Jessie and Sam didn’t go trick or treating this year.

Jessie’s taller than I am, and I think she felt like she’d look ridiculous trick or treating.  She was happy to stay home and dole out candy to kids at our house.  Sam had two problems – one being that his vision at night is terrible, and the other being that he knew that he wasn’t going to be able to eat all the candy he wanted, because his taste buds are still messed up.  Not as much as it was, but enough so that all night would be constant reminder of what he’d lost.

So Marc and I took Julie out trick or treating solo.

It actually isn’t even full circle, because I feel like we never took Jessie out trick or treating by herself.  Maybe when she was a toddler, but after that – we always went with a group.  Glennys, Sarah and Lilli, then Sam and Harrison and Julia, Jordyn, I think we’ve gone with Aviva’s kids, and Virginia’s kids.  Even this year, we had Devin and Aiden with us for the first half before we dropped them off.

But this year – it was just Marc and I.  And a dog who’s desperate to get a hold of some of these trick or treaters, because she’s got to love on them immediately.  It was lovely – just the three of us (and the slightly rabid dog) wandering around trick or treating.

One of the things I try really hard to do is be in whatever place I’m in, if that makes sense.  I tried hard to really be grateful for the chaos, for the kids all over the place and the insanity and fun that comes from taking fifteen kids trick or treating at once.  And I worried that I’d be sad, now that the stage in my life is over.  I’m winding down, in the parenting of little kids stage.  Not finished with it, but it’s slowing down.  And I loved it – walking around with my husband, trying to sneak adult conversation in between reminding her to say Happy Halloween and trying to save the dog from choking herself on her own leash.  Watching my baby girl, my last little baby, go up to each house and smile bravely and talk to strangers – always a challenge with her.

I had the nicest of nights, and the fact that we came home, and Julie was so excited to show the older kids what she got, and to divide up all of it, combined with the leftovers from we didn’t hand out – and share it with the two of them.

Happy Halloween.

I don’t get political on the blog.  I think of the blog as an elaborate baby book, in a lot of ways, and I like to think that generations from now, a random grandchild might look back on this and enjoy reading what I wrote.  So I don’t get political.

But I’m going to briefly – just for a minute, because this has been bugging me for weeks.  Months.  Years, really, ever since Donald Trump announced his candidacy.  I think this time in our history will be remembered with enormous shame.  Similar to the Jim Crow laws, or the Japanese internment camps – a sad, shameful chapter in our history that we learned from, and hopefully, will do better.

That’s on a good day.  But mostly, especially lately, I feel like all of this outrage, this calling out of men who have sexually harassed women, it’s all utter bullshit.  We don’t care about this.  As a nation, as a country – we elected a man who openly bragged about sexual assault.  We have no credibility pretending outrage now.  We already said it doesn’t matter.  We already showed our daughters, our sons, that women are, in fact, second class.   We told our daughters and our sons that it’s totally acceptable to denigrate women on the basis of their looks, to look at them entirely as sexual objects.  Why all this pretend outrage at President Bush for patting women on the ass?  Why the daily reporting and interviewing of women who were assaulted by Harvey Weinstein?

I know it’s irrational, and I don’t even really believe it.  Of course we should report it, of course we should be outraged.  But it doesn’t matter.  He still got elected.  He’s still in office.  And as long as that’s the case, as long as he’s still in power, we can get as outraged as we want at Mark Halperin, at Harvey Weinstein, and George H.W. Bush – but it’s meaningless.  We’ve already said, in the most profound and significant way, by electing a man who BRAGGED ABOUT DOING IT.  We already told our children that men are entitled to treat women that way, that women should either expect it or feel bad that they aren’t pretty enough to get harassed.

I’m so incredibly angry all the time about this.  I live my life, I do the things.  But I’ve never ever felt as ashamed of being an American as I have been since Donald Trump was elected President.

She fell UP the stairs last week.  In keeping with my tradition of downplaying her injuries (like the broken wrist I ignored for 24 hours), I told her she was fine.  Her knee wasn’t swollen, it was just a little achy at the end of the day.  And then a little more achy.  Finally, we were wrapping it every  morning, taking motrin every afternoon and it had been almost a week.  Off to the doctor’s we went.

Because of her history of a zillion broken bones, strains, sprains and bumps, they’re reluctant to give her x-rays.  And where the pain is points to a torn MCL tendon, which wouldn’t show up on an x-ray anyway.  The nurse practitioner gave her crutches and a note to stay on them for the next five days.  It’s not a huge tear, probably fairly minor, but because she isn’t staying off it, it’s getting worse and not healing.

She went to school yesterday, armed with a note clearing her of being on restricted activities because of the concussion, and notification that she needed to be on crutches until Monday.

My biggest challenge is time.  Just having enough TIME to fit it all in.  There are six days a week, I try to hit at least some homeschooling five or six of those days.  I have to work two of them, two of them I babysit all day, which means I’ve got three solid days with nothing OTHER than homeschooling to do.  But there are weekends and playdates and family stuff going on too.

I remind myself that the beauty of homeschooling is that it’s flexible.  That I can cram in a half hour of history here, two or three chapters of math there, and still get it all done.  When I total it all up, and look at what we do on a weekly basis, or a monthly basis, it’s always more than I think we did – but then I agonize over it, what did we miss?  Am I doing enough?  Is he ahead of where he should be?  Right on track?  Or the worst – IS HE BEHIND?

There’s all this weight – am I messing this whole thing up?  I look at what the girls do in public school and feel better about it – I know that he’s learning better one on one than they are.  I know that he accomplishes more, in many ways, than they do.  But I worry that I’m missing some huge piece – like writing.  I’m not doing enough with writing.  I mean, he’s reading and exploring different forms of writing – like poetry and essays and novels and non-fiction.  He’s reading (on audio books) high school level books.  He’s not doing a lot of book reports, or writing essays on his own yet.  We’re working on learning to type, which will help.  It’s so painfully difficult for him to write still – how much of that is because of the vision issues, and how much of it is that he’s just rusty – I don’t make him write because it’s so hard for him, which means that he’s not writing a lot… vicious circle, I know.

The reality is that I’m making this all up as I go along.  Much like everything else I do… and just hoping against hope that it’ll all work out in the end.

I kept Julianna home from school today.

There are very few things that I’ll regret from raising these three kids.  But one of them is the two months that Marc and I spent trying desperately to get Sam to go to school before his accident.    When the anxiety kicked into high gear, and the physical complaints were overwhelming, he had constant abdominal pain, and sitting in class was next to impossible – we thought we had no other choice.  He had to go to school.  That was the only option.  If we gave in, then the anxiety would win and he’d never be able to live a normal life.  We were told that over and over again, by everyone.

We tried so hard, with incentives and punishments, and mental health experts, and school adjustment therapists.  Different drugs, different treatments, and it spiraled from there.  It was terrible, and I’ll never understand why someone, anyone, didn’t just shake me and tell me that we didn’t have to do this.   Homeschooling is a lot harder with Sam in many ways, in part because of the accident, but also because there’s a lot of school based anxiety around failure – but if we had started it before the accident and we didn’t have the vision issues to contend with… it’d be a breeze.  Even with all those complications, it’s so much easier than threatening and sobbing and struggling every day, and he’s thriving.

I’ve also got my Jessie – my beautiful, bright and so sweet Jessica Mary.  Who scored a perfect score on her ELA MCAS, and brought home a report card filled with As and Bs.  Last night, she fell apart, because she’s so stressed out all the time, and feels like she’s always behind and exhausted.  She’s a freshman.  A freshman.  The amount of pressure that she puts on herself, all the time, and I can’t figure out how to get thru to her to get her to chill.  Relax.   She’s so driven and so focused – but she’s only fourteen, and it’s so much harder than it should be sometimes.

So when Julianna started crying today in the drop off line, begging me to please, please not make her go today – I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Julie isn’t Sam, and she isn’t Jessie.  But if I have a chance to not make those same mistakes, to teach her mental health skills like it’s okay to take a day and breathe, then I’m going to do it now.  Before she becomes a freshman who’s so stressed out that she forgets to eat all day.  And if this continues, and the drop offs get harder and harder, I’m going to pull her out way before it gets as bad as it was with Sam.

She spent the day drawing and dancing.  I have no regrets today.



It’s not a holiday in the traditional sense.  I know that.  And yet, for us, it’s an annual tradition that we look forward to, get all excited about doing it, and enjoy it more than I think we probably should.

Cumberland Farms offers Free Coffee on Fridays in October.  It’s not that the coffee is expensive, it’s a dollar, but I don’t, as a rule, get coffee for me.  Mainly because I drink it all day long, and it’d be way too expensive if I didn’t just make it at home.  But on free coffee Friday, I not only get coffee there, I let the kids get it too.  Coffee for everyone!   And it must just be the whole forbidden thing, the novelty of it, because they all really, really get into it.  Julie, in particular, was so damn happy that she got coffee in her own little to-go cup.

Jessie is on the train right now.  By herself.  To Boston.  I pushed, a little, and encouraged her to make plans with Lilli to go spend the night in Boston at Emerson.  In part, because I remember doing it with Eric and Mandi when I was a freshman at Emerson, and partly because I want them to stay close, now that Lilli is off to college.   I was brave and so free-range, oh yeah, I’ll pop my 14 year old onto the train by herself, it’ll be FINE.  Then when it actually came time to ship her off, I was hesitant and unsure.  Fortunately, Jessie was not, and danced off onto the train like it was no big deal.  And it’s not, she’s ridden the train in and out of Boston a zillion times (well, 12), so it’s really not a big deal for her.  Which is what I wanted, but …

So it seemed like a rational idea.  I’ve got a dog, she smells.  Not a lot, because we bathe her and stuff, but she’s still only so-so on the whole housetraining thing, and my carpet is kind of stinky.

I had tried the whole put-baking-soda-on-it thing, and it worked a little.  But Love my Carpet, with the picture of the dog on it, – that had to work better, right?  It doesn’t.  But it does leave a lingering stench of baby powder and little particles of powder in the air, rendering the air quality bad enough that all the kids were coughing and Marc still refuses to come out of the bedroom.

In other news… all is well here.  Sam’s a little emotional, for reasons that he can’t fully articulate.  Boys go thru mood swings too, in puberty, and he’s in throes of something right now.  Jessie is in the middle of taking over my dining room with her English project.  She’s doing the “epic hero” journey and using Moana as her story.  So I’ve got posterboard, glitter glue, island rose petals and sequined green ribbon that she assures me is critical to the project.  Julianna is kind of a hot mess this afternoon, she fell, and then everyone thought it was because she couldn’t breathe (due to the aforementioned Love My Pet fiasco), and the attention for the wrong thing reduced her to tears.  She’s been very into drawing these days, and is currently working her way thru her third sketch pad this week.

Marc got Employee of the Month today – and as proud as I am of him, I’m also a little sad because he’s still waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Things have been so rough for so long, especially for him, especially career-wise, that succeeding is still somewhat of a novel experience for him.   He’s always worked so hard, and it’s so rewarding for him to have found a job that he likes, and is so good at.

God, it really is hard to breathe in here.

I’m still struggling with the whole housebreaking thing.  Sometimes I think she’s doing well, and then it’ll all fall apart.  We take her out all the time, get ridiculously pleased and dispense treats and copious compliments whenever she pees outside.  And then she’ll come inside and poop on the bathmat.  I remind myself that dogs were literally created to exist in harmony with humans.  She must get it at home point, right?

And on the upside, the rug does look great.  I mean, you can’t sit in there because it smells so very bad, but from a distance, it looks good.

She dances outside in the afternoons.

Not every afternoon, but enough so that it’s a thing.  She goes outside, all by herself, and sings and dances around my front yard.

I love this kid.

She’s so beautiful.  Not just physically – although between her big, big eyes, endlessly long lashes, her skin with the little dusting of freckles, and her gorgeous, gorgeous hair – she really is beautiful.  More importantly, she’s the kindest, most thoughtful and sweetest little girl.

Jessie is my first, my oldest.  And she and I have a special bond because of that.  Sam is my boy, my buddy, and God, after what we’ve been thru in the past few years, he and I are incredibly connected.  But my Julie – my tiny little Julianna, she’s my blessing.  I adore her.  And watching her dance outside my window is my favorite part of the afternoon.

It’s been a fairly chaotic time, although not for any reason in particular.  I used to be home more, with more space and time for blogging.  This past month, I’ve been doing STUFF, dealing with a head cold, Jessie got a concussion, Sam started playing with legos.  Julie started school.  I mean, Jessie started school too – but she seems so much more independent – like, SHE started school, whereas I still feel as though I’m intimately involved with Julie’s school.

So here we are.  Jessie’s a freshman, Sam’s plugging  away at either fifth or sixth grade, depending on my mood and how productive we are.  Julie is in second grade, and I’m worried, a little bit, about how challenged she is.  I KNOW the other two are working up to grade level, or even higher.  But Julie’s so smart, and so quiet, and so afraid of imposing or irritating anyone – I’m afraid she flies under the radar to an unhealthy extent.

Marc’s job is going well.  Really well, in a way that’s still a bit weird to get used to.  He’s always worked so hard, and so often found himself in positions where the company couldn’t pay him.  So to find a company who not only loves what he does, but financially recognizes it… it’s so new and different, we don’t know what to do with ourselves.

Lizzie Beth is… well, suffice it to say that getting a puppy is hell at first, but getting better.  She’s mostly housebroken now, if you don’t mind that she never ever tells us when to take her out, but depends entirely on my remembering.  Me remembering, because nobody else seems to ever do it unprompted.   She’s slightly crazy, but super cute.  I wish she’d sleep in Sam’s bed, but sadly, she seems to prefer my bed – so often I end up with both Sam and Lizzie sleeping in our bed.