I’m not in the mood this morning.  My hair is a hot mess, I’m out of good shampoo, my house is still a mess, and I need to write the thank you/Merry Christmas notes for all the teachers.  And haul my kids out of bed, get them dressed, fed, lunch packed, and then out the door.  In time to rush to work, and try desperately to catch up.

In a time-honored tradition, I will, instead of complaining about the Best Plus stuff I don’t want to do, and the lunches I’m sick of packing, I will make a brief list of why I have no real business bitching about the little stuff.  I’ve got way too many wonderful things to be profoundly grateful for, and that’s what I should be focusing on…

1.  This holiday season has been probably the least angst-ridden that I’ve had in thirteen years.  Even if it’s just because I don’t have time for it (between working and Sam’s health issues, I’ve been trying to just keep my head above water).  Maybe it’s that I’ve finally learned to just chill – the holidays are what they are.  We celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah, and it’s never going to be an easy mix.   But it’s not impossible either – and the alternative isn’t anything I want to think about.

2.  My Sammy is feeling so much better.  The new medication has made such a huge difference for him – it’s simply a non-issue now.  He doesn’t complain, he doesn’t go to the nurse, he’s not in pain.  Everything we went thru, the tears, the fights with the school, the fights at home to get him to go to school, the phone calls with the nurse, the tears, oh, the tears – he’s better now.  I’m so grateful for my healthy, happy, thriving boy.

3.  My job is still a dream come true for me.  Yes, it’s busy and hectic and I’m a little bit underwater right now, but I know that I can get it all done.  And working in the library, with dream hours – this couldn’t be any better for me.  Serendipity is when something fabulous drops in your lap and that’s what this was – this job wasn’t anything I was even looking for before I found it, and it’s still perfect for me.

4.  My Julianna Ruth is so big and still so little at the same time.  I know, I know, she’s five and a kindergarten-going girl, but she’s still my baby and loves nothing more than curling up next to me and reading or writing.  She’s a writer and a dreamer and an artist in the most adorable of ways, and she’s thriving in school.  She’s like a little sponge, just soaking up all the new words and new letters and new ideas, and watching this process is so beautiful.  Probably a little more than it was with the other kids, because she’s SO into it – she LOVES writing.

5.  Marc and I both have cars that work, jobs we love, we’re both healthy and financially, we’re stable in a way that just wasn’t possible when I was a SAHM.   It’s still busy and crazy and chaotic and hectic all the time – but it’s also easier in ways that it wasn’t before.  I can afford to splurge on a book for Julie when we’re grocery shopping or to stop and get the kids a frozen yogurt when it’s been a hard day.

6.  My husband is scary smart – and I don’t think he’s ever had a job where that wasn’t a hindrance.  Until this one – and that’s beautiful to watch.  He loves it – and I love that he’s happy and fulfilled and focused and achieving his goals.  This is a really lovely time for us, and I don’t always pay attention to that.

7.  My Jessica Mary is so exquisite – a twelve year old girl is right on the cusp of womanhood, and it’s beautiful.  She’s bright and stunningly gorgeous, but more importantly, she’s got a flexible, curious and open mind, and is eager to learn everything she can.  About everything.  All the drama and emotional intensity is there, but tempered by a little more self control, a little more poise.  Adolescence is so much more fun, somehow, than I thought it would be.

I’m not wishing away this holiday season – dare I say, it might be the easiest one I’ve ever had as a mom?  It’s obviously a reflection of the lack of time; between Sam’s health issues, and the fact that I’m working, there just isn’t time for me to worry about how Marc is thinking about Christmas and what impact that’ll have on the kids.  Which is probably healthier overall for everyone.  It’s still Christmas, I still am aware of the issues, I just don’t have the space to think about them like I have in years past.  It helps that I eliminated any possibility of Christmas Day tension by moving my family celebration to Christmas Eve and planning on a happy, quiet, easy Christmas Day at home.  I got all the shopping done five days ahead of Christmas, which is so rare.

Sam’s doing so much better, in terms of his health.  He hasn’t mentioned his stomach in weeks.  It’s just a non-issue anymore.   Work is ridiculously busy, in part because when Sam was sick, I missed three days, hard core, and probably another few days when I was nowhere near as productive as I should have been.  So I’m frantic there, and at home, I’m drowning in laundry and dishes and cleaning and trying to carve out time to spend with all three of the kids.

We’re about a week post-colonoscopy, and he’s exceeded all of my expectations.  It’s not perfect, he’s complained a few times, but it feels like he’s coming out of a fog.

Suddenly, he’s sitting out in the living room.  Interacting with people.  Building legos and playing Uno with his dad.  Talking with me and Jessie.  He helped make pizza last night, watched a movie with Jessie and did most of his homework independently in his room while he was listening to an audiobook.

After talking to his doctor, we’ve decided to keep him on the sucralfate for another week – mainly because I’m slightly afraid to stop giving it to him.  It works – and I love having my boy not in pain.  So we’ll do another week on that, and he’ll start the omeprezole the Monday after Christmas.

In other news – my girls are both demanding all the attention that they missed over the past month or so.  Jessie’s math grade is a hot mess, and Julianna is starting to ramp up some serious sensory issues.   She’ll only wear certain clothes.  They have to be very soft, they have to fit her arms perfectly – not too tight, not too loose.  They have to fall at a precise spot on her wrist, and woe to person (me) who suggests that perhaps it might not be such a big deal.  Every morning, we battle over what she’ll wear, and it’s every single item of clothing.  Once I get her to agree to pants, the shirt is definitely going to be a brawl.  And the coat, God help me with the coat.   That poor kid with her coat.  She has three of them (one brand new this year that I bought just because she seemed to hate the other two so much) and putting them on is HARD.

I’m trying to be patient.  I am.  Also trying to remember that she’s not yet six, and there’s so little in her life that she can control.

The bonus is that this year, I don’t have the time for my existential holiday crisis.  Between a sick Sammy, work, and the girls – I just don’t have the mental space for  it.  Hanukkah was a non-event, essentially.  We spent the bulk of it overwhelmed with Sam’s health issues, and while we managed to hit the highlights, like dinner out and looking for Christmas lights, we had our Hanukkah parties – but I was delighted when it was over and I got a little breathing room before Christmas.  We’re not really ready for that either, but I think it’ll be a better day, just because he’ll be healthy – and it comes at the beginning of a whole week of nothing.  I’m still working, but the office is closed so my hours are more flexible.  Marc will be home a bit more, and I can relax a bit.  Get ready for the new year.

It’s been a rough week.  A really, really hard week.

Sam’s stomach has been getting worse and worse.  He came home from school last Wednesday and last Friday, and then on Monday, I got a call from the nurse.  Again.  He was in the office, crying.  His stomach hurt so badly.  I got him to go back to class for a while, but it didn’t last.  It just hurt, and he couldn’t stop crying.  So we picked him up and brought him home.  We brought him into the pedi GI doctor and he pushed up the scheduled endoscopy/colonoscopy to Wednesday.

If you’ve ever tried to not feed a kid for a day, then you might understand what Tuesday was like.  Of all three of my kids, the one who eats, consistently, all the time, is my Sammy.  Jessie skips meals more often than not, and Julie fasted on Yom Kippur simply by never asking for food.  But Sam – Sam always eats.  He eats breakfast, lunch, dinner, is a big fan of snacks.  The food helps with the pain.  Combining no food (which added hunger pains on top of the existing pain) with not being able to eat to help with the already onmipresent pain, and then tacking on getting him to drink 32 oz of miralax (every sip made him cry harder) – it was hellish.  We’d cycle thru from complaining to crying to begging me to help him to finally accepting comfort and then I’d distract him with something – we did that five or six times.  I called my mom and had her come out and take the girls out for dinner – because I couldn’t feed them.  I couldn’t feed myself – I couldn’t even pee.  Sam was a hot mess, all day long.

The procedure was actually the easiest part of it.  Sam was so brave, and even though he was scared, he was polite and respectful to all the doctors and nurses (and there were thousands crammed into the little room with us).  He did great, woke up easily enough after the anesthesia.  There were three different options we could have ended up with – they could have found terrible, terrible things in there, but they didn’t.  They could have found absolutely nothing wrong, and told us that he was making the whole thing up, but they didn’t do that either.  Instead, what they found was mostly an incredibly healthy boy – but evidence of inflammation in one specific section of his stomach.  We can treat it with medicine, and we’re optimistic that this will fix the problem.

As optimistic as we are – I think we’re all feeling a little shell-shocked.  He’s missed the better part of a week at school, and we’re drowning in make up work.  He was groggy and tired this morning, and I couldn’t force myself to make him wake up and go.   We took the whole day and just stayed home.  He listened to books on tape, worked on math homework and played too many video games.  I did laundry and dishes, and cleaned.  I gave the kids a bath, made a lovely dinner.

It’s been a long week, and I’m happy it’s over.  Hanukkah has gotten entirely lost in the shuffle of this week, and I can’t muster up the energy to really do much about that.


I’ve got a chip on my shoulder.

Oh December.  This time of year that used to be just fun.  It was, wasn’t it?  There was a time when I approached the holidays with this sense of joy and wonder, I felt connected to everyone, all twinkling lights and candy canes.

I don’t do that anymore.

I arm myself with a thick skin and am ready for the inevitable attack.  I have convinced myself that I’m alone in this – I’m a Jewish girl who loves Christmas, and a Christmas Tree Putter-Upper (I know, it’s a stupid term, but I’m not a former Christian – I guess I could say a former non-Jew) that really, really likes Hanukkah.  I feel like society at large is mad at me.  I don’t put Christ in Christmas, in fact, I actively try and keep him out.  I embrace Christmas, singing Christmas carols and buy too many Christmas lights.

I avoid big Jewish celebrations and discussions about Hanukkah – because it inevitably slides over into complaining about the pervasiveness of Christmas and how that’s bad.  I feel insecure and protective of my Christmas tree, like it’s a huge personification of how I approach the whole dual culture quandary – and just writing about this puts a lump in my throat.  Because as much as I love this time of year, I really hate it.

I hate that my kids are stuck – even though I tried so hard for them to not feel in the middle, I put them there.  They are Jewish, they know Christmas is not a Jewish holiday.   They don’t feel guilty about celebrating Valentine’s Day, they love the Fourth of July and they really like Thanksgiving and Halloween.  Those non-Jewish holidays don’t make them feel all conflicted.  They know that they love Christmas too – because there’s a lot to love about it.   It’s my holiday, after all.  It’s got presents and an Elf that hides (so well, I still can’t find him from last year – but I digress).  They WANT to celebrate Christmas, but it confuses them.  A little. I think.  Maybe.

I know their story isn’t mine.  They are growing up as part of a dual culture family, and that’s going to be a part of their story in a way that it isn’t mine.   They’ll have to figure out for themselves how they feel about the holiday.   AlI I can do is the best I can – and now, that involves hiding how conflicted and frustrated I am by the entire holiday season.   Because there’s a lot that Hanukkah and Christmas have in common – from my perspective, there’s a lot about bringing light and joy and connectedness into the dark winter season.   Because latkes and donuts and candles and dreidels are awesome, and they deserve to celebrate that with their whole hearts. They are Jewish, and descendants from generations of Jews who have lit the menorah.   They love my mother’s advent calendars (because there’s nothing not to love about chocolate every morning), they love the tree and the decorations – and that’s their heritage and birthright as well.  They inherited that the way they inherited my shyness, my eyes and my love of reading.

The choices I’ve made have put me here.  I’m grateful for that – because here is right where I want to be.  It’s just that December is a hard month for me, and I can’t hide from that.  I have to go into it knowing that it’s a really isolating time – and hope that the kids don’t inherit that as well.  I hope that they embrace the holiday season, and own it like it’s their own.  Because both holidays, Hanukkah and Christmas, are theirs.  Just as they are both mine.  And even if nobody else in the world agrees that we should celebrate both – we do.  So bring on the tinsel and the dreidels – I’m ready.

When you start the weekend tired, it doesn’t bode well for the next two days.

Hannukah starts on Sunday and I’m woefully unprepared.  In that I have no idea where the hell the menorahs are, you don’t even want to know how much stuff is under my couch that needs to be moved in order to make room for the tree, and when I say that I’ve started shopping, what I mean is that the last time I went to the Dollar Store, I told Sam and Julie to pick out a few extra toys for Hannukah nights.

We’ve got a bat mitzvah today, we’re getting the tree, we’re shopping tonight and we’re doing the cleaning/grocery shopping/where are the menorahs as well.  Tomorrow is a mad rush of tree decorating, birthday partying and then latkes and candlelighting.

Sam’s been scheduled for a colonoscopy/endoscopy at the beginning on January and they’re going do eight different biopsies while they’re in there.  Biopsies is a terrifying word, and I’m doing my best to not think all that much about that.  There’s still a really good chance that it’s nothing, right?  We know there’s inflammation, we know it hurts, a lot, most of the time.   And I can’t decide if I want it to be nothing – because that doesn’t solve it, or if I want it to be something, because then it’s not nothing.  Does that make sense?   I worry all the time, because it’s not just the uncertainty over the health, there’s also the impact that it has on his overall life quality.  It sucks to feel like crap all the time.  It sucks to have bloodwork and stool samples.  It’s having a negative impact on his education – it’s the beginning of December, and yes, there have been Jewish holidays and three day weekends and Veterans’ Day in there, but he has yet to make it a full Monday-Friday week without either having a scheduled day off, going home sick or not being able to go at all.

Jessie is in the final prep for her bat mitzvah – which just reminds me that I HAVE to get the invites done this weekend.   So we’re going to stop this paragraph right here, because more stuff on my to-do list isn’t helping me.

Julie… what’s up with my Julie?   She’s just thriving.  Still my delightful little wierdo – gorgeous and brilliant and lovely and enchanting.

Ahh – I’ve blogged too long, and now have to get Julie up for religious school, then to drop off Sam’s sample and get Jessie to a bat mitzvah….


Julie asked me the other day if Marc and I had time for “making out and sexing.”  What I found fascinating about this (once I got past the incredulous what-the-hell) was that she wasn’t asking about sex (which would have been enough to throw me off, she’s only five!).  She was literally inquiring about whether or not we had time to focus on it.  It struck me as such an incredibly adult thing to think about – like she wasn’t thrown off by the idea of it, but wondered about how were we were able to balance out working, raising a family and still having time for each other.

She’s such an odd combination of scary-precocious and holy-moly weird.  She’s quick to whip off her pants, loves being naked, and spends the majority of her time teaching herself how to read and write.  When she isn’t doing that, she’s watching unbelievably crappy television shows that she picked up from hanging out with Sammy.

Last month, she asked me how it would negatively impact my friendship with Aviva if a tree fell on our car while we were parked at their house, because they’d have to pay to fix it.  First she asked who would pay to fix the car, and then we got into a huge discussion about insurance and deductables and liability.

This is not the normal conversational thread for a five year old.