Saturday, December 26, 2015

Strength

"You're only as strong as your weakest link."

Every age brings new adventures and challenges. While I am enjoying ages seven and four, the sass and attitude and crying for stupid reasons are on my last nerves. I get frustrated, especially at the end of the day and lose my patience. My patience is especially thin once a month. (The truth hurts, ladies.)

In an effort to help the girls change their behavior and in an effort to remind myself to take things in stride, I created yet another behavior plan. E1 and I are visual learners and it is important for both of us to have a reminder that we can see.

We sat the girls down and explained that as a family we all impact each other's daily lives. If someone is having a bad day, it can cause a ripple effect. As a family, we all need to work together to be helpful and positive and try our best. I explained the saying of you are only as strong as your weakest link. We talked about an actual chain and how if one piece is broken, the chain itself is now broken or not as strong. E1 understood the saying and we chatted about our family being a unit, a chain, and how the saying related to our daily lives. And then we started our family chain.

The girls can earn a link for having an overall good day - listening, not losing their tempers, sharing, not crying over stupid reasons, etc. They do not lose the link on the first cry, sass, attitude, poor decision. I remind them we are earning links and so far, after one reminder (occasionally two reminders) I can see them trying to correct their behavior or thinking before they act. I earn a link if I do not yell or lose my patience too quickly. E1 gets the vote at the end of the day whether or not I earned my link. She LOVED this aspect of the family chain. The hubs has the same goals as I do.

When our chain hits the floor we all are rewarded with a family activity. It can be a board game, a movie, a meal together, playing outside, anything we all agree to but only the four of us may participate in the activity.


There is nothing more important to me than family and I want the girls to have the same passion for family. I want them to rely on our family and know that together, we can accomplish anything. In full honesty, the chain is the most necessary for E1 and then myself, but since we all have room to grow and improve we kept this realization to ourselves and created the family chain. After all, you are only as strong as your weakest link.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It's Just A Name

At some point in their lives, I have told both girls I will never lie to them. I will answer their questions and expect the same in return. The 'I will not lie to you' has opened a line of communication that I can only pray continues well into their adulthood. The 'I will not lie' has also forced some serious conversations in this home. (puberty, death, homelessness, divorce, religion, poverty, etc.)

A few years ago, E1 has asked why we named her what we did and why do she and E2 have "E names." E1 learned I was pregnant, got very sick, the baby died, and she and E2 are named for their brother. Of course, I did not explain Leukemia, umbilical cord accident, chemo passing the placenta therefore we need to adopt, etc BUT I gave her enough information for her to know the truth. She was 5 at the time and what I gave her was honest and age appropriate.

Out of nowhere E1 asked me tonight, "Mom, what disease did you have when the baby died? Does it kill people?"
Well, shit.
I explained the words Leukemia and cancer. I explained aggressive versus slow growing. I explained "catching it early." I explained that yes, people die from cancer. E1 listened and asked a few follow up questions and then she said I was lucky and she was lucky to have me as her mom.

At this point I am crying and explained how my being pregnant and the baby dying had a happy ending. E1 responded, "Yes. Since my brother died you could be alive."  I then told E1 how her middle name was the last name of my oncologist. With a HUGE smile she said, "So I am named for the two people that made you healthy."

Yes baby, you are.

And then with true seven year old big sister attitude, she turned to E2 and said, "My name is more important than yours because I am the first born. You only have our brother. I got the doctor too!"

When she is older I will have to explain when it is a appropriate to be a bitch.
For now, I will let her have this moment because honestly, it is beautiful.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Merry Christmas

December....tis the month of the holiday season and that holiday is Christmas. Sure there are other holidays, but the two shelves at Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond for Hanukkah or Kwanzaa does not compare to the store wide celebration of Christmas.

We are Jewish. We do not celebrate Christmas. We do not celebrate "secular" Christmas either. I am not sure when the second was created, but I do know we do not celebrate with a tree, lights, Santa, Elf on the Shelf or anything else that is a symbol of Christmas and that's a-o-k because we are Jewish. Jewish people are a minority in a predominantly Christian world. That's it. There is really no further explanation needed.

I would say we, but that would be inaccurate so I will say, I was nervous to send E1 to public school because of Christmas. Would she feel left out? Would she want a Christmas tree in our home? Would all the children discussing Santa upset her? Would she feel odd in music class that she does not know the lyrics to All I want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth? The answer to all these questions is No. E1 does not feel any of this. The anxiety was all in MY head and I am embarrassed to admit that I did not trust enough in my parenting or my child's ability to just roll with it. It has been an honor to watch E1's Jewish pride soar during this holiday season.

I had a meeting with her teacher before December began to discuss what Christmas in the school looked like - music, trees, lights, stockings, the elf, reindeer, gingerbread men, etc. I explained that it was all fine. We are not wanting to be the Jews that stole Christmas.

Each day E1 has come home and told me what her classroom Elf has done, how she has earned some candy in her stocking, and what her friends want from Santa. Today, E1 went to school and was able to share about her cousin's Bar-Mitzvah and about Hanukkah. E1 lit the menorah last night, chanted the prayers, and sang some songs. She begged for latkes. The children in her class will hear of this and learn. E1 is learning about other holiday traditions and teaching about her own. Isn't that the way it is supposed to be? Shouldn't we all educate each other?

E2, who presently attends a Jewish preschool, is the child crying at night asking for lights on our house and a tree inside. You know who is explaining the ins and outs to her? E1. Last night she said, "We are Jewish. We don't celebrate Christmas. It is pretty to look at it, but we don't do it. We have the menorah, latkes, our decorations, and presents. Stop crying. You're annoying." While the ending was not so sweet, it is typical of a big sister and I am more touched by her ability to understand and be proud of our religion.

This Friday for the Sabbath and Hanukkah we will celebrate "Shabbanukkah." I love this term my friend coined a few years ago. We will have 21 people in our home and we will light the Shabbat candles and the candles on the menorah.  We will sing songs, open presents, and eat latkes. We will all smile, take 100 pictures, and enjoy the evening because we are Jewish.

My girls are not less Jewish because of public school. They are not less Jewish because the majority of people celebrate Christmas. We enjoy the lights on the homes and annually drive around looking at them while drinking hot chocolate. We love Christmas. We love the holiday season.

We love the spirit of giving. Giving tzedakah (charity) is a mitzvah (good deed), so the spirit of Christmas lives in all of us...even the Jews.

Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah. May this season of joy & giving bring health and happiness to all of us.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

F*ck You, Magic Tree House

E1 LOVES to read. It is her thing. I am not complaining. Right now we are reading the Ramona series, but when she is bored E1 will read her Magic Tree House books again. Deep in the abyss, otherwise known as her room, she has stumbled upon the non fiction companions to these chapter books. I love that she loves reading, but these companion books have caused quite an education in our home.

We have discussed the Titanic and why on earth were there not enough life boats? Why did they hit the iceberg? Why doesn't the cruise ship we have taken her on sink? How exactly do cruise ships work? Did the Alaskan cruise we went on before her birth come close to hitting an iceberg? Did I know that X amount of people died on the Titanic? Can she go on a tour of the RCCL ship this summer and ask the captain if he would be the last to leave if in fact we started to sink? SERIOUSLY. Do they make kiddie Xanax?

We then discussed Tsunamis. Yes, tsunamis. Do we live close enough to water that if there was an earthquake under water and did in fact create a tsunami, would it flood our home? Did I know how many people died in the tsunami? Did I know they people hung to trees until someone found them or they died? Did I know kids died? Why did the kids die? Did they not take swimming lessons? How dirty is the water? How can water kill you? What is drowning like in a tsunami? Do you know you are drowning? Why can't you just swim WITH the waves? That is what she does in the ocean when we visit family in Miami. OH MY LORD, I NEED THE XANAX.

Today we discussed sea monsters. Did I know this about squids? That about Octopuses? Sea reptiles? Can she PLEASE go to these websites to learn more? PLEASE? Fine. Websites it is.....anything to shut her up. I cannot hear one more damn word about sea monsters. Without thinking about the publishing date of the book, we pick a website that is listed on one of the back pages, Crap. The site is no longer there. No biggie, we go to the home page of Live Science. Oh, this looks pretty educational - awesome. As we are scrolling and looking around, a picture of cute giraffes slides onto the screen. ANIMAL SEX: HOW THEY DO IT.

Fuck, I am out. I close the website and send her outside to play saying the computer battery was dying.

Like I said, fuck you Magic Tree House and your educational companions. My child may be smarter, but I am two minutes away from needing to self medicate.



Rice & Bean Table

We have a six year old water table. It was bought for E1's first birthday and it is the gift that keeps on giving. In the warmer months it is filled with water and in the cooler months it's filled with rice and beans. The girls enjoy playing with this outdoor activity so much.  We put in the table measuring cups, measuring spoons, funnels, plastic animals, plastic cars, and anything else we think might be fun. Tupperware has found its way in and so have plastic utensils. This year, the girls added an ice cream scooper. (Why not)

Without even knowing it the girls work on pouring and spooning skills, measuring skills, sensory skills, etc. They love to use their imagination and work together to create elaborate scenes within the table. I am amazed at their excitement each year when the water table turns to rice & beans and then back again to a water table.

*You should only buy rice & beans if you do not mind a few bean sprouts in the spring time. My girls know the rice and beans are supposed to stay in the table, but every year they 'sneak off' to plant a bean garden.

**The table is filled with a 20 lb bag of rice and 8 lbs of pinto beans.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Why?

Why? I ask why all the damn time.

Why does it take so damn long to choose your panties when you are four? Seriously, just pick a different My Little Pony pattern and stop crying because the pony you originally wanted is dirty. We do NOT wear panties two days in a row. Every. Fucking. Morning. Why?

Why is it difficult for the seven year old to decide between a bath and a shower? Is she waiting for the house majority vote? That vote is just for cleanliness.

Why are socks an argument? The blisters always form when you go without socks so why is there even a why?

Why is wearing weather appropriate clothes a discussion? 85 degrees means no jacket. Heat stroke is not really something I would like to experience.

Why do the girls think we eat candy for breakfast? And why do they huff and puff when the answer is no?

Why do the girls think they can say they do not want to eat dinner and I won't send them to bed hungry? Learn. The. Lesson

Why is there so much laundry? How do two children add so many more loads??

Why does the seven year old SOAK her bathroom floor EVERY night? How the fuck does the water get out of the tub?

Why does buckling a seat belt require so much effort? Does one forget how to do it between each car ride?

Why is brushing your teeth something to lie about? And how about wetting your toothbrush if you are going to lie. How do you not know that this is the first thing we check? And your nasty breath is a dead give-a-way. Why do you still lie about this?

Why can no one find an 18 inch stuffed animal, but we know where every lost bead is.

Why is my oldest daughter a hoarder? The scrap of paper is TRASH.

Why do they still whine? Seriously, why?

Why is "Turn off the TV" so difficult to understand?

Why is "No" so difficult to understand?

Why can my child multiply but not chew with her mouth closed?

Why are manners so hard to learn? And using utensils? Why do they think they are cavemen?

Why the attitude? It makes me afraid for the teen years.

Why are their clothes on the floor? Is the hamper really that hard to find? It is in your closet. It has been there for five years.

Why do you still play hide and seek with the four year old? SHE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND. Why do you get frustrated?

Why is there an agreement between them to be all sweet and kind in public and then a plan to be assholes at home?

Why, why, why.....so many questions with just one answer:
They are children.




Monday, October 26, 2015

Unwanted Membership

October 26, 2004. The absolute worst day of my life.

I remember it as if it just happened. No one talks about still born babies. No one. It is a secret until it happens to you and then you are a part of a club with unwanted membership.

It was a Sunday afternoon, one day shy of 29 weeks gestation. I was laying on our black leather couch watching TV when he kicked. Being acutely aware that my husband had only felt this a handful of times, I started to say his name and walk up the stairs. By the time I reached the upstairs, he had stopped. I thought, oh well- next time. I didn't know there'd be no next time.

We went to Target for more maternity clothes and dinner at my parents' house that night. I remember the yellow maternity shirt I was wearing. I remember not feeling the baby. I remember saying something to my husband. I remember him reminding me how a few weeks prior the baby had turned in a way that prevented me from feeling his kicks. I remember thinking wishful thinking.

We went to sleep that night deciding my husband should meet me at the Dr for my already scheduled appointment. I remember praying. I remember crying myself to sleep.

The next morning I woke to no movement. Nothing. My husband asked, I said nothing, he sad it'd be OK. It wouldn't.

I went to work. I sat on the bench outside the 6th grade wing and monitored the hallways and performed my weekly morning duty. I remember a colleague, one of the 6th grade English teachers, asking me if I was alright. I remember telling her the baby hadn't moved. She told me how her daughter was a lazy baby during her pregnancy and not to worry, but her face said otherwise.

I taught 100+ students that day and kept busy. I drove to the OB/Gyn office and cried the entire way. I remember signing in. I remember the silence as the nurse searched for the heartbeat. She searched three times. I cried. We moved to the ultrasound room. It was there we saw no movement. No noise. We saw a baby sleeping. I'm not sure who said he had died- the nurse? The Dr? That I don't remember. I remember all the times I heard, "We are so sorry."

I remember my mom being there. She was making phone calls to family and to my oncologist. I called a friend. I told her to call everyone else. I remember telling my husband I was sorry. I remember the doctor, with amazing bedside manner, telling us he would see us again and believe it or not, this happens a lot. We were never patients of his again.

They inserted something into my cervix to start my labor and sent me home. There I was, laying on that same black couch but this time family was in my home, whispering, comforting us, trying to help pass the time. Again, I cried myself to sleep.

We checked into the hospital early in the morning. We had to go talk to the insurance people. You have to square away your deductible even if the baby you are delivering is dead. There's no bill me later for people who are in their darkest hour. I sat in a gray chair as my husband dealt with the insurance people. As I watched the clock, I began to get angry. Angry that my son was dead, angry that I had to deliver him, and angry that the deductible needed to be paid. The lady assured me that this was the most annoying part of my day and wished us luck in our new journey of parenthood. I remember telling her with venom in my voice that our baby was dead. I remember walking out.

I remember the labor & delivery room. I remember getting an epidural. I remember getting so many other drugs because in the words of a delivery nurse "there was no need to feel anything." I remember our aunt sitting to the right of my bed reading a newspaper as the day progressed. I remember my brother sitting on the floor across from my feet as the day progressed. I remember nurses telling my husband there was no way I should be awake with all the drugs they had given me. I was awake. I was awake and remembering. I remember telling my husband to get everyone out of the room. I remember crying and saying get them out now.

The baby was coming. I could feel him. With my husband by my side, I delivered our still born son. There was no cry from him, just from us. There was nothing but silence except our tears. There was no joy. There was nothing. 

Our Rabbi came later that day. We discussed a memorial service and burial procedures. I remember eating a Mc Donald cheeseburger while he was there and thinking, why bother keeping kosher and following G-d's law if this is how life turned out. I remember the Rabbi telling me my emotions were justified.

I was brought to the maternity ward. The only redeeming part of this entire ordeal was the mesh panties hospitals give you when you have had a baby. That night other mothers nursed their babies. We watched TV. That night families came to join in joy in the surrounding rooms, our room was filled with mourning people. I was released the next day. I was wheeled out of the hospital with no baby in my arm, no car seat in the car, no nursery at home, nothing. We were left with nothing.

We performed an autopsy to make sure it was not the CML that caused the baby's death. It wasn't. It was a 'typical' umbilical cord accident.  We still have the autopsy report. 

Only family came to the cemetery. A casket small enough to fit a baby is something no one should see. We cried. The Rabbi cried. It was raining. As we went to put him in the ground, our uncle jumped in the way and grabbed the casket from the cemetery workman's hands. I gasped and yelled through tears. It is a mitzvah to help bury the dead for it is a deed that cannot be repaid. My husband's two uncles then placed the casket into the ground. 

For two weeks I laid on the black couch. I did not sleep. I did not go back to work. I just laid there.I laid there and felt sorry for myself and my husband. I cried. I felt the heat from my breasts as my milk came in and then took over a week to dry out. Friends came over. No one knows what to say. I went shopping for normal clothes and cried hysterically in the dressing room because a pregnant belly with no baby is just fat and that fat was a size 16. I yelled at the sales people in the mall. A friend that came in town had to apologize for me and tell them why I was so mad.

I was really mad.

Two and half weeks later, the day before I was supposed to return to work I hemorrhaged. Like a nightmare that would not end, my husband sped me to the Dr's office while I bled profusely in the car. I lost half a body's blood supply. I was in and out of consciousness with nurses telling me I would be home soon with my baby. I remember with barely enough strength to lift my head, I yelled "Read a fucking chart. My baby is dead."

My husband signed papers saying the Dr could perform a hysterectomy if necessary. It wasn't. The Dr. performed a D and C due to a piece of placenta being stuck and causing the hemorrhaging. I remember my husband telling the ICU nurses that he was not going home, that our baby was dead, that I almost died, that I had cancer and he was in fact going to sleep in that damn chair in my ICU room. I remember family coming to visit. I remember thinking I was officially off the bad thing market. Bad things happen in three - cancer, dead baby, almost dying. I was officially done. I remember calling my aunt, who I worked with, asking her to go to my room the next morning and apologize to the parent and explain why I was missing our scheduled conference.

I remember the next morning. I remember telling the ICU nurses to wake up my Dr because I was finished. I was going home. I was literally trying to pull my own IV out of my hand when they finally believed me. The Dr came. I was discharged. Again, I left the hospital in a wheelchair with nothing waiting in my home.


We moved months later to a home in the suburbs. We left the city where we felt suffocated. We started our life over and now years later with all those terrible memories, I can tell you it all works out in the end and I trust in G-d. Eli, our son, saved my life. The pregnancy brought my CML to light and after he died I was able to start treatment. 

I have two amazing daughters named for their brother and my husband and I have a strong marriage. We made it through the most difficult time in our lives. We laugh, we sing, we dance. We enjoy our life. We embrace the fun, we do not look back and think why us. We look back and think, thank G-d. 

Annually, we stand at Eli's grave and say thank you. Thank you for our life. Thank you for my life.
We wouldn't change a thing. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

When It Rains It Pours

Thursday morning started early....around midnight to be exact. E2 was awake off and on crying hysterically until 4 am. No rhyme, no reason. Up and down the stairs I went tending to her cries because not going up there is the kiss of death. She has never responded well to "cry it out." NEVER. And she hates the hubs after she has fallen asleep - it is the most bizarre thing I have seen.

E1 left for school, E2 woke up snotty - guess there was a reason for her waking up. She was getting sick. Thursday was snot filled and the day ended with a low grade fever.

Friday was snottier, the hubs left town for work, E1 was at school and E2 and I hung out with tissues and Sudafed. Friday afternoon, E1 had a wonderful play date with friends and the day ended with her exhausted and E2 sleeping beautifully with the help of Motrin and Benadryl. Yes, I administer drugs.

Saturday morning began bright and early at 3:30 am with E1 standing at my bed saying she puked and she was going to puke again. DO I LOOK LIKE THE TOILET??? WTF?!? Pukes again. On the tile floor. Good times.  She goes back to bed, pukes again at 5:30 in her own toilet in her own bathroom. She wakes at 8:30 am to find E2 happy, less snotty, watching TV. I give her some water and a cracker. One sip. One nibble, PUKE.

E1 gets quarantined to her room. She has a portable DVD player for movies and the iPad for games, but she went to sleep. No food, no water, she feels terrible, she is sleeping. I should mention that I am prepping for a major power outage and possible flooding due to heavy rain coming our way.

By the afternoon, E1 has slept on and off and watched a movie while E2 and I played games, watched TV, ate, chased the dog around the house - he needs exercise and it is raining outside. Whatever works.

4 pm, E1 has 102 fever. Damn it. Quarantine some more, gave her some soup, and turned on a movie for her.

7 pm, lights out for snot face - she only needed Benadryl tonight and E1 is back to sleep with no more puking. Whew! Made it through the day.

8:30 pm - it is raining a lot now, the media has made me crazy. I still  have power, but the worst is yet to come....Dog has to pee. Damn dog. I let him out back and why hello there, TWO baby snakes. SLAM door. Shit, did the kids wake up? No. Grab some poison, wasp spray to be exact and proceed to spray the shit out of these two snakes. Can empty. Snakes dead. Dog is now back inside.

I am now watching the media frenzy in regards to the rain, still a possible flood, still possible power outages, and have a bottle of Drano to pour on any snake the next time the dog decides he has to take a leak.

This is the glory of parenting.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Homework

Dear Parent,
Did you see today's homework?!? What a joke. We need another worksheet like we need a damn hole in the head. Honestly, what is the point of this shit. All it does is create a stressful time of getting this out of the way so we can shlep our kid to activities. We also need to shlep the sibling to activities. We do not have time for this crap. And what about the creative poster thing we have to make? What the hell? Why do these teachers think we have all this arts & crafts lying around our house?? Now we need to go to Hobby Lobby and/or Michael's to buy stuff because we'll be damned if we let our child just use crayons. There is no way our kid's poster thing is going to look the worst. No way. What is this read for 15 minutes? We read every night. Sure sometimes we forget or don't have time or our kid reads on their own, but we do not need a reading log parenting us. The teachers need proof our kid read? Why they don't just call us a liar to our face? Homework fucking sucks. Let's ban together and send nasty emails to the teachers about how homework is ruining our lives and our child's life.  There is no point to the homework and we know we all spend countless hours bitching about it to each other.
Sincerely,
A Parent

Dear Parent,
I know I have homework. I know I need to do it now. I know we have somewhere to go. I know I need to hurry. I also know I need some down time. I need to process my day. I need to use the bathroom. I need to unwind. Please stop telling me to hurry. Please stop telling me I cannot play with friends or siblings because I have not finished my homework fast enough. Also, will you please stop hovering over my shoulder and pointing out my mistakes? I know you think you are doing what's right, but you are making me nervous. I understood the material at school, but now that you are asking so many questions, hurrying me, and parenting my sibling all the while making dinner, I am getting confused. I need help, but not the answer. I need you to provide me a quiet area and time to complete my homework. My homework is important to me. My teacher has told me to complete it independently. I love my teacher. You raised me to respect my teacher and now you are complaining about her and this assignment. I know you think you are mumbling or whispering to a friend, but I heard you. Is my homework not something I should take pride in? I don't get why it is bad. Isn't homework my job as a student? I also like the reading log. It gives me time to read or if I am lucky, you will read to me. Please do not teach me homework is a nuisance. It will not pave the road for good study habits or a positive outlook on my education. Complaining about my homework, constantly monitoring my answers, and rushing me does not make me feel good.
Sincerely,
Your Child

Dear Parent,
Yes, I know I assigned homework. Yes, I know it is annoying to you. Yes, I know your child has activities or stays late at school because you work. Yes, I know every excuse you are going to email me. Do you know homework is not my decision? I did not create that worksheet. I did not decide to start the reading log. I did not choose the creative assignment that has caused you so much angst. I have a grade level chair, a department chair, and administrators telling me what to do. I have state legislatures telling me what to do. I have curriculum to follow. I have a list of standards each child must learn by year's end, no exception. Yes, I know your child is gifted or has a learning disability. Every child has "something" they need. The homework is used for reinforcement. It is not new material. Please trust me and my years of experience over the miscommunication you hear. Please do not give the child the answer. Please just check for completion. As the teacher, I need to know which child needs to be retaught. If the child is struggling at home, take that as an indicator of to how they are doing in class. If the child is breezing through the homework, that too is an indicator of they are doing in class. I know if your child is struggling. I know if the work is too easy. I know because I am the teacher. Homework should not tear us apart. It should bring us together. Homework shows you what we are learning, shows you how the child is doing with this material, and gives an opportunity for the child to practice what has been taught. Again, this is the child's work. It is not your work. Homework also teaches responsibility and pride. Homework is not the evil you have made it out to be. Please do not send an email to me complaining about homework. Please do not send an email to my administrators complaining about my homework. These same administrators approved my lesson plans last week and approved the homework. Please remember I became a teacher because I believe in your child, all the children. I believe they can succeed. I want what is best for them, just like you.
Sincerely,
The Teacher

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Four

Dear Four,

I forgot how much fun you are! You are verbal, more independent, funny, sweet, caring, and a damn nightmare all rolled into five minutes. Sometimes I wonder about you, Four. Are you bi-polar? Do you have anger management issues? Will you ever communicate in a way that does not involve tears and screaming? Yes, I know my sweet Four that you will grow of it and thankfully this time around your meltdowns are not as dramatic, but holy hell you are unpredictable.

Just this past weekend you showed us how glorious Four is. Our neighborhood grocery store has mini carts for its teeniest shoppers. You were in heaven! Four, you were so helpful. You pushed groceries, you were patient, you were so happy. Then we checked out and you had to leave the mini cart. Four, you yelled so loudly the entire grocery store stopped in its tracks. The pitch of your scream literally pains my ears. Were you hurt? Was your arm broken? Did you get slashed with a knife and are bleeding to death? No. No, none of those things were happening. You had to put the damn cart away. For fucks sake, it is a cart and we have one at home!! "I WANT MY CART!!" was heard from the check out line until we walked out the store. On lookers stared at me while you screamed with tears and snot streaming down your face. I ignored you. I have seen this show before. I walked to the car, pushing the groceries, saying every few minutes, "We have a cart at home."

What amazes me about you, Four, is you do not remember I do not negotiate with terrorists. Two days later at Target, I needed to pick something up at customer service. I ordered it on line and clicked in store pick up. Happily you walked into the store, you love Target. I walked passed the carts toward customer service. You and your sister stopped. You wanted to ride in the "fun cart."  I explained I was picking something up, it would take two minutes, and we did not need a cart. "I WANT A CART" was screamed, and cried, and filled with gasps of air as you snotted your way from the cart corral to customer service. I walked to customer service, ignoring you. I picked up my item while you screamed. Your sister tried to reason with you while I laughed internally. There is no reasoning with Four. None.  Then you stopped and asked, "Next time?" As we left, the Target employees and other parents commented how cute you were and I rolled my eyes.  Tantrums are not cute.

Four, you screamed and cried and snotted when your lollipop fell, when your bike made a noise, when the Halloween inflatables were not blown up, when your sister's bus was late, when your snack fell, when your doll's glasses fell off, when you finished your waffle, when you wanted a different snack, when your shoes that were too small were returned, when the hill was too muddy, when you wanted to wear a jacket in 80 degrees, when you are told no, when there is not enough time to watch Team Umizoomi, this list goes on and on and on and on......you turn that smile into a tantrum in 60 seconds or less with no warning.

Each tantrum you get no response from me. I have learned. I wait for the storm to be over. There is no point in telling you to stop, there is no point in trying to make you understand. You, Four, are a child incapable of rational thoughts. I breathe deeply, ignore you, and continue what I am doing. Some days the tantrum is 30 seconds, sometimes it is 2 minutes, sometimes 10 minutes.

Four, you will learn. I know this. All you want is to be heard and I understand. One day soon you will not scream, you will not cry, and you will not snot when you are mad.

Until that day I say, "FUCK YOU, FOUR."




Monday, October 5, 2015

In Love

I have been hesitant to blog about this because I did not want to curse our good fortune or have anyone think I am bashing last year's school (which I am not),  but I am throwing caution to the wind and saying it loud and proud, E1 is an entirely new child (and for the better).

I credit our switching schools for this marvelous change. 6 months ago, I was heavily considering homeschooling E1 due to what can only be described as terrible social anxiety. My warm, tender-heart of a child was lonely in school, constantly looking for friends, wanting desperately to belong and it never happened. To watch your child crumble each week as she tells you a school story is heart wrenching.

With much trepidation, we enrolled our so called introvert into public school. She would go from 20 children in the grade to 20 children in her class and a grade with seven classrooms. That's a shit ton of kids.

E1, the introvert, the child I thought had social anxiety does not exist. Do not get me wrong, I think on some level she will always be an introvert, but now - wow, she has learned to navigate her world in just 6 weeks.

In our parent teacher conference, E1 was described as confident, a leader, friendly, someone the students like to be around....Excuse me??? MY kid? She has a huge group of friends - girls and boys, is never alone on the playground, has good conflict resolution skills, and in the words of her teacher, "she is doing great."

E1 rides the school bus and loves it. She enjoys finding people to sit with, sitting in the middle, sitting on the end, sitting with a new friend, etc. The bus causes so much angst for some that I laugh hearing E1 say it is the one of the best parts of her day.

E1 rides her bike to friends' homes. Friends that live in our neighborhood, that are in her class, or just some other first grader she met on the playground.

E1 meets her friends at the bus stop to exchange homework sheets and/or books if someone forgot theirs at school.

E1 makes play dates with people while on the bus, in class, or at lunch.

E1 waves hi to people at the grocery store. E1 waves hi to people at gymnastics, at tennis, at dance. No matter where we are, the child that shied away is now out there talking to people, making friends, being confident.

I do not know if it is just public school or if it is the combination of her finally being a part of community, but whatever "it" is, IT has done wonders for my child.

I look back on last year and literally cry remembering how she said she was happy and did not want to leave the school. Fast forward to this past weekend when out of no where she gave me a huge hug and thanked me for switching her school.

Her exact words, "Mom, thanks for sending me to (school's name). I get it now. I understand. I have friends. I am happy."

I am in love with our new normal. I love that we, as her parents, did not pigeon hole her and tried something new.

I am the MOST IN LOVE with the brave seven year old who trusted us to make the right decision for her and jumped into a new situation with her warm heart and big smile and finally got what she was looking for: acceptance.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Kickin' It Old School

Why is it when you finally have a behavior management system in place for your children it no longer works? Every few months I find myself reestablishing rules, routines, manners, discipline, respect, and trying to find a new way for the girls to remember how to behave like humans vs animals.

Depending on the age of the child and the specific child, we have used sticker charts, pom poms in a jar, sad jar, happy jar, dollar store rewards, time outs, alone time, color charts, three strikes and you're out, grounding from technology, missing play dates, earning screen time, earning play time, money (oh yes), and countless others.

My newest form of punishment is not original, nor it is mine. I thought about doing it, but never did until a friend told me she was doing it with her daughter. The beauty of peer pressure. It is no longer allowed in some public school systems and that makes it sound so scandalous.

E1 in all her seven year old glory still has some difficulty expressing her emotions when she gets pissed off. We all fly off the handle sometimes, but at seven I am going to need more self control or when she is 17 this mama is moving the fuck out.

I began this scandalous, corporal punishment in our home and I am LOVING it.


SENTENCE WRITING!!! BEST PUNISHMENT EVER.

When E1 starts to act like an ass (which can happen frequently) I merely state, "You need to stop now or you will be writing sentences."

The "I will not lose my temper" sentences were brought to you by E1 getting angry over something so insignificant that I cannot even remember what pissed her off so badly and neither can she. All she remembers is she lost her damn mind and didn't regain control until mom said, "You are now at 25 sentences."

I start at 10 sentences and work my way up in increments of 5. I might have to go increments of 10 when the novelty of this wears off.

Most recently E1 was in a "NO" mood in which means no matter what I ask, the response is no. I'm not sure what alien takes over her mind while this happens because this behavior has never been acceptable.

Anyway...tonight during our session of "NO" she was able to stop herself upon hearing this, "You are now at 15 sentences of I will not say no."

15 is less than 25. A math lesson and a lesson in self control all rolled into one- how nice for E1.

Maybe this punishment works because it causes focus and allows her to calm down and channel her energy elsewhere, maybe it works because it gives her time to think and reflect on what got her in trouble in the first place, or maybe it works because my kid HATES to write and can think of nothing worse.

Whatever the reason is, I am taking it as a parenting win (for now.)

Added bonus, her crappy ass handwriting will improve.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Food Coloring Fun

Ingredients: dish soap, milk, food coloring

If you google those three ingredients and add the words "science experiment" you will find a ton of videos. According to the internet, the results are better with "fat full" milk, but we had 2% and it worked well enough. Both girls really enjoyed it and we completed the experiment over and over again.

I am sure we will do this again since the items needed are household staples and once we figured out how to get the food coloring/milk "really moving" it became more exciting. The pictures don't do it justice. Super fun.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dick and Balls

Tonight I was leaving a school board meeting (for E2) when I received the following text from the hubs:

"Don't let the kids out the back tomorrow."

What kind of fucking text is that?? I call my husband and he says, "Apollo (our dog) killed a possum."

My car ride home is approximately 35 minutes.  In these 35 minutes my husband and I exchange squeamish girly noises and then proceed to discuss how to get rid of this disgusting mother fucker.

Me: Are you sure it is dead? What are we going to do?
Hubs: Apollo was throwing it around like a damn ball - it is fucking dead. I don't know how YOU are getting rid of it. I am going to work tomorrow. Don't let the kids out back.
Me: Are you out of your fucking mind?? YOU are getting rid of it.
Hubs: Nope. Not happening. You married a Jewish boy, remember?

At this point I recognize he is 60% serious, 40% joking.

YOU HAVE A FUCKING DICK AND A SET OF BALLS. USE THEM.

I post on Facebook that I need a shovel. I call EVERY person I know that lives within a 10 minute drive. NO ONE answers the phone. Hey, neighborhood friends??? WHAT THE FUCK?? Are you all passed out off your damn red wine at 9:30 pm?? I NEED A FUCKING SHOVEL!

While driving, I continue to call, text, oh and google "Do possums have rabies?" because not only does my vagina of a husband think I am going to get rid of the damn animal, but I also need to take the fucking dog to the vet tomorrow.

HALLELUJAH!!! A FRIEND ANSWERED THE PHONE.

They have a shovel. She is leaving it at her doorstep. 10 pm, here I am putting a shovel into the trunk of the car. For sure, I have seen this before. That's right, it was an episode of Law & Order. Forensics show blood and hair in the trunk along with the shovel used to bury the body.
Yes, this is where my mind goes....Woman arrested for burying her husband, later to be released as forensics show it was the remains of a possum.

I call the hubs and say wheel the garbage can to the backyard so you can shovel this fucker into it. Again he says he is not going to do it and my job is "taking care of the house."

UM.....

"YOU HAVE A DICK AND BALLS. USE THEM. And by the way, TAKE CARE OF THE HOUSE? That's fan -fucking-tastic. I'll take care of the fucking house. I am taking the damn Amex and taking care of the fucking house. I am going to take care of the plantation shutters I want, the mother fucking hardwood floors, and don't forget my covered patio! That's fine husband, I'll get rid of the damn possum and then TAKE CARE OF THE HOUSE." Fuck you, mother fucker.

(Side note: the hubs is laughing so hard at this point and he too has a mouth like a sailor. We are perfect for each other.)

In the mean time I had posted to our women's yahoo group (that's a whole other blog post) asking if there were any animal rescues that could help. Post after post said possums play dead so they stop getting attacked and most likely the animal was alive and would be gone in 30 minutes.

I relay the info to my husband and he assures me it is dead. He reiterates the story and says 100% it is dead.

I get home with the shovel.
I turn on the flashlight on my phone.
Husband takes shovel and goes outside.
I follow.

Possum gone.

SON OF A BITCH

Monday, September 7, 2015

New Year



In a few short days we will celebrate Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year. It is, for the most part, a joyous holiday. It is a reminder of the year we finished and an opportunity to look ahead to the future. A time to reflect and time to plan. A holiday with smiles and family and apples and honey for a sweet new year.

From Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, Jewish people observe the Days of Awe. During this time, we are to atone for the past year's transgression and forgive those have hurt us. From Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur it is believed that our names will be written in the book of life, who shall live, who shall die, who shall have a good year, bad year, etc.

As a cancer survivor, I openly admit I hate this time of year. I have the utmost faith in G-d and count my blessings every day but this book of life gives me annual anxiety. I am not a bad person, but I make mistakes. I know I have sinned this year. It is human to sin. One cannot be perfect 24/7. I know that G-d forgives me when I atone, so what am I so worried about?

I cannot help but wonder will this be the year? Will my name be left out? Will I not make it? Then I try to remember my faith and think of course I will be written in the Book of Life. This then leads me to my next morbid thoughts of which family member or friend might be left out.  It happens. You never know when, but people die. They do. It is a part of life. And it is the part of life I hate and have yet to come to terms with.

I truly do believe in G-d, have faith in G-d, believe everything happens for a reason, and all the other what doesn't kill you makes you stronger cliches. I truly have faith.

While this time of year brings me face to face with my ultimate fear, death, it also allows me to reflect on my life and how I live. I am alive. I am here to live. I am here to be a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a niece, cousin, granddaughter, friend. I am alive. I have a life to live and it is my choice how to live it.

Each year as the Book of Life is sealed and I pray I have been written in for a long healthy prosperous year, my anxiety subsides and I live. I make memories, I smile, I post too much on Instagram, post too much on Facebook, laugh too much, enjoy the days. Life is a gift. Each year I am here is a gift and I will not waste it.

Traffic, delayed flights, and other every day crap gets to me. Yes, I have bad days when I yell too much, sleep too little, eat only fast food, get so drunk you would think I was 20, run red lights, and text while driving. Like I said, I sin. I make mistakes. For any mistake I have made against another person, I ask forgiveness. My mistakes are never made with malicious intent.

Each year I reflect on my mistakes and try to make less of them. I try to be a better person. I remember it is my choice to live my life to the fullest or not. I can choose to be angry and annoyed at people or I can choose to move on. I can choose to accept people for who they are and pray I receive the same courtesy. I choose each year to choose life, a happy life.

When G-d writes my name in the Book of Life, I want him to know how thankful I am to have my life. I want him to know I appreciate my life and like every year, I will try my hardest to make the most of the next twelve months and all the months to follow. I will enjoy my gift of life.

I wish all my family and friends L'Shana Tova, a happy new year, and may you be inscribed in the Book of Life this year and many years to come.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

It Is Always Something

In the last ten days E2 and I had a stomach bug and/or food poisoning, E2 got a bad cold filled with snot everywhere, and just today E1 fractured her elbow.

Raising girls is supposed to be filled with coloring, arts & crafts, rainbows, hair bows, sugar, spice and everything nice. I have that PLUS running, fighting, swinging, climbing, racing, biking, hanging, jumping, balancing, tripping, falling, breaking. My girls are the literal tomboys in tiaras. All dressed up in ribbons and bows and covered in mud from head to toe. AND I LOVE IT.

Today we met friends at our elementary school's playground. The climbing structures have huge tents over them so the equipment does not get hot and the children can play. Genius. All the kids are playing, having a great time when their eldest and E1 decided to play on a "zip line." It is a metal handle you hold onto and swing your body back forth to travel across the way.

The hubs gives E1 a little advice to "pump her legs" to keep it going and she falls. Whatever. No biggie. She falls all the time. E1 landed on her feet, fell to her bottom then braced going back with her arms. Again, whatever. She fell. E1 seems fine, seems fine, says she is fine, looks at me, seems fine.....here come the tears, eyes are filling up, and THERE IT IS...CRYING!! "IT HURTS!" E1 is dramatic and therefore it does take some time to assess the situation.

The friends say, "Hey, that's how our kid broke his elbow. He fell just like that."
Fuck you very much for that information.

The hubs who apparently got his medical degree in the last 30 seconds says she is fine. She rests, it still hurts. Then E1 sits on the hub's lap and it actually seems she is ok. The crying has stopped and she is sort of dangling her arm in a way that seems to indicate nothing is wrong.

A few minutes more.....tears resume. At this point, I am arguing with my husband about which ER to use. He swears she is fine and is just being an attention whore. Since this is a strong possibility, we go home. The hubs, again using his google medical degree, tells E1 and me "RICE." WTF is "RICE?" Are we ordering Chinese food????

REST. ICE. COMPRESSION. ELEVATION. RICE.

Whatever. So we RICE her arm and depending on which way she moves....tears.

DAMN IT. I AM LEAVING. I take E1, against Dr. Dad's advice, to the stand alone ER.
An hour later, X-Rays show a small fracture. She is in a splint and sling for a few days and then will wear a cast for three weeks.

Dr. Dad was wrong.
Mother knows best.
It is always something.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

It Takes A Village

Yesterday was the first day of school. E1 started a brand new school, transitioning from private to public. She went from 21 kids in the grade to 21 kids in her class. She went from carpool to riding the bus. She went from the familiar to the unfamiliar.

8:00 am: As we entered the new school we were greeted by smiles, welcomes, cheery faces, and how are yous. The energy was positive, upbeat, wonderful. Through the sound system they played "We are Family." I was in heaven. I felt as if our neighborhood school was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I spent ALL day telling people how E1 did great at drop off, the new school was wonderful, and I was so pleased with our decision to switch schools.

3:30 pm: E1's face is sad. Really sad. Tears are quietly streaming down her face and I see this through the window pane of the school bus. As she gets off the bus, parents around say, "Oh no" as E1 falls into my arms in this dramatic hysteria. "I HATE SCHOOL. I'M NEVER GOING BACK. EVERYONE IS MEAN." E1 is crying hysterically saying this over and over and over as we walk the longest three minutes home. I am crumbling inside. I am about to fall apart myself when I remember I am the damn mom and have to figure this shit out.

E1's day was a straight up cluster fuck. Whatever could go wrong went wrong. As I listened to each part of the day we discussed how she could have changed the outcome using different words, standing up for herself, asking for help, etc. While all this was going on texts from family and friends are coming in asking how the day went and receiving the text "terrible." Poor E1. She was heartbroken and I was feeling the most immense amount of guilt.

Later in that day I spoke to the teacher. Son of a bitch. I am that mom and she is that kid. Fuck.

The teacher is a gift from G-d. She offered up some changes and E1 was prepared to go back for day two.

Day two: E1 woke up and I reminded her today was a new day and that quite frankly it was going to be better because it couldn't get any worse.  She left for school with no tears and I prayed.

3:20 pm: Two moms at the bus stop asked me how I was doing, if E1 was ok, and how terrible they felt that she was so upset yesterday. And now we are that family around the corner - the family with the new kid, the family with the kid crying. FUCK.

These moms and other moms took E1's crying as a learning opportunity for their children. The neighborhood bus stop moms told me how they spoke to their children about how terrified E1 must have been being the new kid. They said not talking to her is the same as being mean and they had a responsibility to make her feel welcome. And now I am choked up at the bus stop, overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers, the kindness of neighbors, and feeling assured once again we made the right decision to switch schools.

3:30 pm: E1 JUMPS off the bus and with her ENORMOUS toothless SMILE and exclaims, " I HAD THE BEST DAY EVER. I LOVE MY SCHOOL." She introduces me to her new friend in her class that rides the bus too and begins to tell me how GREAT her day was.

With yesterday behind us, the present being just that - a present, I look forward to her bright future.

It definitely takes a village and I am proud to be "that family" in this terrific village.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Free School

This year, my husband and I decided to pull E1 from private school and send her to our neighborhood school. She starts first grade on Monday and her own words, "Is a little excited." Change is difficult for anyone and I am not too concerned about her nervousness because I had concerns too with this decision.

I had. Past tense. I am no longer concerned at all. This school is great. It runs like a well oiled machine and quite honestly, it is "fancier" than the crazy expensive private school we left.  The building itself is not fancier, but everything else screams private school and I just laugh that I was worried.

Our fancy free school has:

A PTO with its own website. Yeah. Their own website. WTF. There is the school's website and then the PTO's website. Both have their own information. Both have their own forms to fill out for the school year.

A volunteer form with so many opportunities to help I thought I was joining the Junior League. It is so amazing the PTO can provide all these events....remind me again, this is a public school? I was afraid of sending my kid here?

PTO dues. We are so fancy our dues start at $30. For $50 you can receive a school directory plus membership. $75 or more and you are a friend of the school. You do not have to donate the minimum suggested amount of $30. You can click OTHER and enter your amount. Um, I am not "othering" my PTO dues our first year at a new school. I am not going to be the mom trying to volunteer and trying to help my daughter make new friends and at the same time be the "other" mom. Not going to fucking happen. This PTO is fancy because people like me are too nervous to be an OTHER. Fucking suburban peer pressure - and note to all of you, no one has made me feel this way. This is my own shit. I hope to meet an OTHER mom soon and maybe I can follow her lead next year. Or maybe I will be volunteer of the year and we will be "friends" with our school next year...who knows.

First Day of School Teacher Gifts. Say what? I was in Target today buying MORE crap for our first year in free school when I bumped into a friend of mine. She showed me her gifts for her kids' teachers. My exact response was, "Shut the fuck up." I then proceeded with, "I don't think people at E1's school do this. Shit. Let me text my friend." Oh yeah, WE do this.  DAMN IT. My friend let me know it was "no biggie" if I didn't buy one. UM. Kind of like the PTO dues, I am not being that mom. Damn suburban peer pressure.

I know it sounds like I am complaining, but I am laughing at all this. We pay damn high taxes to live in the neighborhood and our schools are fantastic. I laugh that I was ever nervous to send E1 to this school. This place and its staff have been nothing short amazing and all the friends we have met are great too.

For all the money I am going to spend this year in free school, I say bring it.
It is still less than tuition.
And it is still first world problems.

Happy School Year! First grade, here we come!





Regifting

Regifting. We all do it. If you say you don't, you are lying. We all have a space in our home that houses the presents that had no receipt and the usual Target and Wal-Mart did not carry them so you could not return for a store credit. Maybe the present is from Amazon or a specialty learning store. I don't really care, it is a regift.

I have regifted. I have. I believe there is a statute of limitations on this practice.  Arts & Crafts, which include all supplies such as sticky paper and/or glue goes bad. It does. How do I know? The girls just tried to complete a project from one of their birthday presents and could not finish it.  The glue and sticky paper were all dried up. Yes, we have regular glue that we used, but that is not the point.

If it has been a year since you received the present, throw it away or let your kid play with it. Nobody wants a present that does not work. Glue dries up, batteries go dead, buttons stop working, matchbox cars' wheels stop moving, etc. Regifting a present that does not work is worse than no present at all.

I understand the practice of regifting. Your child receives something they already have or something they do not want, but most likely a friend will enjoy the present and it was not returnable...so why not? I agree with you. Regift away.

1. If you regift, make sure the present has not "gone bad."
2. If you regift, make sure that if the recipient's parent actually figures out where to return the present, you are not embarrassed that it is now $2.97 and on clearance from four years ago.
3. If you regift, make sure the recipient will really like it. Regifting a regift sucks.
4. Don't regift just to get rid of it. (See above)

For now, the girls are going back to their arts & crafts project using the supplies we owned because in their words, "This present is broken."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Shaving Cream Art

Here is the link to the project we completed this afternoon.

http://www.wral.com/lifestyles/goaskmom/blogpost/10897326/

We used food coloring, pyrex dishes, and wood skewers. The girls also experimented with their hands. The project lasted about 40 minutes with E2 washing up first. They enjoyed it and I am sure we will do this project again. (Added bonus: shaving cream cleans up easily and smells pretty nicely.)



Monday, August 17, 2015

Little Live Pet

E1 and E2's Bubbe sent them money for their birthdays. When this happens, I let the girls choose whatever they want within the amount of money sent.

This year, E2 chose a stroller and E1 chose a Little Live Pet. Beauty Bella, to be exact.


I FUCKING HATE THIS TOY.  I might throw it away. I might light a match, set it on fire, and dance a happy dance while it melts into a tiny glop of dead bird. FUCK. This toy SUCKS.

E1 LOVES this toy. She will not put it down. She will not it put it down. OH MY G-D PUT IT DOWN, PLEASE!!

Beauty Bella records your voice, E1's voice, E2's voice, my voice, the hubs voice, the dog's voice, the radio, the television....with a tiny push of a button, E1 can record and then the GLORIOUS bird repeats back whatever it heard.

FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC.

The bird has repeated back a radio song. The bird has repeated back E2's tantrum - did I need a replay? The bird has repeated my phone conversation. The bird has repeated the dog breathing. The bird has repeated a TV show theme song. The bird has repeated E1 about a million times. The bird also repeatedly tells E2 "no" when E1 gets tired. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? Beauty Bella is a BITCH.

This damn bird goes EVERYWHERE.

I think I am going to order E2 a little live pet, cat edition and let it eat that damn bird.

WORST. TOY. EVER.

May the batteries run out before my patience.

Blame It On Dr. B

I blame a shit ton on our pediatrician. Any random rule...Dr. B's fault. I do not do this because my children do not listen. I do this because they LOVE Dr. B and if he says it, well hell, it must be true. After all, he is a DOCTOR and I am just a mom.

Everyone must use the bathroom before we leave or you will get sick and Dr. B will have to give you a shot.

If you do not poop, you will have to see Dr. B and get a shot.

That show is not appropriate. Dr. B sent me an email saying you could not watch it.

Dr. B says you may only have one pantry snack a day.

Dr. B says you must eat a fruit and a veggie at every meal unless you're on vacation.

You have to play outside every day even it is hot. Dr. B said so.

Everyone your age can ride a bike without training wheels. It is part of the check list at Dr. B's visit. Let's go learn.

Dr. B says no soda until your are 5 and then you can only have sprite and root beer.

Dr. B says caffeine is really bad for you.

No gum until you are 5 - Dr. B said so.

You can only have one juice box a day and then water or milk - Dr. B told me I gave you too much juice at our last visit.

Dr. B said to use this monster spray and then the monsters will no longer be in our house.

Dr. B says you need to sleep X amount of hours.

Dr. B said you cannot play on the computer or iPad that much.

You can only buy lunch once, maybe twice a week - Dr. B said my lunches are better.

The best part of all this is when we see Dr. B for our annual check ups or a sick visit, E1 will say to him things such as, "I have been following your iPad rule" or "I have not been drinking that much juice" and he will respond with, "Oh really? Please tell me what you have been doing so I can make sure you understand my rule."

Dr. B always backs up his rules he knows nothing about. IT IS GREAT. I love having a partnership with our pediatrician. It is nice and calming to know he really knows my kids and really knows me and all my crazy. My girls feel safe with him and know he cares about them and their health. They trust him completely. I trust him completely.

We love Dr. B and I especially love all his rules. Pretty sure at this very moment, he is making up some new ones.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Hungry

Dinner time....always a win for for E1. She willingly tries new foods, eats what is served, rarely argues for different food.

Dinner time....always a guess for E2. She does not like to try new foods, sometimes eats what is served, often argues for different food.

Tonight was one of my "quick dinners" - easy to make - lazy to make. Fish sticks and broccoli.

E1 ate and patiently waited for E2. E2 got up and down from her chair, went to time out, tried to ride her bike, ate one bite, got down from her chair, went to time out, tried to ride her bike, ate a second bite, and then the cycle continued. About three seconds before my patience was going to explode, E2 declared she was not hungry and was all done. FINE. I knew it was bull shit and did not care. You are not hungry? FINE. DON'T EAT.

Off the two girls went to play outside and they had a fun time while I cleaned up dinner.
(Yes, I know they should help clean but when I am frustrated I would rather have alone time with dishes then deal with children.)

Bath time came and went, bed time routine of books and prayers were finished, lights out.

"Mommy." Crap. I seriously hate hearing my name after lights out. It is like nails on a chalk board. I thought the day was finished. I shush E2 through the monitor - that's right, I can talk to her through the monitor. The mommy calls continue....ugh. Up the stairs I go, walk in E2's room and ask her what's wrong.

"I am hungry. I want dinner." SHOCKING. You're hungry?? Never in a million years would I have guessed you'd be fucking hungry. Too bad she is just four and I cannot use foul language or sarcasm. My actual response
"I gave you dinner. You chose not to eat it. You will be hungry for breakfast. I love you. Good night."

TEARS!!!!!! Like I am chopping off her arm "BUT I AM HUNGRY."

Again, I repeat myself and again she cries.

I close the door, head downstairs, and then through the monitor I hear "Mommy said no dinner. I am hungry."

Yep. My kid went to bed hungry and without dinner. Guess what? She is sleeping soundly, she is totally fine, and she will hopefully never do that again and if she does, she will be hungry again.

I am not a short order cook. I will not negotiate with children. Don't fuck with me. I am mom.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Happy 4th Birthday


To my youngest daughter on her fourth birthday,

I do not even know where to begin. Happy 4th birthday! It amazes me that you are four. You are no longer a baby or a toddler. You are a kid. A real kid. A four year old girl with opinions, love, and a smile that never quits.

You are probably one of the happiest children I know. I do not say that with bias, I say it with some fact. You are always smiling. (Yes, you have tantrums, but not often and they are short lived - thank the lord.) You are happy. You find joy in every single thing you see and do.

When you see the moon, or visit Disney, face time with family, riding in an airplane, going to a museum, or running errands...you love it all. You smile and laugh at every turn. I envy your joy. It is pure. It is genuine. It is truly inspiring. I am so lucky I get to see this smile and hear your laughter daily.

Having you as a daughter has taught me (us) to take risks. We never thought we would be so lucky to have you. We never thought we would be parents twice, but we took a second leap of faith and so you came to be. Four years ago, you came into this world and my amazing daughter, this world is better with you in it.

You have taught us everything works out, whatever "it" is - it will happen, and patience. Slow and steady wins the race. You have always been on your time table. When you are ready, you let us know.

It is a privilege to watch you grow. I am amazed at your perseverance. When things get tough, you work harder. You have never met a challenge you shied away from.  You take each day as it comes and gain knowledge from what is in front of you. Whether the day is mundane or adventurous, you learn and yes, you do it with a smile.

Our dinner conversations now have your little voice telling us about your day, your favorite part of the day, and if anything made you sad or mad. I am so happy to hear that voice (even during tantrums) because it took you so long to find it.

You are funny, caring, sweet, a good friend, and although a tattle tale sometimes - a terrific little sister. You love with a huge heart and are willing to share that love with anyone or anything. You love to play outside and this summer's heat has nothing on your new bike riding ability. You love to be read to, to bake, to play dress-up, and mostly you love playing with your sister. It warms my heart to hear and see you two playing - you are two peas in a pod and I thank G-d every single day for bringing you to us. You completed our family when I wasn't even looking.

In your four years of life you have overcome only obstacles you know, as these things come so easily to other children. You want to do better, you want to achieve those milestones, and nothing has ever or will ever stand in your way. Your overall change in this past year is nothing short of phenomenal. My face glows with pride.

You are determined and that determination will take you where ever it is you want to go. This world and our family will see great things from you in this upcoming year and for years to come. Your sunshine brightens everyone's day and life.

I love you from the bottom of my heart and thank you for being who you are - I would never change a thing.

Happy fourth birthday to my little firecracker.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Birds and The Bees (Minus the Bees)

E1 is in an inquisitive child. She always has a question, always is curious, and always needs an answer. Since she was little, I have told her I would never lie to her. E1 asks me anything that comes to mind. Some questions have been easy "Why does the sun set?" and some have been tougher, "Why did you name me E1?" "What does adoption mean?"

E1 asked a few years ago about how babies "get out." The simple answer of the doctor takes the baby out was sufficient (and truthful) for some time. Then came "But HOW does the doctor get the baby and HOW does the baby get out?" She was ready for a mature answer, so I told her. I told her how women push the baby out of their vagina. Yes, we use the word vagina. We also use the words penis, butt, breasts, nipples, and teach about privacy.

E1's response to how babies get out "So you push it out like a poop?" Why, yes. Just. Like. That. When E1 heard the real answer, she stopped asking and never brought it up again. Her thirst for knowledge had been quenched, at least on that topic.

E1 and I have discussed aspects of puberty - breast development and pubic hair - yes, we use those terms too. A little girl wants to know what a razor is for and when will "my boobs look like yours?" So, at 6 and now 7 when she asks, we discuss it.  I have contemplated a weekly waxing appointment, but aint no one got time for that type of grooming. NO. ONE. Well, maybe strippers.

I will blame the tampon machine for today's discussion. E1 asked what the machine was, a tampon machine. She reminded herself I have tampons at home and she has heard that word.....then came, "Mom, what exactly do tampons do? Why do you need tampons?" SHIT. This was not on today's plan. Here goes nothing.....

I told her. I told her about her period. I told her it will happen between the ages of 10 and 14. When she said she hoped she never got hers, I explained that you want it to come. That it is a part of growing up and means her body is healthy. E1 asked a few questions about whether or not your period hurt and how frequently you use a tampon. We discussed a little bit about eggs and your period is the egg coming out. Yes, I explained it is not the same egg from chickens. E1 was fine with this discussion. She did not laugh. She was not confused. E1 listened, asked a few more questions and then was satisfied.

We did not discuss sex. We did not discuss the male's role in the egg becoming a baby. We did not discuss pregnancies. We discussed what she asked - the purpose of tampons.

I am so happy with my decision to explain to E1 these topics as they come. I do not want a friend telling her and I do not want her to hear false information. When I explain things to E1, I tell her these are parent/child topics and she should not discuss them with other children.  So far, so good.

What shocks me in today's parenting world, is how many parents I know who actively avoid these topics and how many parents won't even say vagina or penis. Are those words a really big deal and I don't get it? I am not saying parents should tell a three year old about sex, but is it really a big deal to say, "Your body will look like this when you get older."  Why are we embarrassed to discuss these topics with our kids? Why do we expect them to tell us everything when we cannot reciprocate?

Of course, there is discretion. Of course some topics are for older children vs younger children. My friends who have answered some blush worthy questions have come to the same conclusion I have....children have an innate sense of when they are ready to hear the truth.

In this fast paced world we live in, where information is readily accessible, I have decided I do not want Google (or a friend) answering my daughter's questions.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Smart Games

WHOA.

E1 received a logic game from a friend yesterday for her birthday....challenging! I had never heard of the brand, Smart Games. As an educator, I am VERY impressed. As a mom, I am equally impressed and a tad bit annoyed because the first challenge caused E1 some aggravation. LOL

Now that E1 is on challenge three, she is getting the hang of it and can work independently. Her smile was HUGE after figuring out the answer.  The beauty of hard work paying off, a teacher/mom's dream.

Logic puzzles/games are a terrific way for children to have fun while learning.
(After they have a meltdown saying it is too hard.)

I will be purchasing this game and others for our family and friends - FANTASTIC product.

This is the exact gift E1 received:
http://www.amazon.com/SmartGames-SG203US-Aqua-Belle/dp/B007XVW5OS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1438959395&sr=8-1&keywords=smart+games+mermaid

Challenges 1, 2, and 3 completed by E1.





Wizard's Brew

http://babbledabbledo.com/20-science-projects-for-preschoolers/

Wizard's Brew is number three on the list provided in the above link. I also love that blog and follow it for great ideas.

Yesterday, both girls and my niece and nephew made Wizard's Brew. They LOVED it. The experiment was simple to follow and gave a great "wow factor."  The mess was minimal. We all enjoyed it and will definitely do it again. SO FUN.  The kids wanted to keep the brew going, but it was time for dinner and our supply of vinegar was running out.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Happy 7th Birthday




To my daughter on her birthday,

How are you 7? Where has the time gone? Wasn't it just yesterday I was cleaning up baby sweet potato off your face? When did enough time pass for you to be seven?

As you know, seven years ago I left a meeting to head back to work to prepare for another school year. I was in the role of administration now, building a career in education when our lives changed with a phone call. After two and half years of waiting, I was a mom. We were parents. Standing outside the school building in the heat of August, you were here and we were chosen. As tears streamed down my face I learned you were born at 37 weeks, were 5lbs 14oz, and ours. Your birth mother chose us the day you were born. With a million emotions, I called your dad to tell him we were finally parents. I referred to you as "the baby" until your dad asked, "Is it a boy or girl?" I was so elated, I forgot to ask our caseworker. I called her back to find out you were a girl. Phone calls to our family and closest friends was followed by a shopping spree of baby furniture, clothes, purple paint for your room, and everything else we thought we needed. It turns out, as you know, we already had what we needed....love.

I love you with every inch of my being. Your arrival brought more meaning to our lives than you will ever know. You're one of the most phenomenal people I have ever encountered. The way you refuse to brush your hair, but then beg for the girliest of dresses is so typical of your personality. You're stubborn, opinionated, and brilliant. You are too smart for your own good. Wise beyond your years. You are loyal, trustworthy, generous. Your heart is filled with joy and laughter. You are simply divine.

Please know, you are not perfect. You have your tantrums, your screams, your frustration, your anger. I can tell what you are feeling by looking at those huge brown eyes. You wear your emotions on your sleeve. With every life lesson you learn, you take away something.

In seven years you have learned to let some small things go, you have learned to treat others with respect, you have learned that lying is horrible, you have learned how to be a good person. When others are sad or hurt, you ask them why. You try to make them feel better. You are getting better at conflict resolution.

Words cannot express how grateful I am to be your mother. Even on your very worst day, I am grateful. Even when you get so mad you slam a door, I am grateful. You are a gift from G-d and trust me, I remember that daily.

You are an incredible big sister. You were so excited to become a big sister. Even at three, when your grandmothers took you to build-a-bear to make a special bear for yourself - you asked to make one for your little sister. You look after her, you think of her, you never leave her behind. She is your partner, she is your best friend, she is your sister. You adore her, except when she tattles. (and that's ok!)

While you are not perfect, neither am I. I mess up, I get frustrated, I make mistakes. Some days I make more mistakes than I care to and you are there to love, to hug, to forgive. We are mother and daughter and while independently not perfect, we are perfect for each other.

You light up my life with that great big smile of yours. A smile mixed with baby teeth to remind me you are still a child and big teeth to remind me how much you've grown.

Your inquisitive nature keeps me on my toes. I have no idea what a certain animal's diet consists of, or why the clouds look the way do, or how an airplane works, but together we find the answers. Together, we have navigated friends moving away, changing schools, independence, death, adopting your sister, traveling to different cities and countries, and countless other moments.

On this seventh birthday, you should know you are terrific. You are determined. You will make anything you want happen and I look forward to watching you grow and learn and continue to become an amazing woman.

I am proud each and every day to be your mother. Thank you for the last seven years. I look forward to a lifetime with you.

Happy seventh birthday to the baby who first held my finger, who was the first to call me mama, who was the first to do everything. You may be the oldest child, but you will always be my baby.

May all your birthday wishes come true.

Love,
Mom


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

I win

I win. I win. I win again.

No, these are not words from E1 and E2. These are my words. These are my husband's words. We win almost always when we play board games or card games or any game against our girls.

We do not believe in throwing the game to make them feel better. If you want to win, learn how to win. Does the game require a specific strategy? Does the game have tricks? Do you need to move faster, slower? Is it all just luck? We have kicked their asses more times than I can count and they are just fine.

Each daughter has learned how to go from a sore loser - picture candy land board and pieces flying threw the playroom - to gracious winners. We do not stick out our tongues, roll eyes, or quit. We never quit. Quitters never win.

It is exhilarating for them when they do win because they know they earned it.  There are no participation trophies in this house.

Tonight, E1 and I were playing squares and I was crushing her. She was not paying attention and I took advantage of this fact. She said, " I thought you were going to go easy on me. I am only almost 7." I explained to her that she needed to pay closer attention to what she was doing and while she most likely would not win, she could come close. I also asked her to remember a time when I or daddy threw a game so she could win.

It seems the "pep talk" worked. While E1 did not win, she finally figured out the strategy and started thinking one, two, three steps ahead and learned where and when to make her mark.

I love it when the girls win. Their pride and smile light up the entire house and for a brief moment they are the Queen of Candy Land, The Tic- Tac- Toe Champ, and The Best at Hi-Ho-Cherry-o.






A Screen Free Day

Nobody watched television or played on the computer all day today. From wake up to bed time, no screens. In all honesty, E1 is grounded from screens until Thursday and in an effort to not rub it in her face, I tried not bringing up the TV to E2. (I would have let E2 watch if she asked)

While we drove in the car today we listened to music and sang along to our favorite Disney songs vs the girls watching a movie. When we were home today the girls played together nicely upstairs (for the most part), played together outside, did some arts & crafts, chased the dog around the house, did some school work, and played again.

I did not realize we had not turned on the TV until around 3 pm when E2 started whining. I was about to offer her a show when I stopped. I realized how many times I turn on the TV to just make both of them stop whining. Yes, kids need down time and the TV/iPad/computer is not the devil, but I abuse it as much as they do. I used to only turn on the TV while cooking dinner. Now I use the TV if I want to talk on the phone, cook dinner, fold laundry, have a sane moment, etc. I created the TV monster. Damn it. Parenting fail.

When the girls were younger I had a much stricter screen schedule and I am now going back to it. Today was great! Sure they got on my nerves, but instead of turning on the television or iPad, I put my parenting skills to work. Without screen time today, I still talked on the phone to a few friends, cooked dinner (which they ate), emptied the dishwasher, and put away clothes. I am literally stunned at today.

Yes, E2 whined for juice. Yes, E1 interrupted me 100x, but we dealt with it, together.

Doc, Sofia, Jake, Liv & Maddie, and all the other fake people in our lives never entered our day and it was glorious. I am not shutting off screens forever, but I am going to reevaluate. If today happened, it can happen again.

I am committing to less screen time in general and hoping one day in the near future we will choose one day a week with no screens at all.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Mondays suck

Mondays suck. They just do. Not always, but today SUCKED the big one.

Yesterday my car did not start - we will not discuss my frustration, my husband's frustration with me, and my two whiny sweaty children. It all worked out, but I cannot handle car problems (or traffic or delayed flights). They are my weakness.

This morning I took my car and children to the dealership to be looked at (it is 2 months old and under warranty). I waited in line, told the man what happened and he directed me to a different line. The girls and I got out of the car and waited for my friend to pick us up. (Yes, a very nice friend.) While waiting E1 asked for a snack out of the vending machine - answer, no. We just had breakfast. Cue the stink face. This is something new this summer and it has its own name - stink face. It is the face a child wears when they want to say "Why are you such a fucking bitch?"

My friend is around the corner to get us when maintenance is finished. Apparently 2 hours means 20 minutes. Maintenance tells me my battery is fine. Um thanks. Why didn't my car start yesterday? Ah, this question has now baffled maintenance. I should not have been in his line. His line is for batteries. I calmly, firmly, explain that I was told to get in his line. Well, I was told wrong. At this point, my blood is boiling and I want to scream "Are you all fucking incompetent?" but I take a cue from E1 and give him the stink face.

Here comes Mr. Maintenance Manager. They will put my car in the correct line and it will be seen in two hours. Not ready in two hours, but will first get looked at in two hours. UGH. My friend drops us at an outdoor shopping center where we school shop and meet my mom for lunch. My mom is on hold with the dealership for me because my cell battery is dying. (Today fucking sucks) 20 min later, maintenance answers.

While talking to maintenance to try and see what they figured out about my car, my husband calls to tell me what is wrong with the car...HUH?? Oh maintenance, you called the wrong number. My car needs to stay the night. WHAT?!? WHY?!? The hubs doesn't know and it seems the louder I scream at him it still does not produce the answer....told you, I am NOT good with car issues.

My friend comes to collect us again and drive us to the hubs who is meeting us at a rental car place. Why? Oh because I "need" a car and so does my husband and my using his car while he is going out of town (tomorrow) somehow warranted a rental car for the day? Whatever. I don't give a rats ass. I am pissed off, confused, hot, and still don't know what the fuck is wrong with my car because they called my husband and he doesn't know what's wrong - he just knows we "need" another car.

I get in my husband's car, drive 10 minutes and my phone rings. Maintenance felt badly about stranding the mother and children and looked at my car - there's nothing wrong it - EXCEPT THAT IT DIDN'T START YESTERDAY! Car is ready for pick up.

I am literally laughing while talking to my husband who is now on the way back to work in a rental car because I am in his car. Seriously, is this happening? This is what happens when two people who have no patience for this shit make rash decisions. We know. We own it. We are perfect for each other.

Tonight my car is in my garage and so is my husband's. He is no longer leaving town tomorrow and we have a direct number for maintenance's preferred towing company, but they doubt it will happen again.

By the way, maintenance did want to know if I had left my car outside in the heat for an extended period of time. It is summer. What do you think?

When you see my kids and I stranded on the road, don't worry - it is not us because we doubt this will happen again and I have a preferred tow company's number and I am sure they will be right there to rescue us.