – Marc was over at the party with both kids, and I got three or four hours of just alone time at home. And it was delightful, I walked up the street and got Chinese take out, and watched a bunch of television that I had recorded and never had time to watch. Then Marc and I had another one of our weekend battles – they aren’t bad battles, but it’s a source of conflict, simmering all the time, occasionally flaring up. I like to DO things on the weekend, and especially if there’s housework that needs to be done, I like to tackle it and get it over and done with, he likes to relax and flow thru the day. Neither of us is wrong, exactly, but neither of us is wholly right either, and we both are pretty crappy at compromising right off the bat. Add in a missing car, a super pregnant wife who’s desperate to go into labor and two kids who are delighted to sit and play Wii with him for hours, and it wasn’t a great Saturday. We resolved it, as we always do – it takes a while to get thru, because Marc’s better at avoiding conflict and I have to sometimes really push in order to get him to talk calmly about it, but in the end, we both agree that we love each other, don’t want to fight and really do work hard at understanding the other person’s point of view. I’m incredibly grateful for that – I don’t think I could handle any other kind of marriage.

I’m really looking forward to having the baby be here. I keep thinking how much better it’d be if she was here with us, instead of me pregnant with her. Not only will it be more fun – I LOVE babies, but I’d be so much calmer, so much more physically capable of everything. I would not do well with a chronic illness, and am so weary of hauling my pregnant body around – I can’t wait to be me again. Although I thought to myself this morning, as I got out of the shower – that I do really look good. Sort of earth-mother-ish, all fertile and blossoming. I didn’t gain a lot of weight with this one, I think I’m under fifteen pounds, and it’s all right in the belly.

My new goal is just to go into labor naturally. Not to have to be induced. I don’t want a c-section, I want to bounce back from this baby within a week and be good to go :-). I didn’t have to be induced with the other two, they did break my water with the girl child, but I started labor without it. Of course, I, according to that measurement, started labor with this one about three weeks ago. I’ve been contracting forever, and was two centimeters dilated at the beginning of April.

Last night, Passover ended.  We kept kosher for Passover, mostly.  Marc made it all the way thru the week, as per usual.  Jessie made it all the way thru as well, with the notable exception of Easter.  As she explained it, she likes to keep kosher for Passover, except for Easter at Grammy’s house.  Sam did pretty well until the last day, as did Julie – when they both started crying because they wanted pancakes and noodles.

I don’t keep kosher for Passover.  I don’t want to.  Not just because I don’t want to eat matzoh and not eat noodles, but for me, deprivation isn’t inherently a spiritual thing.  I just feel… mad when I try to keep kosher for Passover, like I’m being forced into a behavior that has no meaning for me.  So this year, I decided to not agonize over it, not to worry and panic about it.  I just simply would observe Passover the way it felt right for me, and do my best to support my kids and husband to do the same.

One of the most attractive things about Judaism is the idea that it’s a relationship between the individual and the Divine. I’m well aware that not all Jews perceive that relationship the way that I do, and there are a lot of the 613 mitzvahs that don’t make any logical sense – and there’s meaning behind that as well.  Many of the mitzvahs are easy to understand, like visiting the sick, honoring the elderly, lovingkindness.  Some of them are mitzvahs make no logical sense, like not wearing linen and wool at the same time. For me, the avoidance of wheat products is one of those. There is also the element, for me, of needing Judaism to be an addition to my life.  I want Judaism to be a blessing, and not something that represents loss.  It’s a personal thing, and has a lot to do with my relationship with my own family.  I didn’t want to lose that connection by converting to Judaism, and in my head, giving up bread and observing Passover in a strict, traditional way brings up a lot of baggage that has a lot more to do with that and not just Passover.

I know that there are people who find it enormously meaningful to observe the holiday of Passover in the traditional way, but I’m not one of them.  I celebrate Passover by adding matzoh into my diet.  By attending or hosting Seders and by supporting my husband and kids in observing it however they personally feel it should be observed.  For Marc, it’s absolute – he abstains from all that he’s supposed to and is perfectly content with it.  Jessie  observes it fairly strictly as well.  Sam is, thus far, less interested in observing it strictly, and Julie flat out hates it.  She kept insisting that we had already DONE Passover and why couldn’t she have pizza?

I ate a LOT of matzohbrie – and I gave myself a free pass to take my little self out whenever I wanted.  We kept a kosher-for-Passover house, and every meal I served was right in line with Passover rules.  I had lots of appropriate snacks for the kids, and didn’t eat anything that wasn’t kosher for Passover in front of them.

And tonight, I’ve got bread rising in the oven, and a big pot of noodles and sauce for dinner.


Teaching Miss Jessie to ride a bike was no easy feat (see this post from April, 2009).  We never really accomplished it -she just hated it.  Whereas my Sammy has loved his bike forever.  But, (crappy parent confession coming) – we never really pushed bike riding.  There were a couple of contributing factors.  They are Jessica and Julie, and Marc working a zillion hours last summer.  And the hill.  Always – the hill.

We did pretty well at getting him started, and then just sort of… stopped.  But this spring, I’m focused.  I’m driven.  The child will ride.  If there was ever a child who should be on wheels, it’s my Sam.

Last weekend, I dug the bike out of the back storage closet, and got Julie her little bike with the attached training wheels.  Then I found Jessie a scooter, so that she’d be able to come with us, and love it, and not feel as though she had to be on a bike.  I had to take it to get the tires filled, and then I tried, half heartedly, to teach him to ride in the driveway next door (because we live a horrible hill, and our drive way is also a hill, I’m reduced to borrowing the neighbor’s driveway).

We didn’t get too far, it was bumpy and hard for Julie to navigate her bike.  So she kept crying for me, and I couldn’t focus on the Boy.  But today, after Easter (which was also lovely), I went to the Technical High School.  Marc had to work today, so it was just me and the kids.  I started off at Green Hill Park, but it was posted that you aren’t supposed to bike there.  And the High School was right there, with a lovely big FLAT parking lot.

AND HE DID IT.  It took about a half hour, and my feet hurt now because I was doing it in dress flats.  Turns out you really have to RUN when you’re teaching a kid to ride a bike (which I didn’t know, because Jessie never went fast enough for me to have to run along with her).  He still needs a little help getting started and he tends to keep going until he crashes which isn’t a good long-term strategy – but he can ride, by himself, for a long time.  Major thanks to Jessica who stepped up, again and again, to keep Julianna happy and occupied, and it helped that she could ride her own bike while Jessie was bopping along on the scooter.

I cried, just a little, the first time he really took off by himself.  He was so proud – and he kept trying, over and over again, and didn’t give up until he got it.

He’s awesome – and I’m ridiculously happy for him.


I’ve been lost in thought a lot, over the past day or so, thinking about the shooting in Kansas City and what it meant for me. For a woman who struggles with Jewish identity, and what it means for my children. For a woman who brings her baby to the Worcester JCC twice a week.

I grew up in a small Catholic town a little bit east of here. It’s not true that there were no Jews in my hometown, but it was true that I didn’t really know any. I didn’t know what anti-semitism was, not really. It wasn’t real to me. And when I converted to Judaism, the beit din (the rabbinical court) asked me why I would want to convert to Judaism, a religion and a people who had such a history of persecution. My answer then was that I was certain that someone who was bent on the destruction of the Jewish people wouldn’t think twice about killing me, I was the wife of a Jewish man, my children were all growing up Jewish. Converted or not, I was always going to be aligned with the Jewish people, in part because of the people I love, and now, because of the life that I was living. I said that, not knowing that it was true. Because it is. I am Jewish, and if I had undergone a conversion or not, I would still have been singled out for death by that man in Kansas City.

But as a convert, I know better than most that a Jew isn’t any different from a non-Jew. Not on the the most basic, human level. The three people who died in Kansas City weren’t, in the end, Jews. That doesn’t make their deaths any less terrifying, any less tragic or any less horrific. It also doesn’t make it any better. It was a grandfather and a grandson, and an older woman. The grandfather/grandson combo hurts me the most I think. I keep thinking about that poor mother, that poor daughter. To lose a son and a parent, at the same time, and to such irrational hatred and violence.

I’ve been busy, cooking and Seder-ing (is that a verb? It should be) and throwing myself into Passover. And while I’m doing all of that, I’m achingly aware of the example I’m setting for my daughters and my son. They’ll remember this – they’ll remember the matzoh brie and the chicken soup. They’ll remember that we take the first two day of Passover off from school and work, and they’ll remember that we spend time together, with family and friends, celebrating that we are free. Celebrating that we are not slaves in Egypt. I wish that my next thought wasn’t that they should also be aware that we are still the focus of hatred and violence, and that if that had happened in Worcester instead of Kansas City, we would know the victims. We could have been the victims.

I can’t get that out of my head. And I don’t know how to tell my children, because I don’t want it in theirs. But the reality is that this could have happened here. That could have been me. That could have been my father in law, and my son.

Today is the first day of Passover, a holiday that’s usually one of my favorites. As much as I might hate matzoh, I love the Seders, and I love how involved my kids are. We Seder it up in my family.(See? I really want it to be a verb.) We went to one last night, we’re going to one tonight. Tomorrow night, we’re running a Seder for a Church over by West Boylston, and Saturday night, we’ll host a full Seder and have a giant Open House for whoever wants to come. I can’t stop thinking about what an enormous act of courage it is, to have a Seder. To attend one. To proclaim our Jewish identity, and to celebrate that we are alive and free.

Tonight, when we celebrate our Seder, I’ll be thinking of the lives lost. Not just in Kansas City, but also all over the world. All of the people who were killed because they had the audacity to be Jewish. All the people who suffered and sacrificed and struggled so that we could sit here today. I’ll remember tikkun olam, the phrase in Hebrew that means to repair or heal the world. I’ll wonder if it’s possible, and I’ll remember the Talmudic wisdom that states that is it not my job to complete the task, but it not permissible to ignore it either. I’ll look at my three children, my daughter who’s about to become a Jewish adult, my son who wants so badly to be just like his dad, and my baby girl. My baby girl, the one I take to the JCC for preschool. I’ll hold my breath for a minute and pray that we never have to have that conversation, where I explain that some people really, really hate Jews. I know we will, but I’ll pray anyway. Because that’s the only way I know how to do this.

I used to love folding laundry.  Seriously.  It was my favorite household chore (outside of vacuuming).  The reason I liked it so much (laundry and vacuuming) is that it was one of the few chores where you can actually see the results.  Take a dirty, smelly laundry basket, whirl it thru the washer and dryer, fold them, and you’ve got neat stacks of clean clothes.  It’s delightful.

Unlike dishes, or cooking, or picking up the my little ponies (or army guys, or barbies, or legos – whatever the toy of the moment is…).  That’s an unending task, and as soon as it’s finished (and sometimes before…) it’s time to start again.

I loved laundry as a single girl, and I loved it as a married, pregnant mom.  I loved it with one little baby, her tiny clothes were adorable, and even though the frequency stepped up quite a bit – I was still a happy laundry girl.  I started to stumble a little at putting them away, I was still great at DOING the laundry, and even folding it.  But putting it away was taking longer and longer.  Folding took longer and longer.

Then I had Sam, and I was still charging along.  Happy, happy laundry girl.  I didn’t really lose control until after Julie was born.  Truth be told, it was when I was pregnant with her.  I was sick with all my babies, but with Julie, I added overwhelming ITCHINESS.  My whole body itched, incessantly.   Between the nausea, the braxton hicks contractions (another fun Julie addition) and the incredible itchy skin – everything got a lot harder.

Which is when Mt. St. Laundry was born.  I still wash the clothes – it’s not that I have piles and piles of dirty laundry all over the house.   I wash a load a day, and sometimes two.  (Sometimes none, but mostly, I do a load a day).  Wash, dry, pile in the basket in front of the washer.  I gave up folding socks somewhere along the lines too – I just keep them all in the basket.  And when the volcano erupts (which is to say that it gets so big that it topples over – or when a kid or husband gets so frustrated with the lack of clean clothes in the dressers and goes digging), I fold.  Reluctantly, and with grim determination.

Today was a good day, because I folded.  There are no clothes waiting to be folded, only eight piles of clothes to be put away (I was so pleased with myself, I paused to blog before putting away).  The only hitch is that the deal I make with myself, when the laundry mountain gets too overwhelming is that I’m not allowed to wash anymore until I fold and put them all away.  Which means I’ve got at least two loads scattered between all the bedrooms, and by this time tomorrow, I’ll be well on my way to building another Mt. Saint Laundry.

But at least vacuuming is still fun.

There is something blissful about quiet, peaceful mornings, when it’s just me and a cup of coffee, and the whole house sleeping around me.

Marc is asleep in our bed, and both girls are in their room (!!!).   Sam, for reasons that amuse me, is sound asleep on the couch.  Last night, we moved all the beds around.  At the last minute, Julianna panicked at the thought of getting rid of her toddler bed, and started sobbing about needing her “bouncy bed.”  We compromised by moving it back into my room.  Which isn’t ideal, but I rationalize it away.  It gives her a space to go that’s hers when her big sister refuses to let her in (and let’s be honest, that’s going to happen).  It also gives me a space to put her to sleep, if Jessie is up really late doing homework some night (and that’s probably going to happen as well).  But Julie fell asleep in her own bed last night and slept like an angel all night.

While I was busy moving beds hither and yon, and dealing with a sobbing three year old and an angst-ridden eleven year old (who was completely stressing about a test she’s afraid she messed up on Friday), Sam was very busy in his room.  He set up a lego battlefield, and took a steak knife and sawed a cardboard box into some sort of shelter.  He’s very big for sawing, my boy is, and if there’s a cardboard box in the vicinity, more than likely, he’ll find it and transform it into something.  Sometimes it’s a spaceship or a fortress for little warring creatures in his game that he’s making up.  Sometimes it’s just for spare parts, he’ll saw out a sword or dagger shape and then cover it with all my tin foil.  He was so happy about his efforts that he needed to sleep on the couch.  As he explained it, he didn’t want anything to “mess up the game.”  How his sleeping body would affect the cardboard, legos and assorted figures on the carpet was beyond me, but he was pretty definite about it.   And because he’s Sam, he just likes sleeping pretty much wherever.  In fact, I had to talk him out of sleeping on the bare hardwood floor, because that was his first thought.  Just to crash on the floor between the dining room and the living room, head pillowed on his arm.  Not one for creature comforts, there is much I don’t understand about my boy…

Continuing our Passover Cleaning Project today.  It’s unfortunate, because right now, we’re just MOVING everything.  I”m making a massive trip to Savers later on, donating a giant bag of clothes and coats and toys that we’ve outgrown.  I’m moving baby dolls and stuffed animals into the girls’ room, and rearranging Sam’s room to make space for blocks and building materials (clearly, he needs more of these to build better fortresses).  This’ll free up valuable space in the play area, which I’m hoping to transform more into a writing office of sorts.