I’m a horrible cook.  I don’t enjoy it, and I frequently put stuff on the stove and then wander away, get distracted and come back just in time (if I’m lucky) to whisk the pan off the heat before it burns.  I’m not a creative cook, I can do a couple of things well, I’m a functional cook, enough so my children won’t starve.  It’s definitely not a strong point of mine. But baking – baking I’m really good at.

I didn’t bake much with my oldest.  I was thinking about this the other day, and the first kid I really baked with was my son Sammy.  I started to feel guilty, because what was I doing that I managed to miss out on baking with my girl child?  Then I remembered that Jessica Mary was my first, and for three and a half years, she was my only.  I did EVERYTHING with her, and it hadn’t occurred to me that I should try to bake cookies that don’t come in a handy roll from from the grocery store.

By the time my son was born, I was really starting to think about converting to Judaism.  The first thing I loved about Judaism was the weekly Friday night Shabbat dinner.  A long, relaxed family oriented meal, where we sat and talked, blessed the candles and the kids, drank wine (or grape juice) and were grateful for all that we had.  An important element of that is the challah.  I decided that I’d master challah.  So I googled (I love google) and printed up several recipes and went to work.  We were living in a tiny apartment then, and the kitchen was minuscule.  Sam and I would carry the ingredients out to the dining room, and he’d get so excited about carrying the vanilla and the cinnamon and the flour (vanilla and cinnamon aren’t really traditional ingredients, but the recipe I have is really good).  We’d bake every Friday, and I still make some of the best challah I’ve ever had.

After the success of the bread, I moved on to cookies.  Cakes.  This year, I mastered hamentashen (the triangle shaped cookies that get baked at Purim – I have the BEST recipe, seriously.  These are good enough to make all year long).  Sam’s at school now during the day, and my helper is now my younger daughter.  Julie is an exceptionally enthusiastic baker, and gets visibly upset when I refuse to make another batch of cookies.  Or bread.  Or cake.  Not that we eat all that much of this stuff – most of it, I end up giving away.  But there’s almost always fresh chocolate chip cookies, or homemade bread sitting on my counter.

I like to bake.  I’ll never be a cook, and my repertoire may never get any bigger than the rotating cycle of five or six meals that I can reliably produce.  But baking is such an easy and fun thing to do, especially with kids.  And for what it’s worth, after trying a zillion different versions of the chocolate chip cookie, for my money, the best recipe is the Nestle Tollhouse one on the back of the bag of chocolate chips – cook until vaguely light brown and then get them on a cooling rack immediately or they’ll continue to cook on the pan.  And the very best recipe for homemade bread is a cup of warm water, a teaspoon and a half of dry active yeast.  Let it bloom, then add a tsp of salt, a tsp of sugar and a tsp of softened butter/margarine.  Mix in enough flour to make a soft, sticky dough, and knead for about five minutes.  Let it rise in oiled bowl until doubled. Dump it out, pat it down. Form it into a loaf shape, and plop into a bread pan.  Brush with melted butter.  Let it rise again and then bake until light brown.  It’s awesome, a really good, crusty white bread that’s absolutely yummy.  And a perfect companion to the ragu sauce I dump on a box of pasta 🙂

I thought it might be fun to look back at some of my archives, because I’ve been blogging since 2008, and find an older post that has some relevance to where I am now.  Plus, it’s an easy blog post, because I’ve (mostly) already written it.  So here’s a post from March of 2009 – and the reason I chose it is because Sam is, today, walking around with a goofy looking hair cut because he rebelled towards the end of it and refused to let us finish it.  Some things never change, apparently 🙂

Sammy’s haircut (March, 2009)

I have a very stubborn son. In my head, he’s mild mannered and laid back, I think, only because I have have two of them, and Jessie is so much more emotionally intense and dramatic. But Sam – he’s no slouch in the strong personality department. And when there’s something he doesn’t want to do, be it visit the doctor, give his grandmother a kiss (or even a glance of acknowledgement), or take a bath, he makes it abundantly clear. I can still win a battle with him – because he’s two and I’m thirty five – but it’s a major struggle.

Which brings me to the latest battle. His hair. Sam’s got great hair, it’s straight, baby fine, and a gorgeous honey color. I love it. We had one bad hair cut experience, involving Marc’s clippers (I told myself that Sam was his son too – and let him cut his hair). Needless to say, he cried, I cried, it was a HORRIBLE haircut and I was so glad when it finally grew out. Now we do a bowl cut, and I trim it myself. The second to last haircut was done by holding him down on the floor and whacking away at his hair while he screamed. It took both Marc and I, and didn’t look all that great… but it was out of his eyes, and he’s so cute anyway, I thought he still looked beautiful. But that was a while ago, and it’s getting longer and longer… and in his eyes and it just needed to be cut.

We talked and discussed, and I kept bringing it up, and he kept saying “No cut my hair!” but I persisted, and randomly, about ten minutes ago, he agreed that it would be a great idea. It would tickle, and he was game… I cut his bangs, and it’s not in his eyes anymore, but then I got too ambitious and cut one side of his head, so it didn’t hang over his ears. I was going to continue around the back and finish up on the other side, but then he rebelled. And is now lopsided. He got more and more upset, and since I was afraid that he’d move too fast and I’d end up cutting off his ear, I gave up. He’s running from me, screaming “Not cut my hair never ever again!” He looks goofy – although maybe I’ll get used to it. Maybe lopsided will be the new trend – little boys the world over will start to follow his lead… and they’ll all look ridiculous together.

It’s a good thing he’s so cute, I’m just hoping that nobody notices that the hair on one side of his head is an inch longer than the other side.

Because it’s not all hearts and flowers around here…

It was a good weekend, Saturday, we had a “friend” birthday for Jessica and Glennys.  Which was lovely, good friends, my sister Aimee came over with her boyfriend.  Aimee is living in Belgium these days, getting her PhD, so I haven’t seen her in a while.  My mother and sister Mandi both came as well.  Aimee is my stepsister, so she wasn’t quite as open about rearranging my house as both my sister and my mother were.

For some reason, both my mother and my sister Mandi believe firmly that I live a life filled with clutter, and spend most of their time when they’re here putting things away.  Things I like not put away.  For example, I like my dishwashing detergent on the side of my sink.  My sister likes it under the sink.  I like my hair stuff on the bathroom counter, my mother likes it in a drawer.   I still don’t know where they put my cinnamon/sugar mixture – I had it in a little tupperware container by the coffee filters (which I like to keep next to the coffee pot, they like them in the cabinet).   So I’ve spent the last 36 hours or so trying to find all the stuff they put away.  Which, honestly, did nothing to improve my morning.

Then my Sammy boy had issues.  Going back to school after a vacation is never easy for him, and it wasn’t easy today.  I had him set to go – he had pulled himself together after the initial freak out, got dressed and ate and was out the door, but then he ended up late because of snow removal issues.  Being late is NOT OKAY in his world, and he flat out refused to go.  Since he has proven more than capable of screaming for hours when we force him to go, I just gave up and brought him home.  Where he devoted himself to torturing his sister.  

I’m exaggerating, kind of.  He wasn’t torturing her, so much as he was playing with her in ways she didn’t appreciate.  If you don’t play her way, Julie has developed an ear piercing screech that’s not at all pleasant.  It’s effective – I’ll grant her that.  Because if the kid on the receiving end doesn’t immediately stop or give her what she wants, I’ll start yelling at the older kid to just make the noise stop.  Effective.  And has the added bonus of making me feel like a crappy mother, because really, it’s not fair.  She’s getting her way because she’s freaking LOUD.

I liked Jessie today.  Mostly.  She was good.   There’s the grumpy voice in my head that’s saying it’s because she left here nine hours ago and hasn’t come home yet, because she’s got school and then religious school.  But really, she was great this morning.  Other than the one fit, when she claimed that Sam was insulting her because he said he had shoveled yesterday.  He wasn’t.  She still wanted him punished, and was most disturbed when I failed to appreciate how victimized she felt.  Because he said he had shoveled.

See?  Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy.  And it’s not beneficial for anyone.  Really.  On the upside, my mother and sister love me, and while I adore them profoundly, I’m also glad it’s usually me visiting them and not the other way around.  And someday I’ll find that cinnamon and sugar container, and it will be a good day.  And ten years from now, it’s not really going to matter if Sam went back to school on Monday or Tuesday, and if anything, this just gives us the added incentive to make sure the little bugger is at school before the bell rings.  Julianna… it’s tough to find a bright side to the screech – but she’s strong willed and emotive and able to express herself.  No worries about her not being able to stand up for herself, right?  And my Jessie, oh my pretty Jessie.  I think she just wanted to fuss a little bit, get a little attention.  And I missed her all day long.  That being said, if you don’t like that your brother gets positive attention for shoveling and you don’t, go out and shovel along with him.

Here’s hoping for a better tomorrow…

I have three kids.  And I adore them.  Really, I do.

I also have two stepdaughters.  I also adore them.

I’ve got a Glennys – who’s not a daughter, exactly, because she’s got parents, but she’s my oldest’s best friend and practically lived with us until she moved to North Conway a couple of years ago – and yeah, I adore her too.

But wow – what an unbelievable disaster they create.  And I have to just step back, and remind myself that February vacation only comes once a year.  It’s not Christmas vacation, when there are a zillion Christmas and Hanukkah gifts to play with.  It’s not April vacation, when the weather is warmer and I can throw them outside without guilt.  It’s February.  It’s cold.  And they’re bright, brilliant, creative children.  And again – wow, what an unbelievable disaster they create.

My poor beleaguered dishwasher is running thru again, with three meals a day, times at least six kids and two adults, and a toddler who believes that every day is better when there’s baking involved, it’s definitely working overtime.  My washing machine isn’t speaking to me anymore, but continuing to crank along, washing load after load.  You wouldn’t think there’d be much laundry, as everyone seems to be in pajamas all the time, but still.  There’s lots of laundry.

And my living room, oh, my poor, sad living room.  Blocks and board games, books and flutophones, barbies, Noah’s Arc animals, Hello Kitty and Dora figurines are EVERYWHERE.  Paper, crayons, pens and pencils, markers and erasers and scissors litter the floor.  I do my best to keep the television off and am actively working on cultivating patience and persistence.  Because only by virtue of the two, patience to keep reminding myself that I love them, and they are bright, brilliant and creative – and persistence, by not ever really stopping picking up, a little bit, all the time – only by virtue of those two qualities am I maintaining any hold on my sanity.

This is the only February vacation I’ll ever get with a ten year old, a six year old, and a two year old.  And a thirteen year old, and two eleven year olds.  But really, this’ll never happen again.  So I’ll smile, hopefully, and won’t scream in frustration and start hurling toys into the trash.  I’ll be grateful for creativity, and hours spent building worlds with dollhouses and barbies, and drawing for hours.  And remind myself that it’s just a few more days until we get back to normal again.

It’s not a flashy anniversary.  And after eleven years, we’ve got a lot more in our lives together than just us.  We’ve got three kids to get up and fed and dressed, two to drop off at school, a toddler requiring care and attention.  Girls Scouts this afternoon and Boy Scout tonight.  Dinner will be fish sticks, brown rice and mixed veggies, and the kids will exist in a perpetual sugar high until they finally crash at night.  

But there’s incredible beauty there.  It’s the beauty that comes with waking up early and nursing your youngest child.  The one you named after your love, her middle name is a reminder of the promise he made as we were starting our family.  “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.”   

There is beauty when you kiss briefly in the kitchen, only to be interrupted by the toddler, who’s up far too early but appeased with little boxes of chocolates your husband bought the kids last night.  Thrilled by her treat, she immediately wakes the other two, showing them their chocolates.  You spend the morning getting clothes, starting laundry, unloading the dishwasher, serving breakfast and trying to remember where you put your coffee.  The coffee your husband fixed for you, as he does every morning.  There’s beauty in that.

There is beauty when your son, bouncing off of the sugar from his morning truffles, decides to have Daddy help him get dressed by hanging upside down and demanding that he yank his clothes off.  He’s a monkey, bouncing and delighted to have his Daddy home and with him, and secure in the family we’ve created.  

There is beauty in your oldest, the one who cemented your relationship in the first place.  Packing up her bag, and her cookies for class, her poster for girl scouts.  She’s so much like him, and so much like you.  There’s so much beauty in that.

There is beauty in the text messages, sweet voice mails and frequent phone calls that’ll go back and forth between us all day.  There is even more beauty in knowing that it’s not just because it’s today, we do it every day.  Ours is a relationship that exists in frequent and small contacts all day long.  It always has.  There is beauty in knowing that it always will.

Because that’s what eleven years means.  It’s not an accomplishment, it’s not a  victory that you’ve made it that long.  It’s an acknowledgement that this is your life, this is real and constant and something that’s as rock solid as it can be.  It’s the foundation for everything else, and everything else is more than you ever dreamed of.  There’s an incredible beauty in eleven years together, and I’m so grateful to be here today.

Julie and I are the only ones home during the day.  The older two are in school, obviously, and Marc’s off at work.  And we aren’t joined at the hip.  Julie normally bops around the house, doing this or that.  Watches far too much television (but I justify it to myself by remembering that there’s eight feet of snow out there and it’s damn cold – plus she’s watching educational stuff…), she colors and builds, plays doctor.  I do whatever it is that I do, sometimes it’s laundry and cleaning, sometimes I read, often we’ll cook together or I’ll read to her.  But she’s used to entertaining herself, and as long as it’s not dangerous, I’ll usually let her play with whatever.

I wandered out of the bedroom and glanced into the living room, only to find my toddler sitting on the floor, playing Apples to Apples.  She wasn’t really playing it, so much as she was sorting the cards into little piles.  She’s big for piles.  But the Apples to Apples game belongs to her older sister.  And she knows that.  She knows that she’s not allowed to play with it.  I pointed out that Jessie would kill her if she knew what she was doing – and Julie looked at me meaningfully for minute and said “If you don’t tell her, she won’t know…”

And, because really, if you’re mature enough to make that connection, and to think of it as a logical response, then you’re probably old enough to handle the consequences.  So I just laughed and told her to put it away when she was done.  Which she did.

Sometimes, I really have to work hard at remembering that this kid is only two years old.

I’m a breastfeeding mom.  I nursed my oldest until she was eight months or so, Sam stopped when he was three and a half (or so) and Julie is still nursing at two.  Not only did I do it way longer than I ever planned to with Sam, I also nursed thru thrush, staph infections, multiple fissures, nipple confusion, nursing strikes and mastitis with Julianna.  I’ve gone down the road with this, and I’m so ready to stop.

First, let me say that I can’t imagine not nursing my babies.  It’s a fundamental part of the way I relate to my babies, it’s a big part of the way I define motherhood in the beginning.  The ability to immediately soothe and calm a baby – both Sam and Julianna were HUGE comfort nursers, and I encouraged it.  Why wouldn’t I?  It was EASY.  Perfect.  Jessie loved her pacifier, and nursed strictly to eat.  Once she had solids, she weaned on her own.  It was peaceful and gradual, and while she continued using her pacifier for years afterwards, I felt really good about that weaning experience.

Sam wouldn’t ever use a pacifier – believe me, I tried.  Really, really hard.  But he hated it, and for a very long time, would only calm down from nursing.  He nursed non stop.  I remember counting each time he latched on, starting with first thing in the morning and hitting 24 by two o’clock in the afternoon.  It wasn’t that he didn’t transition to solids easily enough, he loved to eat.  He just also loved to nurse.  He loved snuggling and settling down and relaxing.  It was… easy.  It was the perfect solution to whatever bothered him.  He was a child with huge stranger and separation anxiety and it seemed to reassure him.  It was a quick easy reconnect when we were apart, and stopped a tantrum cold with little to no effort on  my part.

But he just kept going.  It wasn’t unusual, in my circle of friends to nurse a toddler.  Two of my closest friends had babies around the same time, and both of them nursed until well after their kids were two.  But two came and went with Sam and he showed no interest in stopping.  I put off getting pregnant, he obviously wasn’t ready for a sibling.  I got tired of waiting for him to be ready and we conceived Julie in August.  He had turned three in July.  I nursed until I was four or five months along.   I just looked it up (and here’s why blogging comes in handy) he nursed for three years, five months and two weeks.  And that last five months or so was hellish.  I didn’t want to nurse, but he wasn’t ready to stop, and as much as I was ready, I wasn’t willing to make him miserable for it.

I hoped, oh, God, I hoped that Julie’s transition out of nursing would be easy.  Like Jessie’s.  Gradual, peaceful.  Just an outgrowing of the need.  It’s not happening.  She’s still a nursing little kidlet and shows no sign of outgrowing.  It’s simply her favorite.  I’ve moved way past don’t ask, don’t refuse.  I never, ever offer anymore, and refuse as often as possible.

The nursing relationship with Julie was so challenging at first – it seemed as though we spent the first four or five months struggling.  She went on a nursing strike on the third day and I was so devastated when she refused to nurse.  It ranks as one of the worst days of my life, I literally sobbed all day long.  Granted post-partum hormones obviously played into it, but still… that day, Sam’s circumcision, and the first day I went back to work three months after Jessica was born – they all measure about the same to me.  We got thru the nursing strike, went almost immediately into a case of thrush that was so bad it morphed into open cuts all over my nipple (TMI, I know…) and then into a staph infection.  AND I KEPT NURSING.

So it seems odd, now, after having fought so hard for this, that I’m desperate for it to stop.  Not desperate.  Just… yeah, I’m ready to be done.   Yes, it’s great that putting her to bed is a breeze, she nurses for a bit and goes right to sleep.  It’s an instant mood lifter, nothing tranforms a cranky toddler faster or heals a bump on the head like a couple of minutes of nursing.  But I’m tired of it.  I want to be done.  I feel like she’s grown up so much – she’s talking and walking and potty trained, and I’m just waiting for her to be done with this.

And pushing her to be done.  I refused to nurse her all day today, and she didn’t fight it that much.  I’m limiting it to just before nap and bed, I think, and I’m working towards night weaning as well.  I know that the day will come when she’s done, and there’s a part of me that’ll be sad, but not that much.  Mostly, I think I’m ready to move onto the next step – I just want her to be ready too.

If I had to describe my perfect weekend, it would look an awful lot like this one.  Starting with Thursday night, when we went out for dinner, Marc and I and the five kids, plus the in-laws, to celebrate Jessica turning ten.  Dinner was lovely, as only dinner with a zillion kids can be.  We went to the Chinese buffet (because if you’re taking a ton of kids, it’s best to do it at a huge restaurant where the waitstaff LOVES babies).  Afterwards, Marc went to run half the kids home (the perils of a stepfamily) and then came back to pick up the rest of us.  Because I had the two little ones (Sam, 6, and Julie, 2), it made sense for him to leave first and come back to get us.  It was frigid freezing cold, but I bundled them up, with hats and gloves and scarfs and we spent ten minutes or so outside, with the two of them racing along the wide sidewalk and making up games.  Of all the kids, I think those two PLAY the best – not that the rest of them don’t get along, but those two are the most likely to make up grand adventures and act them out.

We kept my stepdaughter overnight on Thursday.  Friday and Saturday, thus far, have blended together into this easy, peaceful sort of time together.  We’ve shoveled, we’ve played in the snow (and by “we”, you understand that I hate all things cold and wet, and was more than happy to stay inside and keep cocoa on standby), we’ve napped, we’ve watched movies.  I’ve baked.  A lot.  Cakes, chocolate and vanilla for Sam’s boy scout banquet on Sunday, and a yummy apple cake I made earlier.  I baked bread and cookies.  It’s been… just lovely.  There have been a few minor squabbles, but nothing that took a lot of energy or lasted very long.  Lots of arts projects, I’ve got two kids currently drawing on the couch, a boy watching Inspector Gadget II on the floor, and a toddler and husband napping.  The roads are still too bad to drive on, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  We live on a giant hill, so it gets bad earlier and stays that way longer – and I’m really happy about it today.  We’ve got errands to run, things we could be doing – but when I look at the snow covered road out front, I’m just as happy to pretend that the driving ban wasn’t lifted.  I’ve got a pot roast bubbling, hot coffee perking and a bag full of library books just waiting for me.

I love the blizzard of 2013.  I missed the one in ’78, I had just turned four, so I remember none of it.  But this one, this one I’ll remember for a long time.

Each child is special.  And vital and important in their own right.  But one of the reasons that Jessie’s birthdays are so significant for me is because she’s my first.  Ten years ago, right at this very  moment, the snow was starting to fall a little harder (we ended up getting a foot of snow the day she was born) and I was on my way to the hospital.  She was late, and had been breech up until the last moment.  A c-section had been scheduled, and then cancelled when she flipped into position a week before her due date.  The due date had come and gone, and I was scheduled for an induction on Feb.10.  But at 6:28 on Friday morning, I woke up with a horrible back ache.  It came and went, every five to seven minutes, and I was terrified.  Thrilled, but terrified.

We got to the hospital (Marc insisting that I sit on a towel in the car, in case my water broke), only to find out that my regular OB wouldn’t be there, her husband had fallen on the ice and broken his leg.  My mother, as luck would have it, was also at the hospital, she had also fallen on the ice and was going to the ER.  I think she ended up with a knee brace, or limped a lot – that detail is somehow missing from my memory.

The labor went well, they broke my water pretty quickly, as I remember, and I made good progress, about a centimeter an hour until mid afternoon.  I got the epidural when I was around seven centimeters or so, and after that… my labor just stopped.  I stopped dilating and then Jessie started showing signs of distress, and eventually, I ended up with a c-section.

Jessica was the prettiest baby I’d ever seen.  Because she hadn’t been down the birth canal, her head was perfectly shaped, and she had the biggest, most beautiful eyes.  Her nose was perfect, and her mouth really did look like a little rosebud.  But it was her hands that made the biggest impression on me.  They were my hands, just in miniature.

Right from the very beginning, my relationship with her was … I don’t have words.  Which is rare, I like words.  But it’s impossible to explain what it was like, having her for a daughter.  I was a daughter, and was very, very close with my mother.  But this was different.  Similar, although obviously from a different perspective.  But different.  I was, and am, in love with her father, and trust him as I did no other, but this was different.  More… primal and absolute and absolutely overwhelming.  She simply was the most important thing I’d ever been a part of, and I’m failing miserably to explain how profound the change was.  From Melissa, before Jessica, to Melissa, after Jessica.  Everything was different.  Having her changed every aspect of my life, not just the way I got along with my siblings and family and friends, but the way I approached my job (it was now strictly something I did for health insurance and food for Jessie) to the way I thought about myself.  I no longer defined myself as me, I was me with her.

And ten years has passed, and the intensity has lessened.  It has to, of course.  She’s her own person, with thoughts and feelings and actions that are entirely her own.   And I have two more children now – and love and adore them as much as I do her.  But she is still my baby, my girl, my first introduction into the me that I am today.  And she’s ten years old, and that absolutely astounds me.

At ten years old, Jessica is tall and slender.  Still underweight, all long legs and long arms.  Long brown hair that she wants desperately to have be curly, and still the most gorgeous eyes.  She’s all drama and intensity, with this goofy side to her that comes directly from her dad.  She’s horrible to her brother more often than not, but sometimes she forgets that she hates him and then they’re wonderful together.  She dotes on her baby sister, and is better than almost anyone at distracting her and calming her down when she gets upset.  She’s stubborn and funny, showers for hours on end and loves the trashiest television.  This child would watch Dance Moms and Honey Boo Boo for hours if I’d let her.  She likes books about tragedy, she’s not a fluffy book reader at all.   I read indiscriminately – she reads very deliberately.  And she reads like her dad, slowly and remembering everything.  When she picks a book, she’s going to live with it for a while, so she’s careful with the selection.  She still sleeps with her teddy and her Poopadoo baby doll is now relegated to a cradle out of Julie’s reach, because she’s been so well loved, it’s a real risk to have her be played with – she may well fall apart.

After ten years of motherhood, I can say that it’s so much more than I thought it would be.  So much harder, so much better.  I couldn’t have predicted that my heart would break as easily or as often, watching her learn how to navigate in this world.  I couldn’t have predicted how much I would love her, how grateful I’d be, every day, for the chance to be her mother, to have her for a daughter.  There are times when she’s driving me nuts, there are times when I wish desperately for an off button so that she’d just go to sleep already, and there are times when just the mere fact of her is still enough to make me catch my breath in awe.

She’s what started it all for me.  It’s been ten years, and I can’t remember who I was before I had her in my life.  But I’m so, so grateful for the past ten years, and the thought of the next ten, and the ten after that, and so on and so on is enough to make me smile.  Being a mother, being her mother, is all that I ever wanted to be.  And it’s so much better than I thought it would be.

Happy birthday Jessica Mary – I simply adore you.  I’m so glad I got you for a daughter.

Oh, I’m sick.  I’ve got a cold.   It’s been a while coming, I’ve had a sore throat for several days, a little bit of a nagging headache and now I’m sneezing and congested and just…. yucky.  It’s been kind of a wretched day too – Sam still won’t go to religious school, and ended up tagging along to a Tot Shabbat service.  I’m still befuddled at how Julie just participates in these things, I never expect it.  And I’m not USED to it, because I don’t know quite what to do with her.  Do I stay next to her all the time?  The other parents seem to stick fairly closely to their kids, but my instinct is to NOT stay within reach all the time.  Because past experience has told me that if my kid is happy without me there, I should encourage that.  Because if I put myself there, most of the time, Jessie or Sam would opt out of participating to sit on my lap, so I tend to let her go and just watch her like a hawk from across the room.  But then I feel guilty, especially when Sam is there, because I don’t know if I’m indulging him in being clingy and should be ignoring him and sticking with my two year old.  So I ditch Sam, leaving him under a chair where he’s hiding to avoid well meaning people trying to talk to him (seriously – if my son is being totally anti social, avoiding eye contact and snarling at you – just leave him alone.  It’s better for everyone that way, I don’t condone rudeness, but I’m always wishing people would stop trying so hard to engage him – he warms up so much faster if you pay no attention), and go hover over my toddler.

Went from one synagogue to the next, and went to another toddler service.  This one, Julie cried thru.  Because it’s good that they alternate between being miserable – that way I get to shake it up.  She sobbed when she wasn’t allowed to open the arc that holds the Torah and insisted that the entire group sing the Bim Bam song.  Twice.  After that, we dropped Jessie off at dance and stopped at the library.  Because, dammit, I need books.  I just do.  So I loaded up, and the thought of the sixteen new books waiting for me in the other room is the only thing getting me thru this.  Then we went to the dollar store, for reasons that I can’t remember, and Sam got all stressed out trying to pick out a toy.  Marc got even more aggravated because Sam was taking too long and I was left standing there, in the aisle, with my sobbing six year old who couldn’t choose a crappy toy from the long wall full of crappy toys and husband hollering from across the store because he was ready to go.  It wasn’t fun.

I hate being sick, I just get crabby.  I’m normally a much nicer person.  But when I’m sick, I kind of hate everyone.

Marc’s overtired and not all that cheerful himself.  Actually, he’s in a much better mood after having slept for a while this afternoon.  He’s got such a killer schedule, 12 and 15 hour days all week long, and I don’t blame him for being tired.  Much.  Although I’d like to point out, in true crabby fashion, that when he’s working 12 and 15 hour days – so am I.  Only I’m “working” at home, taking care of laundry and dishes and overseeing homework and baths and refereeing the unending brawls that break out between Sam and Jessie or Sam and Julie.  Jessie and Julie rarely fight with each other, but both do a nice job of battling it out with their brother.  Poor Sam.

I just spent the past hour cleaning my living room and dining room.  Kitchen is still in shambles (although Marc is cleaning that) and I’m embarrassed to tell you how much laundry I’ve got piled up.  So much so, I’m afraid to start, because facing it would be that I’d be starting a project that’s going to take hours, and right now, all I want to do it take two benedryl and hide under the covers.  Only… Julie is still up and Jessie needs to get in the shower, and Sarah and Sam are currently building a fort in my room and I can’t find the bed.

I hate being sick.