On Saturday, we were at services at the Beth Israel all morning.  On the way out of the synagogue, Sam was walking backwards.  We were all going to the car, so it was easy enough for him do it.  I reminded him to step DOWN off the curb (because he couldn’t see it), and Marc guided him to the car by telling him to veer slightly to the left, or head right.  One would think that one of us would have pointed out the problem in walking backwards is that YOU CAN’T SEE WHERE YOU ARE GOING.  But neither of us did, and Sam successfully made it to the car.

We were in the house for just a few minutes, changing, and the kids got ready first and headed back outside.   We were on our way up to Green Hill Park for the kite flying festival.  By the time I made it out to the car, Sam had already learned the hard way why walking backwards was a colossally bad idea.  We started driving, and Sam mentioned, in passing, that he had scraped his leg.  I glanced back, and yeah, he had scraped his whole shin up.

Sam is oddly stoic and completely anxious.  So he wasn’t at all bothered by the scrape, or the pain of having fallen into a stone wall.  No, he didn’t lose it until it started bleeding – at which point, he lost his mind.  Sobbing and freaking out – THERE WAS BLOOD!.  He went from totally relaxed “yeah, I scraped my leg” to hyperventilating.  If I based my reactions on his – I would have assumed that his leg had been cut off, because he was that freaked out.

Learning how to deal with an anxious kid isn’t easy – because what seems helpful isn’t.  You have to walk a fine line between validating the feelings and also letting him know that it’s not as hard as he thinks it is.  There is no point in jumping in with him, if I freaked out about the blood and the injury (which was a huge scrape – nothing that required stitches or even really needed a band aid, but was about four inches wide, and three inches long, it took up most of his shin, and probably did hurt like hell), it would only have made it worse.  But hollering at him to pull it together and snap out of it wasn’t going to work either.

It’s not something that comes naturally to either of us, Marc or I.  But the way to handle it was exactly what we did – which was to get some gauze and ointment, and a little tape and bandage up the scrape so that he couldn’t see it, and then distract him with something else.  Just at the point where I was started to overanalyze and worry about what this meant for Sam’s future – is he always going to lose his mind when he gets hurt?  What can I do to make him stronger and better able to handle the inevitable injuries that go along with being an active kid?, Marc glanced back at his little tearstained face and calmly told Sammy that when Daddy was his age, he was the exact same way.  Bleeding made him really tense and anxious too, and it was okay to be a little freaked out.

It was just such a perfect way to handle it.   I’m so grateful, because Marc understands Sam on a level that I don’t.  He was able to fix my little boy, his little boy, with some gauze and tape, and some understanding and assurance that it won’t always be this hard for him.  Because the anxiety is going to be a part of his life all the time, but it gets easier.  He gets stronger and better able to understand what he’s feeling and why, and be able to rationalize it in his mind.  The more he gets scraped and learns that it’s just a little blood, and it won’t last long, the quicker he learns that he can survive that too.

Marc teaches him that it’s okay for him to be exactly who he is.  And that even what seems to be scary and horrible isn’t really that bad, and it’ll get better as he gets bigger.  And it worked – once the scrape was hidden, Sam was fine, and we spent the afternoon flying kites.  It was perfect.


I love April vacation.  Of the three, December, February, and April, I think February is the most challenging, December is the one less about vacation and more about just decompressing after the stress of the holiday drama that inevitably takes over that month.  April is just fun.  The weather is wonderful, the kids are ready to be outside looking for adventure, and we’re so close to summer that I can smell the sunscreen.

This April vacation has been everything I hoped, and possibly more than I expected.  Jessie’s best friend Glennys came down from North Conway on Friday afternoon and we kicked off the week with a big Shabbat dinner with my stepdaughters.  Saturday morning, we spent the day at our synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel, and it was perfect.  It was Sisterhood Shabbat, and as Sisterhood President, I was in charge of planning the big lunch after services.  I had been stressing out all week about it, shopping and planning and panicking.  Everything was wonderful (although I learned a valuable lesson about buying Mylar balloons for decorating because they stay up longer).  We visited friends Saturday night, and it was so beautiful outside.  The kids (we had my three, plus two stepdaughters and Glennys, and my friend’s twins) were all outside, Marc was in the kitchen cooking with our friend David, and I was able to sit on the couch and have one of those long, luxurious conversations with my best friend that you never seen to be pull off when the kids are inside with you.

Sunday, we went to the Old North Bridge and the Louisa May Alcott House in Concord, hit Erikson’s ice cream on the way home and finished up with chinese food with friends.  Monday was movie day (because it was pouring), and then Tuesday, we stopped at my mother’s house in Clinton and went to four different playgrounds on the way home.  Wednesday, we drove up to North Conway to bring Glenny home, and spent the afternoon ogling mountains and exploring North Conway center.  Yesterday, we did errands and bought everyone new shoes, then rearranged bedrooms, and tonight, I’m making a big Shabbat dinner for everyone.

Every vacation is different, and I’m not sure what it is about this one that made it so perfect.  The weather helped, but I also think that the kids are at a perfect age.  My three are 12, 8, and almost five, and they’re all old enough to play together well, independent enough to keep themselves happy solo.

It wasn’t all hearts and sunshine – there were battles and brawls, but they weren’t overwhelming.  I’m never ever going to catch up on the dishes or laundry (especially because the kids clean their rooms by just tossing all the clothes that collect on the floor into the dirty clothes basket), and there are crayons, barbie dolls, and plastic guns all over the house (and the yard, now that I think about it).  But it’s been a wonderful vacation, and while I’m ready to get back to our regular routine, I’m not ready for vacation week to end.

One thing I’m grateful for is that I really did make a point of recognizing that you only get one April vacation a year.  Which is to say that while I’ve done April vacation every year since Jessica started school seven years ago, each one was specific and distinct from the others.  This is the last vacation I’ll have when Julie isn’t old enough to go to school yet.  The only one with a 12 year old, an 8 year old, and a 4 year old.

I feel, sometimes, like I’m getting so much older.  My kids are getting so much older.  I have two grey hairs on my head, and I see them every night.  I haven’t pulled them out yet, and haven’t decided if I should rush out and get my hair colored or not.  I dream of being pregnant – literally.  Last night, I dreamt that I pregnant and going for the prenatal testing to see if the baby is okay.   I can’t decide if that means that I want to get pregnant, should get pregnant, or am just remembering fondly that I once was pregnant.

I’m in this really weird time in my life, everything is in transition, and I don’t know which end is up.  At the same time, everything is settled and predictable and easier than it’s ever been.  Marc is finally working a regular job, with control over his schedule and we’re financially able to pull off everything we need to be able to get done.  Jessie is thriving in middle school, Sam is in that easy-peasy stage of childhood where he’s styling, and Julianna is just about to bop off to kindergarten.

Do I get a job in September, go off birth control and throw myself into starting over again, or launch myself full steam ahead into a career of free-lance writing?  Should I become a teacher?  Get certified to teach preschool or infant care?  Could I get pregnant if I wanted to?  Do I want to?  Would a baby fit into my family now?  Where would I put a baby?  Is this just the last dying gasps of my fertility, making a desperate attempt to turn back the clock?  I’ll be 42, I think, on my next birthday (and the fact that I typed “I think”  because without pausing to think back, I really can’t remember if I’m 40 or 41 doesn’t say much about my cognitive ability to handle another child).  I probably couldn’t even get pregnant.  That’s mostly okay – I think I’m content with my three, especially because my three are also a part of Marc’s two, so I’ve really got FIVE, and that’s a lot of kids.

So there’s all that going on, at the same time that I’m doing my best to enjoy my April vacation with my three.  We’ve got Glennys down for the beginning of the week, and we’re probably going up to North Conway tomorrow to bring her home.    The weather was wonderful over the weekend, and rainy all day yesterday.  Today is rainy, but rumors of sunshine persist for the afternoon.  I’m going to take the kids down to my mother’s house, and then we’ll do playgrounds.

While it may be true that there is now the time and luxury to ponder and wonder and over-analyze about what my next steps might be, there is also the immediate now.  I worry about Sam’s school performance, Jessie’s Hebrew studies and whether Julie will mimic Sam’s panic over starting kindergarten.  I love watching Sam with his friends, and talking about politics with Jessie and encouraging Julie and Marc to wrestle and talk before bed.  There is still so much happening with my kids, with my husband… right now is busy enough, I don’t really need to spend all this time panicking over what’s going to happen in five months when Julie goes off to school.  But the deadline is there – just waiting for me to figure out the next step.

I know that.

My almost five year old would still rather be on my hip than not.  She likes to be picked up and carried, and I indulge her.

I didn’t do this with the others.  Not really.  Of course, with the others, I had another baby coming along when they were three or four years old.  They naturally outgrew being held, because there was another baby.  They weren’t the baby anymore – they were the “big kid.”  I remember Sam used like to be carried up the stairs, and I was too pregnant to do it anymore.  I’d make him start up a few steps and then I’d scoop him up with one arm and lug him the rest of the way up like a sack of potatoes.   Eventually, it occurred to him that it was more fun to step up the stairs on his own.

Julie isn’t being pushed out of my arms.  She’s still my baby.

But I’m wondering, now, if I’m doing her a disservice by not pushing her.  Is she too babied?  I hate saying “you’re too big to do X” but the reality is that she is getting too big.   She’s too big for me to comfortably hold her for very long.

Part of is the kindergarten deadline looming.  As I hoisted her up on my hip tonight at Jessie’s school function, I found myself thinking that her peers probably aren’t getting carried around.   I took her out into the lobby during the school play earlier, because she was getting restless and impatient – is that appropriate for a five year old?  I legitimately don’t know.  I know I did it with Sam and Jessie when they were that age – but they always had a younger sibling that was definitely not ready to sit quietly and pay attention.

The reality is that my older two kids were pushed to grow up because they had a sibling come after them.  They couldn’t be the “baby” anymore because there was literally another infant that took over that role.  I like to think that I timed it right – the next baby came along when they were ready for that transition, and truly, neither one of them really struggled with any jealousy or misery around getting a new baby brother or sister.

Julianna is missing out on that.  Someone had to miss out on the experience of being an older sibling – I couldn’t keep having babies forever.  (Rationally, I totally know that – but there’s a tiny part of me that thinks that really doesn’t sound that bad)

Am I making her younger by not expecting her to be bigger?  Does that make sense?  She’s still so little to me – she still needs to be reminded to go to the bathroom and wash her hands, she still likes me to buckle her into her car seat and zip her coat up before we go anywhere.  And I don’t question it (at least I didn’t question it…) because I just DO this stuff.  I’ve been buckling and zipping and reminding for so long – it never occurred to me that she might not need it anymore. She might be just doing it all out of habit, just like I am.  If I never point out that she could buckle herself, or zip her own coat – I just keep doing it automatically – will she ever outgrow it?

Does she have too?  Because wow – I don’t know if I’m ready for my baby to not be my baby anymore.  But we’re a few weeks away from her fifth birthday, and I think I need to get with the program here.  She’s growing up, and I need to admit it, to accept it, and then make sure she knows it too.

We all think we’ll be tough.  We’ll be strong, when we need to be.  If the chips are down, we’ll stand up to the challenge.  At least, I did.

But the truth is that I completely crumbled.

Marc was working from home today, and so I roped him into kid pick up.  It’s a two hour process, and whenever possible, I like to make him do it.  So I stayed home with Julianna and Maxwell (a friend’s little boy that I’ve been keeping an eye for a few weeks).  Marc picked up Sam at school and delivered him home, and then drove up the street to get Jessica.

Jessie goes to the middle school that’s less than a mile away.  Certainly close enough to walk, but because we’re usually running from one activity to another after school, it’s just as easy for me to pick up every day.  I pick up Sam, then we go pick up Jessie, then we go pick up Harrison, and then we drop off wherever and finally end up at home.  Because I was here, Marc was able to drop Sam off here (usually I keep him with me, and we do homework while waiting for Jessie).  Long story short, Marc is waiting outside of the school, in his car, and Jessie never showed up.

He called me, and I sent him into the school to get her.  He called me again, and told me that nobody could find her.  Where did I drop her off this morning?  Did I know for sure that she made it into school?  His cell phone service was spotty, so we kept getting cut off, but I did get that nobody knew where my daughter was, and possibly hadn’t known for hours.

At this point, Harrison was waiting to get picked up, so I tossed everyone in the car to go get him.  Desperately trying to not cry, to not panic.  To not picture all of the worst case scenarios that were running thru my brain.  Did she actually make it into the building?  I had dropped her off at the front door, and I knew damn well that my daughter wasn’t the kind of kid to skip – but maybe someone had grabbed her.  It’s a middle school, with bigger, tougher kids, and she’s Jewish, maybe there was something going on there – was she being tormented and bullied?  Was she lost, alone and scared, wondering if we’d find her?

Then Marc called, and she was fine.  He had her, it was okay.  She had come out of school, hadn’t seen the van, and didn’t think to look for Marc.  She started walking home, and then one of her friends drove by and told her that her dad was back at the school, so she started walking back to school.  She’s got blisters on her feet, and an overactive imagination – so she freaked herself out thinking that something awful had happened to prevent me to from getting her, but no lasting damage was done.

Except that I think I’m probably never going to be able to forget that ten or fifteen minutes.  When I knew that, without her, I would completely fall apart.  There would be no illusion that I’d be stoic and strong, I was a heartbeat away from screaming at the idea that she had been taken.  It’s two hours later, and I’m still feeling like I survived some sort of trauma.


There it is.

That’s the truth – my eight year old sleeps on the dining room floor.  I don’t know why.  He’s got a bed.  He’s got bunk beds in his room, so he’s actually got two beds.  And he likes his bedroom.  He spends hours in there, playing with legos or watching minecraft videos.  But for the past three days, when it’s time for bed, he happily puts on his jammies, brushes his teeth, grabs a pillow and heads for the rug in the dining room.

Sam’s always been my easiest, and weirdest sleeper.  He sleeps when he’s tired, sleeps like the dead, and can be moved from place to place without waking up.  He goes to bed with no drama or intensity.  But he also sleeps in odd places.  Under the table is his favorite spot, and he’s most irritated with me that I won’t allow it (because I’m afraid that he’ll wake up in the middle of the night, sit up, and subsequently knock himself unconscious).  But he’s also slept happily on the couch, on the floor in my room, on the floor in his room, in his top bunk, in the bottom bunk, and most recently, on the rug in the dining room.

I try not to be too controlling, as a parent.  To say yes, when I can.  There’s so much I make them do – I insist on clothes (which at various times in both Sam and Julie’s lives has been considered a major hardship).  I make them brush their hair, take baths, brush their teeth.  Go to school (and that has been a source of SERIOUS friction at times).  They get vaccinated against their will, have to wear helmets and use seatbelts.  Do homework, clean up their toys, and not hit each other.  So when I can say yes – I like to go for it.

But it’s weird that he sleeps on the floor.

In other news – all is well here.  Easter/Passover weekend passed by with little fanfare.  Or rather, there was much fanfare and little drama.  We had a Seder at St.Michael’s church (this is the fourth year we’ve been leading their Seder), and then first night at Marc’s cousin’s house and the second night at Marc’s aunt’s house.  Easter, we went to my mom’s in the morning and then back here for a party that night.  Jessie and Marc are happily keeping kosher for Passover, Sam is keeping kosher for Passover, except for at school, and Julie and I are not.  Which is a source of some conflict – especially for Marc, I think.  I have less conflict around it – but I think Marc would be happier and more comfortable if we all did the same thing.

Marc and I have been together for more than 13 years.  Our youngest child is coming up on her fifth birthday this month, and it’s safe to say that the honeymoon period is over.

We didn’t really have a honeymoon period though.  Marc and I jumped into parenthood almost immediately.  He was a parent already, so our decisions as a couple, from the beginning, were done from the perspective of a parent.  We would live in Worcester, so that he could be close to his girls.  We lost a twin pregnancy thirteen years ago this Passover.  The grief and the fear around doing it again, conceiving Jessica and waiting, dreading the worst, and being afraid to hope that this pregnancy would hold – that was our honeymoon period.

And while that doesn’t sound like fun – and believe me, it’s not something I’d like to relive – that was our building block.  That was our foundation – we fell in love with each other that way.  And that’s still our love language in a lot of ways.  There are a ton of things I love about my husband, he’s brilliant and kind, and endlessly, always, the person I most want to be with.  But one of the most consistent qualities is that he cleans the vomit.

I mean that in the literal sense (because Sam got car sick the other day after playing minecraft while I was driving), and also in the figurative sense.  Marc takes care of the messy stuff.   When I’m drowning in family drama, and can’t make sense of it – Marc figures it out.  He cleans up all the messy stuff, the yucky misery and sadness – and makes it okay.   He came home on the day that Sammy threw up everywhere, and went out to my van and cleaned up the puke.  He calls me when I’m frustrated and angry and sad, and makes it okay.

When the kids were little (minor sob because wow – they really aren’t any more), they used to throw up a lot more.  Jessie was the queen of nighttime puking, although Sam was certainly not immune to it.  They’d have a cold or allergies and when they’d lay down, they’d just cough and cough and eventually throw up all over the place.  We co-slept more often than not, so the throwing up was usually in my bed.  We split  the duties, I always took kid-care, and Marc would launch into clean up mode.  I’d soothe the pukey kid, changing into clean clothes and then rocking back to sleep, while Marc would strip the bed, mop up the mess and make my world lovely again.   That’s what he does, over and over again.  I soothe and coo, comforting and making everyone okay – and Marc cleans up the mess.  I couldn’t do my job, I couldn’t be me without him there to play his part.

I’ve still got computer problems, complicated by the fact that I still have internet access so it doesn’t always FEEL like I’ve got computer problems.  I can still email and facebook, but serious writing now requires me digging the lap top out of Jessie’s room, plugging it in in the living room and blogging with Julianna on my arm (because she likes to sit right up next to me, all the time, and it makes writing a bit more complicated).

So I don’t blog as much as I should, and I miss it.

Passover starts in two days, and I’m late to the party.  I don’t do Passover right, at least not the way that I should be doing it according to Jewish law.  For example, there are some pretzels that I know are under my couch (which isn’t good, on any level, I know that – but it’s even worse because I’m supposed to be thoroughly cleansing my house of all levening).  And my car – holy moly, is my car so not ready for Passover.  I usually try and clean it out on Wednesdays – and today I realized that Sammy Boy had dumped an entire bag of goldfish crackers in the way back.  The way back is his area – Julie sits behind the drivers seat, and Jessie sits in the passenger seat – so the way back becomes this incredibly disgusting area that Sammy lives in – because he loves filth.

I digress.  Passover is starting, and I’m a flurry of activity.  We’re running a Seder tonight at St. Michaels, and we’ve got Seders on Friday and Saturday night.  Sunday is Easter, and we’ll be cramming in egg decorating Saturday during the day, between the Seders (which is amusing to me, that I do egg decorating for Easter right in the middle of the Passover Prep.   Sunday afternoon, we’re hosting a Welcome Spring/Happy Easter party at my house in the afternoon, with lots of chocolate (because Marc believes that all Christian holidays need to be commemorated with candy).  Then we’ll have our Irish Seder next Friday night – which is conveniently the last night of Passover.

The kids are psyched about Passover, mainly for the chocolate covered matzoh and matzoh ball soup.  I’m happy that spring is finally here, and we’re able to start thinking about summer.  We’re planning Julianna’s birthday party, and Mother’s Day and thinking about summer activities.  Jessie has decided to stop playing the flute and start learning piano.  I don’t have a piano, which is another issue that I’ll have to figure out – can I just get a good keyboard and let her learn on that?  Sam is steadfast in his refusal to do anything at all this summer, no JCC camp, no boy scout camp, nothing.  He wants to sell lemonade – that’s his whole plan for the summer.  Julianna is going to start dance lessons, specifically what she calls “hippity hop” lessons.